15 Best Things to Do in Astoria, OR

Astoria, OR

There's an undeniable charm in waking up to the salty mist of the Pacific Ocean, with seagulls calling from above and the quiet hum of a small town coming to life.

That's Astoria for you, the oldest city in Oregon, steeped in history, nautical undertones, and an eclectic mix of local culture and nature's bounty.

I breathe in the unique blend of fresh ocean air intermingled with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the streets, knowing that another day full of adventure and exploration awaits in this quaint harbor town.

Astoria, with its captivating blend of rustic, old-world charm, and dynamic local scene, never fails to surprise even me, despite living here for years.

The magic of Astoria is something you experience, not merely see.

Come along, and let me share the best things to do in Astoria, Oregon, seen through a local's eyes.

About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable places, it's important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional places to visit that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.

See a Bird's Eye View of Oregon History at The Astoria Column

The tall Astoria Column
Emily Marie Wilson / Shutterstock.com

Ever since I first climbed the 164 steps of The Astoria Column, I have been captivated by the charm of this towering monument.

Nestled in our small coastal city, the column stands tall at 126 feet, a silent sentinel overlooking the breathtaking panorama of Astoria.

Every trip up the narrow spiral staircase feels like a journey back in time.

The murals etched into the sides of the column are a tapestry of Oregon's rich history, and I love how each visit unveils a new detail that I hadn't noticed before.

However, it can get a little crowded during the peak tourist season, causing discomfort on the stairway.

As a friendly piece of advice, try to visit during off-peak hours if possible.

The climax of the climb is undoubtedly the observation deck.

Close view of Astoria Column's painting
Petr Podrouzek / Shutterstock.com

From the top, the view is nothing short of surreal.

It feels like you can see the entirety of Oregon laid out before you, a sight that never fails to leave me in awe of our city's natural beauty.

But it's more than just the view. I relish the feeling of tranquility and solitude, standing there with the wind in my hair.

As a tradition, don't forget to pick up a little wooden airplane from the gift shop at the base of the column.

Throwing it from the top and watching it glide in the wind has become a cherished pastime for me and many others who frequent the column.

A visit to the Astoria Column also comes with a modest parking fee of $5, but it covers you for the entire year.

Not a bad deal for unlimited trips to one of the most scenic spots in town, right?

So, whether you're a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or someone seeking peace within the bustle of city life, the Astoria Column has something to offer you.

The top half of Astoria Column seen from afar
Jess Kraft / Shutterstock.com

Cross the Astoria-Megler Bridge

Aerial view of the Astoria-Megler Bridge
Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com

There's nothing like the thrill of driving over the Astoria-Megler Bridge.

It's a marvel of engineering that stretches over the mighty Columbia River, giving you a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape.

One of my favorite parts of the day as a resident here is catching a glimpse of the sun setting behind the bridge, painting the sky with red, orange, and pink hues.

For an even more unique experience, the bridge opens to pedestrians for a special event in the fall.

This once-a-year opportunity allows residents and visitors to soak in the majestic views at a leisurely pace.

The road of Astoria-Megler Bridge
Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com

The event known as the Columbia River Crossing is something I look forward to every year.

Moreover, the cooling fall temperatures combined with the panoramic vistas of the river and surrounding terrain make for an unforgettable experience.

Just remember, the Astoria-Megler Bridge is far more than a way to get from point A to point B—it's a journey, an adventure, a staple of our town.

Far view of the Astoria-Megler Bridge
Michael J Magee / Shutterstock.com

Spend the Day at the Columbia River Maritime Museum

Diving suit in Columbia River Maritime Museum
steve estvanik / Shutterstock.com

If you're ever in the mood for a day full of history and maritime wonders, look no further than the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

I've had the pleasure of visiting this harborfront gem numerous times, and each visit never fails to leave me in awe.

Upon entering the museum, you'll be greeted by a robust collection of over 30,000 objects covering everything maritime – from fishing and shipping to military history.

The military ship deck is a crowd-pleaser, especially with the kids.

It's a hands-on experience that offers a taste of the sailor's life.

Now, don't get me started on their little 3D theater.

It's one of the quirkiest and cutest features of the museum, showing a range of educational and entertaining films.

Unexpectedly, the museum also houses a real-time weather screen and even a green screen room where you can be a weather forecaster.

My friends and I have had a ball making our forecasting videos.

