Going Coastal for Sanity’s Sake: A Weekend in Astoria, OR

Waterfront Sunset, Astoria, OR

A beautiful evening at the Oregon coast.

I live for the ocean.

Having grown up on a small Alaskan island, the scent of seawater was one ubiquitous thing about my childhood. And after I moved away from Kodiak, I made sure to always live near water, since I was no longer surrounded by it.

I went to college in Arcata, CA where there were several beaches (both rocky and sandy) just minutes away. Then I moved north to Portland where the Willamette River is just a five-minute walk from my office in the industrial southeast. If I’m having a stressful day (which is every day lately), I take what I like to call a “rage walk” to the riverfront to have some alone time by the water.

But sometimes the Willamette is just not enough and I feel the pull to the Oregon coast to breath in some salty ocean air. Happily, my husband feels the same and it’s easy to convince him that a trip to the beach is a necessity.

Often when the mood strikes, we head to Depoe Bay and then on to Newport, but another favorite spot for us is Astoria. For a sleepy town, Astoria certainly has its allures – state parks, historical markers from the Lewis & Clark expedition, rivers plus the ocean, and several breweries (yay!).

And out of all the coastal towns in this state, it reminds me the most of home — a small, windy, rainy, foggy place where the docks are full of fishing boats and the people tend to be a bit bedraggled.

On my most recent trip there a few weeks ago with my dad, stepmother and their ridiculously spoiled dog Pépe, the sun was actually shining. And while the wind was whipping with some ferocity, it was still a wonderfully dry weekend, perfect for exploring.

Since sometimes I don’t “explore” any further than the local breweries, this time I made an effort to see some new things. Here’s some of the sights, bites and suds we enjoyed during our stay:

The Goonies House - yes, the original

The original “Goon Docks” from the movie The Goonies. I was obsessed with the film as a kid so it’s always fun to make this pilgrimage. And every time I go, plenty of others – both  young and old – are on the same mission. Fun fact: this year is the movie’s 30th anniversary!

A symbolic memorial dedicated by Coboway, the Clatsop Leader, who was friendly with explorers Lewis and Clark.

A Native American burial canoe dedicated to Coboway, a leader of the Clatsop tribe who was friendly with explorers Lewis and Clark. This symbolic memorial is located by the Astoria Column.

It's not a trip to Astoria unless you've seen the column. This was my second visit and it was still as magnificent.

It’s not a trip to Astoria unless you’ve seen the Column. This was my second visit and it was still impressive. The artwork around the sides is my favorite part – it tells the history of the town.

The shipwreck of the Iredale at the Ft. Stevens Park. The ship ran ashore in 1906 during a storm and was unable to be salvaged.

The Iredale shipwreck at the Ft. Stevens Park. The ship ran ashore in 1906 during a storm and was unable to be salvaged. More than a century later, its skeleton still remains.

Walking the beach at Ft Stevens State Park

Walking the beach at Ft Stevens State Park

Rogue Brewery, beer flight, Astoria, OR

A tasting flight from the Rogue Brewery, a staple in the Oregon beer scene.

Sausage sampler (all housemade) at the Fort George Brewery & Public House.

Sausage sampler (all housemade) at the Fort George Brewery & Public House.

Another tasting flight from Ft. George Brewing. So much good stuff on this board!

Beer flight from the Fort George Brewery. So many tasty beverages on this board!

A replica of the original fort that Lewis and Clark stayed in during the winter of 1805.

A replica of the original fort that Lewis and Clark (and around 30 others including Sacagawea) stayed in during the winter encampment of 1805-1806 in Fort Clatsop.

A walk by the water

A walk by the Columbia River

Under the Astoria Bridge

Under the Astoria Bridge

Sunset by the waterfront

Click on this bad boy for an awesome panoramic view of a waterfront sunset.

Just like my past visits to the coast, this trip was amazingly effective in restoring some peace to my soul — someone really should market beach trips as “saltwater therapy.”

The best part though? I’m headed back to Astoria tomorrow with my husband, who was unable to go last time. I doubt that the weather will be as nice but I know the beer will be just as delicious and I am confident that the ocean will again work its magic.


16 thoughts on “Going Coastal for Sanity’s Sake: A Weekend in Astoria, OR

  1. And that smell of the sea is why Jim and I made our new home in Ocean Shores. I can never get enough of it.

    • I know – it’s a really good thing Chris likes the beach as much as I do. Though I will say for every rocky, rainy, foggy day I spend at a beach, I could do with a sunny, white sand, umbrella drink day at the beach. Just to even it out…

  2. I can relate! I’m from Maui and now I live in Sarasota, Florida; that beachy warm allure of my childhood leading me through life. Went to college in Portland and fresh from Maui back then, I missed the beach so much, once we hitch-hiked (1978) to Cannon Beach and there was snow covering the sand!

    • I love that story! I would love to see Cannon Beach in the winter actually, it’s one of my favorite places too (clearly I guess I just love the whole Oregon coast!). Way more quiet and peaceful than Seaside or Newport. I wish the beaches in my life skewed more towards the tropical (I’m a sunshine girl at heart) but I guess that’s what vacations are for!

  3. “Going coastal”–I like that! I’ve only been to the Oregon coast once but I thought it was spectacular–all you say. The “left” coast has has a very different feel than the Atlantic coast but both make me happy. Glad you had such a great time and are going back!

    • You know, I haven’t spend much time on the other side of the country but there’s something to be said for the broody, moody rocky beaches of the west. Though as long as I’m by a beach, any beach!, I’m pretty content. And even though I was exhausted today from our late drive home, I still felt happier than I did before we left. Salt water rejuvenation!

    • The Column is great – the first time we drove up there I had no idea it would be so awesome. I’ve also really enjoyed getting out to the state parks in the area — Fort Stevens is really worth the trip. It’s got river access, ocean access, a super cool battery/bunker site from the war plus a shipwreck and a lake. It’s like the pinnacle of state parks! You couldn’t ask for much more.

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