Pendleton is a hidden gem of Eastern Oregon in Umatilla County, best known for its reputation as a ”Cowboy Town” in the Pacific Northwest.
This small town invokes images of Native American History and being home to the world-famous Pendleton Woolen Mills.
Not to forget the Pendleton Round-up, which is a major competitive livestock sporting event here at Pendleton.
You can visit the arena and spectate the live action every Wednesday through Saturday.
But theres more to this small farming town than meets the eye!
Visitors can go to Umatilla National Forest for an epic outdoor adventure around the 2000 miles of forest roads or backpacking over 715 miles of hiking trails.
With so much to do, Pendleton is a paradise for travelers of all ages.
And that is why we have set a list of the best things to do in Pendleton to make your trip memorable.
Things To Do in Pendleton, Oregon
Get Creative at Pendleton Center for the Arts
Address: 214 North Main Street, Pendleton, Oregon 97801, United States
Hours: open 10:00 am - 4:00 pm (Tuesday - Friday), 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm on Saturdays, closed on Sundays & Mondays
Costs: free admission
Pendleton Center for the Arts is an old 1915 Carnegie Library that has been updated into an excellent art museum and craft shop.
It is located in the heart of Downtown Pendleton and is a great place to express your creativity through rotating exhibits and art galleries.
The museum also organizes workshops, live music performances, free drop-in classes, and camps offered by local artists and craftspeople every Saturday morning and Monday afternoon.
It is a real community asset and a treasure worth a visit. So make sure to stop by!
Learn the Local History of Pendleton at Heritage Station Museum
Address: 108 Southwest Frazer Avenue, Pendleton, Oregon 97801, United States
Hours: open 10:00 am - 4:00 pm (Monday - Saturday), closed on Sundays
Costs: admission fees range from $20 to $5, depeding on groups and age
If you are looking for a place to learn a little bit of local history, then the Heritage Station Museum is a must-visit.
It is housed in the 1909 train depot, which was later converted into a museum in 1987.
Today, it makes a great place to immerse yourself in the history of the Oregon Trail and the early settlers of the Umatilla country.
From missionaries to farmers and local agriculture, the museum does a great job of painting a picture of pioneer life and all of its hardships.
There are information boards available, so you get to explore all of the indoor and outdoor exhibits by taking a self-guided tour.
Learn Chinese and Native American History at Pendleton Underground Tours
Address: 31 Southwest Emigrant Avenue, Pendleton, Oregon 97801, United States
Hours: open year-round from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm, closed on Tuesdays & Sundays
Costs: Underground Tours are $20 per person, $15 for ages 6-12
Strolling around the downtown area, theres a secret world full of Chinese business and laborers’ history of the late 19th century just beneath your feet.
Today several tunnels have been restored, and some of the town’s history has been recreated to form Pendleton Underground Tours.
It is a nearly 2-hour tour of above and below-ground covering a large cross-section of old west history.
From Chinese laundries to butcher shops and plenty of illegal activities like opium dens, remnants of card rooms, bordellos, and many more.
It provides a glimpse into the wild past of this hidden city, so make sure to stop by.
Tip: Call ahead for seasonal hours and reservations, as the tour fills up quickly.
Watch Scenic View From Deadman Pass Lookout Area
Address: Interstate-84, Pendleton, Oregon 97801, United States
Hours: open 24 hours
The Deadman Pass Lookout Area is a scenic viewpoint destination that is situated at the Interstate Highway Pass in Central Oregon.
Make it through the top, and you will be treated to a spectacular view of the Blue Mountains, grasslands, and sunsets in the evening.
There are several pavilions with great information placards about the Lewis and Clark Trail. It also makes a great spot for picnicking and resting.
Backpacking Adventure at Umatilla National Forest
Address: 72510 Coyote Road, Pendleton, Oregon 97801, United States
Hours: open 24 hours
Costs: Permit costs range from $5 - $7 per person
Whether you want to go for a long miles of road trip or backpacking in the Blue Mountains, Umatilla National Forest provides a great outdoor adventure.
Sprawling over forests, grasslands, rivers, and cascade mountains, it offers 28 great hiking trails with miles and miles of adventure from Pendleton.
You can pack some essential camping gear and move along with your journey.
If you want to take the roads, The Blue Mountain Scenic Byway has a range of picturesque views, historic attractions, and countless recreational options.
