On the Road in Oregon & Idaho

Explore destinations, attractions, and events on the road in Oregon and Idaho.

On the Road – September and October, 2022

Winter Wonder

Phot of the LaBelle Ice Palace taken by Kira Martin.

There is an enchanting winter wonderland in Rigby, Idaho, that looks like a scene plucked right from the North Pole. LaBelle Lake Ice Palace structures are all designed and built by the Youngstrum family each year. Pre-made ice logs are used to build the skeleton of the palace before spraying them with water and packing them with snow. Walk through the colorfully lit frozen castle or take a ride down one of its icy slides. More wintertime magic at LaBelle includes horse-drawn sleigh rides, fire shows, sledding hills and reindeer. The handcrafted palace opens sometime in mid-December and closes near the end of February, weather permitting. See labellelakeicepalace.com.

Dog Sledding Tours

Photo by Alex Jordan.

Experience mountain terrain in a new way at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon, from behind a crew of sled dogs. A professional musher guides the team across miles of pine forests and snowfields while riders stay snug in the sled. Trail of Dreams
Dog Sled Adventures is owned and operated by Rachael Scdoris, a world renowned athlete and finisher of multiple Iditarods. Rides are offered daily from mid-December to mid-April, weather permitting. See mtbachelor.com.

Celtic Music Festival

The Yachats Celtic Music Festival November 11 to 13 transports
attendees from the Oregon Coast to the Irish countryside via traditional melodies, community events and regionally-inspired food. Visitors can listen to Celtic music at the Commons, the festival’s home base for concerts, workshops, céilí dance lessons and whiskey tastings. Try Celtic-inspired foods, such as cottage pie, colcannon and beer cheese soup. This year’s festival lineup features critically-acclaimed musicians such as Atlan, Talisk, Poor Man’s Gambit and more. See yachatscelticmusicfestival.org.

People Of Color Outdoors

Photo by Ryan Banning.

Nonprofit organization People of Color Outdoors was created to provide Black, Indigenous and people of color safe and welcoming ways to enjoy and learn about nature in Oregon. The group has hosted more than 100 events on hiking, bird watching, fishing, biking and rock climbing and more. Activities are a blend of education, history, outdoor skills, networking and outdoor career options. Upcoming events include a birding for beginners outing, a scavenger hunt and a family movie night. See pdxpocoutdoors.com.

Nordic Holiday Celebration

Bring out the bunad! The traditional Norwegian folk costume may be seen at Seattle’s National Nordic Museum when it hosts its fortyfifth annual Julefest: A Nordic Holiday Celebration on November 19 and 20. For the event, museum grounds are converted into a traditional outdoor Nordic market, similar to those found in villages of Scandinavia. Visitors are invited to shop at more than thirty
market booths where local makers showcase artisan goods such as handmade blankets, wool sweaters, and Nordic-inspired jewelry and art. Enjoy traditional holiday dishes such as krumkake, pepparkakor, and lefse plus hot glögg and aebleskiver. Throughout the weekend, there will be live Nordic music by the Winter Band in the Valhalla Beer Hall, and traditional dance performances. Returning family favorites include Santa in the Museum plus kids’ crafts to make and take home. See nordicmuseum.org.

Mushrooms Of The Siskiyou

Photo by Donna Chickering.

The Siskiyou Field Institute hosts field courses and events throughout the year and celebrates the arrival of mushroom harvest season with its Fall Foray on November 13. Hike through the enchanting forest surrounding the Siskiyou Mountains as you learn to identify and forage for edible mushrooms local to the area. Participants will learn new cooking techniques and recipes. Watch for their spring session as well. See siskiyoufieldinstitute.org.


On the Road – September and October, 2022

Gourd Regatta

Photo by Eric Herman, Courtesy City of Tualatin.

Want to really spice up pumpkin season this year? The annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta returns this October to Tualatin, Oregon, 13 miles southwest of downtown Portland. Come Saturday, October 15 for Pumpkins and Pints at Tualatin’s Stickmen Brewing Company, where the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers will host a weigh-off of some of the region’s largest pumpkins and other vegetables. On Sunday, the real festivities begin at Tualatin Commons, where brave, costumed racers will take to the water inside their 1,000-pound gourd boats, paddling through a course on the shallow Tualatin Commons lake. Back on land, festivities include a giant pumpkin parade, costume contest, live music, a pie-eating contest and pumpkin golf. See tualatinoregon.gov.

Paranormal Investigations

This Halloween season, venture into the world of paranormal activity at the Old Idaho Penitentiary, known as one of the most haunted destinations in the state. Big River Paranormal leads guided visits to the penitentiary throughout the year, with upcoming outings planned for September 24 and October 22. The group uses unique equipment to attempt to connect with prisoners and guards of the past at this spooky spot in Boise. See history.idaho.gov.

Fall Films

Film festivals take place around Oregon each fall, with options in Eastern Oregon, Portland and Central Oregon, to name a few. The Portland Latin American Film Festival kicks off September 28 at Portland’s Hollywood Theatre, continues through October’s Hispanic Heritage Month and wraps up at the end of December. The festival celebrates Latin American culture through short films, documentaries and feature length pieces. The BendFilm Festival in Central Oregon includes an in-person festival October 6 to 9, followed by a virtual festival experience from October 10 to 23. The Eastern Oregon Film Festival takes place October 20 to 22 in La Grande, with a diverse selection of independent films.

Come Thru Market

Photo by Kelly Chameleon.

Get a sampling of what Black and Indigenous farmers and makers are growing and creating at Come Thru Market, a market supporting BIPOC vendors, in Portland this fall. The market at the Redd on Salmon Street kicked off in the spring and continues on first and third Mondays from 3 to 7 p.m. through October. See comethrupdx.org.

Trailing of the Sheep

Whether you’re curious about the world of sheepherding or looking for a reason to visit Idaho’s Wood River Valley, the Trailing of the Sheep Festival is worthy of a spot on your calendar this fall. More than 50,000 people are expected to flock to Ketchum for the twenty-sixth annual event, which shines a spotlight on the history and culture of sheepherding in Idaho and the West. From October 5 to 9 this year, the festival includes the Sheep Folklife Fair in Hailey, which offers sheep shearing, spinning and weaving demonstrations, kids crafts and more than eighty vendors selling unique arts and crafts. The festival is a community-wide event that includes lamb meal specials around town, cooking classes and farm-to-table dinners. See trailingofthesheep.org.

Salmon on the Coast

Native American and Coquille tribal culture converge (along with a whole lot of salmon) at the annual Mill-Luck Salmon Celebration along the Southern Oregon coast each September. This year’s event takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 10 and 11, with a full weekend of festivities. Attendees can watch tribal canoe races, browse through a selection of tribal vendors with crafts for sale, see demonstrations and experience hands-on activities. Live music and authentic Native American dancing, drumming and flute playing will take place along with a traditional salmon bake meal for all. The free festival takes place in the Mill Casino parking lot in North Bend. See themillcasino.com.

Cranberry Celebration

Feel a little ocean spray on the Oregon coast during the seventy-sixth annual Bandon Cranberry Festival, a time-honored tradition in a community that loves its cranberries. Celebrate the local cranberry farmers of Bandon September 9 to 11 with a parade, pageant, live music, classic cars and farm equipment plus the annual cranberry eating contest. Activities also include a competition among cranberry cooks vying to be crowned Queen of the Kitchen. See bandon.com.

On the Road – July, 2022

Kite-Flying Fun

The skies of Long Beach, Washington fill with color August 15 through 21 for the Washington State International Kite Festival. Organized by the World Kite Museum, this festival draws kite fliers from around the world and thousands of spectators to the shores of Long Beach, off Highway 101 in the southwest corner of Washington. Spectators can expect high-flying action, including contests, kite fighting, workshops and a lighted kite show as part of the festivities. Explore the city of Long Beach and keep the kite-themed fun going with a visit to the World Kite Museum, with exhibits on kite stamps, the business of kites, dime store kites from the 1920s to 1960s and more kite memorabilia. See kitefestival.com.

