Astoria: Charming, picturesque and historical

Astoria, OR

Our trip to Astoria, Oregon started at Vancouver, Washington.  Now, anybody who is familiar with the Portland-Vancouver Area will tell you that you just have to cross the river and you will find yourself in the neighbouring state. True, but this time we had to take Interstate 5 and drive north. The reason: The westward bound Columbia River at a point near Portland takes a northerly route and cuts out what looks like an extra chunk of land for the southern state, such that a part of Oregon lies beside Washington.

After driving up I-5 for a while we started to move west at a place called Longview and took another interstate bridge across the now northward bound river. Just after that we came upon a view point that showed us a beautiful sight of the Lewis and Clark Bridge that we had just crossed, some Oregonian countryside, the Columbia River working its way up, and beyond that standing tall was Mt. St. Helens.

Lewis and Clark Bridge, OR and WA
Lewis and Clark Bridge between Longview, WA and Rainier, OR.
Can you spot a snow-capped volcano in the picture?

The route thereafter looked like it meandered through some forested areas trying to keep up with the Columbia River as it flowed towards the Pacific Ocean. Every now and then we got glimpses of the river and it seemed to look like it was getting wider as it neared its destination.

When the wooded area was behind us we found ourselves in a charming little town that wore the look of an age-old settlement.

The City of Astoria, to me, seemed like one those places that instantly make you feel like you are on a holiday. Astoria is like a ‘seaside hill-station’ if you will. One side of the road we were on, was dominated by a sea-blue scene with ships in it. And on the other, there were colourful houses dotting the hillsides. In the middle of the two vistas was a quaint little town; its streets and buildings clearly witnesses of quite a lot of History.

This old town — I hear — was the oldest settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. It is not difficult to see why. This picturesque town lies at the mouth of the Columbia River. It’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the fact that ships could come in this way, was probably the reason it developed and became the industrial town that it is.

Fast forward to today and it doesn’t look like a modernized industrial town despite the fact that it lies beside a prime water route of the Pacific Northwest. Astoria has retained its antiquated look and proudly wears an old-world charm.

Astoria, OR
Astoria, OR
Astoria, OR

I wanted to see this place because this was where the Columbia River — which we have crossed heaven-knows-how-many-times — emptied itself in the Pacific Ocean.

Our first stop in Astoria was at the River Viewing Tower on 6th (street). Quite a scene that was: stretched in front of us was the Columbia River in a beautiful blue quite unlike parts of the river further inland, and this  was probably because of its proximity to the great Pacific. In it were some barges and ships. A speed boat zoomed past every now and then. On the other bank was the state of Washington and to my far left was an impressive looking metal structure — the Astoria-Megler bridge that connects US 101 between WA and OR.

After taking in the scene we strolled down the river-front and took in the surroundings: the Fish-and-chips joints, Astoria’s warehouses, a condominium that jutted out into the river, ducks and seagulls basking in the random warm day of the season and Columbia’s last interstate bridge getting larger and clearer as we walked westward. This river-front walk has one other attraction — a trolley that rolls past Astoria’s restaurants, store houses and the Maritime Museum without losing sight of the Columbia River.

Astoria, OR
Astoria, OR
Astoria, OR

Astoria, OR

A pleasant walk later it was lunchtime. After taking care of our bellies we made our way to the one structure that literally looked down upon the city of Astoria. Called the Astoria Column, this viewing tower on Coxcomb Hill is some-place everybody visiting this laid back town must visit. The drive up, which was not a long one, was like an architectural tour of Astoria. We drove past some eye-catching houses, many of them with a Victorian touch. History has it that the area was sold to the British in the 1813 and it remained in their hands until 1818 when these parts when joint US -British occupancy was established.  Now that explains some fine English architecture there.

I must say that the way up the hill reminded me of the roads in several parts of San Francisco. They were quite as steep but without just as much traffic.

Astoria, OR

Astoria, OR
Astoria Column atop Coxcomb Hill.

The view from the top of Coxcomb Hill was truly one-of-a-kind. Now that sounds like a cliché but I swear the sights from up there, were just that. Sweeping views of the Columbia River, the part where it meets the Pacific Ocean, the Astoria Megler bridge, several rivers emptying themselves in the Columbia River, parts of the road that winds up to the top of the hill, a birds eye view of the City of Astoria and the forests and hills that surround Astoria are just some of the sights that this vista point offers.

Having gone all the way up, I just had to take in the 360 degree view from the highest point of this point. So armed with my DSLR, I took leave of  the kids and made my way up the 160 steps of the lighthouse-type-winding stairway of Astoria Column. Apart from the views I saw at the base of the Column, I got to see two snowcapped Volcanic mountains in the distance.

Other things to see in Astoria

Our next stop was at the Maritime Museum. With a pre-schooler and a baby in our company the museum didn’t seem like the best place to be in, especially because hubby had learnt that one needs an hour and a half to see all of the museum. However what we couldn’t skip was seeing was an exhibit that was docked just behind the museum — a floating lighthouse called the Lightship Columbia.

Astoria, OR
‘Lightship Columbia’ — Astoria’s floating lighthouse.

 Waterfront Trolley

Just where we had parked was one of the stops of the historic waterfront trolley. So we decided to go on a joyride, this one specially for my older kid – the SonnyBoy. The trip on the trolley that went close to the bridge filled us in with quite a bit of history of the City of Astoria. The conductor on board shared stories of the place: of a fire that damaged a good part of the waterfront, of the buildings that lined the tracks of the trolley, of the catch there, and the warehouses that stored the fish from Alaska. It is from this place that those fish are sent to other parts of the country.

