5 Things To Do in Pendleton, Oregon
Built on either side of the Umatilla River in the shadow of the Wallowa Mountains, Pendleton has been a vital and vivid part of Oregon’s cultural identity since its founding in the late 19th century. The town’s robust economy grew from the success of Pendleton Woolen Mills, which has become one of Oregon’s most beloved and recognizable brands inspired by the state’s Indigenous peoples.
Today, that appreciation for history and tradition lives on in award-winning museums like Tamástslikt Cultural Institute and annual events like the Pendleton Round–Up Rodeo. But the town isn’t just about the past — there’s something for everyone, from history buffs to whisky connoisseurs and music fans. The best part? Pendleton is just a 3-hour drive from Portland down the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. For a faster and more luxurious travel experience, hop on a plane with Boutique Airlines for one of their Portland-Pendleton flights that take off three times every day.
“Pendleton is a rural small town that packs a BIG punch,” said Kristen Dollarhide, Travel Pendleton Contractor. “Pendleton is well known for our world-class Round-Up Rodeo, which drives 55,000 visitors to our community each year in September. But Pendleton offers so much more throughout the other 51 weeks in the year,” she added.
No matter how you get there, Pendleton offers endless opportunities for unforgettable experiences. Check out the top recommendations — it’s closer than you think.
1. Tamastslikt Cultural Institute
Visitors will be immersed in the history, culture, and hospitality of the people who have lived on this land for more than 10,000 years. Experience the storied past, rich present, and bright future of Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla tribes through interactive exhibits, special events, and informative programs. More than just a museum, Tamástslikt celebrates traditions with dramatic exhibits, renowned artwork, and interesting events year-round, Tamástslikt Cultural Institute offers a 10,000-year journey in a single afternoon.
2. Pendleton Round–Up Rodeo
The Pendleton Round up began in 1910, with bronc riding, horse races by Indigenous and Non-Indigenous riders, Indigenous feasts and war dances, greased pig contests, sack races, foot races and fireworks, the annual Round-Up Rodeo was born. Now in its 113th year, it has grown into a week-long celebration of western heritage that includes parades, concerts, a night pageant and more, thrilling tens of thousands of cowboys and cowgirls every year.
3. Pendleton Makers Tour
Pendleton has a well-deserved reputation as a town where the best of Western tradition and heritage lives on. From saddles, hats, and boots to beer, whiskey, and vodka, Pendleton’s craft culture — driven by its pioneering spirit — is one of the most well-regarded in the state. While urban cities have seen the rise of artisan-driven businesses in the past decade, Pendleton’s makers were here long before it was cool — and they’re still around to show you. Meet the Pendleton Makers, from Stapleman Boots to one-of-a-kind purses from LL Bevington. There are world-class chocolatiers, winemakers, a brewery, a distiller, hat makers, and more. And, of course, the international iconic brand Pendleton Woolen Mills was founded in town over 100 years ago.
4. Pendleton Underground Tours
Find out why Pendleton was known as the entertainment capital of Eastern Oregon. Follow your guide underground to the Shamrock Card Room, Hop Sing’s (Chinese Laundry), the Empire Ice Cream Parlor and through the tunnels beneath the sidewalks to the Empire Meat Market. Stand under prism glass and go through a secret passageway to a Prohibition Card Room. Tunnels will lead you to a Duck Pin Bowling Alley, then up the 31 stairs to one of Pendleton’s 18 bordellos; the famous “Cozy Rooms.” After learning about Stella Darby and her working girls, the guide will take you to the bleakest area of the tour: the Chinese living quarters, jail and opium den. Learn why the Chinese came to Pendleton and how they helped build the West.
5. The Pendleton Whisky Music Fest
Since its inception in 2016, the Pendleton Whisky Music Fest has brought A-list acts like Maroon 5, Post Malone and 50 Cent, Blake Shelton and Pit Bull, Eric Church & Macklemore and many more. Be on the lookout for the announcement of the 2024 music line-up!
