The half dozen or so other sand-sculpting contests that take place on the Oregon  coast pale in comparison to Cannon Beach ’s annual Sandcastle Day. In 1964 a tsunami washed out a bridge, and the isolated residents of Cannon Beach organized the first contest as a way to amuse their children. Now in its fifth decade, this is the state’s oldest and most prestigious competition of its kind.
Tens of thousands of spectators show up to watch 1,000-plus competitors fashion their sculptures with the aid of buckets, shovels, squirt guns, and any natural material found on the beach. The resulting sculptures are often amazingly complex and inventive.
This event is free to spectators, but entrants pay a fee. Recent winners included Egyptian pyramids and a gigantic sea turtle. The event usually coincides with the lowest-tide Saturday in June. Call 503/436-2623 to find out the exact date of this collapsible art show, which takes place north of Haystack Rock .
Building begins in the early morning; winners are announced at noon. The American Legion serves a big breakfast buffet at 1216 South Hemlock Street, open to all.
For a weekend in early November, writers, singers, composers, painters, and sculptors take over the town for the Stormy Weather Arts Festival (503/436-2623). Events include music on the streets, plays, a Saturday afternoon Art Walk, and the Quick Draw, in which artists have one hour to paint, complete, and frame a piece while the audience watches. The art is then sold by auction.
After a day on the beach, spend an evening at EVOO Cooking School (188 S. Hemlock St., 503/436-8555, www.evoo.biz ), where three-course dinner classes ($89 includes dinner) are offered at least a couple of nights a week. Specialty classes on topics such as bread baking and cooking seafood are also offered.
Going strong for more than 30 years, the Coaster Theatre Playhouse (108 N. Hemlock St., 503/436-1242, http://coastertheatre.com , $16–18) stages a varied bill of musicals, dramas, mysteries, comedies, concerts, and other entertainments. It’s open year-round, in a building that started in the 1920s as a skating rink–cum–silent-movie house.
Beginning in July the city park at Spruce and Second Streets hosts Concerts in the Park (5–7 p.m. Sun.), a series of jazz, rhythm and blues, and popular music at the bandstand. Well-chosen jazz and folk acts frequently grace the Bald Eagle Coffee House (1287 S. Hemlock St., 503/436-0522) on weekends.