Oregon is known for a great many things: from Stumptown Coffee and windswept beaches to the world’s largest cheese factory and a gorge considered the best place in the world for windsurfing. If you only have a few days to visit the Beaver State, consider exploring Astoria, Oregon to take in some breathtaking sights, American Pioneer History, and a little bit of 1980’s movie nostalgia (hint: Goonies never say die!).
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Why Astoria, Oregon?
Traveling to and exploring Astoria, Oregon may seem a bit random, but this small port city is steeped in pioneer and maritime history. Astoria sits at the mouth of the Columbia River, where the river meets the Pacific Ocean.
Exploring Astoria, Oregon with kids is fun, especially as if they’re starting to learn U.S. History. Astoria is known as the last stop of the Lewis & Clark Expedition before it turned back to head east. The Lewis & Clark Expedition was commissioned by President Jefferson shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The goal of the expedition was to map out the newly acquired territory. Astoria, Oregon gave refuge to the expedition and subsequently, the explorers established the first American presence in the area at Fort Clatsop.
Exploring Astoria, Oregon
If you’re into history, be that American, Maritime or Film, then Astoria, Oregon has a number of landmarks to satisfy a wide variety of interests. For breathtaking panoramic views of Astoria and the Columbia River, consider starting your tour of Astoria at the Astoria Column. This public monument depicts the history of Astoria from its earliest settlers to the arrival of the railroad. Visitors can climb 164 steps to the top of the column for panoramic views from atop a windswept hill.
If exploring Astoria, Oregon’s rich maritime history is on your list, then a visit to the Columbia River Maritime Museum is a must. The Maritime Museum affords visitors the chance to take a dive into the legendary Columbia River Bar, one of the most dangerous passages in the world, without getting wet! The museum features exhibits about the U.S. Coast Guard, famous sea vessels, a map of all known shipwrecks to have occurred at the mouth of the Columbia River, and a fascinating 3-D movie about the ocean by Jean-Michael Cousteau.
Astoria, Oregon is also home to the Oregon Film Museum. If you’re a child of the ’80’s and a fan of The Goonies, you’ll be pleased to know that the state’s film museum is located in the former Clatsop County Jail in Astoria. The Clatsop County Jail is the very same building from which the Fratelli’s, the antagonists in The Goonies, orchestrated a jail break in the opening scene of the movie. Across the street from the museum, Goonies aficionados can continue exploring Astoria, Oregon at the Flavel House, a historic landmark and another filming location of the 80’s cult classic.
Next Stop: Warrenton, Oregon
A short drive from Astoria is Warrenton, Oregon. Warrenton is the location of the Fort Stevens State Park, named for the military reservation that guarded this area from the Civil War thru the end of World War II. If you thought exploring Astoria, Oregon was fun, wait until the family sets their eyes on the Peter Iredale Shipwreck, a massive three-sided iron boat hull that ran ashore in 1906. Some 113 years later, the shipwreck awes visitors and illustrates why the area bears the unfortunate nickname “Graveyard of the Pacific.” In addition to exploring the beaches of Warrenton, consider bike riding through the Fort Stevens State Park where paved trails are conducive to bikes and scooters.
Next Stop: Seaside, Oregon
One of the main reasons to stop in Seaside, Oregon is to give the kids a chance to visit the Seaside Aquarium. The Seaside Aquarium has operated since 1937 and its main attractions are the marine life touch tanks and harbor seals. For a small fee, kids can feed fish to the harbor seals. While the seals are not trained, they are natural performers who ham it up in order to catch your attention while tossing in their food.
Next Stop: Cannon Beach, Oregon
Immediately south of Seaside is Cannon Beach, Oregon. Recognized as one of the 100 most beautiful places in the world by National Geographic, the most recognizable feature of Cannon Beach is the 72 meter high Haystack Rock formation. For Goonies fans, Cannon Beach will look familiar as it was an important film location in the movie. For the kids, Haystack Rock will inspire their imagination while beachcombing for sand dollars and driftwood. In town, families will find art galleries, boutiques, eateries, and sweet shops.
Final Stop: Long Beach, Washington
If, after exploring Astoria, Oregon and the Oregon Coast, your vacation itinerary has time for one more stop, consider crossing the Astoria-Megler Bridge into the southern tip of the State of Washington. Shortly after crossing the bridge you’ll come across the loop of Cape Disappointment. This five mile loop offers breathtaking views of the bay. The beaches of Cape Disappointment are great for kite fliers, sand castle builders, and clam diggers.
A couple minutes north of Cape Disappointment is the oddity-filled downtown of Long Beach, Washington. The Long Beach Coast is known for its beauty, but walking through the downtown is a spectacle of fun with its nostalgic amusements and retro arcades.
To help with planning your Oregon vacation, visit the Travel Oregon Website. Exploring Astoria, Oregon and the surrounding beach cities is great fun with kids while giving everyone a chance to recharge their batteries while appreciating the placid Oregon Coast.
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