Top 6 things to do in Astoria and Warrenton, Oregon
While there are a multitude of cool things to do, see and experience in this happening northwest corner of Oregon, I whittled it down to just 6---chosen on my last visit.*
I recently spent a weekend in Astoria, Oregon, a VERY quaint coastal town at the mouth of the Columbia River. This tiny piece of land boasts 2 long bridges that stretch across the Columbia. The Astoria-Megler Bridge is over 4 miles---the longest trussed bridge in North America---and connects Oregon to Washington. A second bridge stretches to sister city Warrenton, OR, a lovely little town boasting Skipanon micro-cannery, Fort Stevens, Fort Clatsop and an old, authentic shipwreck. Warrenton is a great place for historical sites, lush parks, ocean views and recreational outings.
I never took a bridge away from Astoria: I stretched into my well-appointed room at the Cannery Pier Hotel (right on the Columbia River---next to the long Astoria-Megler Bridge), then walked and biked the 4 mile trail along the Columbia. From there I accessed Astoria, perusing boutiques, historic museums, refurbished hotels and iconic coffee shops. I scoured antique shops and walked through the Victorian-home laced neighborhood streets (where 1/4 of the homes are eligible for historic landmark status). I went hog-wild with my camera. Oh, and speaking of hogs:
1. Visit Fort George Brewery. What does Fort George Brewery have to do with hogs? Glad you asked: recently expanded, Fort George Brewery filled what was originally an auto shop with huge cisterns for beer. The metalworker was working on these large tanks and couldn't help but turn one into a very large pig. In addition to the artistic and enterprising nature of Astoria peeking through: the beer is brilliant. I enjoyed a flight of stouts paired with a multi-course meal. One of my favorite bites of my weekend included chocolate cake and stout ice cream.
2. The Maritime Museum. LOVED this museum. So worth going. Not only is it one of the most beautiful maritime museums I have seen, the short 20 minute video at the beginning does a wonderful job communicating the history of this cannery-laden, mouth-of-the-river town. This passage from the Pacific to the Columbia River---of which both Warrenton and Astoria have a front seat view---has been dubbed the 'Graveyard to the Pacific' since it has claimed 2000 ships and 700 plus lives. It is treacherous, and there is a special class of pilots that board ships for this passage alone. Fewer than 2 dozen Columbia River Bar Pilots exist; they are based out of Astoria. (Learn more about the various types of ships that travel from the Pacific up the Columbia: www.shipreport.net).
3. Eat at the Columbia Cafe. Friends found out I was going to Astoria and made me pinky-swear that I would snag breakfast at this iconic spot. Crepes with seafood, home cured bacon and handmade jalapeno, garlic and cayenne jellies are just part of the reason I will make YOU pinky swear to eat here on your next visit to Astoria.
4. Pier 39: CoffeeGirl the next 3 must-go places are all tucked onto Pier 39. You literally drive down the dock and park by Rogue Brew house. First, follow the smell of coffee. 'CoffeeGirl' was an assigned job during the cannery days---a gal would prepare vats of coffee for cannery workers. How fitting that 'CoffeeGirl' is a local-hangout/coffee shop right inside the original cannery. Sneak a peek off the deck to take in early morning views of the Columbia and by all means grab a pastry: another favorite bite of my weekend was their lemon cake.
5. Pier 39: Rogue. I feel like all I need to say is Rogue and you should be able to grasp the importance of pubbing it here. Their selection of beers is astonishing, the space is hip and there is a taster of beer waiting with your name on it. Zach is the manager there---a fantastic guy, he moved there just a year ago to join pals in a local band.
6. Pier 39:Bumble Bee Cannery The original site of the historic Bumble Bee Cannery, pier 39's vacuous building is now home to a myriad of small businesses (attorneys, counselors, PT), CoffeeGirl's coffee shop, and Rogue Public House. Tuck into the Pier 39 office and ask for a quick tour: check out the little museum with photos and equipment from cannery days.
Since I was busy cramming boutiques, beer and bar river pilots into my weekend---I didn't have time to soak up countless other 'must-see, must-do' items in Astoria and Warrenton. Which is why I already started making my to-do list for the next visit:
More things to do in Astoria and Warrenton, OR:
- Brewery Trail.I just like the sound of 'brewery trail.' I plan to take pals that would be game to join me on a beer-tasting, bar-hauling, butt dragging experience. I especially want to visit the Wet Dog Cafe---they use 15 solar panels to heat their hot water tanks.
- Astoria Farmer Market. Open May - Oct and renowned for its size and panache, this is a must-visit farmer's market.
- Fort to Sea Trail. It begins at Fort Clatsop---a Lewis & Clark National Historical Park---and tromps for 6 miles to the ocean. I love a good hike---especially if my non-hiking hours are dedicated to indulging in the local food and beer scene. See 1, above.
- Astoria Column. 164 Steps for a panoramic view. Plus I want to gaze on the column itself which serves as a circular mural of animals native to this part of the country---and specifically this bygone fur-trading town.
- Walk with the Stars. Astoria promises quaint town, big waves and coastal life---so much so that it has been the backdrop for major motion pictures: The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop, Short Circuit, The Hunted, Free Willy, The Guardian, Into the Wild and more. (more info re: movie walks)
- Astoria Coffee House and Bistro.Its where the hip kids hang out. Live within a few hours of Astoria? Mark your calendar to go to one of their events, stay at the newly refurbished Commodore Hotel just steps away and well, become a hip kid yourself.