If you have a family of young movie buffs, Astoria, Oregon is the destination for your next family getaway. Located where Lewis and Clark ended their tour of the United States, Hollywood has used this quaint town of Victorian homes and wooded hills for decades as a backdrop to your favorite family films. I have to warn you, though. Astoria is charming. It lures Hollywood and budget-conscious travelers alike. You can't beat the bargains or the friendliness in this town.
Before you go on your trip, have an 80s family movie week and get familiar with the ambiance. The most famous film shot in Astoria, with it's very own cult following, is of course, the Stephen Spielberg produced misfit epic, The Goonies. Astoria just celebrated the 25th anniversary of The Goonies, with the whole town of 9,000 people bombarded with big name celebrities, such as Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, coming out to join in the pirate fun.
The list of great movies filmed in Astoria includes:
- The Goonies
- Short Circuit
- Kindergarten Cop
- Free Willy 1 and 2
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3
- The Black Stallion
- Benji the Hunted (a great kids' movie)
- The Ring 2 was also filmed in Astoria, if you have horror-loving teenagers to impress.
If your kids are "Twi-hards," Kalama, Washington — which was used in the filming of the Twilight movie series — is a short hour drive away.
Must-See Movie Locations
The Goonie House
This is where the adventure began with a pirate treasure map in an attic and is an absolute must-see for any former goonie. The current resident is extremely friendly to visitors; she just asks that you park at the bottom of the street and walk up the hill to see the home.
The Flavel House
In The Goonies, it was Mikey's father's museum.
The Old Jail
Directly across from the Flavel House is the old jail where the Fratelli brothers escaped in the beginning of the movie. The old jail has been transformed into Oregon's Film Museum, but was a working jail until the 1970s. There is a dedicated group of Goonie fans that celebrates the filming of the movie every year on June 7th. Also, Astoria Chamber of Commerce has a page dedicated to all things Goonie.
The Kindergarten Cop school, Astor School, is where Arnold Schwarzenegger taught as an undercover cop. The woman who painted the mural on the side of the Astor School for the film fell in love with Astoria so much, she moved here. She also periodically touches up the mural to keep it looking nice for the school, for free.
West Mooring Basin
There is also the West Mooring Basin, where Arnold had dinner with the love interest in Kindergarten Cop. Although the dining room is completely closed and shut up, you can still walk the basin and see where it was shot.
You can see excellent shots of Astoria and Kindergarten Cop stills from an Arnold fan's trip to Astoria.
You'll want to go to the Hammond Basin to see the shots filmed for the climax of Free Willy. The actors had to stay in a jacuzzi between takes to prevent hypothermia. Just a fun fact for you. Bring your warm clothes.
Where to Stay, How to Get Around
The best way to get around Astoria is by car. There is a trolley that runs along the riverfront that can be ridden one way for $1 or all day for $2. If you fly into Portland airport, it's an hour and a half drive west. If you take the 5 to the 30, you'll pass through Kalama, and get to see some Twilight sights. You can also fly into Portland and take a transfer flight directly to Astoria through Seaport Air. These jets are pure luxury, with friendly pilots and no problems with TSA groping. I highly recommend them.
Once you get to Astoria, you can stay in any number of places.
There's a Holiday Inn Express, which is always predictably nice. There is also the Cannery Pier Hotel, which is spendy but luxurious, and has a day spa inside.
Bed and Breakfast
There are a number of bed and breakfast places that are absolutely charming in old Victorian homes. Prices are more affordable, and you get to feel as if you slipped back in time to when Astoria was "the New York of the West."
Fun and Funky
If you have older kids and want a fun, hip experience, the Commodore is as hip as it gets. With hostel-type rooms that share bathrooms as well as rooms with bathrooms inside, you can have an affordable experience that is unique as well.
You can also camp at the nearby Fort Stevens KOA. With fun teepees, yurts, and a covered swimming pool, this is a great camping experience, only a 15-minute drive across the bridge to Astoria.
Once You're There
Check out the audio tours to get familiar with the sights and ask locals to make sure you don't miss anything. There's always someone willing to help a tourist.
Check out the Astoria Chamber of Commerce for more helpful resources.
Whether your ideal summer vacation involves surviving a road trip with the family, or exploring the unique world around you, Astoria, Oregon will not disappoint.