Situated where the mighty Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, Astoria has no shortage of magnificent natural beauty. The picturesque coastal town is surrounded by lush forests, three separate rivers and lies just a stone’s throw away from the open waters of the Pacific. As America’s oldest settlement west of the Rocky Mountains, Astoria also represents one of the country’s most historic destinations. It’s a place where you can let your imagination run wild with sensational scenery that has attracted artists and poets for centuries. Throw in the Victorian-era homes perched on the hillside and colorful trolleys that roll through the city, and you have a graceful coastal destination that was seemingly plucked from a storybook. While the town of just 9,500 still retains its heritage as a fishing village, today it’s become a thriving riverfront getaway with a creative spirit and urban atmosphere. In between centuries-old forts and fascinating museums, you can dive into authentic Pacific Northwest cuisine, craft microbreweries and a vibrant waterfront district for a delightful mix of old and new.
Where to Stay
If you’re looking to experience the essence of Astoria, then look no further than the Cannery Pier Hotel. Built on the 100-year-old site of the town’s former union fishery 600 feet into the water, the resort offers the rare opportunity to immerse yourself in the majestic Columbia River from the comfort of your room. The history is in the details of the hotel – just ask any of the staff to point them out, whereas the second-floor museum is dedicated to the fishing heritage of the area. All of the guest rooms are cozy and inviting, equipped with a fireplace, hardwood floors and plush amenities, while panoramic views, ocean breezes and crashing waves are to be had from the private terraces.
For a step above the rest, opt for the Pilot House, the private fifth-floor residence with breathtaking river views. The space has a sophisticated master bedroom and one guest room, as well as a master bath with a hot tub, full kitchen, large living room and dining room, and two private viewing decks. Cannery Pier Hotel draws visitors from far and wide for its relaxing nature, which comes to fruition at the full-service spa. This is the perfect place to unwind in peace and tranquility with an authentic Finnish sauna, fitness room and extensive list of treatment of the utmost comfort and luxury. Finish the night off with wine and cheese around the fireplace and enjoy an exquisite hotel experience that’s unique to Astoria.
Where to Dine
Oregon is known nation-wide for its fabulous regional cuisine and gorgeous natural scenery – and the famed Bridgewater Bistro combines both of these elements. The exceptional seafood restaurant is housed within an airy two-storey building that dates back over a century. An abundance of soaring windows flood the restored space with natural light, whereas the outdoor patio offers guests panoramic views of the town’s recognizable Astoria-Megler Bridge above the open waters. The refined menu concentrates on seasonal plates and fresh ingredients in the form of various seafood dishes that range from wild Columbia River salmon and steamer clams to pan-fried Willapa Bay oyster. Elsewhere, there are delicious sandwiches, burgers, salads and meats worth getting your hands on. The icing on the cake is the jovial atmosphere that often fills the place with regular live music and flowing drinks through the week.
What to Do
In typical Pacific Northwest fashion, Astoria is a rugged playground with an exciting range of both outdoor and cultural activities that await. Soaring 600 feet above sea level and overlooking the Columbia River and Youngs Bay, the Astoria Column offers 360º views of the city and surrounding landscape. Designed to resemble Trajan’s column in Rome, it’s certainly worth the 164-step climb to the top to enjoy one of Astoria’s most iconic landmarks and celebrate the region’s most monumental moments in history. When it comes to diving further into Astoria’s legacy, head to the downtown historic district, where you’ll find dozens of the town’s most significant buildings. Take in a show at the Liberty Theater, which is Astoria’s center of all-things arts, performance and music. Fitted with Italianate décor and highlighted by a vaulted chandelier, the theater transports you back in time to the 1920s for the duration of the show.
At the same time, Astoria takes cues from the hipster vibe of Portland. The town has reinvented itself in recent years with an abundance of trendy restaurants, cozy cafes, glitzy shops and a pumping nightlife scene. As part of the North Coast Beer Trail, the town also draws many visitors for its local microbreweries, each offering their own hearty pub menu, lively atmosphere and friendly Astorian hospitality. Located in the former Lovell Auto building, Fort George Brewery is one of the most popular of the bunch, home to more than 40 types of beers, homemade food and regular live music.