While the town is only home to just over 15,000 residents, there are virtually endless things to do in The Dalles, OR. Nestled on the banks of the Columbia River, the community offers the ideal balance between the natural and man-made worlds. Whether you want to escape into the mountains or pamper yourself with food and retail therapy, you’re sure to find something to suit your travel goals. Follow this guide to create the perfect itinerary for your Wasco County trip.
From tributaries to the Cascades, The Dalles is surrounded by some of the most majestic scenery in the state. In fact, the town serves as a gateway to the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area and offers easy access to the Historic Columbia River Highway and The Dalles Riverfront Trail. While you can hit the numerous hiking trails on foot, you have the opportunity to see more of the land on a bike. Grab a rental from Dalles City Cyclery and choose a path from the city’s cycling map, or enjoy a guided tour with Sol Rides. The company utilizes e-bikes to make the journey more accessible, and there are even wine tour options.
The idyllic views and calm waters of the Columbia River are perfect for relaxation, but when you want to kick the rejuvenation up a notch, try stand up paddleboarding (SUP) yoga. Float On SUP Yoga offers 90-minute private and group classes on the water as well as multiday camping retreats. Along with quiet exercise, the journey provides plenty of wildlife and scenery viewing opportunities.
If your ideal water adventures consist of an adrenaline rush, try kiteboarding. Oregon Kiteboarding provides classes and private lessons for all skill levels. For a slightly more laid-back experience, consider kayaking. The Gorge Paddling Center offers kayak rentals as well as guided tours, including a sunset excursion.
Delicious Local Eats
After all that exercise, refuel at one of The Dalles local eateries. Dating back to 1950, Big Jim’s Drive-In offers traditional diner fare with burgers, fries, and milkshakes accompanied by a welcoming, no-frills ambiance and friendly service. For a more upscale atmosphere, stop by Petite Provence for coffee, mimosas, omelets, and sandwiches.
Of all the numerous things to do in The Dalles, wine and beer tasting are some of the most popular. Luckily, the uptick in local wine and craft beer production has resulted in a wide variety of options, so you’re sure to find something to suit your tastes. The historic Sunshine Mill is home to the Copa Di Vino and Quenett wineries and offers both tastings and The Boiler House Bar, which serves lunch. Other popular spots in the area include Freebridge Brewing, Tierra de Lobos, and Sedition Brewing Co.
Lively Art Scene
While outdoor adventures typically draw travelers to The Dalles, the culture keeps them coming back. There’s no better way to get an insight into what makes the town tick than the local art scene. Hit the Nicholas Art Glass studio to find a newfound appreciation for glass blowing or The Dalles Arts Center for a more eclectic collection of displays. There’s also The 506 Gallery as well as Manion Studios, which offers art classes and the opportunity to request a custom portrait.
From the Old St. Peter’s Landmark Preservation to the Fort Dalles Museum, you won’t want to miss out on the numerous historical landmarks in The Dalles. While many of the most popular destinations in town, like wineries and galleries, are housed in historic buildings, those are just the tip of the iceberg.
To really get a sense of the city’s past, take a self-guided walking tour of the historic district. The Mint Building and Sorosis Park are definite must-see sites, but don’t forget to add Klindt’s Booksellers to the list — it’s the oldest bookstore in the entire state (1870), as well as the National Neon Sign Museum. The latter houses Americana signage dating back to the late 19th century and offers tours to the public.
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