You might have feasted on fresh crab on the Oregon Coast, or even fished for your own supper. But have you gone clamming by kayak, in the pristine waters of Netarts Bay or the Nehalem River?
You can sign up for one of those guided trips through Kayak Tillamook, which offers dozens of tours for visitors, March through October. The clamming trips take you paddling during special “clamming tides,” which are the lowest tides of the year. With a little expert help (and all gear provided), you can find cockles, native littlenecks, gapers, butters, geoducks, softshell and purple varnish clams and take home your catch limit for dinner.
It’s a thrilling experience, just one of about 60 excursions that are part of the new self-guided North Coast Food Trail, a brand-new initiative that makes it easy for visitors to explore the fishers, producers, harvesters, grocers and dairy farms along the 70 miles of coastline from Cannon Beach to Lincoln City. Choose your itinerary based on your interests — whether it’s breweries, wineries and distilleries; cooking schools; farmers markets; farms; foraging excursions; coastal lodging; restaurants; retail experiences; or special guided tours (or all of the above).
“The aim is to shine a light on the amazing agriculture and natural resources that are here,” says Nan Devlin, tourism director at Visit Tillamook Coast, which is sponsoring the initiative. “It happens to be one of the big trends in travel — the local food experience and local culture experience.”
Ready to go? You can download a brochure or pick up a brochure at any participating business, visitor center or chamber office from Cannon Beach south to Lincoln City, and pick your pleasure. Also check out the artisans and producers spotlighted in the trail’s first video; future videos will spotlight the participating chefs and nonprofits.
Here are some of the highlights of the trail to explore this season:
Learn how small-batch whiskey is made at Cannon Beach Distillery; spoil the kids at Bruce’s Candy Kitchen; sign up for a dinner show at EVOO Cannon Beach cooking school, with wine, dinner and a cooking demo.
Sit down to a rustic chef-prepared dinner (dates to be announced in May) by the Garibaldi Cultural Heritage initiative; hop aboard the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad for a day trip or dinner train; set out for a day of tuna, salmon or halibut fishing with Garibaldi Charters.
Pucker up to a wild-ale sour beer at the newly located De Garde Brewing; circle the wagon around the campfire and join in a locally sourced chuckwagon dinner at Twins Ranch Covered Wagon Camp; and chow down on a juicy burger or mac-n-cheese bowl (with a blend of five Tillamook cheeses) at the playful Recess food cart, reopening in April.
Enjoy a flight at Twist Wine Company; dine on scallops with an ocean view at the new upscale Meridian restaurant and bar at the uber-chic Headlands Coastal Lodge; connect with Tillamook Eco-Adventures to get an exclusive peek at see how wasabi is grown at Oregon Coast Wasabi, or how your favorite ice cream is made in a dairy land tour.
Enroll in a class at the Culinary Center of Lincoln City; indulge in a night out with waterfront views, small plates and a 2,000-selection wine list at The Bay House; find local crafts, produce and treats at the Lincoln City Arts and Crafters Market (May through October).
Before you go: Make sure to call or check ahead to confirm hours of operation, and book a reservation or tour (if possible) early to ensure availability. For fewer crowds, visit during a weekday and avoid peak travel times. And consider carpooling or taking a shuttle to the Coast for a hassle-free trip. Plan early for your next trip back; the inaugural Crave the Coast (Sept. 29, 2018) food festival will cap off the trail’s first season in Garibaldi, along Tillamook Bay.