When it comes to totally free things to do in Astoria, Oregon, the list is longer than you might think. Astoria is home to museums with free admission, parks that don’t cost a dime to enter, and events that are free to attend.
As a new resident, I’m exploring as many things to do in Astoria as possible – and finding these free gems has been wonderful. There’s a wealth of history, nature, and culture to discover here, and lots of it is free and accessible to all. I’ve rounded up 11 of the best free things to do in Astoria, Oregon for you here so you can start getting to know the town!
11 Best Free Things to Do in Astoria, Oregon
Astoria Sunday Market
The Astoria Sunday Market draws more than 200 local vendors downtown each week to sell their wares. Admission is free, so you can peruse the booths, enjoy live music, and get to know Astoria better. The Market is also the perfect place to find locally crafted goods and gifts, art, food, and more. And all you plant lovers out there are in luck – many of the vendors here are farmers and nurseries!
The Astoria Sunday Market is a wonderful way to experience local culture and support regional farmers, artisans, and craftspeople. You instantly feel like part of the community soon as you arrive, making this one of the best free things to do in Astoria, Oregon.
Up for a quick road trip to another state? Hop onto the impressive Astoria-Megler Bridge and drive from Oregon to Washington in just a few minutes. You’ll enjoy gorgeous views of the Columbia River and cargo ships below, and the lush forest growing on the Washington side.
The Astoria-Megler Bridge is the largest continuous truss bridge in the country. It’s easy to admire the structure for the engineering feat it truly is. Crossing this four mile long bridge gives you perspective on how huge the Columbia River is. And, it makes for a scenic drive in both directions.
➤ Need a place to stay while you’re in town? Read about the charming, locally owned Astoria Crest Motel here and book your stay!
Cathedral Tree Trail
Hiking the Cathedral Tree Trail is one of the best nature-centric free things to do in Astoria, Oregon. This short trail winds through moss covered trees and massive ferns. It leads to the towering Cathedral Tree, a giant evergreen that you can walk through and snap a picture inside of.
As an added bonus, you can keep hiking along the trail after reaching the Cathedral Tree. You’ll end up at the Astoria Column! Just be prepared for mud, depending on the season. And be ready to tackle some inclines, as you’re climbing up to the highest point in Astoria.
Hanthorn Cannery Museum
Astoria has deep roots in the fishing industry, and the Hanthorn Cannery Museum preserves the history of fishing and seafood processing in the area. This free museum is actually inside the old Bumble Bee cannery, and houses countless artifacts. From bowpickers and nets to canning equipment and old advertisements, there’s lots to explore.
The story of Astoria’s commercial fishing heyday truly comes alive at this museum. Along with seeing physical artifacts, you can read firsthand accounts of cannery workers and fishermen. Tourists and new residents alike will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Astoria’s roots after visiting the Hanthorn Cannery Museum.
Garden of Surging Waves
The Garden of Surging Waves is a tribute to Astoria’s Chinese heritage. The Chinese population in Astoria greatly contributed to the town’s salmon industry especially. This beautiful park was created to publicly acknowledge this community’s presence and contributions. This is one of my favorite free things to do in Astoria, and every time I come back, I find more details to appreciate about this park.
In the Garden of Surging Waves, you’ll find plants native to both China and the Pacific Northwest. The Garden also contains a bronze moon gate and sculpture, and dragons carved into marble columns. Come stroll through the garden, learn about Astoria’s Chinese heritage, and admire the artwork and foliage inside!
It’s impossible not to enjoy a leisurely walk along the Columbia River, and the Astoria Riverwalk is a great place to do so! You’ll enjoy walking on the wooden boardwalk, watching ships and the trolley pass by, and stopping at local coffee shops, antique stores, and places to eat along the piers.
The Riverwalk stretches 6.4 miles one way and 12.8 miles round trip, so bust out your walking shoes for this one. Or, you can always catch a trolley ride back. The trolley only costs a dollar to ride – so while it’s not completely free, it’s still a sweet deal!
Maritime Memorial Park
Astorians have strong ties to the sea, and the Maritime Memorial is a tribute to the town’s seagoing population. There are more 1,200 names engraved into the memorial, and each of them had nautical roots. From those who served at sea to those who lost their lives at sea, this memorial is a tribute to the nautical people of Astoria.
Take some time to visit the Maritime Memorial and think about the people whose names line its walls. Fishermen, merchant mariners, clamdiggers, boatbuilders, gillnetters; all these people dedicated their lives to making a living on the sea. They form the backbone of Astoria, and their memory lives on here.
Well, it’s only free if you don’t buy anything. But browsing antique and vintage treasures is a great way to spend time in Astoria. Especially on a rainy winter day! There are a bunch of antique stores in downtown Astoria, so you can shop to your heart’s content.
Treasure Alley is an antique mall right off the Riverwalk, and it’s packed full of vintage goodies. Since you’re probably checking out the Riverwalk anyway, pop in here for a bit and browse around!
Nordic Heritage Park
Astoria’s Nordic Heritage Park opened this past June, at the Astoria Scandinavian Midsummer Festival. The park is home to a boat-shaped arch lined with various Nordic flags. There are educational signs posted in the park where you can learn about Nordic heritage and its significance in the Astoria area.
As one of the newest free things to do in Astoria, Oregon, Nordic Heritage Park is worth a visit. It’s also walking distance from the Columbia River Maritime Museum and downtown, so you can work it into your Astoria itinerary pretty smoothly.
Uppertown Firefighters Museum
The Uppertown Firefighters Museum is open seasonally, and showcases firefighting equipment from the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum is inside an old brewery-turned-fire station, adding to its authenticity! Snap pictures of a hook and ladder truck from 1876, and check out all the vintage equipment on display.
Places where you can get up close and personal with historic artifacts for free are few and far between. So being able to experience firefighting history at no cost here is a heck of an opportunity! Donations are accepted, though, so if you appreciate your time there it’s nice to leave a “thank you” to help keep the museum up and running.
If you’re looking for a sporty green space that has a little bit of everything, then Tapiola Park is your spot. It’s the perfect place for a picnic overlooking the Columbia River, and is super kid-friendly. Here, you’ll find picnic tables, a skate park, baseball field and basketball court, and a playground.
Know of any more free things to do in Astoria, Oregon?
These 11 things are what I’ve found to be the best totally free things to do in Astoria. I hope this budget-friendly list helps you plan your visit! And – if you know of any more free things to do here and want to share, drop a comment below for your fellow travelers!
➤ Want to make the most of your time in Astoria? Here’s my list of travel essentials for visiting Astoria that will keep you warm, dry, and ready to explore!