Astoria is the Oregon community you probably travel through either on your way to or from visiting the always popular Oregon Coast. Astoria sits immediately east of the mouth of the Columbia River and is surrounded by some very cool scenery and some interesting historical attractions. Astoria itself is very much worth stopping in and exploring too. It has a maritime feel to it, which you’ll find very appropriate once you learn a little bit about its history. Astoria is a fun place to visit with a lot to offer.
15 Astoria, Oregon Family Travel Tips
VISIT THE COLUMBIA RIVER MARITIME MUSEUM
The Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria is one of those can’t-miss museums every family should visit if traveling through the area. This museum is dedicated to the maritime history around the mouth of the Columbia River. There’s so much “I didn’t know that!” information available throughout the museum that it’s staggering. In addition to all that info, you and your family also get the chance to step foot on historic vessels too. Make sure and bring your camera with you on this visit.
DRIVE THE ASTORIA-MEGLER BRIDGE
The Columbia River is a long and impressive river, but the most impressive bridge it passes under on its entire run to the ocean is the Astoria-Megler Bridge. The bridge crossing stretches for more than four miles over the widening of the river and it can be seen and photographed from a number of spots. The best way to experience it though is to drive across it. It’s worth it to take the extra time and drive across it more than once too. There’s nothing like looking east upriver and then west out to the ocean.
CLIMB THE TOWER
One of Astoria’s iconic attractions is the Astoria Column. This interesting structure was built in 1926 and sits on city park land. It’s 125 tall and you have to climb up a 164-step spiral staircase to get to the top. Once there, you’ll be treated the best views of Astoria and the surrounding area. The entire family will enjoy this stop.
DRIVE TO CAPE DISAPPOINTMENT
Cape Disappointment sits on the northern side of the Columbia River, way out west where the river meets the Pacific Ocean. This is a very beautiful area and features the U.S. Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment, Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, and Cape Disappointment State Park. It’s easy to head out there and spend the better part of the day without running out of things to do and see.
VISIT SHIVELY PARK
Shively Park is one of Astoria’s nices parks. It features a gorgeous natural area, picnic shelters, playground, and a number of trails for walking, biking, hiking, and more. A quick visit to Shively Park is a nice way to get the kids some stretch your legs time.
ENJOY AN OUTDOOR EATING EXPERIENCE
Astoria has a lot of great restaurants to choose from and whether you get some food there or you’ve packed a picnic lunch, a great way to spend some time in town is to find some place to eat outdoors. Astoria features city parks, historic sites, and a vibrant waterfront area. Having a light hearted picnic in any of these spots can make any visit to Astoria so much better.
CHECK OUT THE FORT CLAPSOP NATIONAL MEMORIAL
The Fort Clapsop National Memorial commemorates the spot where the Lewis & Clark Expedition spent the winter of 1805-06 after having reached the Pacific Ocean. Today, you and your family can wander through a reconstruction of the fort right where it was originally built. Great detail was paid to making the fort as accurate as possible. Spending time at this important historic site is a great compliment to any visit to or through the Astoria area.
RIDE THE ASTORIA RIVERFRONT TROLLEY
Taking a ride on the Astoria Riverfront Trolley involves stepping on board and taking a seat on Old 300. This historic trolley car was built in 1913 and originally served the city of San Antonio, Texas before coming to the Pacific Northwest and running from Portland to Lake Oswego. Today, it runs right down the riverfront in Astoria and you and your family can very easily hop aboard and have a fun experience while you take a ride right through town. The round trip ride on the trolley takes about an hour and only costs one dollar to ride.
VISIT THE OREGON FILM MUSEUM
Housed in an old jail, the Oregon Film Museum is dedicated to showing off the history of films that were filmed in Oregon. It’s quite an impressive list of movies too and there’s a lot of memorabilia on hand to tell the story.
EXPERIENCE FORT ASTORIA
John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company played a pivotal role in the opening up of the Pacific Northwest. This fur company’s primary trading post was Fort Astoria, sometimes referred to as Fort George. This historic fort stayed active for a number of years and today you can visit the site thanks to those who have preserved it over the years.
GET OUT ON THE WATER!
There are a lot of ways to get out on the water when you visit Astoria. You can schedule a charter fishing trip that takes you out on the river or even further out into the Pacific Ocean. You can also take a Columbia River tour that shows off all the sights to see from the water. There are dinner cruises available in the region as well. Getting out on the water when visiting Astoria is very easy.
HIT THE BEACH!
There are some areas in Astoria where you can get down to the water but if you want a top beach experience, you need to go for a bit of a drive. The northern Oregon coastline features some great beaches, all within an easy drive from Astoria. Visit places like Fort Stevens State Park, Surf Pines, Del Rey Beach State Recreation Site, Sunset Beach, Gearhart Ocean State Park, and Seaside. You can also head north across the Astoria-Megler Bridge and then west to Cape Disappointment or the Long Beach Peninsula beyond that.
EXPLORE LEWIS AND CLARK NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK
Lewis and Clark National Historic Park is one of the top draws in the area for a history buff. The Corps of Discovery’s expedition across the continent is one of the most impressive accomplishments of its time. When you and your family visit you’ll be almost overwhelmed with all that you find there.
GET OUT ON THE ASTORIA RIVERWALK
The Astoria Riverwalk stretches for almost six and a half miles along the riverfront of the city. The surface is boardwalk and asphalt in places and runs along a former railroad bed. You can walk, job, run, or inline skate along the trail. It’s also a great way to access the water and even go fishing. Getting out on the Astoria Riverwalk is a great way to explore the local area.
CHECK OUT FORT STEVENS STATE PARK
Fort Stevens State Park sits at the mouth of the Columbia River, on the Oregon side. This is a large state park and offers a lot to see. It’s very easy to spend an entire day checking out the different parts of the park. The jetty and ocean beach areas are impressive. There are also some great biking and hiking trails there too. From the remnants of old shipwrecks on the beaches to what’s left of the fort’s infrastructure, there’s a lot of history there too.
Astoria is a fun little community and works as a great gateway to the Northern Oregon Coast for anyone heading that way out of Washington State. It’s also a great destination all on its own too. A family can have a an awesome vacation experience when they spend at least a little bit of it in Astoria, Oregon.