Hood River, Oregon is one of the best action sport destinations in the world, yet it is still very much under-the-radar. Sitting on the shores of the famously windy Gorge, the little town’s main summer attraction is kiteboarding and windsurfing. Not only is it a mecca for the best kiting athletes around the world, but it’s a perfect location for beginners as well! But this magical little valley also offers every summer activity you can dream up, including mountain biking, waterfall hikes, SUP, kayaking, river floats, skiing on the Mt. Hood glacier, and a very lively nightlife.
One of my favorite things about this town is that age does not matter. For every twenty-something you see, there are three more adults in their 50’s shredding even harder. And the same goes for the dancing at the bars. It was like seeing a town full of the adults I’d hope for me and my friends to become in 30 years from now. Hood River is truly the happiness capital of Oregon.
Here are some of my favorite activities in Hood River:
1. Take kiteboarding lessons at the Event Site.
It’s the place to be! It’s always crowded when it’s windy and there’s a great sandbar where you can launch your kite. There is a big grassy field on the shore where you can get geared up or just take a nap in the sun.
2. Take windsurfing lessons.
There are lots of shallow beginner areas where you’ll feel safe and progress very quickly. It’s also relatively cheap compared to kiting lessons.
3. Mountain Bike in Post Canyon or road bike on the “Old Highway”
Post Canyon has easy-advanced trails and a fun zone at the top with pump tracks and obstacles. The Old Highway is a fun historic route that offers a decent workout and amazing views of the Gorge.
4. Take a waterfall Hike.
My favorite waterfall hike is the Tamanawas Falls route. It’s a mellow trail that takes you to a 100′ waterfall. When you reach the end of the trail you have the option to boulder over some rocks and walk behind the falls.
5. Rent a SUP and paddle around in the sun with friends!
6. Day Trip to Mt. Hood.
Only an hour drive away from Hood River, the trip to Mt. Hood is worth it just for the views alone. Summer skiing/boarding on the glacier or taking the Alpine Slide at Ski Bowl is really fun! You can also have lunch at the beautiful Timberline Lodge and check out Trillium Lake on your way back.
7. Camp or swim in the river at Tucker Park.
This campsite has a beautiful grassy community area with a big outdoor barbecue. You can walk down a short path to a water whole with a nice little beach for picnics. This is an awesome place to camp if you have a car.
8. Wine Tasting.
Hood River is filled with vineyards and offers world class wine tasting. Always a fun option on the way back from a hike or bike ride when you’ve “earned it.”
9. Tuesday nights at “The Ruins”
This is a big get-together with beer and wine in the stone ruins of an old building. It’s technically out-door because there are only crumbled walls with no ceiling. It has a very romantic feel with strung lights and a band. Everyone in town comes to this and the dance floor is packed!
10. Day Trip to the Oregon Coast.
It’s a two hour drive from Hood River and you can make a pitstop in Portland on the way. If you catch a rare sunny day at the Oregon Coast, its definitely a unique place to check out. There are huge sandy beaches with caves and giant protruding rocks in the Ocean. You can have a picnic and escape the heat in one of the little shady groves above the beach.
11. 4th of July Parade and 7 mile run.
It seems like nearly half the town wakes up early and participates in the 8am 7 mile run from Oden to downtown Hood River. Immediately after the run is a giant old-fashioned parade.
And that’s enough activities to keep you busy for an entire summer, let alone a few days! Don’t miss a chance to see this beautiful town. I promise you won’t regret it!
Comment below if you have more suggestions, or questions!