Central Oregon is all about balance. Small towns, big recreation. Quaint corners, cascading views. Where endless serenity exists right outside your back door coupled with humble communities that are tough to beat. Take La Pine, for instance. Rural, friendly, relaxed, and charming with a side of soaring mountains, the sparsely populated La Pine, Oregon is an unlikely getaway that leads with boundless forests and top-tier recreation.
GRAB A BITE
From bistro lunches to food carts and one-of-a-kind spirits of the region, La Pine has all the goods for a tasty experience. Read on to discover insider tips on local fare for your stay.
Family-friendly classic: Old-fashioned burgers and shakes are just what the doctor ordered for a trip to La Pine, and this locally-owned burger joint, Coach’s Drive-In, is not to be overlooked. They offer eight local beer and cider taps for the adults, as well. Whether you sit in or drive through, don’t miss the mushroom swiss burger and thick chocolate malt shake (you can thank us later)!
Brunch & Bistro-style: As you roll into town, you’ll notice an old classic car nestled in front of a rustic exterior, plenty of outdoor patio space, food trucks galore, and local music. You’ve arrived at a memorable spot: Badlands Artisan Distillery. Since 2020, they’ve offered a thoughtful collection of spirits, coffee, food carts, a varied bistro-style menu, and ultra-creative cocktails right off the main highway. Fun fact: the sweet vodka is made with locally sourced European purple plums and sloe berries. They even filter each product a minimum of twenty times using natural Newberry Caldera springwater and local lava rock.
Cowboy-style dinner: If you want a “taste of the real old west” and an experience that’s worth the trek, look no further than Cowboy Dinner Tree at Silver Lake. Psst: they require reservations, so be sure to call ahead. If you’re too stuffed to drive back to La Pine, there could be one of four rustic cabins with your name on it.
Pub vibes for the adults: On the north end of La Pine, Wickiup Station Sports Pub offers a full bar, a variety of eats, and a casual local atmosphere. Order your favorite pub classics (or a delicious prime rib) and hit up their happy hour deals.
Local favorites: Stop in at Harvest Depot diner for big portions, the wonderful staff, an all-day menu, and a kid-friendly atmosphere. Hope you’re hungry!
STAY THE NIGHT
Whether you’re dying to spend your evening flanked by the Cascade peaks, gently wake by a cold flowing river brimming with trout, or kick back in town after a long day in the sun, La Pine has options. Let’s get your lodging squared away for a summer weekend to remember.
Set up camp: There’s something about immersing yourself in a pine forest in summer, especially in the high Cascades. Fresh, relaxing rejuvenation. While there are many options for an under-the-stars slumber, try McCay Crossing Campground to get a glimpse of waterfalls. Or, check out the nearly 130 campsites (in addition to 10 log cabins) in La Pine State Park.
Wind-down in the forest: Deschutes National Forest, that is. In La Pine, you’ll find a number of cozy Airbnb spots to choose from if camping or in-town isn’t your style. Relax among the pines in this new A-Frame cabin with modern amenities, a hot tub, amazing views, and a quiet atmosphere.
Leisure lakeside lodge: It’s likely that you’ll need an extra day or two to take in all of Newberry National Monument’s gems. Within the Newberry Caldera sit six tent and RV campgrounds with shoreline camping, boat ramps, and restrooms, in addition to the lakeside lodges and resorts like Paulina Lake Lodge + East Lake Resort.
As an idyllic home base to iconic landmarks of Central Oregon, La Pine is a destination for play. Explore the mountain biking and hiking trails in La Pine State Park, see the largest tree in Oregon, fish along the upper Deschutes, camp, zoom around on an ATV, or explore cinder cones. Fun awaits.
SEE THE SIGHTS
One of Oregon’s three national monuments sits just outside of La Pine in Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Explore the endless attractions across thousands of acres, including the Lava Butte cinder cone, Lava Cast Forest, the mile-long Lava River Cave, Newberry Caldera, Big Obsidian Flow, and the gorgeous, 80-foot Paulina Falls.
While adventuring around Newberry National Volcanic Monument, check out Lava Lands for a state-of-the-art exhibit, films, and bookstore, and get insights from a ranger. For a full experience, head directly to the cones with Wanderlust Central Oregon for a day exploring the belly of a volcano.
WACKY HISTORY, PRICELESS VIEWS
Come for the views, stay for the holes in the ground (no, really!) You can’t miss the glassy, glistening black lava flow in the middle of the monument called Big Obsidian Flow, the unforgettable views at Lava Butte & Paulina Peak, and the iconic Hole in the Ground and Crack in the Ground formations. Take our word for it: it is definitely all it’s cracked up to be.
In addition, just 15 minutes north of town and set in a forest of ponderosa, La Pine State Park is home to Oregon’s largest ponderosa pine, nicknamed “Big Red,” thought to be 500 years old. A short trail near the park entrance leads to this Heritage Tree and a serene stretch of river.
Check out the rest of the park via its 14 mountain biking and hiking trails, or by floating the Deschutes or Fall River.
Want an off-the-beaten-path Central Oregon experience? Outrider’s NW will guide you through an all-terrain ATV tour so you can relax, take the wheel, and enjoy the ride. Cruise through winding roads and spectacular lava flows, or experience advanced trails to spot the flows and features firsthand.
A downhill waterfall mountain bike tour is a must. Paulina Plunge offers a guided summer bike tour made super family-friendly, and it’s nearly all downhill. It ends with family fun on natural water slides at Paulina Falls. Gravity is your friend!
HOT SPRINGS OR BUST
Heat things up, recreate, and chill. East Lake & Paulina Lake are the spots to see, especially with the natural hot springs. To access the Paulina Lake springs, hike the Paulina Lakeshore Loop Trail, and keep your eyes out for the marked spur trail. At East Lake, take a gander along the water’s edge (by the campground) until you locate bubbling water.
WILDLIFE IN WICKIUP
Drive a half-hour west of town and you’ll arrive at Wickiup Reservoir for some of the region’s best wildlife and fishing. Maybe you’ll get a glimpse of one of the several species of elk, deer, sandpipers, falcons, raccoons, and bats!
THE SUMMER EVENTS
Warm weather means rhubarb is calling our name. Along with the 12th Annual Rhubarb Festival on June 17th and 18th, La Pine is known for its rodeo and Independence Day celebrations. You’ll want to pencil in these upcoming summer events.
With plenty of sights to see, La Pine and its gateway to recreation is a must for a Central Oregon summer trip. Get ready for a trip to remember!
More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.
Top State Parks to Visit in Central Oregon
A trip to Central Oregon is usually one with ample time spent in the great outdoors. From the expansive high desert landscape to the Deschutes National Forest and all the rivers, lakes and sometimes volcanos in between, Central Oregon is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. What better way to explore the region than to take a tour of the local state parks? To get started, check out these six state parks to get an idea of what Central Oregon is all about.
The Central Oregon Mural Trail
Large-scale, hand painted murals have been growing in popularity in Central Oregon communities in recent years, following the updated city codes (the moral - more murals in public spaces). These bright engaging murals not only bring new life and color to once drab building walls, but they provide the communities and visitors with a sense of pride for their natural surroundings. And let’s not forget, they make great selfie backgrounds!
Newberry Crater: Ancient Attraction is an Activity Hub
It’s hard to believe, but 25 years ago, the volcanic features that make up Newberry National Volcanic Monument weren’t protected. If it wasn’t for a group of concerned Central Oregonians, the monument wouldn’t exist. “In the late 80s, at the time, the collaborative process we see today for land-use planning just wasn’t as common.