Plan Your Visit To
A visit to Sisters feels like a trip back in time—and not just because its buildings are decorated to look like an 1880s-era Wild West town.
Wooden sidewalks line the street through downtown Sisters, offering access to the community’s boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. An old-time drive-in dishes homemade ice cream, much as it’s done since 1952. Public restrooms are marked for “Cowboys” and “Cowgirls.” Even the UPS shipping store is called The Pony Express.
Sisters may have all the hallmarks of a rough-and-tumble frontier town, but the city has earned acclaim in recent years for its creative arts culture, fresh dining opportunities, charming architecture, and down-home, family-friendly atmosphere. So the next time you visit the “Gateway to the Cascades”, here’s a rundown of what to do, see, and enjoy around Sisters.
Map of Sisters, Oregon
Need to know where to start? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a map of the Sisters, Oregon area to help find your way around:
Plan your adventure to Central Oregon.
Full Day Walk-In Upper Deschutes River
Full Day Walk-In: Upper Deschutes River
Lava Tube Cave Tours
Did you know there is a vast network of caves near Bend, Oregon? Strap on a helmet and headlamp and join our naturalist guides for a fun, educational, underground adventure! These tours are a great Bend, Oregon family activity. Please Note: We do not visit Lava River Cave (operated by the Deschutes National Forest)Adventure: Wanderlust Tours is the premier destination for cave tours in Bend, Oregon! Join us on this epic subterranean tour on Bend’s ponderosa pine-studded high desert. Our renowned naturalist guides will highlight sweet bits of these cool caverns that might not initially meet the eye. Naturalist Guided Experience: During our 2 hours underground, in the darkest, quietest spot earth can provide, we may impart an understanding of the region’s geology- how massive volcanoes created these wonders. Or we might share how the cave habitat provides for creatures important to human life. Your crew will be energized with revelations about natural and cultural history that’ll keep your mind humming with delight long after you return home with fond memories of the tour. Caves: Bend’s lava caves have a delicate ecosystem that few have experienced to the fullest! Wanderlust Tours is the only guide company permitted in these special lava caves. These caves are also wild, meaning they do not have a paved path or lighting. Closed toe shoes are recommended for navigating the uneven rocky surfaces. Cave Difficulty: Mother Nature has created a wonderfully diverse array of caves that offer a variety of experiences. All of the caves we visit are wild, meaning other than the staircase to enter them there are no man made improvements put into the caves (walkways or lights). The walking surface is uneven and can be varying degrees of rugged and rocky.In our estimation, this cave presents a moderate degree of difficulty as it involves many fun opportunities for scrambling up/down/around rocky areas and crawling through short passages.On all our cave tours, our guides are attentive to keeping the pace suitable to all members of the group so that everyone can move at a comfortable speed.
$70 - $95
Smith Rock Sunset Photo Tour
If you enjoy scenic views of deep river canyons, Smith Rock State Park is the place for you. There are several thousand climbs, hikes and mountain bike trails in the park, so we can often see several climbers as well as some wildlife including golden eagles, prairie falcons, mule deer, river otters and beavers.This tour can include some moderate hiking, or we can shoot right from the parking lot. We'll show you our favorite shots based on how active you want to be.Private Tour capped at 2 people to ensure personalized instruction and individualized attention.You'll have around 2 hrs on location. We'll keep shooting up to 30 mins after sunset. A night photography extension can be added.Tour Price: $299 up to 2 people
Night Photography Tour
Since Bend is located in such an amazing spot with hardly any ambient light, it lends itself to some awesome night photography. Whether it's the milky way, star trails, light writing, or the moon... we can target your tour to your specific night photo goals.Private Tour capped at 2 people to ensure personalized instruction and individualized attention.Tour Price: $325 up to 2 people
Deschutes River Photo Tour
Running through the middle of Bend, the Deschutes River offers plenty of amazing photo ops. Starting in town we will either head Dowtown Bend, to Dillon Falls or start at Shevlin Park and explore. This tour can include some moderate walking. We'll show you our favorite shots based on how active you want to be.Private Tour capped at 2 people to ensure personalized instruction and individualized attention.You'll have around 1 hr at each location.Tour Price: $299 up to 2 people
Daytime Nature Photography Tour
Guided Photography Tours in Bend, Oregon and beyond.Want to capture the spectacular beauty of Oregon’s mountain and high desert landscape? Wanderlust Tours has partnered with one of Central Oregon's most talented landscape photographers to bring you the best Bend Oregon Nature Photography Tours. Join celebrated photographer Mike Putnam in venturing out to capture iconic images found only in Central Oregon. Don’t see the date you’re looking for? Please call our office at (541) 389-8359 to check availability.
