This year marks the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail. The 2,170 mile covered wagon trek from Independence, MO to Oregon City, OR took place in our own backyard, The Gorge! From the 1840's to the 1880's, thousands of pioneers made the trek for a promise of a new life in Oregon. There are a ton of events happening to celebrate the anniversary. Check them out here and make sure to plan a weekend out of it! I promise you will have the best time! Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory has a ton of information on their site, so make sure to check that out too!
Our family had the privilege of spending the weekend in the Columbia River Gorge to celebrate The Oregon Trail's 175th anniversary along with Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory and we had the best time! It was such a fun getaway for our family of 5 (including our Golden Retriever, Dexter!). Visiting the Columbia River Gorge where the Oregon Trail took place is really enjoyable to visit with kids there are so many kid friendly activities along the way! We love that there is so much beauty located just about an hour from Portland. For this trip, we started out in The Dalles and traveled back to Hood River to spend the night. Keep reading for our weekend adventures!
Our First Stop
I was born in Portland, so I have made countless trips to the Gorge and I have so many fond memories of our many hikes to Multnomah Falls, Latourell Falls, and trips to Charburger (just to name a few). We spent a lot of time learning about The Oregon Trail in school, so it was really great to be able to celebrate the 175th anniversary with Mt. Hood Territory on this trip. Our first stop on this trip was to The Dalles. I have to be honest. In all my years living in Oregon, I've never actually stopped in The Dalles! If you've ever driven in Portland, then you've all seen the signs that point to The Dalles. It was great to actually spend some time there!
The Dalles is the Eastern gateway to the Columbia River Gorge scenic area. Pioneers arrived to The Dalles with their only option to float their wagons down the river to make it to the Willamette Valley. Our first stop was SweetHeart Bake Shop. We actually got to meet the owner who moved there from Portland a couple of years prior. The girls enjoyed a pink Macaron and took a few photos in their "selfie" station. It was an adorable spot and had lots of yummy baked goods to choose from.
McKinlee enjoying the selfie station
After our stop for a sweet treat, we headed to Klindt's Booksellers, Oregons oldest bookstore. They had a really great children's area. It was really tough to get the girls to leave! We had an appointment at The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum, so we picked up a couple of books and hit the road.
The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum
While at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum, we met with Bambi Foy who is the education coordinator at the center. Bambi has a wealth of knowledge of all animals, especially the raptors that she cares for at the center. The Raptor Project takes in disabled birds that would otherwise be euthanized. Right now, they have two bald eagles, a great horned owl (my favorite!), an American Kestrel, a Rough Legged Hawk, a Cooper's Hawk, and a Red Tailed Hawk. We were lucky enough to get super close to all of the raptors and even got in the cage with the bald eagles. It was an experience we'll never forget! Bambi is truly a modern pioneer. She is so passionate about educating others and really cares about the birds living at the center. After meeting with Bambi, we went through the museum which was amazing for the girls to see. It was really interactive and walked us through Oregon's history. I would highly recommend visiting the center, especially with kids!
I cannot believe we got to get inside the cage with the Bald Eagles!
my personal favorite - this guy was so cute
inside the interactive museum
the Columbia River Gorge
Rowena Crest View Point
I basically saw my life flash before my eyes while taking the below photo at Rowena Crest View Point, but it was totally worth it. I've seen people get way further out there, but I was good right where I was at. Rowena Crest is just between The Dalles and Hood River and it's an absolute must see. It's off highway 30 which is the old highway, and I'd totally recommend driving it if you have time. You'll go slower, but it's worth it for all the gorgeous spots you'll see on your way.
Our next stop was one of our favorite cities, Hood River! We have visited Hood River several times, and always love going back. It's less than an hour drive from Portland. The city is full of breweries, wineries, shops, orchards, and beautiful parks. We've never actually spent the night, so we were excited to be able to stay for longer than a day. I have some really great spots for you to check out!
the pool at the Best Western Plus Hood River
We stayed at The Best Western Plus right on the waterfront in Hood River. It was such a great spot and had beautiful amenities. The pool is gorgeous and overlooks the river. It's also pet friendly and they gladly welcomed Dexter with a bag of treats and dog food. The hotel is about a mile walk to the riverfront restaurants and down town.
pFriem - our new favorite brewery!
When we've visited before, we've always eaten at Full Sail or Double Mountain. This time, we headed to pFriem Family Brewers located right on the waterfront. It's a super popular place, so I'd recommend getting there early. Our wait was worth it because we were sat right next to the kids play area. Score! Ryan and I enjoyed a flight of their beer (my favorite was the Blonde IPA) before our dinner arrived. I got the pimento cheeseburger, Ryan got a cubano, and the girls split brautwurst and homemade apple sauce. Our dinner was SO good. We'll definitely be going back! pFriem also has an outdoor patio with a cozy fire pit. After dinner, we walked across the street and the girls played at the waterfront park. They made a couple of friends and played until 8:30PM!
our beer flights
the kids play area
Waterfront Park - Dex enjoyed jumping into the river!
the building behind Madi is pFriem - it's that close!
the girls were in love with the playground - they could have stayed for hours
What to See in Hood River
panorama point - our favorite spot in Hood River
On Sunday, we had breakfast at our hotel overlooking the river. It was also really great! Sometimes you never know what you'll get with a hotel breakfast, but this one was legit. After breakfast we headed to our favorite spot in Hood River, Panorama Point. If you take highway 35, you'll run right into the sign just a few miles from downtown Hood River. It is what it says, Panoramic views of the countryside, Mount Hood and Mount Adams. The weather was pretty cloudy on this visit, but on a clear day the view is out of this world! There are an abundance of orchards in Hood River, and one of our favorites is Packard Orchard. They have a sunflower field that is unbelievable. Definitely plan a visit in August to see them! Make sure to stop by the Gorge White House off highway 35. They have beer, wine, food, and a shop. They have a gorgeous outdoor area to sip your drinks and look at the scenery.
The Gorge White House
Hood River has a TON of wineries. We've visited Naked Winery in downtown Hood River on previous trips. It's a really fun atmosphere. On this trip, we visited Cathedral Ridge. It was on our way home, so we figured we'd stop in for a visit. The grounds are really beautiful and there is a ton of outdoor seating. It was a perfect spot for the girls to run around before our drive home!
I got the Rosé
When to Visit
We had an unseasonably cold and rainy weekend in Portland, but as soon as we got to Hood River and The Dalles, the weather cleared up quite a bit. The Dalles has around 300 days of sunshine each year, so it's usually always nicer weather than in Portland. Hood River is also usually nicer if the weather is not great in Portland. I'd recommend visiting Hood River from July-October. One of our favorite events takes place in October, the Hood River Harvest Festival. We took McKinlee when she was only 6 weeks old! The festival takes place right on the waterfront and its a beautiful time of year there. The Lavender Festival also takes place in July. I'm a huge flower lover and you know I wouldn't miss it!
Several other bloggers and influencers also wrote about their trips in various locations along the Oregon Trail. Make sure to check out their posts below!