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Astoria was the first stop during my trip down the Oregon Coast in October and although I only had one quick day to explore, I could have easily spent another few days in this beautiful coastal city. There are far many more things to see and do during a visit to Astoria, but here is a list of the top six things that I would recommend to anyone planning a one or two day trip.
For fantastic 360-degree views of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean, you must make the 164 step climb to the top of the Astoria Column. Built in 1926, the structure is encircled with 14 murals honoring westward migration and the settlement of the area. The sweeping views of Astoria and the surrounding area are literally breathtaking, as many people experience a loss of breath from the extreme height and journey to the top of the Column. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop and purchase one of the popular balsa wood gliders that visitors can launch from the top of the Column viewing platform.
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“Hey, you guys!” Maybe you didn’t know but many movies have been filmed in Astoria, with the most famous being the cult classic The Goonies. If you grew up loving the movie, then a stop by the Goonies house should absolutely be on your list. The owners of the house are very welcoming to fans of the iconic movie and even have a sign saying so at the end of the driveway. Just make sure you walk, no driving allowed!
While The Goonies is easily the most famous movie filmed in Astoria, I was more excited to see the school that was used for exterior shots in Kindergarten Cop. John Jacob Astor Elementary School, otherwise known as Astoria Elementary in the film, is only a few short blocks from the Goonies house. Universal Studios used the school for exterior shots and hired local artists to paint murals on the walls, they provided new playground equipment, fenced the playground, and laid a new lawn and hedges around the school building. Most of the filming was completed after school was out in June 1989.
Columbia River Maritime Museum
No visit to Astoria is complete without a stop at the nationally recognized Columbia River Maritime Museum. When you first enter the museum, you have the opportunity to watch a brief orientation film, The Great River of the West, which gives you a clue as to just how dangerous the Columbia River Bar can really be. While exploring the rest of the museum, you can listen to recorded stories of actual Coast Guard rescues on the Columbia River Bar, become a pilot in the tugboat simulator, and roam through a vast collection of more than 30,000 maritime artifacts.
Rogue Ales Public House
Take a timeout from your explorations to grab a meal at Rogue Public House, located in a former Bumble Bee Tuna cannery on Pier 39 on the Columbia River. Not only will you enjoy spectacular views of the river and a friendly staff, but the beer selection is out of this world. How can you go wrong with award winning beers like Voodoo Bacon Maple Ale, Dad’s Little Helper, Yellow Snow IPA and, my new favorite, Dead Guy Ale?
Peter Iredale Shipwreck
Known as the “The Graveyard of the Pacific”, many ships were claimed by the Columbia River. The most famous of these shipwrecks is the Peter Iredale, a steel sailing vessel that ran ashore on October 25, 1906, en route to the entrance of the mighty river. The shipwreck is located in Fort Stevens State Park, a short drive outside of Astoria, but is more than worth the visit because, really, how often can you say you had the chance to see a shipwreck?
Fort Clatsop National Memorial
Part of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and named after the local Clatsop tribe of Native Americans, Fort Clatsop is a replica of the famous explorers’ winter encampment from December 1805 to March 1806. Inside the Visitor Center is a life-size bronze statue, “Arrival”, showcasing Lewis with arms spread, a Clatsop Indian showing Clark a flounder, Clark with quill pen sketching the fish, and a Seaman looking on. Although small, the fort is very interesting to walk through and the scenery is beautiful!
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