Hood River, Oregon is a quaint little town nestled in the Columbia River Gorge, just 60 miles east of Portland. It’s a popular place for visitors from out of state, as well as Portland locals who want to escape the city and spend the weekend exploring the great outdoors. And it’s impossible not to fall in love with the town and the striking views of the Columbia River and Mt. Hood.
The town of Hood River boasts a lovely historic downtown filled with shops, restaurants, and breweries. And the surrounding area has wineries, well-maintained hiking trails, and eclectic hotels. Visitors and locals alike especially love watching and participating in water sports on the Columbia River, including kiteboarding, standup paddleboarding, and kayaking.
As Portland locals, we found ourselves taking weekend trips to Hood River frequently, and not just because it is home to our favorite wineries. It’s the perfect place to relax, unwind, and soak in the beautiful landscape that makes Oregon so special.
Check out our top 14 things to do in Hood River to help you plan your trip!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: Awesome and Adventurous Things to Do in Hood River, Oregon.
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14 Awesome and Adventurous Things to Do in Hood River, Oregon
1. Take a Kitesurfing Lesson
Kitesurfing and windsurfing are two of the most popular outdoor activities in Hood River and ideal wind conditions draw people from all over the world. It’s by no means an easy sport to pick up so you’ll definitely need to take a lesson. Cascade Kiteboarding and Gorge Kiteboard School are just two of the many options to choose from.
Kiteboarding is a difficult sport to master so don’t get discouraged if you struggle during your first few lessons. If kiteboarding or windsurfing turns out to be a sport you love then you’ll definitely find yourself back in Hood River in the future!
2. Go Stand-up Paddleboarding or Kayaking
If kitesurfing is too aggressive for your taste, you might prefer to rent a stand-up paddleboard (“SUPing”) or kayaking. Both activities are great for even inexperienced beginners and neither requires a lesson to try. Gorge Paddling Center is located right on the river and offers hourly or daily rentals as well as scenic guided tours!
It’s a great way to get some exercise and enjoy a lovely view of the gorge from a new vantage point!
3. Go Skiing or Snowboarding on Mt. Hood
At a height of 11,249 feet, Mt. Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon and the 4th tallest in the Cascade Mountain Range. It is also what gives Hood River such an unbelievably scenic landscape (and its name). Mt. Hood is located about 35 miles south of Hood River and offers plenty of activities for all ages, no matter what time of year you visit.
Skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and snowshoeing are popular wintertime activities around Mt. Hood. You’ll find lifts of varying price points and experience levels at Mt. Hood Meadows, Timberline, Skibowl, and Cooper Spur. Skibowl even offers various themed events, discount nights, and nighttime lifts.
And Mt. Hood is a popular place for hiking during the warmer summer months when the ski runs are closed. The Timberline Trail is a 40-mile loop trail that runs around the base of the mountain and is generally done in 3-4 days. The trail is well-marked and the views along the way are absolutely incredible!
Timberline Lodge is a popular place to grab a hot drink to warm you up, or even to spend a cozy night or two. It’s also a great place to begin and end your Timberline Trail hike so you can have a good night’s sleep before and after your grueling hike.
4. Go for a Hike
There are countless hikes throughout the Columbia River Gorge to choose from, as well as a few right around Hood River. Give yourself some time to enjoy the scenic Historic Columbia River Highway and stop along the way to stretch your legs and enjoy the well-maintained hiking trails.
One of our favorite hikes along the highway is the relatively easy, heavily trafficked Wahclella Falls. It’s a 2-mile out-and-back hike that is fairly flat with a 350-foot waterfall as a reward at the end. Angel’s Rest is a 4.5-mile out-and-back that is quite a bit more difficult but offers stunning views of the gorge from the top. And Beacon Rock is actually on the Washington side of the river, but it’s a very short and steep hike with views the entire way to the top.
If you want a relatively easy hike that is easily accessible from Hood River, then check out the Indian Creek Trail. It’s a 3-mile out-and-back that is dog and mountain bike-friendly. It’s a good way to enjoy the surrounding nature and stretch your legs without committing to anything too strenuous. And the Hood River Waterfront Trail is a paved trail that is ideal for walkers, runners, and cyclists offering great views of the river along the way.
5. Try Mountain Biking
Mountain biking is another popular outdoor activity in Hood River as there are several trails in the area that range in length and difficulty. If you don’t want to bring your own bike you can rent one at Mountain View Cycles, Discover Bicycles, or Fat Tire Farm. And if you want to make it especially easy on yourself, ask about shuttle service options so you don’t have to worry about transporting your rental.
Details on the length, difficulty level, and location of the various trails around Hood River can be found on the MTB Project website.
6. Enjoy a Drive on the Historic Columbia River Highway
The Columbia River cuts through the Cascade Mountains and provides a natural divide between Oregon and Washington state. The Historic Columbia River Highway follows the bank of the river on the Oregon side and it’s arguably the most scenic drive in the state. It connects Portland to Hood River and has many stops along the way to check out the view, enjoy a short hike, or gaze at a waterfall.
