Astoria is a charming old fishing town where the mighty Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. We arrived just in time to witness this gorgeous sunset on Pier 39. Talk about a warm welcome.
After that epic Pacific Coast sunset we discovered a Rouge Public House at the end of Pier 39 (in the former Bumble Bee Tuna Cannery) and decided to stay for dinner. We shared Smoked Salmon Chowder ($4), Kimchi Crab Sliders ($9), and a Blue Chicken Pizza ($14). The food was good, the chowder being my favorite, however, Rogue's Beer is the real star. They brew a massive amount of styles and flavors with a sense of humor. My sampler contains: Pumpkin Patch Ale, Chipoltle Ale, Good Chit Pilsner and 4 Hop IPA. Dessert in the form of a Rogue Beer Float ($6) with vanilla ice cream started a love affair with their Chocolate Stout.
On our second evening in town we ate at Buoy Beer Co - much to our disappointment. I didn't have glowing recommendations for anywhere in particular and we quickly realized (by the reaction of the hotel front desk staff) that 8:30 was much too late to be heading out to dinner. Oh, these sleepy coastal towns! Buoy was one of the few places we could choose from and they close at 10 pm. They served us Willapa Bay Oysters ($10) on plastic ramen noodle soup spoons over blue died pebbles. We ate them and we were fine, physically. Emotionally, I am scarred for life. I kindly asked the waitress why they serve them like that and it didn't seem to phase her "we like to do things differently here." Yikes. Bob's Tempura Fish & Chips ($12) were sup-par and I had Local Salmon (mkt) which was fine. The atmosphere is cool and the beer is good. But I can't get past those oysters. (Albatross & Co sounded like the best choice in town, but are closed on Sunday and Monday.) Fort George Brewery is open till midnight, so we went there after dinner for a beer.
Yes, Astoria is full of charm: the Riverwalk, the old piers, the barking seals, the WHALES (lucky us we got to see them so close - didn't have the camera though), the iconic bridge I so loved photographing, and the quaint houses perched on a hilltop neighborhood. But it has an industrial, gritty, commercial feel to it as well. On the stretch of route 30 that passes through town there's a plethora of fast food chains, some sketchy looking dive bars and old motels. On the steeped-in-time Duane Street there's unique shops, an old theater, and a J.C. Penney with a storefront window display circa 1990. Oh and the Goonies house is a no-go as the new owners have had it with the fans.
I loved perusing Astoria Vintage Hardware on 15th Street. I would have liked to check out the Columbia River Maritime Museum - the history of the river is fascinating to me, but it was way to nice outside to be museum going.
Astoria was different than we expected in many ways, which isn't a bad thing at all. That is what travel and seeing new towns is all about. Our hotel, plus all the beautiful spots to visit nearby is what truly made Astoria special for us. Those are up next!