Top reasons Astoria is my new favorite Oregon Coast town

We spent last weekend in Astoria, Oregon for the Fisher Poets gathering and got to know the town a little better. The place is currently my favorite Oregon Coast town for a variety of reasons:

Astoria Oregon

Number One: The city is being watched over by the cynical, satirical eye of Astoria Rust. I had my first celebrity blogger summit last weekend (ahem… wink wink, prod prod BugThumper) and had an awesome real world coffee with “Guy”. Guy calls me his blog hero because I get to fish and travel a lot. But from my side of the interweb, I envy Guy’s farm. I want to raise livestock and Guy wants to raise some trout on a fly. Hopefully a continued correspondence will influence us both. We’ll get Guy out on the Upper Willamette this summer and I may start raising chickens on my 1/3 of an acre. Maybe I can combine the two and raise chickens for hackles and eggs!

Astoria Oregon

Number Two: The Fisher Poets ruled — the last of the hunter gatherers. We didn’t spend much time in the “official” venues, like the Wet Dog and the Astoria Events Center. We spent most of our time in the Voodoo Room, where the open mic ran all night, all weekend. It was a dark, tight little bar full of fishermen and women — it was more participatory than the NPR broadcast, standing room only venues.

Astoria Oregon

We had literally drank the bar out Terminal Gravity IPA by beginning of the second night. Crazed Cordovans literally gargled their way through Coast Guard rescue sagas in rhyme. My personal favorite poem of the night was from Steve Schoonmaker of Kasilof Alaska — I don’t know what the poem was called, but it featured a noisy crow calling to Steve to throw a dollar in the sea. Schoonmaker also shamed the companies behind the proposed Alaska Pebble Mine which threatens to destroy the Bristol Bay salmon fishery.

Astoria Oregon

I’d summarize the event as a gathering of bearded men and even tougher fisherwomen, telling stories of the place and work they love. These folks were primarily Alaskan and their stories were amazing. They told of plane-wrecking moose on airport runways, smoking dope with the mayor of Cordova, shifting sandbars and deteriorating boats sloughing off into unprofitability. They knew how long it would take a leak to sink their boat. They told stories about mending nets and XTRATUF boots, the price of fish going up and down, and the “tension” of being out fishing.

Astoria Oregon

Number Three: Independent book stores rock — Lucy’s Bookstore is case in point. The main thing I love about independent books stores is their tendency to help me find new writers. For example, I stumbled onto Robert Michael Pyle’s Sky Time in Gray’s Riverand picked that up. I also found Upstream: Sons, Fathers and Rivers by Robin Carey which is part family narrative, part adventure whitewater trip rowing upstream on the Klamath River.

Astoria Oregon

Number Four:The Columbian Restaurant is one of the finest eateries in Oregon. Chef Uriah Hulsey doesn’t need my blessing — he’s been written up in the NY Times, amongst other publications more prestigious than Upstream in Oregon. But this guy churns out awesome and ambitious food — we stopped in for lunch and had amazing clam chowder and spinach crepes. We came back for dinner and had pork bellies seared in duck fat and Willapa Bay oyster shooters — and the prices were very reasonable. The guy works behind an open counter and you see the magic happening, he talks to you about the food. The guy obviously loves to feed people.

Astoria Oregon

Number Five:Astoria has great architecture and history. It is one of the older, industrial towns in the Pacific Northwest and the rusty infrastructure and gingerbread houses lend a gritty charm to the place — definitely a photographer’s kind of town. We really liked The Rosebriar Inn where we stayed the weekend — a former convent with great river views and comfortable rooms.

Astoria Oregon


About mstansberry

Matt Stansberry currently lives in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and son.
This entry was posted in Oregon, Oregon Coast, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Top reasons Astoria is my new favorite Oregon Coast town

  1. CPM says:

    WOW ur not kidding… it is truly an amazing place.

    Unbelievably amazing.

  2. Guy says:

    Matt, the next time you return I’ll give you the insiders tour where you can play Bingo for Meat, smell a bad smelling book store and and even worse smelling record store. An if you come after Mother’s day you’ll have the chance to be inconvenienced by the many dogs at our Sunday Market.

    It was great meeting you, my friend.

    • Steve says:

      I think that bad smelling record store sent my girlfriend into the worst asthma attack in memory. There is a difference between lighting incense and LIGHTING A FOREST OF IT.

    • You gotta tell me where you can play bingo for meat. I moved to town a year and a half ago, and this is the first I’ve heard of it! And the bad smelling record store is no joke haha.

  3. JVK says:

    very nice, sounds like a quaint little town worth visiting.

  4. Alex says:

    Sounds like a great trip.

    You can call sear it in duck fat and call it a pork belly, by the way, but it’s still bacon to me.

    And that means it’s gooooood.

  5. Great Article!!!! I love our town. Should come sometime for the art walk. Even better buy a nice vacation home from me.

  6. Robert R says:

    I am trying to find out what kind of shopping stores are located in the Astoria Area. Please contact me at

  7. Clarke says:

    I was your bartender at the voodoo room.

    I love my town, I am glad you stopped by to enjoy yourself.

    • Andrea Espy says:

      hey my name is Andrea and my boyfriend and i got a wild hair to move to Astoria. Just seems like the time in our lives to uproot and try something different. Cant beat the view but how is it employment wise? The rent seems reasonable just need a way to pay it lol. Not looking for anything fancy job wise as ill b going to school at the same time. I would just LOVE to live there!!

  8. mjennings26 says:

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for such an informative piece about Astoria. I’m thinking of doing a little solo writing retreat there and you provided some excellent must-sees for me.

    I hope you enjoyed Pyle. He’s a good writer.

    Take care,

  9. Ken Fr: NM says:

    I want to move to Astoria, is there any work for welders or draftsmen?

  10. A1 Realty says:

    I know the Oregon Coast like the back of my hand” I remember when the ferry was the mode of getting across the river.I remember when Englund Marine And Astoria Marine were busy with fishing and others. I remember when Crown Camp was swamped with trucks and crummies.I know the coast.

  11. brittany says:

    Oh! I want to go!

  12. megs says:

    Can’t believe the location for the Goonies and the Goonies house wasn’t amongst this list!

    • The Goonies house really isnt that impressive, unless you come on Goonies Days. Aside from that you walk up a drive way and just stare at it. Oooh, Ahhh… Its neat to see for the first time though, I wouldn’t rate it at ALL near the top of my list of things in this town. The view from the Astoria Column, however, is.

  13. Janice says:

    Hello everyone.!!
    Astoria is a wonderful little town I lived there for 9 months and was very sorry I had to move..!!But I will be going through there next month and will spend 2 days there I can’t wait..!!! I love it..!!

  14. Karma says:

    Never had any dealings with the “good ole boys” ehh? Look dude passing through a place for the week-end and actually living somewhere are two different things. Maybe you should have titled this new fav place to visit. Trust me you do not want to live here.

  15. Great post! It sounds like a wonderful place. I’d start packing my bags right now but first I have to ask … what is the annual rainfall? I tend to get a little down when I don’t see the sun for a while.

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