Plan Your Perfect Weekend Getaway to this Charming Coastal Oregon Town

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Located a mere two hours from Portland, this historic Oregon town has everything you need for the perfect weekend getaway. Here, you’ll find quirky eateries, world-class breweries, a waterfront steeped with history, and a maritime playground with the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean at its doorstep.

Of course, the city we’re talking about is Astoria, Oregon.

Settled in 1811, Astoria is the United States’ oldest settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. When you step foot in this splendid city, you’ll feel the history seeping up through the streets (or piers if you’re on the waterfront) as it has transformed from a fishing town once lined with dozens of canneries to a tourist destination.

tugboat on the Columbia River in Astoria
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Where to Stay in Astoria

Astoria is home to a mix of lodging options, from your everyday hotels on the outskirts of town to waterfront hotels converted from historic canneries.

Bowline Hotel in Astoria, Oregon
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During our recent visit to Astoria, we booked a room at the Bowline Hotel (pronounced bow-luhn), and it instantly became one of our favorite hotels we have ever visited. Located right in the heart of downtown Astoria, the Bowline Hotel sits on pilings out over the water.

This means you’ll have stunning views of the marine traffic passing by on the Columbia River, as well as an occasional visit from the local sea lions, who like to nap below the hotel (the rooms include complimentary earplugs in case the sea lions get a little too boisterous as night!)

The hotel has amenities like barrel saunas, complimentary glasses of Prosecco at check-in, and locally roasted coffee in every room. The rooms themselves are airy and beautifully decorated, a pleasure to lounge in on those rainy Astoria days.

Barrel sauna at the Bowline Hotel
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What To Do In Astoria

Asoria offers an eclectic mix of things to do, from visiting the Oregon Film Museum to climbing the tower where you can send balsawood gliders off into the wind to exploring the underground remains of the city’s past.

Explore Pier 39

Pier 39 in Astoria, Oregon
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Pier 39 sits on the south end of town along the Astoria Riverwalk Trail. This building has been standing in this spot for nearly 150 years and for much of that time was a thriving cannery. Today it is home to a cannery museum, a Rogue Brewpub, coffee shop, and an eclectic assortment of other places to explore. The building itself is surprisingly open inside with decks, hallways, and backrooms that give you a glimpse into its historic past.

The back deck is a great spot to kick your feet up and watch the sun go down behind the Astoria–Megler Bridge.

Throw Gliders of the Astoria Column

View of the Astoria Column rising above a forest in Astoria, Oregon
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High above the city stands the 125-foot-tall Astoria Column. While the view alone is worth the price of admission the real fun is the tradition of throwing balsawood gliders off the top with the hope that one will get caught in a wind gust and flutter off to lands unseen.

The gliders are sold in the gift shop at the base of the column, but you can usually find a few laying around the grounds if you show up after they have closed up for the day. We ended up throwing half a dozen off the tower and had one that glided for well over a minute before we lost sight of it off in the distance.

Tour Underground Astoria

When walking through downtown Astoria you may notice that some of the sidewalk sections have a grid of colored glass embedded in them. This small feature isn’t just decoration for above ground visitors. Under the sidewalks lie a series of tunnels that are partially lit by sunlight filtering through these glass tiles.

For decades the center old tunnels running under the city were closed off to the public but recently a local resident has restored a portion of them and now offers tours where you can glimpse into these relics of Astoria’s past.

Visit the Oregon Film Museum

The famous "Goondocks" or "Goonies" hillside neighborhood in Astoria, Oregon, United States.
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For such a small and out-of-the-way town, Astoria has a surprisingly rich film history. The most famous is it being the location for the cult classic film The Goonies. Nearly 40 years after the film’s release, fans still flock to the city to check out the film locations. One of the best ways to take in this history is to pay a visit to the Oregon Film Museum, where you can look back on Astoria’s and the rest of Oregon’s history in movies. Some of the highlights include Kindergarten Cop (Astoria), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Depoe Bay), and The Shining (Timberline Lodge).

Where to Eat

Broder Strand

Broder Strand breakfast in Astoria
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Portland breakfast institution Broder has slowly been expanding its footprint with three locations in Portland, one in Hood River, and now, one in Astoria as well. Broder Strand in downtown Astoria serves up their familiar Scandinavian fare with favorites like Aebleskiver (Danish Pancakes), Pytt I Panna (Swedish hash), and Lefse (Norwegian Potato Crepe). The cafe is half breakfast joint and half coffee shop, and we can attest that both the food and coffee are on point!

Buoy Beer Company

Buoy Beer Company has dealt with setback after setback with its waterfront location, but it is still chugging along with a temporary location off of Marine Drive. Here, you can taste your way through its beer lineup and nosh on its coastal-inspired pub menu. We really enjoyed the clam chowder and fish and chips, and despite the location being temporary, it certainly didn’t feel like it, as the decor and atmosphere were great.

Bowpicker Fish & Chips

Fish and chips from the Bowpicker in Astoria
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Picking up an order of fish and chips is a must-do during any visit to the coast, and there is no better place to get them from than the Bowpicker. This single menu item spot serves up piping hot orders of fish and chips from an old wooden boat that sits across the street from the Columbia River Maritime Museum. During busy summer weekends, you can expect long waits for a paper tray filled with this classic Pacific Northwest dish. Bring cash as no debit or credit cards are accepted here.

About the author
Derek Carlson
Pacific Northwest native, cross-country skier, hiker, mountain biker, wannabe fly fisherman, writer and owner of Roam the Northwest