Astoria is a charming gem of a town located on the Northern Oregon Coast, situated right at the border of Oregon and Washington. If you’re headed to the Oregon Coast, Astoria should definitely be on your list of places to visit. After all, there are so many things to do in Astoria, Oregon, and so much American history here as well.
Historically, Astoria was the trading center for the lower Columbia basin, with its economy centered around fishing, canning, and lumber. Located at the mouth of the Columbia River surrounded by natural beauty and rich history all around, it’s not surprising that there is so much to see and do in Astoria.
When you come, come with an empty stomach and good walking shoes–there’s so much to see, eat and drink here! This post will provide you with the ultimate list of things to do in Astoria.
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MAP OF THINGS TO DO INASTORIA, OREGON
THINGS TO DO IN ASTORIA, OREGON
CLIMB THE ASTORIA COLUMN
The 125 foot tall Astoria Column is a popular attraction in Astoria. The outside of the tower is handprinted with images that signify events from the history of Astoria and Oregon while the inside houses a tiny spiral staircase with 160+ steps that lead you to the tower’s observation deck. From here’s you’ll get spectacular panoramic views of Astoria, the magnificent Astoria-Megler Bridge, and the mouth of the Columbia River. Entry to the column is free but a $5 parking fee is charged upon entry to the park surrounding the Astoria Colum. The park is open from dawn to dusk daily.
The charming downtown area of Astoria is home to blocks and blocks of historic buildings, independently owned shops, restaurants, and local breweries. During your stroll, you’ll find cool spots to check out including the Liberty Theater, Fort George Brewery, Phog Bounders Antique Mall, Garbo’s Vintage Wear, Shallon Winery, the Museum of Whimsy, and the Garden of Surging Waves. You could spend hours roaming around the streets of downtown, popping your head into the many gift shops, bars, and cafes located here.
ASTORIA SUNDAY MARKET
The Astoria Sunday Market located in downtown Astoria runs seasonally between the months of May and October and is a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The Sunday Market features up to 200 vendors each week offering hand-crafted, locally-made products as well as local produce. There are accompanying food booths as well as a performance stage showcasing local musicians. Fun fact: it’s the second-largest market of its kind in Oregon!
MUSEUM OF WHIMSY
The Museum of Whimsy is whimsically held inside an old 1920s bank building. If you like oddities and curiosities, this is just the place for you! The museum is the work of Trish Bright, a retired stockbroker who bought the former bank with her husband in 2005. Her collection is packed with unexpected finds located in every corner and crevice and you’ll find a medley of old and new artifacts from around the world. There are so many things to see, it may be difficult to decide where to start. Just dive in and get lost for an hour or two!
The Astoria Riverwalk, also known as the Astoria River Trail, is a stretch of road that’s perfect for casual strolling. Walk along the Columbia River and soak in the scenic views of both the ships coming and going on the water and the river itself. Along the way, you’ll find museums, restaurants, breweries, and interpretive kiosks, as well as a trolley that offers a historical narrative of the area. Along the way, you’ll pass by some awesome eateries worth checking out, including Mo’s Seafood & Chowder, Bowpicker Fish & Chips, and Frite & Scoop. If you have the time and the stomach space, eat at all of these places. The docks area is also home to an antique mall, a few bars/breweries, as well as some fine dining restaurants. The Astoria Riverwalk is also a great place to start your morning with a jog or end your night with a post-dinner stroll.
OREGON FILM MUSEUM
The Oregon Film Museum, located in the old Clatsop County Jail in Astoria, is dedicated to movies made in Oregon. If you didn’t know, Astoria is most famously known as the filming location for The Goonies and other classics such as Kindergarten Cop and Free Willy. The building that the museum is housed in was once an actual jail and is the same one you see in The Goonies’ jail scenes! It’s a must-visit for Goonies-fans! Since the museum is quite small, this attraction should take you no more than 30 minutes to an hour.
I must say, this is a pretty lovely sight. This significant bridge is 4.1 miles long and connects Oregon and Washington. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but when crossing by car, you’ll get great views of the Columbia River below. If you don’t feel like driving right up to the bridge, you can catch a glimpse of it along the riverwalk or from the Cannery Pier Hotel.
At the corner of Duane and 16th, you’ll find Shallon Winery, home to a slew of unique, all-natural dessert wines in the most unexpected flavors. Some of the dessert wines offered include Wild Evergreen Blackberry, Hawaiian Mango, and wines made with whey (yes, the cheese byproduct). One of the most popular wines here: an orange whey wine made with six kinds of chocolate that can be treated as a liqueur, heated and served just like a hot chocolate, or used over cake, ice cream, or fruit. If you stop by, you just have to try it for yourself. Tastings are complimentary, but be sure to bring money in case you want to take a bottle of the decadent goodness home for yourself.
