Hood River Inn: Your Winter Wonderful

You know how it feels when you walk in a place and “everybody knows your name!” Warm, welcoming, friendly and connected. That’s a feeling obvious from check-in to checkout at the  Best Western Plus Hood River Inn. The difference, no one actually knows your name, but every member of the team knows how to individualize the welcome and experience just for you. Hood River Inn is an exceptional “home base” for your Fall and Winter adventures.

hripoolAfter checking in and a car ride with a wiggly 2-year-old granddaughter we were ready for some outside play. A short walk along the river in view of incredible Fall colors we came to the shoreline pool. The sparkling blue water is heated year-round so you can swim with a view of Columbia River and Gorge. If that’s not enought there’s both an indoor and an outdoor hot tub. No worries about bare feet in winter, the pool deck is heated in the cooler months.

Fall and winter in Hood River is a perfect reason to book your stay at the Hood River Inn. We recently planned some fun in the area while sipping wine on our third floor deck as the sun set on the Columbia River, turning the Hood River/White Salmon Bridge a burnished gold. The Columbia River Gorge is an 80-mile marvel of moss and waterfall-laden basalt cliffs rising up to 4,000 feet above the mighty Columbia River and this was our day to explore waterfalls, hike and maybe give a try at fly-fishing for steelhead. The choices in Fall and Winter are endless.

hrihoodObviously, with Mt Hood rising magnificent on the horizon, winter thoughts turn to snow sports. XC ski, downhill skiing, a visit to the sledding park or cozying by the fire after watching some ski-racing.

Just as available are opportunities to explore via mountain bike or on the hiking trails. Just as much fun is strolling the diverse array of downtown Hood River with shops, restaurants, wine tasting niches seemingly carved from wood, stone and ambiance. hrisnowy

How do you decide? Weather plays into any decision in this outdoor haven of options. You can do what we did – ask at the front desk at the Hood River Inn.  We had scored a sunny, cool Fall day and it felt like an “apples and pears” sort of day. What orchards should we try and where should we have lunch? Once we posed the question the ideas came, with energy and smiles. Eventually Ben drew a sketch map, shared some ideas and we were on our way. Was that the end of it – absolutely not.

hrimoonThe next morning as we were heading into the Riverside for breakfast (more on that!) Ben called us over and asked which orchards we liked best and checked out some of our photos. It was a full circle of caring that makes all the difference in a vacation experience.

Even though we’ve stayed at Hood River Inn many times, we had never explored the nearby marina and the walking trail all the way to the Hood River Waterfront Park. Late afternoon one day we mentioned to a member of the staff that we didn’t want to get back in the car and wondered where we might walk, to maybe end up downtown. A few minutes later we walked through the marina, across a very cool walking-suspension bridge, around the event center and right to the heart of the windsurfing/kite-boarding mecca that is Hood River. Wetsuit clad brave souls were soaring and flitting across the water in a spectacle that had us mesmerized, just minutes from the Hood River Inn. We felt absolutely “local.”

Back to breakfast. When you stay at Hood River Inn your day begins with more breakfast choices than you can imagine, all fresh,  made to order and included with your stay. Heaters on the deck allowed us comfort and outdoor dining. When we came back for dinner, famished from so much walking and fun, everyone found a favorite thanks to the talent of  Chef Mark DeResta. As Hood River Oregon’s only waterfront restaurant, Riverside offers panoramic views of the mighty Columbia River from the dining room and the deck, a definite connection to the uniqueness of the area. hrideck

Remember the “everyone knows your name” feeling. It’s absolutely present in the cozy and well-appointed Cebu Lounge. We were lucky to be there on “prime rib night” and enjoyed more value for the yummy than you can imagine. Regular live music creates more of the fun and relaxing atmosphere we all love. hricebu2

Yes, the top quality attention to detail in every aspect of the fresh and renovated rooms at the Hood River Inn will please you. Even a stroll down any hallway  provides Pacific Northwest art as a feast for your eyes. It’s a very special experience.

hri1bedTake advantage of the uncrowded wonder that is Hood River in Fall and Winter. Immerse yourself in comfort, friendly ambiance and amazing value on so many levels. After all the fun, good night.

Weekend R&R: Hood River Inn

hrrr22It’s mid-November and we headed to Hood River, Oregon. We came with plans for fishing but the timing was not on our side. The salmon run was about over and the steelhead were not quite running. It was pretty cool for down wind runs on our standup boards in the Columbia. But a weekend – winter or fall – at the Best Western Plus Hood River Inn in Hood River was just the ticket for some much needed R&R. We came for the views, the room, the food and some amazing local hikes (think waterfalls).

