While there is something to be said for riding every single day of Cycle Oregon, sometimes it’s nice to give your butt a break and simply enjoy the hospitality of our host towns. And with so many interesting things to do and see in Pendleton, the decision to become a non-rider for a day is one you are unlikely to regret.
The Round-Up activities alone are enough to provide a full day’s worth of entertainment, but those looking for alternatives won’t have to search very hard or travel very far. Just a few blocks away from where we’ll be camped is Main Street, which will be closed to traffic and full of street performers, vendors and good times. The Main Street Diner is a reasonable facsimile of a 1950s soda shop and a great place to replace all those calories you burned on the road at one fell swoop.
Right around the corner is Hamley & Co., which has been selling Western wear, custom saddles and other goodies for more than 100 years. Today they also offer a wide array of Western art, gifts and a very nice collection of period firearms.
For train buffs, there will be an authentic steam engine parked at the south end of Main Street, right across from the Pendleton visitors center. For beer buffs, there’s a brand-new brewpub just a few blocks up the street from Hamley & Co. called The Prodigal Son. I’ve personally tested the beer and food and give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.
The Pendleton Underground Tour provides a look into Pendleton’s infamous and entertaining past. The network of tunnels under the town was home to the Chinese laborers who built the railroads. It was also the home of thriving businesses including Hop Sing’s Chinese Laundry, the Empire Meat Market and the Empire Ice Cream Parlor as well as numerous card rooms, opium dens and bordellos. Space is limited and reservations are required (for the tour, that is – alas, the card rooms, opium dens and bordellos no longer operate).
The Pendleton Woolen Mills can be found several blocks to the north of Main Street, with tours of the facilities all day. A few miles east of town is the Wildhorse Resort & Casino and the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute. The casino is pretty much what you might expect it to be; the Tamastslikt Institute exceeds expectations. It highlights the unique perspective and history of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla tribes and absolutely warrants a good long visit. See the map below for details on how to get there by bike.
There are several bars that will feature live music and plentiful opportunities for rowdy good times until the wee hours. Riders are encouraged to review and take a copy of Saturday’s ride profile with them before heading out for the evening, as a gentle but constant reminder of the virtues of moderation.
Getting around town will be effortless. Most attractions can be reached easily on foot or by bike. But if you’re feeling lazy, there will be shuttles running all over town and out to the casino/cultural institute.
Frankly, a single day isn’t enough time to take in the complete Pendleton experience. If you decide you’d like to return for a longer visit, I suggest you consider Memorial Day Weekend, when the Century Ride of the Centuries (C.R.O.C) takes place. This is a great three-day biking event that, while very different from Cycle Oregon, is every bit as enjoyable.
Getting to the Tamastslikt Institute and Wild Horse Casino by bike is a very pleasant ride. Follow the map below. On Confederate Way, look to your right for the paved cart path, which leads to the back door of the institute as well as the Wild Horse Casino golf course.
Just want to add my “two thumbs up” to the Main Street Diner, The Prodigal Son Brew Pub, and C.R.O.C.- Pendleton is going to be jammed with Round-up fans, so plan accordingly for the Main Street Diner and The Prodigal Son- both local favorites.
The Tamastishikt Cultural Institute/Museum is in my book a must see/do of the local Indian heritage and history. Some aspects are a bit painful in terms of what the Indian people have experienced and endured but it is a beautiful, well prepared and presented historical experience. Plan a hour or more, its big, its complex, and carefully put together in a dramatic architectual setting. And the little cafe has great food. Enjoy!