The last weekend of spring break, everyone was getting antsy. An adventure was called for, and one that included a trip to our favorite Hood River brewery, pFriem Family Brewers.
Beginning with snow tubing at Skibowl East, we opted for the short 2 hour ticket option (a relatively economical solution when the enthusiasm of said children was yet undetermined), in order to get the kids some exercise before launching off around the NE side of the mountain towards the Dog River Trail Head.
Though the hike at Dog River wasn’t in our itinerary for the day, we’ll definitely be hitting that one up this season. The scenery on Highway 35 was glorious, passing through lush greenways and snag dotted forests. We dined river side; the only humans among rushing waters, boulders, a spectacular view of Mt. Hood and elusive critters hiding in crevices. The children entertained themselves by launching rocks into the water with a satisfying “sploosh,” hunting for lizards and snakes on the warm rocks, and cavorting about on large logs and sandy beaches.
After lunch, an easy drive further on Highway 35 led us past Solera Brewery in Parkdale, Oregon. Residing in an historical building that was built and operated as a movie theater from 1930 to the 1950s, Solera offers fantastic views of the north face of Mt. Hood from the back patio.
Continuing through rolling farmland, we descended into Hood River. The weather (as it often is) in Hood River was glorious. Windy but warm, bright and sunny, we set up temporary house at the well-appointed and very affordable Hood River Inn. Offering a heated, outdoor, year-round pool, two hot tubs (indoor and outdoor), and a sauna, adults and children alike were happy campers. If traveling with brewery tolerant, older children or adults only, Full Sail and Double Mountain offer brewery tours; check ahead with the brewery for availability. My favorite Hood River brewery, however, is pFriem Family Brewers.
Pizza takeout from Pizzicato after a delectable pint of Cascadian Dark Ale at pFriem was the perfect economical end to a fabulous day (if dining in, pFriem also offers a full menu). Growlers of pFriem beer are perfect to go, and a myriad of options for dining al fresco apply. Located across the street from pFriem Family Brewers, the Hood River Waterfront Park offers kids of all ages fun distraction. A small rock wall, a series of spinners, swings, and a gently sloping sandy beach were just the thing our children needed (complete with root beer and rose lemonade to go from pFriem) to blow off the last remaining energy before tucking into the hotel for the night.
An exquisite breakfast was included with the hotel stay – much more than the traditional complementary continental breakfast – our choices ranged from housemade granola, pepper bacon, scrambles, corned beef, prime rib or veggie hash, and my personal choice, lox on bagel with cream cheese. Thinly sliced onion, capers, delicate salmon, and rich cream cheese were perfection on a sunny morning overlooking the stunning Columbia Gorge.
The easy drive back I-84 from Hood River to Portland was under an hour – less stressful for families than driving even to the close coastal towns to the west. Passing a multitude of interesting views and points of interest, the return trip can be extended as much as enjoyable by all members of the traveling troupe. On the Oregon side, Cascade Locks, Multnomah Falls, Crown Point and no less than 15 additional state park and recreation areas await exploration!
The next time you’re feeling a little squirrely, there’s no need to venture too far from home — Hood River and the Columbia River Gorge are a short skip from Portland and the opportunities for play (both kid and adult alike) are endless!