Located at the mouth of Columbia River near the Pacific Ocean, Astoria is one of the most important towns on the Oregon Coast—both now and long ago. It has a long, influential history as a frontier outpost, founded by the Pacific Fur Company and named after its owner, John Jacob Astor. Built in 1811 as Fort Astoria, the town was the first American settlement on the Pacific coast and a key post for American trade and exploration.
In fact, Fort Astoria was so well-situated that the British also took interest in the settlement and its fur trade. When the Pacific Fur Company began to flounder during the war of 1812, the British North West Company bought Fort Astoria, renamed it Fort George, and raised a Union Jack over the outpost. Through Fort George, the British were able to control the fur trade until the mid-1840s, when American pioneers from the Oregon Trail began to settle in and around the town. The British finally lost control of the region after the Oregon Treaty of 1846, turning Fort George into Astoria once more.
Astoria remained a destination for immigrants throughout the 19th century, especially after the transcontinental railroad was completed. As a port city on a major river, it had easy access to both the ocean and the interior. This ideal location drew settlers and boosted the town’s economy, which had expanded to include fishing and canneries. Even after a fire destroyed Astoria’s downtown in 1883, and again in 1922, the city remained successful. The downtown was rebuilt with classic 1920s architecture, a style you can still see along the main street today.
This charming downtown makes Astoria feel rooted in history. Museums and old buildings are everywhere, including lovely Victorian homes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You can explore one of these regal, historic homes by visiting the Flavel House Museum, a beautiful restoration of Captain George Flavel’s Queen Anne-style house, now a local landmark or visit the famous crowning momument, the Astoria Column to get a picturesque view of the city and the surrounding areas.
You can also contact our office to tour some of the current historic homes for sale if living in Astoria is something you’re considering. For example, this Italianate Victorian from 1901 has been so tenderly cared for that it retains many of its original details, like panel doors and stained glass windows.
Or this wonderful “John Wicks” Victorian from 1904, perched on a quiet corner lot in East Astoria with 4 bedrooms and 4 baths, parlor areas for gathering, and a formal dining room.
If you prefer to have a little more space yet still want to be near Astoria, check out this lodge-style home with over 1 mile of river frontage, including The Young’s River and The Klaskanine River.
Astoria isn’t just a paradise for history buffs, though. While the city has existed for more than 200 years, its culture and amenities are anything but old and outdated. You can find modern galleries, boutiques, coffee shops, and handcrafted brew pubs throughout the downtown area. Visit the Museum of Whimsy to see a quirky collection of unusual and fascinating things or see a show at the elegant Liberty Theater.
Since Astoria is situated on the mouth of a river, it’s also a nice city for anyone who loves both freshwater and saltwater activities. For instance, you can go crabbing or fishing for sturgeon or halibut, either on your own or with a chartered boat. You can even get a fishing kayak and catch salmon while exploring the Columbia River, just like Lewis and Clark.
If you love seafood but not fishing, simply visit local restaurants like Bridgewater Bistro or the Silver Salmon Grille for delicious seafood dishes, prepared straight from the ocean or river. You can also stop for amazing beer-battered fish and chips at the Bowpicker, across from the Columbia River Maritime Museum. It’s a local favorite, so make sure you arrive early to beat the crowds.
Astoria is also known for its excellent breweries: Buoy, Hondo’s, Wet Dog, and Fort George. Besides serving well-crafted local beer, their brew pubs are great gathering places for locals and visitors alike. They’re especially popular meeting spots during Astoria’s many festivals, like the annual Astoria Regetta and FisherPoets Gathering. These events really bring out the city’s community spirit—but even a casual visit to a pub can lead to good conversation and friendship. Whether you get involved in a festival, go fishing on a chartered boat, or simply drink beer at the nearby brewery, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to build relationships and have fun if you live in charming Astoria.
View listings and learn more about Astoria, Oregon on our community page.