9 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Hood River, OR
Located along the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River is a vibrant small town with a strong outdoor vibe. The main attraction is the beauty of the surrounding area. Spectacular waterfalls line the gorge, basalt cliffs run high above the blue water of the Columbia River, and Mt. Hood hovers in the background. Add to this the pastoral scene created by orchards and rolling fields, and this is an incredible area for sightseeing and outdoor recreation. If you are looking for things to do, you'll find no shortage of options. Take a train trip through the countryside; hit the hiking trails along the Columbia River Gorge; enjoy the river full-heartedly, either by kiteboarding or windsurfing; take a drive along a scenic route; and in winter, head to Mt. Hood for skiing and other snow sports. For a complete overview, see our list of top attractions in Hood River.
See also: Where to Stay in Hood River
1 Multnomah Falls
One of the most stunning sights in the Hood River area is the picture-perfect Multnomah Falls, just west of Hood River, along the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway. If you have time to see only one waterfall, this is the one. Tumbling 620 feet, these spectacular falls are framed midway by narrow, tree-covered rock walls, and spanned by the Benson Bridge. The falls are conveniently located just off the highway and they require no hiking to see. The Benson Bridge and upper viewing platform are closed due to the damage from the Eagle Creek fire in September of 2017. The lower viewing area and plaza at the base are open.
2 Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway
To fully appreciate the scenery of the Columbia River Gorge, take a leisurely drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway and stop off at some of the spectacular sites along the way. This two-lane National Historic Landmark, first opened between 1916 and 1923, runs for 70 miles from Troutdale to The Dalles, along the Columbia River. The striking cliff walls and dramatic waterfalls, along with some high viewing points, are the main highlights of this drive. Two of the key attractions, where you'll want to stop off for a closer look, are the 1918 Vista House on Crown Point, offering fabulous views over the Gorge, and the 620-foot Multnomah Falls. Other impressive falls along here include Latourell, Shepperd's Dell, Bridal Veil, and Wahkeena.
Off the highway are numerous hiking trails and the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, for pedestrians and bicycles. Some of the sites along here were affected by the Eagle Creek fire in 2017, but efforts are ongoing to make sure areas are reopened as soon as possible.
3 View from Vista House on Crown Point
Sitting atop a basalt clifftop, the 1918 octagonal shaped Vista House and surrounding grounds offer outstanding views stretching out over the Columbia River Gorge in both directions. Located along the Historic Columbia River Highway, this is one of the finest and most accessible viewpoints in the area. The building itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and visitors can go inside for a look around. The best views are from the upper observation deck, but the vista is awesome from everywhere up here, even the parking area.
4 Mount Hood
The snow-capped peak of Mount Hood looming large on the horizon adds to the beauty of the area, but also provides a winter and summer playground for outdoor adventures. In winter, skiers hit the slopes of Mt. Hood, home to six different ski and snow-sport areas. The four major ski resorts on the mountain are Mt. Hood Meadows, Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood Ski Bowl, and Copper Spur. The Summit Ski Area is targeted towards beginners and families, and snow Bunny Sliding Area Sno Park, operated by Summit Ski Area, offers space for sledding and other activities. In summer, the area offers opportunities for hiking, biking, and camping. Timberline Lodge even offers summer skiing.
5 Kiteboarding and Windsurfing
Hood River is one of the best places to visit for kiteboarding and windsurfing in the United States. Consistent winds whistle up the Columbia River Gorge and provide great conditions for wind sports from May to September. This is also a great place to learn sports like kiteboarding. Quality schools offer features you don't find, with lessons at some kiteboarding destinations, including two-way Bluetooth helmet instructions, and jet-ski assistance. If you're not a kiter, it's still worth strolling down to the river to watch this sport in action.
Hiking around Hood River offers access to a mix of scenery, from hikes along the Columbia River Gorge, leading to waterfalls or high lookout points, to mountain scenery around nearby Mount Hood. In spring, the wildflowers provide vibrant color to the meadows, and in fall, the yellow and orange foliage offers a completely different look to the landscape. The most popular hikes throughout the hiking season are to the spectacular waterfalls, including Wahclella Falls, Dry Creek Falls, and Tamanawas Falls. Some hikes leave right from campgrounds along the Gorge. The Eagle Creek fire in September 2017 led to the closure of some trails, but most are expected to be temporary closures. Check conditions before heading out.
7 The Fruit Loop
One of the most popular tourist drives in the area, after the Historic Columbia River Highway, is the Fruit Loop. Running for 35 miles through rolling hills of orchards and forest, this route takes you to stops in small towns at local establishments selling locally produced goods, from fruits and vegetables to jams, syrups, and crafts. This area is an important pear growing area in the US, but you'll also find berries, apples, apricots, lavender, tomatoes, corn, squash, and more, depending on the time of year. The visitor centers offer trail maps of the Fruit Loop, with 29 numbered stops.
8 Mount Hood Railroad
The Mount Hood Railroad offers a scenic four-hour excursion from Hood River to Parkdale and back, and operates from spring until fall. The route runs through rolling hills of woods and orchards, and a picnic lunch is served in Parkdale for an extra fee. Special themed excursions are also available, including the Western Train Robbery, and the seasonal Train to Christmas Town. Three levels of service are on offer: standard; first class; and Diamond, which comes with seating in the upper area of a Sky Dome car.
Address: 110 Railroad Street, Hood River, Oregon
9 Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum
The WAAAM showcases an extensive collection of antique aeroplanes and automobiles, and even more impressive is the fact that they are still in operating condition. The facility has more than 3.5 acres of indoor hangar area for its displays. Most of the planes are small crafts that were used originally for recreational purposes. The more than 130 automobiles on display range from 1900 to 1960s models.
On the second Saturday of each month, they open their hanger doors and put pieces of their collection into action, firing up planes, cars, or motorcycles. If you stop by, you may see some of their historic planes flying over.
Address: 1600 Air Museum Road, Hood River, Oregon
Where to Stay in Hood River for Sightseeing
Hood River is relatively small and easy to get around. Since the main attraction here is the Columbia River, the best hotels are those with views over the river. Prices vary wildly by season, with rates rising dramatically during the summer months.
- Luxury Hotels: Overlooking the Columbia River, the Columbia Cliff Villas Hotel offers large, beautifully decorated suites with fireplaces, huge bathrooms, balconies, and outstanding views over the river. This pine-treed property is perched on a cliff on the western edge of Hood River. For romance and old-world charm, check out the neighboring property, Columbia Gorge Hotel and Spa. This historic hotel, built in the early 1920s, offers beautifully manicured grounds, which feature a waterfall and incredible views over the river, and individually decorated rooms.
- Mid-Range Hotels: The best mid-range hotel in Hood River is the Best Western Plus Hood River Inn, located on the waterfront close to downtown. The views over the river are outstanding from the rooms, the dining area (indoor and outdoor), and the heated outdoor pool and hot tub. Within walking distance of downtown, Hampton Inn & Suites Hood River is a newer property, with large suites. Some rooms offer river views.
- Budget Hotels: The Westcliff Lodge, west of town and overlooking the Columbia River, is a popular budget hotel, offering large, comfortable rooms and suites with beautiful views.