Last year we spent several weeks in the Astoria, Oregon area enjoying the ocean. We fell in love with the area and the amazing access to beaches, trails, and great wildlife viewing. So, this past week when we checked the weather forecast and noticed a stretch of sunny days we knew exactly where we wanted to head for a mini-getaway.
Astoria is situated at the mouth of the Columbia River where it meets with the Pacific Ocean. It has an incredible amount of history from the Chinook peoples who originally inhabited the area, to the Lewis and Clark expedition and John Jacob Astor who came to the area to explore and trade. However, the best part about Astoria is its central location to a number of great state and national park sites as well as national wildlife refuges. You could fill weeks with visiting these amazing natural areas (last year we did). However, for our second trip to Astoria we concentrated on visiting our favorites such as Benson Beach at Cape Disappointment State Park where you can walk to the North Jetty of the Columbia River. We also scrambled over a good deal of the South Jetty on the Oregon side by walking down to the beach at the northern tip of Fort Stevens State Park.
During our time in between rock hopping along jetties we watched sea lions on the docks in the Port of Astoria. For us it doesn’t get any better than observing sea lions up close so we made sure to visit them each day that we were in town. We also headed back to the Astoria Column to fly wooden gliders off the top of the column and roll down the hill. And finally to our great disappointment we were bested once again by the Weather Beach Trail at Leadbetter Point State Park. This is our second attempt to hike this trail from Willapa Bay to the Pacific Ocean and each time we are met with waist high water. We are determined to complete it one day and will try again. Luckily the protected Willapa Bay makes a nice warm place to play in the mud and we never leave Leadbetter Point too disappointed. Plus it gives us an excuse to keep returning to the Astoria area to take advantage of all the great parks and activities.
The Gooniesis by far one of our favorite family movies and we couldn’t make a trip to the coast of Oregon without paying homage to the fabulous adventure of Mikey and his friends.
After watching The Goonies movie we headed to the Oregon Film Museum which celebrates the many movies filmed in Oregon. The museum is located in the old Astoria jail which was used for the jail break scene in The Goonies. The kids got a huge kick out of the many props displayed at the museum including the Fratellis’ Jeep and Data’s jacket.
However, the most exciting part of the museum was the film studio set up with cameras, lights, and three different sets. Visitors to the museum are invited to use the studio to make their own short videos. Props are provided as well as dialogue from popular Oregon movies. Visitors can film up to 5 takes and the museum staff then sends you the clips you filmed via email. The Younger Fives had such a blast with this feature of the museum and are so excited to have the film clips that they created as a memento of their visit to the Oregon Film Museum.
From the film museum we headed to Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park where many scenes from The Goonies were filmed. First we headed to the beach to view Haystack Rock which appears in several scenes of the movie. From there we took the road to Ecola State Park where the bicycle scene in the movie was filmed. The view from Ecola State Park is absolutely gorgeous and the kids had a blast exploring the park.
Being in the area where The Goonies was filmed was great fun for the whole family. It made one of our favorite family movies a little more special.
Until a week ago we didn’t know much about Astoria, Oregon. However, with our vacation rental being located just over the 4 mile long Astoria–Megler Bridge we have spent a great deal of time these last two weeks getting to know this city of just under 10,000 residents. Situated on the bank of the Columbia River, Astoria is designated as being the first permanent U.S. settlement on the Pacific Coast. Since the early 1800’s the Port of Astoria has been vital in the shipping of goods to and from the area. However, not all of Astoria’s attractions have to do with the fishing or shipping industry and on a recent overcast day we kept ourselves busy by exploring some other sites of interest that Astoria has to offer.
The Astoria Column There is no better place to get a view of Astoria, Oregon than the Astoria Column. This monument stands 600 feet above sea level and offers a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. The column was constructed in 1926 and is decorated with a hand-painted spiral frieze that depicts historical events of the area. While the 164 step climb to the very top of the column can be a bit dizzying (the staircase is a spiral the entire way up) the view from the top is remarkable. In addition the visitor shop sells small wooden gliders that can be thrown from the top. The Younger Fives really enjoyed launching their gliders from the top and were given several gliders to toss by older visitors to the tower. The boys would have happily spent the entire day going up and down the tower to throw and retrieve gliders.
Flavel House Museum We made our way down from the Astoria Column and headed to the large Queen Anne style house on the corner of 8th and Duane streets. The beautifully constructed house was owned by Captain George Flavel who was a bar pilot on the Columbia River and a prominent businessman in Astoria. After being very successful in a variety of business ventures over the years he had the house built in 1886 for his wife and their two daughters. The house was eventually left to the city in 1934 and has since been transferred to the Astoria Historical Society who have restored the house and property to reflect the Victorian period and the history of the Flavel family. The history of the family was interesting, but we especially enjoyed the architecture of the house and the variety of trees planted in the garden including a very large Sequoia Tree.
Astoria River Walk and Sea Lion Dock
After being on our best behavior around the antiques in the Flavel House we needed to let off some energy. Thankfully the Astoria River Walk trail offered the ideal location to run around and view all the activity along the Columbia River. The paved path is about 6 miles long and follows the old train tracks. Starting in the spring a passenger trolley makes its way along the route. Unfortunately the trolley wasn’t running during our visit, but we had a wonderful time exploring the River Walk from the Maritime Museum all the way down to the Sea Lion Dock. While there has been a lot of controversy in Astoria about the presence of Sea Lions on their docks we all really enjoyed watching the large group of male sea lions trying to find a dry patch of dock to relax on. Their barks are so loud that we could hear them about a half-mile before we reached the docks. Watching the younger sea lions try and muscle in on the much older and bigger males was a very interesting end to our day in Astoria.