COLUMBIA RIVER MARITIME MUSEUM
This museum is great not only for maritime lovers but for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of Astoria, Oregon, and the Columbia River. Through six galleries, you can explore the history of the Columbia River from the days of dugout canoes, through the age of sail, to the present. Discover the stories of the legendary Columbia River Bar, one of the most dangerous passages in the world.
Not only do you get to learn, but you also get to participate in some pretty hands-on activities here. The interactive exhibits include experiencing what it’s like to pilot a tugboat, participating in a Coast Guard rescue, walking the bridge of a WWII warship, and even boarding the Lightship Columbia, a National Historic Landmark that once guided ships to safety at the mouth of the Columbia River.
VISIT A BREWERY
Oregon and its craft beer scene is unstoppable, and it’s no different here in Astoria. Check out Fort George Brewery + Public House in downtown Astoria, known for great beers and great brewpub food. Around the docks, you’ll find Astoria Brewing Company and Buoy Brewing, each with patrons lounging peacefully outdoors enjoying their view of the Columbia River.
CAPTAIN GEORGE FLAVEL HOUSE MUSEUM
Occupying an entire block in Astoria, the Captain George Flavel House Museum is a popular attraction in Astoria. The house was built by George Flavel, a maritime pilot who was credited with the early passages through the Columbia River Bar. The inside of the house is a complete beauty, intricately filled with historic furniture and artifacts that a typical wealthy family in the 1800s would possess. History buffs, definitely add this to your list of things to do in Astoria.
Head to Josephson’s Smokehouse for some high-quality salmon products. If you didn’t know, Astoria is known for its high-quality salmon. Astoria sits strategically on the Columbia River, near the mouth of the Pacific Ocean. This is a key migratory route for spawning salmon and albacore tuna, which means you’re getting fish from the source!
Josephson’s Smokehouse is a smoked fish wonderland. There are so many varieties of canned salmon, salmon jerky, and smoked wild-caught salmon prepared all types of ways–with garlic pepper, with spicy pepper, in a wine-maple marinade, hot-smoked, etc. I’d recommend the wine-maple marinade smoked salmon (absolutely delightful to the very last bite). Their products make for great souvenirs!
SEE A SHIPWRECK
Within Fort Stevens State Park lies the shipwreck of Peter Iredale. This four-masted steel barque sailing vessel set its sail in 1906 from Salina Cruz, Mexico, and was bound for Portland. Due to fog and wind, the ship crashed onto the shore and has remained here ever since. Immediately after the crash, it became a popular tourist attraction. And although the ship has been broken up by water, wind, and sand over the years, the wreck of the Peter Iredale continues to be a popular tourist attraction today. When the tide is low, you can actually walk right up to it for photos!
VISIT CANNON BEACH
The town of Cannon Beach and iconic Haystack Rock is located just 40 minutes south of Astoria. This iconic beach town is a refreshing place to explore, with its many restaurants, art galleries and boutique shops.
When you’re there, it’ll be hard to miss Haystack Rock, a dramatic 235-foot rock formation towering over the shoreline. At low tide, colorful tidepools showcase a world of colorful marine life, while seabirds such as Tufted Puffins, Brown Pelicans, and Bald Eagles nest on the rock itself.
LEWIS AND CLARK NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK
The Lewis and Clark National Historic Park is made up of 12 sites along the Pacific Coast which retrace the steps of the 1804 to 1806 Lewis Clark Expedition. Not sure why this is important? A little history lesson for you: the expedition was the first American expedition to cross the western portion of the United States. Fort Clatsop in Astoria served as a winter encampment for the expedition. Now, of course, the one you see at The Lewis and Clark National Historic Park isn’t the same one that was standing back in the 1800s. A replica of the original fort was created based on the expedition notes. Nevertheless, you’ll be immediately transported back in time as you explore the fort.
A few other notable activities to consider while you’re here:
- Fort to Sea Trail – a 6.5-mile hike that takes you up a gentle climb to the top of Clatsop Ridge, where you’ll be rewarded with great views of the Pacific Ocean. From there, descend through deep woods and reach a wooded pasture dotted with small lakes. The wooded pasture leads to gentle dunes that’ll lead you back to the parking lot.
- Netul River Trail – 1-mile relaxing stroll by the river, great for animal spotting. Watch for water birds, eagles and sometimes otters. Along the way, you can learn about the history of logging and commerce along the Lewis and Clark River.
- Lewis and Clark River Paddle Tours – In the summertime, the park offers complimentary kayak tours, completely free with park admission! Hop in a watercraft and paddle along the lush riverbanks of the Lewis and Clark River. These 3-hour paddle tours are led by rangers and will include various natural and cultural topics geared for all interests. Make sure you book as early as possible to secure your spot!
