Most non-Oregonians know Astoria as the filming location of The Goonies, a somewhat dubious honor. But there is a great deal more to Astoria than cult classics. Astoria has become one of our favorite escapes for either a day trip with the kids or a couple’s getaway. From delicious coffee and seafood to fascinating activities, Astoria has something for everyone. Here’s our guide to seeing Astoria Oregon with kids.
1. Astoria Column: gliders included!
You can’t miss the Column as you drive around Astoria – it sits atop Coxcomb Hill (the highest hill around) in a clearing. Signs point the way up to various streets in Astoria. The Column chronicles American exploration and settlement, beginning with the arrival of Captain Gray and ending with the coming of the railroad.
I could not get enough photos of it! Bring binoculars if you can.
Stop at the Gift shop to get a wooden glider (they were only $1 last time I was there) and enjoy looking around the site. If the Column is open, it is completely worth it to climb the 164-step winding staircase to the top — the views on clear days are breathtaking! (Or maybe you’re just winded from the climb…that was me.)
Don’t forget to fly your glider off the top of the Column! This was a favorite stop for our kids too.
2. Have a Date with Coffee Girl!
Coffee Girl is my all-time favorite coffee shop, which is saying something since the Pacific Northwest has an expert coffee stand on every corner.
Coffee Girl sits right on the end of Pier 39 at the edge of Astoria — you have to drive out onto the wooden pier to reach it. Situated in an old cannery building, the shop is set up where the old lunch counter was for the cannery workers.
A wall of windows faces the Columbia River, so you can watch the seals and pelicans play, or observe the barges making their way along from inside.
If the weather is nice, you can sit out on the pier deck enjoying a quiet mocha with incredible foam art on top (seriously, they have a whole photo gallery online of just the coffee art!).
Coffee Girl also serves the absolute best scones I have ever tasted- light, slightly sweet, crumbly but not dry. My husband loves their bagel sandwiches and the Mt Hood Mocha. Okay now I’m hungry…
3. Explore the Cannery
Right across from the Coffee Girl entrance is a self-guided tour of the Cannery building. We really enjoyed exploring the old equipment and learning about the Bumblebee fish canning industry that built up so much of Astoria in the early part of the 20th century.
It’s quiet and slightly creepy. My husband being the history buff he is, took his time to read everything. Entry is free, and donations are appreciated.
4. Columbia River Maritime Museum and Lightship
This kid-friendly museum is a great way to spend a few hours on a rainy Oregon day. The different exhibits are excellent and cover many aspects of maritime history along the Columbia River.
Our kids particularly enjoyed the huge exhibit on the Coast Guard Search and Rescue boats and the Weather Forecast exhibit.
The mouth of the Columbia River used to be called the Graveyard of the Pacific because of how many ships went down trying to make it into the River. The museum shares many of the stories of the legendary Columbia River Bar, as well as the Bar Pilots who made it possible for ships to safely enter the dangerous mouth of the Columbia.
It’s fascinating to see how things have changed and what they looked like in years past. Kids of all ages will enjoy the many maritime artifacts, from fishing implements and boats used by Native Americans, to a Japanese fishing boat that washed ashore here in Oregon after the huge 2011 tsunami.
UPDATE May 2022: Lightship is currently off display for renovations, but will return soon.
The lightship is a retired lighthouse-on-a-boat that used to sit at the mouth of the Columbia (near Astoria) to guide ships as they navigated in from the Pacific. You can tour a lot of the Lightship, and see how the lightship keepers lived (hint: tiny beds and spaces!).
5. The Bowpicker
If you love fish and chips, this is the place to get them. The Bowpicker is right outside the Courthouse, and serves only fish and chips, and freshly caught that day. Once they’re out, they’re out!
They serve it out of a boat-turned-kitchen, so it’s fun for the experience, but there isn’t much shelter, so it may not be so great for a rainy day meal.
6. Fort Stevens
Fort Stevens State Park has a lot to offer. It’s a short drive from both Astoria and Seaside, and the beach with the wreck of the Peter Iredale is part of the park as well.
Fort Stevens was a highlight of a recent mother-daughter trip that Burro and I went on.
We were delighted with the elk herds that roam freely across the grounds. Climbing up the old military bunkers and hills gave us a good workout, and we saw a disc golf course as well. The view of the Pacific Ocean from the top of the old aircraft guns was an unforgettable experience.
Ft. Stevens is full of military history, too. American Civil War earthworks are still present (a rarity on this side of the Mississippi). Many buildings remain from when Fort Stevens was an active fort during World War 2.
We especially enjoyed seeing the half-buried battery and the huge cannons. We had a great time and spent about three hours at Fort Stevens, and we still didn’t see everything. The sites are spread out on extensive grounds– plan to walk a lot and bring an umbrella if it’s raining heavily since it’s almost entirely outdoors.
7. Take a drive over the Astoria-Megler bridge into Washington
I’ll admit that I am a sucker for bridges and interesting architecture. The bridge is visible all over Astoria, and picturesque at all times of day and in any weather. It’s the longest truss bridge in North America.
You can’t walk on it, sadly, but the views are still pretty from a vehicle. There is no fee to cross.
It’s only a 30-minute drive from the Astoria-Megler bridge to Cape Disappointment (Washington). Cape Disappointment is one of several local sites on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
One of the best places to enjoy views of the bridge is while riding the Astoria Riverfront Trolley. The Trolley runs along the Astoria Riverwalk and has easy access to several popular tourist attractions, including the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The most updated schedule information is available on the Trolley website.
