15 Incredible Things to do in Hood River, Oregon’s Four-Season Paradise

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Hood River is one of the most charming towns in Oregon and offers endless outdoor adventures, thanks to its location along the Columbia River Gorge and proximity to Mount Hood. From exploring quaint orchards to snowboarding on the tallest mountain in the state or browsing the cute stores in its bustling downtown, there’s tons of activities to enjoy in this area.

Check out our guide for 15 awesome things to do in Hood River, plus tons of tips and tricks to help you make the most of your trip!

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How to Get to Hood River

Hood River is one of the best weekend trips from Portland or Seattle, given that it’s conveniently located just one hour east or three and a half hours southeast, respectively, of each city. From Portland, the entire drive is through pine tree forests and along the towering canyon walls of the Columbia River Gorge. It’s incredibly gorge-ous (eh, get it?!).

Columbia River Gorge in Oregon

If you’re trying to get to the area without a car, there are still a number of ways to get to Hood River from Portland, including:

  • The Columbia Gorge Express, operated by the Columbia Area transit, conveniently runs an express bus from Portland to Hood River and Cascade Locks multiple times a day, seven days a week. There’s even an annual pass, the GOrge Pass, you can get for unlimited rides to and around the Gorge for just $40!
  • Greyhound can take you directly between Portland and Hood River.
  • Amtrak will take you from Portland’s Union Station to Bingen, WA, just across the river from Hood River. 
Couple sitting along Rowena Crest in Oregon

Things to Do in Hood River

Many of the things to do in Hood River rely on adventuring in the incredible outdoors here. But, while there’s plenty of awesome hiking trails and waterfalls to be chased, there’s so much more than that, from wineries to lavender fields and even busting out a surfboard (kinda). 

Let’s get into the best things to do in Hood River!

1. Catch a wave.

By far, one of the coolest Hood River activities to try (or just watch!) is either windsurfing or kitesurfing- in fact, the city is considered by some to be the windsurfing capital of the world!

Kiteboarder in Hood River, Oregon

The gorge’s walls, soaring up to 4,000 feet high, create a gnarly- and steady- wind channel, which provides ideal swells to ride on pretty much every day from May through September. The river is super accessible for both beginners and experts, with coves of calm waves and large stretches of the river known for strong swells. Best of all, you have Mount Hood and Mount Adams towering overhead and the sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge all around you!

Windsurfing and kiteboarding aren’t really the kind of sports that you just paddle out into the river and try your hand at, so luckily, there are several schools in the area, like Cascade Kiteboarding or Gorge Kite, who will quite literally show you the ropes. Both of these sports are pretty challenging to master, so don’t be discouraged if it takes you a couple of classes to get the hang of it!

Man wakeboarding along the Columbia River Gorge in Hood River

Not coordinated enough for things like kiteboarding (*raising my very uncoordinated hand*)? It’s seriously such a blast to just sit and watch the dozens and dozens of people out on the river taking on the swells on a nice day. Pick up a crowler at a nearby microbery (more on that later!), bring a blanket to the Hood River Waterfront Park, and enjoy the show!

2. Take on the Fruit Loop.

The Hood River Valley is home to tons of family-run fruit orchards, wineries, and flower fields, thanks to the area’s relatively warm and dry climate and fertile soil. In fact, there’s an entire 35-miles scenic drive, adorably called the “Fruit Loop”, where you’ll drive past 27 fruit stands, cideries, bucolic fields, and more. 

Apple orchard in front of Mount Adams in Hood River, Oregon

Take a day trip to drive around, try your hand at U-pick apples, pears, or blueberries (depending on the season), and stop for your libation of choice at a winery, cidery, or brewery (or why not try all three! Just drive responsibly, please). 

Some of my favorites along the Hood River Fruit Loop include:

  • Kiyokawa Family Orchards for delicious U-pick apples, peaches, and pears and even better views of Mount Hood;
  • Fox Tail Cider and Distillery for flights of unique and seriously delicious hard cider (and this is even coming from someone who doesn’t particularly like cider!); and
  • Marchesi Vineyards to feel like you’ve been transported to a little winery in the Tuscan countryside.
Cider from Fox Tail Cider in Hood River, Oregon

Most of these businesses have fairly limited opening hours, usually closing somewhere between 4 to 6 pm at the very latest. This window is somehow super easy to miss if you’re out having adventures around Hood River- when my husband, Justin, and I have visited, we usually spend our mornings and afternoons out hiking and have unfortunately learned this the hard way! 

