Blake Walsh

18 Best Things to Do in Hood River, OR

  • Published 2022/03/15

Hood River is mainly known among tourists as the doorway to the mesmerizing Columbia River Gorge.

However, Hood River has an endless list of exotic locations offering beautiful scenery and breathtaking views.

Away from the city, the lush countryside is only a mere drive or train journey away.

Here’s a list of the best things to do in Hood River, Oregon to help you plan your getaway:

See the Majestic Columbia River Gorge

Sunrise at Columbia River Gorge

Nadia Yong /

The Columbia River Gorge is one of the most famous sights in the United States.

When you’re in Hood River, you need to make a day trip to this gorgeous location.

The canyon is almost 4,000 feet and offers tourists the most spectacular views of the Columbia River Gorge.

Bird's eye view of the scenic Columbia River Gorge

Bob Pool /

The Cascade Range acts as the most fantastic backdrop, making this sight one of the best places for pictures.

The river connects the Columbia Plateau to the Pacific Ocean.

Picturesque view of a bridge in front of the enormous fall at Columbia River Gorge

Stephen Moehle /

You can take part in many adventure activities here such as hiking, mountain biking, and even rock climbing.

For those who prefer water-based activities, the site also offers canoeing.

Take a Long Drive Through Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway

Curved road at Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway

Wasim Muklashy /

It is challenging to understand the true essence of Hood River.

Many who visit have to come back to truly see everything the area has to offer.

A simple and affordable activity is to drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway.

Front view of Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway with trees lined on the sides

Paula Cobleigh /

With the road itself being considered a historic landmark, this destination is top-rated amongst those who love to take long, calming drives.

Surrounded by vegetation and exquisite scenery, this is the perfect option for a tranquil day out.

Pick Some Fruits Along the Hood River Fruit Loop

Road among apple orchard in Hood River

Robert Crum /

Many locals stop by the beautiful orchards and pick wild berries while driving along the Hood River Fruit Loop.

The loop has some of the most impressive orchards that stretch for almost 35 miles.

Colorful flowers at Hood River Fruit Loop

lu_sea /

With a wide variety of berries and fruits, visitors can choose to go apple-picking or opt for the berries and apricots.

Juicy and ripe tomatoes can also be found here.

Fields at Hood River Fruit Loop

Sveta Imnadze /

Nearby shops also sell jams made from these fruits, which tourists can buy and take back with them.

Enjoy Some Wines at Mt. Hood Winery

Mt. Hood Winery

Rigucci /

A trip to Hood River isn’t complete without getting to taste some delicious wines.

Hood River Valley has a hidden gem: the Mt. Hood Winery, which is a scenic beauty in itself.

The winery has a rich family history, having been here for the past five generations.

Vineyard at Mt. Hood Winery

Rigucci /

With the Bickford family owning the area for over a century now, Mt. Hood Winery indeed has been a family treasure.

The recipe of the wine has also been passed down through the family.

With an award-winning wine list, visitors are indeed in for a treat when they visit this place.

Enjoy Must-Try Activities Like Windsurfing and Kiteboarding

 Windsurfing in Hood River

Larry Lamor /

When you are here in Hood River, there are certain activities you must partake in.

Windsurfing and kiteboarding are two of the most popular activities among the locals.

A young man enjoying wind surfing in Hood River

Nadia Yong /

Offering some of the best winds, Columbia River Gorge provides adventurous activities all year round.

The activities are tailored to all, both beginners and those with experience.

Far view of a windsurfer surfing at Hood River

Sharon Eisenzopf /

However, for those who prefer to relax, the area offers the perfect place to sit back and enjoy the beautiful views.

Breathe in the Beauty of Mount Hood

Mount Hood with farms and houses inthe forefront

tusharkoley /

Mount Hood is one of the most magnificent beauties that Hood River has to offer.

It is one of the highest in Oregon and has 11 glaciers, allowing tourists to try out many of its renowned skiing trails.

Picturesque view of the snow capped Mount Hood

cbartell42 /

It’s also a stratovolcano that is potentially active.

Lying on the line that separates Clackamas from Hood River, the mountain truly is a sight to behold.

Mount Hood at Hood River

Real Window Creative /

Trek Popular Trails Like Dry Creek Falls and Wahclella Falls

Wahclella Falls with rocks and wooden log

Heidi Ihnen Photography /

How can you come to Hood River and go back home without taking part in some local hikes?

Aside from the Columbia River Gorge hiking routes, there are endless trails within the city.

Fog covered trail at Wahclella Falls

Alisha Bube /

Some of the best and most popular trails are Dry Creek Falls and Wahclella Falls, which offer picturesque views.

Most of the trails are in the Columbia River Gorge area, which means tourists are given access to the campground.

Wahclella Falls flowing through the rocks

Heidi Ihnen Photography /

For those who love camping, this is the perfect option as visitors have the opportunity to camp under the starry night sky.

See the Beautiful Mount Hood Railroad

Railroad Bridge in Hood River near Mount Hood

Jess Kraft /

Here’s another way to take in breathless views of the town and the countryside.

The railways at Mount Hood Railroad are still functional, and a special tour is conducted to give the tourists a better view of the countryside.

The tour is detailed and insightful, with a duration of around four hours.

Red train at Mount Hood Railroad

Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This is the perfect choice for tourists who want to know more about the area.

The train route from Hood River to Parkdale offers some of the most amazing views on this trip.

This route is not open all year round, so tourists are encouraged to check the official website before their visit.

Mount Hood Railroad's depot

M.O. Stevens, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spend the Day at Port Marina Park

Want to enjoy quiet sunsets by the river?

This is just the spot for you.

Hood River’s Port Marina Park is the perfect place to relax and take in some of the best views of the sunset.

