The holiday shopping season is the perfect time to let friends and family in on something coastal residents already know: For finding great gifts, Oregon’s North Coast and Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula are rife with items that showcase the area’s creativity and flair. All are gifts you can't find in any shopping mall or department store and come with distinct regional personality. For those who have loved ones scattered across the country or the globe, it is a perfect time to introduce them to the personal touches that make our home something special.
The most far-reaching element of the area is its history. Two events – Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery and Captain Robert Gray’s navigation of the Columbia River – are watershed moments in regional and American history. Represented at Fort Clatsop National Memorial and the Columbia River Maritime Museum, each has a well-stocked gift shop of commemorative and educational holiday possibilities.
The Fort Clatsop gift shop carries such items as Lewis and Clark coins, art prints, maps, toys and handmade items from local artists. Kids will enjoy books and toys based on Seaman, Meriwether Lewis’ dog who accompanied the explorers on their expedition. The Columbia River Maritime Museum’s shop features ship models, nautical charts, period-themed clothing and educational DVDs. Both carry a wide variety of books on Lewis and Clark and Captain Gray, as well as related titles on local history. Any are perfect for introducing far-away family members to the Pacific Northwest.
Many talented musicians call the region home, and their work is a great initiation to North Coast life. A fine example is Brownsmead Flats, a local folk and bluegrass outfit whose melodies pay tribute to the North Coast. The group has four recordings to its credit, including “Astoria,” a CD that features numerous compositions that explore Astoria, its history and topics related to the Columbia-Pacific region. Another album, “Live at the Liberty,” was recorded at the Liberty Theater in Astoria as part of the bicentennial celebration of Lewis and Clark’s journey to the Pacific. All make great stocking-stuffers for North Coast neophytes.
Coffee is a fantastic way to introduce outsiders to the holiday spirit of the coast. Local roasters offer countless varieties of flavors to choose from. Columbia River Coffee Roaster sells bagged beans of their blends, some named for local landmarks, including Clatsop Spit and Saddle Mountain. The company’s signature flavor, Thundermuck, is a strong, dark coffee that will give friends and family an idea of how coastal residents wake up year-round. Include a travel mug with Columbia Roaster’s logo, and shoppers have an eye-opening gift basket.
Any self-respecting Columbia-Pacific resident knows that beer brewed in the Pacific Northwest is the best in the world. What better way to assert bragging rights than giving it as a gift? Three Astoria breweries – Rogue, Fort George Public House, and the Astoria Brewing Company – showcase tasty brews that are sure to give a smile to the sternest of Scrooges. If shipping beer to faraway relatives sounds too risky, fear not; all three breweries have a variety of gift items to choose from, including T-shirts, hoodies, shot and pint glasses with logos of each establishment. Whatever beer gift is chosen, the recipient will be pleased.
Handmade Christmas gifts are the most personal. Find locally-made gifts at one of the
many holiday markets and fairs held this time of year. The Saturday Christmas Market at the Port of Ilwaco boasts vendors selling fine art,
photography, metal art, fashionable shopping bags, kitchen linens, children’s toys, jewelry, embroidered shirts and much more. Best of all, the market runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 22, allowing plenty of shopping time until Christmas.
Still stumped? Don’t forget that movies make great gifts, and the North Coast has a fantastic catalog of locally filmed productions. Perhaps most famous is the 1985 Steven Spielberg-helmed adventure “The Goonies.” It’s fun for all ages and gives out-of-towners glimpses of local landmarks from Astoria to Cannon Beach. For film gift suggestions, visit the Oregon Film Museum housed in the old Clatsop County Jail in Astoria.
Nothing helps more with gift selection more than window-shopping. Pick a local street and give it a liesurely stroll; Pacific Avenue in Long Beach, Howerton Way in Ilwaco, Commercial Street in Astoria, Broadway in Seaside, Hemlock Street in Cannon Beach, Laneda Avenue in Manzanita – and all the surrounding cross streets. Doubtlessly, you’ll find plenty of wonderful gifts to send off to distant relatives. The odds are good you’ll even find a little something to keep for yourself.