When the Columbia Falls in Love with the Sea: Finding Your Way in Astoria
Nestled along the scenic Columbia River sits the charming coastal town of Astoria, Oregon. Known as the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies, Astoria offers travelers a glimpse into its rich history while enjoying everything the Pacific Northwest has to offer today. From amazing views of the river and sea to locally crafted beers and seafood, here is your ultimate guide to exploring Astoria.
Founded in 1811 by American fur trader John Jacob Astor, Astoria played an important role in the Pacific fur trade era. It served as the westernmost outpost of the American Fur Company and remained an economic hub even after being briefly owned by the British. Walking along the historic waterfront district, you can almost imagine sailors disembarking and trading goods two centuries ago.
Astoria's downtown still retains much of its late 19th-century character with its red brick buildings now housing shops, galleries and restaurants. Be sure to stop inside the Astoria Column, a 166-foot tower situated in a small park at the highest point in the city. The circular staircases provide remarkable 360-degree views stretching from the mouth of the Columbia all the way to the ocean. It's the perfect vantage point for taking in Astoria's scenic location where the broad river meets the Pacific.
Nature lovers will find no shortage of incredible outdoor spaces to explore in Astoria. Just north of downtown, visit the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge for hiking trails along the tidal flats. Keep an eye out for migratory birds as you walk among driftwood and seaside plants. Those wanting to stretch their legs even more should tackle the 7-mile hike along the rugged Youngs Bay Trail along the coast.
No trip to Astoria is complete without a drive out to Fort Stevens State Park. As the site of the only Civil War land battle west of the Rockies, history buffs will enjoy learning about its strategic importance during that era. But the real star of the show here is the stunning beach. Feel the roar of the Pacific as you stroll vast stretches of sand, or watch the waves crash dramatically against the rocky shoreline. You'll feel a million miles from the urban bustle.
On your way back into town, be sure to schedule a stop at Cannon Beach just 30 minutes west. The hypnotic beauty of its winding shoreline and towering Haystack Rock makes it well worth the detour. While you're there, reward yourself with a wood-fired pizza or pint from local favorite, Lumberyard Public House.
Given its position along major shipping routes, Astoria has long been revered up and down the coast for its fresh, incredible seafood. You'll find everything from juicy oysters to bountiful Dungeness crab served to perfection at waterfront restaurants like the Bridgewater Bistro or White House-Nero's.
Those looking to truly immerse themselves in the local cuisine scene should plan a stay at the RiverPlace Hotel and spend an evening enjoying its "Catch of the Day" dining option. A chef will prepare your fresh catch simply seared or grilled alongside seasonal sides. It's impossible to find fresher seafood!
Of course, no guide to Astoria would be complete without mentioning its thriving craft brewery scene. Drop by Buoy Beer Company for a tasty IPA on their dog-friendly patio along the water. Or sample flight after flight of creative small-batch ales and lagers at Fort George Brewery in their cavernous taproom and outdoor biergarten. Ninkasi fans should also seek out the Astoria location of this beloved Eugene brewer. Before you know it, you'll be feeling perfectly Pacific Northwest.
When organizing all your activities, lodging and transportation for an Astoria getaway, BitBook can help simplify the planning process. Book your Selina Commodore Astoria room to enjoy the "Catch of the Day" program right from their online platform. You can also find and compare rental cars in the area, or book flights into the nearest Portland airport.
Earn rewards on your Astoria trip bookings too by reserving through BitBook - they offer a Book and Earn program where you get paid in their BBT crypto token. Invite friends traveling to check it out as well so you both earn a bonus through their Invite and Earn referral system. It's the easiest way to not only organize an amazing coastal Oregon trip, but also get paid to travel with crypto cashback.
From the towering forests of the coastal range to its scenic seaside vistas, Astoria perfectly encapsulates all that is so special about the Pacific Northwest in microcosm. History, natural beauty, fantastic food and a thriving culture all come together to create an experience you'll want to savor slowly. With just a weekend or even a few days, you can discover why this colonial town remains an enduring gem on Oregon's north coast well worth exploring. Now get out there and start ticking things off your Astoria bucket list!