The ruggedly charming coastline of Oregon is entirely State owned, and is fondly referred to by many Oregonians as “The Peoples Coast”. From the mouth of the Columbia to the California border there are loads of attractions for any traveler. Situated at the mouth of the mighty Columbia River, Astoria has served as a port of entry for over a century and remains the major trading center for the lower Columbia basin. The infamous Columbia bar, nicknamed “the graveyard of the Pacific” was the ultimate destination of two pivotal and epic expeditions in American history. In1804 the Lewis and Clark “Corps of Discovery” set out to discover a northwest passage and chart lands previously known only to native peoples. Only a few years later in 1810, John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company sent the Astor Expedition on a perilous journey across the country to establish Fort Astoria as its primary fur-trading post in the Northwest, making Astoria the first permanent U.S. settlement on the Pacific coast! Astoria’s many museums, bridges, lighthouses, historic forts and growing art scene are all major regional attractions. Other attractions include the Astoria Column; 125 feet (38 m) high tower built atop the hill above the town, and Fort Clatsop; a replica of the fort where in the winter of 1805–1806 the Lewis and Clark Expedition endured torturous rain and cold before heading east after two long years in a foreign land. Only 90 minutes of travel West from Portland is the lovely town of Cannon Beach. Famous for sea-splitting headlands, miles of sandy beaches, and the giant monolith Haystack Rock – Cannon Beach is Oregon’s quintessential beach town. Quaint cedar-clad cottages are home to saltwater taffy shops and glass blowing studios downtown, and beach hiking, elk viewing and surfing can be done at Ecola State Park on the north end of town. Other coastal activities include whale watching in Depot Bay (March is peak season), kite flying and sand castle building (Cannon Beach has sand castle and kite festivals), fishing and beer tasting in Newport, sandboarding and dune buggy rides in Florence and golf at the famous Banden Dunes golf course. July-September is best for beach activities and storm-watching pilgrimages remain ever popular throughout fall and winter.