Chalk Art in Hillsboro

Artwork by Jessi Queen

Streets and sidewalks will be transformed into works of art at the La Strada dei Pastelli Chalk Art Festival, July 16 and 17 in the Cultural Arts District of downtown Hillsboro, Oregon. The art-packed event started in Beaverton in 2019 and moves to Hillsboro this year under a new event organizer, Tualatin Valley Creates. Spectators can watch as emerging and nationally recognized artists carefully produce huge, temporary chalk drawings down the center of downtown streets. Most creations average 10 feet by 10 feet in size. This free event is packed with art beyond the chalk artwork creations—expect live music, local art vendors and hands-on activities for children. See tvcreates.org.

Soil Celebrating

Get down and dirty at the Dirt Day Farming Festival, August 13 at SunLife Farm & Ranch in Prineville, Oregon. Learn about the unique high desert soils from experts in the field at this “soilebration,” and browse produce and flowers from farming vendors. While you’re there, study the production of lavender, honey and hay happening on this property at the foothills of the Ochoco Mountains. See sunlifefarm.com.

Powwow Celebration

Visit Fort Hall Indian Reservation from August 11 to 14 for the Shoshone-Bannock Indian Festival, a powwow celebration of culture, food and dancing, with a parade, Indian relay racing, and arts and crafts vendors. A tradition since 1964, the festival takes place in Fort Hall, Idaho, twenty minutes north of Pocatello. See shobanfestival.com.

The Basque community on display

Bask in the culture of the southwestern European Basques at the annual San Inazio Festival in Boise, Idaho, slated for July 29 to 31. The street festival honors St. Ignatius of Loyala, the patron saint of the Basques, an ethnic group with an estimated presence in Boise of more than 15,000 people. The festival has taken place annually for more than twenty-five years, drawing thousands of attendees from Boise and beyond. See local musicians, dancers and Basque sporting events and visit the Basque Block, a dedicated block of downtown Boise that’s home to Basque community and cultural centers, a museum, bar, restaurant and Basque market. See basquecenter.com.

The Butterfly Haven

Idaho’s largest butterfly house opens seasonally each year from mid-spring to mid-fall, inviting the public in to see more than 2,000 butterflies. With dozens of butterfly varieties represented, you can enjoy the magic as they flutter around. The Butterfly Haven in Pingree, Idaho, celebrates four years in operation this August, and is open to visitors through October 2. See thebutterflyhaven.com.

On the Lavender Trail

Fall in love with the lavender blooms of Oregon this July along the Newberg Lavender Trail, a collection of farms and businesses in the Newberg, Oregon area celebrating all things lavender. Visit farms for flower picking and businesses in Newberg offering products such as lavender-infused teas, cocktails, ice creams and body products, and even lavender-themed painting classes. Peak blooms are expected throughout July, including during the Willamette Valley Lavender Festival and Plein Air Art Festival, taking place July 9 and 10 at the Chehalem Cultural Center. The community and local gardeners gather at this free event, with about 150 artists expected to participate in plein air painting during the Oregon Lavender Paint Out. For more lavender love, explore the Southern Oregon Lavender Trail, ongoing from June through August, with a dedicated lavender festival weekend July 15 to 17. See tastenewberg.com and southernoregonlavendertrail.com.