Step Back in Time at Tamastslikt Cultural Institute
Address: 47106 Wildhorse Boulevard, Pendleton, Oregon 97801, United States
Hours: open 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (Tuesday - Saturday), closed on Sundays & Mondays
Costs: admission rate range from $12 - $5 depending on age, children 5 and under are free
If you want to learn about Native American History from the 17th to 21st centuries, Tamastslikt Cultural Institute is a great place for history buffs.
Just east of Pendleton in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, this historic gem shares some of Oregon’s richest history dating back to a thousand years.
The museum is well maintained and features several detailed scenes of the Umatillas and neighboring tribe history and culture.
Best of all, you get to experience the live action of a primitive lifestyle with many hands-on features from the past of hunting and gathering.
The Children’s Museum of Eastern Oregon
Address: 400 South Main Street, Pendleton, Oregon 97801, United States
Hours: open 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (Tuesday - Saturday), closed on Sunday & Monday
Costs: $7 for kids and adults
Located at the heart of Downtown Pendleton, The Children’s Museum of Eastern Oregon is a paradise for the little ones.
It is a fun, hands-on children’s museum to play and explore with several exhibits.
With different kid’s dedicated themes, including Lewis and Clark Expedition, a grocery store, a fire station, and an art room, theres many activities to try on.
The museum shop also sells a small selection of high-quality toys with many unique items for playing and learning.
Watch Rodeo and Cowboys at Pendleton Roundup Grandstand
Address: 1205 Southwest Court Avenue, Pendleton, Oregon 97801, United States
Hours: open daily from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Costs: Tickets & Tours
Pendleton Roundup Grandstand is the city’s renowned annual rodeo that attracts visitors from all over Northeastern Oregon.
From Bronc riding to roping events and bull riding, the Grandstand contains all events of a Rodeo.
Roundup is a mix of Western Culture, and there is a large contingent of American Indian tribes that participate and camp on the Rodeo grounds.
The Pendleton Room is a great place to wet your whistle. Every night downtown is closed to traffic, and it becomes one big party for those of all ages.
Theres also a Hall of Fame Museum, gift shop, and tour of rodeo grounds to spare some extra time if you visit early.
Explore the McKay Creek National Wildlife Refuge
Address: Pendleton, Oregon 97801, United States
Hours: open daily from 7:00 am - 9:00 pm
Sitting between the Blue Mountains and plains of Eastern Oregon, McKay Creek National Wildlife Refuge is heaven for nature enthusiasts.
It is located 6 miles approximately south of Pendleton on US Route 395 and serves as a great recreational area for visitors.
You can spend your day fishing, boating, wildlife photography, and watching migratory birds and other animals in their habitat.
Tip: Bring Binoculars for a close-up view.
Stroll Around Downtown Pendleton
Address: Pendleton, Oregon, United States
With a little bit of Western culture, historical buildings, and Pendleton’s lovely hospitality, the Downtown area is the perfect spot to shop, dine, stay, and have a blast.
Take a self-guided tour around, and you will find local artisans at work, amazing local restaurants, breweries, distilleries, boutique hotels, and so much more.
The Rainbow Cafe is one of the oldest bars in Oregon that has been operating since 1883. Come along and enjoy its world-class cocktails with live music!
Visit Pendleton Wollen Mills
Address: 1307 Southeast Court Place, Pendleton, Oregon 97801, United States
Hours: open daily from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Pendleton Woolen Mills is the most renowned place in the city’s historic downtown that has been weaving and providing woolen for more than 140 years.
You can take a tour of the mill and learn the making process of wool into blankets, carpets, and other textiles made from fibers.
Summer and winter tours are available several times a day, with a 20-minute to 30-minute guided tour.
Start Planning Your Trip To Pendleton
Come explore Pendleton and get a taste of the Western culture of Oregon with all that it offers.
Getting around makes it easy by using public transportation or renting a car. However, if you are staying near the downtown area, walking or renting a bicycle is the best and cheaper option.
And finally, following our top recommendations, you are bound to have a memorable trip.
So hurry up and start packing your bags!
Note: Keep in mind that information about travel can change quickly. To ensure your trip is fun and safe, we encourage you to double-check official websites and government/travel advisory sites for the latest information on travel restrictions, entry requirements, and safety measures.