Eat, Play, Love the Columbia Gorge
Part 3 of 3 in the Oregon 2009 travelogue, and the first in an occasional “Eat, Play, Love” series* of quick notes and reviews from our family’s favorite places.
The past several years our trips to Oregon have included jaunts to the Coast, but limited time this year sent us east of Portland, instead, for a day-trip up the Columbia Gorge. It’s too gorgeous (haha) to do it justice in a short post, but here are a couple highlights. The most well-known of the Gorge’s incredible waterfalls is Multnomah, but there are about a dozen in total along the Historic Columbia River Highway scenic route, several visible from the road and others you’ll have to hike in to see.
EAT: Pack a picnic to eat at the base of Multnomah Falls, where you can watch salmon smolts swimming and get up close and personal with passing freight trains. (Keep an eye out for roadside stands on the scenic route by Crown Point offering fresh berries or other seasonal produce.) There is a restaurant if you don’t want to pack your own food, and you can reward hungry little hikers with soft-serve ice cream and/or fudge at the base of the falls. If you time your day to end, as we did, in Hood River, mom and dad will enjoy the libations at independently-owned Full Sail Brewing Co., where they do have a verbal children’s menu if you ask, and kids and parents alike will enjoy the view of tug boats, barges and kitesurfers in the river below.
PLAY: Swimming is no longer allowed in the pool beneath Multnomah Falls after a large chunk of rock broke off several years ago. But you can continue a little further down the road to Horsetail Falls and splash or swim at will in the refreshingly cool pool. Water shoes recommended as the bottom is rocky. Kids who can hike at greater than a .25 mile per hour pace will enjoy the loop behind upper Horsetail, where you can actually walk behind the fall. Out at Hood River, beaches provide ample playing space for smaller kids, and the adventurous can sign up for windsurfing or kitesurfing lessons.
LOVE: It’s been 14 years since I lived in Oregon, so I rely on NW Kids and several Oregonians I follow on Twitter for new ideas or reminders of old favorites when we head back: some faves, @magazinemama (of NW Kids), @LizEBoz, @designmama, @pdxmama, @lelonopo, @sarahgilbert, and @thiskat.
* I thought I was being clever with my “Eat, Play, Love” theme riff on the best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love, but it turns out someone else beat me to it. Check out her fun blog, too – especially this awesome kitchen sink salad on a waffle.