March 28th 2015
When we first moved up here nearly four years ago, one of the first things we did was visit the coast, I fell in love with it then. It's tranquil, beautiful, and has a calm energy like nowhere else. Our first stop is usually Cannon beach. Cannon beach is a lovely place, with weathered wood retreats, amazing monoliths and fresh seafood. It does get rainy so get yourself some rain gear, coffee, and take in the sea air.
We stayed at The Waves, and as always it is luxoriously affordable. The rooms are clean, comfortable, and about five steps from the beach. Family ran, the staff is friendly and eager to please. It's my favorite place to stay, and is super close to Ecola Seafood which has the best chowder i've had in Cannon beach, far superior to Mo's (the self-proclaimed "best"). My kids love Bruce's Candy Kitchen. Watch the taffy ninjas hand pull salt water taffy or pick up one of the many other options available.
Coffee is essential for me and with the ultra hip Insomnia Coffee now roasting their own amazing java...it's pretty much caffinated paradise. Try a dirty chai (pictured above) or a french press of one of their single-origin masterpieces.
Seaside is where they seem to do the conventions, and large group functions (think debate meets from high school), that being said it still has some good stuff to check out. We didn't stay there this trip, we just did a day trip to the carousel and had lunch. I love the creepiness of carousels (I blame watching "Something Wicked this way comes" as a kid) and kids go nuts for them! At $2 a ride it's a bargain for parents, it is in a mall but don't let that scare you, its a weird mall with a strange automated cotton candy machine and balloon machine, you must see them in action.
We ate at a cute Italian cafe called Nonni's. The pasta and meatballs are the thing to get, eating the kids leftovers made up the less than stellar sandwich I had. The pasta is made fresh and it was hands down the best part of the meal. The service was good and they had a great selection of wine of beer. The kids loved it, I knew that because they didn't talk, fight, or sing....they just sat and ate...oh joy of joys!
Our next adventure was Astoria! I love Astoria if I could I would live there. We usually stay at the Norblad which was recently remodeled, it's afforable, great location, minimal but comfortable. This trip we opted for the splurge of The Cannery and it is the way to go if you want to spend a bit more. Classic cars valet you through town, wine and cheese hour featured a great Oregon Pinot noir, beautiful architecture, and gorgeous views. The rooms are lovely with giant claw footed tubs, and personal balconies, looking over the water, with stunning views of the bridge (I kinda have a bridge fetish).
I didn't know until this trip that Astoria is full of sea lions! All male, they migrate here mostly from California. Down on the riverwalk you can visit them on the pier, and see them through a glass floor in Astoria's newest brewery Bouy Brewing. Their chocolate raspberry stout is like biting into raspberry filled dark chocolate....it was delicious. Their IPA was solid, NW red was thick and creamy, and their winter ale rivaled any I've had. Only open a year I was told they have already received many national awards and recognition. To make a long story short....Astoria home to only 10 thousand, has another amazing brewery (can I move here already?). The food was also top notch with an ode to the best of what the area has to offer, they had an amazing salmon basket of the "best bits" collar, all the boney bits with meat attached, eaten caveman style....amazing. The tempura cheese curds with romesco were fab and even the side salad was exceptional, with roasted spring asparagus,house cured yellow squash pickles and olives. We fell onto the place purely on accident as we are loyal fans of Fort George but a little competition is good, and believe me sweetie there will be enough beer and pub grub to feed the needy (in the voice of the one and only Notorious B.I.G).
We hit up our new favorite spot to take the kids and adult kids with 80's video game nostalgia Arc Arcade. This arcade is rad in every possible way, the darling gal working behind the counter hand spins fresh cotton candy for the kids, even letting them choose the variety for $1.50, she also played nothing but nineties electronica and had Adventure time on all the T.V.s I think if there is a heaven it is something like this place. Whoever sourced the games is a real connoisseur, some popular, some obscure the variety was amazing and they even have "free play" on five or so of them! We spent two hours here without really realizing it and only spent about $15....cha ching!
We also visited Street 14 Coffee in the Commadore hotel more than once, they brew a solid Stumptown and the atmosphere is comfortable, chic, and even (gasp) friendly! A welcome retreat from the snobby scene in PDX, I swear if it wasn't for those pesky things like jobs, health insurance, and the house we just bought in July, I would reside here forever and ever!
Jarom coerced me into riding the trolley which I had been trying to avoid every visit. "For the kids Zan!" he scolds....okay...okay...I will ride the damn trolley, I could skip to my destination faster but whateves. It was actually fun, it did take an hour to go 10 blocks but they let you ring the bell and tell you bad jokes. Plus its history and that is one thing that Astoria cares deeply about and I love them for it. The residents are proud of their tiny, beer soaked, localvore city and I feel lucky just to be a tourist.
I write this as I sit in our hotel room looking out onto the water, and I feel a little sad because tonight is the last night of our trip. I love me some PDX, don't get me wrong....but sometimes I crave the small town feel I remember as a kid, before my hometown (Ogden,UT) was tainted by development, chain restaurants, and politics. Maybe someday I can be a part of the magic of Astoria (Greek food anyone?) but until then I will be happy to just breath in the air and feel the magic of Astoria every time I drive the 90 minutes outside of the big city living of PDX. Put it on your bucket list friends. Ciao!