$125 - $350
Besides comfort, the Day Dock provides some privacy for you and your group. It is your own private "beach." Includes BBQ, tables and chairs for 32, umbrellas, changing rooms, day bed, and an upper deck with a stellar view. Dogs are allowed! The Day Dock stays tied to the shore for easy access to bathroom facilities at the resort. There's a ladder on the swim dock and plenty of cleats to tie up your water toys, boats, and kayaks.
$300 - $400
Brews & Views Paddling Tour
Adventure: Wanderlust Tours is the premier destination for paddling tours in Bend, Oregon! Join us on this iconic paddling tour on the high elevation mountain lakes in the mighty Cascade Range or along a sweet reach of the Deschutes River. Naturalist Guided Experience: Our renowned naturalist guides will highlight the sweet spots on these stunning lakes or the river that might not initially meet the eye. During our 2 hours on the water, along with the fun and sun, you’ll come to know our local beer scene through the sense of taste! You may also learn about the indigenous people who called Bend home and how they used the mountains and lakes for their livelihoods over 1000’s of years. Your crew will be energized with revelations about natural and cultural history that’ll keep your mind humming with delight long after you return home with fond memories of the tour. Location: Fall in Central Oregon brings us beautiful colors and crisp cool air. Along with these beautiful natural elements comes the uncertainty of conditions. Our guides will determine our paddling location (river or lake) on the day-of the tour that will best suite conditions, comfort and accessibility. This time of year we kayak on Deschutes River and Canoe Cascade Lakes.Deschutes River: The stretches of the Deschutes River we kayak are devoid of rapids, and provide a peaceful paddling experience for all ability levels.Cascade Lakes: You’ll see parts of these large lakes that are only accessible by paddling into the fingers, coves, bays, and wetlands created by ancient eruptions and erosion. With sweeping views of our local mountains, our Bend, Oregon canoe tours have it all!Don’t see the date you’re looking for? Please call our office at (541) 389-8359 to check availability.
$70 - $100
Bend City and Lava Lands Helicopter Tour
We’ll take you on an unprecedented 360 helicopter tour of this amazing lava formation that changed the course of the Deschutes River before heading past the scenic Benham Falls, Dillon Falls, and Lava Island Falls then back along the Deschutes to Bend. Look down below in the spring and summer months and you might just catch a glimpse of the white water rafting groups negotiating Big Eddy’s class 4 rapids.Year Round Tours and Adventures in Bend, OregonWith stunning snow-capped Cascade Mountain views to our left and right our helicopter pilots will take you and your friends on a 40 mile scenic helicopter tour of Bend, Oregon “Beertown USA.” You’ll be thrilled by the iconic stacks of Bend’s Old Mill District, our all new Deschutes River Water Park, summer concerts and other exciting sights from the air. On this scenic helicopter tour you’ll fly to our local lava flows at Lava Lands State Park a National Volcanic Monument where you’ll experience scenic views of over one million acres of pristine wild lands. This helicopter flight and scenic tour offers exciting flight options for sunset flights, sunrise tours, winter tours, and summer tours. You can also personalize this helicopter tour to suit your timeframe and needs.Bend, Oregon Lava Land Tours Lost in TimeOver the past 300,000 years massive volcanic eruptions have left many volcanic scars outside of Bend. You may have visited Lava Lands on a local tour and walked through the ancient flows but seeing their sheer size from the air offers a unique look into the awesome power of Mother Nature. Experience lava flows on our helicopter tours that have been frozen for all time just as they happened, devoid of life for thousands of years.The Helicopter TourWe’ll take you on an unprecedented 360 helicopter tour of this amazing lava formation that changed the course of the Deschutes River before heading past the scenic Benham Falls, Dillon Falls, and Lava Island Falls then back along the Deschutes to Bend. Look down below in the spring and summer months and you might just catch a glimpse of the white water rafting groups negotiating Big Eddy’s class 4 rapids.Helicopter Tour Gift CertificatesCorporate gift giving, holidays and birthdays means exciting Gift Certificates for Bend’s best scenic flights and tours through the stunning Cascade Range and beyond. Book today and give the gift of exciting memories to those you love on this amazing fall/winter tour. Guaranteed good weather flights. You’ll love getting up close to The Old Mill and the Lava Lands State Park. Breathtaking views are all yours to discover. Book Today!
Things to Do in Sisters, Oregon
Whether you’re staying in town or using Sisters as a base camp for outdoor adventure, you’ll find plenty to keep busy. Here are a few fun things to do when you visit Sisters, Oregon.
