If you’re visiting Astoria, Oregon then this list of the best things to do in Astoria may prove useful.
I’m a lifelong Oregonian, and have spent my fair share of warm summer weekends visiting Astoria. I love this historic and charming coastal town, teeming with breweries, friendly locals and the fragrance of the salty sea.
The history alone is worth visiting Astoria. Home to Fort Clatsop, the winter encampment of Captains Lewis and Clark, the area is ripe for exploration for history buffs and nature nuts alike. So without further ado, let’s cover the best things to do in Astoria, Oregon.
Visiting Astoria, Oregon | Best Things to Do Astoria
Learn About the Wreck of the Peter Iredale
If you’re visiting Astoria, make time to visit Fort Stevens State Park to see what remains from one of the most iconic shipwreck on the Oregon coast, the wreck of Peter Iredale.
The Peter Iredale was a four-masted steel vessel that ran ashore in 1906 while en route to the Columbia River. Built in England in 1890, the vessel was owned by a British shipping firm called Iredale & Porter.
The Iredale left a port in Mexico bound for Portland where it was scheduled to pickup cargo of wheat for the United Kingdom. Treacherous weather conditions made the journey challenging, but the captain was able to safely reach the mouth of the Columbia River before calling in assistance from a pilot.
However, while the crew waited for the pilot, a powerful wind gave way to a volatile current that ran the ship ashore. Launching the vessel into the sand at Clatsop Beach, the impact was so powerful that three masts snapped upon impact.
Luckily none of the crew were seriously injured, but the captain deemed the ship unusable and ordered that it be abandoned.
Over the years the structure deteriorated, becoming a victim to the unforgiving natural elements. All that remains is the rusted wreckage visible today.
Visiting the Peter Iredale is one of the most popular things to do in Astoria. This spot is a huge hit with kids especially, and it’s always fun to watch them get excited as they study the structure.
Visiting Astoria Interesting Fact: Astoria is where the Columbia River dumps into the Pacific Ocean. This is one of the most dangerous river bar crossings on the planet where waves can exceed a colossal forty feet in height. Can you imagine?
Take in the Views from the Astoria Column
Visiting Astoria Column is a rite-of-passage for first time visitors looking for things to do in Astoria. Sitting atop Coxcomb Hill, this column was dedicated in 1926 to celebrate the discovery, settlement and exploration of the West.
Towering at a height of 125 feet, visitors can climb to the top of the Astoria Column by taking 164 steps up a spiral staircase to the observation deck. From the top, you’ll be exposed to unparalleled views of Astoria and the Columbia River below.
The exterior of the tower features a spiral mural depicting 14 significant events in early Oregon history. The tower also features 18 region-specific scenes, like Captain Gray’s 1792 discovery of the Columbia River and the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
You may notice kids flying small gliders off the top, this seems to be a tradition amongst locals. If you’d like to join in on the fun (you should!) pick up a glider from the gift shop (they’re inexpensive) and give it a whirl.
Between the history and epic views, there’s no denying that visiting Astoria Column is one of the best things to do in Astoria, Oregon.
Take Note: Visiting Astoria Column is free, but there is a $5 per vehicle. Credit cards are accepted but sometimes the machine doesn’t work, have cash on hand to make it easier.
Explore Fort Clatsop
While exploring Astoria, I suggest visiting Fort Clatsop, a replica of the winter encampment used during the Lewis & Clark expedition. The encampment was recreated using notes from the expedition journals, how cool is that?
Lewis & Clark chose this location because of its close proximity to the ocean and ample hunting opportunities. Clark hand sketched the site plans and construction began December 1805. The fort was named after a nation of native Americans who resided near the area, called the Clatsop Nation.
Seeing the fort where Lewis & Clark hunkered down for a stormy winter is without a doubt one of the coolest things to do while visiting Astoria. The spot is a gold mine for history buffs (and kids too). Study the fort, explore the interpretive center and sign up for the ranger-led walk through.
Lewis & Clark spent a miserable (and wet) winter collecting supplies, making leather and salt, preparing maps and filling in journals. The history alone makes this one of the best things to do in Astoria, you won’t want to miss it.
Visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum
Founded in 1962, the Columbia River Maritime Museum seems to be high on everyone’s list of best things to do in Astoria, Oregon. This maritime museum has a national reputation for being one of the best in the country, largely thanks to the impressive exhibits and the scope of the collection.
The collection is so impressive, in fact, that the Columbia River Maritime Museum is the official state maritime museum for Oregon. Needless to say, it’s worth a stop for anyone planning on visiting Astoria.
The musuem was founded by an avid marine artifact collector named Rolf Klep, who launched a public fundraising campaign to acquire the Old Astoria City Hall and convert it into a museum for his collection. The campaign was successful and the Columbia River Maritime Museum opened to the public in 1963.
It didn’t take long for the locals to realize what a treasure trove this was, and in the early 1970s, a second fundraising campaign took place to move the musuem into a larger space near the waterfront.
The new musuem buildings are closer to several historic ships moored in the Columbia River, which enhances the overall visitor experience and makes this one of the best things to do in Astoria.
Split a Meal at Ship Out Fish & Chips
Asking locals to decide on the best fish and chips at the Oregon coast is no easy task. The question alone is bound to get tempers flying! But if you’re visiting Astoria, I highly recommend swinging by Ship Out Fish & Chips for — well — fish and chips.
