A Getaway to St. Helens

September 23, 2013

Venture out of the big city for a day, and head up the Columbia River to discover all that St. Helens has to offer. In just a half hour drive from Portland, you can find beautiful views of the Columbia River, a historic district lined with antique shops, and a variety of outdoor activities. It’s the perfect destination for a quick escape from the city, whether just for a day trip or a weekend stay.


As you head into town, stop at the historic train station, now housing the Visitor’s Center and the South Columbia Chamber of Commerce. Trains still travel through the station, and there’s nothing like standing a few feet from dozens of train cars full of timber rushing by. Here you can check out old pictures from the local museum association and pick up brochures and maps of the local attractions.

Start your day with a visit to the Columbia River, located right next to St. Helens’ Olde Towne. Check out the popular fishing spots, like Grey Cliffs Park, just north of Olde Towne. Over a million salmon and steelhead enter the Columbia every year, and sturgeons are also common. Dan Porter is the local river guide, and he can set you up with everything you’ll need.

Explore Olde Towne, a Nationally Registered Historic District, with a variety of unique shops and restaurants with small town charm. Grab breakfast at Good Things, a cute little café serving breakfast and lunch. Take the tour of our historic buildings, including the County Courthouse and St. Helens City Hall, housed in an old bank building. Dine at The Klondike, St. Helens’ iconic eatery housed in the old St. Helens Hotel. Built in 1910, the hotel was built to house mill workers, and there are rumors of friendly spirits haunting the upstairs floors.

Immerse yourself in rich cultural history by visiting our variety of antique and vintage shops. Grace’s Rivertown Antiques is one of the oldest businesses in town and boasts a wide collection of antique items, including artwork, furniture, and home decor. Also in Olde Towne is 2Cs, housing a wide variety of vendors and located in the historic Pythian building.

Head on up to Houlton, the newer business district. Here you’ll find other vintage and antique shops, such as Top Notch and Granary Girls. For a quick snack, stop by Bertucci’s, which offers a unique combination of chocolate, candy, gifts, sandwiches, and soups. Houlton Bakery also has everything from pizza to freshly baked cinnamon rolls.

If you visit in the summer, chances are you’ll come across one of our many festivals, such as 13 Nights on the River, the Fourth of July Celebration, Pirates Festival, or the Maritime Heritage Festival. St. Helens takes full advantage of the summer season, and our day-long celebrations include food, music, entertainment, and tons of games and other activities.

End the day with a flick at the historic Columbia Theatre, built in 1928. Originally offering plays and films and boasting a barber shop and restaurant, it now offers your regular movie fare like popcorn and candy, as well as beer, wine, and alcoholic beverages. Dinner is even served on live entertainment nights, which range from musical acts and open mic nights to comedy shows.

If you’re looking for a quick getaway from big city life, check out the quaint, small-town atmosphere of St. Helens.

About The

Melissa Serafin
Melissa Serafin is a recent transplant to Oregon. She’s a passionate resident of St. Helens who loves exploring our small towns and experience all of the outdoor adventures Oregon has to offer.