The small port of Astoria in Oregon sits right on Highway 101, the Pacific Coast Highway, at the mouth of the Columbia River where the river flows into the Pacific Ocean.

The Astoria–Megler Bridge in Astoria, OregonThe Astoria–Megler Bridge in Astoria, Oregon

Astoria makes a good stopping point on the Pacific Coast Highway. With a population of just under 10,000 it's small enough to avoid getting into heavy city traffic but big enough to provide a choice of hotels, restaurants, shops and a few things to do. You could easily spend a morning or afternoon there, or overnight.

On the far side of the Columbia River is Washington, and the town of Megler. The two are joined by the impressive Astoria–Megler Bridge, which was opened in 1966. It's 4.1 miles (6.6 kms) long, making it the longest continuous truss bridge in North America. It was also the very last part of the Pacific Coast Highway to be put in place, as before that you had to either take a ferry or drive some 25 miles (40 kms) inland in order to find a bridge across the river. 

The Astoria–Megler Bridge in Astoria, OregonThe Astoria–Megler Bridge in Astoria, Oregon

Astoria in the Movies

Astoria is very popular with movie-makers, partly because it has a lot of well-preserved historic houses. It is in fact the oldest US city west of the Rockies, founded in 1811. It prospered through the fur trade, fishing and from being a major port, so a lot of handsome houses were constructed and still survive.

Some of the movies filmed at least partly in Astoria include The Goonies, Free Willy and Free Willy 2, Into the Wild, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. You can learn more at the Oregon Film Museum (see below).

Couple on a park bench in Astoria, OregonTime Out in Astoria

Best Things to Do in Astoria

Astoria Column

For the best views of the river and bridge, haul yourself up the 164-step spiral staircase of the Astoria Column. It was built in 1926 and is 125ft (38m) high. You'll find it at the top of Coxcomb Hill in the city park at 1 Coxcomb Drive. The hill itself is 600ft (180m) high so you can understand why you get good views. Entry to the park and the column is free, though there's a small parking charge.

Columbia River Maritime Museum

Learn why the Columbia River became known as the Graveyard of the Pacific in this fascinating museum that's on the waterfront. You'll also discover that the river can have tides up to 40ft (12m) high during storms, learn about hurricanes in 3-D, read about the Coast Guard and much more besides. Admission also includes a tour of a floating lighthouse, the lightship Columbia, moored across the street from the museum.

Flavel House Museum

This sea captain's mansion was built in 1884-85 and is one of the grandest of Astoria's historic homes. You can tour the house, which has been restored to its former glory and really conveys the affluence and elegance of life in Astoria during one of its most affluent periods.

Fort Clatsop

Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1805-6 at Fort Clatsop, which was built by the expedition. It's about 6 miles (10 kms) south of downtown Astoria. You can visit a replica of the original fort which was put up in 2006, and you'll find it just off the Business Loop of Highway 101

Oregon Film Museum

Given how beautiful it is, it's not surprising that Oregon has featured in numerous movies, as you can discover at the Film Museum. It's a really fun place where you can shoot your own short movie, then edit it and learn how films are got ready for release. It also covers the history of movie-making in Oregon, which goes all the way back to 1908.

Sea lions in Astoria, OregonSea Lions in Astoria, Oregon

When to Visit Astoria

The best times to travel are July and August, when you get the least rainfall and warmest temperatures. It's pretty mild all year round, though, and nighttime temperatures in winter rarely fall below freezing. They do get snow some years, and you have to expect rain. Wettest periods are late fall and into the winter.

If you're planning a visit near the last weekend in February, check out the dates of the FisherPoets Gathering. This annual event has been going since 1988 and brings together all kinds of people to celebrate the local fishing industry in poetry, prose, and song. There are events going on all over town.

Sea lions in Astoria, OregonSea Lions in Astoria, Oregon

Where to Stay in Astoria

And see our page on Astoria Hotels

Some other Oregon pages

  • Unique Inns on the Pacific Coast Highway

    Unique Inns on the Pacific Coast Highway include some of the best independently-owned boutique hotels, spas, and lodges in California, Oregon and Washington.

  • Tillamook

    Tillamook in Oregon is prime cheese and dairy country with the County Creamery and Blue Heron French Cheese Company among the visitor attractions.

  • Overleaf Lodge Yachats

    The Overleaf Lodge in Yachats, Oregon, is an oceanside hotel accommodation, right by the ocean, just off the Pacific Coast Highway and with spacious rooms.

  • Oregon Coast Hotels and Inns

    The Oregon Coast's hotels, inns, guesthouses, b&bs and other places to stay include 5-star luxury hotels and resorts, motel chains, RV parks, and camping.

  • Ocean Lodge Cannon Beach Oregon

    The Ocean Lodge in Cannon Beach, Oregon, is a romantic ocean front accommodation near the Pacific Coast Highway that is pet-friendly and family-friendly too.

  • North Bend Casino Hotel

    The Mill Casino Hotel and RV Park in North Bend and Coos Bay on the Pacific Coast Highway is Native-American owned and with waterfront views.

  • Gold Beach Oregon

    Gold Beach is a small town on the Oregon coast at the mouth of the Rogue River with the Pacific Coast Highway running right through it.

  • Gold Beach Oregon Lodging

    If you’re looking for good Gold Beach Oregon lodging check out the Tu Tu Tun Lodge a few miles inland along the Rogue River on the Southern Oregon coast.

  • Frommers Guide to Oregon

    The Frommer's Guide to Oregon has good information on hotels, restaurants and what to see in Portland, and along the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • Florence Sea Lion Caves

    The Florence Sea Lion Caves are one of the best wildlife attractions along the Pacific Coast Highway, north of Florence and south of Yachats.

  • Florence in Oregon

    Florence is a small city on the Oregon coast, famous for its sand dunes and sea lion caves, and with the Pacific Coast Highway going right through the centre.

  • Depoe Bay

    Depoe Bay is on the Oregon coast, a little village that's noted for whale-watching, for its spouting horns and has the smallest navigable harbor in the world.

  • Cannon Beach

    Cannon Beach is a small town on the Oregon coast on the Pacific Coast Highway and with its coastline, state parks and beaches among its attractions.

  • Brookings

    Brookings in Oregon stands on the Pacific Coast Highway at the southern end of the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.

  • Bandon

    The small town of Bandon on the Oregon coast is big in what it can offer visitors, including some of the finest golf along the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • Astoria Hotels near the Pacific Coast Highway in Oregon

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews five Astoria hotels in the budget, moderate and expensive categories and all taken from their guide to PCH accommodation.

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