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Madras
Plan Your Visit To

Madras, Oregon

Madras—the county seat of Jefferson County, Oregon—started in the early 1900s to serve the region’s ranchers. Over the years, it grew into a trading post and community for nearby farmers, many of whom grew (and continue to grow) garlic, carrots, onions, and other crops. Even today, you’ll still see ranches on the rolling hillsides outside of town and farms lining US-97—but change is afoot.

As Madras grows, it’s beginning to serve new audiences alongside the longtime standbys. Today, visitors can sample beer and spirits crafted in town, peruse a new wave of growing dispensaries, and find plenty of outdoor recreation—from a skate park and skydiving to camping, boating, hiking, and more. With so much to see—and so much change in recent years—it can be tough to know where to start. So here’s a look at how to plan your next epic trip to Madras.

Map of Madras, Oregon

US-97 runs north-south through town and offers easy access to most of the city’s best-loved attractions.
But getting off the highway and exploring the area beyond city limits is a rewarding experience.
Here’s a map to help you get started, whether staying in town or traveling further afield.

Man and woman walking in the Erickson Aircraft Collection Museum in Madras, Oregon.

Things to Do in Madras, Oregon

Whether you’re spending the day or staying the night, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in Madras, Oregon—from outdoor recreation to craft food and beer to one of Central Oregon’s most colorful lavender farms. Here are a few ideas for enjoying your time in Madras.

Couple walks in front of vintage aircrafts at the Erickson Aircraft Collection museum in Madras, Oregon
Vintage airplane at the Erickson Aircraft Museum in Madras, Oregon.
Photo credit to @valvecovergasket
Boat docked on Lake Billy Chinook near Madras, Oregon

Sample the city’s best international cuisine: Madras is home to dozens of eateries, from national chains to a growing number of restaurants and food carts serving fare from around the world. The city, in particular, hosts a robust number of Mexican food offerings. Mi Casa Restaurant, for instance, is known for its hefty burritos and filling street tacos crafted with homemade tortillas; nearby, Rio Distinctive Mexican Cuisine serves a menu of inventive dishes that draw on both modern and traditional influences. Still hungry? Check out more Madras, Oregon restaurants to find your next favorite meal.

Visit the Erickson Aircraft Collection: Just north of Madras, the Erickson Aircraft Collection showcases a private collection of more than 20 rare, vintage aircraft—some of which date back to World War II and many of which are still in flying condition today. If the aircraft collection grabs your attention, make time for other museums across Central Oregon that showcase natural history, the region’s earliest residents, and more.

Catch some air at Madras Bike & Skate Park: Beginners and experts alike find plenty to love about Madras Bike & Skate Park, which hosts several fun features—such as deep bowls, rails, and ramps—that cater to athletes of all skill levels. A set of bleachers even encourages parents to stick around and watch their little boarders and BMX riders test their mettle. Want to know where else you can shred around the region? Learn more about Central Oregon skateparks.

Visit The Cove Palisades State Park: Just a half-hour southwest of town is The Cove Palisades State Park, one of the most popular hiking, boating, and angling destinations anywhere in Central Oregon. The park sits where the Crooked, Deschutes, and Metolius rivers come together to form Lake Billy Chinook, the backbone of the park’s outdoor recreation opportunities. Watercraft and water toy rentals are available between April and October, a few hiking trails crisscross the park, and wildlife viewing (especially of raptors soaring overhead) is a popular pastime in the park’s high-desert expanse. And while Lake Billy Chinook might be massive, with 72 miles of shoreline, it’s far from the region’s only body of water—so learn more about the lakes in Central Oregon.

Visit the city’s dispensaries: Since Oregon voters approved a measure to legalize marijuana in 2014, dispensaries have grown (sorry) like weeds around the state—and Madras is no exception, with a handful of dispensaries around town. Plantae, for instance, sources its flower from a farm in Central Oregon—and sells concentrates, edibles, topicals, and more.

a rice bowl, salad and cocktail from SCP, Redmond OR

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Explore the area’s nightlife: Whether you want to kick back or keep the party going, Madras has plenty of nightlife to suit your needs. Madras Brewing Co. brews its own beers and pours a variety of wines and cocktails to pair with a food menu that leans heavily on wood-fired pizza. And just south of town, in the community of Metolius, the Desert Inn Sports Bar and Grill boasts a lively atmosphere with pool tables, shuffleboard, a classic pub food menu, a full bar, TVs for catching the big game, and an outdoor beer garden with a horseshoe pit, fire pit, and a stage for live music. Want to know where else to grab a drink, play pool, or hear some live music around town? Get details on the bars in Madras, Oregon.

