If you’re a movie buff, add Astoria, Oregon to your list. This port city on the Columbia River, where the sand meets the hip, is often referred to as “Hollywood North.” Going on site is one of the most popular things to do in Astoria, Oregon.
HOLLYWOOD ARRIVES IN ASTORIA
It was “The Goonies”, the cult classic that put the city on the map in 1985. Over the years, however, many more photos have been taken in the area.
The list includes such well-known characters as “Kindergarten Cop“, “Short Circuit”, “Free Willy”, and “Teenage Mutant Turtles 3”. Also “Come See the Paradise”, “The Great Race” and “The Ring Two” and episodes of TV shows such as “Movin’ On” and “Dexter”.
For more information on the movie set in town, stop by the Oregon Film Museum. It is located in the historic Clatsop County Jail, the escape location for ‘The Goonies’. This small museum offers an insight into Hollywood’s footprint in Oregon.
It also gives visitors the opportunity to get in front of and behind the camera. You can take your mug to the sheriff’s wall and leave a message for the Goonies.
Don’t miss the retaining wall either. Before you go, grab a map of the scene and set off to explore some memorable locations.
Why is Astoria loved by everyone from Steven Spielberg to Arnold Schwarzenegger? The answer is obvious when you explore this gem in the North West.
Breathtaking views are everywhere. Plus, there are tons of different locations, from towns like Mayberry to ancient Japan.
GET A TRANSMISSION FROM THE PAST
Astoria is captivating from every angle. Surrounded by forests, it overlooks the Columbia River and is just steps from the ocean.
The town’s steep hills are lined with charming Victorian homes. The downtown historic district has numerous buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
The city has deep roots. Founded in 1811, it would be the first permanent American settlement on the Pacific coast. It was also the salmon and tuna canning capital of the world.
If you want to delve into Astoria’s rich and colorful past, head to the Flavel House Museum. It is one of the most popular things to do in Astoria, Oregon. This 1885 grand dame was once the home of Columbia River Bar pilot Captain George Flavel. The two-story residence sits on a greenbelt that spans an entire city block.
It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since the early 1950s. Note the steep pitched roof, octagonal tower and portico. These are all hallmarks of the Queen Anne style of architecture.
The 11,600-square-foot mansion features original woodwork, period furnishings, and elaborate hand-carved canopies. The high ceilings are also decorated with plaster medallions and cornices.
The first floor has a formal lounge, music room, library, dining room and conservatory. And five bedrooms on the second floor. The tower was the captain’s residence. It gave him a good view of Astoria and the Columbia River, allowing him to observe shipping traffic.
Check out the Liberty Theater, a historic vaudeville theater and movie theater where Clark Gable once performed. The venue is still vital to the community and hosts several live shows and concerts each year.
ASTORIA COLUMN ADVERTISING
Don’t miss the Astoria Column, the city’s most famous landmark. Built in 1926, it tells the story of the area with a colorful mural surrounding its 125-meter-tall structure. There are fourteen scenes and more than twenty text messages in the picture.
These illustrate events such as the discovery of the Columbia River in 1792 and the establishment of American claims in the Northwest Territory. Also, Lewis and Clark reach the Pacific Ocean and head onto the Great Northern Railway.
Climb the 164 facades to the top and admire the breathtaking 369-degree views of the river, sea and city. On a clear day you can see for miles.
LEWIS AND CLARK ARE HERE
Nearby Fort Clatsop offers another dose of history. It was built by Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery in 1805 at the end of their 4,000 mile journey. The fortress served as a winter residence for explorers.
They named the place Clatsop for the local Native American tribe. The tribe had treated the group warmly and generously.
During your visit, you can see a replica of Fort Clatsop on site and tour the exhibit hall at the visitor center. In addition, you can watch orientation films and join a ranger-led living history program to get a sense of what life was like back then.
You will also find trails for the Fort to Sea and Netul River trails. The former takes you through green forests, along rivers and over coastal dunes to the ocean.
All are following in the footsteps of the Corps of Discovery. The latter leads to a landing with a kayak/canoe and a life-size statue of Sacagawea and his son.
Fort Clatsop is one of about ten sites that make up the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, marking the accomplishments of key parts of the Corps of Discovery mission.
The park surrounds the mouth of the Columbia River and stretches about forty miles along the coasts of Oregon and Washington.
A WORD OF SUPPORT TO CROSS THIS BRIDGE
Since waterways have always been central to the area, you’ll want to cross the 2.5-mile long Astoria-Megler Bridge to see the mighty Columbia River. The bridge that connects Oregon to Washington is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.
If you plan on whipping, you need to plan ahead. There is only one day a year that it is open to pedestrians during the Great Columbia crossing (usually the second Sunday in October).
MARITIME MUSEUM: EXCELLENT ASTORIA, OREGON
After your trip to the bridge, head to the Columbia River Maritime Museum for a crash course in fishing, navigation and military history. The famous museum, with its unique wave-shaped roof, is located on the water and is full of fascinating exhibits.
For example, you’ll learn that sailors call the Columbia River Bar the Graveyard of the Pacific. In this dangerous area, Colombia and the Pacific Ocean meet. In extreme weather conditions, waves can rise to a height of more than 12 meters.
Combine open sea with shifting sandbars and shallows and you have one of the most treacherous passages in the world. Since 1792, no fewer than 2,000 ships have sunk here and 700 people have lost their lives.
I gained a new respect for the US Coast Guard when, between shows, I spent time with the individuals who trained as rough water rescuers at Cape Disappointment. In particular, these brave men and women save more than 600 lives every year.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT WEATHER FORECASTS AND MAPS
The second exhibit explores the science of weather forecasting and the technology used for it. The Pacific Northwest is known for its variable climate, and the ability to predict storms is essential to a sailor’s livelihood.
Here you can view the Earth from space and see storms over the ocean as they develop. And if you want to try to give a weather forecast, go for it.
You can also see a full-sized fishing cart at work. Or explore a retired pilot boat and travel on a floating lighthouse. In the “Mapping the Pacific Coast” exhibit, you can explore the progress of geographical discovery through a series of historical maps dating back 460 years.
Stroll along the Astoria Riverwalk and enjoy stunning views of the bay and bridge. Watching the big cargo ships under the bridge is never boring. Also, don’t laugh at the sea lions resting in the harbor.
ENJOY PREPARATION INCLUDING SEAFOOD AND BEER
When hunger strikes, you have plenty of options for farm-to-table comfort food. Naturally, seafood plays a leading role. Try the South Bay Wild Fish House for petrale tacos, clam chowder, crab and shrimp cakes, and seafood.
Or Bowpicker Fish & Chips for beer-battered albacore tuna served from a converted net boat across the street from the Maritime Museum.
If you want to enjoy a nice dinner, book a table at Bridgewater Bistro. Here you can dine on pasta and fresh fish, as well as a variety of dishes suitable for carnivores. Beautifully renovated building with high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows overlooking the river and bridge.