Among the great scenic spots in the state of Oregon is Mt. Hood. The town of Hood River sits right on the intersections of the Hood and Columbia Rivers, just 30 miles from the peak. As such, it was both an area Lewis and Clark passed through on their journey to the northwest, and later was on the Barlow Toll Road, the infamous final stretch of the Oregon Trail.
Those ancient sites may be gone, but today you can still see the fabulous natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge as you drive in, which is just as magnificent to our eyes as it must have been to Lewis and Clark all those years ago.
Lodging in Hood River
Our recommendation when it comes to lodging is the Hood River Hotel, a spot of historical significance for the town. Built the same year the town was established in 1888 and placed near the Mt. Hood Railway station, the building is a wonderful throwback to the way they used to live in the old west.
The lobby is white and enormous, with a beautiful fireplace to curl up to on several comfy couches. Occasional live music fills up this hall, and there’s a Nordic restaurant adjacent, so you don’t have to go far to grab some grub. There’s even some complementary hot chocolate and coffee and tea for the taking, an especially welcome addition after a cold day outside.
The old fashioned style extends to the elevator, which is period appropriate with a hand operated carriage door and window. The rooms are also cozy, with most including some kind of window view outside. A flat screen tv, wifi, heating, and air conditioning are provided, so you never feel like you’re roughing it.
Sitting in the center of downtown, it’s within walking distance to dozens of businesses, so if you’re ever in the mood for food, drink, or entertainment during your stay, you’re never far from something great.
After you’ve settled in at your hotel, you’re bound to grab the paper in the lobby that gives you recommendations on what to eat in town. Let us do you the favor of steering you towards the Double Mountain Brewery, where you can take in live music, the beer of your choice, and delicious brick oven style pizza.
All of their beers and cider are brewed in house, and the selection varies depending on the season. As cider lovers, we certainly recommend any cider they happen to have. But if you’re more into beer, there’s a solid stout with the humorous name ‘No Collusion.’
The food menu is dominated by pizza, and you can’t go wrong with any of their fabulous choices. The salads are also numerous if you’re tired of the same old Caesar. But if you’re into a change of pace, their sandwich menu is also delectable, the meatball sub in particular rivals those of Philadelphia.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so you’ll want to start off your day right by heading to the Basik Açaí Cafe, just a couple of doors down from the Hood River Hotel.
Being from Hawaii, I always am biased when it comes to Hawaiian-style treats and I am most definitely familiar with açaí and poke bowls, so when I saw this cafe I knew it was a spot worth checking out!
Açaí is a type of tropical berry, and forms the basis of the açaí bowl, a smoothie-like Hawaiian dish made of berries, banana, granola, and honey. It’s a sweet treat to munch on, and a nice healthy way to curb your hunger.
The cafe is Hawaiian based, founded by a couple on Oahu a decade ago. They specialize in açaí bowls, but also have Hawaiian favorites Poke ahi. They don’t open till 10am, so go ahead and sleep in before heading over for a bite!
Don’t let the cold wintery weather prevent you from getting outdoor time and exercise! Hop on a school bus at the waterfront parking lot and shuttle out to the mountain to get some steps in your feet and fresh mountain air in your lungs.
Mt. Hood Meadows is one of several ski resorts around, but it’s our vote for the most welcome. The lodge is expansive and has plenty of room for you to relax, eat, and hang with your friends or family. The bottom floor provides rentals for snowboards, skis, and snowshoes.
If you’re familiar with skiing or snowboarding, the scene is ripe for having fun. However, if you’re a little unsure on your feet in snow, we endorse the shoes, since they’re fun to walk in and provide a challenge! There’s a wealth of trails for you to hike, and the lodge has a handy map in case you get lost.
With its wintery snow and great outdoor hiking summer spots, the Mt. Hood area is a fine choice for Cascadians to head out to any time of year. Especially for Portlandians, who can look forward to a small town vibe and outstanding natural sights just an hour’s drive away.
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Huge thanks to Hood River County, Double Mountain Brewery and Hood River Hotel for supporting us during this trip.