There’s a town they call Ontario, and it’s not the one in the Neil Young song. Oregon’s Ontario, at the state’s eastern edge, is the gateway to arid desert beauty, stunning river canyons and towering mountain ranges. Any time of year, but especially in winter, this little town of 11,000 is a great sunny destination.

Breakfast, beer and burritos buenos: Start your day at Jolts & Juice Company in historic downtown Ontario. Enjoy a cup of freshly roasted Jack Henry Coffee and take in the quirky décor. Fruit smoothies, breakfast paninis and pastries round out the breakfast menu. Lunch options include soup, sandwiches and salads. Craft beer from nano-brewery Tandem Brewing is made onsite. Tacos Mi Ranchito, another local favorite, offers a host of freshly made Mexican specialties — shrimp tacos, chimichangas and a burrito in a bowl.

Two-wheeled treasure: Situated in what locals call Treasure Valley, Ontario is seriously beautiful road bike country. Sunny days, light traffic and scenic back roads make for excellent touring. Check in with the folks at Eastern Oregon Cycles to get recommendations on local rides. Watch the pros race at the Tour of Ontario, a two-day, USA Cycling sanctioned stage race March 29-30. Get your own wheels spinning at the Great Owyhee Ride Against Hunger on June 21. The 100-mile, 50-mile and family rides all begin in the lovely old downtown and wind through the beauty of the high desert countryside. The ride benefits the Oregon Food Bank. Read more about the Great Owyhee on Ride Oregon Ride.

Cultural connection: Make time for the Four Rivers Cultural Center and Museum. Named for the geographic convergence of the Snake, Malhuer, Owyhee and Payette rivers, the museum celebrates the various ethnic cultures that merged in the landscape — Native American, Basque, European, Hispanic and Japanese. The center includes a museum, gallery, Japanese Garden and theater. The annual Americas Global Village Festival takes place June 7 and celebrates 10 different cultures with food, arts and crafts, cultural demonstrations and kids activities.

about author Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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  1. Gayle Ernst-Brown says…

    If you are in Ontario Monday-Saturday you must stop at Burger West on SW 4th Ave. They have the best drive-in food, especially the Ranch Hand! Bring cash because they don’t accept credit/debit cards!

    Written on February 5th, 2014 / Flag this Comment
  2. rich clarke says…

    never thought of visiting Ontario this tie of year. will take a road trip later this month thanks for the idea

    Written on February 5th, 2014 / Flag this Comment

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