I have spent 7 years in the greater Seattle area. Its been 4 months since I crossed Washington state borders. I knew about Astoria from someone who grew up there at Timberfest the year before. So I made a plan the day before to just GO!
Columbia River Maritime Museum takes 2 hours to browse. Even if you’re not a boat buff, its’s cool to know to know that the Columbia bar is the most dangerous place to sail, that the water could swell up to 40 feet in the air or that the big boats with protruding bows are tugboats. Some trivia is fun to look at even if you don’t retain the information like the flags or the lingo. Its a lot of reading if you’re into it. They have an actual torpedo and lightship but most of the other exhibits are models or replicas.
I think it was sweet and respectful to even have a memorial for Japanese soldiers who lost their lives in WWII. Japanese soldiers carried a memento of the Japanese flag and signatures from well wishers. Some American soldiers showed them off as trophies after defeating them. Those flags are now being returned to their families at no cost. If you see one thing in Astoria this day, this should be it.
The Fort Clatsop National Memorial was where the Lewis and Clark expedition stopped by for a bit. It has a log cabin where they stayed and some trivia. I walked to Netul’s landing because I needed a walk after all that driving but it’s something you can skip. Its a new one and I didn’t think it had a lot of exhibits. I spent less time here.
Stopping by at El Catrin for their delicious cucumber margarita (virgin) might just be my own palette :). I had my dinner there too although there were other places people rave about more. I love Mexican food. Their carne asada was presented really well, one of the best I have seen.
Though you can see the Astoria-Megler Bridge from just about anywhere in Astoria, driving on it is a different experience. The view while crossing it from Oregon to Washington border is lovely in the evening. I couldn’t take a picture obviously. You might want to skip if you don’t want to drive along the Oregon coast to see some of the parks. Because you will cross it on the way back anyway.
Commercial Street looked like a fun place to check out if you still have energy in the evening.Where to stay: Columbia Inn
I got some healthy breakfast and a large OJ included at 14th Street Cafe. As I walked back to my car, I caught a glimpse of 14th street ferry dock and walked straight towards it. Watching the boats sail into the horizon relaxes me. Half an hour is probably enough here.
The Astoria Column is the highlight of Astoria. Can’t miss it. It is at an elevation as is and has stairs to climb all the way to the top. In addition to the views of Columbia river, boats, mountains and the Astoria-Megler bridge, it has relevant historical milestones and dates wrapped around it. Astoria is America’s first (non-native) settlement west of the Rocky mountains (1811). This lighthouse was built in 1926.
I stopped by Astoria Warrenton visitor center to kill some time in the morning. They had a lot of good information for things to do, family friendly activities, trails around Astoria and the Flavel house.
The Flavel House Museum was the Queen Anne style home of Capt. George Flavel, one of Astoria’s most influential citizens in the 1800’s. He helped build a lot of the infrastructure of the city. His home was modern for its time with wall to wall carpets, indoor plumbing and central heating.
You have 2 options to see the waterfront, the trolley or just walk. I skipped the trolley because I didn’t want to spend over an hour at the waterfront and cram a lot of history in that time. It has great reviews though. I lied down on the grass till I saw tiny TINY bugs crawl up.
In the afternoon I went to the coast. Hug Point State Recreation Site has rock formations with algae around them and caves. Arcadia Beach State Recreation Site has rocks with corals and caves as well. My favorite might have been Oswald West State Park. For ocean views, this one had a horizon till my forehead. Wow! I just stopped on highway 101 for a quick look. If had to do this again, I would have skipped some of the other parks and spent more time there.
Dinner? Seaside seemed like a charming town on my way. I went to a seafood restaurant called Doogers. Really nice restaurant. When I asked them for raw oysters (not on the menu), I though they were going to be on the half shell. I think they were out of the bottle. Not bad, but a little…umm…weird. They were sweet enough to ask me if I was Ok with it but I was in no mood for fried or breaded food before driving. Their chowder was delicious
Author: Nazneen Malik. I try new things a lot. For my readers, I want to not define myself by my name, nationality, gender, race or profession. Feel my experiences. See what you think – Broad Without Borders