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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Find Small-Town Style and Charm in Astoria, Oregon


5. Oddball Day

The Columbia River Maritime Museum traces the region's long history as a port with thousands of artifacts.  

Get in touch with Astoria’s maritime side and learn why it’s been a vital port since Lewis and Clark arrived in 1805. Start by tuning into Coast Community Radio (90.9 FM) for the 8:48 a.m. ship report, which relays the comings and goings of vessels on the Columbia River – including many from Asia – and weather conditions. Fuel up on organic, free trade coffee and artisan pastries at Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe before your morning ride on a Tollycraft Yacht with Columbia River Eco Tours, led by oceanographer Christopher Lloyd. Discussing both history and ecology, the three-hour tour ($125; book in advance) navigates east past the Coast Guard Station – popular with singing sea-lions – to the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge, where you might see bald eagles, osprey, and herons. Afterward, line up for beer-battered albacore tuna ($8) at Bowpicker Fish & Chips, a boat that sits on land, and then explore some of the thousands of artifacts from the collection of the Columbia River Maritime Museum ($12). Then stroll along the Riverwalk, which passes revitalized docks, warehouses, and conveyer belts flipping with sardines in the summer. Make your way to the old Bumble Bee tuna cannery, where Astoria Scuba rents kayaks ($25) for paddling in nearby Young’s Bay, which is calmer than the river. Next, drive to the top of Coxcomb Hill and climb the Astoria Column for a must-see panorama of the area. When you’re ready for dinner, have a warming bowl of local clam chowder ($6) at Baked Alaska, located on a pier with beautiful sunset views. End the day at Mary Todd’s Workers Bar (281 W. Marine Dr.; 503-338-7291), an old-school fisherman’s dive under the bridge, where locals pack the joint every Sunday night for “meat bingo,” where prizes include hams, meatloaf, and whole turkeys.

Published on Mar 28, 2013 as a web exclusive.

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