24 hours in Astoria (and a few hours in Cannon Beach and Seaside)

Posted on
Aug 3, 2009
Posted in: 24 hours, City Guide

I’ve been sitting in front of this damn screen, trying to put into words what it is I love about Astoria. Yes, The Goonies was filmed there. And one of my favorite restaurants, ever,  is down there. And the people there are both awesome and crazy in a way that only small town people can be. But there’s something else, too. Something I can’t really explain. Perhaps, taking a page from arguably the greatest Goonie of all time, Chunk, I’ll simply say this: Everywhereist love Astoria.

And for the past three years, I’ve made a bit of a pilgrimage down there. The first time, Rand thought I was nuts (also, I kept drooling on him and screaming, “SLOTH LOVE CHUNK”, which he did not entirely appreciate). The second time, he still thought I was nuts, but he had just married me, so he had to go. And on this, my third time down to Astoria, Rand couldn’t make it, but I managed to convince my friends Mike and Dan to go. And bless their souls, they went. Even though I’m pretty sure they now think I’m nuts.

We stayed at the Comfort Suites Hotel, where Mike booked us a room.

Notice how I’ve torn off my bedspread? That’s because it was dotted with stains of an unknown origin. Presumably it was the same dried-milky-substance that dotted the window. But let’s not dwell on that. Instead let’s admire how an attempt was made to patch up a hole in the bathroom with what appears to be a spit wad.

Screw you, Bob Villa.

Screw you, Bob Villa.

Please, don’t get me wrong: this hotel effing ruled. It was $160/night for a double, and they had fresh-baked chocolate-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies. In a very I-smell-ice-cream move, Mike smelled them first. That’s how we found them.

This is where happiness and cavities come from.

This is where happiness and cavities come from.

Besides free cookies, Comfort Suites also offered us a view of the Goonies house. FROM OUR HOTEL ROOM.

It's that tiny little thing up on the hill in the distance. I KNOW. AWESOME, right?

Okay, maybe it’s not a view of the whole house so much as a view of the roof of the house. But still. Plus, we had a view of the school from Kindergarten Cop. At this point, we pretty much peed our pants from excitement as we started to scream, “IT’S NOT A TUMOR” (and by “we” I mean I.)

And even this wasn’t the end of the amazing-ness of the Astoria Comfort Suites Hotel. For it was also conveniently located next to a Safeway. But not just any Safeway. The most MAGICAL SAFEWAY EVER. For example, there were two kinds of fake cheese. And they were both on sale:

God bless America.

There was also a mylar balloon that consisted solely of a torso …

Its also apparently some sort of guides torso. Unless you have cannibalistic Rick-Steves-loving friend, I dont know why this exists.

It's also apparently some sort of guide's torso. Unless you are celebrating the birthday of a cannibalistic friend who also loves Rick Steves, I don't know why this exists.

And a melon … with a hole in it. I had to take a photo, or you’d never, ever believe me.

I ... just ... WOW.

I ... just ... WOW.

Like I said, the Safeway was magic. But Astoria is pretty magical in general. It’s one of the only places I’ve ever been to where there’s a JCPenney that isn’t in a mall. It’s just on the main drag.

Mike and Dan look so enthusiastic because I have been talking about this JCPenney for years.

Mike and Dan look so enthusiastic because I have been talking about this JCPenney for 2 years.


Okay, fine. Once inside its actally more depressing and horrifying than awesome. But still.

Okay, fine. Once inside it's actally more "depressing" and "horrifying" than "magical". But still.

And of course, there’s The Goonies House.

Dan and Mike were right: There is no way you could build a friggin golf course right here.

Dan and Mike were right: There is no way you could build a friggin golf course right here.


I was under the mistaken impression that we were all going to do the "Truffle Shuffle" together.


I won’t lie: I think it’s a little sad that the house hasn’t been transformed into a Goonies museum (as woefully impractical as that is, especially to the home’s owners). Still, the folks who live there get so many people driving up to their house and taking pictures, and they never complain. They even have a sign indicating where they are, because the house is kind of tricky to find. A hint to those going (and I am sure, after this post, you will ALL want to go): the house is on 38th, but you can’t turn up 38th from the main drag in Astoria. Instead, head up 37th, and make the first left you can. That will take you to the bottom of 38th, where you can walk up the driveway and see the house.

I wonder how many people drove up before they had to put this sign out.


We then headed to the Astoria Column – the largest column in Astoria! – and on the ride up we had this fantastic exchange:

Mike: What’s the column in Astoria called?

Me: The Astoria Column.

Mike: (sighs)

It’s only a 10 minute drive up to the column from the Goonies house, and on the way you get to see the school where Ahnold filmed Kindergarten Cop.

Mike doing his impression of Arnold running out of the school (which can be seen at minute 5:30 on the video below)

Mike doing his impression of Arnold running out of the school.