There are on-site picnic areas that are accessible to everyone.

Families often come here to spend the day unwinding.

From this point, you can see all the yachts lined up on the river at the front of the park.

Additionally, several kayaking tour operators start their trips from this area.

Have Breakfast at Bette’s Place

On the hunt for a local and affordable place to dine?

Look no further—Bettes’s place has been serving since 1975 and is popular among locals.

It is one of the most recommended places to go and eat.

With a warm and welcoming ambiance, tourists can come here to unwind after a long hike.

French toast, waffles, eggs are some of the options from the extensive menu.

Everything is fresh and homemade.

Lunch and dessert options are also available, including gourmet sandwiches, pies, and cinnamon rolls.

Visit the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum

Display at Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum

Jmasterson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you are interested in both automobiles and aircraft, this is a fantastic location to check out.

The WAAAM has antique pieces, but most are still fully functional.

The hangar area is indoor and stretches for 3.5 acres, containing some of the best pieces in aircraft history.

There are 130 models within the exhibition, and some models date back as far as the 1900s.

There are events all year round, including in-depth tours.

Immerse Yourself in Awe-Inspiring Art at the Columbia Center for the Arts

Columbia River Gorge is home to a thriving arts community.

The Columbia Center for the Arts (CCA) offers programs like a Teen Apprenticeship Program, a year-round Children’s Theater program, National Theater Live broadcasts, a Seniors & the Arts program, art exhibitions every month, and much more.

Its facilities include a 700-square-foot multi-purpose classroom/studio area, a 1,700 square-foot boutique art studio, and a black box theater with 136 fixed seats.

The Columbia Center for the Arts also has a collection of rotating art galleries for artists to display and sell their talent to others.

Follow the Footsteps of the Past at the History Museum of Hood River County

Built right along the Columbia River, the History Museum of Hood River County serves as a place of community heritage where generations and successive peoples can take pride in the culture and history.

They have pretty exhibits like art, costumes, decorative arts, tools, photographs, archival documents, and sporting and agricultural equipment.

Its diverse holdings reflect the area’s various people and interests.

The collection of historic photographs is a strong pillar of the museum’s history, holding 20,000 photos in-house—documenting historical moments within their grasp.

Go Windsurfing or Kite Boarding at the Hood River Event Site

With its convenient location off of Interstate 84 in between Portland and Seattle, the Hood River Event Site is a great place to spend a day with friends and family kayaking and picnicking.

Its direct beachfront access also makes it an ideal spot in Hood River for windsurfing and kiteboarding.

The event site includes plenty of free parking space and grassy areas for rigging equipment, picnic tables, and restrooms so you can stay on the beach longer.

This popular recreation area is also open to particular activities and events that accommodate many participants or spectators.

The Hood River Event Site is a multifaceted venue, offering the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the scenery or engage in activities of your choosing.

The pet-friendly accommodations make it possible for a variety of critters to join you as well!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Snap a Few Pictures at Multnomah Falls

View of Multnomah Falls with a bridge in the front

Jon Bilous /

When in Hood River, you should definitely take a side trip to Multnomah Falls.

This waterfall has to be one of the most picturesque locations in this area.

Beautiful Multnomah Falls during fall

Hlewk /

It is not very often that you come across such a fantastic waterfall.

With a height of around 620 feet, Multnomah Falls is a must-see.

Tourists admiring the frozen Multnomah Falls from the bridge

Bob Pool /

Lush green forests surround the area, offering tourists picturesque views.

See the Beautiful Views from Vista House

Breathtaking view of Vista House

JPL Designs /

While driving along the highway, a stop at Vista House is a must.

There are a lot of incredible viewpoints along this highway, but this particular attraction has to be one of the best.

View of the lush green trees and river from Vista House

Nadia Yong /

When you take in views from the Vista House, you’ll be able to see both the alluring gorge and the area’s breathtaking scenery.

The views are mind-blowing.

No matter the weather, this is a sight to behold.

Vista House during sunset

Thye-Wee Gn /

Go White-Water Rafting at the White Salmon River

The White Salmon River is better known as another one of the longer tributaries of the main Columbia River.

There is an extensive range of inclusive activities available for tourists, including white water rafting.

Visitors can also look at the surrounding forests, which have a variety of trails around the river path and offer fantastic views of the nearby waterfalls.

This area is perfect for all.

Whether you want an action-packed day out or prefer to take a stroll with scenic views, the White Salmon River is the ideal option.

Observe Wildlife at Tom McCall Nature Preserve

Mesmerizing view of Tom McCall Nature Preserve

Bob Poll /

With the gorgeous Mosier and The Dalles in the background, not many places are as aesthetically pleasing as the Tom McCall Nature Preserve.

With a clear view of the gorge, the preserve is just mesmerizing.

Narrow dusty paved path with yellow flowers on both the sides at Tom McCall Nature Preserve

Jon Bilous /

It is located atop a plateau offering some of the best picture locations available.

If you plan to visit during the summer, do not miss out on this place, for the entire plateau gets covered in different colors of wildflowers.

During the spring, different varieties of flowers are in bloom, creating a mirage of color.

Field filled with pretty yellow flowers at Tom McCall Nature Preserve

Gary L. Quay /

Final Thoughts

A small yet exciting town in the middle of a scenic gorge, Hood River is known for its natural beauty and great views.

Mt. Hood looms over the town and offers not only a majestic skyline but also a central recreational hub.

Skiers take to its cold slopes in the winter, while campers and hikers occupy its green grass when the weather’s warm.

In addition to the pastoral scenery found in Hood River, Oregon is also known for providing endless recreation opportunities for locals and sightseers alike.

The next time you’re looking for a vacation spot in Oregon, check out this guide to one of the most impressive sights in the Beaver State!

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