If you’ve exhausted your list of things to do in Astoria, take the short drive down to Seaside. Seaside is another beach town on the Oregon Coast. It’s a popular resort town with a nostalgic, quirky, and family-friendly feel with a lively oceanfront promenade. Park your car and walk down Broadway Street—you’ll surely be entertained here. Seaside is also home to one of the biggest beaches you’ll ever see! Make sure you stop at Phillips Candies to taste the world’s best taffy. You’ll find lots of shops, food options, and fun things to do here. There’s even a shooting gallery and a full-sized arcade here! I’d recommend carving out ~3 hours to explore Seaside.
If you’re looking for some adventurous things to do in Astoria, OR, we’ve got you! Enjoy a tour of 8 zip lines in a beautiful forested setting in Warrenton, OR. At High Life Adventures, only 6 miles from downtown Astoria, you can go on an exhilarating zip line adventure over a 7-acre lake.
WHAT TO PACK FOR THE OREGON COAST
- Umbrella | An umbrella, particularly a wind-proof umbrella, is crucial when traveling to destinations with varying/unpredictable weather. If you have an umbrella with you, then it means the rain can’t stop you from enjoying your trip and exploring the outdoors.
- Hiking Boots | If you plan on hiking, bring well broken-in boots with good ankle support and good traction. My all-time favorites are the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boots. They’re one of the lightest boots in its class, very durable, and provide out-of-the-box comfort, which is extremely important if you want to prevent blisters from the start.
- Hiking Socks | Make sure you have a good pair of cushioned wool hiking socks. For extra toe protection and to prevent blisters from developing from skin-to-skin contact, go with a pair of Injinji toe socks.
- Adventure Sandals | Tevas and Chacos are my go-to brands for multipurpose summer sandals. If you’re planning on spending some time on the river or in the ocean, you should definitely consider getting adventure sandals — they’re comfortable for long-distance walking, safe for submerging in water, and super durable.
- Waterproof Rain Jacket | A lightweight waterproof rain jacket is critical for any coastal destination. Since these weigh virtually nothing and are so easily packable, I recommend you carry one with you whenever you head outdoors. Depending on the weather forecast and chance of precipitation, I’ll either go with a rain shell or a puffier windbreaker. Despite the options I have here, one thing is for sure— I’m never without some sort of outer layer. My top recommendations are Marmot Men’s PreCip (for men) and The North Face Women’s Venture 2 Jacket (for women).
- Puffy Jacket | You’re going to need layers for the Oregon Coast. The coastal climate brings chilly evenings year-round, even on warm summer days. You have a lot of options here, but I personally have the North Face Thermoball, and it’s kept me warm throughout my many years of outdoor adventuring!
- Daypack | I’m a fan of the Deuter ACT Trail 30 Hiking Backpack. It has ample room for all the snacks and water you’ll need, as well as for your camera and the safety essentials for a day hike.
- Laundry Bag | Outdoor activities = lots of sweaty, smelly, dirty, and worn clothes. Don’t soil your entire travel bag by mixing worn clothes with your unworn clothes! Definitely bring a laundry bag to separate your clean clothes from your dirty clothes to maintain the utmost freshness.
- Hat, Bandana, or Buff | Sun protection is key for any outdoor destination. Keep the sun off your skin with a fancy sunhat, bandana, or a Buff. All three can be used to shield your neck or forehead from the sun.
- Sunscreen | Remember to put on sunscreen even if there is cloud coverage. UV rays in overcast conditions are particularly strong, so don’t overlook it.
- Hand Sanitizer | Hand sanitizer gel or wipes are a must any time you’re going to be in contact with surfaces many other people have touched. Never leave your hotel room without it! And if you do happen to forget it, remember to wash your hands often, especially before eating or touching your face.
- Body Wipes / Feminine Wipes | Feeling a bit gross after a hike but don’t have the time to shower right in that instant? Just whip out one of these body wipes for a quick refresher. The feminine wipes I like are infused with cucumber and aloe. Trust me, you will feel and smell so much better. Always good to have a few handy in your travel bag.
- Portable Power Bank | You’re probably going to be out all day, snapping away taking pictures, GPSing to all the great breweries and eateries… the last thing you want is to be stranded with no phone battery! A portable power bank is a must-have, and Anker’s ultra-light, ultra-portable power bank is tried and true by so many travelers! I never embark on a day of exploration without it.
- Smartphone UV Sanitizer and Charger | Our phones gather all the grime and bacteria we touch throughout the day, and then they are stored in warm, dark places like purses and pockets, which make for great breeding grounds for bacteria to grow. They are the third hand we never wash, but should! Using a UV sanitizer such as PhoneSoap on a regular basis will help keep germs and illness at bay.
- Soft Hydration Flask | Stay hydrated throughout the day with a water bottle that can go anywhere with you—and fold up when not in use. I love the packability of these bottles!