Astoria, Oregon 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, and so much American history hidden here as well.
For those of you who are unfamiliar–historically, Astoria was the trading center for the lower Columbia basin, with its economy centered around fishing, canning, and lumber. A big factor of its importance was due to its prime location.
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 even today! As a sneak peek of what to expect, imagine a fishing village-meets-Victoriana, chock-full of old-timey architecture, museums and great local breweries!
We had the pleasure of staying in Oregon for a little over a month a year ago, and during that time, we spend a lot of weekends exploring off-the-beaten-path towns such as Astoria. We absolutely fell in love with what this little historic town had to offer!
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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WHERE IS ASTORIA, OREGON LOCATED?
Astoria is a port city and the seat of Clatsop County, Oregon, United States. Founded in 1811, Astoria is the oldest city in the state of Oregon.
This small coastal town is tucked into the picturesque inlet where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. Just to the south of town is Cannon Beach, with its towering Haystack Rock rising from the waters just offshore.
Astoria, Oregon, is an easy trip from larger cities like Seattle and Portland and is undoubtedly a great place to spend some of your vacation time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT ASTORIA, OREGON
The best time to visit Astoria is from June to September, as these summer months bring the mildest and driest weather conditions of the year.
Late spring is also a wonderful time to visit the coast as you’re going to be getting pretty decent weather without the summer crowds.
Having said that, if you want a different kind of vacation, we challenge you to visit during the winter season!
Winter on the Oregon Coast is not for everyone, but travelers do make it a point to visit the Oregon Coast in the winter. Winter storm watching is a popular activity on the Oregon Coast, and this is when beachcombing for agates and shells is the best. November to January is the rainiest season on the coast.
Whatever time of year you come, bring layers and prepare for the possibility of rain! Just toss an umbrella or two into the trunk of your car– it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
HOW TO GET TO ASTORIA, OREGON
Astoria is a breeze to get to by car, with the nearest major city from Astoria being Portland, OR. From Portland, OR, the drive to Astoria is a little under 2 hours. Once in town, the easiest way to get around is by car.
If you are coming from out of state, it’s easiest to fly into PDX, the Portland International Airport.
From there, simply grab yourself a rental car and be on your merry way.
If you are the type to compare prices between rental car companies, use Priceline’s rental car search! Not only does the tool allow you to compare rental car prices across the major rental car companies, but most of the time you can book with no prepayment and no cancellation fees. You’ll only be charged if you show up to pick up the car!
Don’t want to rent a car for some reason? You could also opt for the Amtrak bus to get to Astoria. The bus from Portland to Astoria departs twice daily from Union Station and will cost you about $15.
If you’re coming from elsewhere, I would still recommend ground transportation as it’s probably the easiest and most convenient way to get to Astoria. Here are some other sample cities and their distances from Astoria:
- 90 miles to Portland, OR
- 181 miles to Seattle, WA
- 190 miles to Eugene, OR
- 235 miles to Victoria, Canada
Coming by cruise ship? (That’s right, Astoria is also a cruise ship port!)
The cruise ship port is a little over a mile from the heart of downtown Astoria. It is ~1.3 miles to the beginning of Astoria’s main downtown commercial district and ~2 miles to the Columbia River Maritime Museum, Astoria’s largest attraction.
You can either choose to walk the riverfront or take the historic trolley that runs parallel to the Riverwalk.
The walk can be super pleasant, as you’ll be walking along Astoria’s paved riverwalk, which passes by many restaurants, brewpubs, and other waterfront businesses. If you’re up for some light exercise, I’d recommend the walking option!
There is also a bus service from the Port of Astoria to downtown, departing every 15 minutes (route 11). An all-day pass (includes buses and trolleys) is available for $7 that includes on/off privileges. An all-day pass for the trolley is only $2, but do check the trolley schedule to make sure it runs when you need it to. (It runs from around 12 pm to 6 pm in spring and summer, but its exact hours is weather-dependent).
ARE YOU ROAD TRIP READY? YOUR QUICK CHECKLIST:
License and registration | This is a no-brainer, but always good to check you have all documents before it’s too late and you get too far away from home. Do NOT leave home without them. They are road trip essentials!
Spare Tire | In addition to carrying a spare tire with you, don’t forget to check your current tire conditions before you set off as well.
Jumper Cables / Car Jump Starter | A must-have for any road trip! If you’re looking to invest in something exponentially more powerful/convenient than simple jumper cables, get the NOCO Boost HD Car Battery Jump Starter Box. This tool was sent from heaven and serves as a car jump starter, portable power bank, LED flashlight, and 12-volt portable power–all in one!
iOttie car mount | This is my partner in crime on any road trip. It’s got an amazing grip and popping your phone in and out of the mount could not be easier. If you’re renting a rental car and you’re not sure if it has a navigation screen, bring a phone mount with you. The iOttie attaches by suction, so it’s easy to transport from car to car.
Roadside Emergency Kit | You never know what kind of car trouble you may encounter on the road. This convenient little kit contains 42 roadside emergency components, including jumper cables, an aluminum flashlight and batteries, 2-in-1 screwdriver, duct tape, poncho, cable ties, bandages, towelettes, and zipper-lock bags.
Trunk Organizer | With any road trip comes lots and lots of stuff to pack. Keep your road trip essentials organized with a trunk organizer. Not only will this make it so much easier to find what you need, but it will also lead to more space in your trunk for you to pack other necessities.
