Late Summer in Sisters, Oregon: Day Trips & Town Tips

Aerial view of downtown Sisters.

Here in Central Oregon, summer hits its stride in late June and keeps rolling on through September. There’s still plenty of time left to check all your sunny adventures off the list! No matter when you arrive, Sisters, Oregon is a treat and must-see. Less than 3000 people live here year-round, but myriads more pass through to soak in the scenery and play in the surroundings – and boy, are there a lot of places to see. From cozy lake and downtown strolls to breathtaking waterfalls, lava scenes, and scenic drives, you’ve got your work cut out for you. See what all the hype is about. Whether you’re looking for a day trip (or three), overnight, or long weekend stay with the family, we’ve got your itinerary covered.

GRAB A BITE

If you weren’t already impressed by Sister’s quaint, western outpost vibes, you’ll be delighted by the variety of food options it has to offer. From Korean to Mexican, to retro drive-ins and many breakfast faves, it’s a destination. Let the good eats roll.

Get your caffeinated buzz & nosh on: Okay, we know you’ve heard of Sisters Coffee. It’s a Central Oregon staple. But have you ever been to the flagship cafe & roastery? If not,  go and enjoy their brunch, house-made pastries, amazing coffee, and cool cabin interior. Can’t stay? They have a specific grab-and-go cold case for your journey fuel. Don’t forget your reusable mug!

Memorable baked goods: In a rustic Western former general store built in 1925, Sisters Bakery turns out high-quality pastries, amazing donuts (like the simple old-school kind that make you wish you bought ten), and specialty bread from 5 am to 5 pm. Cash and checks only!

Wings and beer.

Festive brunch ambiance: Cute cottage vibes and a Pacific Northwest twist on breakfast? Coming right up. Check out The Cottonwood Cafe for all of your comfy cafe standbys, like eggs benedict and slow-roasted pulled pork sandwiches. This pup-friendly spot is located in the heart of Sisters, so keep an eye out for the white picket fenced cottage.

Rustic local cafe: Happy hour and delicious food is just what the traveler ordered. Sisters Depot is a staple. This main-street rustic café and its railroad theme is a must-stop. Known for their sandwiches, salads, dinner specials and happy hour cocktail deals, this fresh twist on American favorites is a go-to.

Elevated vibes for afternoon & evening:  Sisters is all about community. No matter where you’re from, you’ll feel a part of it at The Barn Taphouse & Food truck lot. There’s something for everyone, with vegan and vegetarian options, indoor and outdoor seating spaces, alternating craft brews, natural wines, and craft cocktails. Their food is all quality & varied, too: we’re talking organic farm-to-table wood-fired pizza from the legendary Boone Dog, a local women-run vegan truck called Rootbound, Chulitas for Mexican, and Pop’s Southern BBQ. Are you drooling yet?

An old-school classic: Ah, Sno Cap Drive-In. If you’re in the mood for a burger and homemade ice cream that reminds you of the old days, you’re about to be a happy camper. This retro drive-in spot has been going since 1945. Their signature cheeseburgers and burgers (like the mushroom swiss) are downright heavenly paired with their fries and milkshakes, like the marionberry or Cascade. Great service, huge ice cream scoops, and quality ingredients.

Brewpub for a cold one: Whether you’re about to blaze your trail on the McKenzie or Black Butte or chill by a waterfall with the family,  Three Creeks Brewing is a Central Oregon staple and essential first (or last) stop. Also, it’s right by the Sisters Movie House, if you’re feelin’ a film.

IN-TOWN & DOWN THE ROAD

Inside the Stitchin’ Post.

This quaint, walkable town is filled with charm. With a thriving cultural scene, neat specialty shops, and all the events you could hope for (looking at you, Rodeo & Folk Festival!) plan for a full day in town and hiking & biking that’s a breeze to access.

IN TOWN:

Book-lovers rejoice: Paulina Springs Books has the flair and charm of a quaint bookstore of yesteryear with the selection of a major retailer. Drop by this thriving independent book shop for top-tier recommendations, hand-picked reads you won’t see elsewhere, and thoughtful gifts for the whole family. Hot tip: buy a book & grab a coffee across the street for a relaxed and luxe time, and keep plugged into their website and social for the local author events!

Get creative: Sisters famous quilt shop, Stitchin’ Post, is a one-stop-shop for all things sewing and fiber arts. Family-owned since 1975, this artistic experience is big on education, inspiration, and creativity, with tons of world-famous artists passing through for events, and of course the Sisters Quilt Show in July. Everything you wanted to know about quilting, sewing, stitching, and crafting is here. Go see all the quilted art adorning the walls, chat with the knowledgeable staff, get your own kit and sew on.