It should come as no surprise that an authentic town like Pendleton – widely known for many things, including the world-famous Pendleton Round-Up, traditional woolen blankets, and some damn good whisky – also boasts a lineup of summer events and festivals guaranteed to be a good time. From music fests where country meets hip hop, to buckin’ broncs and farmers markets and everything in between, in Pendleton, you’re never too far from the next great live show or event. Make sure to add a little Pendleton to your summer adventures and catch one of these regional favorites, up-and-coming performers, and more around town this summer. While there are so many options to choose from, here are a few of our favorites:
Get Wild 2023! – June, July, August
Whether you’re looking to add more activities to your itinerary, or are searching for a more toned-down experience, Travel Pendleton’s Get Wild 2023 calendar of events provides a summer’s worth of live music, events, and experiences throughout the town. Searchable by month, the calendar includes information on venues, acts, attractions, and more. Catch a 21+ Pendleton Underground tour and a drink in the Shamrock Saloon on Saturday nights, or enjoy a family-friendly live music event in the park. If it’s happening this summer in Pendleton, you’ll find it at Get Wild 2023!
Jackalope Jamboree – Friday & Saturday, June 27-29
During summer, Pacific Northwest Country music fans will once again gather in Pendleton’s Happy Canyon Arena for the Jackalope Jamboree. Billed as “a community-inclusive event for music fans of all ages, from the first-time concertgoer to well-traveled and young at heart,” Jackalope Jamboree boasts a three-day musical lineup featuring more than 18 acts on two stages. Whether it’s country music, a good time, or a little of both you’re looking for, Jackalope Jamboree delivers.
Pendleton Whisky Music Fest – Saturday, July 13
When first launched in 2016, the Pendleton Whisky Music Fest took Eastern Oregon by storm. That momentum has continued, with music lovers packing the Pendleton Round-Up Happy Valley Grounds annually to catch the likes of the Zac Brown Band, Maroon 5, Pitbull, and Blake Shelton, to name a few. While not every show in Pendleton features some of the biggest names in pop, rock, and country, the popularity of Pendleton Whisky Fest underscores the region’s love affair with live music. In 2023, this one-day event featured headliners Kane Brown, Flo Rida, Maddie & Tae, Niko Moon, and Dylan Schnieder. Tickets range from grandstand seating to air-conditioned premium arena boxes, as well as options for camping and RVs. Don’t miss the opportunity to catch the “best day of summer” at the Pendleton Whisky Music Fest on Saturday, July 13.
LET ’ER BUCK IN PENDLETON!
YOUR PERFECT 3-DAY ITINERARY
Despite its stature as one of Eastern Oregon’s largest cities, weighing in at 17,000 people, Pendleton holds onto its small-town charm and has no shortage of personality. Fueled by wide open spaces, majestic mountain ranges, and the spirit of the wild west, the town provides instant gratification for those looking to escape the metropolitan bustle for a good old-fashioned time. Built on the hard work of Oregon Trail pioneers, rodeo riders, proprietors, and a lot of grit, there’s a vibe you can’t quite put your finger on. And the best way to understand it is to head out to Pendleton and experience it for yourself. To get you started, we’ve put together an easy three-day itinerary where you’ll find your fill of where to stay, what to eat and drink, and plenty of good times.
YOU HAVE ARRIVED AT YOUR FINAL DESTINATION
Located just off Interstate 84, traveling to Pendleton by car couldn’t be easier. A straight shot at just over three hours from Portland to the west, and just under three and a half hours from Boise to the east, it’s an easy destination for your next adventure.
For those who prefer flying, the Pendleton Airport offers three daily round-trip flights from Portland, which makes it easy to turn that work trip into a weekend getaway, or a hassle-free, car-free escape.
OVERNIGHT IN PENDLETON
If nostalgic urban vibes and Instagram-worthy shots are your scene, look no further than Pendleton’s newest motel, MotoLodge, whose American heritage-inspired decor, seasonal outdoor heated pool, and 6-person Pendleton Whisky™ Barrel Sauna celebrate the open road and the wild west. Or book a stay at the Pendleton House Historic Inn and bask in European elegance and refinement, magnificent views from the front porch, and gourmet breakfast. Opt for a family-friendly stay with a full breakfast and indoor pool for the kids at Oxford Suites or Hampton Inn, both just minutes from downtown. And if you’re looking for a truly unique experience, stay in Pendleton’s very own bordello, The Working Girls Hotel. This early 1800s boarding house will truly knock your socks off.
