Stormwatching and BeachcombingWinter and spring in Astoria and Warrenton may come with a little stormy weather – but that’s one of our favorite signs of the season! Stormwatching is an awe-inspiring pastime, whether you prefer to brave the outdoors or take it all in from the window-side warmth of your hotel room or dinner table. What’s more, the days after a big storm are a prime time for beachcombing. Find out everything you need to know about stormwatching and beachcombing on Oregon’s North Coast below, and then book your stay for a winter getaway today!
One of the best places to watch a storm roll in is the South Jetty Observation Deck at Fort Stevens. From the elevated platform at the northwest corner of Fort Stevens State Park in Warrenton, watch waves crash into the rocky two-mile jetty as the wind picks up. The observation deck is uncovered, so be prepared to feel the salt spray! In the warmer months, the viewing platform is a great location to watch birds and other wildlife with a pair of binoculars.
Want to experience the eye of the storm, but not a fan of the soggy side effects? Another great stormwatching spot is the Seafarer’s Park at the Hammond Marina, where you drive right out to the water’s edge where the Columbia prepares to spill into the Pacific. This car-accessible viewpoint is best for visitors with mobility impairments or anyone who wants to stay dry. In a good storm, your kids will feel like they’re inside a giant natural car wash! Picnic on the grassy lawns at the park in warmer weather or take in the waterfront views with a nice walk along the marina.
Safety should always be a concern when you’re headed to the beach or riverfront, and is especially important during stormy weather. If you plan to gear up and head outside during a storm, always check the weather and heed weather service and beach safety advice.
As exciting as they may be, some big storms are best observed from inside – and there’s no shortage of places to do that in Astoria and Warrenton. Book your stay at a hotel with a riverfront view, or embrace the weather by staying extra close to the coast at one of Warrenton’s campgrounds. The weather may not be suitable for setting up your tent, but Warrenton’s campgrounds have cabins and yurts to keep you and your gear dry even on the stormiest days. Hotels with riverfront views include the Best Western, Astoria Riverwalk Inn, Cannery Pier Hotel, Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn.
You can also dine at one of the many restaurants with riverfront seating. Enjoy nearly any meal of the day, or warm up with a mug of coffee or hot chocolate, from a coffee shop or restaurant with riverfront seating, including Bridgewater Bistro, Ship Inn, Buoy Beer, Baked Alaska, Wet Dog Café, WineKraft Wine Bar, Inferno Lounge, Clemente’s Café, Coffee Girl and Rogue.
We all know the saying about the calm before the storm, but there’s also usually a calm after the storm – which happens to be one of the best times for beachcombing. This makes winter and early spring the best times of the year for discovering treasures at the Oregon Coast! While intact shells and sand dollars are a rare find, the 18 miles of long, flat beaches from Fort Stevens to Seaside offer up driftwood, beach glass, and occasionally agates and fossils.
In addition to keeping beach safety in mind, always show respect when exploring Oregon’s North Coast beaches and riverfronts. Try to leave some beachcombing bounty for others, and help keep our coast clean by disposing of any litter you see, or reporting any large or potentially hazardous debris.
Oregon Coast Stormwatching & Beachcombing Checklist
- Check the tide table, weather report and any severe weather warnings before you go.
- Wear layers (and sunscreen), including a waterproof shell, and be prepared to get caught in a storm.
- Bring a towel and/or beach blanket to sit on, keep you dry or keep you warm when the wind picks up.
- Bring rubber gloves and a small bucket for your beachcombing treasures.
- Stock your car with extra water, snacks and a flashlight – just in case!
- Always observe beach safety best practices. Be aware of sneaker waves, and never turn your back on the ocean.
Most importantly, have fun! And if you need a respite from the storm, there is plenty to keep you busy in Astoria and Warrenton on even the rainiest of days. Visit one of our award-winning museums, see a movie, or head to the arcade or bowling alley. Explore more things to see and do in Astoria and Warrenton here.