15 Best Things to Do in La Grande, OR

Le Grande is a city found in Union County in Oregon. According to 2022 census data, the city is currently home to 13,026 people.

With its roots tracing back to the pioneering days of the 19th century, this vibrant city carries a rich history that’s woven into its streets and landmarks.

Originally a gathering place for Native American tribes, the area later became a vital stop along the Oregon Trail, serving as a resting point for travelers en route to the promising lands of the Pacific Northwest.

Early on, the city went through exceptional growth thanks to its abundance of gold mines and its ability to maintain an agricultural base. Though the population has remained small, it still hosts many attractions that can give you a home-style feeling when you come through.

One of the pillars of La Grande’s identity is its commitment to education. Home to Eastern Oregon University, the city has a proud tradition of fostering intellectual curiosity and academic excellence. The university not only contributes to the local economy but also adds a youthful vibrancy to the community.

Let’s explore the best 15 things to do in La Grande, OR:

What to do in La Grande, Oregon

1. Enjoy the view at the Wallowa Lake

The one thing about small cities is they can often have the best views and the best landscapes. The landscape is usually why more people do not claim the city as their home, but for those who do, it is a sight to be seen.

Wallowa Lake is one of those sites that will leave your jaws hanging when you witness it.

The hills in the background provide the perfect scenery for what is already a beautiful blue lake. It is not a south beach, but it is something better; it is a small, intimate location where you and your family can bring a picnic basket or go fishing and just be surrounded by beautiful scenes.

Take a seat on the sand and lay witness to the beauty of Wallowa Lake, and like mentioned before, make sure to take a picture so you can post it on Facebook and show friends and family what they are missing.

2. Visit Eastern Oregon University

Students at Eastern Oregon University

Eastern Oregon University (EOU) is a public university located in La Grande, Oregon. The university was founded in 1929, and it is one of the seven state-funded, four-year universities in Oregon.

The university offers over 30 undergraduate and graduate degree programs across a variety of fields, including Business, Education, Health and Human Performance, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Nursing.

The university is recognized as a “Best in the West” college by The Princeton Review and has a strong emphasis on athletics as a means of fostering student development and building a sense of community on campus.

3. Watch a movie at Le Grande Drive-in

Drive in movie at La Grande, OR

Some of the younger generations may not know what these are, but the nostalgia may be there for those in the older generations. Movie theaters now are air-conditioned, retractable seats, locations that some take to distract from the actual movie experience.

In the past, these were the thing, drive-in existed, and Le Grande hopes to keep that tradition alive

The unique thing about drive-ins is not only the intimate feeling of pulling up in a car and either sitting inside or choosing to sit on the hood but more importantly, the lower prices.

This drive-through will make you never want to go to another conventional theater again.

4. Enjoy the evening at The Longbranch Bar & Eats

The Longbranch Bar & Eats

This location has been operating for many years and serves the community with its high-quality food and drinks. It was initially the hang-out spot for railroaders who came into the areas looking for some relief, and now it has transitioned into a community icon. You will indeed feel the small city vibes when you walk in.

They do not try to impress with their decor and make up for that in the food. Instead, they want to build this relaxing environment where you will spend more time focusing on the food and drinks than the distractions on the wall.

If you are looking to enjoy a Bloody Mary and gravy and biscuits, look no further than the Longbranch Bar and Eat; with its exceptional customer service and many years of operations, it is more than likely to leave you satisfied and wanting more. 

5. Take a look at the Antiques on Adams shop

Antiques on Adams Le Grande OR

Sometimes a vacation can be a distant memory, especially when you go to many places. It becomes essential to grab a souvenir to remind you of your adventures in a specific location, and Antiques on Adams aims to provide you with that memorabilia.

They do not just offer souvenirs, but they sell jewelry and furniture, but seeing as how bringing furniture back here could be an obstacle, it would be best to go to the vintage clothes or the other assortment of things they have to offer.

Walk into this all-encompassing store and get lost in all of the choices they provide to you. If you can not find something here, then you can not find something anywhere.

6. Take a scenic drive through the Grande Ronde Valley

Grande Ronde Valley

The distance of the drive will depend on the specific route you take and the exact location within the valley you wish to visit, however, a common route is to take the Grande Ronde River Loop. This is a scenic drive that begins and ends in La Grande, passing through the valley along the way.

This route covers approximately 63 miles and takes around 2 hours to complete, depending on how many stops you make along the way.

If you are interested in exploring specific areas within the Grande Ronde Valley, the driving distance and time will vary depending on your starting point and destination.

7. Attend the Eastern Oregon Beer Festival

Enjoy a locally brewed beer at the Ascension Brewing Company

The Eastern Oregon Beer Festival is an annual event that takes place in La Grande, OR, typically in June of each year. This festival celebrates the craft beer industry and offers attendees the opportunity to sample a wide variety of locally brewed beers and ciders.

The festival typically attracts a capacity of around 1,500 attendees and features beers from over 30 different breweries and cideries from around the Pacific Northwest. The festival also includes a homebrew competition, where attendees can sample and vote on their favorite homebrewed beer.

Eastern Oregon Beer Festival is a fun and lively event that showcases the best of the local craft beer industry and provides a great opportunity to sample unique and delicious beers and ciders in a festive atmosphere.

8. