It’s just an hour from Portland, but you’ll be breathing easy when you hit the scenic beauty of the Columbia River Gorge with its abundance of rivers, waterfalls and picture-postcard landscapes.
While your first inclination might be to look for accommodation in Oregon, the Washington side of the Columbia River boasts lots of unique options with easy access to the Gorge. Enjoy a bird’s eye view from one of the new luxury tree houses at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson located just across the Bridge of the Gods or check out the fun restoration and remodel that turned a former school into a unique, modern, hybrid hotel/hostel with on-site family-sized cabins at the Society Hotel in Bingen.
Hood River is beloved for being a basecamp for outdoor adventures, but its charming shops and businesses make it equally great for families that prefer the indoors. Spend a day exploring 3.5 acres of climate-controlled hangar space that make up the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum which includes an interactive, hands-on kids’ exploration area. If you find yourself needing some last-minute gifts or distractions, check out local favorites along Oak Street including G. Williker’s Toy Shoppe and Waucoma Bookstore for their solid toy and reading recommendations.
You’ll find lots of family-friendly restaurants in Hood River including pFriem Family Brewers, Ferment Brewing Company and Solstice Wood Fire Cafe & Bar. And if you’ve ever fretted the long lines at Eastwind Drive-In during the summer, now’s your chance to get in on the action without the wait. Most people know this Cascade Locks landmark for its burgers and massive soft-serve cones, but they also offer a wide variety of breakfast items to-go and the kids’ menu includes items like corn dogs and a pizza pocket-like “pizza stick.”
What to Pack
With the Hood River Fruit Loop nearby and an abundance of specialty apple varieties to choose from, pack a pie tin and do a little baking with the kiddos — if your accommodations include a kitchen. Either way, expect to bring some Hood River Valley apples home for baking throughout the winter season.
Pro Tip: In November and December, book a ride to Christmas Town on the Mt. Hood Christmas Train which departs from Hood River. The 90-minute, round-trip journey includes cookies and milk with characters from The Train to Christmas Town storybook, a bonus gift and a sighting of Santa himself.