Astoria is a charming port town on the Oregon Coast located right where the mouth of the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. Right on the other side of the state border from Washington, Astoria is the day trip you’ve been searching for.
Here the streets are lined with lovely Victorian homes and the entire town is surrounded by nature.
Movie buffs will immediately recognize Astoria as the filming site for the 1985 classic movie The Goonies and the 1990s Schwarzenegger hit Kindergarten Cop and history lovers will enjoy all the great museums and historic landmarks this town has to offer.
Long Beach is only a short 30-minute drive from Astoria, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the best of this iconic town during your Astoria day trip from your Long Beach vacation rental home.
While you might not pass to many places to stop at during your mini road trip, the coastal views will more than impress. If you can’t get enough of the scenery and want to go a bit further, you could drive down to famous Cannon Beach before looping back to Astoria on the way back to Long Beach.
Top Things to Do in Astoria
There is so much to do in Astoria, from exploring the rich historic sites and culinary scene to marveling at the beautiful natural landmarks in the area. Here is a guide to the best things to do on an Astoria day trip!
Stroll Down Astoria Riverwalk
The Astoria Riverwalk is a historic trail running adjacent to the Columbia River. It runs right through the heart of downtown Astoria, and is one of the best places to explore to kick off your Astoria day trip!
Along the trail, be sure to stop at the various placards detailing the history of the trail, and fun informational tidbits about The Goonies and its filming locations!
You should also stop at Port Astoria, to peer out and watch the various ships coming and going.
Pier 39 is another great stop along the Astoria Riverwalk. Boasting the title of Astoria’s oldest waterfront building, Pier 39 is a neat place to stop and check out the historic Cannery Museum and the Hanthorn Crab Seafood Market. You can also grab a coffee here from Coffee Girl, one of the best coffee shops in Astoria. Pier 39 is also a popular hangout spot for sea lions, so keep an eye out on the docks if you want to see them.
All of downtown Astoria is accessible via the Riverwalk Trail, making it a great walk if you really want to see it all.
The entire trail is just over 6 miles long, and runs from the trailhead at Lagoon Road over to Pier 3 at the Port of Astoria. You can either walk or bike the trail, but you don’t have to do the entire trail to see the main sites of Astoria. You can also hop on and hop off the historic Astoria Riverfront Trolley which runs through all of the main attractions of downtown Astoria.
Browse the Enchanting Museums
Astoria is not only the oldest city in Oregon, but it’s also the oldest American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains! You can dive deeper into the interesting history of the town by paying a visit to some of Astoria’s best museums, including:
Columbia River Maritime Museum
The Columbia River Maritime Museum is a great place to learn all about the maritime history of the Columbia River, from the importance of the river from both a military and geographic standpoint. The museum has a wide variety of unique exhibits, with one of the best being the Lightship Columbia, a floating lighthouse that you can climb aboard and explore.
Captain George Flavel House Museum
The Captain George Flavel House was built in 1885, by businessman George Flavel as a retirement home for him and his wife. His family lived in the home until 1934 when George’s great granddaughters gifted it to the city. The estate covers an entire city block, and is a marvelous piece of Queen Anne Architecture. Today, the house is owned and maintained by the Clatsop County Historical Society, and is open to the public as a museum. The house has been completely restored to its former glory, and a visit to the museum serves as a gateway into the high society of the Victorian Era.
The Heritage Museum is another excellent museum where you can explore the history of Astoria. The building itself is very unique. It was erected in 1904, and housed both the Astoria City Hall and jail! Today, you can explore the museum’s different exhibits and artifacts that showcase the history of Astoria- even the darker parts.
Oregon Film Museum
If you’re intrigued by the film industry, you can’t miss the Oregon Film Museum! Learn all about the legacy of film production in Oregon, where several world-famous movies have been filmed like The Shining, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Animal House.
In addition to paying tribute to Oregon’s movie scene, the Oregon Film Museum was also the working movie set for three different movies, including The Goonies. During your visit, you’ll even have the opportunity to film your own movie using their equipment.
While not technically a museum, Fort Astoria is located right in the heart of downtown Astoria and is an important piece of Astoria’s history. In 1811, John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company operated from Fort Astoria. The fort was also the very first settlement owned by Americans on the western side of the Rocky Mountains.
Though you can’t go inside the fort due to safety reasons, it’s a very interesting place to see during your Astoria day trip, especially if you’re intrigued by the history of Astoria.
Enjoy the Views from Astoria Column
The Astoria Column is a massive, 125 foot spire located right on Coxcomb Hill, overlooking the Columbia Rivermouth. The tower has 160 steps, and you can climb up to the top and look out over the observation deck for an incredible view of both Astoria and the surrounding Oregon coastline.
The column was built as a monument to pay tribute to the history of the region. Along the walls of the column, you’ll notice depictions of the history of the region, from the Native Americans, to the adventures of Lewis and Clark, all the way up to the construction of the railroad.
Surround Yourself in Nature at Youngs River Falls
You don’t have to travel far for a taste of the beautiful Pacific Northwest Scenery- you can find the majestic Young River Falls just a 15 minute drive from Astoria.
You might even recognize the falls immediately, as they’ve been featured in several movies, including Free Willy 2, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3.
