Astoria is one of my favorite little towns in the Pacific Northwest. It’s full of lovely old houses, has great cafes, restaurants and brew pubs, cheap motels, and it’s close to some stellar beaches that go on for miles and miles. I’ve been there several times in the last few years, and each time I’ve had different weather, different company, and I’ve explored different parts of the town and surrounding area.
My most recent visit was just last week during a spur-of-the-moment whirlwind trip down to Portland and back up the Pacific Coast. I have a not-so-secret love of small-town touristy things, so I decided it was time to check out Astoria’s offerings. After a drawn out coffee and breakfast at the adorable Street 14 Coffee, my friend and I went to the Astoria Column, a tower on a hill above the town painted with some of the colonial history of the area. We made our way up the 164 spiralling steps and came out at the top to a vertigo-inducing view of the surrounding area, including the mouth of the Columbia River, three snow-capped mountains and the open ocean.
On our way back to town we stopped at the Flavel House, a colonial relic built by the first millionaire of Astoria, George Flavel. I absolutely love old houses, especially gaudy ostentatious ones built by the wealthy of times gone by, with their little nooks and crannies and attention to small details that you don’t see in most new architecture. I was especially enamoured with the original wooden shutters throughout the house that let in lovely shivering little slivers of cold winter light. Right next door is the Oregon Film Museum, an ode to films shot in Oregon (Astoria itself was the location for two cinematic masterpieces of the 20th Century: Kindergarten Cop and The Goonies). We didn’t get a chance to check it out but it looks like a real small-town gem, and it’s housed in the town’s old prison, a great little piece of architecture itself.
We said our goodbyes to Astoria with a trip out to Fort Stevens State Park, where the remains of the Peter Iredale shipwreck sit forlorn on an endless strip of sand. You can even drive your car down the beach here (good old America), and no matter the weather this beach always looks babely.