Breathe in the Smell of Summer at Hood River’s Lavender Daze

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Fragrant candles and scented oils may have taken over every nook and cranny of our bathrooms, but for a true aromatherapy experience, you’ll need to drive an hour outside the city to Hood River for their annual Lavender Daze festival. This easy-going weekend of food, live music, and fields of sweet smelling lavender is the perfect excuse to get out of the city for the day and bask in the smells of summer.

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Go: The 2013 festival is held July 20-21. The u-pick lavender season in Hood River typically begins mid-April and lasts through the summer.

Approximate travel time: Hood River is about 60-miles east of Portland. Expect the trip to take between 60 – 90 minutes.

What to do: It will be hard to pick what to do first at Lavender Daze – check out the live music, wander through the booths filled with local vendors, or grab some lunch at the BBQ. We recommend starting with the u-pick lavender fields — the kids will love walking through the plants that are as tall as their little bodies and you can bundle some organic lavender up to take home. Other things not to be missed include the craft classes for DIY lavender wreaths and wands, children’s activities and a Ladybug release party with Teacher Janet, and a visit with the sweet alpacas that make the farm their home. Another big highlight of the festival is the lavender release parties – check the online schedule for details about when to catch this fun event!

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Where to shop: Lavender Daze is host to dozens of local vendors so you can stock up on Hood River specialties before heading back to Portland. The lavender products are always a favorite – essential oils, lotions, soaps, and more. They’ve added almost 30 vendors to their list for this year with plenty more to be announced, so you’ll want to explore all the fun artist booths, craft vendors, and local shops while you’re here.

Possible lunch spots: You don’t have to go far to get a delicious meal at the festival – there will be a huge BBQ all weekend long by Solstice Wood Fire Pizza & De La Hi BBQ, both local favorites. If you’re feeling adventurous, try some of the delicious lavender ice cream. Don’t forget to buy some local wine while you’re there too, if you can convince the kids to browse. (We recommend ice cream first, and then wine shopping.)


How to dress: It’s typically pretty warm around Hood River in July, but dress in layers and bring a light sweatshirt in case of a chilly breeze or to throw on as the sun starts to go down.

What to bring: At the top of the list – sunscreen and hats. (If you have a big, wide-brimmed straw hat, now is the time to wear it!) Other things that will make the trip better: a blanket or lawn chairs for relaxing while you eat or listen to the live music, a fun market basket or bag from home to collect your lavender, and some bottled water. Don’t forget snacks for the car ride back to Portland and, of course, your camera.

Need to know: Some kids (and adults) are allergic to lavender – if you don’t already know if you or your little ones are, try picking some up at the store for a little trial run or ask your neighbor with the green thumb if you can cut a stem.

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Bonus: Hood River has more than just lavender: Known for its gorgeous location on the Columbia River, the entire area is worth a visit. There are waterfalls to explore, lots of family-friendly bike trails, and a historic train museum.

Cost of trip: The festival itself is free, so despite the cost of the drive, it won’t cost much to enjoy the lavender.

Online: Find out more about Lavender Daze on their website and blog. Read more about what Hood River has to offer from their Chamber of Commerce.

Will this be your first time at the Lavender Daze Festival? What are you most excited about?

–Katie Kavulla

photos courtesy of mollypopyvetteSoler via flickr, Bob Koch via Hood River Lavender facebook page