Main Street Downtown Trees April 2017 photo by Trini Hank

In just a few days, “Let ‘er Buck” will become a rallying cry, a friendly greeting, and the exclamation point at the end of a sentence when the 108th annual Pendleton Round-up takes over town.

As excited as we are for the signature event, we also understand: Between the week-long procession of events and the explosive crowds, you might need a break from Round-up at some point. So if you’re looking to duck out of the madness for a few minutes, here’s a quick guide to the quieter side of Pendleton–along with a few fun, offbeat, and otherwise interesting attractions.

Whet Your Whistle: The Prodigal Son Brewing

The Prodigal Son Brewery and PubBartenders will be pouring and mixing drinks as long as their doors are open in some of the more chaotic bars around town. So if you’re looking for something refreshing in a more relaxed environment, duck into The Prodigal Son Brewing for some of the region’s best craft beer.

Pendleton’s first–and, so far, only–craft brewery opened in 2010 with a mix of malty ales and hop-forward IPAs in the heart of downtown. Nearly a decade later, Prodigal Son remains committed to that balance with a lineup that includes a crisp golden ale; a dry red ale; a hoppy IPA; a rich, chocolate-tinged porter; and more.

And if you’re around for Round-up, Prodigal Son’s seasonal beer pairs perfectly with a hot summer day: Every June or July, Prodigal Son brews a huckleberry wheat beer that sports a slightly tart taste–thanks to the aforementioned huckleberries, added post-fermentation–that’s undercut by a tinge of easy-drinking wheat flavors.

Know Your History with Pendleton Underground Tours

Pendleton Underground Tours (photo by Dan Parnell)

We all know the Let ‘er Buck Room has a rowdy reputation–but that’s nothing compared to some of Pendleton’s rough-and-tumble history. And with Pendleton Underground Tours, your guide won’t hold back on the city’s sordid past.

The 90-minute tour spends most of that time underground, winding its way through a small enclave that sprouted up below Pendleton’s wooden sidewalks and notorious saloons. Along the way, you’ll learn about the railroad’s impact on Pendleton’s popularity in the late 1800s and the early 1900s, how early Chinese immigrants fared below ground, and the history behind Pendleton’s many brothels (which remained open until the mid-1950s).

Go Back in Time Along the Pendleton Bronze Tour

With so much history, it’s no surprise Pendleton has its fair share of notable cowboys, cowgirls, tribal leaders, community leaders, early pioneers, and more. Get to know these memorable men and women along the Pendleton Bronze Tour, situated in the heart of downtown.

Most of the statues are situated along Main Street, between the Umatilla River and Emigrant Avenue, but you’ll find statues dotting the downtown core. Make sure your boots are made for walking, and see where to find all the statues along the self-guided walking tour. You might even learn a thing or two about the stories behind various statues–like which famous stone sculpture was completed with help from local prison inmates.

Get Into Nature–Without Leaving Downtown

Heron on Umatilla River at Pendleton (photo courtesy Nancy Clark)

It sounds impossible: How can you actually get out of the city and into nature–all without ever leaving downtown?

It’s easy: Just take a walk along the Pendleton River Parkway.

Almost three miles of flat, paved trails follow the Umatilla River through downtown Pendleton and past local landmarks. You’ll pass Round-up Arena, city parks, and more–all without ever losing sight of the bucolic Umatilla River.

You’ll find plenty of benches for watching the world pass by, and most of the trail sits elevated above surrounding streets and sidewalks–so, even as cars pass by, you may feel as though you’re the only person in Pendleton.

Get Cultured at the Pendleton Center for the Arts

Is Round-up a little too rowdy? Slow down for an afternoon at the Pendleton Center for the Arts.

The arts center hosts two galleries that routinely showcase contemporary art, exhibits from regional artists, pieces by emerging artists, and more. At the moment, you’ll enjoy pastel and oil paintings from Bonnie Zahn Griffith, whose works are “plein air” paintings; that means Zahn Griffith painted the pieces on location, accounting for changing sunlight and shadows while creating a piece full of rich textures and vibrant color schemes.

There’s plenty more to love about the Pendleton Arts Center, no matter the season: The venue regularly hosts art classes, live music (including bluegrass band The EOcenes, who’ll perform on Sept. 13-14, 2018), readings from local and regional writers, and more.

We won’t lie: You’ll have a tough time finding Round-up Week accommodations around town. But in the words of Wayne Gretzky, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take: Check out our accommodations in and around Pendleton, just in case a last-minute booking opens up–or if you’re planning for future trips. Our accommodations include historic hotels, B&Bs, resorts, and lodges.