Exterior of Columbia River Maritime Museum
Paul R. Jones / Shutterstock.com

The museum also has a light boat moored outside that you can visit.

However, the museum doesn't just stop at exhibitions.

The onsite gift shop is a treasure trove of nautical gifts and memorabilia that will remind you of your visit.

It's hard to leave without picking up a souvenir or two.

And, of course, no visit to the Columbia River Maritime Museum is complete without a tour of the ship Columbia, moored right outside the museum.

Even if you've been on it before, like me, you'll want to do it again.

It's like stepping back in time, and the view from the ship is simply breathtaking.

So, if you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods, do yourself a favor and spend a day at the Columbia River Maritime Museum. You won't regret it.

Darble boat displayed in Columbia River Maritime Museum
Paul R. Jones / Shutterstock.com

Do you know that feeling when you stumble upon an unexpected gem in your backyard?

That's how I felt when I first visited RiverSea Gallery.

Nestled in our delightful town of Astoria, this gallery is a treasure chest of fine art, contemporary, and whimsical pieces.

As you step inside, an array of original paintings greets you, each whispering its unique story.

The sculptures blend abstract ideas and concrete craftsmanship and add character to the space.

I often find myself getting lost in their intricate details.

Besides, I also admired the gallery's miniatures - tiny universes that unleash my imagination.

Apart from these, RiverSea Gallery is home to pottery that carries the warmth of the artist's hands, jewelry that exhibits the town's creative pulse, and prints that are a punch of color and emotion.

The custom framing service perfectly frames their art, literally and figuratively speaking.

What sets RiverSea Gallery apart is its ever-changing landscape.

The exhibits rotate frequently, showcasing the work of talented local artists.

These shifts bring a sense of anticipation and freshness.

Every visit feels like the first, and there's always something new to admire.

So, if you're ever wandering around Astoria with a few minutes to spare or are just craving a creativity fix, pop into RiverSea Gallery.

Trust me. You won't want to miss out on any of it!

Take a Step Back in Time at the Flavel House Museum

Exterior of Flavel House Museum
Sveta Imnadze / Shutterstock.com

There's something magical about the old, Queen Anne-style Victorian Mansion that stands proudly in the heart of our town.

The Flavel House Museum, built in 1885 and furnished with period furniture, is much more than a historical site.

It's a living testament to the rich history of Astoria, and as someone who has been a member since 2019, I can attest to its significance.

It's not just a settlement; it’s a story of development masterfully orchestrated by Captain Flavel.

The beauty of this mansion is something to behold, both inside and out.

Framed by a beautifully maintained formal garden, the house is a tangible memory of a bygone era.

I often visit just to sit in the garden, soaking in the charm and serenity it offers.

This place is so much more than its exterior, though.

The story of the Flavel House Museum is an intriguing one.

Welcome sign in front of Flavel House Museum
Steven Pavlov, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It was once on the brink of demolition, but our local historical society stepped in to preserve it.

Their efforts have resulted in a well-restored monument to Astoria's past.

The mansion, filled with odd items that don’t necessarily align with its period, provides a curious twist to the visitor's experience.

Visitors can also learn more about Captain Flavel by watching a short film at the visitor's center, located up the hill from the mansion.

Here, you can purchase tickets, browse a charming gift shop, and even use the restrooms.

You'll need about an hour and a half to immerse yourself in Flavel House Museum's experience fully.

I strongly recommend a visit for anyone wanting to know more about Astoria’s history.

Take a Walk Through History at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park

Entrance to Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
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I never tire of strolling through Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.

Each step I take feels like a time-traveling journey, from the replica of the old fort where Lewis and Clark spent a winter to the echoes of muskets firing in demonstrations.

Surrounded by employees in period clothing, I often feel like I've been whisked back in time to join the Corps of Discovery myself.

Speaking of discovery, there's plenty to unearth at the visitor center, especially when you detour around the ongoing renovations at the front.

Pay a visit to the museum – a treasure trove of history featuring Lewis and Clark and the Native Americans.

And don't forget the gift shop, a great place to pick up a souvenir!

When I need some fresh air, I head down to the river, the launching point for the canoes.

If you're lucky, you might just catch a chance to sign up for a canoe ride yourself during the summer!

A log cabin at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

The waterway winds through the surrounding forests, offering a breathtaking view of their natural beauty.

And for the hikers out there, the park boasts a variety of trails, including the exciting Fort to Sea Trail.

