Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in La Grande, OR

  • Published 2021/11/23

Escape the hustle and bustle of your daily cares and be amused by the eclectic blend of natural spaces and urban culture.

La Grande is this quaint city known to be the gateway for outdoor adventures and relaxation nestled in Union County in Oregon.

Aside from the thrilling outdoor activities, you’ll also learn the art of relaxation once the sight and sounds of nature surround you.

La Grande sits in the eastern foothills of the Blue Mountains; this means that outdoor exploration and nature escapade awaits just minutes away from the city center.

If you’re planning a trip to this scenic city, then read on for the 15 best things to do on your weekend getaway at La Grande!

Cast Your Fishing Lines at Morgan Lake

View of Morgan Lake

Jesse Stephens /

Spend a time away from the hustle and bustle of the city on top of a mountain.

Morgan Lake is the idyllic place to escape the busy noise of the city and spend a quiet time atop a mountain with a breathtaking view of the glistening lake.

You can cast your lines in this 60-acre lake for some trout fishing or paddle your way through the calm waters of the lake.

There are picnic tables in the area if you want to spend a short day trip in Morgan Lake or stay for the night in the campgrounds.

View of Morgan Lake

Jesse Stephens /

Tour a Historic Fire Station at the Eastern Oregon Fire Museum

The Eastern Oregon Fire Museum offers a unique educational exploration in downtown La Grande.

This quaint museum offers an up-close look at antique fire trucks, historical photos, and artifacts that showcase the firefighting history in La Grande.

Aside from the local firefighting heritage, you can also learn about fire prevention and safety on your tour of this museum.

A trip to the museum is free but make sure to book an appointment ahead of time to accommodate you for a tour to the museum.

Set up a Camp at the Hilgard Junction State Park

If you’re looking for a scenic outdoor location to spend a night surrounded by the calm atmosphere of nature while admiring the stars on the clear night skies, then head out on a camping trip to Hilgard Junction State Park.

The Hilgard Junction State Park is just a 15-minute drive away from the downtown.

It offers outdoor exploration opportunities like wildlife viewing, fishing, and picnicking.

This gem in La Grande allows you to appreciate the beauty of natural scenery surrounded by tall pine trees, lush greeneries, and cascading rivers in a laid-back camping trip.

The state park is accessible for differently-abled campers, so you wouldn’t have to worry about the daunting task of going through challenging hike trails.

A trip to Hilgard Junction Park is perfect for a laid-back outdoor camping trip surrounded by the calm ambiance of nature.

Play a Round of Mini Golf at Riverside Greens

If you’re looking for a fun family activity, then Riverside Greens is the ideal place to be!

This 18-hole golf course is perfect for all skill levels, where you’ll enjoy a casual game under the canopies of trees and the soothing sound of flowing water in the pond.

Riverside Greens is a great little place for wholesome family fun in a beautifully landscaped garden.

The golf course is open from May through September, so don’t miss out on a round of mini-golf if you happen to be around town during those months.

Take a Relaxing Mineral Soak in The Lodge at Hot Lake Springs

View of The Lodge at Hot Lake Springs

Ian Poellet, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pamper yourself on a rejuvenating soak on the mineral-rich waters of Hot Lake Springs at The Lodge.

This century-old brick hotel has been standing since 1906, nestled in a scenic place that overlooks the glistening waters of the hot lake springs, with a steamy fog that rises from the high temperature of the lake.

An overnight stay at The Lodge is the perfect escapade from the hustle and bustle of the city, where you can take a relaxing soak at the scenic lake while enjoying the beautiful scenery surrounding the hotel.

Aside from a relaxing soak at the Hot Lake Springs, the hotel also has a movie theater and a restaurant to serve you good food and incredible drinks.

Don’t forget to book an overnight stay at The Lodge for unlimited access to the hot springs.

Roast Some Marshmallows at Spring Creek Campground

Set up camp and light a bonfire under the canopies of tall pine trees in this scenic campground in La Grande.

The Spring Creek Campground makes for an idyllic camping trip if you enjoy spending the night in a cozy forest surrounded by the peaceful sound of nature.

This place is perfect for families traveling together.

Here, you can light a bonfire and roast some marshmallows while you spend an unspoiled, intimate moment with the family.

You can also stay for a picnic day trip on a sunny day or pick the perfect Christmas tree for a small amount during the holidays.

Spend a Classic Movie Date at La Grande Drive-In

There’s nothing better than a classic movie night at a drive-in cinema, so drive down to La Grande Drive-In and grab your tickets for a show for a relaxed retro experience.

This drive-in theater has been operating since 1953, providing entertainment on warm summer nights for La Grande locals and tourists.

Catch a show in this nostalgic drive-in theater that will surely delight the young and the young at heart alike.

There is a snack bar nearby, but you can also pack some snacks to grub on while enjoying the movie.

A movie night under the stars at La Grande Drive-In Theater is an inexpensive way to have an intimate bonding time with friends and family.

