Here in The Dalles, visitors can walk into what used to be an old, vacant 1910 Colonial-style building downtown — a former Elks Temple, now beautifully refurbished — and see neon signs from past eras light up the space. From the tasting rooms and dessert shops housed in historic buildings to the trails for walking, biking and paddling, so much here blends the old with the new. The Dalles has been popping lately with all sorts of new energy and creative enterprise. Here’s what’s fresh and exciting to explore on your next Columbia River Gorge road trip to The Dalles.
If you’ve seen the colorful sails in the Gorge and wondered how people maneuver a kiteboard, now’s your chance to take a guided lesson from certified instructors at The Dalles’ new Oregon Kiteboarding school.
Dig into history and culture
See a show at the brilliantly restored Granada Theatre, a 1929 art deco Moorish revival-style building that hosts concerts, local music groups, films and other events year-round. (A Beatles tribute group, the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, performs Oct. 12, 2018.) An on-site cafe and gift shop at the theater add an extra convenience. Next door, the new Columbia Gorge Veterans Museum, which opened in 2017, you can walk through the exhibits designed to inspire and educate visitors about the region’s military heritage through stories of local veterans. Two blocks away in the walkable downtown, the nonprofit National Neon Sign Museum, which opened in summer 2018, is a hands-on, family-friendly collection of displays featuring the best of neon signage through the decades that’s sure to inspire nostalgia for some.
You can easily tour The Dalles with the city’s murals as your map. Eighteen murals tell the stories of this historic community. Follow Explore The Dalles on Instagram to learn about the latest murals like the 2020 addition titled “All Together The Dalles.”
Treat your taste buds
When hunger strikes, grab lunch at one of several Mexican restaurants like Casa El Mirador, Tacos Del Rio and Ixtapa Family Mexican Restaurant. Fuel up on a fresh roast at Kainos Coffee (which also serves woodfired pizza). Or take this opportunity to taste all the locally sourced flavors on the East Gorge Food Trail, featuring historic orchards, vineyards and restaurants.
Cheers to happy hour
When it’s time to unwind, Tierra de Lobos Winery joins a growing enclave of breweries and wineries here, including Sunshine Mill Winery, Freebridge Brewing and Sedition Brewing Company. At Tierra de Lobos, you can sip a flight in the tiny tasting room (run out of a 500-square-foot garage) in a park-like setting, with views of the Columbia River and The Dalles Dam. The two-man operation uses no chemical or fungicides in their vineyards in order to reflect the terroir of their grapes. From their 12-acre estate they produce sun-loving varietals including cabernet franc, malbec, barbera, tempranillo, syrah and muscat canelli.