Visit sunny Hood River on the Columbia Gorge in Oregon.
Hood River is 1-hour east of Portland, on a picturesque setting overlooking the Columbia River, in the foothills of the Cascade Range.
Hood River is a gorgeous town, with upscale restaurants, brewpubs, boutiques, and tasting rooms. It's also a stone's throw from the Hood River Winery Loop, with stunning views of Mt Hood along bucolic country roads lined with world class wineries.
In warmer months, visitors descend on Hood River's waterfront park to sunbathe on the sandy beaches, and watch skilled windsurfers navigate the choppy waters on the river.
10 best things to do in Hood River
1. Explore cool shops and restaurants in the historic Downtown Shopping District.
Hood River's historic downtown buzzes with restaurants, cafes, wine tasting rooms, outdoor gear fitters and boutiques. The busiest area is along Oak Street.
Try Ground Expresso Bar or Doppio Coffee for your morning coffee. If you're in the mood for a sophisticated dining experience, there's Celilo Restaurant, or Three Rivers Grill.
Hood River also has an abundance of fun brewpubs, like Double Mountain Brewery, Full Sail Brewing Company, and the Sixth Street Bistro and Pub.
The main thoroughfare along Oak Street looks pretty much the same as it did in the early 1900's, with beautifully preserved buildings. The city of Hood River was incorporated in 1895, originally called Dog River after starving pioneers consumed some local dogs to survive. A local woman successfully petitioned for a name change to Hood River.
Hood River has a temperate climate with warm, dry summers, but chilly winters. The city was originally populated by pioneering families interested in apple and pear growing in the fertile lands of the Hood River Valley. Fruit growing is still a big industry in this region, and there are dozens of farms and wineries to visit.
2. Enjoy a sweet treat at Mike's Icecream.
Mike's Icecream (504 Oak Street) is the place to be on a hot summer's day. It's housed inside a charming cottage, with chairs and tables out front to enjoy sweet treats. Choose from huckleberry icecream, raspberry sorbet, and many more delicious options.
3. Hang out at the Hood River Waterfront.
The Hood River Waterfront is a mecca for action sports during warm summer months. Watch professional windsurfers and kite-boarders, rent a paddleboard or kayak, or book a windsurfing lesson. It's just a short drive across the bridge from downtown Hood River to get there, and there's loads of parking along Portway Avenue.
There are three main areas co-located along the waterfront. The Hood River Waterfront Park has a fabulous modern playground and arc shaped wading beach. If you're planning a beach day, then hang out at either the Hood River Event Site with a grassed area overlooking the pebbly shoreline, or the The Spit at the confluence of the Hood River and Columbia River with a lovely, sandy beach. Both of these locations give you a front row view to all the action on the river.
The Hood River Event Site has a grassy park with shoreline, overlooking the Columbia River. This is a great place to hang out, with lots of room to spread out. The Hood River Bridge is visible in the distance, crossing from Oregon to Washington State. You can drive across this bridge to get access to cool attractions like the Maryhill Winery and Maryhill Art Museum.
If you'd prefer a sandier beach, then make your way out to The Spit, directly east of the Hood River Event Site, where Hood River flows into the mighty Columbia River. This half mile long spit is an awesome place to cool off on a hot summer's day.
Hood River is known as the Windsurfing Capital of the World, due to the strong winds that blow year-round on the Columbia River. In recent years Hood River has also been a magnet for kiteboarders. The most popular season is June to September when the winds are the warmest and most predictable, creating perfect conditions. Some of the world's most talented professionals descend on Hood River for these perfect conditions. Expect to see some cool tricks out on the river.
The Hood River Event Site is for windsurfers and kiteboarders with intermediate ability. Beginners should start in the protected lagoon further west at The Hook. Check in with the local experts at outdoor gear suppliers for safety tips and instruction.
Check out those 1,000 foot high basalt cliffs lined with view homes, on the Washington State side of the Columbia River! These cliffs were carved out by the Missoula Floods at the end of the last ice age.
Some local teenagers jump from a platform in the Columbia River at Hood River. This looks very unsafe, and not a recommended activity.
Hood River gets super busy on summer weekends, so visit mid week if you want to avoid the crowds.
4. Visit two cool restaurants near the Hood River Waterfront Park.
There's two great restaurants and a coffee shop across from the waterfront park. Eat at either pFriem Family Brewers or Solstice Wood Fire Pizza, then cross the road to enjoy the fabulous waterfront park with playground.
Solstice Wood Fire Pizza is super family friendly.
5. Stay at a unique Hood River hotel.
There are so many places to stay at Hood River.
The Best Western Hood River Inn has a great location on the river, and an outdoor swimming pool. The trendy Hood River Hotel is in downtown Hood River and has a beautiful lobby. Villa Columbia is another luxurious option with stunning river views. If you'd like to stay in a historic home, try the Inn at the Gorge B&B.
The luxurious Columbia Gorge Hotel sits on a clifftop above the river. There's riverside dining on a patio with superb views of the river. This historic hotel was a favorite with Hollywood stars like Rudolf Valentino and Shirley Temple.
6. Drive the Hood River Winery Loop, and Fruit Loop.
A must-do activity when visiting Hood River is completing the Hood River Fruit Loop or Hood River Wineries. Drive along picturesque country back roads with orchards and vineyards and quaint wineries. The awesome spectacle of snowcapped Mount Hood is visible along the road.
7. Experience soaring views from the Maryhill Winery.
Wine lovers can travel across the Columbia River from Hood River, to the celebrated Maryhill Winery. Sample wines on a European-style patio with sweeping views of the Columbia River.
8. Check out the Maryhill Art Museum in a spectacular mansion.
Travel 1-mile up the road to the Maryhill Museum to a celebrated art collection. The Maryhill Museum rivals any Art Museum found in a major city. It's housed in a spectacular mansion along the Columbia River. The collection includes Rodin sculptures and the fabulous Theater de La Mode mid-century fashion collection from Paris.
9. Visit the award winning Columbia Gorge Discovery Center.
Visit the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center 27-miles east of Hood River at The Dalles. It provides a fascinating cultural and geological history of this fascinating area from the Missoula Floods that carved the gorge, to today. The raptor demonstration is a big hit with kids.
10. See stunning waterfalls along the famous Historic Columbia Gorge Highway.
Travel along the 18-mile Historic Columbia River Highway near Hood River, from Dodson to Troutdale. See countless waterfalls and stunning vantage points in this lush, ancient gorge. Multnomah Falls and Vista House are the highlights of this historic highway.
To reduce traffic congestion, timed ticket reservations could be required to visit Multnomah Falls from June thru September. Also, a new ticket system is being introduced from late May to early Sept, to drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway.