YOUR GUIDE TO YEAR-ROUND FUN IN PENDLETON
It’s already February: Your New Year’s resolutions fell by the wayside weeks ago, you’re binging Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix and promising this is the week you get organized, and you’re wondering how to get back on track.
January might be in the rear-view mirror, but it’s not too late to make goals for 2019–like resolving to visit Pendleton.
Sure, we’re a bit biased. But no matter when you decide to visit, you’ll find something to love all year long. Here’s a taste of what to expect every month of the year:
February: Enjoy the City’s Fun Dining Scene
With fewer crowds in the off-season, you’ll enjoy shorter waits and more elbow room at some of the city’s best-loved restaurants. And with dozens of dining rooms to choose from, you’re never lacking choices – for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Load up on comfort food classics at Roosters Country Kitchen; dine on pizza while sipping wines from around the world at Great Pacific Wine and Coffee Co.; cut into some of the city’s best steaks at Hamley Steakhouse and Saloon; and kick back with a mouthwatering beer at The Prodigal Son Brewery and Pub, the only craft brewery in Pendleton.
March: Crown the Champ at Battle of the Bars
Every year, your favorite bartenders and mixologists compete in the Battle of Bars–where EVERYONE is a winner.
Here’s how it works: Local bars make their signature Pendleton Whisky drinks–and visitors sample the entries and vote on their favorites. The event includes dinner and live music, and the friendly competition raises money for the Pendleton Round-up and Happy Canyon Hall of Fame.
And even if you miss the Battle of the Bars, Pendleton’s craft cocktail scene is worth a visit: Oregon Grain Growers Brand Distillery serves cocktails made from its various spirits, and the Rainbow Cafe has been serving thirsty patrons for more than 125 years.
April: See the Pendleton Goats
Pendleton boasts an unusual tactic in the battle against overgrowth along the Umatilla River: goats–lots and lots of goats.
Each spring, the city of Pendleton employs hundreds of goats to clear away potentially flammable brush near the Umatilla riverbed and along Pendleton’s parkway. The goats usually arrive in April or May–and periodically clear away brush over the summer. And visitors are invited to watch the goats munch their way through town–from a safe distance, of course.
If you’d like to come out and see the goats for yourself, check with the city of Pendleton to see when they’ll arrive.
May: Get into Gear at the (Mini) Century Ride of the Centuries Ride
Dedicated cyclists have long flocked to the Century Ride of Centuries in Pendleton, which has long spotlighted three days of rides in the farmlands and forests surrounding town. This year, however, the host organization–Pendleton on Wheels–is dialing the event back to one day.
But the group hopes to make up for it with a ride up the challenging Cabbage Hill. The 78-mile ride ends in the heart of the Blue Mountains, with a turnaround at an Oregon Trail interpretive site just past the community of Kamela. Those up for a full century ride can start in the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce parking lot, rather than at Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, and those wanting a shorter ride can turn around at Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area for a 44-mile ride.
No matter how long you ride, reward yourself with the burger bar buffet at OMG! Burgers & Brews in downtown Pendleton.
And if cycling’s not your thing, stop by for Pendleton Cattle Barons Weekend. The event honors Pendleton’s legacy as a Wild West outpost with horse sales, educational events, ranch rodeo events, the North American Stock Saddle Bronc Championship, and more.
June: Get Ready for Summer
School’s letting out, so it’s time to plan your perfect summer vacation in Pendleton.
Families flock to the Children’s Museum of Eastern Oregon, which hosts several educational exhibits and attractions for kids of all ages; the Pendleton Underground Tours, meanwhile, heads under the city’s sidewalks to explore opium dens, watering holes, markets, and other stops in Pendleton’s old red light district.
And if the weather’s cooperating, stop by one of Pendleton’s many parks. Every summer, Community Park hosts free outdoor movies and pre-screening fun like kickball, cornhole, and concessions–and that’s in addition to the park’s disc golf course. The Pendleton Aquatic Center, meanwhile, gets in on the fun with a dive-in movie on an inflatable screen. And if you’re up for live music, local and regional performers take the stage Wednesday evenings throughout the summer at Roy Raley Park.
