Cannon Beach, Oregon
Marine life: Picket fences, surf shops, and glassworks boutiques have helped tame Cannon Beach, a town of 1,700 artsy and outdoorsy souls 80 miles west of Portland, into a perfectly stroll-worthy seaside escape. But its wild side still rules: Born of volcanoes and still constantly smashed by the sea, the Oregon outpost overspills with fascinating formations, from the 235-foot basalt Haystack Rock and the forest-shrouded waves of Indian Beach to calmer spots at Arcadia Beach and the Tolovana Wayside. All but the most adventuresome (and wet suit–clad) will want to look, but not touch, as the tides can be deadly and the water rarely rises above 60 degrees. But you'll find plenty of gentle warmth in the surrounding community, which celebrates Sandcastle Days in June. At the Wayfarer Restaurant & Lounge, you can feast on Dungeness crab and sip an Oregon pinot noir while gazing at Haystack and all those crashing waves.
The sanctuary: Views from the 45 rooms at the stone-and-timber Ocean Lodge will blow your socks off; luckily, the place is pet-friendly, so Fido can go fetch 'em.
Tel: 503 436 2241 - Doubles from $229
Wayfarer Restaurant & Lounge
Tel: 503 436 1108