Astoria, OR

Astoria Megler Bridge

Having come this far, hubby thought it wouldn’t be right it we didn’t go on another joyride this one over the Astoria Megler bridge that seemed to be calling out to us. Knowing and having seen several of the bridges across the Columbia River, I was curious to see the westernmost of them.

We would have been sorry if we didn’t drive over the this bridge. The Astoria-Megler bridge is 6,545 metres long and 8.5  metres wide. And on the other side of the bridge was another gorgeous sight ( I swear — there couldn’t have been a better way to end our trip) a panoramic view of the City of Astoria ornamenting the banks of the Columbia River.

Washington and Astoria Megler Bridge
Astoria-Megler Bridge and Washington State on the north shore of the Columbia River
Astoria, OR
Columbia River and the city of Astoria, Oregon.
See the Sgraffito on Astoria Column in this post–

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49 Comments

  1. This post is a treasure. I loved when you wrote Astoria is a place that immediately makes you feel you are on a holiday. The beautiful account is accompanied by engrossing images, as usual.

    • Astoria is a treasure too. 🙂
      I remember being engulfed by that feeling. It was a day trip and I left that place feeling so elated and refreshed.

      Thank you so much, USP. It's always great to know what you have to say. Thanks again. 🙂

  2. Beautiful pictures! I had never heard of Astoria. The world is full of amazing places. Thanks for sharing!

    • It is a beautiful little city, Renuka. I hadn't known of Astoria until I found myself in US's Pacific Northwest for a bit.
      It looks like it's not a very popular domestic destination itself, although it should be, considering how pretty it is and how must history it has, to call its own.

      The world does have many of these amazing hidden and almost-hidden places.

      You're welcome and thank you for visiting, Renuka. 🙂

  3. Looks like a charming city. Lovely captures, they give a good idea of the place.

  4. Amazing place.Beautiful photos.

  5. Amazing post again, Divya:) with awesome captures! Thanks a lot!

  6. Looks like a great place to be in! Would love to visit it someday!

  7. I want to visit this part of the US. It looks calm and I hope the drive up and down these steep roads. Quite fun without traffic. Beautiful clicks of the town and attractions.

    • It is quite quiet up there. 🙂
      And it really is beautiful; I'm surprised there weren't a whole lot of people visiting while we were there. But then again, that might be good for the place. 🙂

  8. How beautiful pictures those are! I so wanna visit this 🙂

  9. Very beautiful place.

  10. Thank you for the wonderful virtual tour of Astoria! Enjoyed it!!

  11. It's a beautiful place Dee… we hope to get there sometime…
    stunning pictures as always 🙂 xoxo

  12. Really beautiful captures, especially loved the Astoria-Kegler bridge picture. Astoria seems like quaint place for a perfect holiday. Thanks for the share Dee, Love TOTS 🙂

    • Hey girls,
      How are you doing?
      That bridge and the drive over it was amazing. I'm glad we took the time out to do that quick drive before we left there. 🙂

      Thank you for stopping by, sisters. 🙂

  13. Wonderful shots.Wanna to visit this place.:)

    Cheers,
    Sriram & Krithiga

  14. This one is a full virtual tour Dee. The place exudes happiness and you know, I always wanted to 'live' not simply visit it after I watched the Arnie movie, Kindergarten Cop!
    This post of yours took me back to that longing dear!Ah! Nostalgia! 🙂 😀
    Cheers 🙂

    • I found myself feeling really good being there. Dunno if it was because it was one of those random sunny days in an area that gets a lot of rain. 🙂

      Now that you mention it, I have to watch that movie. I'm not surprised you wanted to live there just from seeing it in a move. It is a truly gorgeous place, Kokila. 🙂

      <3

  15. Nice pics of this beautiful town. Far away from traffic woes.

  16. The names such as longview and Astoria seem like Toyland 🙂 awesome pictures Dee 🙂

  17. What a beautiful little town. I wonder what it looked like in the mid 1800s

  18. Such a picturesque place. Nice read, Nambiare. Astoria Megler bridge looks gorgeous, reminded me of Kali river bridge at Karwar.

    • Picturesque it is. Actually all the places in these parts are extremely beautiful and it must be because the Pacific Northwest gets a whole lot of rain.

      That drive over that bridge was so delightful. I'm so glad we didn't leave without that 'joyride.':D

      Yeah, the Kali river also gets really wide at the estuary, doesn't it? So it makes for a great drive over the bridge. Thanks to you I made sure I got out and took in the sights near the Kali river. Thanks again, Nomad for the reco. 🙂

  19. The river looks lovely and the trolley joy ride must have been good for your son!Loved the blue waters and the roads you clicked.

  20. Well it surly is a baeautiful place and One day I too would love to visit it

    Bikram's

  21. What a quaint little town – I used to think that existed only in Hollywood movies! The pictures are very bright, colorful and clear.

    Thanks!
    My latest post: You are Infinite

  22. Great shots and lovely account on Astoria. Very informative and thoughtfully written. Kudos, Divya! 🙂

  23. Woooow this is such a picturesque town, the small houses on hills makes me think of Darjeeling here in India. And by the way we have a very famous hotel here in Kolkata called Astor, I initially thought you had written about the hotel 🙂

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