For years, the incessant easterly winds blowing through the town of Hood River were nothing more than a nuisance. Then somebody bolted a sail to a surfboard, waded into the fat part of the gorge, and a new recreational craze was born. A fortuitous combination of factors—mainly the reliable gale-force winds blowing against the current—has made Hood River the self-proclaimed windsurfing capital of the world. Especially in summer, this once-somnolent town swarms with colorful "boardheads" from as far away as Europe and Australia.
Hood River's rich pioneer past is reflected in its downtown historic district. The City of Hood River publishes a free self-guided walking tour (available through the city government office or the Hood River Chamber of Commerce) that will take you on a tour of more than 40 civic and commercial buildings dating from 1893 to the 1930s, some of which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.