Shop for treasures: Small town, big talent. From a wide selection of art galleries on Hood street and beyond to specialty gift shops and fun stores, you can’t go wrong with shopping in Sisters. A few faves are The Hen’s Tooth, The Paper Place, Raven Makes Gallery, and Beacham’s Clock Company. Keep an eye out for crafts from regional natives like JPaige and others sprinkled in shops (and online!) throughout Central Oregon, as well.

DOWN THE ROAD:

Mountain bike: Peterson’s Ridge Trail is great for riders of all abilities. Get your 360-degree Cascade Mountain views fix at Eagle Rock. The main trailhead is located just a half-mile south of town, so gear up and get out!

Take a hike: Black Butte Trail is only about 9 miles from Sisters, and a beautiful and moderately challenging morning or day hike with spectacular views. Another good option is Tam McArthur RimTrailhead & Three Creeks Lake. (Don’t forget your permit!) Three Creeks Lake is a local favorite! There’s tons of fun to be had: from swimming and camping to hiking and horseback riding. If it’s still summer, don’t skimp on the bug spray. The trail is about 5 miles round trip, and 16 mi south from Sisters.

STAY THE NIGHT

Get ready for a mix of charming cabins, rustic and modern decor, and lake views galore. Whether you’re planning a night in between adventures or desire a full weekend getaway, Sisters has it all.

Left Coast Lodge: Located within walking distance to all the best of Sister’s downtown, Left Coast Lodge is a mix of historic and elevated modern, with Cascade Mountain views for days. Psst: it’s also pet friendly! 

FivePine Lodge & Spa: If you’re feeling a romantic getaway, this is the overnight for you. It has the cozy feel of a B&B,  the privacy of craftsman-style cabins, and all the amenities of a resort, FivePine is the ultimate experience.

Sister’s Inn & Suites: Your classic hotel vibes with a Western flair, this boutique lodging is located in downtown Sisters. Can’t beat the convenience of walking and biking distance. It’s a win/win.

Suttle Lake Cabins + Lodge: In case you want to stay a little bit outside of town, Suttle Lodge is a Central Oregon classic and must-see. Rent their cabins or stay in the lodge. You can’t go wrong with waking up to local coffee, a thoughtful breakfast, and a stunning lake view all year long.

View of lodging at Left Coast Lodge in Sisters, Oregon.

PLAY OUTDOORS

Sisters is known for its proximity to the most iconic outdoor experiences Central Oregon has to offer. From the Mckenzie to the Metolius Rivers, to Three Creeks Lake, Suttle Lake, Camp Sherman and so much more, we’ve got your day trips covered. Lace-up and let’s go!

DAY TRIP #1: SUTTLE LAKE, CAMP SHERMAN & METOLIUS RIVER || Northwest from Sisters

Grab breakfast in town and snacks for a picnic lunch at Oliver Lemons. Then, head about 15 min west of Sisters and you’ll hit a small but mighty destination resort known as Camp Sherman, situated on the forested banks of the Metolius River. From here, enjoy a mellow day by the spring-fed river with your picnic lunch and a light hike by the crystal clear water. It’s absolutely memorable & magical, so don’t forget your camera!

If you decide to head back to Sisters, take a drive by the Black Butte Ranch on the way back for golf, all things recreation, or stay for a featured workshop like this upcoming photography course. Soak up the Fall colors at Suttle Lodge for their wine happy hour and one-of-a-kind fare, and grab a cabin or room overnight if the fun doesn’t want to stop.

View of the Metolius river in Camp Sherman.

DAY TRIP #2: SCENIC MCKENZIE HIGHWAY LOOP || Southwest from Sisters

Are you into scenic and unique vistas? Get ready for a drive that will make you feel like you’re on the moon (in like, a cool Central Oregon way). Don’t be in a hurry – the road is narrow and winding but totally worth it. Out of Sisters, take McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass National Scenic Byway up to the Dee Wright Observatory, which takes about 30 minutes to an hour. Made out of lava rock, this monument has windows that each frame a mountain peak, and lava fields that will blow your mind. Get out and stretch your legs some more on a hike to Proxy Falls. At only a mile, you won’t be disappointed! As you get to the junction of Highway 242 and Highway 126, veer over to McKenzie Bridge for some eats.

Then, continue north on Highway 126 and make a stop at Clear Lake, or hike the McKenzie River trail. Want to linger longer and throw in your line for some fly fishing? The McKenzie River is cold, clear, and ideal for it. Continue on the loop to Sahalie and Koosah Falls for breathtaking scenery that’s worth the stop.

At the end of a couple-hour adventure, your cameras and hearts will be full, but you’ll be hungry. Head back to Sisters for a microbrew, appetizer, or dinner at Three Creeks Brewing on the east end of town, and thank us later.

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