Post Summary: The Best Things To Do In Astoria, Oregon
Have you ever wanted to take a trip to the picturesque Pacific Northwest? How about exploring an adorable Oregon Coast town with access to the beach, mountains, and rivers in all directions?
Well, Astoria, Oregon is an amazing place full of breathtaking sights and cultural experiences. Berty and I have been several times now, with our most recent trip just this last January!
Whether you want to explore outdoors, eat delicious cuisine, or indulge in some local culture (The Goonies!), there are plenty of fun things to do in this charming town.
Read on for our top picks for the best things to do in Astoria!
The Best Things To Do In Astoria, Oregon
1. See the City From Above at The Astoria Column
The Astoria Column atop Coxcomb Hill provides viewers with a 360-degree view of the city, Columbia River, and surrounding forests.
To the south, you’ll see Saddle Mountain, the Pacific Ocean to the west, The Astoria-Megler Bridge to the North, and lush green forests to the east.
Built in 1926, John Jacob Astor (who Astoria was named after) predicted that this hill would be the new “New York City of the West”. Astoria may not have gotten to the scale of NYC, but we love it still for its charming old-town feel!
The murals wrapping the column share Astoria’s history from 1792 to the 1800s. You can pick up a brochure to read all about each artwork!
Parking costs $5 and the entry ticket is good for the full year. Alternatively, you can hike from the Cathedral tree trail, which is 3 miles one way.
Astoria Column Facts:
- Column height: 125 feet
- Number of steps to the top: 164
- Original cost: $27,133.96
2. Walk the Historic Astoria Riverwalk Trail
The historic shoreline of downtown Astoria used to be a ton of fish processing plants, factories, and loading docks.
Today, it’s full of delicious restaurants, breweries, and viewing areas for visitors!
There’s a trolley car that goes back and forth for $1 on the weekends. It runs between Pier 39 and the Red Lion Hotel which is a 4-mile strip of the 12.8-mile total paved trail.
Here, watch ships go under the Astoria-Megler Bridge, watch sea lions bark at one another, and stop often to view the beauty of the Columbia River.
3. Downtown Astoria
Downtown Astoria is easily one of the coolest downtowns Berty and I have ever been to!
It’s chock-full of cute vintage stores, restaurants, cafes, and gift shops. It’s extremely walkable and we loved popping into the stores to find local treasures.
Here are some of our must-stop places in Downtown Astoria:
- Blue Scorcher Coffee House & Bistro
- Vintage Hardware
- Garden of Surging Waves Asian Park
- Fort George Brewery or Buoy Beer Company
- Short Wave
- Godfather’s Books
4. Lewis and Clark National Historic Site – Fort Clatsop
Did you know that Clatsop County was the final westward ending place for Lewis and Clark’s iconic expedition? They arrived in the winter of 1805 and stayed over the winter season on Clatsop land.
Now, the fort standing today is a replica made in 2006. It was meticulously redesigned from the notebook of Clark to match the floor plan of the original fort. Historians are also certain that the original fort site was within yards of the one standing today!
After exploring the fort, spend time hiking around the area to the Kwis Kwis Trail, the 6.1 mile Fort To Seat Trail, or roam around inside to learn more about the people and events of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
It’s $10 per adult to visit the site. If you have an American the Beautiful Pass ($80 annual), or an Oregon Coast Pass ($35 annual), these are also honored here.
5. Peter Iredale Shipwreck
Did you know that the Pacific Northwest has been given the moniker “Graveyard of the Pacific”? Over 2,000 shipwrecks have happened here, and over a thousand lives have been lost at sea.
The waters near Astoria are particularly treacherous, because the Columbia River Sandbar’s location is unpredictable, making ship navigation extremely hard here.
The Peter Iredale ran aground in 1906 on the Clatsop Spit, where all were saved but the ship was left to waste away in the elements. Only a section of it still remains but you can access it from the beach for a cool adventure. It’s one of the best things to do in Astoria with kids!
Pro Tip: Park in Lot A for the closest access. From here, it will be just a short walk north.
6. Explore Fort Stevens State Park
Are you a big history buff? You’re going to love Fort Stevens State Park.
This military fort was in service from the Civil War to World War II, 84 years total. Now, empty military bunkers are left, which you can roam around and explore at your leisure.
If you want to know even more, you can book a tour with the Friend of Old Fort Stevens. With them, you can see old photos, hear stories from soldiers, and tour one of the most haunted places in Oregon – Battery Russel!
This area also hosts one of the largest Oregon Coast campgrounds. With over 400 sites available, it’s a very popular place to spend a few days, especially as a weekend trip from Portland.
7. Cape Disappointment State Park
Cape Disappointment State Park is located just across the Columbia River in Washington State. It may not seem like a fun time to go to a place with “Disappointment” in the name, but it’s anything but!
This park got its name for tricking Captain John Meares into thinking it was the mouth of the Columbia River in 1788.
Here, there is a lot to do and see. Waikiki Beach is known for huge waves during the King Tide, which is a photographer’s paradise.
You can also check out the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center to learn about the history of this area.
Finally, meander through old-growth forests, freshwater lakes for boating, saltwater marches, and panoramic views of the water.
