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Happy Oregon Trails: Mt. Hood & the Columbia River Gorge

What’s your idea of a dream vacation? For me, it’s exploring a destination I’ve never been to before—preferably an under-the-radar, slower-paced spot brimming with beauty and bountiful culinary experiences (beer drinking, vino tasting, spirit sipping, fruit picking, mushroom foraging, farm-to-table feasting, and cow milking, oh my!).

If you, too, agree that wonderful wine, gushing waterfalls, and agricultural abundance are a match made in holiday heaven, then Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge—sited just east of Portland—should be added to your must-visit list, pronto.

Multnomah Falls


From PDX, pick up a rental car and head to Troutdale—the gateway to the Gorge and (fun fact!) once the “Celery Capital of the World”—for lunch at Lolo’s Boss Pizza (, a cozy pub whose palatable pies are topped with just-picked produce; and a pick-me-up at Good Coffee (, whose house-roasted beans are used to craft buzzworthy beverages like a seasonal smoked fig latte with allspice.

Journeying east along the famed Historic Columbia River Highway, aka “King of Roads,” make a pitstop in Cascade Locks for a burger and distinctly brewed beer at Thunder Island Brewing Company ( before heading onward to Hood River.  

Thunder Island Brewing Company


For a perfect home base, stay at Hood River Hotel (, a historically hip property with vintage vibes and stylishly restored rooms. Though positioned within walking distance of Hood River’s adorably artsy downtown district—home to Hood River Distillers (, the Northwest’s largest and oldest distillery; Full Sail Brewing Co. (, and Celilo Restaurant & Bar (, the tastiest, most upscale table in town—it’s also surrounded by ample outdoor activities (hiking, biking, windsurfing, skiing) and fertile farmland growing everything from grapes to Galas.

Hungry for a memorable meal in a memorable setting? Grab a bite to eat at The Riv (, an old stone church-turned-café whose honey lavender latte and fried chicken & waffles are worth worshipping; Hiyu Wine Farm ( for a seven-course, farm-foraged dinner lovingly paired with wildly complex natural wines; and Broder Øst (, a Nordic-style hotspot beloved for their breakfast “bjord” and Danish pancakes doused in powdered sugar alongside fresh lemon curd and lingonberry jam.

Broder Øst


Once you’ve had your fill of food, journey toward majestic Mt. Hood—a dormant volcano and Oregon’s highest point. En route, stop at one (or more!) of the family-owned “Fruit Loop” ( farms for peaches, pears, hard huckleberry ciders, and passionately made pinot noirs; or pay a visit to Timberline Lodge (, whose façade can be seen in The Shining.

Timberline Lodge


For your final few nights, bunk up at the tiny but mighty Mt. Hood Tiny House Village (—itty-bitty abodes in a wonderfully woodsy setting. At nearby Koya Kitchen (—a quirky Asian-esque food cart—slurp flights of sake and steaming bowls of ramen inside a converted school bus.

Those craving an interactive, off-the-beaten-path experience should visit Jones Homestead (, where you can go behind the scenes of a working farm, milk a cow, then taste the “udderly” delicious goods. If fungi are more your forte, go foraging for mushrooms (with a guide) in Mt. Hood National Forest; trust me: it’s magical in more ways than one.

Whatever adventures you choose in this secret, “gorge”ous slice of Oregon paradise, you’re bound to fall in love.

Foraging for Mushrooms


First Nature Tours

Want to leave the planning to the pros while traveling in the lap of luxury? Check out First Nature Tours (, a company committed to preserving the environment and providing discerning travelers with unforgettable, expertly curated journeys. Simply select your travel dates and companions, and their passionate, knowledgeable team will put together a completely custom itinerary—complete with world-class accommodations, private transportation, unique dining experiences, and bespoke excursions.


by Megan Wiskus
Hood River photo courtesy of Experience Mt. Hood and the Gorge. Inset photo courtesy of Travel Oregon. Multnomah Falls photo courtesy of Experience Mt. Hood and the Gorge. Lolo's Boss Pizza, Good Coffee, Thunder Island Brewing, Hood River Hotel, Hood River Distillers, Full Sail Brewing Co., The Riv, Hiyu Wine Farm, and Broder Øst, photos by Christopher Lim.