To reach the Young River Falls, you park at the trailhead, and walk about 10 minutes on the trail, and you’ll find the waterfall. The falls are an impressive 52 feet high, and surrounded by beautiful, lush greenery.
In the summer, the pools at the base of the falls are quite popular for swimming. The rest of the year, it’s a bit too cold to swim in the falls, but the short trail and falls themselves are beautiful to view at any time of year.
Winter is still a great time to visit the Youngs River Falls because the heavier rainfall makes the waterfalls even more powerful. Do keep in mind that if it has rained recently, the trails are likely to be a little muddy, so be sure to bring appropriate footwear!
Embrace History Fort Clatsop National Memorial
One of the most enchanting aspects of Astoria is its history of explorers. With a visit to Fort Clatsop, you can dive a little deeper into that history.
Fort Clatsop is where Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery stayed for the cold, rainy winter of 1805 to 1806.
While the original encampment completely deteriorated not long after their stay, the legacy lived on through a series of drawings and letters from the explorers, and a replica of the original encampment has been built.
Today, visitors can walk through the replica of Fort Clatsop and imagine what the daily lives of the explorers were like. The memorial is full of amazing replicas, exhibits, and artifacts from the time of exploration.
There are also reenactors at the fort who demonstrate candle making, tanning, and building canoes.
With its rich history, unique artifacts, and interactive exhibits, a visit to the Fort Clatsop National Memorial is one of the best activities for an Astoria Day Trip.
Visit the Garden of Surging Waves
Visiting the Garden of Surging Waves is completely free, and one of the coolest things to do on your Astoria Day Trip. While the Astoria Column celebrated one year of Astoria’s founding, the Garden of Surging Waves was a bicentennial gift, marking the 200th anniversary of the city’s founding, along with celebrating the Chinese Heritage in Astoria.
The Garden of Surging Waves is a public park that spans an entire city block. It’s full of unique sculptures and architecture that represent important Chinese values. The space is very peaceful, and was built to serve as a place of relaxation.
In the park, you might find musicians playing music, and performers putting on cultural shows. It’s a very unique part of the city, and worth checking out to learn more about the Chinese Heritage of the city, while relaxing in the park.
Delicious Restaurants in Astoria
While Astoria may be small, it has an impressive variety of options for restaurants. After you’ve worked up an appetite while sightseeing, here are some of the best places to eat during your Astoria day trip.
Street 14 Cafe
If you’re looking for a quick cup of coffee and a snack, Street 14 Cafe is one of the best coffeehouses in Astoria. They serve amazing Stumptown Coffee, and quick breakfast bites like avocado toast, breakfast burritos, and pastries.
Street 14 Cafe is a great place to grab a coffee and snack to go while you’re doing the Astoria Riverwalk, or you can enjoy your breakfast in their cozy dining room or outdoor patio seating.
Blue Scorcher Bakery & Cafe
Whether you’re looking for mouth-watering artisan bread and pastries, a healthy breakfast, or a warm cup of coffee, Blue Scorcher Bakery & Cafe is an excellent option. They use fresh, seasonal ingredients to make delicious breakfast and brunch dishes like their Day Roasted Yam Burrito, Tempeh Reuben, and French Toast.
The interior of the cafe is warm and cozy, with gorgeous views of the Columbia River- making it an excellent place to spend a rainy morning!
Fort George Brewery and Public House
Fort George Brewery and Public House serves delicious beers and food in an old converted auto shop building. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and it’s an excellent place to grab lunch during your Astoria day trip.
Fort George isn’t just your classic brewpub- within the old Fort George building, you’ll find a taproom, woodfired pizzas, and classic pub food including burgers, and some more unique offerings like poutine and seafood chowder.
With their spacious interior dining room and dog-friendly outdoor seating area, this is a great lunch stop in any season. Just be sure to sample their amazing craft beers while you’re there- if you can’t make up your mind, they serve flights with 5 different pours.
With amazing river views and equally incredible food, Bridgewater Bistro is one of the best restaurants in Astoria for dinner. They serve a variety of tapas, fresh local seafood, and rich, charbroiled meats. The overall ambiance is incredible, and they also have a full cocktail bar so you can enjoy a drink while overlooking the water.
Carruthers Restaurant is a high-end Astoria restaurant with a romantic atmosphere. Carruthers specializes in American comfort food, while incorporating some of Astoria’s amazing seafood offerings to their menu. Some of their most popular dishes include fish tacos, seared Ahi, chicken fried steak, and steamer clams.
When to Visit Astoria
Astoria is amazing to visit all year long. In the warmer months, you can soak up the sunshine and swim in the pools of the Young River Falls. The fun doesn’t end as the weather cools off though- Astoria never gets that cold, and when it is raining, the charming port town gets a moody ambiance, which makes exploring the Victorian-era houses and unique museums that much more fun!
All of the best things to do on an Astoria day trip are suitable activities for any season, making Astoria an amazing place to visit all year long.
You’re Ready for a Memorable Day Trip to Astoria
Astoria is a truly amazing place, and there is so much to see and do in this historic port city. Between its famous film history, eclectic collection of restaurants, breweries, and coffee shops, and impressive Pacific Northwest scenery, your Astoria day trip will be one to remember, and most likely leave you yearning to return!
Featured Image Credit: Jess Kraft