Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Astoria, Oregon - Things to do

Astoria is an easy day trip, about a 2-hour drive from Portland, less from the airport. You drive
halfway on Interstate-5 and the other half on Highway 30, a two-lane road over the Coast
Range with many passing lanes so you don't get stuck behind a chip truck or Winnebago. It's
a pretty drive that follows the Columbia River to its mouth.
Obey the speed limits in
, it's a notorious speed trap.

    The Astoria map is to the Columbia River Maritime Museum, at 15th and Marine Drive, on
    the river. Highway 30 becomes Marine Drive, the street that runs directly along the river; as
    you enter downtown Astoria it will split and become one-way. Going up the hill from Marine,
    Astoria east-west streets are alphabetical -- Bond, Commercial, Duane, Exchange, Franklin,
    Grand . . . etc. North-south streets are numerical up to 1st, and then have names.

If you're planning an overnight stay in Astoria or anywhere on the coast, make your
reservations now
. Hotels and Inns fill up very quickly. All the recommended Astoria hotels
have been open for three years or less, so they're in good shape and offer all the latest

Remember that
the weather on the coast can be dramatically different from the weather in
Portland. As I write this (Noon on Thursday, July 12, 2007) it's 64 and overcast. If the marine
layer burns off some we may reach 67. In Portland it's already 80 and sunny, and predicted to
reach 86.


Cannery Pier Hotel ::: #10 Basin Street, Astoria OR 97103. tele: 888-325-4996. 38
rooms and 7 suites, all with incredible river views. The hotel is built 600 feet INTO and OVER
the river, just past the big bridge. Gas fireplace, minibar, fridge, iron, hair dryer, high-speed
Internet, sauna, day spa, exercise room, complimentary day-use bicycles. Open for about a
year. On the west side of Astoria, still within walking distance. Excellent. Pricey, at about
$240/night for two people. Owner: John Jacob.

Fisherman Suites, Pier 39 ::: 100 39th Street, Astoria, OR 97103. tele: 503-325-2502.
Treat yourself to a unique experience. Three suites built within the 132-year-old Hanthorne
Cannery, several hundred feet out and over the Columbia River and just east of the East
Mooring Basin, home to the fishing fleet and sea lions. The suites have floor-to-ceiling
windows and there's nothing between you, the river and the mountains except glass. Ships
pass within yards. The suites have everything you can imagine. The Cannery is also home to
the microbrewery & restaurant Rogue Ale Public House as well as the most-liked coffeehouse
in town, the Coffee Girl. T creat yourself without breaking the budget. The two "smaller"
suites are $150 and $175/night, the massive Captain's Suite is $475/night. If we were you,
we'd stay here. Owner: Floyd Holcomb.
Note: This is the only recommended overnight
accommodation that comes BEFORE the Maritime Museum (it's at 15th, the Cannery is at 39th
-- so the Cannery is 14 blocks before the Museum).

Holiday Inn Express and Suites ::: 204 W. Marine Drive, under the bridge. tele: 888-898-
Not your usual Holiday Inn Express. 78 lovely rooms. Walking distance to everything.
Be sure to request a river view room. About $150/night for two.

Hotel Elliott ::: 357 12th Street, Astoria OR 97103. tele: 877-378-1924. 32 rooms and
suites smack in the middle of historic Astoria. Rooftop terrace, cigar bar, wine bar, free high-
speed cable. Very nice. About $200/night for two. Owner: Chester Trabucco.

Rosebriar Inn ::: 636 14th Street, Astoria OR 97103. tele: 800-487-0224. A well-
executed cross between a hotel and a B&B. 12 rooms, all with private bath, phone, cable TV,
in a beautiful 1902 house that was a former convent. Gourmet breakfasts. Convenient
walking distance to everything. Some rooms have river views. A couple rooms have a view of
the supposedly-haunted old Flavel House. From $90-$400/night depending on the room.


Here's a good list.
Our favorites:
Breakfast: Andrew & Steve's, Columbian Cafe, Pig 'n Pancake
Lunch: Columbian Cafe, Astoria Coffee House, The Rogue, Andrew & Steve's
Dinner: Columbian Cafe, Fulio's, Rio Cafe
Pastries, coffee: The Coffee Girl, Astoria Coffee House, Scorched Earth Bakery
Pizza: Voodoo Room
Drinks: Voodoo Room, The Ship Inn, The Schooner, Cafe Uniontown (if you're a smoker)


You'll have no problem keeping yourself entertained. There are only two things for which you

Kayaking on & around the Columbia River: Fantastic! Call our old friend Jenny at 360-849-
4016 and inquire about her personal tours. Jenny's been kayaking around the world for the
past decade or two and had a wonderful show on KMUN radio for several years, interviewing
regional writers.

Fishing Charters:
Tiki Charters, out of the West Mooring Basin in Astoria
Chartlon Charters, out of Warrenton
Tackle Time Charters, out of Warrenton

Most of these companies also have a trip that just tools around the mouth of the River for an
hour or two.

Here's a good guide to local fishing.

Bicycle Tours (advance reservations recommended):
Bikes & Beyond, Astoria

Columbia River Maritime Museum: One of the finest museums on the West Coast, with
interactive stuff for kids of all ages. We have a few Guest Passes, available on request.

Explore the Riverwalk: Five miles of flat, paved trail right along and sometimes over the
Columbia River. From the eastern edge in the Alderbrook lagoon to the Maritime Museum, it's
mostly just you and the River. In central Astoria the Riveralk passes through working
canneries and docks, cafes and galleries. The western end terminates at the Port of Astoria --
who knows what you'll find moored there.

Visit the Astoria Column: The best view in town and no better way to orient yourself
You can take a little hike to the Column through
the Cathedral Tree Trail that climbs
through a lovely and occasionally majestic bit of urban forest right in the center of Astoria and
leads straight to the Column. The Cathedral Tree is a 300-year-old spruce tree.

Explore Fort Stevens: A 3700-acre state park right at the mouth of the Columbia River. The
historical battlements built in the Civil War and used until the end of World War II are
fascinating and fun to climb on and walk through. The beach areas include the
wreck of the
Peter Iredale,
best visited at low tide when you can climb through the iron remains. (For a
tide table,
click here, scroll down and click "Columbia River entrance (N. Jetty)." There are 9
miles of bike trails, 6 miles of hiking trails, through forests, wetlands and dunes.
For an excellent treat before or after, stop at the Warrenton Boatyard for a fresh crab or
shrimp cocktail just off the boat.
Families may like Dooger's Seafood, located at the turnoff from 101, which serves just
about everything and includes a good children's menu. Lots of folks like their clam chowder
and fried stuff.

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