On the Road – May, 2022

Track Town

Person Being an Athlete Doing Athletic ThingsMake a visit this summer to Eugene, Oregon (also known as “TrackTown USA”) to experience the magic of this international destination for runners and fans of the sport. The newly reimagined Hayward Field at the University of Oregon will host elite athletes this spring and summer during a series of running events, including the Prefontaine Classic May 27 and 28, and the highly anticipated World Athletics Championships Oregon22 track and field competition July 15 to 24. In addition to experiencing the thrill of competitions held here, Hayward Hall is now a public attraction filled with history, including trophies and records, pieces of the former green wood stadium stands transformed into art and the opportunity to photograph yourself “on the field” in a selfie station. Outside the university, Eugene has also made community upgrades to prepare for its influx of new visitors, including commissioning twenty new murals and planting more than 2,021 new giant sequoia trees in 2021. See hayward.uoregon.edu.

Don’t Miss: Kinetic Sculpture Races

Dubbed the “Triathlon of the Art World,” there is truly nothing like Humboldt County, California’s Kinetic Grand Championship, held annually over Memorial Day Weekend across the North Coast. Racers spend months engineering people-powered vehicles that must survive a fifty-mile course that goes over land, sand, water and mud. The three-day race begins in the foggy college town of Arcata (home to the rebranded Cal Poly Humboldt campus) and ends in the historic community of Ferndale, with a quaint downtown with Victorian structures. Spectators gather at the starting line and again on day three to marvel at the creatively engineered vehicles, which feature designs with everything from fire cannons and unusual drive mechanisms to animated faces and fur. See kineticgrandchampionship.com.

Museum Milestone in Central Oregon

Person enjoying "Imagine a World" at the High Desert MuseumThe award-winning, 135-acre High Desert Museum in Bend celebrates forty years in May. Visit on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend for a celebration of four decades of sharing high desert nature, history and culture at the Smithsonian-affiliated museum, which boasts 100,000 square feet of exhibit space. Make a trip any time through late September to see the featured exhibition “Imagine a World,” examining ideal and utopian societies of the western United States. Learn about the ambitions, intentions and outcomes of utopian and intentional communities across the West and consider what kind of world we want to live in for the future. AAA Members save 10 percent on admission. See highdesertmuseum.org.

Idaho Camas Lily Festival

Head to Fairfield, Idaho for Camas Lily Days, a festival celebrating the region’s purple camas lilies, which bloom from late May to mid-June. Visit the Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh to see the flowers before heading into town June 4 and 5 for craft and food vendors, live music and a train on wheels offering rides for children. Cap off the evening with a performance by local Shoshone-Bannock tribal members and round out the weekend with a hearty Sunday breakfast. See visitsouthidaho.com.

Shoshone Falls After Dark

Idaho’s Shoshone Falls, known as the “Niagara of the West” becomes even more spectacular at nighttime. The falls were first lit up in May 2021 as part of “Shoshone Falls After Dark.” The dazzling display of lights is expected to return this spring. See visitsouthidaho.com.

Art Influx in Vernonia

Mural in VernoniaA burst of color and beauty has hit the streets of Vernonia in northwest Oregon, following the installation of eight new murals in the city of 2,000 people. Portland Street Art Alliance and local resident Rachael Organ worked with the Columbia Economic Team to secure a grant from Travel Oregon to help beautify downtown. Six artists based in the Pacific Northwest worked on the murals, which evoke images of Vernonia’s past and present. Some murals include depictions of the town’s logging history, the region’s flora and fauna, outdoor recreation and cinematic history. One particular mural depicting scenes from the 1961 film Ring of Fire, shot in Vernonia, was completed on the side of the old Joy movie theater. See pdxstreetart.org.

Boatnik in Grants Pass

It’s part carnival, part boating bonanza at the annual Boatnik celebration in Grants Pass, Oregon, happening over Memorial Day weekend. Watch a unique, on-the-water parade travel down the Rogue River through downtown Grants Pass, ending at Riverside Park. See firework displays over the river, participate in all the classic carnival activities and catch boating races from the riverbank. On Memorial Day itself, stick around for the Tom Rice Memorial Whitewater Hydroplane Race and a Memorial Day service that includes a jet flyover. See boatnik.com.

