Oregon’s Best-Kept Secret: Columbia River Gorge
Just 20 miles east of Portland, Oregon, the stunning Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area has it all. A year-round destination of unsurpassed natural beauty, with sky-high waterfalls, miles and miles of forested hiking trails and stunning vista points along the way. The scenic town of Hood River is the beating heart of the Gorge. It has a fun, family-friendly vibe with a host of watersports rentals available in the summer. It's also known as a foodie’s paradise with an array of local bakeries, breweries, fine dining and everything in-between – all thanks to a vast, verdant valley filled with vineyards and fruit orchards at the foot of the majestic Mount Hood.
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Where to stay around the Columbia River Gorge
Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel
Just 10 minutes from all the downtown sights, this riverside hotel offers a peaceful stay and a waterfront restaurant.
$50 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade & late check-out whenever possible.
The Allison Inn & Spa
In the Willamette Valley, a welcoming resort and homebase for exploring Oregon’s pinot noir country.
The Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Portland
Your heart-of-the-action pick in Portland, with a statement atrium lobby and farm-to-table restaurant.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
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Things to do around the Columbia River Gorge
This is surely an outdoorsy trip, so gear up because there’s lots of walking and moving involved. Start with a short and easy hike up to the viewing bridge at Multnomah Falls and immerse yourself in positive ions from the gushing water spray. It’s a true natural marvel.
While there, you can also make your way to the picturesque Chanticleer Point to get a bird's eye view of the Washington and Oregon sides of the Gorge and historical Vista House.
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path trail, cross over the Bridge of the Gods and drive west along Highway 14 toward the Washington side of the Gorge for a quieter, less touristy vibe.
The Hook is a must-visit destination for watersports junkies in the summertime. Located in Hood River there are a large array windsurfing, kiteboarding, kayaking and SUP rentals available. In the summer, the warm weather and long days are perfect for staying in the water well past 9 pm.
If you’re traveling with family and younger kids, you may also want to take the kids to a u-pick farm along the 36 mile Hood River Fruit Loop driving trail. The area has an abundance of blueberries, cherries, apples, pears or pumpkins to be picked, depending on the season.
Places to eat & drink around the Columbia River Gorge
Multnomah Falls Lodge: This historic restaurant is perfectly situated at the foot of the waterfall serving fresh and delicious hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and an excellent spinach salad with chanterelle mushrooms and Oregon hazelnuts. When the weather is nice out, make sure to grab a table outdoors to get a view of the lower falls. Check out the espresso stand at the entrance of the falls, serving bakery items, and hot and cold drinks for a quick pick-me-up after a day's exploring.
Stave and Stone Winery in Hood River County: Offering fabulous views of Mount Adams and Mt Hood, the property also has a lavender farm on site. Wine flights and small bites are available from the main tasting room and a more casual wine garden is also open in the warmer months.
Clarke and Lewie’s: Located across the river in the charming town of Stevenson, this restaurant is housed in a refurbished old Saloon dating from 1908. Quality American fare is on the menu, with the Reuben sandwich and fish and chips included. The riverfront location makes it a picturesque place to have a meal or a snack and the locally-made hard cider served here is not to be missed.
Need to Know
The Columbia River Gorge scenic area can be overrun by tourists in the summer months with parking around Multnomah Falls maxed out by mid-morning, especially on weekends and holidays. To combat the crowds, aim to arrive early in the morning or around sunset. Fruit blossoms in springtime and multi-colored leaves in autumn make this a magical place to visit anytime of the year.
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