The remote reaches of Eastern Oregon capture the senses and the imagination. Rich in cowboy culture, agricultural heritage and skies that go on for miles, it’s the kind of quiet you might have forgotten exists. Not long ago, everyone here was a “maker” and entrepreneurial spirit was a given, because there’s no other choice when the next town is a hundred miles away or more. Today that independent, creative ethos thrives in the area’s shops, galleries, brewpubs and restaurants. You might say that the opportunities are as infinite as the Milky Way over the Alvord Desert.
If you can’t shop here in person right now, buy a gift certificate or wrap up a promise of an Eastern Oregon adventure for someone you love. These businesses can really use your support this year. Please contact them in advance to confirm opening hours.
Shopping Districts in Eastern Oregon
Eastern Oregon may be sprawling, but its friendly towns have inviting shopping zones dotted with independent businesses. Shoppers adore browsing the streets of Joseph, punctuated with locally made bronze statues and surrounded by alpine views, as well as the historic downtown of nearby Enterprise. Baker City’s Main Street is lined with Victorian-era buildings and is wide enough to turn a mule team around. Pendleton’s downtown thrives with saddle makers and saloons and holiday lights at the Heritage Station Museum, and La Grande’s main street offers a sweet stroll past vintage brick buildings. Many businesses offer online shopping and gift certificates when in-person shopping is not possible.
Peruse the food, jewelry, home decor and more of Condon at the Condon Chamber Online Artisan Marketplace. In the picturesque southeastern corner of Oregon, Shop Harney businesses banded together to offer one gift card redeemable at 50+ stores. Near the John Day Fossil Beds, Grant County Greenbacks return for the holiday season and are valid at dozens of businesses; while in John Day, look for the downtown window decorating contest. Milton-Freewater Downtown Alliance is encouraging shoppers to think local with business features on their Facebook page. Discover more Oregon-made products online with Built Oregon Marketplace, a new directory celebrating the state’s maker culture.
Staying safe during COVID-19: New COVID-19 guidelines by the Oregon Health Authority make shopping in person safe, giving you peace of mind. During the two-week statewide freeze, retail stores are limited to a maximum of 75% capacity. If you’d rather not shop in person, many stores offer online shopping and curbside pickup. Remember to wear a face covering indoors and outdoors when physical distancing isn’t possible (it’s required), and pay attention to signs that may indicate direction of traffic.
Home Gifts in Eastern Oregon
Browse Bella — a kitchen, gourmet and wine store — with shops in both Baker City and La Grande. Treat yourself or a friend to some self-care with the all-natural line of beauty products made from local botanicals at Wild Carrot in Enterprise, blocks from The Bookloft. Nearby Joseph overflows with shops, including Copper Creek Mercantile, which has plants, pottery and more. Lostine’s historic general store M. Crow is a fascinating stop on the way back to La Grande, where Community Merchants bursts with handcrafted gifts, along with locally raised meats. The Pendleton Center for the Arts is a great place to find handcrafted cutting boards and ceramics along with cards, jewelry and more, all made by local artisans. Put a smile on the face of someone special with a soft, snuggly Pendleton blanket (or socks or fleece) from Pendleton Woolen Mills, an icon in Oregon for 150 years.
Clothes and Design in Eastern Oregon
Look for women’s Western wear at Clothes for Does in Ontario. There’s more Western wear for men and women at Hamley & Co. in Pendleton, now owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Established in 1883, this huge store has boots, saddles, gifts and a steakhouse saloon. Watch craftspeople build custom saddles right in the store. La Grande’s Blue Mountain Outfitters caters to the outdoorsy, and Baker City has charming shops, including No. 1911, Tempting Teal Boutique and MADhabit Boutique.
