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It's all about the views

Vacationing by air, foot and bicycle in scenic Hood River, Oregon

MountNbarreL, an agro-tourism company offering bike and wine tours through Hood River, Oregon, highlights the region’s spectacular views and commitment to outdoor tourism on its guided adventures. Photo credit: Christina Butcher

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It's safe to say that when most people head to Oregon for a weekend getaway, they've got Portland on their minds. But there's another destination nearby, nestled deep in the Columbia River Gorge, where vacationers looking to get out of the city can lose themselves in Oregon's stunning landscapes and aerial views. We're talking about Hood River, Oregon, a hidden gem among Oregon's vacationing spots.

"Hood River is wildly gorgeous, offering outdoor recreation, dramatic vistas, historic landmarks, bountiful fruit and fantastic food, wine, beer and cider," said Mike Glover, president/CEO of Hood River County Chamber of Commerce. "Hood River is a four-season destination for families, outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs and anyone else looking for a relaxing getaway surrounded by nature."

One of Hood River's most notable draws is its stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood. To experience the full beauty of Hood River's prime views, vacationers should consider hopping aboard a flight with Envi Adventures, a company offering year-round, scenic flight adventures over nearby landmarks such as Multnomah Falls, Vista House at Crown Point, Bonneville Dam, the Bridge of the Gods and the Columbia River. Envi Adventures' flights range anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour 45 minutes in length aboard a charming Cessna 182 aircraft.

If you prefer to keep both feet firmly on the ground, Hood River's historic downtown is the perfect place to explore by foot. Among the dozens of breweries, restaurants and specialty shops that line downtown Hood River, visitors can head to the Columbia Center for the Arts, where literary, performing and visual arts exhibits are on display, or pop into the History Museum of Hood River County to learn about the region's cultural and economic heritage. The Big Art Walking Tour, a four-and-a-half mile walking-tour of public art across Hood River's parks and businesses, is another great option for travelers who enjoy ambling through unknown territory.

"Over the years, Hood River has been transformed from a sleepy agricultural town to one of Oregon's top visitor destinations, but it still retains its small-town charm," said Glover. "It's the perfect basecamp for exploring both the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood."

Adding to Hood River's allure as an outdoor-focused getaway is MountNbarreL, a unique agro-tourism company founded by Ali McLaughlin in 2016. MountNbarreL offers guided bike and wine tours through Hood River's wine country. Bike tours consist of six to eight-mile rides through Hood River's Oak and Pine Grove areas. Stops along the tour include Marchesi Vineyards, Phelps Creek Vineyards, The Gorge Whitehouse, Viento Wines, WyEast Vineyards and Mt. Hood Winery. Tours also stop at U-pick farms, where participants can harvest fruit themselves, and include light lunch pairings at wineries. To top it all off, MountNbarreL bikes are all equipped with a wine box to allow tour participants to purchase bottles of wine along the route and store them on the bike, worry free.

Hood River is also the perfect starting point for a scenic drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway. The 70-mile stretch of roadway runs between Troutdale and The Dalles, Oregon, and offers breathtaking views of the Columbia River Gorge along the route. Portland Women's Forum Scenic Viewpoint, Vista House at Crown Point, Horsetail Falls, Bridge of the Gods and Rowena Crest Viewpoint are some of the best stops on the historic highway for sweeping, panoramic views of the region. If you need to stretch your legs a bit during the drive, Horsetail Falls Loop, Mosier Twin Tunnels and Bonneville Lock and Dam all offer short hiking opportunities along the winding road.

"While Hood River gets a lot of attention in the summer ... fall is an exceptional time to visit the area," said Glover. "(It's) an idyllic autumn destination like no other."

Hood River County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday (May-Oct. only), 720 East Port Marina Dr., Hood River, Oregon, 541.386.2000,

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