Since we started planning our big trip to Hong Kong and Thailand next month it has reinvigorated our wanderlust. While saving for next month we can’t afford to travel far or spend a lot of extra money but we decided to see what fun things we could find in our backyard, so to speak.
Astoria, Oregon is about a 1 hour drive from where we live in Washington, and closer to 2 hours if you’re coming from Portland, Oregon. It is a quaint little town that is situated on the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific Ocean. The town itself is pretty small, less than 10,000 people but there is plenty to do. There is a U.S. Coast Guard Station nearby and it is a port for cruise ships headed up and down the Pacific Coast. You should know if you plan on visiting Astoria that it rains here. A lot. It is one of the rainiest towns in the continental United States, so plan your trip accordingly!
In recent years the food scene has exploded here! You can find great craft beers, phenomenal seafood and some of the best clam chowder we have ever tried! We have only been to 2 of the 6 breweries here, but we can wholeheartedly recommend The Wet Dog cafe and Buoy Beer Company.
- The Wet Dog Cafe: We visited last fall during a busy weekend and with a large group. My order ended up getting lost in the mix. Obviously this is something that would make someone not want to go back, as everyone else ate their burgers I was still waiting for mine. But they did a phenomenal job making up for it! They brought me my onion rings while they made my burger and the manager brought me a complimentary bowl of clam chowder while I waited. This would have been more than enough to make up for their mistake, but on top of it they gave me my meal AND hard cider for free. Our group was impressed with the food and beer selections and ended up taking home some beer growlers. I couldn’t recommend this place enough!
- Buoy Beer Company: We visited just as they opened at 11 AM and the restaurant was full by the time we left! The location is stunning; you can watch ships pass by as you eat. There is also a glass floor in one area so you can see the sea lions underneath the restaurants (it’s on the pier). We both tried the bison burger (perfection!) and decided that their clam chowder was the best we have ever tried. I can’t comment on the beer because we both had hard ciders from elsewhere in Oregon.
Astoria Riverfront Trolley
We didn’t ride the trolley this visit but I have in the past. The Astoria Riverfront Trolley is a great way to sit back and see downtown Astoria while learning a little bit about the area. I’m not sure if it works the same way, but when I went they pointed out filming locations for movies such as Free Willy, The Ring Two, Kindergarten Cop and The Goonies. COST: $1/ride or $2/day *Note that it is not open during the winter or bad weather*
If you are looking for the best views of Astoria, the Columbia River, the Astoria-Megler Bridge and Saddle Mountain then head up Coxcomb Hill to the Astoria Column. It was built in 1926 and is a calf-burning, dizzying 164 steps to the top! I remember taking numerous trips here with my grandma when I was a kid and I remember it being easier! It seems like no matter what the weather is like it is always cold and windy at the top so I didn’t get as many pictures as I would like because my fingers were frozen. It is worth a visit just for the views though! COST: $2 (parking)
The Goonies House
This was actually my first time seeing the Goonies house! You can visit many locations from the film; such as the jail, high school football field, bowling alley and the area where the restaurant was (it was a fake restaurant that got taken down when filming was done). Someone lives in the house so you can only view it from the outside, but still cool to see! COST: FREE
Port of Astoria
There has been an infestation of California sea lions in the Columbia River. They were really fun to observe and watch them interact but the sad truth is this high number of sea lions aren’t suppose to be here. They are ruining the docks, annoying residence with their constant barking- heard everywhere, even high up on the hill. Most importantly though, they feed on endangered salmon that are native to the Columbia River. So even though they shouldn’t be here, as long as they are it’s worth taking a look at them! It’s amazing to watch them interact and see all the different personalities; some are lazy and cuddly, others are mean and aggressively fighting for a better spot on the docks. COST: FREE
Peter Iredale Shipwreck
There is a stretch of the Pacific Ocean from Tillamook Bay, Oregon to the tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia called the Graveyard of the Pacific. It is named so for it’s infamously dangerous terrain that has taken the lives of 700 people and more than 2,000 boats. The Peter Iredale was a steel barque ship that ran ashore in 1906 while en route Portland to pick up a shipment of wheat. The ship got caught in the breakers on that foggy morning and got pushed to shore. The back half of it is now buried in sand but it still makes for some awesome pictures! Pay attention to when the tide is, during high tide the water surrounds it. The shipwreck is located in Fort Stevens State Park and is easily reached, just follow the “ship wreck” signs. COST: FREE