DAY 1: ALL THINGS PENDLETON
The name Pendleton is a brand in and of itself. From woolen mills to rodeos to whisky, these products pay homage to the authenticity, passion, and superior craftsmanship of the town’s residents. Spend the day exploring the history and products that put Pendleton on the map.
Start the day with breakfast at Pendleton’s famed Rainbow Cafe. Oregon’s oldest tavern, the Rainbow Cafe, has been in operation since 1883, is a hands-down local favorite, and is as colorful as its name implies.
Let’s Get Western!
Start at the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store to see where it all began. Here, you can watch their jacquard wool blankets being woven in the original mill, then shop for the perfect blanket, apparel, or other gifts to take home. For the full experience, sign up for a free tour, but be sure to stop in midweek, as tours are not offered on the weekends. Next, it’s off to the world-famous Pendleton Round-Up. If you can’t make the rodeo in mid-September, then catch the next best thing at the Pendleton Round-Up Hall of Fame Museum. Here you’ll learn about the Round-Up’s inductees and the history of the rodeo. Continue the edu-cation at the Heritage Station Museum, a converted 1909 train depot in downtown Pendleton that hosts exhibits about Pendleton and Umatilla County’s rich history. Last, end your afternoon with some levity at the Pendleton Underground Tours, “a place where culture is kept, history is told, and legends live on.” Here, guides dress in period clothing and offer up drinks named after the working girls and old proprietors that once resided upstairs. You’ll tour Pendleton’s unique subterranean tunnel system, passing through the Shamrock Card Room, Hop Sing’s (Chinese Laundry), the Empire Ice Cream Parlor, the Empire Meat Market, and beyond. Those over the age of 21 can book a 5 p.m. tour, which includes a drink and other tasters along the way. Continue the immersive Pendleton experience with a Pendleton Whisky™ in the Shamrock Bar every first Saturday of the month after the tour.
Dine and Drink
Now that you have a solid foundation on all things Pendleton, it is time to wine and dine in true cowboy style with a Barrel-cut filet, topped with bacon and finished with a Pendleton Whiskey demi-glace reduction at Virgil’s at Cimmiyotti’s, a historical landmark in downtown. This restaurant has seen its fair share of history but has remained an iconic Pendleton dining experience since 1959. Finish the evening with a nightcap at The Packard Tavern or live music at Hamley Saloon.
DAY 2: CHARM TRAIL, PENDLETON BUCKS, AND LOCAL MAKERS
Stroll the streets lined with merchants, makers, and restaurants, and you’ll quickly discover what makes Pendleton special: its people. Fittingly, day two of your Pendleton adventure is all about the local culture.
Before heading out on the Charm Trail, be sure to load up on some Pendleton Bucks at the Visitor Center. Available in any denomination and valid at almost 40 participating businesses, including some of Pendleton’s many entrepreneurs, makers, and proprietors, Pendleton Bucks work just like a gift card and allow cardholders to support local businesses while receiving specials and discounts in the process.
Armed with your Charm Trail bracelet and Pendleton Bucks from the Visitor Center, you’re ready to hit the trail. While exploring the businesses on the Charm Trail, take the time to discover the incredible makers who call Pendleton home. Highly skilled as both makers and merchants, you’ll learn about and experience the dedication and heart that goes into their craft. At Alexander’s Artisan Chocolates, chat with French-trained Master Chocolatier Alexander about his chocolate bean-to-bar process. Then, step over to the wine bar and learn how to pair wine with chocolate from Sommelier Steve. A few blocks down the road Staplemans Custom Boot Shop is home to four artisan boot makers who create, customize, and repair leather boots and shoes on-site. See the entire process unfold while you shop the custom footwear.
When you’ve worked up an appetite (and a thirst), stop into Pendleton’s first craft brewery, The Prodigal Son. The brewery pours a lineup of appropriately named Pendleton ales and a full pub-style menu that will satisfy and quench your palate.
Next, it’s over to New York Clothier, a true American haberdashery, where you’ll try on handcrafted clothing designed with American aesthetics. You’ll find vintage-inspired bow ties, custom hand-tailored shirts, and curated lifestyle goods. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet the owners, Kevin and Kay, and learn what drew them to the area from New York to set up shop and make Pendleton home.