Please a jewelry lover with a li’l something from Oard’s Gallery in Burns, which has an excellent selection of Native American jewelry and art, as well as a free museum of native artifacts. In Joseph POC-owned Lamb Trading Company features handcrafted sterling Indigenous jewelry, beadwork and pottery. The House That Art Built sells handmade jewelry from Ontario-area artists, along with art, accessories, cards and other gifts.
Food and Drink in Eastern Oregon
Is any gift better than chocolate? Make your sweetheart happy with a click of a button with a treat from Peterson’s Chocolates (Baker City), Arrowhead Chocolates (Joseph), Petits Noirs (Milton-Freewater) or Alexander’s Artisan Chocolates (Pendleton). Great small-town dining spots for takeout or gift cards include the Oxbow Dinner House and Pizza Company in Prairie City and the Water Hole Café & Mercantile in Unity. In Joseph try the classic Hungarian fare at POC-owned Vali’s Alpine Restaurant. For inventive salads and next-level pizza with locally sourced ingredients, it’s The Gold Room for the win. The Lone Pine Café and Sweet Wife Baking are go-to destinations in Baker City for the gift of takeout indulgence.
Let’s not forget brewpubs — always a great source of cool merch for the craft-brew fan. The town of John Day’s 1188 Brewing Company draws on local purveyors whenever possible, and also offers growler fills. Dragon’s Gate Brewery crafts farmhouse ales in a converted Milton-Freewater barn with an outdoor beer garden. Nearby, Blue Mountain Cider has a tasting room with games and shares a food truck with partner Watermill Winery. Barley Brown’s Beer in Baker City, Terminal Gravity Brewing and Pub in Enterprise and The Prodigal Son Brewery and Pub in Pendleton all serve excellent pub grub and would make any craft-beer lover happy with a six-pack under the tree. For the craft-spirit fan, check out Baker City’s Glacier 45 Distillery; Stein Distillery in Joseph; and Oregon Grain Growers Brand Distillery in Pendleton, with a full menu including wood-fired pizza. Oenophiles would love a bottle from Copper Belt Wines in Baker City, which conveniently shares a tasting room with The Cheese Fairy cheese shop.
For the best deals on Oregon wine, check out The Giving Season through Dec. 31, 2020.
Experiences in Eastern Oregon
A gift of experience makes a lifetime memory. Two alternate ways to see the Wallowas: Soar over the mountains with Wallowa Paragliding, or cycle on rails with Joseph Branch Railriders. At Ontario Board Shop, try a lesson or tour with kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard. Take someone skiing at Oregon’s two jewel-box resorts: Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort near Baker City or Ferguson Ridge Ski Area just outside Joseph.
History lovers will enjoy the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton, which includes a large gift shop full of handcrafted blankets, jewelry and other gifts by local tribal members. In remote Harney County, the Pete French Round Barn State Heritage Site is a fascinating window into Oregon history and also has an extensive gift shop of regional treasures. The Eagle Cap Excursion Train, departing from Elgin, explores the flanks of the Grande Ronde River. Theater tickets to the Elgin Opera House or a visit to the 4 Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario — with its museum, Japanese garden, gallery and shop — also make great gifts.
Hotels in Eastern Oregon
Let your loved ones know you’re dreaming about your future trip to Eastern Oregon with a gift card for a hotel stay. Step back in time with a room at the Frenchglen Hotel, a rustic, historic lodge in Southeast Oregon; or at Baker City’s opulent (and haunted!) Geiser Grand Hotel. Also grand: The Lodge at Hot Lake Springs, just completing renovations. Really get away from it all — far away — at one of the three adorable cottages at Painted Hills Vacation Cottages and Retreat or at the 1910 brick Hotel Prairie in Prairie City. Soak under the stars at Crystal Crane Hot Springs and return to your glamping teepee, cabin or RV serenaded by coyotes. Wildhorse Resort & Casino in Pendleton, owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, is an easy base camp to the region, with on-site family-friendly restaurants offering takeout fare like fresh chowder from Native-owned Brigham Fish Market.