Yes, Hood River is known as the windsurfing capital of the world. But you don’t have ride the winds to appreciate this pretty city. Situated at the panoramic crossroads of the Columbia River Gorge and the Cascade Range, Hood River is the go-to destination for foodies, trekkers, historians and, yes, adrenaline junkies. It’s chock-full of scenic hiking and mountain bike trails; craft breweries, wineries and farm-to-table dining; fruit trees and lavender farms; children’s playgrounds and late-night fun for adults. And it also happens to be a great place to park your skis, with Mt. Hood’s snowy slopes an easy drive away.
The wind blows steady and strong on the Columbia River — making Hood River an ideal place for water sports. Take your pick from windsurfing, kiteboarding or sailing on the mighty Columbia. Rentals and lessons are available near the marina at Big Winds Hood River, Gorge Surf Shop and Hood River WaterPlay. If you’re feeling more zen, rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and find some flat water along the beach; Big Winds even offers SUP yoga classes. There’s no shortage of hiking trails in the Gorge, and the Hood River area is no exception. Stick close to town on the Indian Creek Trail and Hood River Waterfront Trail, or trek the 3-mile loop on Hood River Mountain for a prime view of the valley. Alternatively, Panorama Point features a easy drive-up viewpoint and handicapped-accessible park.
Long an agricultural hub, Hood River is famous for its fruit trees. For experienced road bikers, the Hood River County Fruit Loop is a delightful two-wheeled route on 30 miles of rolling hillsides, rushing waters and spring blossoms — not to mention various U-pick stops selling strawberries, cherries, blueberries and pears throughout the growing season. Visit Hood River Lavender Farms or Lavender Valley to see the fields in bloom and shop for essential oils, soaps and honey. A trip to Cascade Alpacas of Oregon gives you a chance to meet the gentle camelids and their babies while browsing a beautiful assortment of soft yarns, socks and spinning supplies. The fruit loop also offers the opportunity to sip wines at the area’s vineyards and tasting rooms, like Phelps Creek Vineyards, Cathedral Ridge Winery, Marchesi Vineyards and Hood Crest Winery. You can even join a wine-bike tour with MountNbarreL and cruise along uncrowded back roads for a worry-free, curated tasting room experience.
Bring your appetite because Hood River has a lot of flavor. Restaurants like Celio, Riverside, Kin and Sixth Street Bistro rack up the accolades for good reason (just read their menus to get your mouth watering). For creative takes on pizza showcasing farm-fresh ingredients, try Solstice Wood Fire Cafe at the waterfront. If you’re still craving slices, Saw Tooth Roadhouse has build-your-own and the Veggie Myte pie at Andrew’s Pizza is truly one of a kind. It’s no secret that Broder Øst serves the Scandinavian breakfast staples that Portlanders love — without the lines. Caffeine fiends, don’t worry this town has plenty of places to grab a cup of joe. Stoked Roasters and Ground both bring high-quality organic coffee to the masses and roast daily. And you can find other favorite Oregon blends at Doppio Coffee, Dog River Coffee and 10-Speed Coffee.
Hood River beckons craft-beer lovers to sample the local brew scene. Right downtown, you’ll find one of the state’s oldest craft breweries, Full Sail Brewing Co., complimented by four more — Double Mountain Brewery, pFriem Family Brewers, Logsdon Farmhouse Ales and Big Horse Brew Pub — earning Hood River the honor of most breweries per capita in hops-loving Oregon. The cider craze is in full swing here too, nurtured in part by Hood River’s orchard industry. Check out tasting rooms like Slopeswell Cider Co., Fox-Tail Cider and the The Gorge White House. Celebrate these craft movements at Hood River Hops Fest in September and Hood River Hard-Pressed Cider Fest in April.
Stay the Night
To truly get to know Hood River, you’ll need more than a day. Fortunately there are many quality places to rest your head. Feel like royalty at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, Westcliff Lodge and Columbia Cliff Villas, all with riverfront property that will having you dreaming big. A stay at the Oak Street Hotel, located in a classic home mere steps from downtown, won’t disappoint. Or escape to the farmlands outside town at Sakura Ridge, a plush bed and breakfast on a picturesque working farm with views that you won’t want to leave.
Come on out and visit the Hood!