Cross the street to LL Bevington to meet maker/owner Linda Bevington. She works as she operates her storefront, creating custom purses and leather goods to accessorize your style and decorate your home.
Once you’ve got your steps in and loaded your trunk with local goods, head to Oregon Grain Growers Brand Distillery. This family-owned and operated establishment is the first post-Prohibition distillery in Pendleton. Focused on locally sourced ingredients and the highest-quality vodka, whisky, rum, and gin, their spirits pay homage to the hard-working growers that make the products possible. Enjoy a pizza in the eatery and taste their many handcrafted spirits.
After a full day of exploring Pendleton’s makers, artisans, and other local stops along the Charm Trail, we understand if you’re ready to call it a night. But if you’re looking to close out the day with one more activity, check out the Get Wild 2023! Live music calendar and catch a show before hitting the hay.
DAY 3: GET OUTSIDE!
Today it’s time to get outside and get to know Pendleton’s abundance of natural spaces. Surrounded by mountain ranges and wilderness areas, the region hosts ample opportunities to enjoy the town’s year-round recreation opportunities.
On day three, recharge your wellness tank with Pendleton’s sweeping scenery. Begin with a light breakfast and a cup of joe at Buckin Bean Coffee. The only roastery in Umatilla County, the coffee beans roasted on-site are best when paired with their housemade pastries, breakfast, and lunch. With coffee in hand, follow the Pendleton Bronze Trail and get warmed up for an active morning. Scan the QR code on the Bronze Trail website and explore the 20 stops along the trail. From there, continue your walk along the Pendleton River Parkway, a non-motorized path that follows the South Bank of the Umatilla River and provides snapshots of the world-famous Round-Up grounds, parks, and downtown.
Or, immerse in nature at Umatilla National Forest; here, you can hike, bike, trot, and watch wildlife along the trail system of the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness. Be prepared with trail maps, appropriate footwear, and extra water; the trails can be challenging, and as always, please leave the wilderness area in better condition than you found it. The area’s dense natural beauty and shade trees provide a tranquil place to appreciate and connect with nature. After you’ve worked up an appetite, head back into town and refuel with a taste of Pendleton and an all-American lunch at a local favorite for over 40 years, The Saddle Restaurant and Lounge.
Views of the Blues
After lunch, drive through the Southern Blue Mountain Scenic Loop; the 120-mile route will lead you to small Eastern Oregon towns, over Battle Mountain, and through scenic valleys. Named by early settlers for the blue hue of the pine- and fir-lined ridges, the Blue Mountains, or as the locals say, “The Blues,” blanket the land southeast of Pendleton. The range extends east to the Snake River along the Idaho border, and north into Washington. Green lush rolling hills, remnants of pioneer-era homes, crystal clear lakes, and spectacular mountains will accompany you along the loop, and the Blue Mountains’ extraordinary beauty will leave a lasting impression.
If you’re joining us in summer for family fun, beat the heat at the Pendleton Aquatic Center. With three pools with multiple slides, concessions, and family picnic areas with gas grills, this place is FUN and is sure to wear the kiddos out for the last evening in Pendleton.
End your day with dinner on the patio at Joe’s Fiesta Mexican Grill, where Joe himself will most likely greet you. True to the Pendleton way, you’ll find top-notch service, refreshing drinks, incredible Mexican cuisine, and a whole lot of personality at Joe’s.
Now that we’ve made the planning easy, and fueled your hunger for excitement, book your stay and LET ’ER BUCK IN PENDLETON!
PENDLETON HAS A LOVE AFFAIR WITH LIVE MUSIC – SO HERE’S WHERE TO CATCH LIVE MUSIC AROUND TOWN.
When it launched in 2016, the Pendleton Whisky Music Fest took Eastern Oregon by storm. Packing the Pendleton Round-Up grounds, the festival hosted the Zac Brown Band–and has since brought the likes of Maroon 5, Pitbull, and Blake Shelton to the city of 17,000.
