When we need a quick weekend away from the city, our two favorites are the farm and the beach. For our trips to the beach, we pack the car and head for Adrift, a gem of a hotel in the southwestern tip of Washington.
Adrift is modern, beachfront, ultra clean, pet-friendly, relaxed, and eco-conscious. They have free locally roasted coffee in the lobby all day and their selection of organic snacks, local beer and wine is dutifully curated yet isn’t priced like you’re at a movie theater. Pickled Fish, the restaurant on-site with a seasonal menu, features live music in an intimate setting every night. But we also really love that it’s, like, motel cheap (around $100 for two mid-week nights in a queen ocean-view room if you even half-heartedly track LivingSocial).
Enough about the hotel. As the name suggests, Long Beach has miles of sandy beach. The town itself has the kind of saltwater taffy, souvenir and kitsch shops that are required in the zoning code of any self-respecting coastal town. But on our most recent trip, we skipped those and spent time at some beautiful coastal breweries.
Our first stop, as always, was Fort George Brewery, in a gorgeously restored brick building that also happens to be the original settlement site of Astoria. In addition to brewing beer on-site, they have a brew pub downstairs, separate restaurant upstairs and a new taproom down the street.
If you go: Don’t miss the Fresh IPA, finished with fresh hops. It’s insanely good and only seasonally available. (The canned version is so popular that our local beer shop limits customers to taking home one four-pack per visit.)
Our next stop was Buoy Beer Company, a brewery and pub perched on the Columbia River in Astoria that opened in February. It’s another example of a meticulously restored building — this one a former cannery — with wide-plank wood floors and an unparalleled view of the Columbia River. Of course, I opted to photograph the beer making equipment instead.
(You can also get quite the view through a large glass panel in the floor of the main dining area: A portly sea lion or two are regularly “beached” on a wooden platform directly underneath. I’ll spare you the sea lion crotch shot and give you this sunny shot of the front door instead.)
The highlight of Buoy’s beer list are the lagers, which founding brewer Dan Hamilton spent 40 years perfecting in his home brew set up. The menu includes standard pub fare with a strong emphasis on seafood. The daily specials during our recent visit included Monkeyface eel stir fry, which I wish we would have ordered just to say we did. We opted for oysters, a smoked salmon salad and clam chowder.
Bonus: Buoy is two steps from the Astoria Trolley tracks. The charming trolley runs seasonally along the waterfront with more than a dozen stops — though you can also flag it down anywhere along the route. I love small towns.
Astoria is also home to Rogue Public House, Wet Dog Cafe and Astoria Brewing Company — and is also just a short hop from Seaside, where you can find the McMenamins Sand Trap Pub and a handful of other breweries that form the North Coast Craft Brewery Trail.
Next time we visit, I have a list of coastal junk shops to hit. I dream of displaying some saltwater-weathered bits of pirate treasure in our home. Girls’ weekend?