Post Overview: Best Things to Do in Hood River, Oregon
Planning a day (or weekend) trip to Hood River? This list of the best things to do in Hood River may prove useful.
Located in the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge, Hood River is easily one of the most charming towns in the state. Full of quaint farms, delightful wineries, epic hiking trails, top-notch breweries and panoramic views from every angle, there’s so much to love about this pocket of the state.
Longtime readers know I’m not one for small talk, so let’s just right in!
Best Things to Do Hood River, Oregon
#1. Go Windsurfing
If you’re the type of person that loves the feeling of having the wind at your back and knowing there’s a 7.8% chance that at any moment it will toss you into the icy-cold waters of the Columbia River, well, congrats! Hood River has you covered.
(Kidding. It’s more like a 15.9% chance, according to our staff statisticians.)
In all seriousness, many outdoorsy types love windsurfing, and this blustery destination is perfect for it. In fact, Hood River is known as the wind surfing capital of the world, which is why this is considered one of the best things to do in Hood River.
Local’s Tip: If you’d like to try your
hand abs at windsurfing, sign up for a lesson from Big Winds, if you’re a novice. If you’re a pro, grab your own gear and hit the water for hours of fun.
#2. Window Shop in the Historic District
Window shopping and gift shop browsing: not just for grandmas. (Although if you’re bringing Abuela to Hood River, this activity is bound to be a crowd-pleaser.)
Hood River’s Downtown Historic District centers on Oak Street. According to Travel Oregon, “Historic buildings line the scenic streets of downtown Hood River, with a bustling shopping district featuring boutiques, designer shops, outdoor adventure gear outfitters, antique shops, art galleries, and more than 30 restaurants.” Win-win-win.
It also has a charming view of the river, especially higher up on the hill. Bring a snack or grab a cup of coffee, find a nice bench, and enjoy some cute views while you eat a bite.
#3. Visit the Famous Lavender Farms
Oregon has a great climate for growing lavender and Hood River is home to some of the most beautiful lavender farms in the state. There’s a high concentration within the valley, making it easy to pop from one to the next without much effort.
Peak bloom for lavender varies from year to year based on the weather, but for the most visiting between min-June & mid-July for the best blooms.
Most Oregon lavender farms offer U-Cut options where you can borrow shears from a stand and cut your own bouquets to take home (typically $6-$12 per bunch). Likewise, a lot of lavender farm shops also sell soaps, candles, lip balms, essential oils, lotions and other creative lavender-scented products.
Heck, you’ll even find delicious edible treats too, like lavender lemonade, lavender ice cream and lavender honey (my favorite). Visiting the lavender farms is one of the best things to do in Hood River in the summer, you won’t want to miss it.
You May Enjoy Reading: 10 Enchanting Lavender Farms in Oregon
#4. Swing by a Farm for U-Pick Fruit
If you don’t enjoy picking fruit, who even are you?
Happily, Hood River offers a bonanza of u-pick and farmstand options. You can hit them all at once on the Hood River Fruit Loop, which offers visitors a guided tour through some of the region’s most popular agricultural destinations.
The Hood River Fruit Loop is a 35-mile drive through breathtaking orchard country. The route includes 28 farm stands, wineries, cideries, breweries and glorious flower fields. Visitors can pick fruits (apples, pears, cherries) at various local farms that cover more than 14,500 acres of farmland in the valley.
#5. Enjoy a Slow Afternoon at a Winery
One of my (personal) favorite things to do in Hood River is to spend time at the beautiful wineries in the area. In fact, these wineries are the reason I fell in love with Hood River in the first place.
The Columbia River Gorge was teeming with award-winning wineries, ripe for exploration.
Much aligned with the relaxed Pacific Northwest lifestyle, the wineries in the Columbia Gorge offer an easy-going atmosphere that encourages you to slow down for a while.
Scenic views of mountains, rolling hillsides and charming farms with a glass of cold Chardonnay in hand? Who can resist that? Not this gal.
You May Enjoy Reading: 18 Breathtaking Hood River Wineries Guaranteed to Impress
#6. Or Go Brewery Hopping Instead
Hood River has no shortage of great breweries to choose from. Some of these award-winning breweries are considered the best in the state, which is why popping in for a pint is one of the best things to do in Hood River.
One of my favorite breweries is pFriem (“freem”). Opened in 2012, pFriem has amassed an impressive array of prestigious beer awards (including being named Brewery of the Year by Beer Connoisseur for three years).
The artisanal beers are inspired by European influences while staying true to Northwest roots. The end product is a beautiful thing: complex, smooth and satisfying, these are some of the best beers in the Gorge.
