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Word of Mouth: Astoria, Oregon


Word of Mouth: Astoria, Oregon

By Jenny Miller / Published at

The Oregon Coast enclave of Astoria, Oregon is not exactly a beach town. Though it's just a few miles from the state's austere, breathtaking stretches of sand, this former canning and maritime hub of about 10,000 people is perched on a hill at the spot where the mighty Columbia River flows into the Pacific Ocean. So technically, it's a river town. The city boomed in Victorian times and still bears that architectural stamp (along with many Deco details after a fire ravaged much of the city in the 1920s); in some ways, it conjures up a miniature San Francisco. For the last few decades, Astoria's only big claim to fame was its prominent role as the setting for "The Goonies," the beloved 1985 Steven Spielberg film. If tourists weren't visiting the "Goondocks" house, it might have seemed to be just another rundown town verging onto seediness, with a chronically depressed former industrial economy.

But in recent years, something remarkable has happened: Astoria's gotten hip. Perhaps it's partly a trickle-down effect of Portland's rise (Oregon's largest city is just a two-hour drive away), and partly being a place that's always had a lot going for it—great architecture and an ultra-dramatic setting, for starters—has finally gotten its due. Whatever the cause, the rash of new boutique hotels, exciting restaurants and a brewery boom makes this river town hard to overlook any longer.

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