Things to do in Astoria, Oregon

Astoria, Oregon bridge

Astoria, Oregon is a small town on the Columbia River and the entrance of the Pacific ocean. Astoria is a small town, with a population of around 10,000. They call Astoria, the little San Francisco because it has an abundance of old Victorian homes and many hills. It is a historic marine, shipping, fishing, and logging town. It has one of the biggest coast guard stations in the country. Astoria got the name after John Jacob Astor who found the city in 1811. Astoria is the oldest city in the state of Oregon. It was the place of the first American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. It is a lovely little town, full of history and culture. Here is a list of things to do in Astoria, Oregon if you ever decide to take a trip there.

Astoria Riverfront Trolley

One of the main attractions, and something Astoria is famous for, is a riverfront trolley. The Old 300 which is the codename for the trolley, operates on a 3 miles (4.8 km) route along or near the south bank of the Columbia River. The river is visible almost the entire route. Trolley’s first official ride was in 1999 when the service was inaugurated. Astoria Riverfront Trolley has always been operated by volunteers. Fare for a roundtrip costs $1, and an all-day pass is $2. The roundtrip takes about 50 minutes. Astorians are very proud of this heritage streetcar, and they almost consider it a logo of the town.

Astoria Column

After walking alongside the river, you need to go to Astoria Column. Astoria Column is 125 feet (38m) high tower. An inner spiral staircase will lead you to the observation deck. It has 164 steps.  From the top of the tower, you can see the entire town of Astoria and the river Columbia flowing into the Pacific. Tower was built in 1926 on Coxcomb Hill. The exterior of the Astoria Column is filled with paintings. Artists, Electus Litchfield and Attilio Pusterla painted events that are significant for the region and state of Oregon. The construction of the Astoria Column cost near $400,000.

Fort Stevens State Park

Fort Stevens state park is located 10 miles west of Astoria. There is a lot to do and explore in this park. Explore the Fort Stevens military site, visit the military museum, explore the gun batteries, walk the beach and see the remains of Peter Iredale shipwreck from 1906. If you love camping, and you are planning on staying for several days, Fort Stevens campsite is a great location for that. The campsite offers over 300 camp spots. Fort Stevens campsite is open all year round. Nearby is a Cuffinburry lake, a freshwater lake with two swimming areas.

Columbia River Maritime Museum

Founded in 1962 Columbia River Maritime Museum was built with the intention to preserve the rich maritime heritage of the entire Columbia River region. Do not under any circumstances miss the Maritime Museum. It puts to shame many big-city museums. The museum is a 30,000 object collection, covering fishing, shipping, and military history. The museum houses a large number of exhibits, including 3D theater, historical ships, the history of ships, and fishing on the Columbia River, and stories of the storms, shipwrecks, Coast Guard, bar pilots working on a Columbia River bar. Adult admission is $16, and seniors $13, and children (5-17) $5.

Lightship Columbia (WLV-604)

The lightship Columbia launched in 1951, was the fourth and final lightship stationed on the Columbia River. The lightship was replaced by an automated navigation buoy. From 1892 until 1979 the Columbia river lightships guided vessels through the Columbia River bar and Graveyard of the Pacific area. Lightship Columbia was the last lightship to retire from the service on the US west coast. This area is ruthless for its unpredictable weather conditions and dangerous coastal characteristics. Because of its importance, Columbia Lightship always had 18 man crew stationed on the vessel, always ready for intervention. It is part of the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

Captain George Flavel House Museum

The Flavel Mansion was built in 1855 by George Flavel, in the Queen Anne style, George was a maritime pilot and one of the first millionaires in this area. The house is presented as it used to be at the end of the 1800s. You can walk around in most of the rooms at your own pace. There are displays describing each room/area so you can imagine the atmosphere at that time. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. The museum presents a rich history and gorgeous architectural details. You can watch a 10-minute history video about Captain Flavel and his family before you go in.

Things to do in Astoria, visit Columbia River

Lewis and Clark National Historical Park

The Lewis and Clark expeditions explored the US lands obtained in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase and the Pacific Northwest. The purpose of the expedition was both scientific and commercial. The plan was to create maps and document plants and animals, but also establishing trade and identifying natural resources. The Lewis and Clark expedition traveled along the Missouri river from St. Louis to the mouth of the Columbia River. The expedition ended here, in Oregon and they built a camp to spend a winter here before returning east. Today this place is a national park with a historic museum.

