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Give the Gift of Eastern Oregon

Arrowhead Chocolates offers whole bean coffee, tea and brewing accessories in addition to their delicious artisanal chocolates. (Photo courtesy of Arrowhead Chocolates)
Written by Annelise Kelly

Give the Gift of Eastern Oregon

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.

Look for the curious animal statues throughout downtown Baker City’s shopping district. (Photo by Travel Baker Co)

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 EnterpriseBaker Citys Main Street is lined with Victorian-era buildings and is wide enough to turn a mule team around, and La Grande’s main street offers a sweet stroll past vintage brick buildings. Pendleton’s downtown thrives with saddle makers and saloons and holiday lights at the Heritage Station Museum, plus a collection of local artisan goods at A Piece of Pendleton. Many businesses offer online shopping and gift certificates for those who prefer to shop from home.

The Condon at the Oregon Frontier Chamber of Commerce has an awesome boutique where people can browse and buy local products. From the northeastern corner of the state, Genuine Wallowa County features handmade items from 65+ local makers from Wallowa County and the Nez Perce Tribe. A gift Four Rivers Digital Gift Card can be used at a number of Ontario businesses. 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. Find out more about Wallowa County’s Buckskin Bucks program and Union County’s Gift UC program make it easy to use gift certificates to support the local community.

 

Wild Carrot creates an all-natural line of beauty products made from local botanicals. (Photo by Talia Filipek)

 

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. Element in Joseph sells furniture, home decor and the artwork of owner-artist Leah Svendsen, who also gives workshops in how to paint with wax and resin.

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. Outside of Pendleton, stop into the Museum Store at Tamástslikt Cultural Institute for its unique selection of handcrafted items by Tribal members, exclusive Pendleton blanket designs, Tribal apparel and an extensive collection of books. Spark Mercantile in Burns and Birddog Glass and The Potter’s House in La Grande are all not-miss locations. Stumble across the one-of-a-kind finds at etc. a unique boutique in John Day and peek the shelves of Dusty Books in Spray and Flood Town Books in Heppner.

Upgrade your rodeo outfit with a cowboy hat at Pendleton Hat Company in Pendleton. (Photo by Joni Kabana)

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. Also in Pendleton, Ruby’s Indian Craft & Supplies, shoppers can browse a selection of beadwork, scarves, jewelry and buckskin. La Grande’s Blue Mountain Outfitters caters to the outdoorsy, and Baker City has charming shops, including No. 1911 and MADhabit Boutique.

Please a jewelry lover with a lil’ 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. Or head down the road to Tempting Teal Boutique, where you can get your loved ones summer-ready with rodeo fashion finds. The House That Art Built sells handmade jewelry from Ontario-area artists, along with art, accessories, cards and other gifts.

Arrowhead Chocolates offers whole bean coffee, tea and brewing accessories in addition to their delicious artisanal chocolates. (Photo courtesy of Arrowhead Chocolates)

 

Food and Drink in Eastern Oregon

Is any gift better than chocolate? Make your sweetheart happy 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 Outpost Pizza Pub & Grill in John Day.

and the Water Hole Café & Mercantile in Unity. In Joseph try the classic Hungarian fare at POC-owned Vali’s Alpine Restaurant. Though there are only five first-come first-serve tables, the tasty weekly cafe menu at The Dog Spot in Joseph make it worth the gamble. The Lone Pine Café and Sweet Wife Baking are go-to destinations in Baker City for the gift of indulgence, Browne House Coffee Co. in Heppner pours an excellent brew with gift subscriptions available, while the honey at Apricot Apiaries in Kimberly is a must-try.

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. Fossil’s The Royal Stag has great brews and delicious German-inspired cuisine.  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 WineryBarley 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 DistilleryStein 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. To find more decadent food and drink—along with unforgettable experiences — explore the John Day River Farm Trail.

Gift a skiing experience for the whole family at one of Eastern Oregon’s remote ski areas. (Photo by Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort)

Experiences in Eastern Oregon

A gift of experience makes a lifetime memory. Two alternate ways to see the Wallowas: Cycle on rails with Joseph Branch Railriders or paddle beautiful Wallowa Lake with JO Paddle. 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. In Baker City, unforgettable experiences in the backcountry await with Go Wild American Adventures, which offers both culinary and backpacking tours. In the John Day area, Service Creek Resort is a perfect spot for guided fishing and other scenic trips, including whitewater rafting. Or give the gift of day on the John Day River with Fossil-based Mah-Hah Outfitters. Also nearby, Wilson Ranches Retreat allows you to experience a working ranch first-hand.

History lovers will enjoy the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton, which offers memberships for year-round admission. 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.

Crane Hot Springs offers a variety of accommodations, from cabins to glamping, with access to the soothing hot springs. (Photo by Sachie Yorck)

Hotels in Eastern Oregon

Let your loved ones know what you mean to them with a gift of a hotel stay in Eastern Oregon. 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 HotelAlso 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. Experience rural life from the rustic rooms of River Bend Motel in Spray or the cozy Guyon Springs in Dayville, which also has a farm store and market garden. Experience rural 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 menu items such as fresh chowder from Native-owned Brigham Fish MarketTreo Ranches in Heppner, is a top destination for hunters, and Wallowa Lake Lodge in Joseph is the perfect jumping-off point to explore the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Or, consider the modern Kokanee Inn Bed & Breakfast, located within walking distance to Joseph;s downtown shops and restaurants. Those looking for a boutique experience will find it at Historic Central Hotel in Burns, Hotel Condon in Condon and River Lodge & Cabins in Boardman, with stunning views just steps from the river.

Find great hotel deals in Oregon at Expedia and the Eastern Oregon Visitors Association.

First published on Travel Oregon