I have often heard that Oregon is a special state, boasting epic nature, sweeping landscapes and lots of fun outdoor recreation.
With a quick flight into Portland, I had a whole list of adventures laid out before me. I picked up my rental car at PDX, had my road trip playlist synced, and proceeded along an easy half hour drive into a whole other world. I had no idea how quickly my expectations would be surpassed. Oregon is amazing, and the region of Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge is particularly special!
McMenamins Edgefield: A Historical Site Like No Other
With no exaggeration, I actually squealed with joy when I pulled up to the McMenamins Edgefield property in Troutdale. A rather imposing looking mansion, yet with lovely Victorian grandeur, the property’s many delights and activities were spread out before me. Set amongst trees and winding pathways, this hotel has 26 different venues to enjoy, a brewery, winery/tasting room and spa, just to name a few. Once an asylum for the mentally ill and now rumoured to be haunted, the tone and history of this beautiful and strange hotel is one to take in. Considering the many eccentricities in decor and artwork throughout the entire property, there is really no place like McMenamins Edgefield.
Hiking Near Multnomah Falls in Oregon
Historic Columbia River Highway: Spectacular Views
The next day was all about checking out historical sites within nature. It is a must to include Multnomah Falls, as well as the Vista House on Crown Point, in your itinerary. Enjoy the spectacular view of Multnomah Falls along the Columbia River Highway. It is convenient to park, check out the visitors’ centre and take a lovely walk to the powerful falls. Also along the Historic Columbia River Highway is the Vista House, built in 1917. The views from Crown Point are a photographer’s dream.
The next activity on my itinerary was a bike ride along the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. Easily accessible from the I-84 East, you can park, jump on your bike and enjoy the green stretching out before you. Pack a picnic and stop along the pathway for a little relaxation in nature. Continue your ride into Cascade Locks, the only city along the Pacific Crest Trail.
As you travel east, check out Hood River, a premier windsurfing and kiteboarding destination in the U.S. The kites and sails soaring across and over the water provide a colorful and enchanting display. For some exercise and exceptional views of the river, take a paddle boarding ride with Float On in The Dalles, known for their stand up paddle board yoga (SUP yoga). The expert teachers are friendly, and the whole experience combines fun, fitness and leisure, like much of the Columbia River Gorge region.
Scenic hikes near Mt. Hood, Oregon
Decadence at Sunshine Mill Artisan Plaza & Winery
A real treat is the Sunshine Mill Artisan Plaza Winery. With some excellent wines and an eclectic tasting room decorated in comfy vintage furniture (think an upcycled urban look), this is a great place to kick back and enjoy some wine and delicious tapas-style menu items that are perfect for sharing. I had a lovely cheese plate, charcuterie and olives with a great flight of wines to try. It has a fantastic outdoor seating area where you can enjoy a bottle of wine as you take in a movie under the stars or play a few rounds of bocce ball in the summer months. For the cooler seasons, fire pits provide warmth and add to the ambiance.
The thing about the Mount Hood/Columbia River Gorge area is that there is so much to see and do that it is almost impossible to fit it into one day, and really, why should you? It’s such a gorgeous road trip that you will want to take your time and make spontaneous stops along the way. My advice is this: Plan to see what interests you the most, but take a few days and enjoy yourself. It’s the journey and not only the destination that counts!
Charcuterie at Sunshine Mill Winery in The Dalles, Oregon