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Ultimate Pendleton Let’er Bucket List

Written by Elizabeth Farrar

Ultimate Pendleton Let’er Bucket List

It started as “a frontier exhibition of picturesque pastimes, Indigenous and military spectacles, cowboy racing and bronco busting for the championship of the Northwest.” And over the last century, the Pendleton Round-Up has been that and so much more; the perfect way to discover Pendleton.

Native American Art

Today, the Round-Up is a world-famous weeklong spectacle drawing the nation’s best cowboys and thousands of their fans to Pendleton every September. In addition to daily rodeo action, you’ll find unique events like the Westward Ho! Parade, which includes an only-in-Pendleton mix of covered wagons, marching bands, rodeo royalty and the occasional unruly oxen.

While the rough-and-tumble Round-Up epitomizes Pendleton’s Old West spirit, visitors can experience the region’s rich western tradition 365 days a year. These adventures will have you saying “Let’er Buck” all year long.

Explore 10,000 years of history

Tamástslikt Cultural Institute tells the story of westward migration through the eyes of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla tribes. The Museum uses historic images, engaging audio, and rare artifacts to immerse visitors in Tribal life through the centuries. Tamástslikt also showcases regional artists and attracts a range of world-class special exhibits related to Native American culture.

Sign outside of Cimmiyotti's

Savor a steak at Cimmiyotti’s

One of the tastiest ways to discover Pendleton’s western heritage is by ordering up a savory steak. And there’s no better place than Virgil’s at Cimmiyotti’s, A Pendleton favorite for more than 50 years, Cimmiyotti’s offers local wines, a romantic atmosphere, and attentive staff. Go for the Ribeye; it’s hand-cut, charbroiled, and topped with a homemade onion ring.

Shoppers inside Pendleton Woolen Mills

Tour Pendleton Woolen Mills

The Pendleton Woolen Mills has been churning out beautiful blankets and textiles since 1909; creating a brand that is recognized the world over. Tour the mill and discover Pendleton’s renowned weaving process. Then spend some time in the Heritage Collection Museum, which houses a collection of beautiful Native American artifacts and Round-Up memorabilia. And, of course, leave plenty of time for shopping too.

The Bar at Hamley's Steakhouse

Order the Warpaint at Hamley’s

Sidle up to the 100-year old mahogany bar at Hamley’s Steakhouse and order the Warpaint. The drink, which is named after the famous bucking bronc, mixes fresh huckleberries and Pendleton Whiskey for a little kick. Pose in front of the antique bank counter reputed to have been robbed by Butch Cassidy and Kid Curry.

Let'er Buck Statue

Let’er Buck at Round-Up Stadium

The Let’er Buck statue depicts Wallace Smith’s iconic drawing of a bucking bronco and can be found outside the entrance to Round-Up Stadium. Pick up a map of Pendleton’s Outdoor Art Gallery from Travel Pendleton and look for the other 16 public statues and murals honoring the city’s rich history and western heritage.

Underground Speakeasy

Discover Pendleton’s underground past

For a view of Pendleton’s colorful past, go underground with the Pendleton Underground Tours. Guides conduct spellbinding 90-minute tours through a maze of subterranean tunnels once used to conceal speakeasies, gambling parlors, brothels and other illicit activities.

Hat being made at Montana Peaks Hat Company

Design a custom hat at Montana Peaks

Montana Peaks Hat Company creates hand-made western hats using century-old techniques and equipment. Their hats are customized by fit, shape and accessories and are worn by some of the nation’s top cowboys. Stop by their workshop to watch the talented Montana Peaks staff as they hand-craft these customized creations then design your own.

Front sign at the Rainbow Cafe

Order the chicken at the Rainbow Cafe

In operation for more than 130 years, the Rainbow Cafe is a Pendleton institution. The cafe is part cowboy bar, part old-style diner; its walls lined with the photos of the Pendleton Round-Up All-Around Winners. The Rainbow Cafe hosts the world’s shortest parade every St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s the Rainbow Chicken that really put this place on the map. Discover a Pendleton favorite; coated with a special batter and then pressure cooked, the Rainbow Chicken is a can’t-miss meal for Round-Up regulars.

Ropes on display at Hamley & Co.

Saddle Up at Hamley & Co.

Hamley & Co. and the Pendleton Round-Up have a history that goes all the way back to 1910 when founder, JJ Hamley, helped to organize the very first Round-Up. Today, Hamley’s is still making exquisite saddles for local cowboys and Round-Up champions alike. Make your way to the saddle shop in the back, where you can watch Hamley’s skilled saddle makers as they handcraft saddles designed to fit both horse and cowboy.