Sections of the Oregon Coast are severely rocky, while there are some places that have a beach. Oceanside Beach is one of those places, and even though it is fairly crowded here (don't expect to find a parking place here in the summer months!) by Oregon Coast standards, there is still a fair amount of space available for people to relax and enjoy the beach. This is an actual sand beach, and not a small rock and gravel beach that you will find in many places in the Pacific Northwest.
Keep in mind the Oregon Coast usually has a fairly cold wind blowing off of it, even during the summer months, and even on days when the sun comes out.
The good news about the wind is that it makes Oceanside a great place for flying a kite, and you will see people here doing just that.
Other than the beach, the paved parking lot, and the small restroom facility near the parking lot, there isn't too much to say about this little slice of the Oregon Coast.
The rocks that you can see off the coast are "Three Arch Rocks" and there is a natural bridge in each of the rocks. They are a national wildlife refuge, and due to the rough seas and cold water they are completely inaccessible to all but the wildlife that calls that place home.
Cape Lookout State Park lies about 12 miles west of Tillamook on the south end of Netarts Bay. It is semiwild, the road south really wasn't improved until about 30 years ago. There is a large campground here with yurts and even a few cabins to rent for those not used to sleeping under the trees. The campground is very popular and during the summer, you really need to get reservations ahead of time .... unless, you are riding your bicycle along the Coast route - see Bicycle Girl's description and Caschaeiro for more on that kind of trip; also, if your are hiking the Oregon Coastal trail, you can find a spot, too. But, if you have a RV, trailer or are doing a car camping trip - then get reservations in the summer and weekends on the shoulder season. This park has a wonderful beach which stretches for 5 miles from the headland of the Cape to the mouth of Netarts Bay. The area surrounding is very gorgeous; Cape Meares, Oceanside to the north; Sandlake and Cape Kiwanda to the south. Best time to visit would be September - October midweek after Labor Day holidays take the kids back to school. It is a popular campground, being only an hour and a half from Portland, but it is popular for a reason.
The beach is superlative. The water, cold, just like everywhere on the Oregon Coast - California is only minimally better in this regard. Hiking is possible on the local section of the Oregon Coastal Trail - which runs from the South Jetty on the mouth of the Columbia; the northern border; to the California border south of Brookings/Harbor. The trail goes up an old abandoned road for 2.4 miles from the picnic area of the park - just south of the campground areas - and links up with the trail which goes out to the tip of the Cape - another 2.5 miles. Both trails go through heavy forest. Mushrooms await those who know. Care should be taken if the trail is wet - which can be often. Some steps are made from log ends - a bad choice when they are wet.
Just a couple of miles to the south from Oceanside is Netarts, occupying a not quite-so dramatic site at the entrance to Netarts Bay. The town tends to sprawl through the trees and along the north end of the bay. The bay itself is a large shallow affair that looks vast at high tide, but more like a mudpit at low. It is an estuarine soup bringing together all forms of sealife. Small boats go out in search of crabs.
This small state park encompasses the high cliffs of Cape Meares, the main headland between the Tillamook and Netarts Bays. An old lighthouse sits squatly atop the heights, waves churning away at the cliffs below. Views extend south past the Three Arch Rocks to Cape Lookout. There are trails to wander about through the clifftop forests and a giftshop resides next to the lighthouse.
Wide beaches stretch from the headland at Maxwell Point south. There is a large parking lot at the end of the road into Oceanside near the headland from which you can access the beach from. You can walk the beach back to the little town of Netarts, a couple of miles south or you can walk around the rocks of Maxwell Point at low tide, investigating tidepools and the plethora of life they hold, en route. Or just simply sit on the beach and look out at the Three Arch Rocks and south, to the distant Cape Lookout.