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Hood River’s New Winter Pride: From Mountains to Main Street

Welcome a brand new winter pride event, you’ll want to add to your calendar, immediately. First, let me introduce you to Hood River, a small city 1 hour outside of Portland nestled amidst the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge. Here nature transitions with stunning rapidity, offering landscapes ranging from lush rainforests to open prairies, all within minutes of each other. This mesmerizing backdrop sets the stage for an exciting new event – Hood River’s Winter PrideFest!

Set against the backdrop of the iconic Hood River Hotel, a historic landmark steeped in over a century of community history, this inaugural festival promised (& delivered) a weekend of inclusive celebration. From a high-energy drag brunch and sultry burlesque shows to thrilling outdoor adventures amidst the snow-capped peaks of Mt. Hood Meadows

Partnering with local businesses and organizations, including Visit Hood River and The Ruins, the Winter PrideFest isn’t just about festivities; it’s a testament to the community’s dedication to inclusivity and support for LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies.

Join me for a walk through my PrideFest weekend itinerary that serves as both a recap and a place to start planning your visit next winter. Come for the adventure, stay for the love, Hood River is epic.

Fly into Portland

If you’re flying your trip to Hood River will begin (& end) at PDX. I’d highly recommend booking at least a night or two at a queer-friendly hotel like The Woodlark Hotel and Jupiter NEXT and exploring the VERY queer city of Portland. For more things to do in Portland check out our Gay Portland Travel Guide and our list of Portland Lesbian Bars and Queer Events.

Getting from Portland to Hood River

Getting to Hood River from Portland is a breeze and, part of the adventure! Located along the scenic Interstate 84, you’ll cover roughly 60 miles of picturesque landscapes. You have a few options for getting there. The first is of course to rent a car. Your second option is to grab a ticket for one of the buses or trains. We’ve heard that the Columbia Gorge Express is the easiest but here is a full list of other transportation options

The last option and honestly, my favorite by far is to reach out the the LGBTQ owned and operated First Nature Tours. They are a luxury destination management company that can arrange everything from your transportation to experiential trips like wine tasting, hiking or truffle hunting. If you’re coming to Hood River or Portland, check out First Nature to take some of the planning off your plate. They offer tours you can join as well as fully customizable multi-day tours. 

I was lucky enough to ride to and from Hood River with First Nature Tours owner, Kieron.  Along the way, we had breathtaking views of the Columbia River Gorge and got tons of information from him about the area. Even with a bit of a tight airport drop-off we made time for a quick stop at the iconic Multnomah Falls, a majestic waterfall that’s a little Insta famous, for all the right reasons. 

Check into the Hood River Hotel

If you’re in Hood River for winter pride, or really any time of the year Hood River Hotel is the place to be. Established in 1911 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, offers cozy hotel experience at the heart of downtown Hood River. The guest rooms are spacious and decorated with local touches. The room I stayed in had a cute kitchenette with a full-size fridge and coffee maker, which I love having especially for extended stays. 

Embracing the spirit of inclusivity, the Hood River Hotel was the hub for the inaugural Winter PrideFest but they host hosts various events, including drag and burlesque shows throughout the year. With its rich history and welcoming hospitality, the hotel stands as a cornerstone of the community and holds a Travel PROUD Certification from Booking.com.

Through the rest of this piece, I will touch on some of the awesome events and experiences that took place over the weekend. Keep in mind that specific events, schedules, and performers will likely change in the coming years, but I have no doubt the great energy and excitement for the community will only continue to grow in the coming years.

Winter Pride: Day One


Take your pick of delicious Hood River breakfast offerings. Both are conveniently located steps from your hotel room.  

Broder Øst 

Broder Øst at the Hood River Hotel offers an authentic Scandinavian brunch experience, sourcing local ingredients to create traditional dishes like Æbleskiver and Köttbular. This Nordic brunch spot, perfectly captures the essence of Scandinavia, complemented by the cozy ambiance of the historic hotel. I opted for the Danish pancakes served with Lingonberry jam and lemon curd, giving immediate flashbacks to time spent in Sweden and Finland. Also, don’t miss their lavender oat milk latte – it is truly one of the best I’ve ever had. So good, I had 4 in 3 days, oops. 

Ground Espresso Bar and Cafe 

Ground Espresso takes pride in its commitment to freshness and community support, roasting coffee on-site, and baking pastries daily from scratch. With a focus on bolstering the local economy, they prioritize Direct Trade relationships with growers and emphasize organic beans. Not only do they roast coffee for Ground but also for their sister shop, Doppio. A key aspect of their success lies in their employee-centered approach, believing in treating staff well for positive business outcomes. The retro, vintage interior adds to the charm, offering a nostalgic ambiance. I had a great early morning visit, enjoying a delicious latte, breakfast sandwich, and house-made cinnamon bun. 

Check out the Slopes at Mt Hood Meadows 

Mt. Hood Meadows offers an exhilarating winter adventure just 35 minutes from Hood River and 90 minutes from Portland. Nestled in the Mt. Hood National Forest, it boasts 2,150 skiable acres with varied terrain suitable for skiers and riders of all levels. With 11 lifts, 85 runs, and a 2,777ft vertical rise, there’s plenty of space to explore. 

