This Historic City Is Home to America’s First Non-Alcoholic Distillery and Tasting Room

Hood River, Oregon is also the windsurfing and Anjou pear capital of the world.

Things to Do in Hood River, Oregon
Wilderton's distillery and tasting room in Hood River. | Photo courtesy of Wilderton
Wilderton's distillery and tasting room in Hood River. | Photo courtesy of Wilderton
Welcome to Two Days Away, our series featuring weekend-long itineraries within a five-hour drive of your city—because sometimes we all just need a little adventure fix.

Throughout the hour-long drive from Portland along the Columbia River Gorge, glimpses of gorgeous mountainsides and twinkling waves of water offer a sneak peek of what awaits in Hood River.

Nestled at the confluence of the Columbia and Hood Rivers, the Oregon city has many claims to fame, including a railroad depot on the National Register of Historic Places dating back to 1882, which helped it blossom and lead to the official establishment of Hood River in 1895. A block away, a historic downtown area and charming main street also offer small-town vibes dotted with mom-and-pop shops.

Currently, with a population of 8,000, Hood River is also known as being a year-long hub for outdoor sports against the prime backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, the Anjou pear capital of the world abundant with local fruit farms, and for the nearby bridge where Reese Witherspoon’s character ended her journey in the final scene of the 2014 film, Wild.

Hood River recently ushered in another first with the debut of Wilderton, America’s first non-alcoholic distillery and tasting room. For your next escape from Portland, here’s everything fun to do on a getaway to Hood River, Oregon.

Travel time

1 hour from Portland

Things to Do in Hood River, Oregon
Wilderton's distillery and tasting room in Hood River. | Photo courtesy of Wilderton

If you don’t do anything else: Sip zero-proof cocktails and hang at America’s first non-alcoholic distillery and tasting room

America’s relationship with alcohol is rapidly changing, and long gone are the days when booze-free living meant doom for a social life. The forward evolution of this new norm is also in part to companies like Wilderton, a botanical-driven non-alcoholic craft spirits brand. They opened their flagship homebase in Hood River to welcome the country’s first NA distillery and tasting room. Located at the Hood River Waterfront Park and founded by Oregon locals, Brad Whiting and Seth O’Malley, head to the gorgeous space for drinks and distillery tours for sober hangs all year beyond Dry January and Sober October.

Fill your days

Things to do outdoors in Hood River

From water sports and skiing to hikes with waterfalls, Hood River is a great place to enjoy the outdoors all year.

Known as the “Windsurfing Capital of the World,” catch waves on the Columbia River Gorge with lessons and rentals from both Brian's Kiteboarding, Windsurfing, & SUP and Big Winds. Mt. Hood is Oregon’s tallest peak and just a 20-minute drive away. Hit the slopes at Mt. Hood Meadows for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing through an array of trails open to all ability levels.

The Pacific Crest Trail is a famous 2,650-mile hiking trail that runs along the American West Coast from Mexico to Canada through the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Its Oregon route passes through the Bridge of the Gods in the nearby city of Cascade Locks, which is a 25-minute drive away. The bridge is also known for the final scene of Wild. Take a selfie on the famous bridge and hop on the PCT path for a bit to take in the celebrated Pacific Northwest nature.

The local region is also home to a plethora of hiking trails and scenic destinations like waterfalls at Pool of the Winds.

Eat, drink and sleep

Restaurants and bars in and near Hood River

Located on the downtown main street of Oak Street, Broder Øst on the ground floor of the Hood River Hotel offers Scandinavian fare within a casual two-story dining room. Serving brunch only, the kitchen is open daily from 8 am–3 pm for dishes like Swedish Meatballs and the Signature Lindstrom Burger paired with champagne cocktails or aquavit, a traditional Scandinavian spirit.

Just over the Hood River Bridge in the nearby city of White Salmon (which is technically in Washington State), Henni’s Kitchen and Bar offers a refined dinner menu with Fresh Baked Focaccia, Fresh Black Mussels, and Pan-Seared Halibut to pair with beer, wine, and signature cocktails.

In nearby Stevenson, also on the other side of the Columbia River in Washington, the 175-acre resort, Skamania Lodge, is an entire destination of its own. Dine at its onsite eateries, Cascade Dining Room and River Rock Lounge, for local and seasonal offerings ranging from Margherita Pizza, Braised Short Rib, and Pacific Seafood Risotto with any booze to your liking.

Things to Do in Hood River, Oregon
The Hood River Hotel | Photo courtesy of the Hood River Hotel

Where to stay in Hood River

Sitting on Oak Street and a block away from the historic train station, the Hood River Hotel dates back to 1912 and is also on the National Register of Historic Places. The pet-friendly lodgings range from modern suites with a contemporary aesthetic to classic rooms that capture all of the vintage elements (creaky floors included) of the more than century-old establishment. Take note: if you get an eerie and creepy feeling anywhere on the property—or especially during eye contact with the faces in the massive photographs hanging above beds—just know you’re not alone.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTikTokTwitterFacebookPinterest, and YouTube.

Tae Yoon is the Senior Editor of East, Local cities at Thrillist. He was born and raised in Queens, New York.