Astoria is a beautiful, historic town right on the Columbia River near the mouth, where it meets the mighty Pacific Ocean. This combination of picturesque location and rich history gives this unique northwest town an abundance of interesting attractions, far more than you could experience in a quick day trip or even a weekend. I'm going to help you out by narrowing it down to a list of the top four attractions in Astoria.
Columbia River Maritime Museum
Credit: By Steve Morgan (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia CommonsThe Maritime Museum is largely considered one of the top museum in the state and has a reputation nationwide for the quality and of it's exhibits and size of it's historical collection. The museum is focused on the maritime history of the Columbia River and the area of the Pacific known as the Columbia Bar, the content spans from the 1800s to the present era. Exhibits include recreations of historic watercraft, audio-visual presentations, interactive exhibits aimed at educating children, as well as standard text and image-based panels. Many of the exhibits are truly impressive and there is a huge wealth of educational information to be encountered. You could easily spend an afternoon exploring the museum. The price of admission ($12 for adults, $5 for children over 5) also allows to board and explore a real lightship that is docked nearby.
The Astoria Column
The Astoria Column is located at the top of Coxcomb hill and overlooks the town as well as themouth of the Columbia River. The tower is 125 feet tall and the view from the top is absolutely spectacular. The tower itself is quite beautifully with mural painted all around the outside surface. If you have the good fortune of visiting on a clear day, you'll be treated to 360 degrees of beauty ranging from the river, to the forest to distant mountain and a forested valley. Many visitors like to purchase balsa-wood planes at the bottom of the tower that you can throw from the top. It really is surprising how long the little planes stay airborne. The only way to the top of the column is via a spiral staircase that is 164 steps, so be prepared for a steep climb. Fortunately, the only cost of visiting is an annual $2 parking fee. So if you want to visit again, be sure to hold on to your parking pass and you can enter at no charge.
The Beach at Fort Stevens State Park
Fort Stevens State Park has enough attractions on its own to keep who busy for an entire day, but my favorite part is the beach. Fort Stevens has everything that other beautiful Oregon beaches boast: ocean, sand and sun. But what really sets this beach apart is the Peter Iredale shipwreck. Peter Iredale wrecked on Clatsop Spit in 1906 and the remains are still on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park. You can walk right up to the wreckage and it really adds some interest to an already beautiful beach.
The Riverwalk is a wide boardwalk that runs five miles along the riverfront, giving you a view of the beautiful scenery as well as the myriad of watercraft in the river. There are plenty of restaurants, breweries and stores along the path for you to stop at if you want to grab a bite to eat or do some shopping. The Columbia River Maritime Museum is even located near the Riverwalk. If you need to give you legs a rest, but want to continue enjoying the view; a trolley runs right along the trail.