Apple Valley BBQ
Load up on fruits at the orchard and then go about a mile away to Apple Valley BBQ. Featuring fresh, 100% Angus beef, this casual BBQ joint offers an array of proteins included their finger lickin’ good ribs and a coleslaw made of pears fresh from Kiyokawa Family Orchard.
Cascade Alpacas of Oregon
Following lunch, head further inland to Cascade Alpacas of Oregon to feed and pet these friendly, inquisitive creatures. Depending on the season, you might even be lucky enough to meet a baby alpaca! The on-site store offers an assortment of knitting and crocheting tools including the largest selection of alpaca yarn in the Columbia River Gorge.
The Gorge White House
While Oregon and Hood River have booming craft breweries, it also makes perfect sense for the fruit-producing region to be fully into the hard cider scene. With 11 established cideries and more in the works, craft cider makers feature the fruits produced by the region’s 440+ orchards to make a fully local product. One especially notable cidery takes up residence in a charming 1908 Dutch Colonial house. Dubbed The Gorge White House, this 100-year old landmark is a highly recommended stop while touring the Hood River Valley. Tasting flights and full bottles of the cidery’s award-winning hard ciders include flavors in apple-pear, blueberry, and both sweet and dry apple ciders.
Twin Tunnels Trail Bike Ride
After exploring the Fruit Loop, head back towards the water to top off your afternoon with a refreshing walk or bike ride along the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. Offering stunning vistas and a tour through the historic five-mile Twin Tunnels, this trail is closed to motorized traffic and is popular among runners, walkers, and bike riders.
Continuing further down I-84 East (approximately a 40-minute drive) is the historic, wild west town of The Dalles. Located along the banks of the Columbia River with views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams, The Dalles has amazing weather with over 300 days of sunshine every year. Weather and location make The Dalles an ideal base for a variety of activities including cycling, hiking, rafting, kayaking, and even snow sports in the winter, given its relative proximity to Mount Hood.
In late 2015, co-owners Steve and Laurie Petroff opened Freebridge Brewery in a former U.S. Mint Building in The Dalles’ downtown area. Originally named after the first bridge to cross the Deschutes River on the Oregon Trail, Freebridge features an active production floor with a small event space and a 45-seat tasting room. Craft beers are central to the menu, but there is also a food menu. The spent grain pretzel bites with beer cheese and house mustard are to die for!
After indulging in beer tastings and a flight of appetizers at Freebridge, stroll a few blocks down the street to the old Baldwin Saloon. With roots dating back to 1876, this building has gone through lots of transition, at one point as a coffin storage warehouse. Today, the Baldwin Saloon is a popular eatery featuring the talents of chef Tamara Huffman, and is renowned for making everything on its massive menu from scratch. Culinary highlights include chèvre stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, homemade pasta, scallops provencal, and 12 decadent desserts (also all made from scratch). In addition to a robust menu, the Baldwin Saloon is worth a visit for its simple, yet elegant interior including turn-of-the-century oil paintings that adorn the walls.
Day 3 Accommodations: R&R Guesthouse
As a regular bed and breakfast traveler, I’ve experienced my fair share of b&bs around the country and world. But nothing compares to the quality of service and overall design and comfort offered by R&R Guesthouse. Located in The Dalles just a short walk (or drive) away from downtown, this private, turn-of-the-century classic home has been tastefully remodeled with suites and gathering spaces to make you feel as if you were staying in a luxurious chateau. Amenities include a heated outdoor pool and massage hot tub, private outdoor deck and fire pit and media room with flat screen TV. There are three private rooms, with three and a half bathrooms. The lower level of the house is an apartment suite that can also be rented out.
Itinerary – Day 3 (last day)
Meet The Floozies
Wake from a restful sleep at R&R Guesthouse and enjoy a home-cooked breakfast at the crack of dawn. You might be fortunate enough for your visit to coincide with the arrival of the Portland Spirit River Cruise and the Fort Dalles Floozies and Friends welcoming committee. Operating in Cascade Locks from May to October and in Portland from November to April, this unique river cruise aboard an authentic Sternwheeler takes guests on brunch, dinner, and sightseeing cruises. When the cruise docks in The Dalles, they are greeted by the local Fort Dalles Floozies and Friends. Their mission is to promote enjoyment, laughter, and overall entertainment for residents and visitors to The Dalles.
Morning SUP yoga
Before the winds pick up, head out to the shores of the Columbia River for a peaceful session of standup paddle boarding (SUP). Stand up paddle board rentals are abundant and easy to find in The Dalles. The early morning calm makes standing on a board and paddling much easier as the waters clear and virtually free of any currents. Those brave at heart can even try some SUP yoga moves. Wondering what to wear for stand up paddle boarding? Clothing that can withstand possible wetness is definitely recommended, as well as a dry bag to hold any items of value.
Lunch at pFriem
Following SUP yoga, it’s time to start making your way back to Portland. But first, lunch! Head back toward Hood River and stop by the newly revitalized waterfront for a beer and meal at pFriem Family Brewers. Influenced by the brewers of Belgium, pFriem beers are artisanal and complex with classic, select, and barrel-aged brews on the menu. Fancy a particular beer? Take it home in a growler. Food-wise, the usual lunchtime suspects are available, but the mac and cheese or vegan bowl featuring local Oregon summer squash noodles are special highlights.
Return to Portland
The Dalles is the last stop on this three-day, two night trip to the Mount Hood/Columbia River Gorge region in Oregon. At this point, you are 85-miles away from Portland, roughly an hour and a half’s drive.
And so concludes this two-part mini travel guide to the Hood-Gorge region of Oregon. Hopefully, it entices you to visit sometime soon!