Cool Off From the Hot Summer Breeze at Perry Swimming Hole

Go for a refreshing dip in the Perry Swimming Hole, a hidden gem in the outskirts of the town suitable for spending hot summer days in La Grande.

The perfect water temperature and ideal depth will entice you to submerge and cool off from the hot summer breeze after your long road trips in Union County.

The location is also the ideal place to hang out, surrounded by the breathtaking sights of nature and cascading sound of the water.

Relax and refresh as the sun gently falls on your skin because tall, lush trees surround this little hideaway in La Grande.

Catch a Show of the Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra

Art enthusiasts and music lovers should never miss out on a chance to catch a show of the oldest running orchestra in La Grande since the 1940s.

The Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra provides hearty musical concerts, and the musical ensemble collaborates with Eastern Oregon University students and musicians.

They organize year-round performances in La Grande, and the Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra performs orchestra, a chamber series, and symphonic concerts to delight the public.

Make sure to catch a glimpse of the musical side of La Grande, so don’t forget to check out their website for their concert schedules.

Shop and Dine at La Grande Main Street Downtown

View of La Grande Main Street Downtown

Publichall at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A trip to La Grande wouldn’t be complete without a bit of shopping and dining at Main Street Downtown.

Get acquainted with the community of La Grande and be fascinated with the brick facade of the historic buildings along your stroll in the historic district of La Grande.

View of La Grande Main Street Downtown

Publichall at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore a plethora of stores owned by local merchants that offer a selection of artisan items, grab some on-the-go food from food trucks on your stroll, or give your day a boost with a fine meal from a selection of restaurants.

When you score on some unique items from the local shops, you’ll also be supporting small local businesses in La Grande.

Appreciate Local Arts at the Art Center East

Explore the arts community of La Grande at the Art Center East, where you’ll see an eclectic collection of visual art exhibits showcasing the local artists’ works.

Get the chance to stroll through this quaint art gallery and feast on fascinating works of art.

You can even bring home a lovely piece that resonates with you.

If you have plenty of time to spend in La Grande, you can sign up for an art class and channel your creativity.

The Art Center East in La Grande is a haven for local talents, so make sure to check out their organized events that showcase the artistic community of Northeastern Oregon.

Embark on a Cycling Adventure With Grande Tour Scenic Bikeway

Outdoor junkies will surely appreciate a 134-mile ride with Grande Tour Scenic Bikeway that will take you through historic small towns, meandering streams, scenic farmlands, and towering forests.

This long bike ride is ideal for all skill levels because you will be winding through wide roads with limited traffic.

You can navigate on a non-stop ride, or you can stop by tourist destinations in Eastern Oregon for a more leisurely ride.

The ride begins at Riverside Park in La Grande and ends with a tasty craft beer back at La Grande.

Make sure to bring your bicycle as you embark on an adventure to Eastern Oregon.

Set up a BBQ Day Out at Birnie Park

There’s nothing more fun than a day out in the park to go picnicking, set up a BBQ, and play around the area.

If you’re traveling with the youngsters, then don’t forget to head out to Birnie Park.

Birnie Park is a 2.2-acre park that houses a partially fenced play area for toddlers and older kids, picnic shelters and tables, and clean restrooms.

You can wind down the paved walkway that cuts through the grassy area and see the Oregon Trails Display, consisting of eight glazed ceramic columns made by local artists.

Make sure to head out to Birnie Park for a pleasant family time in La Grande.

Hike the Trails of Mount Emily Recreation Area

La Grande truly lives up its reputation as a gateway for fun, outdoor adventures in the scenic Mount Emily Recreation Area, and you wouldn’t have to drive for long hours to explore the mountains because this place is just two miles from downtown.

This gorgeous place in La Grande makes for an idyllic outdoor adventure.

You can hike to explore the trails, pedal your way around the area, explore the site on a horseback ride, or drive your ATVs through the scenic route.

You can also visit the Mount Emily Recreation Area to spend some outdoor fun in a winter wonderland in La Grande.

The Mount Emily Recreation Area has got everything you want in an outdoor adventure—tall trees, lush greeneries, flora and fauna, and a cascading river.

So make sure to stop to snap some great photos with the scenic location.

Go Rock Climbing at Spring Mountain Climbing Area

If you’re looking for another exciting adventure in La Grande, you should stop by Spring Mountain Climbing Area, not too far from downtown.

There are plenty of routes with a variety of difficulties, so you wouldn’t have to worry about the daunting elevations if you’re a beginner.

You can also find shady areas to escape the heat during the summer, and there are kid-friendly areas if you’re coming with youngsters.

The Spring Mountain Climbing Area is a haven for climbers and thrill-seekers, but the place also makes for a great hang-out place for the young and the old alike.

Final Thoughts

A trip to La Grande will bring out the thrill-seeker in you, but this town will also introduce you to the art of relaxation at the same time.

Make sure to reference this list if you’re planning a trip to La Grande soon!

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