The city of Astoria sits near both the Pacific Ocean and the mouth of the Columbia River, and is the oldest permanent Pacific Coast settlement in the United States.
Astoria takes its name from John Jacob Astor, who established Fort Astoria in 1810 for his Pacific Fur Company. Of course, Astor was following in some pretty famous footsteps – the Lewis and Clark Expedition had spent a brutal winter in 1805-1806 nearby at a spot they dubbed Fort Clatsop. They had reached the Pacific Ocean and then headed back east in 1806 to report on their findings. Reconstructions of both Fort Clatsop and Fort Astoria are popular attractions in and around Astoria today.
While Astoria is still an important port for the area, it's growing as a cultural destination, too. There is an annual Fisher Poets Gathering, the culinary scene is growing, and the former cannery has been turned into a boutique riverfront hotel. Movie buffs may also recognize the town as the setting for such films as “The Goonies,” “Free Willy,” and “Kindergarten Cop.” Don't miss a visit to the Astoria Column, built in 1926 by the Astor family, and offering excellent river views from its 125-foot-tall viewing platform.
Astoria is roughly 95 miles from Portland, and much of it is a lovely drive on historic (and scenic) highways. If you don't have a rental car, you can get to Astoria by NorthWest POINT bus from Portland in just over two hours one way.