So be better at planning than we are and bake in plenty of time in the afternoon to stop at some of these amazing businesses!

3. Go on a hike.

Between the waterfalls and rugged cliffs of the Columbia River Gorge and the behemoth that is Mount Hood, this area boasts some seriously world class hiking. There’s even several really awesome options just a half hour or so drive away from town.

Tamanawas Falls near Mount Hood, Oregon
  • Tamanawas Falls: Located 30 minutes south of Hood River, Tamanawas Falls offers a 3.4 mile hike through a pine tree forest to a waterfall, dramatically cascading 100-plus feet over a basalt cliff.  This hike has a little bit of everything- water features, wildflowers, and even a bit of rock scrambling- but is easy enough for the whole family to enjoy!
  • Dog Mountain: If you’re looking for one of the best wildflower hikes near Oregon in spring, this is totally it. This trail is absolutely a butt-kicker, rising 2800 feet in just 3 miles to the summit, but all that hard work will be worth it.

    Along the trail, you’ll pass through meadows of cheerful yellow balsamroot and, at the summit, will be rewarded with panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge and beyond, the towering peak of Mount Hood. 

    Note that the wildflowers are so famously epic here in the springtime that you’re required to get a permit to hike here any weekend from the end of April to the middle of June (in addition to Memorial Day). But if you’re lucky enough to get one- and snag a parking spot in the teeny lot, it’s well worth it. 
  • Ramona Falls: Okay, okay- so this one’s a bit further away (an hour and 15 minute drive southwest of the city), but it’s so pretty, guys! 

    This 7.1 mile hike is through a lush forest, full of vibrant Rhododendrons and with peekaboo glimpses of Mount Hood overhead.

    You’ll eventually reach the eponymous falls, whose wide curtain cascades 120 feet down a rocky cliff. There’s a cute wooden footbridge you’ll take to cross over the pool at the falls’ base- the cool mist feels amazing on a hot summer’s day!
Couple walking in front of Ramona Falls in Mount Hood

4. Check out a brewery (or two).

Oregon and, really, the Pacific Northwest as a whole, take their beer pretty seriously- this region actually produces more hops than any other area on the planet! And Hood River is no exception, with a burgeoning microbrew scene with almost a dozen breweries in the area. 

Better yet, these breweries are sprinkled both in Hood River’s charming downtown region, as well as along the countryside of the Fruit Loop. So whether you’re looking for lively vibes or stunning views, you’ll be able to find a brewery that’s just right for you.

Couple drinking beer in front of brewery in Mount Hood

Some of our favorites include:

  • pFriem Family Brewers: Located right by the riverfront, pFriem has an industrial-looking tasting room in downtown Hood River, with a focus on hop-forward beers and REALLY good food. Note that this is quite a popular brewery; we came around 3 PM, hoping to beat the lunch rush and still had to wait about half an hour or so. But if you have to wait, just grab a beer from the bar and watch the kite surfers take on the river from the patio- the wait will be worth it! 
  • Double Mountain Brewery: This warm and cozy brewery, also situated downtown, serves unique twists on classic beer styles (think IPAs with pine tree and blood orange notes) and New York style pizza. Plus, there’s frequently live music to jam out to!
  • Solera Brewery: Taking the award for “best view of Mount Hood from a brewery ever!”, this tiny brewery, located along the Fruit Loop, is a place after my own heart. There’s only one beer that’s on tap year round (of course, an IPA), but otherwise, there’s a small, yet mighty rotating selection of funky beers, like a Flemish style beer made with local cherries or a raspberry sour. Order yourself some nachos, grab a flight, and take in those stunning views!

5. Chase waterfalls.

The Columbia River Gorge offers luscious old-growth forests, dramatic basalt cliffs, and waterfalls- lots of ‘em. In fact, on just the Oregon side of the river alone, there’s over 90 waterfalls! 

The most famous one, Multnomah Falls, is actually on the way from Portland to Hood River, approximately at the halfway point. This waterfall, the tallest in Oregon at 620 feet tall, is a great option that’s suitable for a variety of visitors. You can either access a viewing platform of the falls with just a short walk from the parking lot or, alternatively, escape the crowds by heading out on the 4.9-mile Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop Hike, passing several stunning waterfalls along the way. 

