Hood River, with its charming downtown and majestic view of Mt. Hood, transforms into a winter wonderland in December, making it a prime destination for folks ready to be fully immersed in the holiday spirit. If twinkly lights, Santa sightings, train rides and powdery slopes are what your family is looking for, grab your little elves and discover why this quaint city is called “The Holiday Town of Oregon.”

PolarExpress_Santa

 photo: Mt. Hood Railroad

The Mt. Hood Railroad Polar Express
Calling all fans of the beloved tale, The Polar Express! The classic story (of both book and film) is recreated on an excursion that begins with the conductor’s call of “All aboard!” Guests are treated to the telling of the story from the motion picture soundtrack, and the conductor, dancing chefs, the doubting hobo, and Santa himself all make appearances on the ride.

You can expect hot cocoa and cookies, and Santa will sit down and visit every child to personally hear their Christmas wishes and hand them their own silver sleigh bell. Returning from the North Pole, Christmas carols will be sung as you travel back to the station. The train ride lasts 1.25 hours, from the time the train departs the station until it returns.

Insider’s Tip: If you go after 4:30 p.m., you won’t be able to see anything but darkness out the windows for the trip out and back, but the lights will be brighter at the North Pole. Make sure to allow extra time for parking, waiting inside the station and waiting in line for the restroom. After the trip, check out the gift shop and enjoying this historic station.

Afterwards, head to the Full Sail Brew Pub to warm up with yummy food and bubbly brews. They are totally family-friendly and even have a Future Full Sailers menu that’s just for kids.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nov. 8-Dec. 28, 2014
11:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
$20-$62/person (prices may vary based on peak travel dates). Not all dates have all departure times, so check the website for schedules.

Mt. Hood Railroad Depot
110 Railroad Ave.
800-872-4661
Online: mthoodrr.com

HoodRiver_TreeLighting

photo: Michael Peterson photography

Hood River Holidays
Downtown Hood River will kick off this month-long celebration on December 5th. Start your visit with some holiday shopping, watch the holiday parade as it heads downtown, and don’t forget to find Santa at G. Williker’s Toy Shoppe after the parade. Then, stay for the tree lighting at State & 2nd Street. Warm up with Ground Coffee or better yet, reserve a room now and plan to stay for the night. For a full schedule of events and information on how you can contribute with donated items, visit the website.

Dec. 5, 2014
5 p.m.-9 p.m.

Downtown Hood River
541-386-2000
Online: hoodriver.org

MtHoodMeadows_SantaSkis

photo: Mt. Hood Meadows

Breakfast with Santa
Bring your ski bums or first-timers to join Santa on the mountain. Santa’s favorite ski resort is Mt. Hood Meadows and he’ll be visiting on the 21st for breakfast followed by a few runs down the hill. The breakfast buffet starts at 8 a.m. at the Vertical North Pole restaurant, located at the top level of the North Lodge. There will be time for photos, then the boots and skis will come on and Santa will join everyone on the slopes.

Dec. 21, 2014
8 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

Mt. Hood Meadows
14040 Hwy. 35
503-337-2222
Online: skihood.com

NYEHoodRiver

photo: Mt. Hood Meadows

NYE Brrring in the New Year with Widmer
Widmer Brothers Brewing hosts a celebration of the new year on the slopes of Mt. Hood Meadows. A dinner buffet will be served and the family can grab one last ski run in 2014. A 21 and over party begins at 8 p.m., but kids are welcome to join in for dinner and skiing.

Dec. 31, 2014
3 p.m.-12:15 a.m.
$39-$69/kids (14 and under); $49-$69/youth (15-20); $49-$85/adults

Mt. Hood Meadows
14040 Hwy. 35
503-337-2222
Online: skihood.com

Is Hood River a favorite December destination for your family? Let us know in the Comments below!

— Marianne Walters