Hood River is a small town that attracts thousands of visitors each year due to its location in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The town is perched right on the riverfront and offers up plenty of things to do, from outdoorsy pursuits like windsurfing, to dining with a view, to exploring the local food producers and farms. In short, there is always something to do for the whole family in Hood River. At a loss for ideas? Try one or all of these great activities.
Hang Out by the Water
While there are lots of ways to stay active in Hood River, perhaps some of the most fun is had just hanging out and relaxing. Head down to Portway Avenue and you’ll find restaurants and cafes with a view of the Columbia River, as well as a riverfront park that has a sandy beach and a playground. Grab a gelato at Cicci Gelato, let the kids run around the park, take a walk or just relax. You can’t go wrong.
Since the 1980s, Hood River has been touted as the windsurfing capital of the world. For experienced surfers with their own gear, all you have to do is put-in and go. If you are looking to get started, check out Hood River Waterplay, which has classes, supplies and rentals. Visit the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association website to learn more. Kitesurfing is also very popular in Hood River, and you can check out Gorge Kite School to learn more about this fun sport, including lessons and the gear you will need.
Ride the Mount Hood Railroad
No matter if you have lived in Hood River all your life, newly transplanted or are just visiting, a ride on the Mount Hood Railroad is always a fun idea. Boarding in Hood River, you can choose the Parkdale Excursion, Murder Mystery Train, Western Train Robbery or one of the seasonal rides: the Fruit Blossom Special and Train to Christmas Town. Be sure you get to the station early, so you can take in this historic spot. Built in 1911, its depot is on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information on rides and to purchase tickets, visit the Mount Hood Railroad website.
Drive the Hood River Fruit Loop
If you like farms, wine, fruit or just a beautiful drive, then the Hood River Fruit Loop is definitely a must-do. The 35-mile drive has everything from alpaca ranches and breweries to lavender and fruit farms. The views are specular along the route. Each year the list of participating stops may vary slightly, but there are usually around 30 stands along the route, offering all kinds of produce, wines, beer and other farm-fresh products. If you pick up a Hood River Fruit Loop Brochure and get stamped at 14 member stands, you can send in for a free market bag. For more information, including a downloadable map and list of the current year’s members, visit the Hood River Fruit Loop website or Facebook page.
Take the Family to the Gorge White House
The Gorge White House is a great place to take the entire family for an afternoon “on the farm.” You’ll find wines and hard ciders for the adults, berry and flower picking for the kids, and ice cream for all! What could be better than putting fresh picked berries on top of Tillamook ice cream? A food cart is available Fridays through Mondays, serving up amazing burgers, flatbreads and sandwiches made with local ingredients – including Mt. Shadow meats – and homemade buns. Oh, and did we mention the chef studied at Le Corden Bleu in France and Australia? The house itself is a 1908 Dutch Colonial home that is just stunning with large while columns and ornate trim. Go inside to get your ice cream and check out the gift shop on the weekends. To learn more, visit The Gorge White House website.
Visit the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum
On days where it’s too hot, cold or windy outside to enjoy nature, why not explore the past at the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum (WAAAM). This unique museum has more than 130 cars as well as many antique aircraft and motorcycles. They also have military vehicles and tractors. But that is not what makes WAAAM special. What’s unique about this museum is that every one of its aircrafts and vehicles is still operational! Not only do they still run, but every second Saturday the museum proves it by bringing out a select group of planes, cars and/or motorcycles to drive and fly for thrilled visitors. Those who arrive early may even get to help! But the fun doesn’t stop there, take one of the classes offered throughout the year and you can get behind the wheel of a Model T, ‘30s, ‘40s or ‘50s car. They also have kids’ camps in the summer. For information, visit the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum website.
Pedal Post Canyon
Post Canyon is a flat-tire playground for anyone looking for some mountain biking fun. If you don’t own a bike, just head over to Mountain View Cycles first to rent one. Post Canyon has easy trails for beginners, as well as stunt parks with log jumps and ramps for the daring. Take in the gorgeous scenery of the mossy forest and clear brooks as you race by. The Hood River Area Trail Stewards (Hood RATS) website and Facebook page has up to date information on the trails, including conditions and closures.
Escape the Hood
When you want to spend some time indoors with the whole family, try an escape room! Escape the Hood is a fun way to spend an afternoon, maybe before or after a nice meal out. The goal is for you and your friends or family to solve a series of puzzles to unlock the door within an hour – will you succeed? To keep things fresh, the story and puzzles change every so often, so if you haven’t been in a while, it’s probably time to visit again. For more information and to make reservations, visit the Escape the Hood website.