: Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce

4-Day Road Trip Along the Oregon Film Trail

Head from Portland to the Coast for sites made famous by “Twilight,” “The Goonies,” “Free Willy” and more.
May 28, 2024

Film fans have been flocking to Oregon for years to track down iconic locations that appeared on the big screen — and it’s no wonder directors want to train their camera on the state’s beautiful and diverse landscapes. The Oregon Film Trail now has signs all over the state, making it even easier to visit your favorite scenes on your next trip. 

Here is a 4-day itinerary, navigable with the assistance of the SetJetters app — developed in partnership with Oregon Film — that will take you across a segment of the trail to see highlights. The route is packed with sites from three beloved movies: “The Goonies” (1985), “Free Willy” (1993), “Twilight” (2008), and more. You can collect badges of your adventures when you visit the locations on the app, making it a fun goal to visit the sites from your favorite films.

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Exterior view of the Swan House, a white, 2-story Victorian home in St. Helens.
The Swan House, minus supernatural vampires. (Courtesy of Nickie Bournias)

Day 1: Echoes of “Twilight” From PDX to Oregon City

If you’re flying into Portland International Airport, be sure to check out the #OregonMade Film History and Poster Exhibit after you stop by baggage claim. You’ll see 21 movie and TV show prints as well as a floor-to-ceiling mural depicting the state’s seven regions. If you have time,  check out an Oregon-made film short at the Hollywood Theatre at the Portland International Airport, an innovative microcinema in Concourse C.  

When you’ve checked in to downtown Portland’s Hotel deLuxe — whose opulent lobby is adorned with chandeliers and glamorous black-and-white stills from old films — head south for some “Twilight” sights in Damascus and Oregon City, just a quick drive from downtown. 

After “Twilight” protagonist Bella Swan comes to live with her divorced dad, the two share a homecoming meal at a cafe. You’ll recognize it when you see the Carver Cafe, located 15 miles southeast of Portland in Damascus, where the scene was filmed. Sit at the corner table and order Bella’s Berry Cobbler in tribute to the film’s kindly waitress, who remembered the teen’s favorite dessert after all those years. 

A half-mile southwest lies the boulder-flecked forest where Edward admits he’s a vampire and Bella falls harder for the blood-sucking bad boy. Admire those old-growth-covered bluffs before dinner at Oregon City’s Stone Cliff Inn, a lodge-like restaurant serving Pacific Northwest fare such as king salmon and tenderloin that’s at the base of those cliffs overlooking the Clackamas River.

Day 2: See the Sites in Portland and Haunt St. Helens

Greet the morning near the hotel at Stumptown Coffee’s new minimalist-chic West End cafe, then walk six blocks east to Pioneer Courthouse Square. The brick amphitheater is where “Free Willy” viewers meet Jesse, the surly street kid with heart. 

One of Portland’s many picturesque spans, the Hawthorne Bridge has a cameo in “Free Willy” as part of Jesse’s bike route to the aquatic park. Reenact his commute by renting a ride from a BIKETOWN corral, then pedal south on the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade to the Tilikum Crossing to complete a 2.6-mile loop.

Your next stop is the small town of St. Helens, 30 miles northwest of Portland. The town was a stand-in for Port Angeles, Wash., in “Twilight.” Most filming locations are in the Downtown Historic District, including a hair salon turned dress shop (now called Cuts+), where Bella’s friends gush about prom gowns, and the bookstore where she finds ancient vampire literature. The Columbia County Historical Society & Museum Association’s self-guided walking tour map will help for additional locations, several of which you can see in this feature on the town.  

For a good dinner in town, head to The Klondike Tavern. The decades-old restaurant with Victorian-era flair was revived in 2022 by a new owner following renovations. Just be prepared for drop-in dining companions. The former boarding house is said to be haunted by a roster of ghosts. 

Don’t forget to visit the Swan House, where Bella moved in with her dad, for a photo opp. Just be sure to be respectful of neighbors and follow parking signs. You can also stay at this 1930s abode, which still has some pieces from the set, but it’s very popular and booked out fast so plan ahead. 

Want to see more locations that inspired the moody atmosphere of “Twilight”? Consider extending your trip outside of Portland to the towering Multnomah Falls, near where the iconic baseball scenes were shot. South of Portland, more Oregon Film Trail markers can be found at Howard Creek Trailhead at Silver Falls State Park. 

Back at your hotel, sample a nightcap in the swanky Driftwood Room, a darkened lounge with an Old Hollywood vibe where Cheryl Strayed chats with a stranger in “Wild” (2014).