We’re also excited to host a few fun events in June, as well. The Wild West Brewfest, happening on June 22, 2019, brings together breweries, wineries, and cideries from throughout Eastern Oregon for a full day of tastings at Roy Raley Park. And the Pendleton Bonanza spotlights local artists, craft beverages, regional food makers, antique sales, vintage motorcycles, and more.
July: Heat Up With a Party in Pendleton
Pendleton really heats up in July, with a pair of popular events taking over town.
First up: Pendleton Whisky Fest boasts live music and days of festivities around town. The fun culminates with a sure-to-be-sold-out concert at the Pendleton Round-up Grounds, complete with on-site food trucks and plenty of Pendleton Whisky; past performers have included Blake Shelton, Pitbull, Maroon 5, and the Zac Brown Band.
The following week, Pendleton Bike Week descends on the city, promising the largest motorcycle rally in the Pacific Northwest. Pendleton Bike Week events include live music, demo rides, tattoo demonstrations, an all-new moto show, and more.
August: See the New Exhibit at Tamástslikt Cultural Institute
There’s never a bad time to visit Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, just outside town at the Wildhorse Resort & Casino complex. But the museum’s newest exhibit, debuting in July, offers a compelling look at Native American identities–and how Native Americans are portrayed in popular culture.
“SAVAGES AND PRINCESSES: The Persistence of Native American Stereotypes” brings together more than a dozen contemporary Native American artists to break down stereotypes and challenge visitors. The pieces on display use humor, subtlety, or irony that allow the artists to reclaim the right to represent their identities.
September: Cross the Pendleton Round-up Off Your Bucket List
This legendary rodeo needs no introduction: Every September, the Pendleton Round-up and Happy Canyon Night Show become the biggest events of the year. For more than a century, the events have brought cowboys, cowgirls, Native Americans, and visitors from all over the world for several days of live music, fairs and festivals, and–of course–rodeo performances. If there’s ever a time to experience Pendleton’s Western heritage, Round-up Week is it.
October: Attend Oktoberfest–No Lederhosen Required
Sure, Pendleton is a long way from Munich–but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with fun for kids and adults at Oktoberfest Pendleton.
The Oktoberfest festivities include beers from local and regional brewers (including The Prodigal Son Brewery and Pub, Barley Brown’s Beer, Blue Mountain Cider, and Iron Horse Brewery), food from local vendors, live music, and more. Best of all, the event is a fundraiser for local organizations; past beneficiaries include the Pendleton Center for the Arts, Pendleton Lions Club, and the Pendleton Animal Welfare Shelter.
November: Enjoy Holiday Fun Around Town
There’s never a dull moment around Pendleton, and that’s especially true during the holiday season.
Find the perfect gift at one of several holiday bazaars, check out a local theater production, enjoy Christmas light displays, join the annual Holiday Stroll through downtown, or–believe it or not–play glow-in-the-dark dodgeball as Santa himself watches on.
December: Find the Perfect “only-in-Pendleton” Gift–or Get Outside
Pendleton is a city of makers, so find that perfect “only-in-Pendleton” gift for everyone on your list with a selection of local items.
Some of the city’s most popular retailers showcase works from some of the city’s most creative minds. A Piece of Pendleton provides space for local artists and businesses to sell their wares, including bird houses, artwork, artisan soaps and lotions, and more; Pendleton Woolen Mills is legendary for its iconic, Native American-inspired designs; and several stores around town sell all manner of Western wear, including custom-fitted hats, horse tack, handmade boots, and more.
And if all those holiday shopping crowds stress you out, head outdoors for a slice of wintry fun in and around Pendleton. Make the trip up Cabbage Hill and into the nearby Blue Mountains for cross-country skiing at Meacham Divide/Mt. Emily Sno-Park–the second largest Nordic ski area in Oregon–or snowshoeing around Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area. Closer to town, Roy Raley Park hosts a seasonal ice rink–complete with hot chocolate.
There’s never a bad time of year to visit Pendleton, home to historic hotels, B&Bs, resorts, lodges, and more. See where to rest your head all year long.