On the Road – March, 2022

Fresh vegetables along the high desert food trailHigh Desert Food Trail

The High Desert Food Trail takes guests on adventures through a land where farm-to-table meals are the standard. Marvel at stunning landscapes, feast on artisan bites, learn something new about Central Oregon agriculture and show some appreciation to the people who grow our food. From craft beverages to handmade goods and even luxury lodging options, the High Desert Food Trail offers unique and engaging experiences to all those who explore it. See hdffa.org/hdft.

Idaho Artistry in Wood, Boise

Given that the city was named after its wooded surroundings, it’s no surprise that Boise is home to the annual Idaho Artistry in Wood show. Returning for the 12th year this April 2 to 3, this event showcases some of the best carvers and woodworkers from around the Pacific Northwest. See idahoartistryinwood.org.

The Return of Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Oregon Shakespeare festival returnsOne of the largest festivals in the West has returned to the idyllic and lively college town of Ashland, Oregon. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will commence on April 12 and is expected to attract more than 400,000 total attendees. With three theaters playing classic and imaginative retellings of the works of Shakespeare and others, guests are truly immersed in a world of art, history and culture. The mix of drama and comedy is sure to entertain the whole family. Explore the local shops, dine on luxurious offerings grown from the nearby agricultural bounty and consider setting off on one of the many hiking and biking trails that surround Ashland. See osfashland.org.

5 Spring Break Destinations

On the Road, the Enchanted Forest in Turner, ORFairytale Parks | Turner, OR

The Enchanted Forest brings stories to life in a wooded hillside. Take a walk through fairytales of old and enjoy roller coasters and entertainment with the whole family.

Science is Fun | Portland, OR

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry showcases topics
like physics, energy, anatomy and more in fun and engaging ways for kids and adults.

Aviation History | McMinnville, OR

Home to the largest wooden plane ever built, the Spruce Goose, the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum preserves the history of aviation for future generations.

Hot Springs Oasis | Lava Hot Springs, ID

The Lava Hot Springs region is famous for its geothermal activity, which delivers water to pools reaching around 102 degrees, perfect for soaking the
day away.

Lions, Tigers and Bears | Idaho Falls, ID

The family-friendly Museum of Idaho educates and inspires about the history of the region through science, humanities and hands-on exhibits for the kids.

Portland Art exhibits

On the Road at the Portland Art MuseumPortland, Oregon is known as a city that celebrates culture and diversity through artwork such as murals and other media. At the Portland Art Museum, check out two art exhibits that explore race and ethnicity through the lenses of artists and creators. The exhibit “Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism” (through June 5) explores the 20th century avant-garde cultural movement in Mexico by examining the work of these two conflicting artists (and their stormy marriage), along with work from other Mexican Modernists. The second exhibit, “APEX: Sharita Towne & A Black Art Ecology of Portland” (through July 3) examines the creation and reclamation of spaces for Black art in Portland. Towne, the artist responsible for the exhibit, said, “BAEP acknowledges the active, creative vitality of Black communities from the past, present, and into the future of Portland.” See portlandartmuseum.org.

A Wee Bit O’ Ireland in Eastern Oregon

On the Road in Heppner, Oregon to celebrate Irish cultureJoin the town of Heppner, Oregon, as it celebrates all things Irish! A Wee Bit O’ Ireland is an annual festival with events March 11 through 19 this year. Stop by for the great green parade that passes through downtown and witness an old tradition in sheep dog trials. Test your luck in an amateur boxing tournament or Irish bowling, and of course, enjoy tons of food and drink specials, and live entertainment. See heppnerchamber.com.


On the Road – January, 2022

Crane Hot Springs

On the Road | Starry sky over Burns, OR
Photo: Robert Eckhardt

Just thirty miles south of Burns in Southeast Oregon, Crane Hot Springs is close enough to Highway 20 to serve as a stopover for weary east-west travelers, but it feels a world away from the rush of a road trip.

