Image: tusharkoley
Hood River, OR

It's never too early to start planning a trip out of town, even when your journey takes you only as far as our backyard. A mere 62 miles east of Portland along the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River's orchards and mountains and river views—not to mention its breweries, wineries and museums—make this buzzing hamlet a perennial weekend destination. Here are four standout Hood River events that should be on your radar this year:

Hood River Valley Blossom Fest (April 12-27)

This springtime event is an institution for the Hood River area. Currently approaching its 57th anniversary, the Hood River Valley Blossom Fest celebrates the best in the rural lifestyle. From wine tasting to pancake breakfasts to crafts shows, this three-week festival offers activities for young and old alike. The highlight is surely following the “fruit loop,” a 35-mile drive along the Upper Valley filled with beautiful scenes of apple, pear, and cherry orchards all in the fresh bloom that only springtime can bring. Be sure to take a picnic lunch with you.  hoodriver.org

4th Annual Columbia Gorge Pear and Wine Festival (May 17–18)

This fairly new event has quickly become a local favorite, featuring wine tasting from over 20 wineries and vineyards, as well as food from local restaurants, art from local artists and music from local musicians. For parents wanting to bring their children, the event is held at the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum, which holds one of the largest collections of still running automobiles and airplanes in the country. A day pass for this event costs $25, which includes four complete wine tasting, commemorative glass, and admission to the museum. wineandpearfest.com

Tour de Hood Challenge (June 22)

For the outdoorsman in us all, Hood River offers you the Tour de Hood Challenge. This one-day bike ride takes you through the scenic splendor of Hood River County. (Three routes offer varying levels of difficulty.) Riding along single lane paved roads throughout Hood River County, you will experience some of the most stunning views Oregon has to offer. Participants pay an $80 entrance fee, which goes to support local youth programs, and gets the rider an opportunity to prove themselves on some of the most challenging, and rewarding bike trails in the Pacific Northwest. tourdehoodride.com

Hood River Hops Fest, Saturday (Sept 27)

If wine is not your thing fear not! Hood River boasts one of the most impressive beer festivals in the Northwest. Located in the center of town, the Hops Fest closes down an entire city block to welcome its thirsty visitors. With over 40 regional breweries, this annual hops fest attracts thousands of visitors every year. A $10 admission includes four drinks tokens, access to local foods, regional art, craft vendors and all day music to keep all ages entertained. The festival runs from 12pm to 9pm, with under 21 being admitted for free until 5pm. hoodriver.org

Every other Tuesday: Weekend escapes, travel deals, lodging and dining picks, and ideas for Northwest getaways. (See an example!)