Sitting between the high desert and the spectacular Cascades mountain range, Sisters (pop. 2,174) is a little city with oversized character.
Maybe best known for its Wild West ambiance, this Central Oregon community is also packed with culture and surrounded by boundless nature. And with world-class lodging ranging from luxury resorts to woodsy cabins, it’s the kind of place that’ll persuade you to linger a little longer than you planned.
There’s a lot to keep you busy, no matter when you visit. From one of the best annual rodeos to the largest outdoor quilt show, here are 10 experiences you won’t want to miss in Sisters.
1. Bike to Dinner
Five Pine Lodge is the luxurious Sisters getaway that comes with a free bicycle — during your stay, anyway. This romantic lodging in the forest on the east end of town provides complimentary cruiser bicycles for guests during the summertime. Hop on a bike and ride the short distance into town for a delicious lunch at Cottonwood Cafe or festive dinner for two at Rancho Viejo. Return on two wheels back to your cozy cabin in the woods with a few provisions for the evening tucked in your basket.
2. SUP at Suttle
Suttle Lake is fifteen miles west of Sisters and a great lake for all kinds of activities. Walk around it, motorboat it, kayak it, swim in it, relax on its beaches, camp at its shores or stand-up-paddle (SUP) it. Suttle is a particularly fun, challenging and rewarding place to SUP, given its wide-open waters and terrific views of Mt. Washington. Wait for a sunny day and hit the water. Also worth noting, The Suttle Lodge & Boathouse is scheduled to reopen in summer 2016 with new owners and a stylish remodel.
3. Saddle up for the Sisters Rodeo
This show has been running for 76 years — and for good reason. The Sisters Rodeo (second weekend in June) brings bull rides, barrel races, a parade, a rodeo queen and more to the rodeo grounds east of town. See these pro cowboys and cowgirls show off their skills with all the flair and fun this great Oregon tradition can muster.
4. Fly fish the Metolius
The Metolius River is loved, revered and feared for its challenging fly-fishing waters. This beautiful, sparkling river is cold water traveling through a thick forest, nurturing many bug hatches that keep rainbow trout happy. Much of the river is reserved for catch and release, barbless hook fly fishing only — making it tricky but rewarding to catch a gorgeous rainbow.
5. Jam at the Sisters Folk Fest
Want to see some of the nation’s greatest roots musicians on stage in one place? The Sisters Folk Festival is your destination. Every second weekend in September the city comes to life with 10 stages for a weekend-long celebration of great sounds ranging from blues to bluegrass.
6. Hike to Proxy Falls
Located west of Sisters in the Cascades, Proxy Falls is a two-veiled falls flowing from one stream — a gorgeous spectacle in the green Willamette National Forest. A 1.5-mile loop accesses the falls from the old McKenzie Highway (open seasonally from mid-June to mid-November).
7. Sip a Three Creeks Craft Brew
Central Oregon is famous for craft brew and Sisters has its own hoppy representative in Three Creeks Brewing, named for a locally loved lake up the road. Sip a Hoodoo Voodoo IPA, Knotty Blonde Ale or Stonefly Rye after a day of adventure. The menu here is vast and delicious, too — so come hungry and thirsty. You won’t be disappointed.
8. See the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show
The biggest outdoor quilt show in the world happens every year on the second weekend in July, drawing more than 10,000 visitors from far and wide to see 1,300 quilts on display. The Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show a celebration of the arts, community and education, with classes and workshops taught by masters and exquisite colorful works of quilted art hanging throughout the town.
9. Play a round at Aspen Lakes Golf Course
This course not only boasts incredible views of the Cascade Range, the Aspen Lakes Golf Course landscape also has a unique twist in its signature red sand bunkers. Red cinder occurs naturally in the geology of this property, and it contrasts strikingly with the green bent grass fairways and snowy peaks of the mountains in the distance.
10. Hit the mountain bike trail
Around Sisters you’ll find many trails winding through the woods, along streams and over rolling hills. Why not travel some by mountain bike? The locals’ favorite to put wheel to single track is Peterson Ridge Trail, located just south of town. Here, 25 miles of trail thrills the novice to advance rider.