The city doesn’t always host some of the biggest names in pop, rock, and country–but the popularity of Pendleton Whisky Fest underscores the region’s love affair with live music. And as one of the largest cities in Eastern Oregon, you’re never far from the next live show. Here’s where to catch regional favorites, up-and-coming performers, and more around Pendleton:
Great Pacific Wine and Coffee Company
Even without live music, Great Pacific Wine and Coffee Company serves as a community gathering spot in downtown Pendleton. There, friends and colleagues get together over coffee, pizza, beer, and some of the shop’s outstanding wine – and the venue’s eclectic live music lineup means that everyone leaves entertained.
Great Pacific hosts live music a few times each month, and the lineup runs the gamut from acoustic singer-songwriters to bluegrass-inspired folk to trios who perform a mix of folk, pop, and jazz with a cello, mandolin, and (believe it or not) typewriter.
As if a great selection of craft beer weren’t enough, local beer bar 40 Taps hosts live music, starring up-and-coming performers, on Thursdays.
The brick wall-lined bar prides itself on hosting original performers, so you won’t hear covers of “Don’t Stop Believin’” or acoustic renditions of “What a Wonderful World.” Rather, recent shows have spotlighted folk, country, bluegrass, and acoustic rock–all from local and regional musicians.
Pendleton Center for the Arts
Trade the sweaty, crowded, beer-soaked bar dance floor for something smaller and more intimate – but no less thrilling – at the Pendleton Center for the Arts.
Bluegrass, jazz, Celtic, and rock and roll are just some of the genres gracing the stage of the restored 1916 Carnegie Library building, overlooking the Umatilla River at the northern edge of downtown Pendleton. And on the first Thursday of each month, musicians of all experience levels are invited to take part in jam sessions that cover a variety of genres.
It’s tough to visit Pendleton without stopping at Hamley’s Saloon in the heart of downtown. No matter when you visit, chances are good you’ll stumble onto some live music – whether a regional act on tour or a local musician performing a set for the hometown crowd. Expect a mix of rock ‘n roll, country, blues, and bluegrass.
Wildhorse Resort and Casino
No story about entertainment in Pendleton would be complete without a nod to Wildhorse Resort and Casino – and no matter what kind of music you’re into, chances are good Wildhorse is hosting it soon.
The casino routinely hosts touring musicians and performers. Earlier this year, for instance, Wildhorse hosted a throwback show starring ’90s hip-hop stalwarts Tone Loc, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and Naughty By Nature.
On the horizon, the Wildhorse Sports Bar’s Halloween party features a headlining set from the band Jilt, rocking your favorite ’80s hits, while other upcoming performers include country singer-songwriter Britnee Kellogg and the Seattle-based rock group Hair Nation. Best of all, there’s never a cover in the sports bar.
Indulge Your Inner Rock Star
Would you rather sing your favorite hits? If so, head to Cadillac Jack’s Saloon and Grill, which hosts regular karaoke nights alongside craft beer tastings, holiday parties, and other fun events.
Staying the night to catch another great show? Check out our accommodations in the Pendleton area for historic hotels, B&Bs, resorts, and lodges.
LEARN ABOUT FIVE FUN ACTIVITIES TO KEEP YOU BUSY DURING ROUND-UP WEEK
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
Bartenders 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
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
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.
DISCOVER YOUR NEXT FAVORITE WINERY, WINE BAR, AND MORE.
Pendleton might be known today as a beer and whisky town, but more than 100 years ago, it sat in the heart of one of Oregon’s most fertile wine regions.
According to the Oregon Wine Board, settlers planted the region’s first vineyard near the town of The Dalles, to the west, in the early 1900s. Just 25 miles northeast of Pendleton, more than 300 acres of grapes grow today in the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA. And, naturally, Walla Walla and its world-famous wine is just an hour away.
Given Pendleton’s close proximity to so much great wine, it’s no surprise the city hosts a growing number of tasting rooms and wine bars that offer merlot, cabernet, and other popular varietals.
Interested in seeing–and sipping–for yourself? Here’s a taste of what to expect from Pendleton and Umatilla County’s wider wine scene.
Cerebella Winery is a family-owned and operated winery located in historic downtown Pendleton. Pouring a selection of their beautiful wine Monday – Saturday. Relax in their comfortable tasting room with a glass of wine or enjoy a Frose` on the patio with one of their signature cheese boards. Serving lunch and dinner.
