MEET THE WRITER
Andy Kryza is an award-winning journalist and senior editor of Thrillist's travel section. Currently residing in Los Angeles, he spent 15 years as a Portlander exploring the Oregon coast's many nooks, crannies, and dives (read his oral history of The Goonies in Astoria here). He has many, many favorite spots he's not about to tell you here. They're yours to discover.
When was the last time you visited the Oregon coast? What drew you there?
I just officiated a wedding in Pacific City in early January, where I got battered by sideways winds while wearing a very nice suit. But I've been up and down the coast endlessly. I've always been drawn by different things: first by my love of rock hounding (nerd) and movies (NERD), but eventually I came to be an avid hiker and explorer. I tried to visit a different town every time (Oceanside is my favorite -- you're welcome). There's nothing like emerging from a rain-drenched mountain pass -- with a couple cliff-diving pit stops in the Wilson River -- onto such a mind-blowing shoreline. I've been there a hundred times, and that first glimpse of the water through the trees still makes my knees buckle. Also, I keep returning in the hopes of finding a stray strand of Patrick Swayze’s hair. It's out there… somewhere.
What was the most impressive thing about the coast you didn't expect?
Its sheer power. One of my favorite things that ever happened went down at Cape Lookout. We set up our tents at a campsite and then went to the beach for the day, when it was all sunshine and session beers. That night, we were so battered by rain and wind that we all ended up sleeping in cars. When I woke up, my tent was gone. I found it later, about 20 feet up in a tree, skewered through on a branch with all my stuff still in it. It was hilarious and terrifying and kind of perfect. Which really brings us back around to my first point: Go in the summer.
Number one can't-miss recommendation for a visitor?
Find a patch of beach to call your own (it's not hard), park yourself with some beers and maybe a crab cocktail, and watch the sunset. Then, stick around for the sky while staying warm by a fire. Sometimes, a cliche is a cliche for a reason. Also, don't sleep on the lands just in from the shore: The forests and rivers surrounding this area are treasure troves that demand to be hiked, summitted, swam, and camped. Finally, if you see a suspect-looking country store or shack selling smoked fish, stop. It's likely still warm from the smoker. Ask for the fatty belly.
Next big trip you have planned in 2020?
My family and I just got back from Tokyo and Kyoto, so we haven't planned anything yet, but I've been scheming for a long time to trick my wife and kid into a trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It's truly one of the most magnificent wilderness areas in the US, complete with a shoreline I'd put up against anywhere else in the country.
Ultimate bucket list destination you've always wanted to visit?
Scotland. I've always wanted to go to rediscover my family roots there. Plus, I hear they make pretty good whisky.