Condo-Style Villas Perched on Bluff Above Columbia River Gorge
Stretching for more than 80 miles through the Cascade Mountains, the Columbia River Gorge is one of the most beautiful sights in the Pacific Northwest. Towering waterfalls spill over black basalt cliffs amid forests filled with incredibly lush greenery. In 1986—nearly 200 years after Lewis and Clark first set foot in the area—Congress paid tribute to the gorge's natural beauty by designating it the first National Scenic Area in the country. The Columbia Cliff Villas give visitors prime views of the breathtaking scenery from a cliff-top perch more than 200 feet above the river.
The boutique hotel features 37 private villas that are ideally suited for groups and families. At 600 square feet, the carriage house has a full gourmet kitchen stocked with stainless-steel appliances and a private balcony. While staying at the house, guests also enjoy access to the hotel next door, whose amenities include an award-winning restaurant, a spa, and gardens that Frommer's says “could hold their own amid the many public gardens of Victoria, British Columbia.”
A federally recognized grape-growing region, the Columbia Gorge AVA is home to nearly 40 vineyards, and this getaway includes a tour of up to eight of them. At Cathedral Ridge Winery, you can taste award-winning red blends including a velvety cabernet sauvignon. Maryhill Winery—named Washington Winery of the Year in 2009—offers seven pours during a classic flight tasting.
Hood River, Oregon: Riverside Town with World-Class Watersports & Wineries
Hood River is located one hour east of Portland, at the intersection of the Columbia River Gorge and the Cascade Mountain range. Its diverse terrain unravels like a slide show of quintessential Pacific Northwest landscapes—snowcapped mountains, woodland trails, and river rapids abound—making it a top destination for outdoor sports. During the summer, kiteboarders and windsurfers descend on the gorge to take advantage of its world-famous 30-knot winds. There are also spots for small- and largemouth bass fishing, waterfall hikes, and year-round skiing and snowboarding at Mount Hood.
The city sits in the Columbia Gorge Wine Valley, an AVA region on the same line of latitude as grape-growing heavyweights such as Bordeaux and Burgundy. The valley's various microclimates produce an assortment of unique wines ranging from albariño to zinfandel. Fruit orchards and farm stands dot the countryside, providing the ingredients for a sophisticated dining scene downtown.