Multnomah Falls in Oregon

Given the fall’s popularity, you’re now required to snag a permit for your visit.

There’s tons of other stunning waterfalls in the region including:

  • Punch Bowl Falls
  • Wahclella Falls
  • Latourell Falls

6. Go mountain biking

Hood River has some of the best mountain biking trails in the country, many of which are included along the Post Canyon Trail System. This trail system offers tons of different riding options, from flowy trails to skills-building courses. 

If you don’t want to haul your own gear out to Hood River, there’s plenty of options to rent a bike and even book a shuttle to Post Canyon at outfitters like Fat Tire Farm or Hood River Mountain Bike Adventures.

Man mountain biking through the woods

7. Explore Mount Hood 

Towering at 11,239 feet tall and considered one of the 7 wonders of Oregon, Mount Hood, located just 35 miles south of Hood River, is a big part of why the city’s landscape is so jaw-dropping. And in the summer through fall, it offers endless opportunities for hiking, camping, and water activities. 

For example, the Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain trail is one of the most stunning Mount Hood hikes. This trail will take you past the breathtakingly beautiful Mirror Lake, which, as the name may suggest, provides incredible reflections of Oregon’s tallest mountain on still mornings. If you continue along the trail, you’ll eventually hike up on top of a mountain ridge and be treated to some of the most in-your-face views of Hood.

Couple kissing on top of Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain overlooking Mount Hood

Or, for something a bit more intense, the 40-mile Timberline Trail circumnavigates the mountain’s base and can be completed in a 3-4 day bucket list-worthy backpacking trip.

Alternatively, both Trillium Lake and Lost Lake, which sit at the foot of Hood, offer easy, flat trails around their shorelines, nice campgrounds, and opportunities to kayak, stand-up paddle board, or canoe, while you gaze up in awe at the mountain from the lake’s calm waters. Both lakes have outfitters to rent your watercraft of choice or alternatively, if you’re frequent paddlers, like us, it may make sense to pick up an inflatable kayak, like our Intex Explorer K2 kayak.

Trillium Lake from Mount Hood

8. Hit up some wineries.

If you consider yourself a wine lover, buckle up, my friend. 

While the Willamette Valley gets all the love for being Oregon’s wine capital, Hood River is impressive in its own right, boasting a whopping 83 vineyards and 36 wineries. And much like everything else in Hood River, almost all of the wineries have laidback vibes, spectacular mountain views, and killer patios.

Winery in Oregon

Since the Hood River Valley has a fairly small footprint, it’s totally doable to hit at least a few wineries during a weekend getaway (although, friendly reminder to always have a designated driver!).  

Check out:

  • Wy’East Winery: A small, family-run winery, where you can sit out on the patio while tasting a flight and watch the winery’s alpacas happily munch away in the fields
  • Phelps Creek Vineyard: This winery offers a huge selection of wines you can drink by the glass (a big win in my book!). Try their smoky Pinot Noir, the remnants of a 2017 wildfire in the area that imparted a, well, smoky taste into the wine. They definitely turned the proverbial lemon into lemonade (or “grapeade”, in this instance?)!  
  • AniChe Cellars: Located across the river in Washington (and not on the Fruit Loop), this tiny winery has a quirky atmosphere, really good wines with Italian and Spanish influences, and comfy Adirondack chairs overlooking the sprawling Columbia River Gorge below.

If you want to hit several wineries in a day, this awesome guided bicycle tour will take you to up to three wineries, with behind-the-scene access to the vineyards, locally sourced lunch, and of course, plenty of tastings!

Glass of wine at a winery

Like several other businesses along the Fruit Loop, note that several of the wineries are only open seasonally from mid-spring through the end of fall. So be sure to check the wineries’ hours before you head out!

9. Take in the views at Panorama Point

Fun fact- you can literally drive to one of the very best views of Mount Hood and the surrounding valley, just 10 minutes from downtown!

Panorama Point is a teeny park that’s perfectly situated to see both Mount Hood and Mount Adams, as well as 15,000 acres of vineyards, orchards, and farmland blanketing its foothills. The view here is particularly stunning in the springtime, when the thousands of fruit trees, spread across the valley below, burst into bloom.