Explore the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway: Starting right in town, the 82-mile McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway heads into the Cascades for an up-close look at the region’s dramatic beauty. Highlights along the summertime driving tour are almost too numerous to mention here—but include the Dee Wright Observatory, built in 1935 amid a dramatic lava flow and showcasing views of roughly a dozen peaks; a short hiking trail through old-growth forest to the two-part Proxy Falls; the appropriately named Clear Lake; and the glacially carved Suttle Lake.
Sip a cold craft beer: Central Oregon is rightfully known for its epic craft beer scene—and Sisters is no exception. Our very own Three Creeks Brewing Company is housed near the eastern edge of town, where it pours an award-winning lineup of house-made ales and lagers alongside elevated pub grub. Nearby Hop & Brew doesn’t make its own beer—but nevertheless offers a curated selection of popular beers from around the Pacific Northwest. And Sisters Saloon takes pride in pouring popular beers from breweries big and small throughout Central Oregon. (Curious about our quaffable ales and lagers? Read more about breweries in Sisters, Oregon.)
Hop in the saddle: Two scenic bikeways leave from town, giving hearty cyclists ample opportunity to explore Central Oregon’s prolific beauty. The 37-mile Sisters to Smith Rock Scenic Bikeway starts in Sisters before zig-zagging eastward through sagebrush-covered canyons, forests of pine and juniper, and quiet communities before arriving at the popular Smith Rock State Park. And the McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway takes cyclists through a forest of ponderosa pine, expansive lava flows in the heart of the Cascades, and an old-growth forest of Douglas fir over the course of 38 breathtaking miles; the ride mostly follows Oregon Route 242, which officially opens to vehicles in June—but which is accessible to cyclists (beyond a locked gate) as early as April or May.
Attend a festival: Sisters might be known for its laid-back charm, but the city of 2,000 sure knows how to throw a party. Annual highlights include the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (which displays roughly 500 quilts from around the world), the Sisters Folk Festival (which hosts regional and national acts alike), and the ever-popular Sisters Rodeo (which bills itself as “the biggest little show in the world”).
Hit the slopes: Discover Hoodoo Ski Area, which sits at the summit of Santiam Pass just outside of town and boasts more than 800 acres of skiable terrain, 34 runs, five lifts, the region’s only night skiing, and the Autobahn Tubing Park—one of the largest tubing areas in the Pacific Northwest.
Get away from it all: Visit Black Butte Ranch for a getaway that blends the quiet charms of a Cascades vacation with the amenities of a bustling resort. The long-running ranch hosts popular eateries, vacation rentals, fly fishing clinics, live music, a disc golf course, bike rentals, spa services, swimming pools, tennis and pickleball courts, and other fun activities for the whole family—along with a pair of award-winning golf courses that offer dramatic views of surrounding mountain peaks. (Learn more about golf in Central Oregon.)
Make your way to Camp Sherman and beyond: West of town, nestled in the foothills of the Cascade mountains, sits Camp Sherman—a quiet community home to campgrounds, mountain biking trails, wildlife viewing, and other fun opportunities for outdoor recreation along the Metolius River.
Rest, relax, and rejuvenate: When you need a vacation from your vacation, unwind at Shibui Spa (located at FivePine Lodge & Conference Center, near the eastern edge of Sisters); the tranquil spa offers a variety of therapeutic services and treatments, including massage, facials, body wraps, waxing, and more—along with several spa products to help you recharge back home.
Grab a bite: Sisters sits surrounded by working ranches and farms—so it’s only natural the city’s culinary scene has taken off in recent years. Start your day with casual, yet creative fare at Cottonwood Cafe (housed in a converted cottage), grab a fresh sandwich for lunch at Spoons, fuel up with authentic Mexican street food at Tacos El Comal (housed in a gas station), or treat yourself to locally sourced fine-dining fare at Chops Bistro. (If your stomach’s growling, get to know the top restaurants in Sisters, Oregon.)
Still jonesing for fun and frolic around the region? Learn more about top things to do in Central Oregon.
Things to See in Sisters, Oregon
There isn’t just plenty to do around Sisters, Oregon—there’s a ton to see as well. From a day in the mountains to a night at the movies—and everywhere in between—here’s a look at what to see around town.
Check out the city’s art galleries: The city of Sisters has long been a haven for creative types—and, naturally, boasts a robust collection of more than a dozen art galleries. Clearwater Gallery, for instance, strives to showcase work from local and regional artists across a variety of media—including pastel, watercolor, bronze, and handmade jewelry. Ken Scott’s Imagination Gallery, meanwhile, displays whimsical bronze pieces, garden art, wall designs, and more from the namesake artist.