There's nothing like a leisurely hike through the woods, and the park's covered picnic areas make for a perfect pit stop.

And don't worry about facilities - restrooms are available throughout the park.

But what I love most about the park is its dedication to education.

It's a living, breathing historical site that manages to educate while being deeply engaging.

Whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, or just looking for a great place to spend a day, Lewis and Clark National Historical Park is a local gem just waiting to be discovered.

Interior of a cabin at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
Thye-Wee Gn / Shutterstock.com

Enjoy a Delightful Sunday at Astoria Sunday Market

People shopping at Astoria Sunday Market
Patricia G. Adderley / Shutterstock.com

Every weekend I look forward to the vibrant bustle of the Astoria Sunday Market, where the air is always buzzing with excitement and the tantalizing aroma of freshly baked pies.

It's a cornucopia of local artists, vendors, and food stalls, like a festival in the city's heart.

You can't help but be drawn in by the rows of radiant flowers and the explosion of colors from fruits and vegetables as fresh as the morning dew.

The jewelry stalls glitter with unique, handcrafted pieces that are hard to resist, and the perennial plants lend a touch of green to the vibrant scenery.

Moreover, the food court is always a highlight, offering a cornucopia of flavors that make taste buds dance.

I'd recommend trying the pies from Pie Girl Pie Guy, especially the chocolate one – it’s a slice of heaven.

And if you're a pickled food fan like me, the pickled garlic and olives are a must-try.

Beyond the stands, the market is peppered with artists' booths.

Homemade bread for sale at Astoria Sunday Market
Jonathan Lingel / Shutterstock.com

These creative souls bring a unique touch to the market, displaying an array of art from charming stuffed slug animals to beautiful mugs.

Astoria Sunday Market isn't just about the market itself.

The surrounding brick-and-mortar stores are just as enticing, each one a unique window into the local community.

Every visit to the market is a delightful adventure filled with discoveries and old favorites.

It's a perfect blend of a craft fair and a farmers market, offering something for everyone.

Whether you are hunting for organic produce or unique art, the market has it all.

In the heart of Astoria, the market has become more than just a shopping destination - it's a community hub, a celebration of local talents and flavors.

Basket of blossoms at Astoria Sunday Market
Jonathan Lingel / Shutterstock.com

Take a Stroll Through Riverwalk Trail

Every day is a new adventure while strolling through the Riverwalk Trail.

A stretch of five miles of paved trail immerses me in its serene beauty.

Watching the playful river traffic, the wildlife, and the mesmerizing river docks is always a pleasure.

And I've found that now and then, I stumble upon a buoy or two.

One thing you'll notice right away is how close the ships are to the shore.

The low hum of their engines is almost soothing, a constant reminder of the activity on the river.

And while you might not stumble across a lot of wildlife due to the presence of dogs, the views more than make up for it.

Venturing along the trail, you'll find an array of shops, restaurants, and pubs that add a vibrant life to the place.

There's always somewhere to stop and take in the view.

It's the perfect spot to take a break and truly appreciate your surroundings.

Remember to bring an extra windbreaker or sweater, since the weather can get slightly nippy.

Walking along this beautiful trail is an experience I wouldn't miss for the world.

Unwind at the Maritime Memorial

Entrance to the Maritime Memorial
Debbie Ann Powell / Shutterstock.com

Whenever I feel the need for some tranquility, I head over to the Maritime Memorial in Astoria.

This peaceful haven is just a stone's throw away from the bustling Riverwalk, making it an ideal spot for a quiet break.

As I wander around the site, I am always struck by the number of names inscribed on its walls - each a solemn tribute to the ships and sailors lost at sea.

The Memorial is a vast open space where you can walk around freely without brushing up against fellow visitors.

What's more, it's always kept in pristine condition.

Great care goes into maintaining this space, ensuring it remains a fitting tribute to its subjects.

And the best part? There's no charge for entry.

Even on weekends, this place is never too crowded, making it perfect for quiet reflection.

One of the most poignant aspects of the Maritime Memorial is the love and respect that went into its planning.

It's a piece of our town's history and a tribute to those who braved the sea.

A visit here is indeed a moving experience, and I always leave feeling renewed appreciation for the brave souls remembered here.

If you find yourself in Astoria, take a moment to step off the Riverwalk and pay a visit.

Take a Ride Down Memory Lane with Astoria Riverfront Trolley

Daytime view of the Astoria Riverfront Trolley
Debbie Ann Powell / Shutterstock.com

"Step aboard! All aboard!"

