The place in Oregon where I’ll never take my kids


See that little red hotel that juts out into the river? That’s our place, the Cannery Pier Hotel

I will never take my kids to Astoria. It’s a place I’ve reserved for my husband and me alone, our place, a storybook harbor town filled with people with mermaid tattoos and hidden pirate longings. Kids can stay at home with grandma. We’ve claimed it, its ours, sorry, Charlie, get out your LEGOS ’cause mommy and daddy are going away!

We go once a year, stay in my favorite hotel in Oregon, the Cannery Pier Hotel, and then we play for a few days. I will send friends and visitors to Astoria there until my dying days for the gracious hospitality, free rides around town in a ’58 Chevy, and the way you might just wake up in the middle of the night to a mammoth sea vessel passing silently past your window. Did I mention the sauna and hot tub in the spa on the first floor? Or how you can take the cruiser bikes around town without a lock because everyone in town knows who they belong to?


Last year was a little different. In November, I was on assignment to write a Perfect Day in Astoria for one of my magazine clients, Sunset. Dream of dreams! The story is out in the current issue, and you can read it here.

But my memories of Astoria are not anything from a magazine, so I thought I’d share a few outtakes:

The Garden of Surging Waves


Garden of Surging Waves, Astoria

The first time we went to Astoria we stumble upon these giant marble columns laying on their sides down by the wharf. Say what? The next year, we found them here, at a city’s garden of gratitude to one of its most discounted (by history) immigrant populations. Even in the rain it’s the most beautiful public space I’ve been to in Oregon.

Blue Scorcher Co-op


In my article I mention the Fort George Brewery, but just below is the Blue Scorcher Co-op, a place where we simply feel happy. It’s got this weird 1990s coffee shop vibe, so complete that the last time we were in there they were playing Sublime’s Santeria. Gluten-free baked goods (for me, thank you!), great salads, and lots of toys for someone else’s kids.

The Goonies


HEY YOU GUYS!!!! It can be a little weird when a town lays claim to the films made there and attaches its identity to it  (ever been to Forks, WA?). Unless that movie is The Goonies. I actually want to see more Goonies in Astoria. The film museum even has a Sloth I posed with for an Iphone pic. Sloth + selfie = #Slothie?


My kids are still too young for The Goonies. Like 3 and 5 young. I’m glad they can’t watch it yet because that means I can keep leaving them out of this particular trip.

The Astoria Column


High above the city you can hike past ancient trees and climb the Astoria column. We haven’t been there since it was restored, but the images show that it’s going to be a beacon of art rising in the mist. I believe we made some paper airplanes on one of our visits and flew them from the top of the column. Did we really do that?

The Astoria Coffeehouse


Globes in decorating. This place was made with me in mind. Apparently people bring them so many globes that they’ve started refusing them. Tell me how to have this problem.

That time we went to the Arc Arcade after a fancy dinner


So after we scoped out Albatross (bold name for a restaurant/business, by the way), and had some Prohibition-are cocktails, which did make it into the Sunset piece, we went to the ARC to play… ahem… X-Men, which did NOT make it into Sunset. I got to play some Super Mario Bros., which I used to dominate, but found my 35-year-old 12-bit Nintendo skills do not translate to the arcade version.  This is true love, baby.

UPDATE: Adam tells me I played Wolverine and he was Night Crawler for the superior jump skills.


Finally, I’ll share the little bit of Astoria we took home with us. Wait! That’s Neuschwanstein! Having lived in Germany for three years, I’ve seen Neuschwanstein six times and in every season. Needless to say, I have a problematic relationship to Germany’s most famous castle. For years I thought it was the height of kitsch. If you asked me to go back I’d probably throw myself in a lake. BUT. Having not lived in Germany for more than ten years now, I kind of miss it. I miss what it stands for — someone’s crazy delusional idea that was made in brick and stone. So yes, we bought the hand-carved Neuschwanstein relief. It’s hanging in my office as I write this.


What can I say? We’re big fans of Astoria.

Do you have a place that you don’t share with anyone else? Tell me about it! I promise I won’t tell  🙂

13 thoughts on “The place in Oregon where I’ll never take my kids

  1. dinnersforwinners says:

    My parents used to take us to Astoria on “home school family vacations” to hike the column and go to the maritime museum. It has so much more cool stuff now! I’ve also been told by hip Portlanders that the hip Portland-types are moving there because it’s so much more affordable than Portland proper. (Yet still hip.) Loved your Sunset article and all the goodies here, too! Time for a visit!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tina Delay says:

    So glad you all enjoy our little town😏 please, please do come again 😊. Did you get to visit Sunday Market?? If not, then its a ‘must do’… put it on your list😁 It runs mid May through mid October. Wonderful, wonderful market…200 or so vendors on any given Sunday, yummy food court (my family sells smoked salmon chowder there) with awesome live music… don’t miss it… come see us all😄

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sandi Hilton says:

    You should also come during the summer just to see the difference between the seasons. There is always something going on wether it’s the Scandinavian Festival, Regatta, Shanghaied in Astoria, or just fishing. During spring and fall we have cruise ships come in that sometimes seem larger than life. And like Tina said Sunday market is fantastic and farmers market on Thursdays. We have a Brewfest in September and a Festival of the Dark Arts(stout beers) in February to celebrate the many breweries and distilleries in town. Not to mention our Jane Barnes fashion show. There is always something to do…


  4. Victoria says:

    This is my hometown and it’s made leaps and bounds towards being a welcoming and hospitable destination for families and couples!!! Stop by my mom’s bar, Mary Todd’s Workers for a real North Coast experience!!!


  5. Jennifer O'Brien says:

    We feel the same way about Astoria and although it’s a great place for couples to get away, I also have been know to sneak off with the kids when he hasn’t been available… The thing I would add to your article is my favorite must have, the Astoria Trolley! At $1 a ride or $2 you can get off and on all day. The Trolley runs up and down the waterfront and is manned by senior volunteers who tell silly stories and you can see they love what they do.


    • Emily Grosvenor says:

      Interesting. What are they doing that makes you wish they’d leave? Just curious. I know the feeling, but living in a smalltown myself (McMinnville, not tiny but still 35,000) I think the tourists make it possible to have the life I live in my small-town since they fuel the local businesses. It’s wine country, and catering to wine drinkers means foodie heaven!


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