Another new find for Katie, myself, and our dear Pacific northwest traveling companions, Cheryl, Justin, and tiny Winston last week was Astoria, Oregon, a seminal, now sleepy port town at the mouth of the Colombia River that boasts a rich history and thriving current-day downtown scene.
Astoria sits near the northern-most tip of Oregon, staring up at the piney southern shore of Washington state across a massively wide expanse of river, serving not only as its county’s seat but also as the site of the first permanent US settlement on the Pacific coast, settled in 1810.
Fast forward 204 or so years from the founding of Astoria, skipping over the preeminence of Portland + Seattle as northern Pacific ports, and you’ll find what we did—a charming, aggreably slow-paced water-side town with lovely terraced residential neighborhoods towering over what seems like a vibrant, inordinately large downtown. But unlike DUMBO or Red Hook back in Brooklyn, for instance, Astoria seems to be balancing actual current-day working port-based commerce with tourism and business that caters to the younger generations (read: craft breweries and quality coffee houses).
Plus Goonies was shot there, man.
We originally planned on stopping through the town on our way to what we assumed would be more exciting sites, but ended up staying the lion’s share of the day, enjoying locally made beer and excellent food, watching glass-blowers at work and the goings on at the port, talking to vendors as they set up for the farmers market, and meeting fellow visitors equally dumfounded by the charm the little town held over us.
I take some small comfort in the fact that I feel relatively few people read these pages regularly, otherwise I’d be slightly remiss in giving away what would otherwise be such a tightly held secret. So, instead, I’ll say to any of you that’ve read this far and have any desire to visit the Pacific northwest—make Astoria a must-see on your list.
But seriously, don’t move there and drive up the real estate market just incase we decide we can deal with the relative lack of sun/dryness long term.
Below, one of our new favorite breweries, Fort George; a somewhat crazily worded monument to Fort Astoria, the original settlement that became the town of Astoria; a panorama of the Washington shore across the river from Astoria (click on that to see it large-scale); two
goats sheep about to make out, right in the middle of downtown; what seems to be the first ever JC Penny; blueberries growing in a community garden; yes, the Goonies house (MY BIKE MY BIKE); and nearby Cannon Beach, site of “They’ll be no more signing today or ever again!” (cue guy throwing way too much paper in the air).
Oh, those Goonies.