5 Fall Family-Friendly Spots Around the Hood River Fruit Loop


This time last year my kids and I set off to explore the Hood River Fruit Loop, a  scenic 35 mile loop around the Hood River Valley about one hour east of Portland in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. I’d heard it was a fun region to explore with kids, but I wasn’t prepared for the breathtaking array of autumn reds, yellows, oranges, and greens that lined I-84. While many people visit the Fruit Loop during summertime for the farm stands and U-Pick berries, autumn is my favorite season to visit the region. So, once again, this fall, my kids and I set out to explore the region.

 Many trees in fall colors along Hood River with a view of Mt Hood in the background

I prepared myself for a depressing drive through a blackened Columbia Gorge after the summer’s forest fires, but instead I was stunned by the breathtaking colors surrounding us. In fact, the views along the Gorge are reason enough for a trip to Hood River. But the beauty doesn’t end there. The sights and stops along the Hood River Fruit Loop make for a perfect autumn adventure. If you’re looking for a breathtaking and belly-filling day trip, make sure to stop by these five businesses: 

1. The Gorge White House

The Gorge White House is a lovely Dutch Colonial Revival House and the main attraction of the property. Check out the gift shop and fruit stand, then sample a flight of beer, hard cider, or wine. Order farm fresh cuisine from the outside café and enjoy a picnic lunch while taking in the views on their outdoor patio. U-pick season is just about over, but you might still be lucky enough to grab a handful of dahlias for a great price before the season officially ends.

fruit loop

2. Packer Farm Store and Bakery

Make sure to bring your appetite to this next stop. Packer Farm Store and Bakery is a working family farm that currently sells apples and pears. Inside you’ll find more produce, as well as homemade jams, syrups, and fruit butters. Your kids will love sampling the baked goods made daily on site including giant cookies, fresh fruit pies, empanadas, and a variety of cinnamon rolls (the marionberry cinnamon rolls are AMAZING). Hand dipped ice cream cones and milkshakes, as well as fresh fruit smoothies, fresh squeezed lemonade and apple cider in the fall provide sweet alternatives (or additions) to the baked goods. 

3. Draper Girls Country Farm 

Pet and feed the donkeys and goats at Draper Girls Country Farm while you bask in the magnificent view of snow-covered Mt. Hood. Next, visit the fruit store where you’ll find a wide variety of fresh fruit. Don’t miss their homemade jams, jellies, syrups, fruit butters, antiques, and more. As of this fall, the Draper girls are also pursuing a new venture: hard cider samples and growlers. But go soon! Draper Girls closes after November and will open again next spring. 

fruit loop4. The Old Trunk Antique Store

This funky antique store and fruit stand offers many interesting items. If you haven’t already stuffed yourself at the other stops along the Hood River Fruit Loop, the soda fountain at the Old Trunk Antique Store serves soft-served ice cream using Tillamook ice cream mixed with fresh fruit, a full menu of espresso drinks, and canned cider. 

5. Nella Chestnut Farm

Throughout November, take advantage of one of the few u-pick crops available during autumn: Colossal Chestnuts at Nella Chestnut Farm. Bring the kids out to explore the grounds, visit the chickens, play on the giant tree swing, and enjoy Nella’s beautiful property. Don’t forget to hunt for Colossal Chestnuts (yes, they are big!) Make sure to wear leather gloves and sturdy, close-toed shoes since the chestnuts on the ground are prickly! 

Have you been to the Fruit Loop in recently? What is your favorite stop?

fruit loop

This was originally posted on November 8, 2017

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After visiting family in Oregon as a young girl, Kathleen became smitten with the Pacific Northwest and decided that someday she would settle and raise a family in this rainy wonderland. Bitten by the travel bug, she went to college, travelled, studied and worked in Europe for 3 years. But upon her return to New Mexico where she grew up, she knew it was time to pursue that childhood dream. She moved to Portland in 2003 with her adventurous fiance (now husband) who she met on an elevator. She still pinches herself occasionally when she realizes how blessed they are to live in this amazing state. Kathleen is mother to two entertaining children. The flexibility of her part-time job as a writing instructor at a local college allows her to work mostly from home, as well as home school her oldest child two days per week. When she’s not grading essays, wiping snotty noses, or picking up dog poo, she spends her time gardening, discovering hiking trails, teaching herself the fiddle, and exploring Oregon with her little brood.