Portable Cooler | Coolers are a must for any road trip. Not only will you be able to keep beverages cold and refreshing, but you will also be able to keep perishables fresh. A portable hard cooler will allow you to pack picnic lunches, bring cheese and jams, and more.
MAP OF THINGS TO DO IN ASTORIA, OREGON
17+ BEST THINGS TO DO IN ASTORIA, OREGON
1. CLIMB THE ASTORIA COLUMN
The 125-foot tall Astoria Column is a popular attraction and is often considered one of the best things to do in Astoria, OR. If you don’t know where to start in Astoria, start here with some pretty nifty aerial views to get a lay of the land!
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.
2. DOWNTOWN ASTORIA
The charming downtown area of Astoria is home to blocks and blocks of historic buildings, independently owned shops, restaurants, and local breweries. Because we love exploring new cities on foot, it’s one of our favorite things to do in Astoria!
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 literally spend hours roaming around the streets of downtown, popping your head into the many gift shops, bars, and cafes located here.
3. 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! That makes it a must-do, right?
4. 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!
5. ASTORIA RIVERWALK
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. This is another one of our favorite things to do in Astoria, OR.
6. 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.
7. ASTORIA-MEGLER BRIDGE
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 luxurious Cannery Pier Hotel.
8. SHALLON WINERY
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.
9. 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.
10. 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. If you like beer, definitely try to add one or two breweries to your Astoria travel itinerary.
11. 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!
12. JOSEPHSON’S SMOKEHOUSE
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 (this is what we got and it was absolutely delightful to the very last bite). Their products make for great souvenirs, but be aware–they aren’t cheap!
Not cheap, but so, so worth every penny.
13. SEE A SHIPWRECK
Within Fort Stevens State Park lies the shipwreck of Peter Iredale. This four-masted steel baroque 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!
14. RIDE THE HISTORIC TROLLEY
For something a little more touristy and fun, ride the historic Astoria Riverfront Trolley, the “Old 300”, along the scenic river!
Old 300 was built in 1913 by the American Car Company of St. Louis, MO for the San Antonio Traction Company in Texas. Streetcar service in San Antonio officially ended April 29, 1933 and this car was eventually donated to the San Antonio Museum Association.
Old 300 is still the property of the San Antonio Museum Association but has been in the Pacific Northwest for more than 10 years now!
The trolley is operated and maintained by a volunteer crew these days. To board the trolley, head to one of several trolley stops located along the riverfront between Basin Street (near the Astoria Riverwalk Inn) and 39th Street.
If you can’t make it to a trolley stop, simply flag the trolley down at any location by waving a dollar bill at the conductor!
It costs just $1 per boarding, and you can ride as long as you like! For the all-day pass, that will cost you a mere $2 for unlimited rides all day long. The trolley schedule can be found here.
15. VISIT CANNON BEACH
The town of Cannon Beach, OR 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.
16. 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 then: 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 at The Lewis and Clark National Historic Park:
- 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!
17. VISIT SEASIDE
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, OR.
18. GO ZIPLINING
If you’re looking for some adventurous things to do in Astoria, OR, we’ve got you!
Located just 15 minutes away from Astoria, you can enjoy a tour of 8 zip lines in a beautiful forested setting in nearby 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.
It’s a bummer we didn’t find out about this activity until after we returned from our day trip to the Oregon Coast, but ziplining is at the top of our list for our next visit!
WHERE TO STAY: ASTORIA, OREGON
There are a number of great lodging options for overnight travelers visiting Astoria, OR and the Oregon Coast.
- Astoria Riverwalk Inn – Located just a 1-minute walk from Port of Astoria Marina, this motel features clean and bright en suite rooms with complimentary continental breakfast and free parking. All rooms include a balcony overlooking the marina and the Astoria-Megler Bridge. Dog-friendly hotel!
- Selina Commodore Astoria – Situated in the historic Lewis Building in the city center of Astoria, the Selina Commodore Astoria features an on-site restaurant and a free DVD library with 100+ films. You’ll get to stay in urban-inspired guest rooms, located just 5 minutes walk from the Columbia River Maritime Museum.
If you’re visiting Astoria on a day trip, you may wish to stay in nearby Seaside instead. Seaside, OR is located just 28 minutes away from Astoria and features a bunch of exciting things to do and great lodging accommodations as well.
- Ashore Hotel Seaside – This former seaside motel has been renovated into a beautiful, chic boutique hotel. Ashore Hotel features accommodation with free bikes, free private parking, a sun terrace, and a bar. One of the most stylish hotels in the area!
- River Inn at Seaside – Located in the centre of Seaside and overlooking the Necanicum River, River Inn at Seaside features an indoor swimming pool and a hot tub. Seaside Beach is 5 minutes’ walk away, and a free breakfast is served daily.
- Rivertide Suites – A 5-minute walk from the Seaside Aquarium in Oregon, this riverfront accommodation offers a gym and comfortably furnished units. Units offer a full kitchen, fireplace, balcony, and an in-unit launderette. This option is great for families!
Where to stay: Discover the best deals on hotels in Astoria, Oregon here.
WHAT TO PACK: ASTORIA, OREGON + 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 Osprey Daylite Daypack. 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!
That’s all we have for today! What are some of your favorite things to do in Astoria, OR? Anything missing from this list? We’d love to learn about it!