During my last visit to Astoria, I ordered the original cod fish and chips and found myself fighting the urge to go back for a second portion. In my opinion, this is definitely in my top 5 best fish and chips at the Oregon coast but why not test it for yourself?
The fish is top-notch quality, the service was friendly and fast and the decor oozed charming coastal vibes, highly recommend this local joint while visiting Astoria.
Enjoy a Pint at Fort George Brewery
The outdoor patio at Fort George Brewery in Astoria is always full. This is undoubtedly one of the most popular breweries at the Oregon coast, but not without reason.
Dating back to 2007, Fort George offers a wide assortment of excellent beers out of a converted 1920s auto garage. Enticing locals and visitors with strong pours of hazy IPAs and award-winning ales, the vibe at this brewery is hard to beat, which is why this is one of the best things to do in Astoria.
As any visitor will tell you, the brews are great (some of the best beer in Oregon!), but if I’m being honest, the food leaves a lot to be desired.
I’ve visited Fort George Brewery on several occasions and have ordered a few meals. Good, not great is the best way to describe the pub fare. Swing by Blue Scorcher Bakery (in the same building) beforehand for great sandwiches if you’re feeling peckish.
Stroll the Scenic Riverwalk
There seems to be an unwritten rule that every quaint small town must include a boardwalk, thankfully Astoria got the memo. Strolling the scenic river-walk at sunset while the lively chatter from nearby breweries and restaurants clashes with the sounds of waves is one of the most romantic things to do in Astoria, Oregon.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve walked the waterfront while visiting Astoria, but I never pass up the opportunity to return. My husband and I stretch out legs before deciding on a brewery to pop into for the night, it’s slowly becoming a tradition and one of our favorite things to do in Astoria.
Local’s Tip: If time escapes and you find yourself tired at the end of your walk, simply pop aboard the Riverfront Trolley (there’s stops on both ends of the riverwalk) to get back into town.
Speaking of the trolley…
Ride the Astoria Riverfront Trolley
The charming Astoria Riverfront Trolley is an old-school trolley that follows a scenic 3-mile route using former railroad tracks. While the service dates back to 1999, tiding the trolley remains one of the best things to do in Astoria for first time visitors to this day.
Hop aboard the 1913-built streetcars and relax, while visiting Astoria in style. The entire round trip route takes about 1 hour and the trolley uses the same tracks going both directions, but the narration changes depending on the scenery.
To board the trolley you’ll need to head to one of the stops located along the riverfront (between Basin Street & 39th Street). The fee to ride is $1 per boarding or $2 for a day pass. If helpful, you can track the live location of the trolley here.
Peruse the Astoria Sunday Market
If you’re visiting Astoria on Sunday and looking for fun things to do, plan on visiting Astoria Sunday Market. Held every Sunday from mid-May to early October, this vibrant market comes alive with local vendors selling crafts, fresh food, spirits, you name it.
The creativity at the market spans the gamut, which is why visiting is one of the best things to do in Astoria. Covering 4 city blocks and hosting more than 200 vendors, this market is huge! Plus, most of the nearby downtown shops remain open on Sunday, giving you even more opportunity to find fun souvenirs to bring home.
I suggest allotting 1-2 hours to properly explore. In my experience, the vendors are super friendly and kind, feel free to chat them up if something catches your eye.
Have a (Slow) Cup of Coffee at Coffee Girl
As you may have noticed by now, I try to stretch my legs whenever possible because there’s so many great breweries and restaurants in town. Need to burn calories and make room for IPAs! Another great option for a scenic stroll, apart from the Riverwalk is to walk Pier 39.
My favorite thing about Pier 39 is Coffee Girl, one of the cutest cafes along the Oregon coast! The views are spectacular and the coffee/food always hits the spot. This is one of the most relaxing things to do in Astoria.
There’s also a free musuem that touches on Astoria’s cannery industry, which I haven’t personally visited so I can’t vouch for it. But if you’re into this, feel free to pop in while visiting Astoria because you may enjoy it!
Visit the Flavel House Museum
Considered one of the best-preserved examples of Queen Anne architecture in the Northwest, visiting Astoria’s Flavel House Museum is like stepping back in time. The home-turned-museum stands as an icon of local and national significance.
The house was originally built between 1884-1885 for Captain George Flavel, a many who made a fortune as a bar pilot and through real estate investments.
The man spared no expense in building his retirement home, which has since been restored to its former glory to accurately portray the elegance of the Flavel family home.
You can’t drive by the house without noticing it. I was so stunned by the beauty that I promptly pulled the car over, parked and walked right in. I was able to purchase admission onsite and spent the better half of 2 hours poking my head into every room, eager to learn about the family that called this place home.
You don’t have to be a history buff to realize this is one of the best things to do in Astoria. I recommend it to my own family and friends that plan on visiting Astoria, Oregon because I enjoyed it so much.
Tickets are $7/adult, hours and more info can be found here.
List of Things to Do in Astoria, Oregon
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the best things to do in Astoria, Oregon.
- Learn About the Wreck of the Peter Iredale
- Take in the Views from the Astoria Column
- Explore Fort Clatsop
- Visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum
- Order the Fish & Chips at Ship Out
- Enjoy a Pint at Fort George Brewery
- Stroll the Scenic Riverwalk
- Ride the Astoria Riverfront Trolley
- Have a (Slow) Cup of Coffee at Coffee Girl
- Peruse the Sunday Market
- Visit the Flavel House Museum
Map of the best things to do in Astoria | Visiting Astoria
If you’re visiting Astoria, this map may be helpful.
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