As summer continues to fly by, many of us in the Tri-City area are looking for a getaway. With temperatures fluctuating between hot and outrageously hot, the appeal of a cooler climate – if even for a weekend – is becoming difficult to deny. The solution? If you have a few free days to spare, why not take a trip to the Oregon coast? There are a multitude of quaint seaside towns located along the historic Oregon Coast Highway 101, which sprawls from Washington to Northern California. However, today we’ll be focusing on Oregon’s oldest city: Astoria.
Located in the northwestern corner of Oregon and separated from Washington by the mighty Columbia River, Astoria is a place of great historical significance. Settled in 1811 by John Jacob Astor, it was the first American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. Astor, a German immigrant and the owner of the American Fur Company (AFC), founded Fort Astoria in large part due to its geographic importance. Its strategic location at the mouth of the Columbia River granted ease of access to the Pacific Ocean and solidified a regional monopoly on the fur trade for the AFC.
Eats & Drinks
Astoria is in the midst of ongoing construction wherein they have begun renovating the city’s waterfront. Many of the old shipping warehouses and dock yards have been remodeled to make way for local businesses like ice cream parlors and breweries. The old rail line that runs through the center of town has been converted into a beautiful and functional walking path for foot traffic. In this historic area there are a lot of great places to grab a bite to eat while taking in the city’s unique atmosphere. Check out the Buoy Beer Company and Fort George Public House for legendary staples of the Oregon Coast, or Bowpicker for some of the best fish & chips in the Pacific Northwest. Afterwards, finish off the day with some homemade ice cream at Frite & Scoop, where you can enjoy the sunset over the waterfront.
Built in 1926, the Astoria Column is a famous tourist attraction and prominent feature of the city’s skyline. The 125-foot-tall tower stands at the crest of Coxcomb Hill, a few blocks southeast of the town center, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970’s. During operating hours, visitors can climb an interior spiral staircase to an observation deck atop the spire. With stunning 360º views of the Columbia River’s mouth and the sprawling Astoria-Megler Bridge, the column is a must-see.
Whether you’re a film buff or a casual movie consumer, you’ll be interested to find that Astoria has a long history as a filming hub for all manner of pictures. Most famously, the city served as the backdrop for 1985’s legendary adventure-comedy The Goonies – certain scenes from which are still burned into this writer’s synapses (“Hey you guys!”). The house in which the lead characters “lived” was a museum that served as a popular tourist destination for many years, until it was recently sold to a private owner.
Other movies filmed in Astoria that can’t go without mention are 1990’s Kindergarten Cop, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1986’s Short Circuit, which has since earned a respectable cult following, the timeless Free Willy series, and more recently, Jeremy Saulnier’s dark thriller Green Room (2015).
Whether it be for a single night or a weekend getaway, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Astoria, Oregon. There is a reason that the city is considered a hidden gem of the state by locals who come to the coastal town for a change of pace. Find some time to get away and see what you can discover in Oregon’s oldest city!