This is the first post in a series of Staycation Day Trips we will be featuring over the next several months. All day trip destinations will be in Oregon or Washington, less than a 3 hour drive from the greater Portland area. The activities will be fun, frugal, and family-friendly.
My husband and I love taking day trips from our home base in Gresham, Oregon, exploring this crazy, beautiful backyard called the Pacific NW. I can’t get enough of it. If money is tight and vacations have been cut, consider playing tourist in your own state.
Day trips are a great way to do this. They hold all the fun without all of the commitment, planning, and expense of overnight stays. Plus, you get to sleep in your own bed at the end of the day.
A few weeks ago, The Oregonian ran an article titled, North Coast, Family Style. Whether you have a family or not, this is a great resource for fun, frugal activities to do on the north coast, an easy drive from the Portland area. I cut it out and highlighted all of the places we have already checked out. We are planning to work our way through the rest of their list.
Astoria didn’t make the cut for the very good reason that it isn’t on the coast (although I think it technically considers itself part of the north coast). For this same reason, it often gets overlooked when we are thinking of easy, interesting day trips west of Portland. But it is packed with great things to see and do. Here are a few ideas, based on a day trip my family of four took last October.
My husband and I make travel plans around bakeries. I am not even joking. It is a habit we got into during a trip to Europe, and we have never looked back. When you kick off your day with hot coffee and fresh pastries, things are bound to go well.
We left Portland as soon as we scooped our sleepy babes from their beds. We parked our car outside the Maritime Museum and walked a short distance up the hill. First stop: The Blue Scorcher Bakery & Cafe. They have a laid back vibe, big tables, kids play area, and delicious breads and pastries. We ate breakfast at a sun drenched table, finished our coffees while our daughter made friends at the play kitchen, and grabbed a loaf of bread to go.
Then, we headed back to the Columbia River Maritime Museum. I had heard a lot about this place but had never been inside. The tickets are a bit spendy, but the museum is nicely done, and we enjoyed our time. And that is saying a lot, considering we are not big museum people and we have two young children. Anyway, I thought it was money well spent. I am still in awe of bar pilots.
Admission also covers a self-guided tour through the Lightship Columbia.
Lunch. Remember that loaf of bakery bread? Another Europe-on-the-cheap carryover for a simple picnic. We add sliced meat and cheese, fruit pieces and cookies from home. It is a frugal and filling lunch that is easy to pack and clean up. We ate this one on a bench outside the museum, watching the river traffic.
Next stop: The Astoria Riverfront Trolley. For a buck, you can ride roundtrip (about an hour). Along the way, you enjoy a beautiful view of the river accompanied by a funny, folksy commentary from the trolley volunteers.
The track runs along the river, giving you great views at an easy pace. You could hop out at different stops to walk along the Astoria Riverwalk or stop at one of the riverfront restaurants. There are 9 stops along the line, but according to their website, you can flag down the trolley with a one dollar bill. Try that in downtown Portland.
When we rode past this great little park underneath the Astoria-Megler Bridge, I saw a woman sitting on a bench in the sunshine, reading a book and eating her lunch. I want to be that woman someday.
Speaking of the Bridge, they have this cool event on October 2nd called the Great Columbia Crossing, a 10k run/walk. This event fills up quickly and is definitely on my short list of things-to-do-someday.
Here are a few other nearby attractions worth checking out:
Fort Stevens State Park
Leave a comment! What did I miss? Any activities or restaurants would you recommend in the Astoria area?
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