Two collaged photos - on the left, a small child stands outside the now film museum, previously county jail building. On the right, the same child poses in front of a poster cutout of a "Goonies" character.
Goonies fans are in for a treat at the former county jail. (Courtesy of Eric Davis/OCVA)

Day 3: Museums and Famous Houses in Astoria

Continue 65 miles west to Astoria, a port city in Oregon’s northwest corner that’s been in dozens of films. “The Goonies” is perhaps the most popular, drawing throngs of fans to town for decades. You’ll want to stop by Astoria Coffee Company for a pick-me-up as you enter town. It’s one of many businesses selling themed goods that appeal to fans of the movie, but this one actually appeared briefly in the film. Take home a bag of Goondocks coffee beans, a special blend.

You’re just paces from a prime spot to take a photo of the two-story Victorian that set the treasure hunt in motion. The Goonies House is a private residence, so don’t snap selfies on the porch. Instead, head across Highway 30 to a parking lot near the East Mooring Basin, where you can gaze up at the grand home. Doing the Truffle Shuffle is optional, of course. 

It’s easy to relate to an excited Chunk when he squeezes milkshake everywhere while watching police hot on the tail of the Fratelli crime family. That was probably one of the most thrilling scenes you ever saw as a kid, too. The site of the prison break is now the Oregon Film Museum, complete with a green screen, memorabilia and a mugshot station. The museum where Mikey’s dad works is across the street — a massive Queen Anne-style structure that truly is a time capsule and is open to the public. The Flavel House Museum, originally home to a bar pilot captain, offers a detailed look at upper-class life and architecture in the late 1800s. 

When “Star Wars” actor Daisy Ridley was filming an indie drama in Astoria in 2021, she did what everyone should do when they’re in Astoria: see the Goonies sites and order a delicious tempeh Reuben from Blue Scorcher Bakery & Cafe for lunch. And you should too. 

Goonies fans will also want to check out the shipwreck exhibit at the Columbia River Maritime Museum. It documents the dangers of the Columbia River Bar — a crossing once so deadly it became known as “the graveyard of the Pacific” — including debris from the mysterious beeswax wreck. The galleon, it’s said, inspired the ship in the film.

After the museum, journey down the Astoria Riverwalk to the Astoria Brewing Company, which has a full kitchen and a creative and ever-evolving tap list. After dinner or a pint, stock up on Goonies gear in the brewery’s gift shop, which resembles the wraparound porch on Mikey’s house. 

Next, drive 3 miles into the hills of the South Slope neighborhood, past the turquoise Short Circuit House. The house was lovingly restored to match its appearance in the 1986 movie. Now offering lodging, it also features one of the best views of the 4-mile-long Astoria-Megler Bridge. Examine the span from another angle at nearby Alameda Park, home of an Oregon Film Trail sign commemorating the moment Number 5 catapulted off the crossing. 

The best place to survey river traffic is from your room at the Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa, a former fish packer jutting 600 feet into the Columbia. Binoculars, a ship schedule and private balconies are all provided, though you may just spend the evening soaking in your clawfoot tub, envisioning Willy leaping freely outside your window.

A sign marking a spot on the Oregon Film Trail at Ecola State Park, calling out a filming spot for "The Goonies."
Find film markers in several places across the state. (Courtesy of Nickie Bournias)

Day 4: Dramatic Beach Scenes in Cannon Beach and Shorts in Portland

Several dramatic movie scenes unfold along the craggy coastline of Ecola State Park, 24 miles south of Astoria. While you’re taking in Pacific vista, recall the Goonies’ discovery of the Fratelli hideout there, and re-create Jacob and Bella’s beach walk. For an up-close view of Haystack Rock, drive 2.5 miles south to Cannon Beach — Ma Fratelli zooms by the landmark while evading the police.

Before heading back to Portland on Highway 26, stop for some of the Coast’s best local seafood at Ecola Seafoods Restaurant & Market. Since Pacific Northwest orcas prefer salmon, do Willy proud and request his favorite — fillets here come grilled or fried. 

About The
Author

Andi Prewitt
Andi Prewitt is an award-winning writer/editor and native Oregonian who covers the state’s trifecta of fun: craft beer, dining and outdoor recreation. Semi-healthy obsessions include IPAs, shoes and creating excessively busy travel itineraries. Her claim to fame is being named princess of Newberg, and it’s all been downhill from there.

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