Astoria is not like any other coastal town in Oregon — and therein lies the charm. Historically a cannery town set on the mouth of the Columbia River, the city of around 10,000 has become a destination not only for large boat and storm watchers, but foodies and drinks enthusiasts too. Better still, it’s held on to its maritime nature — a small but vibrant port full of fresh seafood, playful sea lions and pedestrian-friendly piers.
Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa
There are several great places to stay in Astoria, from the hip Bowline to the vintage Hotel Elliott. Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa, however, takes the cake in terms of overall amenities. In addition to a tremendous location set several hundred feet out in the river, the hotel offers unbeatable service, a nightly wine reception and — thanks to a recent remodel — tasteful decor that pays tribute to Astoria’s trade and fishing heritage. The breakfast is solid, the boat viewing is unmatched (the hotel is next to the massive Astoria-Megler Bridge) and there are even thoughtful perks like retro car rides. If you go, take advantage of the sauna, the in-room clawfoot tubs and the binoculars for perusing the river, taking in the many barges and waterfowl that go by.
Buoy Beer Company
Leaving the comfort of your Cannery Pier room ain’t easy, but Buoy Beer Company’s tasting space should persuade you to get out and about. It overlooks the water, in the heart of town near shops and restaurants. The pub features a window built into the floor for sea lion viewing, along with tasty options like stouts, red ales and an array of European-inspired bocks, lagers and pilsners. There’s even live music on many weekends.
Fort George Brewery
Responsible for the best beers in Astoria, Fort George Brewery has become famous in the Northwest for its annual 3-Way IPA release. In addition to great brews, the pub makes a mean chowder and equally good burger. Look out for one-off collaboration beers and special releases from its prominent barrel-aged program.
Drina Daisy Bosnian restaurant offers comfort food, eastern European style. Pay attention to the cold-smoked meat, along with entrees like stuffed cabbage leaves with beef and savory pies. The food is medicine for the chilly ocean breezes that tend to set in. There’s also Bosnian-style coffee and a shortlist of imported wines worth asking about.
Blaylock’s Whiskey Bar
A great nightcap outpost, Blaylock’s is small, cozy and inviting. In addition to snacks, cheese and charcuterie boards, there’s a handsome drinks list to pore over. Get into the summer spirit with seasonal sippers like the Plum Nonsense (house-infused strawberry gin, Lillet Blanc, plum wine, citric acid solution, lemon zest) or go with a New World whiskey drink like the Whiskey Colada (coconut fat-washed whiskey, pineapple, lime, coconut cream).
Blue Scorcher Bakery and Cafe
This is your local spot for great baked goods. The many fresh-made pastries, quiches and sandwiches at Blue Scorcher are all worth your time. Get in on the early side to guarantee availability of items.
Astoria Coffee Company
If caffeine is your calling, spend some time in this adorable shop. Astoria Coffee Company is a fine place to nerd out about coffee, roasted right in-house. There are a slough of cafes in the heart of town but many take on other roasters’ work as opposed to doing it themselves.
Bowpicker Fish & Chips
As the name suggests, it’s the classic north coast pairing that’s championed here, in a boat-turned-food cart. Bowpicker’s beer-battered albacore tuna is rather heavenly, made all the better alongside some fries and a few sloshes of malt vinegar.
Be sure to check out the Columbia River Maritime Museum for some brain food and Fort Stevens State Park to peep an old shipwreck. The city is chock-full of great boutiques as well, so get out and walk around. Keep in mind that there are no beaches here, so if that’s on the to-do list, zip over to nearby Seaside, Ore., to get some sand in your toes. And be sure to stroll along the Astoria Riverwalk Trail, a pedestrian trail full of amazing views of plenty of stops to refuel with snacks or unwind with a beverage.