Catch a flick: The four-screen, independently owned Sisters Movie House sits at the eastern edge of town and usually features a lineup that appeals to moviegoers of all interests—including first-run blockbusters, independent films, documentaries, foreign flicks, or animated movies.
Step into the city’s many shops and boutiques: The vibrant heart of Sisters teems with mom-and-pop businesses, souvenir shops, and chic boutiques—including The Hen’s Tooth (which sells art, health and beauty products, candles, jewelry, decor, and more), Paulina Springs Books (selling a variety of books and hosting regular author events), Stitchin’ Post (a family-owned quilting shop that has sold fabric, kits, yarn, tools, and more since 1975), Dixie’s (specializing in Western-themed apparel and home goods), and Antler Arts (which has sold all manner of items—including Western wear, metal signs, and items crafted from antler racks—since 1995).
Enjoy scenic vistas in the Three Sisters Wilderness: Covering more than 281,000 acres, the Three Sisters Wilderness is home to roughly 260 miles of trails that offer some of the best views in all of Oregon—including Cascade peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, alpine meadows, summertime wildflowers, lava fields, mountain lakes, and other natural wonders. Note that you’ll need a permit (part of the Central Cascades Wilderness Permit System) if hiking most trails or backpacking between Memorial Day weekend and the end of September. And if you haven’t gotten your peak fix just yet, here’s how to explore the mountains in Central Oregon.
Explore the Rimrock Wonder of Whychus Creek: The three forks of the Wild and Scenic Whychus Creek begin as glaciers in the Three Sisters Wilderness before winding through the Cascades, Sisters area, and Central Oregon high desert. Numerous hiking trails line its banks and follow the khaki-colored river canyon—including the Whychus Creek Scenic Overlook Trail, where a one-mile accessible path offers views of the creek and Three Sisters peaks. (Whychus Creek is just one of many waterways coursing through the region; learn more about the rivers in Central Oregon.)
With so much to do and see, you’ll want somewhere close (and comfortable) to stay each night; learn more about Central Oregon campgrounds & RV parks.
More stories from Sisters
More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.
Hiking Black Butte – Central Oregon’s Iconic & Majestic Cinder Cone
From a distance, Black Butte looks like it doesn’t quite match the picturesque alpine mountains that surround it. The volcanic rock that emerges above the tree line gives the impression of a hill constructed with loose stones that was carelessly dropped in the middle of the woods. Unlike the Cascades that puncture the horizon to the west and north, Black Butte can be hiked and enjoyed in under four hours.
Outward Bound in the City: Central Oregon’s 5 Best Urban Hikes
Hiking in Central Oregon can take you deep into the wilderness, far away from worry and stress. But sometimes all you need is a quick break from reality…just a half hour or so outside in nature, on a trail, alone with your thoughts (or with your dog, husband and two kids.) There are hundreds of hikes and trails available in and around Bend, Oregon and Sunriver, Oregon. These “Urban Hikes” are the perfect remedy to slow down our all-too-busy lives.
8 Pictures That Will Have You Rethinking Some Life Decisions (Central Oregon Food Edition)
Is this plate from 5 Fusion and Sushi Bar art or food? (It’s food. Definitely food.)
Central Oregon Golf: Best Par 3s
Play a good golf course and chances are that when you’re back at the 19th hole, you’re talking about the Par 3s. The short one you made double on. The bear where you snaked in a 20-footer for your only birdie all month. They’re the “short” holes that can make or break a round. Some of the signature holes on the Central Oregon Golf Trail are Par 3s. Here’s a look at some of the best.
Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show Brings Fabric Artists to Central Oregon
Blankets keep you warm. Quilts tell a story. So imagine all the tales to be told at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show on the second Saturday of July, when the streets of this small Central Oregon town are blanketed (pun intended) with the creative tapestries woven by thousands of quilters from around the world.
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.
Curl Up and Get Warm – Central Oregon’s Cozy Romantic Getaways
With the weather making a quick turn toward winter, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about creative ways to get cozy with your significant other.
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.
Central Oregon Hiking Trails
Head east on Highway 20 (Greenwood Avenue) to the Pilot Butte State Park. The parking area and trailhead are just east of the butte. Walk on either the nature trail or the paved road. The road is also for vehicle traffic, weather permitting. It is a wonderful viewpoint for the entire Bend area. This hiking trail is one of the most popular in Central Oregon.
Pole, Pedal and Paddle Whenever You Want in Central Oregon
Every May in Bend some 3,100 people participate in the US Bank Pole, Pedal, Paddle multi-sport race. (And there’s still time to sign up for this year’s event, held on May 20th.)