I am a true beginner on skis so I was excited to find out that there are also great options for beginners. While some of our winter pride group strapped on snowshoes and headed for a nearby waterfall others tied Pride flags to their backs and hooped on the lifts, I was in a group of queer women heading to ski school. We had an incredible, patient, and thoughtful instructor who was both encouraging and detailed in his approach. It was so nice, and affirming to be learning what felt like an intimidating skill in such a welcoming environment surrounded by like mined queer women. Big thank you to the talented, funny, and encouraging Chris and Alex for joining me on this adventure. It was so much better because I got to experience it with the two of you. 


Two great dinner options just a short drive or Uber from the hotel are Ferment Brewing Company and Solstice Wood Fire Cafe. For me, pizza is always a good choice and something so Solstice Wood Fire Cafe was a sure bet for one of my nights in town. What I loved was the innovative topping combinations they offered. It was a big way to differentiate themselves from any other pizza I’ve tasted. Shockingly, both of my favs feature local stone fruits, Country Girl Cherry (local cherries & chorizo) and Siragusa Pear (local pear & blue cheese) were unlike anything I’ve ever tasted in the best possible way. 

Ferment Brewing Company is you more upscale of the two dinner options but in a very PNW-approachable way. In a city filled with brewery options, knowing Ferment is consistently recommended was high praise. I was in a large group so we basically tried every appetizer on the menu and they were all great. If I can point you to one thing it would be the Giant Soft Pretzel strictly because the salted miso cream cheese was so good we were discussing how we could get a to-go cup to bring home and put on an NYC bagel. 

I also LOVED their extensive mocktails menu. I am not much of a drinker so having an entire menu of NA options that felt like it was given the same amount of attention as the cocktail menu was really exciting. I’m hopeful more and more restaurants will take a similar approach but for now, I am really celebrating how well Ferment nailed it. The Blueberry Kombucha mocktail was 10/10 and made me feel like I was part of going out for drinks. 

Winter Pride at The Ruins

Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters, Mawlee Jones Band, and Slutashia, with host Shandi Evans

We experienced a night of celebration, honoring the LGBTQ+ community and allies in a really cool venue. The Ruins is an indoor/outdoor event space in downtown Hood River. The energy was electric as we enjoyed performances by Ashleigh Flynn and the Riveters, paying homage to Rosie the Riveter. The raunchy tonk twang of The Mawlee Jones Band kept us entertained, while Slutashia had us all on the dance floor with their multi-talented rap and drag acts. 

The crowd was solidly mixed of allies and LGBTQ people of all ages who were all there to have a great time. From the moment we walked in until the end of the show the dance floor was packed. 

Hood River Pride Fest: Day 2 

Full steam ahead on day two. Caffeine was and will be needed to hit Winter Pride day two with the energy it deserves. I made a stop at Ground Expresso Bar before heading back to the hotel for the days first event. 

Winter Pride Diva Drag Brunch

I had the pleasure of attending the most spectacular Diva Drag Brunch in the Pacific Northwest, at the Hood River Hotel and put on by Justin Buckles Productions. The event showcased an all-star cast, featuring drag performances, and live singing. It was an unforgettable experience, filled with energy and non-stop entertainment. What stood out to me was the emphasis on performance, with less talking and more engaging performances set to fun songs than most drag shows I’ve been to. The queens were absolutely fantastic, but the highlight was definitely the Emmy-winning, Jayla Rose

Explore Downtown Hood River 

After the show,I needed some food after drinking my second lavender latte of the morning so I popped into Love & Hominy Tacos, just two doors down from the Hood River Hotel, it was the perfect spot to refuel up for the afternoon. The tacos offered a diverse range of globally inspired flavors, perfectly encapsulated by their motto, “Less Hate, More Love, More Tacos, More Tequila.” As someone who associates food and flavors with memories of travel, I found the menu to be particularly exciting, showcasing cuisines from around the world. Additionally, I was enamored with the vintage-inspired prints adorning the walls – if given the chance, I would have gladly transported the entire decor into my apartment.

After lunch I spent a bit of time exploring the main street, I discovered a variety of unique shops and boutiques, each offering its own distinct charm. Among the suggested stops are Twiggs, Parts + Labour, Precious Drab Vintage (my absolute fav), and ArtiFacts. What stood out to me most was the inclusivity and support for the LGBTQ+ community evident in the stores. From queer books to stickers and cards, there were subtle nods to the community throughout. One particular highlight was discovering Handker, a women-owned shop where I purchased a stylish bandana. It was a delightful experience exploring downtown Hood River and discovering its vibrant and inclusive community.

Farm-to-Table Dinner at Celilo

During our visit to Celilo Restaurant and Bar in downtown Hood River,I was impressed by their commitment to quality and sustainability. They source high-quality, fresh ingredients from local farms just miles away, resulting in dynamic menus that change with the seasons. The tasting menu we enjoyed featured delicious seasonal squash, and I appreciated their ability to cater to different dietary preferences with options for vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian diets in a way that left everyone excited about the meal. 

TEASE Burlesque Revue

Closing out the official Winter Pride Fest events, I attended a sensational burlesque show again hosted by the Hood River Hotel and the fabulous Justin Buckles Productions. TEASE Burlesque Revue was a sexy, fun, queer event showcasing performers such as Zora Von Pavonine, Jaxin Ryan, Asteria Atombomb, Abby GoLucky, and again Jayla Rose. 

A huge thank you to Visit Hood River and Travel Portland inviting and hosting us for this event.

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