Beyond just the view, there’s restrooms and picnic tables here, so bust out that cooler, pack a lunch, and plan yourself a picnic date at Panorama Point!

Panorama Point in Hood River, Oregon

10. Stroll through lavender fields

Before moving to the Pacific Northwest, I had no idea there were so many lavender farms here. But it turns out that the areas of the Pacific Northwest have been referred to as “America’s Provence”, named for its French counterpart known for having field after field of the vibrant purple flowers.

Woman picking lavender at farm in Hood River, Oregon

It just so happens that Hood River has two of the best lavender farms in Oregon, where you can walk through the colorful fields and be completely immersed in the floral aroma:

  • Hope Ranch Lavender: A small and family-run farm with a super sweet owner and several different varieties of lavender for sale. Be sure to pick up some of their culinary lavender for cookies!
  • Hood River Lavender Farms: A certified-organic (and woman-owned!) lavender farm with great views of Mount Adams, right next to one of the best wineries on the Fruit Loop, Stave & Stone. During peak season (June through July), they have a festival each Sunday with food, live music, and local craft vendors. 

Both of these fields offer U-pick options when the flowers are in bloom ($10 for a huge bouquet of lavender), as well as lavender-based food, like lavender lemonade or cookies, and beauty products. 

I generally wouldn’t consider myself a lavender fangirl or anything, but I had SO much fun wandering around the fields, picking a bouquet, and taking in the spectacular scenery surrounding the field.

And weirdly enough, the sound of the lavender farm was pretty cool- during our visit, there’s a constant buzzing in the air that, in my travel blogger mind, sounded like a drone flying overhead. In actuality, though, it was thousands of fat, happy bumble bees flying around, pollinating the plants! 

Woman picking lavender in Hood River, Oregon

Note that lavender farms in Oregon are only open seasonally, usually from around April through October, so plan accordingly.

11. Shop in downtown Hood River

Listen- the town’s main drag, Oak Street, and the surrounding blocks are seriously so cute, packed with homey coffee shops, eclectic boutiques, outdoor gear outfitters, and art galleries in historic, brick buildings. 

Spend a morning window shopping and popping into stores that strike your fancy. Some of my favorites include:

  • Apple Green Home and Garden: A bright, cheery space with carefully curated paper goods and other home good items, like ornaments, greeting cards, and the cutest tiny succulents. 
  • Waucoma Books: I’m a sucker for a used bookstore and this cutie’s no exception, with a fun section called “Blind Date With a Book”, where you purchase a mystery book wrapped in brown paper of your chosen genre, and plenty of cards, photos, and other handicrafts by PNW artists.
  • Hood River Stationers: A fun and colorful store, with quirky items like socks with cheeky catchphrases printed on them and Pacific Northwest themed home goods.

12. Take a scenic drive

The Columbia River Gorge stretches over 80 miles, from Portland, past Hood River to the town of Dalles, and actually constitutes the largest National Scenic Area in the United States. 

Historic Columbia River Highway

The Historic Columbia River Highway snakes the entire length of the gorge on the Oregon side. Completed in 1922, it was one of the very first roadways in the country to be specifically designed to complement the surrounding natural landscape- and accordingly, was the first scenic highway to achieve the lauded status of a National Historic Landmark.

Driving along the Columbia Gorge Scenic Drive, you’ll be treated to views of towering gorge walls; temperate rainforests, thick with moss and ferns; and the impressive Columbia River. You’ll pass more scenic overlooks than you can count, through tunnels carved into the cliffside (I’m a little kid at heart, so these are my favorite!), and over historic bridges. 

Between the myriad of hikes, waterfalls, and overlooks along the way, you could seriously spend several days just making your way down this 80-mile expanse and never get bored!

Waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon

13. Kayaking or standup paddle boarding Columbia River

If kiteboarding is too adrenaline-inducing for you, there’s still plenty of not quite as intense opportunities to get out on the Columbia River, like kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding. 

If you don’t happen to have your own, there’s plenty of places in town that rent out equipment, like Hood River SUP and Kayak or the Gorge Paddling Center. Both of these outfitters offer daytime and sunset tours (pssst… sunset is always the right answer!) if you feel a bit nervous taking on the river all by yourself.

