If you’ve been to Hood River you know what an instant love affair is. This place is the bestest. We’re crushing on the wind-loving super athletes, craft breweries, epic Columbia River and Cascade Mountain views and the endless ways to fill a family-friendly day.
Flips, Flops and Fun
It’s only an hour away, yet Hood River feels different. Perhaps it’s the abundance of flip-floppers. Not the political vote-changing kind, the wanna-be-as-close-to-barefoot-as-possible-at-all-times kind. Grab your little adventurers, pile in the family truckster and head east on I84. It’s gonna be a fab day with these blockbuster options to play, eat, amble and get into some hands-on mischief. Away we go!
After making the 54-mile trekkie to Hood River it’s likely the youngsters need to get out and move. Hood River has some impressive playgrounds begging for youthful attention. Two of our faves are the Children’s Park at 9th and Eugene and Waterfront Park on the river. It’s very easy to hit both and we recommend you do!
The Children’s Park is a fortress of wood with twists and turns, turrets and tire swings, sand and slides. Imaginations will run wild. Waterfront Park rocks all kids of cool climbing, spinning and general smile-inducing joy with a heart-stoppingly-gorgeous backdrop.
A River Runs Through It
Get in the river! The Columbia River wants your toes to say hello. Suit up the minis and splash away. There is sand a-plenty and grass, too. Your kiddos will beat the heat and then some. Sand castle contests, fort building and general water-induced frenzy awaits. Bring toys, gear and floaties. You’ll need ’em!
You can keep an eye on the kidlets while watching the kite boarders in the background. Crazy athleticism is flaunted daily and the world-class wind here makes for some impressive displays. The whole family will love checking this out.
Refuel and Reboot
By this point, lunch is probably on order. Two of our favorites are Full Sail Brewery with their larger-than-life patio views and the Pfriem Brewery. This family-run biz rocks diapers and wipes in the bathrooms plus a small play area. Pub fare and kiddo menus abound, but save room for desert.
When everybody’s done eating, get ready for a much-loved local treat, Mike’s Ice Cream on the main drag of Oak Street. This place always has a line! Parents win with the location: there’s a lawn at-the-ready for before or after cone-templating. It’s hang out central, y’all.
Trains, Planes and/or Natural Terrain
The Mt Hood Railroad is right down the street and a sure bet for a memorable outing. Talk about a gorge-ous (forgive us, had to be done) way to see the sights. Who doesn’t want to ride a train?
Also on offer is the Western Antique Automobile and Aeroplane Museum. With vintage and antique (and still running) cars, planes, motorcycles and helis…. Your mini coopers are gonna explode with glee. Lots to climb on and in here and even a kiddo area to boot.
If your littles wanna chase waterfalls there’s hiking a-plenty close by. It may require getting back in the car, but it’s a great way to break up the ride home. Red Tricyclists love them some Tom McCall Preserve, Oneonta Gorge and Latourell Falls… among others.
Or steer your brood to the farmadises found in the Fruit Loop. Summer rocks on these farms – with plenty of fresh berries and fruits to pick, animals to feed and pet, tree swings to co-opt and glorious views of Mt Hood to soak in. Maybe you can even squeeze in a nap in a grassy field when no one’s looking.
If you need more ideas to break up the ride home, don’t forget about the hands-on fish-tastic fun at Bonneville Dam & Fish Hatchery or if your hippos are getting hungry again, McMenamin’s Edgefield in Troutdale is poised to take that edge off.
Hood River is one mighty fine find for a blockbuster day away and that’s why we heart it so. We wish we could clone its beauty, play hard vibe and array of stellar activities; then sprinkle ’em around Portland like pixie dust. Wouldn’t that be fab? In the mean time, have an affair to remember with your littles in the Hood. You will be loved back in the best currency of all: sandy toes, ice-cream mustaches and sleepy grins.
Tell us about your favorite features at Hood River!
— Liz Overson
Big thank yous for the photos urbanspoon.com, traveloregon.com, mapofplay.com, hoodriverwaterfront.org, Laura Sandvig, Abby Kindrick and Liz Overson.