In the past, Hood River was known as an especially scenic place to grow fruit. Since the early 1980s, however, well-heeled adherents of windsurfing have transformed this town into an outdoor recreation mecca.
Instead of just the traditional dependence on cherry, apple, peach, and pear production, Hood River now rakes in tens of millions of dollars annually from the presence of “board-heads.”
Bounded by picturesque orchard country and the Columbia River with snowcapped volcanoes serving as a distant backdrop, this town of 6,500 enjoys a magnificent setting. The main thoroughfare, Oak Street, which becomes Cascade Street as you head west, is set on a plateau between the riverfront marine park to the north and streets running up the Cascade foothills to the south.
Downtown Hood River is a lively place, with many shops and restaurants along Oak Street. New brick facades dress up old storefronts, and casual attire and sandals predominate. A sense of fun and youthfulness pervades the town, the result of the many tanned, buff visitors who come here for the world-famous windsurfing and kite-boarding .
A good spot to catch the spirit of the windsurfing scene is at Marina Park, just past the Hood River Museum , at the mouth of the Hood River. From here, lots of river athletes set sail and trade stories.
East of Hood River beyond the town of Mosier, the highly scenic route  up and over Rowena Crest is a segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway  that remains open to motorists. Another section, between Hood River and Mosier , the western gateway to Rowena Crest , was closed in the 1950s.
However, in the 1990s public officials reopened a five-mile stretch of the route, which contains a number of tunnels, to hikers and bikers, making it possible to view the amazing engineering and craftsmanship of the original 1920s highway.
Greyhound serves Hood River with three buses daily in each direction, stopping at the Port of Hood River office (600 E. Marina Way, 541/386-1212). Also at the same location is Columbia Area Transit (600 E. Marina Way, 541/386-4202), providing van and special bus service but not offering regularly scheduled routes in town.
Hood River Taxi and Transportation (1107 Wilson St., 541/386-2255) provides taxi service in and around the city. Blue Star Columbia Gorge Airporter (800/247-2272) offers airport shuttle service between Hood River and Portland International Airport.