There are two lighthouses in the park, the North Head Lighthouse and Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.
8. Fresh Seafood
While in Astoria, you simply must get some seafood!
It can be as casual or as fancy as you want it to be. Here are some of our favorite suggestions:
Bowpickers: This is a great option for a quick bite to eat between activities. It’s like a semi-permanent food truck with outdoor seating located east of the main downtown area.
Buoy Beer in Astoria Food Hall: Nestled right downtown, Buoy Beer in Astoria Food Hall is a great stop for window shoppers and downtown wanderers. Pair beer with fish, and enjoy the sun-drenched dining area for an ideal lunch setting.
9. Flavel House Museum
Pronounced “fluh-vell,” George Flavel was one of Astoria’s first millionaires. He invested heavily in infrastructure, industries, and buildings, employing almost half the town in his many businesses.
He build the gorgeous, Queen-Anne style house that sits downtown today. Now, the Friends of the Flavel House manage it as a live museum, displaying furniture and telling stories about the family and their home.
It’s a great tour if you love architecture, history, and antiques! About 30% of the furniture in the house are Flavel pieces, the rest are what we expected the place to be furnished like.
Are you a Goonies fan? If you look closely at the scene of kids riding their bikes, this is where Mikey’s dad worked!
10. Bumble Bee Cannery Museum
Opened in 1975, the Hanthorn Cannery Museum is a free walk-through museum on Pier 39. It’s one of the best free things to do in Astoria, Oregon!
Here, you can learn about how the cannery started and learn about the thousands of people employed by the company. We especially loved seeing the old labels and machines used in the process. At the end, there were examples of crabs, and I had no idea the Alaskan King Crab was so huge!
11. Take a Self-Guided Astoria Movie Tour
Do you love movies set in the Pacific Northwest? Great news, Astoria and the surrounding area has been used in several popular Hollywood movies!
Astoria is commonly used for its San Francisco-like city near the water. The ocean, estuaries and dense forests are also frequently used (think Twilight movie forest clips!)
The best (free) way to take a self-guided Astoria movie tour is to first visit the Oregon Film Museum. Here, there are blockbuster posters with the movie scenes filmed in Astoria listed below the posters. Film your favorite movie, snap a picture of the scene list, and then get out and go find them!
Note: Be careful to not park in from of private homes. Mikey and Brand’s house is a great example of this – a regular family lives there so please give them some privacy!
12. Stand in Awe of the Astoria-Megler Bridge
The Astoria-Megler Bridge connects Oregon and Washington across the Columbia River. It’s the largest continuous truss bridge in North America, spanning just over 4 miles in length.
This is one of the best things to see in Astoria, and there are several perspectives to capture the bridge downtown!
Our favorite is on the backside of Bridgewater Bistro, anywhere along the Astoria Riverwalk, and from the Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa.
13. Grab a Beer
If you are a craft beer connoisseur, you’re going to love visiting Astoria! From brewpubs to a cidery, breweries to distilleries, there is something for every palate. Here are some Astoria breweries we recommend:
Rogue Ale House: Located on Pier 39, Rogue Ale House is the perfect destination for stunning views of the Columbia River. Come watch the Timbers play on the big screen!
Buoy Beer Taphouse: Bouy Beer focused mainly on classic brews like the Helles lager or Czech pilsner. Come to the food hall and pair your drinks with some classic fish and chips too.
Fort George Brewery: They built this brewery right on top of Astoria’s original settlement! Come for its ever-rotating IPA selection, and historic-building vibes.
14. Cathedral Tree Trail
For a lush, dreamy hike within the city limits, you’ve got to check out Cathedral Tree Trail.
This easy-to-moderate Astoria hiking trail begins at the Irving Avenue Trailhead and after 1 mile leads you to the iconic Cathedral Tree.
It’s a Sitka Spruce over 300 years old, that is 8.5 feet in diameter, and over 200 feet tall.
You can turn around and return to your car from here, or continue on to a steeper, longer trail that ends at the Astoria Column. The path is yours to choose!
Read More: 26 jaw-dropping Oregon Coast hikes for your bucket list
15. Hike to Youngs River Falls
Youngs River Falls is a small but mighty Oregon waterfall, and a popular swimming hole in the summertime.
Don’t worry, we visited in January, and we would still recommend it! The hike is extremely short, just 0.3 miles (about a 5-minute walk) down to the waterfall.
Parking is free! But come with a rain jacket – the spray from the falls will absolutely get you wet!
Best Things To Do In Astoria, Oregon – Summary List
- Astoria Column
- Historic Riverwalk Trail
- Downtown Astoria Shops
- Lewis and Clark National Historic Site – Fort Clatsop
- Peter Iredale Shipwreck
- Fort Stevens State Park
- Cape Disappointment State Park (Washington)
- Eat Fresh Seafood
- Flavel House Museum
- Hanthorn Free Cannery Museum
- Astoria Movie Oregon (Oregon Film Museum)
- Astoria-Megler Bridge
- Grab A Beer
- Cathedral Tree Trail
- Hike to Youngs River Falls
What are some of your favorite things to do in Astoria? Share them with us in the comments below!
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