I have to admit that I only briefly glanced at "Astoria, Oregon" when it appeared on the itinerary for my recent Alaska cruise on Regent Seven Seas Mariner. I was looking more intently at the ports in the ultimate destination to the north. Juneau, Sitka, Skagway and Ketchikan caught most of my attention. I really wanted to consider what adventures and activities I would be enjoying in these fascinating Alaska cruise ports.
Eventually, the date of our cruise was quickly approaching, and I revisited the schedule. "Hey, we have a port stop in Astoria on the way up north," I blurted out to Colleen. "What can we do there?"
Well, Colleen had been to this charming fishing port in Oregon before, and she insisted we would have a good time there, especially because we love craft beers.
She didn't lie.
Here are some of the cool things we discovered to do during a cruise port stop in Astoria, Oregon.
Our cruise ship docks right at the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge, and we immediately realize the charm of this area. The riverwalk is steps away from our gangway, and it leads straight past everything Astoria has to offer.
We jog the 1.5 miles to reach downtown Astoria and eventually find our way into three craft breweries. (More on those soon.) But the first thing we note along the path is the massive Astoria Bridge, which serves as an iconic landmark for the town. The span connects Astoria to Megler, Washington. The four-mile-long bridge opened in 1966 as the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.
People enjoy walking, running and biking along the Astoria Riverwalk, which traces the trail of an old Burlington Northern Railroad tracks. The Astoria Riverwalk recreational trails were developed through the federal Rails to Trails program. We jog under Astoria Bridge, past Maritime Memorial Park (a pretty wall dedicated to those who work in seafaring professions) and toward downtown.
We make a brief stop at a viewing platform and climb into the tower for a view across the Columbia River. From there, it's past a host of waterside businesses before we reach the heart of Astoria's business area. A trolley also operates on the riverwalk, and you can grab a ride for $1.
The city is well known for punching above its weight class when it comes to craft brews. In fact, it's becoming a rising destination for hops lovers. We are getting thirsty and a bit hungry after our morning run, and after wandering through downtown to get the lay of the land, we plop down at the bar at Astoria Brewing Co. Colleen digs into a big sourdough bowl chock full of seafood goodies, and I order up the meaty wings. We custom craft a flight, choosing a mix of five beers.
Then, we each order a pint to try another flavor, and the friendly bartender offers us a sample of the whisky barrel-aged milk stout when he hears us chatting about it. We could stay here all day, happily getting lost in the beer menu. But we have more places to try. We plan to get to three spots to sample brews today.
We finally head back to the ship, cutting ourselves off mid-afternoon before we have to stagger back down the riverwalk and risk missing the all-aboard time for Regent Seven Seas Mariner.
If you like craft beers, you'll definitely enjoy a cruise port stop in Astoria, which features at least a dozen establishments.
After exploring Astoria, you might want to grab a taxi or ride share and take a quick trip over the famous Astoria Bridge and into Washington and back. Of course, you'll want to take a look around, stop for a coffee, see the views from that side of the river and learn about Lewis and Clark's history in Washington at Megler and Point Ellice at this point of their famous journey.
Eco tours depart from marina slips along the Astoria Riverwalk, and you can take half-day journeys that explore fascinating locations in the Columbia River and its connected estuaries and channels. You have the chance to spot bald eagles, ospreys, great blue herons and Canada geese at Twilight Creek Eagle Sanctuary. Other highlights of a ride include the Coast Guard Station to witness the noisy sea lions putting on a show, as well as navigating past salmon nurseries and floating homes. Kayaking outings and fishing charters are also active options.
More to Do
You have your pick of several other things to do while in port in Astoria. The city has a handful of interesting museums. A top pick is the Columbia River Maritime Museum, which focuses on the marine history of the waterway and region and features exhibits about the U.S. Coast Guard and Columbia River Bar Pilots. Frommer's calls this one of the top museums in Oregon.
Other museums: Flavel Mansion (1885 Queen Anne-style home of a river bar pilot who was one of the city's first millionaires), Oregon Film Museum (looks at films made in the state, including "Goonies" which was partly filmed in Astoria), and the Museum of Whimsy (an assemblage of eclectic or downright bizarre items housed in a 1924 neoclassical bank building).
Want a taste of Astoria? Hit up a restaurant for a bowl of seafood chowder. Then, grab a cone at Frite and Scoop to enjoy on a leisurely stroll along the riverwalk back to your ship.
Sounds like a perfect day in beautiful Astoria, Oregon.
Have you been to Astoria? What are some other don't-miss activities and attractions that you would suggest?
Thanks for reading,