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Cannon Beach-27

Driving Oregon’s long, scenic Route 26 West brought me to three Northern coast towns: Cannon Beach, Seaside, and Astoria.

Cannon Beach

True to storm-watching season, the three resort towns were quiet and free from summer tourist traffic. I spent a night in Cannon Beach, with an ocean view out to Haystack Rock.

Cannon Beach/Haystack Rock

Because it was so rainy, I missed out on the rock’s well-known tide pools, apparently one of the best on the coast. Haystack Rock also happens to be part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

"A Delicate Balance" by Wayne Chabre Cannon Beach shops

Lots of cute boutiques and art galleries line Hemlock Street, Cannon Beach’s main artery. It’s also where EVOO Cooking School is located.

Cannon Beach/EVOO Cooking School

I had the chance to enjoy Chef Bob Neroni’s Dinner Show here one night.

Seaside is Oregon’s first resort town, and for me, made for a good breakfast stop between Cannon Beach and Astoria. It’s also at the official end point of the Lewis and Clark Trail. Did I mention storm-watching season?

Seaside/End of the Lewis & Clark Trail

A one and a half mile long promenade aka “The Prom” forms the core of this cute little village.

Seaside Coffee Roasting Company Seaside Coffee Roasting Company Seaside Coffee Roasting Company
[Seaside Coffee Roasting Company]

If you’re into 1920’s-era classic arcade games like Skee-Ball or Fascination, Seaside’s got ’em.

Astoria Flavel House Museum

Further north in Oregon’s west corner pocket lies Astoria, the oldest United States settlement west of the Rockies.

Astoria/Downtown Astoria/Downtown

In the late 1800’s, the town’s salmon canneries, forest, and shipping industries turned the region into the liveliest boom town between Seattle and San Francisco. Both the area’s culture and economy were expanded with the arrival of Finnish, Scandinavian, and Chinese immigrants.

Astoria Bridge

One of my favourite Astoria icons is the Astoria-Megler Bridge, spanning 4.2 miles, making it the longest three-span truss bridge in the world. It connects Astoria, Oregon with Point Ellice, Washington. The bridge is designed to withstand wind gusts up to 150 miles per hour. At times last week, I felt as though the bridge was being tested as a major storm swept down the coast.

Astoria/Oregon Film Museum

Film buffs will want to visit the Oregon Film Museum, housed in the former jail. The jail will be familiar to Goonies fans: it’s the location shoot from the opening scene in the 1985 Spielberg film. Dozens of movies and TV commercials have been shot in Astoria, Cannon Beach, and environs.

Astoria/Oregon Film Museum/Goonies Astoria/Oregon Film Museum/Goonies Astoria/Oregon Film Museum/Goonies Astoria/Oregon Film Museum/Goonies

The exhaustive “Filmed in Oregon” list includes Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy (1 & 2), 1941, Short Circuit, and The Ring 2.

Astoria/Fort George Brewery Astoria Column
[Fort George Brewery, Astoria Column]

The Fort George Brewery rates high on the craft beer lover’s list of places to taste, and a variety of dining is clustered in the small downtown core on and around Commercial Street.

Astoria-63

Cultural attractions include the Columbia River Maritime Museum, the Astoria Column, Flavel House Museum, and Heritage Museum.

Astoria/Columbia River Maritime Museum

I visited the Maritime Museum, with several exhibitions offering an in-depth look at the Columbia River fishing and canning industry.

Astoria/Columbia River Maritime Museum Astoria/Columbia River Maritime Museum Astoria/Columbia River Maritime Museum

The museum comprises six galleries, the Great Hall, and is filled with great displays, including my favourite space, the Mapping Room, containing gorgeous hand-illustrated antique maps.

Unfortunately, the Lightship Columbia is being restored elsewhere in town, while the dock it’s normally based at is closed, undergoing repairs.

Astoria Column Astoria Column interior Astoria-59

The Astoria Column atop Coxcomb Hill offers sweeping panoramic views. The column is dedicated to the westward sweep of migration and discovery that brought settlement and civilization to the Sunset Empire. It’s a unique artwork in that it’s the only large piece of memorial architecture of reinforced concrete finished with a pictorial frieze in Sgrafitto work. This style was common during the Italian Renaissance, later brought to Germany by the master builders and received enthusiastically.

Astoria Column/view

Climb its 164 steps for a view above the entire region. It serves as a beacon at night, as the lights from this tower are lit and visible to travellers headed to Astoria by land, sea, or air.

Astoria/Coxcomb Hill plaque Astoria/Coxcomb Hill plaque Astoria/Coxcomb Hill Indian burial canoe
[Coxcomb Hill Indian burial canoe]

In three short days, I was able to take away a lot of understanding and enjoyment from these three resort towns. I recommend a visit any time of the year, but be prepared for mighty fierce winds in late autumn and winter.

Astoria/Blue Scorcher Café Astoria/Columbia River Coffee Roaster Astoria Coffeehouse & Bistro
[Blue Scorcher Café; Columbia River Coffee Roaster interior decor, Astoria Coffeehouse & Bistro]

And if you’re on the road, make sure you’re up to date on possible closures. A couple of roads were off limits on my return drive back to Portland. Locals are good sources of information and were able to give me route tips. The staff at the hotel I stayed at were also helpful in checking the latest road conditions and printed out updated directions for me, avoiding much headache.

Visit my Flickr photo sets of Cannon Beach and Astoria.

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