We arrived late afternoon on Friday. Yes, there was music in the bar (beautiful blues) and (what a bonus) buy one amazing entree in the Riverside dining room and get one half off. Such perks are just the tip of the “bonus” iceberg at the Hood River Inn.  One of our favorites is the collection of art, featuring the beauty and spirit of the area, gracing every hall throughout the property. We always take the time to stroll the spacious hallways from wing to wing, noticing each unique painting and photo. Nothing gets you in the Pacific Northwest mood like these plentiful images. hrrrspe

Even though we could have enjoyed being on the river in Hood River’s only waterfront dining room, it was winter-dark at 6:00. We decided to sit in the bar with its “Friday Night Fun” energy and ambiance. Food, as always, perfect. We were in the mood for a great hamburger and were not disappointed.  From fresh and local seafood to exquisitely prepared pasta, choices abound.

Morning dawned sunny and stellar so we grabbed a riverside table for the (included) freshly prepared breakfast. Check out the menu for all the choices. We chose the shaved prime rib and bacon hash with eggs – yes, it was over-the-moon fantastic. We wanted a stick-to-our-ribs breakfast because the day was perfect for some waterfall hiking.


Dry Creek Falls

There are plenty of hikes that are ideal for the crisp days of Fall and Winter in the Hood River area. Our decision about which hike to do was not easy. We stopped at the reception desk and Hood River Inn staff chatted, full of information from their own experiences. They offered a colorful map with eight different waterfall hikes detailed and mapped.

One hike is the easy to moderate 5 mile out-and-back hike begins below the Bridge of the Gods — spanning the Columbia River off I-84 — and runs along the Pacific Crest Trail for a little more than two miles before reaching a dirt road that leads to Dry Creek Falls. Colors are best in mid- to late October. Even in late November the woods and mossy greens are delightful.

This is your invitation to visit Hood River in the Fall and Winter. It’s an experience to savor.


SUP Travel Jewel: Hood River Inn, OR

We enjoyed a similar moon rise the nights we stayed at the Hood River Inn (Best Western Plus)

We enjoyed a similar moon rise the nights we stayed at the Hood River Inn (Best Western Plus)

Athletes know the importance of the pre-race evening meal and carb loading.  Every year hundreds upon hundreds of water athletes, including standup paddlers, flock to Hood River, Oregon for famous down-wind events from Viento State Park to the community built Waterfront Park.  Others enjoy clinics, fun paddles and adventures requiring skill and endurance. These thousands of athletes need that pre-event meal. I have often used pizza or pasta for carb loading, and often that pizza and pasta were excellent. But I have never – not ever – had a pre-race carb loading meal like the one I had Friday night at the Hood River Inn (a Best Western Plus property managed for over a quarter century by Chuck Hinman). (Read more here)

We wandered in to the hotel’s  restaurant,  Rverside, just as the sun was turning the dramatic slopes on the Washington side of the Columbia River a burnished gold. Of course, we chose to sit outside on the well-protected deck peppered with blossoming baskets of brilliant flowers. Okay, back to the important part of this story – the pasta meal.  With an 8-mile downwinder scheduled for the next morning (with not enough wind to make it a glide in the park) we wanted fuel! 

Even the toughest of water athlete deserves to be spoiled when it comes to accommodations and great dining

Even the toughest of water athlete deserves to be spoiled when it comes to accommodations and great dining

With smiles we came to expect from the wait staff and hosts, we were lead to our table.  We sat down with a ticket in hand, provided at check-in,  that gave us 50% off the second dinner entree. (Are you kidding? The prices were so value-wonderful to begin with). The menu was a dinner party in words. After drooling over everything, we went for pasta dishes:

NEWRiverside_pastaI selected the Sausage and Fregula, which consisted of Olympic Provisions Parsley and Percorino sausage over toasted Fregula pasta, Calabran chiles, broccolini , spinach and Parmesan. It was a delight from the first mouthful until I cleaned the plate with a bit of the warm homemade bread. Toasted Fregula is taste and texture at its best.

Ed decided on the Vongole. He was delivered a bowl full of more than a dozen large Manila clams in garlic sauce over fresh linguine.  The clams were a never-ending parade of freshness. Ed enjoyed dipping those  beautiful mussels from their shells. Now, THAT is carb loading at its best. Oh, I forgot the best part.

Just before our amazing pasta dishes were delivered, the attentive wait team brought us a plate with three types of fresh bread, a serving of gourmet olives and delightful olive oil and vinegar for dipping. I usually eat very little bread. There is no way I could pass up a sampling of each fresh baked variety. You will want to know more about Chef Mark DeResta. He  has a blog with  a couple of good recipes. He’s a busy man, so the blog may not be updated as often as he likes, but it generally conveys his cooking philosophy.

Riverside uses fresh, local ingredients

Riverside uses fresh, local ingredients

You might head to Hood River, Oregon for a gnarly sports week or weekend. Even if you don’t usually focus on  fine dining at the most value-centric venue in town you will want to plan ahead and book your stay at the Hood River Inn – your expectation will be met and exceeded! That certainly happened for us.

Check out the other stories and video below