Perched atop pilings 300 feet or so out into the swift current of the Columbia River is a unique building. The Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa was the dream of a local Astoria native, Robert Jacob. It took Jacob thirteen years to see his dream built, but it was well worth the wait.
The pier pilings the hotel is built upon once belonged to the Union Fish Cannery Building. Started as a cooperative of Finnish fishermen, it grew to be the largest canary in Astoria before closing along with the other 40 or so canaries after the fishing heydays of the 1940s. The modern hotel is designed to resemble the long gone canary, with a large entry room/seating area with floor to ceiling windows and exposed beams. It very evident everywhere you go that Jacobs’ designed the hotel with views of the river in mind. Our kids enjoyed sitting in the lobby staring up to the rafters and gazing out the enormous windows at the ships passing by. It was quite an awe-inspiring view.
These views and other thoughtful touches: like the two classic cars the hotel uses as chauffeured shuttles for guest to travel around town, newspapers at your door and wine & cheese mixers as the amenities that set this establishment apart from other “normal” hotels.
With the hotel set out in the river every room features a breathtaking view of the Columbia River, passing ships and the Astoria–Megler Bridge. When Robert Jacob designed the rooms he wanted everyone to not only have a view of the water but to feel as if the river was an extension of their room. To accomplish this they used large oversized windows, balconies and even included views from the bathtub to accomplish his vision. The hotel also provides binoculars to take in the scenery of the Washington coast in every room.
Astoria is the oldest American settlement on the west coast, founded in 1811 by the Pacific Fur Company. Astoria was prosperous first with the fur trade and then with commercial fishing. The city has had it own share of disasters, burning down in 1883 and again in 1922. The second fire was so devastating the town used dynamite to blow up buildings and create a firebreak stopping the flames.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Astoria faced economic decline as Bumblebee Seafood moved it’s headquarters and the canneries all but dried up. Today, Astoria has a bright future with tourism leading the city’s rise.
The Buoy – This restaurant started by locals who enjoyed beer is a gem. Located in a refurbished cannery building it features typical brewpub style food, great beer but the winner is the design. In the entry to the restaurant they incorporated a large glass floor cut out allowing the kids to get a birds eye view on the sea lions that make their home in the pillions below.
Fort George – Located just off the main street in a historic 90+ year old building is the Fort George Brewery and Public House. With pub style food, wood fired pizza and laid back atmosphere you can unwind here with the family. They have two levels, ground floor bar style with outdoor patio or second floor restaurant style set up. We enjoy some beer and pizza while taking in the view afforded to us from the second floor. The breeze off the Columbia River while sipping on our beer and taking in the view above town made the experience.
What To Do Nearby
Lewis Clark Museum – Situate a few miles from Astoria this is where the Corps of Discovery, AKA Lewis and Clark’s expedition stayed during the winter of 1805-1806 before heading back to St Louis. The National Park features a small museum and outside there is a replica of Fort Clatsop the groups home during the winter.
Fort Stevens and Battery Russell – Part of the Harbor Defense of the Columbia River, this concrete coastal artillery battery was used from 1904 to 1944 and is the only location on the continental US attacked by a forging country since the War of 1812. During WWII a Japanese submarine attacked the Fort, firing 17 shells before disappearing back to the ocean.
Wreck of Peter Iredale – A short distance from Battery Russell is the wreck of the Peter Iredale. An 1890’s steel hulled sailing ship run aground in 1906 while sailing from Mexico to Portland. The ship ran aground in the night and was left entombed in the sand. Today only the rusty bow and some ribs are visible.
Clatsop Spit Jetty Observation Tower – At the far end of Fort Stevens is a large observation tower overlooking the mouth of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. From here you can see why the waters off the coast here are called the Graveyard of the Pacific, with its strong winds, churning seas, fog and unpredictable weather this proved to be a very dangerous place for ships with 2000+ vessels lost near the Columbia River mouth alone.
Astoria Column – Perched atop the Coxcomb Hill and overlooking Astoria, this 125 ft tall observation tower was built in 1926 with backing from the Great Northern Railway. The exterior features murals depicting great moments in Oregon history. The observation platform at the top features an astonishing view of Columbia River, if you can climb the 164 staircase! If you can’t make the climb, don’t worry, the park surrounding the tower offers some of the most picturesque views of the river, Pacific Ocean, Washington coast and Astoria you can find.
Filmed in 1985, this classic movie was set in Astoria. Even today you can see the Goondocks…from a distance. Recently the homeowners closed the private drive way up to the house and the neighbors below are not the most friendly when it comes to setting off on your own Goonies adventure to the house. For us we were considerate, followed the rules and took in what we could from public property.
We also stopped to have some fun at the old county jail where the Fratellis staged their jailbreak. This location is Goonies friendly, owned now by the Oregon Film Museum. The location even features a replica Black Jeep Cherokee used by the Fratellis in the movie, even with bullet holes in the back!
Have you visited the Cannery Pier Hotel or passed through Astoria? We love to connect with others, so feel free to leave us a comment and share your experiences!
(Disclosure: Burbs2Abroad traveled to the above location as guests and was not compensated for this review. As always, our opinions are our own.)
Time of Year Visited: April 2016