Scenic Astoria, Oregon, is awash in history and raffish port town charm. For a city of just 10,000 people, there’s much to do. Climb its famous column to see a vast panorama of water and woods. Pub-crawl the waterfront Riverwalk with the help, in season, of an old-fashioned trolley. Feast on fresh seafood. Explore a state-of-the-art maritime museum, a low-tech cannery museum or a river pilot’s Gilded Age mansion. Or take a short trek to Fort Clatsop, named for the local tribe, where Lewis and Clark hunkered down in the cold, rainy winter of 1805.
Six years later, John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company started the first permanent U.S. settlement on the west coast. Located at the mouth of the Columbia River, Astoria became a vibrant port with a strong economy based on shipping, fishing and timber. In the 1980s both the Bumble Bee Seafood canneries and the Astoria Plywood Mill closed and the era of tourism began. Starting with The Goonies, the town also became a popular movie set—scenes in Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy, Short Circuit, The Ring Two, Into the Wild and The Guardian were all shot in the charming, steep-hilled town.
Today Astoria’s fine restaurants, brewpubs, trendy hotels and quirky shops—along with its impressive views and nearby Pacific beaches—make it a great place for a relaxed visit.