Kayaking down Columbia River in Hood River, Oregon

Alternatively, you can pick up your own inflatable kayak, like the Intex Explorer K2 kayak that we recommended above. We keep ours in the back of our SUV during summer months so it’s always at the ready in case adventure calls!

With your own kayak or paddle board, you can put in several places along the river, but the most popular is around the Hood River Event Site. You can’t miss this spot with the dozens and dozens of kiteboarders who will be launching from here on any nice summer’s day! 

14. Hit up the Hood River Farmers Market

With ideal growing conditions and a town of outdoorsy hipsters, it should come as no surprise that Hood River Farmers Market is incredible. From May through November, every Saturday, the downtown hosts a market with up to 50 vendors, selling local produce, arts and crafts, and artisanal foods. There’s usually live music, activities for the kiddos, and those free delicious samples we all know and love!

Produce at a farmers market

15. Skiing or snowboarding at Mount Hood

Visiting Hood River in the winter? Well, you’re in luck- Mount Hood has some of the nation’s best skiing and snowboarding- and one of the longest seasons (a whopping 10 months of powder can be found at the Timberline, the highest elevation option on the mountain!). 

There’s a variety of ski resorts here to fit all budgets and skill levels. For example, there’s the aforementioned Timberline, which has the mountain’s only true ski-in, ski-out resort; Mt. Hood Meadows, which offers the most varied terrain on the mountain; or Skibowl, a family-friendly resort that boasts not only the largest night ski area in the country, but the only cosmic snow tubing area (amazing!).

Person snowboarding down Mount Hood

If you’re looking for an apres-ski drink (or, let’s be real- an apres-ski hot tub!), the Timberline Lodge is an excellent spot to spend a cozy night or two enjoying the powder and that crisp mountain air. 

Pssst… the Gorge-to-Mountain Express, operated by Columbia Area Transit, runs from Hood River direct to Mt. Hood Meadows for just $5 roundtrip throughout the winter (or you can snag that sweet $40 GOrge Pass annual deal!). 

Best Time to Visit Hood River

Great news! There’s really no bad time to visit Hood River, with each season coming with its own perks.

Man hiking in front of Mount Hood
  • In spring, the valley looks particularly beautiful, with all of the fruit trees and cliffside wildflowers in bloom. However, some outdoor activities, like high elevation hikes near Mount Hood or water sports, will be unavailable, due to the chilly and usually wet weather.
  • Summer is, in my opinion, the best time to visit Hood River. The weather is perfect for hiking, getting out on the river, and sitting outside with your favorite glass of vino!
Man wakeboarding in Hood River, Oregon along the Columbia River Gorge
  • Between the fall foliage and the sheer volume of picturesque apple orchards here, fall in Hood River is enough to make any pumpkin-spice latte and sweater weather lover out there, like, extremely happy.
  • While many of the Fruit Loop’s farms and shops are closed in the wintertime, you’ll still get to enjoy the epic skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and tubing that Mount Hood has to offer, all while enjoying Hood River’s famously moderate winter weather.

Where to Stay in Hood River

Given the town’s size, there’s limited hotels in Hood River. Nonetheless, you’ll still have plenty of great options to choose from.

Columbia River Gorge in Oregon
  • Westcliff Lodge: Located right along the river, this expansive property offers expansive rooms, as well as glamping tents, all housed on a sprawling and meticulously manicured property.
  • Best Western Plus Hood River Inn: Described as one traveler on TripAdvisor as the “best Best Western” he’d ever stayed at, this hotel directly overlooks the Columbia River and has tons of perks, like an outdoor pool, riverside deck to lounge on, and grab-n-go breakfasts.
  • Columbia Gorge Hotel: This historic hotel is full of old-timey charm, perfect for a romantic weekend away. Be sure to make time to explore the gardens and their very own waterfall!

If you’re in my RVer fam, there’s also plenty of great campgrounds nearby, like the Wyeth Campground at the Gorge or Panther Creek Campground.

Tip: We love to find campgrounds using The Dyrt Pro, which you can get a free 7-day trial of here!
Safari Condo Alto at campground in Hood River, Oregon

I hope you have as much fun trying all of the amazing things to do in Hood River as I did. Do you have any questions about this little adventure town? Let me know in the comments below!

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