Astoria. Cool name, even cooler city in Oregon.
We were interested in going to Astoria because of the rich history, filming locations, great food, craft beer and awesome pictures I kept seeing online. Our friends had camped nearby and climbed The Astoria Column a few weeks before we got to Astoria and enjoyed it. While we didn’t do this on our trip, consider it!
We visited Astoria in early October 2017 after Drew returned from a long training exercise. We like to have trips to look forward to after time apart and we love exploring whatever area we’re in. From Olympia it was about two hours driving south. We passed several fishing and lumber villages before driving along the Columbia River and crossing over the Astoria-Megler Bridge. If you know how I handle long, tall bridges over bodies of water then you can guess how well this went.
Thanks to a blown hard drive, I lost the photos I originally downloaded but you can check out my photos I post *LIVE* on Instagram like these ones from the Astoria trip. I pulled what I could find…enjoy!
We drove straight into town, passing several restaurants I read about before visiting. We stayed at the gorgeous, historic Hotel Elliott. While they don’t have parking available, there is a nearby lot and street parking. They will give you a heads up about weekend farmer’s markets or events if you’ll need to move. We had heated bathroom floors, white robes and complimentary breakfast with really good food. The hotel did have a bar with happy hour which we enjoyed one or two nights to watch our football game.
We read a few reports of the hotel being haunted and their encounters but luckily we had no issues. Whew!
Our favorite thing about traveling is to go out on the first night eating and drinking through the city. Part of the reason we chose Hotel Elliot was for the walking distance to a majority of downtown. Fall in the PNW is cold and rainy so being nearby was helpful. There weren’t that many people in town either so we never waited on tables or in lines. It was cozy and relaxing. This town is definitely laid back so no need to get too fancy. I had heeled boots and booties for night time and, paired with leggings or jeans, was just fine.
We stopped into Baked Alaska for beer and happy hour appetizers. Their clam chowder was out of this world yummy. They had a bar section that walks back to more formal dining looking over the Graveyard of the Pacific (nickname of the Columbia River.) We saw sea lions popping their heads up in the water. In the above photo the red barn looking structure was the Pilot House. A waitress told us that there was an Airbnb with a hot tub in the loft. There were several good options online to choose from and you can find the loft in a quick search.
After Baked Alaska we walked around for drinks and weren’t disappointed by any of the bars we stopped into. Take a walk down the Astoria Riverwalk and choose any number of places to stop into. Clemente’s had a view of the river, the ambience and decor of a pier-side eclectic restaurant. I heard about them from this video while searching for best drinks and their cocktails are unique and food looked great. I had the Dreamsicle Martini which was light, creamy, cold and DE.LIC.IOUS! The Wet Dog Cafe/Astoria Brewing Company was casual and laid back and then we ended at Inferno Lounge.
We used the next day to drive 15 minutes out to the Lewis & Clark National Historical Park and Fort Clatsop which commemorates the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Some people, like military, get discounts so check with the front desk when you’re paying your admission.
Once you pay a small admission fee you can walk around looking at a few exhibits before sitting in a small theater that describes the history of the site and what part of the expedition happened in the PNW. The above pictures are of Fort Clatsop. Fort Clatsop was the camp of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the Oregon Country near the mouth of the Columbia River during the winter of 1805-1806.
There are trails that branch off from the camp and will take you through other historical markers. There are views of a river mouth and, even though it started raining it was fun to walk out. Although there is a parking lot at the far end of trail (a few miles walking) I would say save your time and go see something else. This was great for locals who were wanting to get out or those wanting to get a little walk in and just enjoy their day.
Another 15 minute drive out to the coast is Fort Stevens State Park. Let’s say you’re not a history buff, nerd, Army, etc. You will still find this place fascinating because of the significance. Driving to the actual Fort there are the original entrance gates and a field with low-lying cinder block walls. These are the barracks and buildings that were first put in place. The visitor’s center has souvenirs, maps, uniforms, videos and a mini-Fort Stevens layout.
Walking around the Fort, you can stand in the old battering rams, lookout from where cannons and guns were placed and go through what used to be a primary military installation. Looking out at the Pacific you can imagine what they saw.
To feature from their website “Completed in 1865 to protect the mouth of the Columbia River from Confederate gun boats and the British Navy during the Civil War. The post later served as Oregon’s only coastal defense fort during the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. The fort has the distinction of being the only military fort in the United States to be fired upon by an enemy during time of war since the War of 1812, when it was attacked by a Japanese submarine on June 21, 1942.”
Driving further out on the coast, you get the same view as Lewis and Clark when they looked out at the ocean. Knowing you’re standing where they roughly were, looking at the same waves splashing up…WOW.
There was also the Peter Iredale Shipwreck. Peter Iredale was a four-masted steel barque sailing vessel that ran ashore October 25, 1906, on the Oregon coast en route to the Columbia River.
The next few days and events are no longer that clear since it’s been several months but we did try a few more places you should check out for food and drinks:
Carruthers Restaurant. We had fancy ‘New American’ type food with whiskey and drinks. It was so fancy we ate by chairs at the fireplace with a coffee table.
Fort George Brewery also had super delicious food; we ended up going there twice that weekend. We had entrees, pizza, specially brewed beer and it was the busiest place we had been all weekend. Upstairs had more space and big windows overlooking the city.
Bridgewater Bistro was way nicer than we were thinking so this was a night we grabbed a drink and appetizer to not be rude then sped down the road for pizza, which actually sounded good and we were dressed appropriately (HA!) The service and food were delicious but we just wanted something different that night.
The last day we visited Buoy Beer Company. I wish we had gone here more than once. They were the second busy location in Astoria where we actually had to wait a minute for a table. That was more than okay with us because it’s the hot spot for sea lions! They’re swimming around in the water, sleeping on the dock, playing tag and you can view them from a glass floor in Buoy. Buoy’s beer was delicious, the view was sunny and clear over the water and the food was high quality bar food. Drew doesn’t like oysters but even he tried their fried blue pearl oysters. To be completely honest….yeah, I ordered them for how they looked online. The taste was phenomenal and still fresh even though they were fried.
Wish we could have made it to Bowpicker‘s because we heard so many good things about their famous fish ‘n’ chips but we didn’t.
The very last day was our time to drive around for site seeing and filming locations. Driving out to the Goonie’s house was a tad of a let down. It is a private home and due to some people not respecting that you will not be able to truffle shuffle on the property. You can stop a few hundred feet down by the stop sign (You will see tons of no trespassing signs) to catch a glimpse but call it after that.
Driving back into town you can see the Flavel House (We didn’t tour this) and directly across the street is the Oregon Film Museum. After purchasing tickets you can register your email and keep any videos or media you create in the museum. This was a small building but they packed it with movie quotes, facts, sets, posters and more. I didn’t know just how many movies were filmed in Astoria. Goonies, Free Willy, Kindergarten Cop, The Shining, Twilight and more were filmed here. Outside of the building they had the jeep that was shot up in The Goonies and inside were a few of the jail cells.
We also visited the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Stick with me here. This is something neither Drew nor I are usually interested in boats or maritime adventures but it is such a huge part of this area that it was fun to stop in. The entire backside of the museum was floor to ceiling windows. The inside seemed new, updated, modern and was done extremely well. They had a HUGE life size replica of an actual Coast Guard rescue. You can see this as you first walk up to the museum and you can’t fit it all in one photo when standing in the room. There are also glass bottom floors, views of the barges, and more.
It was an awesome weekend and we would love to go back for more eating, drinking and exploring. Have a great trip!
Want a tour of Astoria with some more fun facts? This local created a quick video.
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