Day Trip to the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area

I wanted one last day of exploring by car before I headed into Portland so for my final hurrah, I drove along the Columbia River and around Mount Hood. I didn't have as much time as I wish I had because the rental car location I was returning my car to was closing at 3:30 (because it was a Sunday) so I had to be kind of picky about where I stopped and how much time I spent at each site, but I think my day ended up working out really well.
I had a couple of spots I had decided I definitely wanted to visit and then there were a few places I just stumbled upon that ended up being so much fun and perhaps more rewarding than the plans I had made ahead of time.

Because I had a set time to return to Portland by and because the first site I wanted to visit was known for being crowded and really popular on weekends, I hit the road really early.
The morning was pretty overcast but the weather forecast said it was supposed to get sunny so I wasn't concerned about rain.
Multnomah Falls is just a half hour drive from Portland so it's a pretty popular destination for city dwellers who want an accessible place to hike and experience nature. I got there right around 7:15 and there were maybe a dozen cars in the parking lot.
The falls don't photograph that well; I think they don't look quite as impressive in photos than they do in real life but I think having that bridge in the middle is a great way to gauge the scale. This duo of waterfalls is actually quite tall and majestic.
I did the short hike just up to the bridge to get a better look at the upper falls and then headed back down so I could head to my next destination. I wasn't keen on sticking around too long knowing it would get really busy in a minute. I mean, in the fifteen minutes that I was there, hoards of people had already shown up and when I got back to my car, the parking lot was already a third full. There are loads of other waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge so if this one's full, you have options. I'd considered heading to Bridal Veil and Fairy Falls but I didn't have enough time; those are on my list for my next trip out to the Pacific Northwest.
And of course, as soon as I left the falls, the clouds parted and gave way to the most perfectly gorgeous blue skies.
Driving in this area is spectacular.
I was driving along I-84 but as I neared the town of Mosier, Google Maps instructed me to get off at the next exit and take Route 30, also known as the Historic Columbia River Highway, which took me through the cutest, scenic areas. The vineyard in the photo above is one I encountered almost immediately as I pulled off onto Route 30.

After a couple of miles, I saw a dirt parking area with a sign reading 'Memaloose Overlook' and I pulled over to snap a few photos and I have to say, this was an awesome place to stop. It would've been gorgeous regardless but I happened to arrive just as a train was chugging past on the opposite side of the river.
This overlook location isn't google-able, but I marked it on my map.
I had bookmarked this spot because it was just one of those Instagrammy places and it was pretty far east along the river and I figured the drive out would give me a good destination to shoot for and it would be full of nice views (which it was).
This bend in the road is what everyone comes to photograph, but I have to say, it's worth walking around to catch some of the other views, like the one above, because this whole area is spectacular.
And then after I'd finished up at the top, I drove down the hill and then took a ride around the bend.
For breakfast, I headed back west and stopped in the town of Hood River. It's a charming small town and I didn't spend much time here, but it was a cute rest stop.
For breakfast, I decided I wanted something light and fresh so I grabbed an acai bowl. I got the Islander which had shredded coconut, banana, strawberry, goji berries, and loads of delicious local honey. This was one of the best acai bowls I've had stateside and it was really affordable.
After breakfast, I headed south along Route 35 so I could visit a lavender farm. On the way, I stopped into this little orchard and bakery. I was full from breakfast but I still tasted all of the different samples of honeys, jams, dips, and breads they had out for patrons to try.
I really wanted to bring home that humongous jar of honey, but unfortunately my airline luggage and TSA restrictions prevented me. Even the smallest jars of honey were 4 oz., which is 1 oz. too much for TSA carry on liquids so I didn't end up buying anything I wanted.
I'd bookmarked this place because their marketing implied you'd get lovely photos of lavender and Mount Hood and/or Mount Adams in the background but the lavender fields were so tiny and it wasn't really what I had been expecting. It smelled amazing and it was cute, just not quite up to par.
Immediately adjacent to the lavender farm is a winery, so I drank off my disappointment with a $11 wine tasting.
I got three wines: their riesling, a pinot noir blanc (which was a result of trying to salvage some of the grapes that had been affected by a fire), and a pinot noir rose.
I was allowed to grab my drink and take it outside to enjoy the lovely blue skies, mountain view, and fresh air whilst imbibing.
The pinot noir rose ended up being my favorite. It was really fruity smelling and crisp and even though it was dry, it didn't have any bitter tanin-y notes.
As I was headed towards Mount Hood (my plan was to drive around it and then head northwest towards Portland), I saw signs for Lavender Valley and since I had some time, I decided to take the detour and I'm so glad I did.
The fields were so lush and full of lavender and exactly what I had been expecting to see at the previous lavender farm I'd visited. It smelled amazing and the honeybees all agreed because this field was buzzing with swarms of bees.
I didn't have the right photography equipment or the guts to walk far enough into the fields to get the lavender bushes and Mount Hood in the exact perspective I wanted but I enjoyed it with my actual eyeballs, which was enough for me.
So there are loads of spots where you can pull over to admire Mount Hood but I think the best views of this thing were from the road. Obviously I was driving and because I was on my own, I wasn't really able to snap the exact pictures I wanted (including the shot I saw in my sideview mirrors when the mountain was behind me) but again, I enjoyed it with my actual eyeballs, which is enough for me.
My last pull off point before actually getting back to Portland was this spot just outside of Portland in Sandy, Oregon. There's enough parking for maybe six or eight cars and then a little fenced in area where you can admire the mountain and the Sandy River.
After that, I headed back to return my rental car and to hang out in Portland for a couple of days before heading home.