A Walking Tour of

Astoria, Oregon

Astoria is a small town along the Oregon coast, just inland from the Pacific Ocean on the Columbia River .  It has seen many ups and downs with various booms in the fur trading, lumber and fishing industries.  Today it is home to 10,000 residents and is often described as a “little San Francisco” because of it’s farm-to-table restaurants, stunning architecture, and budding cultural scene.

We were fortunate to spend a day in Astoria, Oregon recently.  Aboard a Princess cruise ship and traveling north along the Pacific Coast, this was the stop I was most curious about.  While San Francisco and Vancouver get all the attention, I was interested in this sleepy maritime town steeped in history and Victorian charm.

Astoria is located about 2 miles from the Pacific Ocean on the Columbia River.   To the north and across the Astoria-Megler Bridge sits the state of Washington.  It is fast becoming a favorite cruise port for ships making their way along the Pacific Coast but has long been a favorite of local Pacific Northwest people and those driving up the coast. 
This guide highlights some things you can see that are all within walking distance.  We know, because we did it!  If you have limited mobility or are traveling with young children, you may want to consider getting around by car, trolley or Uber. 

Take a Stroll Along the Astoria Riverwalk
We loved walking along the Astoria Riverwalk and taking in an up-close view of the bridge.  Along the Riverwalk you’ll also find the Astoria Trolley, known as Old 300, where you pay just $1 and ride as long as you want.  Along the Riverwalk you’ll also find the Buoy Beer Company known for their microbrewery and delicious pub fare such as cheese curds.

Columbia River Maritime Museum
Voted best museum in Oregon by Frommers, this spot will please maritime history enthusiasts and kids alike.   Visit the Lightship Columbia, a National Historic Landmark, learn about the US Coast Guard, watch an IMAX film and much more.  Admission prices are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $5 for children.

Fish N Chips
Stop by BowPicker and indulge in a basket of beer-battered albacore tuna and steak fries.  A converted stationary boat with a walk-up window and a huge reputation, expect to wait with lots of others.  Don’t worry, it’s worth it! 

Wander Through the Neighborhoods
If you enjoy Victorian architecture and pretty gardens, then don’t miss the chance to wander through the neighborhoods just south of Commercial Street, the main shopping street through town.  The Flavel House Museum (home of Captain John Flavel) and the famous “Goonies” house where the popular film from 1985 was made can also be found in this area.

The Astoria Column
A bit of a trek, but still doable on foot, is the Astoria Column.  Considered by many to be the city’s greatest attraction, it is one of the most visited parks in the state of Oregon.  It was modeled after the Trajan Column in Rome and was dedicated in 1926.  It features a hand-painted spiral panorama that if unwound would stretch more than 500 feet.  The artwork depicts historical events from the area including the end of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the winter they spent at Fort Clatsop in 1805-1806.  It is free to enter the column (although parking at the park is $5 per car).  A spiral staircase will lead you up to a look-out that is 600 feet above sea-level and has an amazing view of Astoria and the Columbia River.  You can even see the Pacific Ocean on a clear day.

Save Time for Shopping
Don’t miss the unique stores along Commercial Street and Marine Drive.  Boutiques, second-hand stores, antique shops and a few cafes and wine bars dot the picturesque downtown area.

Antique stores with a martime theme
Antique stores with a Martime theme


Have you spent time in Astoria, Oregon?  What were your favorite places?  Please share in the comments below.

Add Comment
Cynthia says... (Reply)
"I grew up in Astoria and you definitely hit the highlights. There are some of the historic places like the Liberty Theater, Elliot Hotel. Another part of town that was originally a center is Uniontown (under the bridge) where Suomi Hall is. Much of the population in Astoria is Scandinavian, and of those most are Finnish. They came to work the cannery, the plywood mill, log and fish. That is what founded the town. There are a number of unique places just outside of Astoria like the Peter Iredale, the Battery, the Jetty, Canon Beach, Haystack Rock ... just to name a few. " (3/31/18)
Dianne Sivulka says... (Reply)
"Cynthia - thank you so much for adding these insightful tips and historical information. I'm sure our readers will find it very helpful. How lucky to live in such a beautiful place. We loved Astoria!" (4/1/18)
John says... (Reply)
"Sounds like the trip we will be taking but in reverse. Any hints for the other ports? Can't afford to take cruise line trips at every port.

John" (7/5/19)
Dianne Sivulka says... (Reply)
"Hi John, I completely agree with you. Not only are the cruise excursions expensive, but I've never been interested in that because I'd rather not spend the day with a large group of people and a sticker on my shirt. I don't know if this will be your first time in San Francisco or Vancouver, but both are great places to simply get off the ship and go explore. When we visited SF from our cruise ship, we Uber-ed around to a few spots we wanted to visit. My favorite part of the day was cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge. Blazing Saddles is a good shop to rent from and they are located near Fisherman's Wharf. On Victoria Island, we had tea at the Empress Hotel and explored Butchart Gardens. In Vancouver, we explored Stanley Park, Granville Island, and the downtown area. We did all these things on our own, walking when we could and taking an Uber when necessary. Good Luck and I hope you have a great trip!" (7/5/19)
JoAnne says... (Reply)
"The Flavel house is not to be missed! it is a beautiful museum. there is a fee to go through it, but so well worth it." (7/25/19)