The mineral-rich soaking pools have been an oasis in this desert region of Oregon for decades and are sought-after for their healing properties. There’s a large soaking pool to dip into as well as private soaking pools. Rest for a night in one of the rustic cabins or teepees, or bring your trailer and camp. Stay up late and stargaze under the expansive sky, or wake up early and watch the sunrise as you soak and listen to the coyotes howl. See cranehotsprings.com.

Oregon  Coast

Spearheaded by Governor Tom McCall, Oregon’s Beach Bill was enacted in 1967 to ensure that the state’s peerless coastline is open and accessible to all. The public has free and uninterrupted access to Oregon’s entire 363 miles of surf, tidepools, whale watching, kite-flying and sandcastle-building.

On the Road near Cannon Beach, OR

An Artsy Treasure Hunt

On the road for local glass float art in Lincoln City, Oregon
Photo: Nathan Holstedt

In Lincoln City, beach exploration comes with a fun challenge. Throughout the year, volunteer “Float Fairies” place hand-blown glass floats on the seven-mile stretch of beachfront with the intent that they be found by passersby. The Finders Keepers program is a nostalgic nod to the erstwhile pastime of searching for Japanese net floats, blown glass balls occasionally transported to the Oregon coast by tides. Today, regional artists fashion beautiful new glass floats in a rainbow of colors for the Float Fairies to distribute. Find a float; take it home. The city-sponsored program gives visitors a solid reason to hit the beach any day of the year, rain or shine. See oregoncoast.org/glass-floats.

North Coast Food Trail

Follow the breadcrumbs on this culinary tour of bakeries, seafood purveyors, farmers markets and restaurants. From the northern point at Astoria south to Neskowin, this new route allows travelers to explore the northern Oregon coast with their senses. Taste as much as you can while you’re on the road, and then purchase locally made products to take home for later, from beer to cheese to smoked salmon. See northcoastfoodtrail.com.

Whale Watching: Five places to spot whales on the Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast whale watchingBandon – Face Rock Scenic Viewpoint

As well as whales, this spot is a stopping point for more than 300 species of birds, including tufted puffins in the summer.

Yachats – Cape Perpetua Interpretive Center

Shelter from the weather and take in a stormy day at this site, which has a phenomenal panoramic view.

Depoe Bay – Whale Watching Center

This location on the seawall is perfect for watching migrating whales as they blow, dive, spyhop and breach.

Cannon Beach – Ecola State Park

One of the prettiest and largest headlands on the coast, Ecola is an excellent vantage point for whale-watching.

Pacific City – Cape Kiwanda State Park

Keep your eye out for surfers and dory fishing boats as well as whales in the waves off of this popular beach.

Events

On the Road | Pacific Flyway during the Winter Wings Festival in Klamath Falls
Photo: Discover Klamath

Winter Wings

Each February, the Winter Wings Festival in Klamath Falls offers field trips, walking tours, lectures and more to celebrate the largest wintering population of bald eagles in the lower 48 states as well as the abundance of all the birds that make the Klamath Basin home. The Pacific Flyway is a major north-south route of travel for migratory birds in the Americas, extending from Alaska to Patagonia. Every spring and fall, migratory birds travel this route—about 80 percent of the Pacific Flyway migrants make the Klamath Basin a stopover, numbering at times to more than a million birds present in the area. Join bird enthusiasts this winter to take in the glory of the flyway sky. See winterwingsfest.org.

McCall Winter Carnival

On the Road | McCall Winter Carnival ice sculpture
Photo: @TRAVELINGSPUD

In 1924, a train from Boise delivered 250 visitors to McCall, Idaho for the first Payette Lake Winter Games. Forty years later, inspired by those winter lovers of long ago, residents launched the McCall Winter Carnival as a celebration of the adventures and beauty of the colder season. The iconic event brings more than 60,000 people to the region in late January for snow sculptures, dog sled racing, pancake breakfasts, live music, fireworks and more. See visitmccall.org.

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