None of the sites in this chapter is more than 30 miles from Portland  or from Hood River , so most travelers will visit the waterfalls of the Columbia Gorge from the comfort of these cities. For a special escape, however, there are two wonderful accommodations in this area that deserve special consideration.
Imagine a 38-acre estate featuring a restaurant, a hotel, a brewery, a winery and tasting room, a movie theater, and a golf course amid lavish gardens and artwork at every turn. That’s McMenamins’
Edgefield (2126 SW Halsey St., Troutdale, 503/669-8610 or 800/669-8610, www.mcmenamins.com ). Oregon’s preeminent brewpub-meisters have transformed what had been the Multnomah County Poor Farm and later a convalescent home into a base from which to explore the Gorge or Portland.
This is truly the best of the country near the best of the city. This range extends to lodging styles: You can choose between hotel rooms charmingly decorated with artwork and antiques from $60 with a shared bath up to $1,100 with a private bath. Hostel rooms are available for $30.
The View Point Inn (40301 E. Larch Mountain Rd., Corbett, 503/695-5811, www.theviewpointinn.com , guest rooms $75–350, dining room 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–10 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 9 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–10 p.m. Sun., $22–36) is a small historic inn built in 1925 just west of Crown Point  with incredible cliff-top views west down the Columbia River toward Portland. The inn was a popular stop for travelers when the Columbia River Highway  was new, and such notables as President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Charlie Chaplin have stayed here.
The inn fell on hard times after the interstate went in and robbed traffic from U.S. 30. After several decades as a private residence, the View Point Inn is again open for business as a fine-dining restaurant and small boutique inn. The dining room is quite fantastic: a Great Room with high ceilings, antique chandeliers, a blazing stone fireplace, and dark wood paneling. A sunroom extension of the dining room overlooks first a vast tiered garden that steps down to a flower-encircled fountain, then a 25-plus-mile view down the Gorge.
The food is very good, focusing on local farm produce and regional meats and fish. Reservations are recommended, particularly for dinner and Sunday brunch. The inn offers four guest rooms, including the grand Roosevelt Suite, where FDR did indeed once stay. Two of the guest rooms are quite small and tucked in under gables, so check the website before reserving to make sure you’re getting the room you want.
Also unique is Bridal Veil Lodge Bed & Breakfast (P.O. Box 10, Bridal Veil, 503/695-2333, www.bridalveillodge.com , $90 d). The lodge, across the road from Bridal Veil Falls State Park , is the last surviving accommodation from the 1920s “roadhouse” era on this part of the Historic Columbia River Highway ; the knotty pine walls, antique quilts, and historic photos set the mood. Hospitality is second nature to the innkeepers, as their family has served travelers since 1926. You can stay in the main lodge, where you share a bath down the hall, or in cottage guest rooms with open-beam ceilings, skylights, and private baths.
Tad’s Chicken ’n’ Dumplins (1325 E. Historic Columbia River Hwy., Troutdale, 503/666-5337, 5–10 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 4–10 p.m. Fri.–Sat., 2–10 p.m. Sun., $11–22) is a Portland-area original. Located right on the Sandy River, its classic weather-beaten roadhouse facade has graced this highway since the 1930s. If you decide to forgo the restaurant’s namesake dish, try the decent fried oysters, fried chicken, steak, or salmon. It’s good ol’ American food that’ll taste even better with drinks on the deck overlooking the Sandy River.
Service can be uneven at the dining room at Multnomah Falls Lodge (503/695-2376, www.multnomahfallslodge.com , 8 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, main courses $16–22), but the food is surprisingly good when the kitchen isn’t overwhelmed. A cheery solarium adjacent to the wood-and-stone dining room makes a great setting to begin or end a day of hiking. On warm days the outside patio is delightful, and if you crane your neck you can see Multnomah Falls .