This is a popular post-hike activity which means long wait times are all but guaranteed on the weekends. If the wait is too long for your liking, pop over to the Washington side of the Gorge and hit up Everybody’s Brewing instead (the apricot sour is something else!).
You May Enjoy Reading: All 12 Columbia Gorge Breweries (Ranked)
#7. Mountain Bike at Post Canyon
Abuela is likely to miss this activity, but teenagers and young adults will love it. Post Canyon is known for its excellent mountain biking, with a huge network of trails on Hood River’s West Side.
Whether you love twists and turns or adrenaline-pumping downhill spills, you’ll find it on this trail. Expect to rub elbows with locals on the weekends because this is one of the most fun things to do in Hood River (for visitors and locals alike).
You can access Post Canyon through four main trailheads:
- Post Canyon Road
- 7 Streams
- Family Man
- Binns Hill
Don’t forget about trail etiquette. Although Post Canyon is dedicated to bikers (no pedestrians to crash into, yay!) you still need to watch out for the smaller set.
#8. Fish for Steelhead
Steelhead trout are a neat species. The scientifically minded will be interested to learn that they’re actually genetically identical to rainbow trout.
The difference is, rainbow trout spend their entire life in freshwater, while steelheads do the whole fish-heads-to-the-ocean-for-some-fun-before-returning-home-to-breed thing. (Think of it like rumspringa, but for our aquatic brethren.)
In addition to being cool, of course, they’re also quite delicious. Many anglers fish in Hood River – a tributary of the Columbia – as well as the latter. If you don’t have gear, you can find somewhere to rent it downtown.
#9. Hike the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail
Old U.S. Highway 30 formerly wound along the cliffs of the Columbia River Gorge. However, it’s no longer accessible by car. That doesn’t mean you can’t still catch some stunning views of the panorama from up there, though.
Now, the old highway has become the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. You can make your way along it on foot or by bicycle today, with more than 12 miles of gorgeous trail, much of it paved. Hikers will enjoy bringing a picnic lunch and spending all day in the midst of nature.
#10. Dip Your Toes in Hood River Waterfront Park
Want to relax somewhere quiet and peaceful, while still joining in the hustle and bustle of this charming town? Make a beeline for Hood River Waterfront Park. Strolling this scenic park is one of the best things to do in Hood River.
With room to spread out a picnic, play games, and enjoy the stunning views of the Columbia River, you’ll be spoiled all afternoon.
Plus, a visit to this gem is the perfect way to wind down from a morning adventure or a long week of sightseeing.
#11. Hike the Beautiful Trails at Mount Hood
If you’re an adventurous out-of-town visitor, it would be a pity to not hike the gorgeous mountain that is the valley’s namesake. In fact, Mt. Hood is the third most climbed mountain in the world.
Known for its distinct double hump at the top, this semi-dormant volcano last erupted in 1866 and is still actively monitored for signs of activity.
That said, there’s no need to side-eye this beloved Oregon landmark. Locals will tell you that it’s a very gentle giant, with plenty of gorgeous hiking trails in Mount Hood National Forest, which covers its lower slopes. Check out the best trails and choose one during your trip.
#12. Hop Aboard the Mount Hood Railroad
This is a great Hood River activity no matter what age you are, but if you have little ones, it’s a can’t-miss. First established at the beginning of the 20th century, Mount Hood Railroad closed in 1987. Investors thereupon purchased and rehabbed the trains and tracks, which you can now enjoy during your trip to Hood River Today.
The train winds along beautiful stretches of Hood River then climbs hills to give you glimpses of the mountain for which the railroad was named. Train rides are several hours long, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the views.
Check out the holiday train options if you’re going to be there at Easter or Christmas! This is definitely one of the best things to do in Hood River with kids.
#13. Visit the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum
Aviation nerds unite! The Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum is just as cool as its name suggests, with “one of the largest collections of still-flying antique aeroplanes and still-driving antique automobiles in the country.” Something about knowing that museum vehicles still operate and totally won’t kill you makes them extra fun.
If you’re planning to visit the museum, leave plenty of time to see both the airplanes and the cars and other vehicles – a few hours is plenty.
Hood River Things to Do (Post Summary) Map
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the BEST things to do in Hood River, Oregon.
- Go Windsurfing
- Window Shop in the Historic District
- Visit a Farm for U-Pick Fruit
- Enjoy a Slow Afternoon at a Winery
- Or Go Brewery Hopping Instead
- Mountain Bike at Post Canyon
- Fish for Steelhead
- Hike the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail
- Dip Your Toes in Hood River Waterfront Park
- Hike the Beautiful Trails at Mount Hood
- Hop Aboard the Mount Hood Railroad
- Visit the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum
Map of the Best Things to Do in Hood River, Oregon