I forgot what I was talking about. Oh, yeah. The column.

Hee hee hee hee.

Hee hee hee hee.


We lucked out, managed to head up on one of Astoria’s 5 clear days of the year. After paying the $1 annual admission fee and climbing the 164 steps to the top, we got to see this:

Astoria and the Columbia River.


Um ... more Oregon!

Um ... more Oregon!


I also bought some biodegradable gliders which you can launch from the top of the column.

They were 75 cents each.

They were 75 cents each.


Unfortunately I kind of dropped my glider off the top of the tower (instead of launching it) and screamed “OH NO!”. On a related note, don’t scream when you are very high up with people who don’t like heights. They don’t appreciate it.

I believe his exact words were, GAH! Why the fuck are you screaming?!

I believe his exact words were, "GAH! Why the fuck are you screaming?!"


After the column, we went to the Columbia Maritime Museum, which is supposed to be awesome. It was closed. Fortunately, we found an exhibit just outside the museum: an ancient device that sailors would use during shore leave to call up their girlfriends.

Mike is confused by the primitive contraption.

Mike is confused by the primitive contraption.

... and horrified that it is right next to a sewer overflow pipe.

... and horrified that it is right next to a sewer overflow pipe.


During this entire excursion, we heard what sounded like barking dogs. But they weren’t dogs. They were exponentially more awesome. And we found them on the pier just past our hotel.

Best. Danger. Sign. Ever.

Best. Danger. Sign. Ever.



Minus the sea lions, this looks a lot like my senior class portrait.

Minus the sea lions, this looks a lot like my senior class portrait.


I then dragged Mike and Dan to two more Goonies locations: the Flavel House (Mikey’s dad’s museum) …

One day I will pay admission and actually go inside. Really.

One day I will pay admission and actually go inside. Really.

… and the county jail from which the Fratellis spring Jake:

Mike looks kinda fed up, because this was the 5 millionth photo Id taken.

Mike looks kinda fed up, because this was the 5 millionth photo I'd taken.

While we were taking pictures in front of the jail, a van pulled up. The driver jumped out and offered to take our photo. Unused to small town friendliness, this scared the hell out of us. He even implored us to sit down on the steps (at this point, Dan and I both thought it was going to be like that scene in European Vacation where the guy tells the Griswolds to get in the fountain, then proceeds to run off with their camera).

Obviously he didn’t run off with my camera. Instead, he was very friendly (if insane), and talked about how much he disliked the big city folks in Portland, who think their town is so great, when Astoria is clearly superior. And he told me not to take Dan and Mike into any bars, because they’d get shanghaied.


And then, at the corner of 15th and Franklin, we found what might possibly be the scariest house in Astoria. And therefore, also the most awesome:

I so wanted to go up and knock.

I so wanted to go up and knock.

I can’t imagine anyone lives there, but I saw a light on inside. I can only assume the evil flesh-eating clown that lives there uses it to lure children in before devouring them whole.

Also, why the eff are their curtains? Just to make it spookier?

Also, why the eff are there curtains? Just to make it spookier?

That night, we had dinner at Drina Daisy, a Bosnian restaurant that I’ve been raving about possibly as long as I’ve been talking about the friggin JCPenney. In short, the place is amazing. Order whatever you want – it’s all awesome – plus the roasted lamb.

That Yodel was so good. I wish I was eating it right now. - Homer Simpson
“That Yodel was so good. I wish I was eating it right now.” – Homer Simpson

At this point, we headed back to the hotel to lapse into a food coma (okay, fine – first, we bought champagne and chocolates and raspberries, and then we went back to the hotel and watched SNL. We’re left-coast yuppies, okay?). The next day, we started out at the Astoria Sunday Market, which is not only affordable, but has some of the best food in town. Most specifically, the hand pies …

Mmm ... hand pie.

Mmm ... hand pie.

Mike said we didnt look enthusiastic enough in the first photo, so we took a second one. I look deranged.

Mike said we didn't look enthusiastic enough in the first photo, so we took a second one. I look deranged.

… and handmade quesadillas, filled with zucchini, corn, and cheese, and topped with crazy-hot homemade salsa.

I want this woman to come live with me.

I want this woman to come live with me.

There’s lots more to see at the market, but I strongly suggest you stop at these two places. Also, if you have the opportunity to buy cookies from some lady named Phyllis, do so. That is all I will say about that.

 Next, we headed out to Cannon Beach, where you’ll find Haystack Rock (the rock that Mikey lines up on the medallion in the movie).

Its this misty in the middle of the afternoon.

It's this misty in the middle of the afternoon.

It’s a beautiful place, but keep in mind, it’s not particularly warm or sunny, even in August. That’s the amazing thing about the Pacific Northwest: you think no place has shittier weather than Seattle, and you’d be wrong.