Taste the spirit of Madras: When you sip a spirit from New Basin Distilling Company, you’re truly enjoying a taste of Madras. The distillery sources its grains from a Madras farm and prides itself on crafting small-batch spirits—including vodka and a variety of whiskeys. Want to learn more about the city’s craft beverage producers? Kick back with more on distilleries in Madras, Oregon.

Try your hand at skydiving: The Madras-based Skydive Awesome! showcases some of the best views in Oregon while offering one of the most thrilling experiences anywhere in the region; certified instructors have completed thousands of dives and specialize in tandem skydiving—making the activity accessible to divers of all skill levels. Views range from the Cascade Range to Lake Billy Chinook to Central Oregon’s high-desert landscape.

Enjoy a summertime visit to Cascade Lavender Farm: Every summer, the normally tan landscape of Central Oregon’s high desert is awash in vibrant hues of pink, blue, white, and (of course) deep purple at Cascade Lavender Farm. Between late June and early August, visitors can pick their own lavender from more than 4,000 plants—and other family-friendly attractions include a plant nursery, lavender shop, farm animals, and more.

Couple looks into vintage aircraft at the Erickson Aircraft Collection museum in Madras, Oregon
a group getting ready to ride the trails

Come for the

Adventure

a couple snuggling on the couch by the firepit

Relish the

Relaxation

Madras, Oregon Accommodations

View of Lake Billy Chinook near Madras, Oregon.

If you’re coming from points north, Madras acts as a kind of gateway to Central Oregon—making the city a popular overnight stop. Plenty of international chains line US-97 through town, but if you’re looking for something a little more local, consider the Inn at Cross Keys Station; the three-story, 72-room hotel offers a wealth of amenities—including an indoor pool and hot tub, outdoor patio, free Wi-Fi, and an exercise room.

If you’re looking to rough it a bit, several RV parks and campgrounds can be found nearby. In particular, The Cove Palisades State Park hosts some of the best camping in Central Oregon, with more than 250 sites and three cabins spread across two campgrounds; amenities include flush toilets, showers, ranger-led interpretive programs, and easy access to nearby Lake Billy Chinook.

More stories from Madras

More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.

  • Airshow of the Cascades – Sky High Thrills for the Family
    Airshow of the Cascades – Sky High Thrills for the Family

    For 20 years, Madras has been home to one of the more unsung family events in the region, the Airshow of the Cascades. It’s Oregon’s second-largest air show, giving people a chance to get up close and personal to aviation history both on the ground and in the air. You’ll see vintage and high-tech aircraft doing stunts and flying through a wall of fire.

  • Scenic Bikeways Showcase Central Oregon’s Backroad Beauty
    Scenic Bikeways Showcase Central Oregon’s Backroad Beauty

    Oregon’s official scenic bikeways are the first of their kind in the U.S – and Central Oregon is home to 6 of the state’s 11 most beautiful bike routes. An absolute summer must for road cyclists are riding the best of the best – our scenic bikeways. Every rider can find a ride to suit their style and mood, from family-friendly to adventurous.

  • Hopless in Central Oregon: Experience Scenic Cideries and Vino with a View
    Hopless in Central Oregon: Experience Scenic Cideries and Vino with a View

    In an area dominated by craft beer, you might be wondering is there anything else on tap? The answer is, ‘Yes’. Central Oregon is home to award winning cideries and wineries and with postcard-worthy views from their tasting rooms – you won’t be disappointed. Named after the Three Sisters, Faith Hope and Charity Vineyards is just over 30 miles from Bend. It’s hard to complain about the drive though when furry faces from the Alpaca farm nearby greet you right before you turn onto the property.

  • Central Oregon Mountain Bike Trail Guide
    Central Oregon Mountain Bike Trail Guide

    The Central Oregon mountain bike scene is 300 miles of diverse singletrack through high alpine forests and sagebrush dotted deserts from Madras to La Pine, Sisters to Prineville. Bulletin newspaper reporter Mark Morical has ridden just about every one of the trails you’ll find on any mountain bike trail map – and he’s written about his experience.

  • Winter Isn’t Only About Snow in Central Oregon
    Winter Isn’t Only About Snow in Central Oregon

    It’s true that when winter rolls around in Central Oregon, most people’s minds veer toward things to do in the snow. With Mt. Bachelor, Hoodoo, sno-parks and more, there’s plenty of options for folks to get out and play.