Astoria is a charming spot in northwestern Oregon, a stone's throw from the Atlantic Ocean. Nestled on the southern shore of the mighty Columbia River, this small town has a remarkable history, rugged landscapes, and a bustling deepwater port. It also occupies a significant place in pop culture — many movies have been filmed here, including the cult classic The Goonies. Whether you're a movie buff, an outdoor adventurer, or a lover of culture, this friendly town is overflowing with activities and unique experiences.
As you're walking around downtown Astoria, look to the south — perched on top of Coxcomb Hill, you'll see a narrow stone pillar rising above the trees. This is the Astoria Column, a monument etched with scenes depicting the history of explorers and pioneers in the Pacific Northwest. Climb to the top of the 125-foot tower for a panoramic view of Astoria and the ships on the Columbia River. Before you start the climb, pick up a balsa-wood airplane in the visitor's center; you can fly it from the top.
Get the lay of the land with a walk along the Columbia River on the Astoria Riverwalk. This former railroad line travels for 6.4 miles from the Port of Astoria to Mott Basin, passing major local attractions, including the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the Lightship Columbia, and the Pier 39 market. Don't want to walk back? Hop on the historic Old 300 trolley; it will take you from Pier 39 to the port in about 30 minutes.
In 1984, Steven Spielberg, Richard Donner, and a group of young actors spent five months in Astoria shooting "The Goonies." Nearly two decades later, the filming locations are still some of the top local attractions. Spend the day checking out the Flavel House Museum, the Clatsop County Jail (currently the Oregon Film Museum), and the East Basin Marina. Of course, the most famous location is the Goonies house — it's a private residence on 38th Street, but you can get a good view from the street.
Learn more about the filming locations in and around Astoria at the Oregon Film Museum. With costumes, behind-the-scenes photos, and an interactive film set, there's something for every movie buff. Don't miss the jail cells; that's where you'll find a massive collection of memorabilia from The Goonies. You can even pose for a mug shot as a souvenir.
Grab a coffee from the Rusty Cup or Sleeper Coffee, and stroll down Commercial Street for an afternoon of shopping in Astoria's galleries and independent boutiques. From books to antiques and handcrafted jewelry, there's plenty to keep you busy. If you're in the market for sculptures, paintings, or ceramics, the downtown galleries are a great place to meet local artisans and find one-of-a-kind pieces.
Oregon is all about craft beer, and Astoria is no different — the city is home to a slew of breweries, each with a relaxed, welcoming vibe. Fort George Brewery occupies an enormous vintage building, offering a taproom, a downstairs pub, and an upstairs pizza restaurant; the real fun happens on the seasonal Beer Pier, where you can sip a lager and watch the ships go by. The oldest brewery in town is the airy Astoria Brewing Company, while newer options include Buoy Beer, Obelisk Beer Co., and Reach Break Brewing.
Enjoy the bounty of the Columbia River and the Atlantic Ocean at Astoria's many fantastic seafood restaurants. Most menus feature all the classics, from crab cakes to cedar-plank salmon. Clam chowder is a local specialty, so is the alderwood-smoked seafood from Josephson's Smokehouse. If you want to enjoy your food with a view, pop over to Bowpicker food stand for takeout fish and chips. Be prepared to wait — the line often wraps around the block.
After you've had your fill of Astoria's beer and seafood, finish with something sweet from the Peter Pan Market and Deli. This friendly spot is known for its homey desserts, which often include favorites such as carrot cake and cheesecake. While you're there, check out the selection of locally-made goodies.
It's impossible to miss the Astoria-Megler Bridge; this massive cantilevered structure stretches for 4 miles across the Columbia River on the west side of town. Pack up your camera (or your phone) and head for the small beach behind the Holiday Inn Express and Suites on West Marine Drive. From there, you can capture a spectacular photo of the bridge and the old wooden pylons that poke out of the water. Other fantastic photo spots include the Astoria Riverwalk Inn and the Fort George Beer Pier.
Astoria borders the Columbia Bar, a treacherous 3-mile section of the Columbia River dotted with shoals and bars. Learn all about "the Graveyard of the Pacific" at the Columbia River Maritime Museum, which explains how the wild weather and 40-foot waves have led to 2,000 shipwrecks over the years. While you're at it, explore the Lightship Columbia, a mobile lighthouse that once helped ships make it to safety through the dangerous bar.
Discover all the people who have made their home in Astoria at the Heritage Museum. The exhibits guide you through the centuries, starting with the ancient Clatsop tribes and ending with the European immigrants who flooded in during the 1800s. Don't miss the "Astor's People" section, which tells the story of John Jacob Astor and the fur-trading post that made Astoria into the first permanent town west of the Rocky Mountains. Plan to spend at least an hour here — the museum packs a huge variety into its two floors.
Whether you're an architecture buff or a history enthusiast, the Flavel House Museum is a must-visit destination. Once owned by a skilled Columbia River captain, this 11,600-square-foot Victorian home provides a thrilling glimpse into the life of a wealthy family in the 1800s. You're free to explore every inch, from the formal parlor to the attic servants' quarters. Pay special attention to the Queen Anne detailing on the exterior and the intricate woodwork indoors.
When Lewis, Clark, and the Corps of Discovery reached the Oregon coast in 1805, they built Fort Clatsop in just 22 days to weather the cold, wet winter. Today, you can explore the reconstructed fort and watch buckskin-clad rangers demonstrate the candle-making, hunting, and tanning skills the men used to survive their historic expedition. If the weather cooperates, follow in the explorers' footsteps on the hiking trails that wind through the forest.
No trip to Astoria is complete without a day at the beach. The best place to see the ocean is Fort Stevens State Park, which occupies a 4,300-acre spit of land at the mouth of the Columbia River. Allow plenty of time to explore the military battery, climb around the Peter Iredale Shipwreck, and swim in the calm waters of Coffenbury Lake. Still ready for adventure? Hike 15 miles of trails, watch animals from the wildlife viewing bunker, and kayak through Trestle Bay.
Within a short drive of downtown Astoria, you'll find two awe-inspiring waterfalls. At Youngs River Falls, a dramatic 54-foot waterfall cascades into a deep forest pool. Bring your swimsuit in the summer — the small beach just downstream is the perfect place to cool off. If you want to get off the beaten path, drive down to Fishhawk Falls. A short trail leads to a lovely viewpoint; scramble over the trees and rocks for a closer look.