Those are the words I love to hear as I make my way down to the scenic Astoria Riverfront.

There lies the gem of our town, the Astoria Riverfront Trolley, a historic marvel from 1913 that takes you on a journey through time.

Every weekend, the trolley begins its hourly rides along the waterfront from noon to six pm.

On occasion, it also runs on weekdays if there’s a ship visiting our quaint harbor.

The ride is a mere dollar - yes, you heard that right!

Just a dollar for an hour-long trip worth a lifetime of memories. And if you're feeling generous, they do accept donations as well.

As we chug along the waterfront, the trolley conductors, a friendly bunch, regale us with tales of Astoria's past.

Tourists riding the Astoria Riverfront Trolley
Enrico Powell / Shutterstock.com

It's an educational journey that weaves through the tapestry of Astoria's rich history.

I’ve heard the stories so many times, yet I find myself enchanted every single time.

You might wonder why I, an Astorian, take the trolley ride so often. The answer is simple.

The Astoria Riverfront Trolley is an experience filled with the nostalgic charm of the old trolley, the breathtaking views of the river, the friendly chatter of the conductors, and the shared smiles of locals and travelers alike.

As soon as you hear the familiar clanging of the trolley bell, you can't help but get swept up in the magic.

After all, who wouldn't want to travel back in time every weekend?

Enjoy a Night at Fort George Brewery

Exterior of Fort George Brewery
JasonRenfrow / Shutterstock.com

Have you ever gone to a place that feels like home the first time you get there?

Well, for me, it's Fort George Brewery.

Nestled in a historic 1920s auto repair shop, this brewpub is an iconic spot of my beloved Astoria.

The rustic charm of the old brick walls and high ceilings of the converted garage piques the curiosity of every visitor.

Their wood-fired pizzas are a slice of heaven.

Whether you are a fan of the stone-fired style or not, you cannot resist the smoky and crispy delight, especially when paired with their crafted brews.

Speaking of brews, they have a fantastic selection.

As a regular customer, I've enjoyed tasting most of them.

Each one is unique and exudes the passion and expertise of their brewmasters.

As for the other food offerings, they are as equally compelling. Their burger is a testament to how delicious simplicity can be.

Each element, from the bun to the cheese, the bacon to the beef, is of superior quality.

Fort George Brewery's sign
JasonRenfrow / Shutterstock.com

For the more adventurous, the fried tuna with homemade tartar sauce is a must-try.

Their poutine, drizzled with mouthwatering gravy, is nothing short of perfect.

There's a dog-friendly outdoor seating area, so your pets are also welcome.

The crowd's buzz, the clinking of the glasses, and the bustling nightlife view from the upstairs seating blend into an absolutely magical atmosphere.

Fort George Brewery is not just a popular hangout spot but a place that holds the essence of Astoria.

Make a Splash at Astoria Aquatic Center

Every time I walk into the Astoria Aquatic Center, I'm greeted by a sense of cleanliness that leaves me feeling safe and comfortable.

The center has a sizable lap pool that often becomes my refuge after a long day, with the water temperature hovering around a soothing mid-high 70s.

Also, the family pool is a hit with the younger residents of my home, making every visit a delightful experience for us all.

The pool's mid-80s temperature is perfect for the kids to frolic without worrying about catching a chill.

Then, sink into the jacuzzi's warming embrace of water in the mid-high 90s, and all your worries melt away.

I've found it the ideal spot for our senior citizens to relax and unwind.

The icing on the cake is the fully equipped workout room.

It's packed with all the weight apparatus you could dream of, not to mention the bikes, ellipticals, and rowing machines.

Even better, the center provides free parking, meaning I don’t have to worry about the added stress of finding a spot.

Little conveniences like this make my visits to the Aquatic Center so enjoyable.

And if you have a membership, the center provides towels, which is a big plus for me.

I've noticed that children under six aren't allowed in the hot tub or the sizeable cold pool, which can be a bit of a damper if you're visiting with young kids.

However, I understand the safety concerns behind this rule.

Still, it's important to note that access to certain parts of the pool may be restricted on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

If you're like me and love to swim or enjoy a family day near the water, I highly recommend visiting the Astoria Aquatic Center.

This place is a real asset to our community, and I'm sure you'll love it as much as I do.