You’ll most certainly want to stop at the Vista House and at Multnomah Falls during your drive (more on those below).
7. See the View from the Vista House
While driving along the Historic Columbia River Highway on your way to Hood River, you’ll undoubtedly see the lovely Vista House sitting high on the hill, 730 feet above the river. This house is actually a museum that was built from 1916-1918 as a memorial to Oregon pioneers.
The Vista House sits atop what is known as Crown Point and is certainly worth a stop during your drive to Hood River. The views of the gorge here are incredible and it has an interesting museum, plenty of bathrooms, and a gift shop where you can pick up unique treasures to remind you of your trip to Oregon. Be sure to check the hours prior to visiting and note that it closes if wind conditions are extreme.
8. Visit Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls is actually located on the way to Hood River, about 30 minutes outside of Portland along the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway. There are countless amazing waterfalls in the gorge, but with a 620-foot drop, Multnomah Falls is the second tallest in the entire US and a must-see during your trip! About 2 million people make a trip to visit Multnomah Falls every year.
Plus the waterfall is easily accessible from the parking lot. It’s just a short walk to the base of the falls and then you can choose to hike the paved switchback trail to get a view from several other vantage points. The most popular walk is up to the iconic Benson Bridge where you’ll have lovely views of the falls above and below you. And be sure to stop in the Multnomah Falls Lodge to check out the restaurant, the gift shop, and the information center where you can pick up a trail map of the area.
There are a few parking lots that fill up, especially during the summer months and on weekends so be sure to visit early!
9. Go Wine Tasting
Wine lovers rejoice! Oregon is a mecca for delicious full-bodied wines and Hood River has some darling little wine cellars where you can sample to your heart’s content. While living in Oregon, we made many weekend trips to Hood River, and on one extremely boozy Saturday we ended up joining our two favorites of the day – Cathedral Ridge Winery and AniChe Cellars.
Cathedral Ridge is an awesome winery with super friendly staff and spectacular views of the gorge. You can sample inside and then buy a glass to enjoy out in the garden. If you plan on staying in Oregon for a while, it’s worth joining their wine club for the fun and fancy wine pick-up and holiday parties!
AniChe Cellars is actually located just across the river in Washington. They pair all of their wines with a little treat which really brings out the flavors in both. Marchesi Vineyards & Winery is another great option if you want to sample big, bold reds in a beautiful outdoor setting.
10. Tour the Local Breweries
If wine isn’t exactly your forte, don’t worry, Hood River also has some amazing breweries for you to try. Oregonians tend to love hoppy IPAs and dry ciders so don’t be afraid to sample a few brews that you’re not used to.
pFriem Family Brewers is an industrial-looking tasting room located right on the river with lovely views from the patio. The beers are great and the food is definitely worth sampling as well. In stark contrast, Double Mountain Brewery has a warm, cozy ambiance and really tasty pizzas. It’s the perfect spot to spend a drizzly fall afternoon.
And if you don’t mind crossing the river into White Salmon, then be sure to check out our favorite brewery in the area – Everybody’s Brewing. Not only are their beers fantastic, but they have a chill vibe, good food, and gorgeous views of Mt. Hood!
11. Shop Till You Drop
If you want to pick up a few unique, locally made gifts during your trip to Oregon, then the downtown area of Hood River is the perfect place to shop! Here you’ll find cute boutiques, fine jewelers, outdoor gear stores, art galleries, and antique shops.
Arome is a great place to purchase specialty teas, unique herbs, and infused vinegar and olive oils. Artifacts Bookstore is ideal for picking up new or previously loved classics. Art on Oak is the perfect place if you want to purchase a one-of-a-kind piece from a local artist. And Lavender Valley is outside of town, but definitely worth a stop for the lavender-based products and the beautiful lavender field!
12. Check out the Farmers Market
If you happen to visit Hood River from May until November, you’ll definitely want to check out the Hood River Farmers Market. It takes place every Saturday from 9 am until 1 pm on Columbia Street in downtown Hood River. It is the perfect place to pick up some local crafts or fresh produce. They also offer live music and fun for the whole family!
13. Have a Boozy Brunch
Most of the activities listed here are outdoors and involve some level of physical activity. But if you want to do more relaxing during your trip to Hood River, enjoying a long boozy brunch is a great way to get your day started! Pine Street Bakery, Bette’s Place, and Egg River Cafe are just a few of our favorites, but there are so many amazing restaurants in Hood River that you really can’t go wrong!
14. Hit Some Balls
If golfing is your outdoor activity of choice, then Hood River has some great courses to choose from. Indian Creek Golf Course was named after one of the creeks that run through the course creating a challenge on several holes. Views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams provide a scenic backdrop for this beautiful course.
And Hood River Golf Course and Country Club is the oldest golf course in Hood River, having opened in 1923. The front nine provides views of Mt. Hood, while the back nine offers views of the surrounding vineyards.
We hope you have a lovely time in Hood River, Oregon!
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