Oregon Film Museum

Oregon film museum celebrates movie production in the state of Oregon. Once an actual jailhouse from 1914 to 1976, the facility became a working set for several movies. The most famous movies that filmed in this museum are Goonies, Short Circuit, and Come See The Paradise.  Inside the museum, you can find props and parts of the scripts and tags from actual movies. Apart from the movies filmed in this facility, many other productions made in Oregon are displayed. This is still an active movie set, and you can make your own movie. You can recreate the scenes or come up with something unique. You can also take a mug shot with the actual board from the time the jail was open.

Garden of Surging Waves

Garden of surging waves is a Chinese garden and a city park that marks Chinese culture and heritage in Astoria. Initially, the Garden of surging waves site was planned to be located in what was historically Astoria’s Chinatown. The major and city council decided to relocate the park to the northwest corner of Heritage Square. This is not only a stunning garden to behold and enjoy on a peaceful afternoon but an educational one. The park reflects the life, culture, and traditions of the first Chinese people in this area. Chinese people set some foundations when the city was built. They played a significant role in Astoria history. They helped to build railroads, city sewer systems, worked in canneries, and build jetties on the Columbia River.

Uppertown Firefighters Museum

The building was also known as Astoria Fire House no. 2 and North Pacific Brewing Company Beer Storage Building, from 1989 it is the Uppertown firefighters museum. This museum highlights over 150 years of firefighter department history. Firefighters museum features equipment from 1879 to 1963. Hand-pulled, horse-drawn, and motorized antique equipment shows every stage firefighting department went throughout the years. Initially, this building was a part of North Pacific Brewery from 1896 to 1915, when Prohibition closed it. The facility remained empty for a few years. Later on, the city bought out the building and set it as a home for the fire fighting department until 1960. New building Headquarters Station opened just behind the museum.

Young River Falls

Young River Falls is a 54 foot (16m) tall waterfall on the Youngs River. It is located 10 miles south of Astoria. First-ever reports of this waterfall date back to 1806. Members of the Lewis-Clark expedition founded it while camping over the winter in the near places. Fourteen years earlier, in 1792 during the Vancouver expedition, William Robert Broughton discovered the bay and the river. He named the river after the British admiral Sir George Young. During the summer months, with high temperatures, the waterfall is quite a popular place among locals. The area around the waterfall is very nice and enjoyable for swimming and refresh.

Astoria-Megler Bridge

Astoria-Megler Bridge

Astoria-Megler Bridge is a cantilever truss bridge. Opened in 1966, it is the longest truss bridge in North America. A very beautiful bridge that connects the states of Oregon and Washington. As a ferry service couldn’t operate during tough weather conditions, and half-hour trips caused a lot of delays and traffic jams, a need for a bridge occurred. William A Bugee designed the bridge. The bridge is 4 miles (6.55km) long.   Due to its popular culture, the bridge featured prominently in several movies and song lyrics. The bridge is also famous for yearly the Great Columbian Crossing 10k run/walk. A sporting event that grew in popularity over the years, recording 3,500 participants in 2019.

Cathedral Tree Trail

This is a family-friendly trail. The path is in the lush dense forest with clear trail markings. There are two entrances to the Cathedral Tree Trail. One is on Irving Avenue, and another one is at the Astoria Column. If you enter the trail at Astoria Column, you will have to pay the $5 fee. The trail is a 2.5 miles round trip with 430 feet of elevation gain. There are some fallen trees along the way that have their ages posted on signs. About a half a mile into the trail from the Irving Avenue side, there is a boardwalk that leads to the Cathedral Tree. The Cathedral Tree is a Sitka Spruce that stands over 200 feet tall and over 300 years old. It is possible to crawl through the roots at the base of the tree.

Heritage Museum

Heritage museum building firstly served as the Astoria City Hall from 1905 to 1939. Later on, it was the first location for the Columbia River Maritime Museum. And since 1985 it is Heritage Museum. The building had various uses after the City Hall relocated downtown. In the 1940s it was a supporting object to the armory. In 1963 River Maritime Museum found its home at this location. The Maritime Museum stayed at this location for almost 20 years. In 1980 the locals decided to purchase the Old City Hall and turn it into a museum.

Hanthorn Cannery Museum

Hanthorn Cannery Museum is located at Pier 39. It is housed in the Hanthorn Cannery building, the oldest Hanthorn Cannery building on the Columbia River. The Hanthorn Cannery is the oldest fish processing plant on the Columbia River. The museum exhibits a collection of historic documents and equipment. The facility opened in 1875 and operated until the late 20th century. It was not the first cannery in this area, but it has outlived every other. J.O. Hanthorn was the founder of this company, and after acquiring several other canneries. Hanthorn Cannery was a very strong company at the time, producing over 30,000 cases of canned salmon per year. They delivered their products worldwide. In 1900 he sold the company to the Columbia River Packers Association (CRPA). Later on, the company changed the name to Bumble Bee Seafoods.

Author: Haris