The Pacific Northwest’s shoreline is jagged with treasured towns scattered like jewels along US 101. One of our favorite neighbors is the port city of Astoria, Oregon. A colorful landscape of picturesque houses, the quaint town is a short jaunt to our coveted coastline. Our proximity, miles of beaches, delectable seafood, seven state parks, and charming towns make it easy to see why we’re a favorite day trip from Astoria.
Take the Bridge That Clowns Built
Okay…so clowns didn’t build the bridge. But they helped get it funded! Your journey begins at the famous Astoria-Megler Bridge. One of the most stunning bridges in the Pacific Northwest, this pale green patinaed behemoth stretches 4.1 miles over the Columbia River. This steel truss bracelet links two states, and you’ll cheerfully hear your car’s navigation declare, “Welcome to Washington!” as you hover over the water below.
No perfect day trip from Astoria is complete without the bridge. Cruising the 1,232 feet of continuous truss is an experience in and of itself. Unparalleled views of the Columbia River surround you, and you’ll experience the bridge’s magic regardless of the weather. On clear days, the views of the river’s activity are breathtaking. Moody, foggy days add a mysterious haze to your travels.
Fort Columbia State Park
Fort Columbia State Park is one of the first locations you’ll encounter on your day trip from Astoria. One of seven state parks in our region, Fort Columbia, highlights the military roots once planted in Pacific County. Considered one of the most intact historic coastal defense sites, the station sits high on Chinook Point.
Visit the 618-acre Washington State Historical Park and walk amongst de-commissioned bunkers and gun batteries. The grounds you’re strolling on are national historic landmarks. The site is within the Chinook Indian Nation’s accustomed territory and in the path of Lewis and Clark. If you have time, take a hike on Scarborough Trail for beautiful views of the Columbia River.
(Reminder: All of our state parks require a Discover Pass.)
Get a Buzz…
No day-trip adventure is complete without a caffeine buzz. Warm your hearts and hands at Chinook Coffee Company. You’ll find the charming, blue-grey building sitting pretty on the side of US-101 just around the bed from Fort Columbia.
We like to fuel up on their freshly baked treats, like their famous Cardamom Sweet Rolls, alongside piping hot lattes. Grab a package of their homemade Gourmet Dog Treats to give to your furry friends on your return.
Your next stop on your perfect day trip from Astoria is the charming dockside town of Ilwaco. This vibrant community is home to premium fishing and a thriving artist hub. Easily walkable, the small town of Ilwaco is chockful of things to do.
Shop til you drop along the waterfront. The area has incredible galleries, unique shops, and quaint pubs. Buy your next masterpiece from Marie Powell, Don Nisbett, or J Brunner Fine Art showrooms. Pick up a beautiful piece of jewelry from Luisa Mack Jewelry. Find bestsellers and local authors at Time Enough Books (be sure to pet Oly, the faithful book dog.) Plan your next craft night with stunning yarn and wool at Purely Shell Fiber Arts.
Hop over a few blocks for the most swinging used records at Ship Wrecords and Moor. Cross the street for a visit to the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, where you’ll experience a beautifully curated history of our region.
Never Disappointing Cape Disappointment
You must stop in Cape Disappointment during your day trip from Astoria. This 2,023-acre state park offers jaw-dropping views of the Pacific Ocean, two lighthouses, miles of forest, and an impressive array of exhibits in the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.
Be sure to visit Deadman’s Cove, grimly named after bodies that the Graveyard of the Pacific claimed. This magnificent hidden cove is secluded and littered with the bleached bones of driftwood. Snap a photo of the iconic lone tree on the sea stack before you leave. An important note: this area is only accessible during low tide and via slippery, steep access. Please exercise care if visiting this area.
Final Stop on Your Day Trip from Astoria…Long Beach!
The famous Long Beach Peninsula is your final stop on your perfect day trip from Astoria. Known as the world’s longest contiguous beach, Long Beach is 28 miles of sandy shoreline. Stretching from Cape Disappointment State Park to Leadbetter Point State Park, this glorious peninsula is peppered with quaint stores, small taverns, independent restaurants, and some of the best seafood you’ve ever feasted on.
Walk along the Boardwalk that trails along the whispering dune grass. Take off your shoes and stroll along the endless beach. Be lulled by the waves and keep your eyes peeled for the bald eagles that cruise the dunes. Sit for a spell on the dunes and feel your worries melt away.
After all your adventures, you must be hungry. Pop into Loose Kaboose Diner for their renowned fish-and-chips. Their fresh halibut is made-to-order with a crispy coating that is light and crunchy. With a full menu featuring shrimp, oysters, hamburgers, sandwiches, and salads, there’s a little something for everyone.
Wet your whistle at North Jetty Brewing and sample locally crafted brews. Get a pint of their Leadbetter Red Scottish Ale and taste the flavors of the Pacific Northwest.
Following your meal, take a stroll through downtown Long Beach. Visit Jake the Alligator Man at Marsh’s Free Museum. Half-man, half-alligator, Jake is a beloved character in the curiosity world. He is one of several roadside attractions in the area, including the World’s Largest Frying Pan directly across the street.
Browse the numerous mom-and-pop shops featuring local artisans and incredible treasures. Hobo Junction is overflowing with vintage salvaged goods, and one of the West Coast’s largest Japanese glass fishing floats collections. Visit NIVA Green for handcrafted jewelry, clever cards, delightful home goods, and unusual trinkets.
It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye…
Take one last look at the ocean as the sun sets below the horizon. And then hop back into your car for your short drive home. With clear roads, your return journey will only take approximately 35 minutes.
As you cross the bridge, you’ll realize you’ve barely scratched the surface of fun things to see and do in Pacific County. Follow us for more ideas to add to your itinerary and start planning your next day trip from Astoria!
Feature Image Courtesy of: Damian Mulinix
By: Danelle Dodds
Danelle is an international traveler, road tripper, writer, and artist. She firmly believes in testing the limits of word count, mileage, and AYCE sushi.