Discover Astoria's Past at the Heritage Museum

Exterior of Heritage Museum
Steve Morgan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every time I step into the Heritage Museum, tucked away in a historic 1904 building, I feel like I’m stepping back in time.

It's as though I’m transitioning from the vibrant streets of present-day Astoria right into the heart of our rich local history.

The museum isn't as grand as the nearby maritime museum, but it has its charm.

It's filled with an array of exhibits that are a testament to the life and history of our people.

From the early Native American tribes to the arrival of emigrants, the museum narrates the unique stories of those who helped shape our community.

I remember first seeing the cedar plank house replica and the fur trading outpost exhibit.

I was amazed by the details, the artifacts, and the effort taken to preserve and present our heritage so vividly.

Each visit reveals something new, especially since a rotating exhibit on the second-floor changes periodically.

What I love about the museum is its location.

It’s nestled in the city's heart, just a short walk from Bowpicker Fish and Chips, one of my favorite local spots.

Moreover, it's a stone's throw away from the Columbia River Maritime Museum, another popular destination.

This makes it a perfect stop during a day of exploring Astoria's local attractions.

The Heritage Museum is where you can experience the evolution of Astoria from a fur-trading outpost to a bustling logging and fishing town and, eventually, a tourist destination.

Every visit leaves me with a deeper appreciation for my hometown, its history, and its multicultural legacy.

It's a journey through time right in the heart of Astoria, and it's worth a visit.

Explore History Aboard Lightship Columbia

Exterior of Lightship Columbia
Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com

Visiting the Lightship Columbia always punctuates my stroll to our local harbor.

It's a preserved piece of our maritime history, now a part of the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

The ship, designated WLV604, is a relic from the days before lighthouses and is crucial to preserving our local lore.

As soon as you step onboard, you're transported back in time.

The ship is remarkably well-preserved and prepared for visitors.

It’s a fantastic amalgamation of history and discovery, well worth exploring.

You can almost hear the echoes of sailors past, their stories whispered in the rustling ropes and creaking deck planks.

Your ticket to Columbia River Maritime Museum grants you access to the Lightship Columbia, once anchored in the harbor, guiding ships home with its radiant light.

Once onboard, you can see where the ship’s crew slept, ate, and spent leisure time.

It's a living history lesson, an authentic look at what life would have been like for those brave souls on the open sea.

A tour around the ship reveals many descriptive panels detailing everything from the enormous amount of fuel needed to keep the beacon alight to the stockpiles of food the crew had to maintain.

The panels are a stark reminder of the harsh realities of life at sea, with storms often preventing resupply for weeks on end.

Experiencing the Lightship Columbia is a journey through time, a peek into our town's maritime heritage.

It’s not just a visit but a voyage of discovery, a piece of local history that could easily have been forgotten.

I am always delighted to recommend visiting this historical ship to both young and old, to see and learn from the history slowly fading.

Explore Film History at Oregon Film Museum

Exterior of Oregon Film Museum
Another Believer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Before you ask, yes, I have been to the Oregon Film Museum more times than I can count.

And every visit is like stepping into a scene from "The Goonies."

This former jail is now home to exhibits dedicated to this cult classic and other films made here in Oregon.

You won't find a place like this anywhere else where you can recreate your favorite scenes and take home unforgettable memories.

For just 14 dollars, you get to explore all three sections of the museum.

It may not be a sprawling structure, but it's packed with fascinating movie memorabilia.

The gift shop is a haven for "The Goonies" fans like myself.

A corridor in Oregon Film Museum
Jeff Hitchcock from Seattle, WA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can find everything from t-shirts to posters, all themed around the beloved film.

The most exciting part is the three mini sets, where you can let your inner director out.

My friends and I have made countless mini-movies, each a hilarious tribute to the magic of Oregon's film history.

The fact that you can see the cell where one of the Fratellis was locked up from The Goonies adds an extra thrill to the experience.

This museum is not just a place but an immersive part of our town's unique legacy.

Whether you're a movie buff, a Goonies fan, or just someone in town looking to spend a few hours, the Oregon Film Museum is the perfect stopover.

Exhibit of the Goonies in Oregon Film Museum
Constablequackers, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

There's an abundance of attractions and activities to enjoy in Astoria.

These unique experiences make Astoria a town to remember, and why I am so grateful to call it home.

Whether you're a history buff, nature lover, or just looking for a laid-back town with plenty of charm, you will fall in love with Astoria just like I did.

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