Thursday, March 8, 2012

Out and About: A Short Guide to Hood River

By Amanda Rickenbach

What do you know about Hood River? Probably that there are a lot of fruit trees, that it’s a windsurfing haven, and that it produces some pretty great booze – and you would be right. It’s a sweet little town tucked between two mountains on the Columbia River and it just happens to be my home. Hood River folk tend to love the outdoors (not unlike Portlanders) and it’s the perfect place to be for skiing, hiking, windsurfing, kite boarding, kayaking, camping, and cycling; really anything that involves installing a Thule rack on your Subaru. If you think there are a lot of Subaru’s in Portland, drive east an hour. And in case you want to go check out the Subaru population, I thought I would give you a couple of other things to investigate while you are there. I could go on forever about what to do and where to eat, but I narrowed it down to a few of my favorite places so I didn't end up with a novel.

Walk the old highway. 
On the 5 mile stretch from Hood River east to Mosier you will find the old highway that has been converted into a pedestrian/cycling path. It’s great for a jog, walk with the dog, bike ride, or leisurely stroll. There is even an old tunnel and of course fabulous views. 

Walk the stairs.
I grew up just a few hundred feet from the Hood River stairs and until a friend recently informed me, I had no idea that they were the second longest flight of stairs in the country. During my teens we would attempt to ski down them, race slide down the hand rails, and even make some of my friends carry me up on their backs. So if you want a good workout and some nice views of the town and Columbia river, check them out. They are smack dab in front of you when you drive into town from the second I84 exit. Can't miss them.

Brewery Tours
Hood River is home to Full Sail and Double Mountain – and they are only two blocks away from each other! I am partial to Double Mountains KÖLSCH, but seeing as that they are so close; why not have a beer and maybe a tour at both.

Wine Tasting
The micro-climates in the Hood River Valley make it ideal for growing a variety of grapes and because of this there are are more than a handful of great wineries in Hood River. My favorite is Cathedral Ridge. They have fantastic wine and a peaceful outdoor space that is perfect for a picnic with friends. Taste Katrina’s Chocolate while you are there too, a local chocolatier. 

If you like jewelry and home accessories then check Twigg out. They have some really unique and pretty jewelry and the people that work there are super nice. 

This shop has something for everyone. I have a plethora of rings I’ve gotten at Silverado over the years and still love every one of them.

Doug Sport
If you need sports wear, this is a great place to stop by. It's also a great place to pop into if you are looking for some cute clothes, sunglasses, shoes, or maybe a bathing suit. 

It honestly doesn't take long to stop in every little store downtown - it's not a very big place.

Stonehedge Gardens
Stonehedge is a fine dining restaurant but they definitely have inexpensive options. I worked there as a teenager and whenever I was home from college and have always loved the place. During the warm months they have lots of weddings, concert, and parties. The restaurant itself is an old house, one of the first built in the Hood River area. There is even a secret wall that opens to get to a private apartment upstairs.

6th Street Bistro
If you are wandering about downtown this is one of the many good restaurants to eat at. They have a variety of options and a nice little patio that is open in the summer.

Hood River is also a whole lot sunnier than Portland, so if you are growing tired of the clouds in our beautiful gray city, and hour drive might just bring you sunshine.

Photos: Mountain, Stairs, Old Highway, Beers, Winery Lavender, Shops (amanda), Restaurant.