Editor’s note: Call destinations before you visit to make sure they’re open. Stay posted on what Oregon’s phased reopening means for you, and follow these steps for social distancing outdoors. Also, remember to bring your face covering, required for all of Oregon’s public indoor spaces and outdoors when keeping 6 feet of distance isn’t possible. Here’s what to know about Oregon’s outdoors right now.
In 1866, Astoria became home to the first salmon cannery on the Columbia River, kicking off an industry that came to host more than a dozen seafood canneries over the next several decades, employing scores of immigrants and women. One of those canneries was Union Fishermen’s Cooperative Packing Company, which sits on the very same pilings that is now the Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa.
Since 2005, the boutique hotel — with its smokestacks, exposed steel beams and wooden trusses — has been a quiet hot spot for visitors to Astoria looking for culture, romance and relaxation in a setting that’s truly a step back in time. Whether you watch the storms roll by from the comfort of your room or take a sunset stroll along the Columbia River, Astoria is the perfect place to reconnect with your beloved after being cooped up at home. Here’s how to spend three days in Astoria with your sweetheart.
Day 1: Museum Walk and Wine
In the shadow of the majestic Astoria-Megler Bridge, check into the Cannery Pier, having peace of mind in its strict COVID-19 standards to keep everyone safe. The property conducts daily health checks for staff; hand sanitizer is available at check-in; and guest rooms are regularly cleaned and disinfected as per CDC-recommended guidelines. Perched atop 100-year-old pilings, the hotel extends 600 feet into the Columbia River and provides sweeping waterfront views from your private balcony. Marvel at the views from every angle from the moment you enter the property, with its two-story floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the deck and river.
Settle into your room, where you’ll find a gas fireplace, deep clawfoot tub, coffee and tea station, and Pendleton blanket at the window seat, so it’s easy to pamper yourself. Some suites include jetted tubs or are pet-friendly if you want to bring your pup. Once you’re ready to explore, take advantage of the curated Museum Walk right inside the hotel, where you’ll find old photographs and artifacts that showcase Astoria’s shipping and fishing history.
Before dinner, enjoy a complimentary wine-and-cheese package delivered right to your room. It’s offered in lieu of the hotel’s traditional social hour, a signature amenity that may be returning with updated COVID-19 guidelines. You’ll be served pre-poured wines behind plexiglass for safety in the lobby, paired with true Finn-town favorites of Swedish meatballs and Josephson’s Smokehouse lox with rye bread. Then book a reservation for BridgeWater Bistro, a sleek and modern venue known for its fresh seafood and waterfront views, just down the pier from the hotel. If you prefer to keep it intimate, you can order the bistro’s takeout and have dinner for two in your room in front of a roaring fire.
Day 2: Ship Watching and Spa Time
Fuel up with a complimentary continental breakfast with rotating hot items, served with COVID-19 protocols in place including plenty of room to keep a safe distance from other guests. Stop by the front desk to request a pair of binoculars (sanitized and bagged) and a listing of ship traffic to help watch the international vessels pass just outside your window while staying cozy in your room, rain or shine. In addition, the hotel’s Shipping News blog highlights a “Ship of the Week,” where you can read fun tidbits about the ships’ voyages across the waters.
For more local shipping history, pay a visit to the Columbia River Maritime Museum to learn how the Columbia River Bar earned the nickname “Graveyard of the Pacific,” one of the most treacherous passages in the world. See the museum’s COVID-19 guidelines before visiting.
Grab some wood-fired pizza and seasonal ale for lunch at Fort George Brewery + Public House, less than 2 miles east, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of downtown Astoria and the waterfront from the top-floor dining room. Make a reservation to dine in with socially distanced seating, or call in to pick up and enjoy from the comfort of your own riverfront balcony. Post-meal, consider taking a much-deserved afternoon of indulgence at the hotel’s spa, with a planned return of massages in January. The Finnish sauna, mineral hot tub and exercise room are open for one party at a time for an hour-long time block. Be sure to reserve a time slot since the hotel staff need ample time to clean and sanitize between uses.
After an afternoon of rest and relaxation, it’s time for a romantic night out. Book a ride with the hotel’s vintage chauffeur car service — complimentary to guests, it’s limited to two people at a time with masks required, available daily from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Enjoy a candlelit dinner at Silver Salmon Grille, where you’ll have a choice between seafood, steak, and Cajun and Creole dishes. Top off the evening with a drink at Blaylock’s Whiskey Bar, an elegant lounge next door that offers more than 200 whiskeys from around the world, as well as a lineup of fun craft cocktails.
Day 3: Riverwalk, Shopping and Art
Start your day with complimentary breakfast at the hotel, then it’s time to explore downtown. The Cannery Pier rents cruiser bicycles free of charge. Breathe in the crisp air while biking along the Astoria Riverwalk, a paved scenic trail that follows alongside the Columbia River. If you’re lucky, you’ll see (and likely hear) sea lions sunbathing and barking away near the East Mooring Basin. The Riverwalk is just as enjoyable by foot if you prefer a leisurely stroll.
Grab lunch at South Bay Wild, a fisherman-owned shop that serves up top-notch sustainable, local seafood including a divine seafood fry bread — a Native American-style fry bread topped with red pepper tapenade, goat cheese and lemon shallot-dressed arugula. After lunch, take a walk through Astoria’s historic downtown district, where you’ll find — all within a 4-block radius — ornate historic buildings and an assortment of quirky antique shops like Vintage Hardware, with its large selection of great finds like authentic glass floats, wool blankets and eclectic home decor.
The arts scene is thriving here, so don’t miss a stop at RiverSea Gallery and The Secret Gallery, both showcasing work by top local artists. Visit the mural by local artist Andie Sterling at the popular 13th Street Alley section of the downtown historic district. Watch for the next Astoria Open Studios Tour event, which features local artists like Kim Rose Adams, who created the coasters for guests at the Cannery Pier. Then head back to the hotel for some rest and a nice long soak in the tub. Cap your intimate weekend back at your hotel with a signature River & Romance package, which includes a bottle of wine, fine chocolate and keepsake coasters as mementos of your treasured time together.
If You Go:
Weather on the Oregon Coast can vary. During winter months expect rain, clouds and storms, which make this time of year an ideal window for storm watching from the comfort of your hotel. Spring brings a mix of rain and sun while summer into October tends to be dry and mild. Pack layers of clothing, and check weather and road conditions before you go. Also note that some restaurants may be closed in the winter, so call ahead or pack your own picnic for your room.