8. Historic Astoria: Landmarks and Places to see
Clatsop County Historical Society operates several museums in the historic buildings of downtown Astoria. Each is well worth a visit, and the highlights are listed below. Please note that since these are historic buildings, you will need to be able to climb stairs to explore all the floors of each museum.
Flavel House Museum
The Flavel House Museum is a beautifully restored Victorian home that was built in 1885. It was built as a retirement home for Captain Flavel (one of Oregon’s first millionaires) and his family.
Visitors can take a tour of the Queen Anne-style house and learn about the local history. In the hands-on room of this beautiful mansion, kids can play Victorian games and read books just as Captain Flavel’s children might have done.
Oregon Film Museum
This fun museum is located inside the former Clatsop County Jail. Visitors get to see how a movie set operates as they walk right into the former set where three movies have been filmed (The Goonies, Short Circuit, and Come See the Paradise). This museum is a great place for film buffs and history buffs — plus you can take a mug shot as a souvenir!
Uppertown Firefighters Museum
A retired fire station houses many pieces of vintage firefighting equipment, and the best part is that admission is free! The Uppertown Firefighters Museum is open seasonally– check the website before planning a visit.
The Heritage Museum is located in the former City Hall building. This museum is dedicated to sharing the rich history of different people groups in Clatsop County. This museum would make a great starting point for an Oregon state history unit study (attention, fellow homeschoolers!).
More Fun in Astoria, Oregon with Kids
There are a few other unique places in Astoria that would be fun to make a short stop with kids. The Garden of Surging Waves is a public park in downtown Astoria that was created to honor the Chinese heritage of Astoria. It’s a beautiful, artistic place that older kids will be able to appreciate.
Fort Astoria is another historic landmark in downtown Astoria. It’s a log cabin reconstruction on the grounds where the fort used to be, with some signs relating to the history. Right across the street is the Fort George Brewery, an icon of downtown Astoria, known all over Oregon for its amazing food and beer.
Just writing all this makes me miss Astoria… I can’t wait to go again! We keep hoping to go for the Crab Festival, which by all accounts is a seafood lover’s dream, but it looks like we’ll have to try for 2023.
Nearby Attractions for Families
Several sites on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail are within an hour’s drive of Astoria (Fort Clatsop is our favorite). Seaside, Oregon is only about 30 minutes south of Astoria, and Cannon Beach is another 30 minutes south. Check out our experience feeding sea lions at the Seaside Aquarium!
If you’re looking for a unique coastal getaway, Astoria and the Oregon Coast are fantastic destinations.
© Copyright 2022 Jennifer D. Warren. First published: September 29, 2021. UPDATED: May 11, 2022.
I’m so heading straight for the Coffee Girl – that chocolate chip orange scone looks amazing. Great fuel for a day of exploring Astoria. Thanks for sharing!
It was AMAZING!
Astoria looks like a stunning destination in the PNW! We have friends that live there and we’ve been itching to get out and visit. First syop, Coffe Girl!
You won’t regret it! I’ve been following them on instagram and their Thanksgiving cookies look good too.
I loved learning about the Columbia River. It’s so interesting, I had no idea how dangerous the water is between the river and the ocean. The column is also a great visit and I love that it’s on this list!
Yes, we found the Graveyard of the Pacific fascinating too.
Who doesn’t love a good coffee with a view 💕
Right?! No better way to start a day.
Ooh, I can’t wait to visit Astoria after reading this! So many wonderful things to do. Thanks for all the great info!
There’s even more to come! Planning on updating this post soon with MORE cool things to see and do!
Coffee with a gorgeous view is all I want. It is like a therapy.
Coffee Girl is totally therapy!
This looks like a lot of fun for the kiddos! I think I would really like Coffee Girl.
It’s a pretty great place to go with just adults as well.
I love the view from the top of the column & a coffee on the pier would be great. Astoria sounds like a lovely day out.
It does look like a really unique area to explore. I love how much of a variety there is in terms of things to do and attractions.
I really want to eat fresh fish inside of BowPicker! How cool!
It was super tasty!
My friend and I are visiting Oregon this spring. I am book marking this to help plan our trip! Love that you included a local coffee shop on your list.
There are so many amazing coffee shops in Oregon – we may do a post just on that.
What a fascinating area! I especially love that Astoria Column and I wasn’t expecting such an impressive view from atop it.
The artwork on the side is amazing too – definitely worth seeing!
Coffee Girl looks delicious! And it’s good to know there’s lots to do in addition to Goonie filming locations!
Nothing beats a good coffee to start the day! I love how much there is to do in Astoria for adults and kids. Thanks for sharing.
It’s a super fun destination!
Thanks so much for sharing, I can’t go past a good museum. Really solid tips
Definitely agree on the museum statement!
Yum, that scone at coffee girl looks so amazing! I’m sure I would love that coffee shop. I’d also love to drive over the Astoria-Megler Bridge for those beautiful views!
Good scones and coffee with a view are both favorites here in the Pacific Northwest.
I’ve never heard of Astoria before, but it seems like a lovely place to visit. The views from atop the Column looks amazing!
The views are indeed breathtaking!
I have been to Astoria before . . . but sadly I just did #7 on your list and drove across the bridge. Now I’m pretty upset I didn’t get one of those scones! I’d love to check out that column too.
Hopefully you can come back and check them both out!