How To Spend A Weekend in Astoria - Things To Do in Astoria, Where to Eat & Best Places To Stay
Connecting Oregon to Washington over the Columbia river is the longest continuous truss bridge in America. Built in 1966 the bridge completed U.S. Route 101 between Olympia, Washington and Los Angeles, California. Many visitors from all over travel to Astoria just to see the Megler Bridge. The bridge is 4.1 miles long and while pedestrians are not allowed to cross, you may drive over it for some fantastic views of the river. You can also get nice views down from the Astoria Riverfront Walk and even from the hotel rooms at the River Walk Inn.
The Astoria Column
The iconic 125-foot tall Astoria Column is the towns’ landmark and has been featured in many of the films that were shot here. The Column which was built in 1926 is part of a series of twelve historical markers constructed between Minnesota and Oregon and was modeled after the Trajan Column in Rome. Artwork painted on the column celebrates moments in northwest history between 1792 to 1818. Visitors can climb the 164 steps of the spiral staircase to a viewing deck 600 feet above sea level for panoramic views of the ocean and river.
Columbia River Maritime Museum
The Columbia River Maritime Museum specializes in collecting and exhibiting maritime artifacts from the Columbia river and the Pacific Northwest. Displays at the museum cover the history of the Columbia river which was once a wild and treacherous waterway and is still considered one of the most dangerous bar crossings in the world. The bar crossing was once a place sailors called the ‘graveyard’ where many boats sank to their watery grave and thousand of people drowned. Today, ships pass through hauling more than $24 billion in goods each year with the help of a bar pilot. The museum is an interesting place to spend an hour or two and maybe more if your visit coincides with wet and cold winter weather.
The Waterfront River Trolley is a beautifully refurbished 1913 streetcar that visitors can ride to explore the Astoria river front and learn about the towns’ 200+ years of history. Knowledgeable conductors narrate the journey that takes about an hour. There are nine stops along the 3 mile route and you may ride for just $1 round-trip or hop on and off all day for $2. You can always just take a walking tour of the riverfront too if you prefer.
The Flavel House is one of the best-preserved examples of Queen Anne style architecture in the northwest and has been restored to accurately portray the elegance of the Victorian period and the history of the Flavel family. It was built in 1886 by George Flavel who was a Columbia river bar pilot but is now owned and operated by the Clatsop County Historical Society and open to the public as a museum. The house is well known to fans of "The Goonies" movie, which was filmed in Astoria and featured in the film as the museum where Mikey's father works as a curator. Admission is $6.
Fort Clatsop National Museum
Originally the winter encampment for the Lewis & Clark expedition from 1805 to 1806 and helped to strengthen the United States claim to the northwest. It also paved the way for the Pacific Fur Company Post which was the first American settlement in the area. You can visit a replica of Fort Clatsop which is similar to the one built by the explorers and the interpretive center which has screening s of two films. The center also features costumed rangers in the fort and trails.
Nearby Places To Visit
FORT STEVENS STATE PARK
Fort Stevens State Park (located at the mouth of the Columbia River) was once a military defense from the Civil War to World War II to guard the Columbia River against attack but has since been turned into a 4,300 acre park offering many recreational opportunities along with exploration of its recent history. The fort still has cannons and an underground gun battery, of which tours are available in summer. The park also has a network of nine miles of paved bicycle trails and six miles of hiking trails that allow for exploring a variety of habitats including spruce and hemlock forests, wetlands, dunes, and shore pine areas. There is also a campground here along with cabins and yurts available for rent. On the beach past the South Jetty you will find the skeletons of the famous Peter Iredale shipwreck poking through the sand which makes good photo opportunities.
FORT COLUMBIA HISTORICAL STATE PARK
Fort Columbia State Park is considered one of the most intact historic coastal defense sites in the U.S. Constructed between 1896 and 1903 then renovated during World War II and de-commissioned in 1947, this day-use park allows visitors to stroll among old officers’ homes and see WWII artifacts. The park is 618 acres and offers hiking trails and views of the ocean seen from Chinook Point. Located just across from Astoria over the Megler Bridge on the Washington side, it makes for a nice, short day trip. There are also two historic vacation houses available for overnight stays.
CAPE DISAPPOINTMENT STATE PARK
Cape Disappointment State Park is located at the base of the popular Long Beach Peninsula where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. The park features three unique lighthouse keepers' residences within walking distance of the North Head Lighthouse. Visitors can tour the park's historical coastal fort, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center or just explore the sandy beaches and coves. Other activities here include hiking through old-growth forest, fishing, crabbing, clamming and boating. This state park does have a campground along with three cabins and fourteen yurts in case you were thinking about adding a few days onto you Astoria getaway.
Where To Eat in Astoria
Buoy Beer Co
Bowpicker Fish & Chips
Buoy Beer Co - This brewery/restaurant is situated on the site of the former New England Fish Company of Oregon cannery which dates back 90 years. The view alone seen from inside is worth the visit to Buoy Beer because the building sits above the river and has huge glass walls not to mention an area in the floor with glass where you can see local sea lions hanging out on the dock below. Back to the food, Buoy claims they pride themselves on handcrafted food using only local, fresh ingredients and you really can tell. The menu is obviously heavy in seafood items and most meals have a unique twist on the classics. For example, the house specialty is pan-fried Willapa Bay oysters with jalepeno jam and goat cheese pearl. You can see their menu here. Being a brewery, you can also sample their handcrafted lagers and ales.
Bowpicker Fish & Chips - This boat turned food cart has been serving the locals for 15 years so they must be doing something right! They specialize in fish and chips, but the fish is not fried halibut or cod but Pacific Coast albacore tuna. It is served in 5 piece full orders ($10) or 3 piece half orders ($8) with steak fries. You can find the 28 foot long, 1932 converted gillnet boat across the road from the Columbia River Maritime Museum.
Mo’s Seafood - Mo’s is a seafood restaurant popular with tourists. The meals are not gourmet but they are still very tasty. They serve classic seaside fare such as clam chowder, rock fish taco’s and fish burgers. The portions here are large and it’s great value for money. You can even watch them make their clam chowder in their clam chowder facility located as you enter the building. Mo’s is located on pilings overlooking the Columbia River and there are big wrap-around windows for you to enjoy the views of the busy river and occasional sea lion swimming by.
Best Places To Stay In Astoria
Cannery Pier Hotel - Romantic/Luxury
If you’re in Astoria for a romantic getaway or just wanting to pamper yourself, then book a stay at The Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa. The hotel offers full day spa services and has amenities that include a fitness room and hot tub overlooking the river. Every room has a private balcony and is lavishly appointed with hardwood floors and fireplace. Add to that exceptional views of the Columbia River and you are guaranteed to leave here feeling relaxed and revitalized.
Astoria River Walk Inn - For Great Views
The Astoria River Walk Inn offers nice rooms with private balconies that have been built right over the top of the river! From every room there are terrific views of the Columbia River, Astoria-Megler Bridge and the yacht harbor. They offer a great breakfast in a room overlooking the river and it is an easy walk to the downtown area.
Astoria Crest Motel - Affordable
For a more affordable stay but still with good views of the river, book a stay at the Astoria Crest Motel. This motel is situated beside the Columbia River only 3 miles east of downtown and nestled among tall pine tree’s. You can choose rooms with a view or without to save a little extra. An added bonus is their new outdoor hot tub that sits overlooking the river.