City Guide: Hood River, Oregon

hood river oregon lavendar fields

Friends! I'm so excited to FINALLY share with you a guide to my favorite place on the planet... Hood River, Oregon. Located 1 hour East of Portland on the Columbia River, Hood River is an outdoors persons wonderland! Hood River is a major US windsurfing destination and my parents have been visiting since way before kids. If you didn't know, my dad owns a windsurfing business so many of our family vacations revolve around where the best wind is! When I was 6 and Evan was 2, my parents took us to Hood River for the first time. We visited every Summer as a family and a few years later, my Dad opened a second store there. For many years, we spent our entire Summers in this charming, tiny town. I was enrolled in windsurfing and art camps and was on the local gymnastics team all where I made lifelong friends at a very young age. I have been to Hood River 19/20 Summers since I started going. The only Summer I missed was the Summer I was interning at Harper's Bazaar in NYC.

hood river oregon view

Because of the special relationships and all the time we have spent there, Hood River holds a very large place in my heart. Each year we visit it feels like going home. I remember when I was younger, crying from the second we got in the car to leave until I fell asleep that night back in my bed in Madison. It's hard to put into words the bond I have with this place. That's a huge part of the reason I'm so excited to share this with you! Also because, this place is beyond stunning. If you love the outdoors, I have no doubt that you will fall in love with Hood River, just like I did 20 years ago. 

Here is my guide to my favorite place in the world; Hood River, Oregon. 

Favorite Hikes

No matter what kind of hike you want, there's one for you near Hood River. Every length, every degree of difficulty. No matter how hard you want to go, there's always a gorgeous ending point. A few of our favorite hikes are: 
Tamanawas
Falls Creek
Wind Mountain
Dog Mountain
Wachlella Falls

Things to do

Water Sports Lessons: Like I mentioned above, Hood River is windddyyyyyyy! A fabulous place to learn to Windsurf and or Kite board. Big Winds is the best place to get lessons! They have a great reputation and fabluous instructors! We've taken tons of lessons there and that's where all of our friends have gone as well!

Visit The Gorge White House
Head towards Mt Hood about 15 minutes and you'll arrive at the Gorge White House. A beautiful (you guessed it) White House with spectacular views of Mt Hood. They have great ciders on tap, snacks and delicious fresh fruit. My favorite part? The u-pick flower fields. Enjoy picking an amazing wildflower bouquet and a super reasonable price. The field starts thriving Mid July and August!

gorge white house hood river oregon

Visit Lavender Valley
It is just what is sounds like... A valley FULL of all different kinds of lavender (see top photo in this blog post). You can go just to enjoy and take photos and you can also pick some lavender to take home with you. The view from here is another spectacular one.

Buy your fruit at a local fruit stand: Draper Farm
There are tons of fabulous fruit stands on the road that takes you up to Mt Hood. Our favorite by far is Draper Farm. They have a spectacular garden and huge swing overlooking the mountain. It's absolutely breathtaking! You can see clips from Draper Farm in my Hood River Video on IGTV.

draper farm fruit stand hood river oregon

Alpine Slide and Zip lining on Mount Hood
Head up to Mt Hood for a spot with tons of activities! The alpine slide is my favorite! This is an awesome spot to go if you have children along with you!

Mountain Biking at Post Canyon
Mountain biker? Hood River has tons of great spots. I'm not a mountain biker but my friends all rave about Post Canyon. It's where they mountain bike every day!

Do a day trip to Portland
With Portland only being an hour away, it makes for an easy day trip! There's tons of great food and shopping! So, if you're looking for something different one day, head into Portland!

Watch the windsurfers and kite boarders at the event site
The event site is the "beach" in Hood River. It's always packed with water sports fanatics and their families. Pack a picnic, wear your swimsuit and go enjoy the sun on the lawn while you watch the endless entertainment of hundreds of windsurfers and kite boarders!

 

Restaurants

mikes ice cream

Over time, Hood River's food scene has become fabulous! There is SO much good food. Our favorite spots are:
Big Mans RotisserieMy family is OBSESSED with this place. It's a food truck with rotisserie chicken, pulled pork and on weekend, brisket. Big Man (Trevor) makes homemade chipati bread, coleslaw, different sauces and delicious roasted veggies. They have wraps (Evan and Dad get them) or you can order just meat with the coleslaws and sauces and create your own plate (this is how Mom and I order). No words can describe this deliciousness. You can see us eating at Big Man's in my Hood River video on IGTV!
Pho River: There is great Thai food in Hood River. A childhood friend of mine and his two brothers opened this spot last Summer and it is BOMB. They are Laotian and the food is some of the best Thai we've had. My childhood friend, James is the chef so make sure to send compliments to the chef!
Lampois Thai Truck: Our other favorite thai spot. This food truck is the perfect place for a casual lunch of dinner after you get off the water. They have a few picnic tables and my favorite Pad Thai EVER.
Remedy Juice Cafe: Want to keep it super clean? Remedy is your spot. We walk here most morning for smoothies and often times return for lunch. The Green Island smoothie and Glory Bowl (add avocado) are my two favorites.
Solstice: Pizza lovers? This is your spot! There's two locations and their pizza is thin and delishhhhh! They also offer fab gluten free pizza for you non glutenous humans! ;)
3 Rivers Grill: Looking for a more elevated dinner spot? I'd definitely recommend this delicious downtown restaurant. People don't really get dressed up in Hood River, but if you want a nicer spot with great food and a lovely patio, this is your place.
Mikes Ice Cream: Ok ok ok guys. I don't really eat ice cream at home because nothing compares to this charming downtown ice cream spot! It's homemade and soooooo good! One of my favorites is the bing cherry made with local cherries! I'm drooling just thinking about it! 
The Taqueria: Hood River also has amazing Mexican... the best taco spot is just a few minute drive from downtown in The Heights. It's always lively and sure not to disappoint! Great casual spot to go with friends!
Mosier Company: Also known as MoCo, Mosier Company is a super fun, cafe/restaurant just off the main road in Mosier (about 4 miles down the highway from Hood River). A great spot for a morning coffee and scone and a great spot for an outdoor dinner with live music! Our friends Nate and Isaac opened this spot last year and it's a blast!
River Daze Cafe: A great, quick spot for a quick sandwich or salad. Close to the event site if you're hungry after getting off the water!

Coffee

Downtown our two favorite spots for a morning coffee are Doppio and Grounds. Pro tip: they have the same owners and the same exact coffee. Doppio has a bit more of an upscale vibe and tends to be a bit busier. Grounds has a cool, laid back feel. So, pick your fave spot because you'll get the exact same coffee drink! :)

Drink

There are fabulous places to drink in Hood River. Some amazing local breweries, wineries and a distillery. These are our favorite spots!
Full Sail Brewery
pFriem Brewery
Hood River Distillery
Double Mountain Brewery
Naked Winery
The Gorge White House

Shopping

Hood River definitely isn't a shopping destination. That being said, there are a few fabulous stores downtown. These are the ones you don't want to miss!
Plenty
Twiggs
Parts & Labour
Chemistry Jewelers

Have you ever been to Hood River!? I'd love to hear what you think!

xx Ali