Whats this? Youre wearing the shirt of the band youre going to see? Dont be that guy.

"What's this? You're wearing the shirt of the band you're going to see? Don't be that guy."

On the way back, we stopped at Yummy, my favorite restaurant in Seaside, blah, blah, blah MARGARITA CUPCAKE!!!!

I love you. I always have.

There was tequila in the FUCKING batter. All this time I've been drinking my booze, like a peasant.

The food was great, too, as always. But the cupcake: after it was gone, I found myself picking pressing my thumb into the crumbs and licking them off. It was an act of desperation. A very yummy act of desperation.

And after that? We went home. It was a great weekend, which wasn’t really surprising. After all, I love Astoria. And cupcakes. And haunted houses. And …

Yeah, them too.

Sigh. Yeah, them, too.
P.S. – Since the lovely Pinguina couldn’t come with us, I present Chunk’s fake-vomit confession … in ITALIAN.

Leave a Comment

  • Mike

    I just wanted to say that even though I was told at gunpoint by this deranged woman to get into her car and go to Astoria for the weekend, it is indeed a magical place of wonder. If you haven’t been, you should point a gun at somebody and make them go with you too!

  • Dear Everywhereist,

    This is at least the third instance since the start of your site in which you have displayed a photograph of your stomach. I am beginning to spy an ulterior motive in your online presence and I feel I must begin a boycott of your advertisers until you learn to keep your shirt tucked into your underpants, where it belongs.

    A Concerned Reader

  • Geraldine

    Sigh … Okay, just so we’re clear …

    1.) Those were ACCIDENTS.
    2.) I have a food baby. It’s hard to conceal.
    3.) I’m pretty sure this is your wife: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/74174738/Digital-Vision

  • Pinguina

    The Goonies shirt on an Astoria trip *was* a poor choice. (It’s just like I told you after that Rascal Flatts concert, Everywhereist.) But otherwise, omg, I’m so jealous…my painful e-mailed confession aside. Why didn’t you bitches invite me?!

    • Geraldine

      Pinguina –

      Why didn’t we invite you? Ahem. I believe we did. And your reply was that YOU HAD TO DO LAUNDRY. No, seriously. Check your email, you lunatic.

  • 1. There are no accidents
    2. Yeah, well okay, I can’t argue with point 2 (notice I didn’t say “number” 2).
    3. Damn. Or should I say, “daaaay-um”?

  • Geraldine

    I agree with your third point. And you agree with my second point. So, really, the only point of contention is #1.

  • Kim

    How could you not go to the house from Free Willy?!

    And my husband and I went to Canon Beach this past weekend (January 8) and it was DELIGHTFUL!

    And thanks for reminding me that I MUST go find those sea lions! I am convinced that I can take one home and keep him in my bathtub. 🙂

    • Everywhereist

      I’m a little too old to have gotten into the Free Willy canon, so I didn’t even KNOW it was down there. But, come on, John Jacob Astor Elementary School is pretty awesome. 🙂

      • Kim

        speaking of being shanghaied (well… not really), did you know that they provide tours of the underground tunnels that were used for that purpose? You should check it out if you come to Portland.

  • Ben R.

    Oh my gosh! This post is great. It really made me smile. I knew there was some reason I’ve thought there was something special going on in Astoria.

    I also got to go to the Column on a clear day, but was too nervous to hike up all alone. Can’t wait to go back and see some of the other sights next time.

More from The Blog

On Instagram @theeverywhereist

  • I asked Rand's grandfather what he thought about his grandson becoming an author. He tried to pretend he was unimpressed.
  • When People Are Nice To Me, I Find It Profoundly Confusing: The Geraldine DeRuiter Story.

We had a lovely dinner with some folks based here in Quebec, and they also gave me cupcakes, and it was all lovely and confusing because I am a nightmare of a human.
  • I went to a stunning library in Quebec City today - the Maison de la litterature was once an old church, and now it is full of books and winding staircases.
  • He complained that we were old, and I told him that we had maybe five more minutes of being young and beautiful, so let's enjoy them. Here they are.
  • It's below freezing in Quebec, and I'm fairly certain everything is haunted, but people are politely enduring my terrible French and there is poutine everywhere, so ... win?
  • Just rummaged through my office, looking for a notebook so I could write down some ideas for my next big project. I opened up this one and found a handwritten draft of the intro to my last book. #thisisagoodsignright
  • Look, just because I rolled a snickerdoodle in curry powder doesn't mean I'm a domestic goddess. Domestic demigoddess? Maybe.
  • Bye-bye, San Diego. It's been ... surprisingly cold, actually. But thanks for the Vitamin D.
  • That'll do, San Diego. That'll do. #tacotacotaco
  • Why, yes, my PJs do feature a cartoon version on my husband of them.

All Over The Place

Buy my book and I promise I'll never ask you for anything again.