A short drive up Highway 101 from Tillamook is the city of Wheeler. Built along the eastern edge of the Nehalem Bay in the shadow of Neahkahnie Mountain, this coastal community is significantly less touristy than nearby counterparts.
If you are into antiques, Wheeler is the place for you. Mixed among vintage treasures, you’ll find kitschy gifts and Creative Fabrics, a destination fabric and quilting store.
Completely accessible by foot, leave your car at the Waterfront Park and meander through the park and downtown business area. Or, if you have kids, drive up Hospital Road and follow the signs to the Upper City Park.
On a recent trip to explore Tillamook County, we spent two nights at Wheeler on the Bay Lodge and Marina. Family-owned and operated, the lodge features eleven rooms that accommodate between two and ten guests. Some rooms have a gas fireplace, some have a spa, some have both. Kids under age twelve are free.
Also a marina, Wheeler on the Bay has boat slips available at the private dock (the public boat launch is a stone’s throw away at Waterfront Park). Guests staying at the lodge for two are more nights are welcome to borrow kayaks and life jackets.
Breakfast items (fruit, yogurt, juice, string cheese) are provided to guests the night before; allowing you to dine in the comfort of your own room or private deck. Kids of all ages can get excited about the large selection of DVDs and VHS tapes and impressive collection of board games. Look for the complimentary bags of microwave popcorn!
If you find yourself in Wheeler on a Thursday night, the Rising Star Cafe opens for Pasta Night promptly at 5PM—for $10/person you can enjoy one of three delicious pasta entrees, bread, and salad (plan ahead and BYO wine; two convenient choices are the nearby Nehalem Bay Winery or Simple’s Herbs and Spirits on the north end of downtown).
Beyond window shopping and eating donuts from one of the local bakeries, our favorite thing to do in Wheeler was nothing. Truly the kind of place where you can sit on the dock and watch fisherman float by, elk graze at the water’s edge, and the tide roll in or out…this is what a vacation should really be about!