With its mix of warm, sunny days and crisp, sprinkly weather, fall is a great time to get outside and experience firsthand the changing of the seasons. That’s especially the case in Hood River, when the summer crowds peter out, the riverfront trees change colors and the farms and orchards pop with the bounty of harvest season. To skip the hassle of driving and parking, consider a car-free trip via one of many bus, shuttle, train and bike routes. Here’s everything you need to know to plan the ultimate fall trip to Hood River. Whenever you’re visiting, make sure to have a Plan B and C ready in case Plan A is too crowded. Find more tips for the best experience at Ready, Set, GOrge.
Choose a Cozy Place to Stay
To maximize your adventures in town, consider booking a stay at any of Hood River gorgeous lodings — all perfect for warming up your soggy feet and wind-kissed faces after a day of exploring. (Midweek stays will be easier to make and attractions will be less crowded.) Dating back to 1912, the Hood River Hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been lovingly restored to include modern touches, resulting in a beautiful and relaxing stay. For more of a homey feel, check out the rooms at Inn at the Gorge, a bed-and-breakfast that includes a wraparound porch, terrace and hot tub. If waking up to stunning views is more up your alley, check out the cliffside Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa and consider opting for a deluxe room, which includes an in-room fireplace.
Get Outside in the Autumn Air
No matter what your outdoor passion, Hood River is chock-full of inspiration. With its prime position in the Columbia River Gorge and at the base of Mt. Hood, the activity menu includes hiking, biking and snow sports if the forecast calls for flurries. Booking a guided tour with a group like Hood River Mountain Bike Adventures, Sol Rides (e-bikes) or MountNBarreL lets you enjoy the ride (and sometimes the tasty stops along the way) and leave the planning to experts. Ever wanted to rock climb in an old church? Brimstone Boulders, located in the upper level of the old Asbury Church, offers indoor and outdoor rock-climbing sessions (its website even includes a live occupancy counter). There are many hiking trails near the riverfront city, and if the forecast includes snowfall, you can even plan a day trip to go snowshoeing or skiing. (Check conditions: It’s not unheard of for Mt. Hood Meadows to open in November.) Remember to pack your Ten Essentials, stay on designated trails and follow other tips to Take Care Out There.
Gorge-Worthy Food Stops
Restaurants bursting with inventive dishes are around nearly every corner in Hood River. Enjoy the elegant dining room at Celilo Restaurant and Bar, an upscale eatery featuring Northwest ingredients and flavors. If pizza is sounding right, head into Solstice Wood Fire Cafe & Bar, with woodfired pies and an outdoor heated dining area right on the waterfront. There’s no wrong time of day to pop in to KickStand Coffee & Kitchen, which has an eclectic food and cocktail menu for brunch or dinner. When dining out, be patient and kind to restaurant frontline staff, who are working their hardest to serve you.
Along with a long list of award-winning wineries and eateries, the famed Hood River County Fruit Loop is a blueprint for a tasty road trip. The 35-mile route also features a number of U-pick farms and orchards. Pick and choose your own stops to sample fresh produce, craft beverages and artisan goodies of the fall harvest.