Bold award-winning Pacific Northwest wines
Great Pacific Wine and Coffee Company
Great Pacific Wine and Coffee Company is so much more than another eatery in downtown Pendleton. The cozy restaurant and pub routinely hosts live music; serves a selection of sandwiches, soups, salads, and pizza; and, yes, promises one of the city’s best wine selections.
You’ll find plenty of wine from the nearby Walla Walla, Columbia, and Willamette Valleys, as well as other regions throughout Oregon and Washington. Looking for some international flavor? Find bottles from France, Italy, Spain, Australia, and other countries around the world.
Alexander’s Chocolate Classics and Vino Bistro
Chocolate and wine go together like … well, chocolate and wine. And there may be no better place to enjoy the perfect pairing than Alexander’s Chocolate Classics and Vino Bistro.
Alexander’s serves a rotating selection of handmade truffles in downtown Pendleton alongside a selection of local and regional wines to pair with their decadent offerings.
Wine lovers looking for something more worldly are fond of Alexander’s occasional dinner, dessert, and wine pairings; recent dinners have paired international cuisines and desserts with wines from Greece, Spain, and Italy.
Virgil’s at Cimmiyotti’s
A Pendleton institution since 1959, Virgil’s at Cimmiyotti’s has long been known for its perfectly-cooked steaks. But the restaurant’s wine selection promises an ideal complement for every cut of meat.
Virgil’s pours a curated mix of reds, whites, sparkling wines, and more from regional wineries (including Sno Road and Echo West) and international vineyards (France, Spain, and Argentina are routinely represented).
Wineries in Echo
With a growing, robust wine scene, it’s easy to make a day trip to nearby wineries. And Echo, just 20 miles west of Pendleton, is a natural place to start.
Sno Road Winery, whose vineyards sit atop a bluff overlooking the Umatilla River, hosts a tasting room roughly 20 miles west of Pendleton in Echo. Owners Lloyd and Lois Piercy–whose worldly approach to winemaking was informed by trips to the likes of Costa Rica, Mexico, and South Africa–started Sno Road Winery in 2004. Today, Sno Road’s tasting room in downtown Echo offers cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, pinot noir, and more.
Nearby, Echo Ridge Cellars grows grapes on 60 estate acres high above the Umatilla River. Kim and Jay Bales pride themselves on using cutting-edge farming techniques to craft their high-quality wines, and the duo repurposed an old concrete storage warehouse as their tasting room. There, visitors can try several popular varietals, including merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, syrah, and more.
And the 39-acre Echo West Vineyard sits on the windswept slopes near Echo, its terrain shaped by volcanic ash. Visitors get to enjoy pinot noir, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, and other popular varietals–not to mention views of the rolling farms and fields that surround the vineyard.
Wineries in Milton-Freewater
Further north, the town of Milton-Freewater offers several tasting rooms in the southern edge of the Walla Walla Valley.
Watermill Winery was founded in 2005 and, today, produces wines from estate fruit from four regions throughout the Pacific Northwest.
TERO Estates was formed at the edge of the Blue Mountains in 2007; today, the winery hosts tasting rooms in Seattle and Walla Walla.
Don Carlo Vineyard, using grapes grown in Milton-Freewater, produces chardonnay, merlot, and other varietals that showcase the cobblestone terroir the region is known for.
Looking for a place to stay after a long day of wine-tasting? Check out our accommodations in and around Pendleton for a good night’s sleep. Our accommodations range from historic hotels to B&Bs to resorts and lodges.
MAKE PLANS TO SPEND SOME OF YOUR SUMMER VACATION IN PENDLETON THIS YEAR
School’s out for summer, and vacation season is officially in full swing. So as you’re making plans and figuring out the next few months, why not spend a weekend or two in Pendleton?
The gateway to Eastern Oregon boasts fun for the whole family. Kids love splashing around at the Pendleton Aquatic Center and ending the day under stars, watching an outdoor film at one of the city’s well-loved parks; Oregon Trail wagon ruts enthrall visitors today, more than 175 years after the first covered wagon headed west; and a handful of attractions showcase a mix of fun and education on the way into town.
So as you’re making plans for a weekend getaway, here are five fun things to do in—and around—Pendleton this summer.
