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Travel: Driving I-84 Along the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River, and Pfriem Family Brewers

One of the most beautiful drives in the world (yes, the whole world!) is along the Columbia River Gorge. Recently, a group of friends and I were road tripping to Tri-Cities, Washington for a wine country weekend (more posts on that to come soon) and enjoyed this gorgeous scenic drive from the comfort of a 2013 Mazda CX-9 (courtesy of Drive STI; read my car review here).

Travel: Driving I-84 along the Columbia River Gorge

Separating Washington to the north and Oregon state to the south, the Columbia River Gorge is a canyon that stretches for miles and miles and miles. It’s my personal path of choice when traveling from Portland, Oregon to Eastern Oregon, Eastern Washington, or Idaho.

Between Portland and our exit, we witnessed the towering 4,000-foot canyon of the Columbia River Gorge, majestic Multnomah Falls, historic Bonneville Dam and Cascade Locks, dry desert, mild forests, and numerous bridges connecting the two states.

WA Wine Country - Hood River Drive - 04

Because of the wind tunnel effect created in the Columbia River Gorge, the area is popular for windsurfing as well as for numerous wind farms that produce thousands of megawatts of energy.

WA Wine Country - Hood River Drive - 03

Most exits along the I-84 Columbia River Gorge route either take you into beautiful wilderness camping areas or lovely small towns that slow your pace with a slice of classic Americana.

WA Wine Country - Hood River Drive - 02

WA Wine Country - Hood River Drive - 01

One of the largest towns along the I-84 Columbia River Gorge corridor that you’ll want to stop in is Hood River. Home to a growing number of breweries and vineyards, Hood River is also home to many cute local shops full of handmade, artisan products and artwork, as well as impressive restaurants and cafes.


We stopped at Pfriem Family Brewers, located in a new development along the Hood River Waterfront.

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The Pfriem brewery itself is stunning. I’m kicking myself for not taking more photos of the space: high ceilings, rustic yet modern lighting, gorgeous traditional Pacific Northwest wooden tables, benches, and chairs. Don’t forget to look up, or you’ll miss the wooden train tracks that go around the perimeter of the dining area toward the ceiling.

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Pfriem currently brews five different artisanal, Belgian-style beers, from an IPA to their Belgian Strong Dark.

I enjoyed a delightfully crisp Strong Blonde with my lunch. Pfriem has a decent menu for a new, small brewery. It was nice to see their food selection match their overall aesthetic & style: comfortable, yet creative, artisan, above the traditional. I enjoyed what is one of the best mac & cheese dishes I have ever tasted.

Pacific Northwest Travel: Hood River, Oregon

Made with Gouda, cream, house mustard, and Strong Blond, this mac and cheese was insanely delicious. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, but just in case: be sure to add the bacon when you order this.

My husband ordered the Salmon Croquettes – Wild Alaskan Salmon cakes with a fennel cabbage slaw – along with the seasonal pilsner.

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After lunch we played along the Hood River Waterfront Park, which is an awesome park that kids and adults alike can enjoy. Complete with rock climbing walls, a large xylophone, and various other playground fun, I know this is a park our kids would have enjoyed. A running trail borders the park and takes you along the banks of the Columbia River, and there’s a nice swimming area near the park.

Travel: Hood River, Oregon

We had a lot of fun stopping in Hood River, driving the Columbia River Gorge, and visiting Pfriem Family Brewers. I would highly recommend these destinations for family travel plans as well as travel for individuals, couples, and friends. It’s a beautiful drive, and also a wonderful way to head into Portland, Oregon if that is your final travel destination.

Hood River, Oregon
Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association
Pfriem Family Brewers
Hood River Waterfront Park

Thanks to Drive STI for providing us with an awesome 2013 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD that we used for our road trip. No other compensation was received, and all opinions, as always, are my own.

Lover of bacon, bourbon, and the Beastie Boys. I write about food and wine, cocktails, cooking, recipes, family travel, restaurants, hotels, family life, style, party printables, home decor & DIY. I'm also a social media strategist, freelance writer, and graphic designer - Mom of 2 of the best kids in the world. Email: info (at) urbanblisslife (dot) com.

  • Rachel May 28, 2013 Reply

    I love the gorge too! That food looks amazing- I’ll have to tell my dad about it for the next time we’re wine tasting in Hood River.
    Rachel recently posted..Beach DayMy Profile

  • pech May 28, 2013 Reply

    Great post highlighting Hood River. Usually I head to the gorge area for waterfalls and views but this post is a great reminder there is more to se Ree! U are also making me crave that delish mac n cheese…
    pech recently posted..A Dinner at OxMy Profile

  • […] Portland, Oregon, the best (and most beautiful) route is to take I-84 East. You drive through the scenic Columbia River Gorge, about 180 miles east until Exit 179 I-82 West to Hermiston/Umatilla. This takes you over into […]

  • […] Driving the Columbia River Gorge: Hood River Adventures […]

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