On the Way: SAGE Center and Bonneville Hatchery
Rainbow trout swimming at the Bonneville Hatchery / Photo via Sheila Sund/Flickr
If you’re coming from Portland, you’re facing a three-and-a-half-hour drive—so you’ll want a stop or two along the way to break up the ride. Two attractions along the way offer a glimpse at industries that have long been an essential part of the larger Oregon story.
Some 40 miles east of Portland, Bonneville Hatchery is the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s largest hatchery. Kids can feed rainbow trout in the display pond for just 25 cents, and visitors can gawk at adult white sturgeon, some of which measure more than 10 feet long.
Another two hours east, the SAGE Center in Boardman highlights sustainable agriculture through hands-on exhibits and interactive displays. The museum hosts an exhibit on potato processing, information on modern agriculture, and a look at destinations around the world where the nearby Port of Morrow ships its products.
When the Temperature Rises: Pendleton Aquatic Center
Between now and September 2, the Pendleton Aquatic Center is a popular go-to attraction for families looking to keep cool.
The aquatic center boasts three pools—one up to 4 feet deep, and two pools up to 6 feet deep—alongside two tower slides (one of which is 250 feet long). And if you don’t feel like paying for concessions, families are free to bring in outside food and drink (but glass containers are not allowed).
The center is open noon to 8 p.m. daily, but circle a few special events on your calendar: Aquatic Pepsi Blast, happening on July 10, includes free entry, prizes, giveaways, and free Pepsi products; later that month, Adult Night (happening on July 27) kicks the kids out for one night only—the fun includes food for purchase, games, music, and a bar presented by Oregon Grain Growers; and the season ends on Sept. 4, when Fido takes over the pool for Wunderlich-Larsen Memorial Doggie Dip Day—chlorine is removed from the pool, and dogs are invited to splash around.
Playing in Pendleton’s Parks
If the kids need to burn off some energy, they’ll have plenty of chances at city parks around Pendleton.
Roy Raley Park, for instance, hosts basketball courts, play equipment, a small climbing rock, pickleball courts (equipment rentals are available from the Pendleton Parks & Recreation office), and other fun attractions. And the expansive Community Park offers a paved walking trail, access to McKay Creek, an 18-hole disc golf course, a dinosaur-themed play area, soccer fields, and more.
The parks are fun at any time of day, but keep an eye out for special events happening throughout the summer. Music in the Park takes place on Wednesday nights between July 24 and August 21 at Roy Raley Park; the fun includes live music, food vendors, and a beer/wine garden for adults. And at Community Park, the Movies in the Park event brings a bit of Hollywood to Pendleton; the outdoor movie night will play “The Sandlot”, “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, “Black Panther”, “Free Willy”, and other family favorites—with giveaways and your favorite concessions available for purchase.
Fun for Kids of All Ages: Children’s Museum of Eastern Oregon
Let your kid’s imagination run wild at the Children’s Museum of Eastern Oregon, located in the heart of downtown Pendleton.
Turn your aspiring chef loose in Big John’s Pizza Kitchen; future rock stars can rehearse for the big stage in the Music Wall; wannabe firefighters can play in the Fire Station; and other exhibits—catering to toddlers and children of all ages—offer fun activities for avid readers, budding builders, and more.
Walking in the Footsteps of Oregon Trail Pioneers
More than 175 years ago, pioneers crossed the plains and scaled the Rocky Mountains on the Oregon Trail—and nearly two centuries later, visitors can still see their wagon ruts at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Park at Blue Mountain Crossing.
The well-preserved tracks sit alongside a forest of Ponderosa pine trees—some of which still bear the scars created by passing wagons in the mid-1800s. A handful of short, accessible paths offer easy access to the trail; interpretive panels showcase regional history; and a cozy picnic area makes it an ideal lunch stop. The park sits roughly 45 miles east of Pendleton, in the heart of the Blue Mountains.
After a night of watching a movie under the stars, a day exploring the Oregon Trail, or an afternoon in the pool, rest your head in one of Pendleton’s many lodgings. We offer a mix of quaint inns, historic hotels, scenic campgrounds, and more—all suited to meet the needs of an active family. Learn more about our lodging options, and book your stay today.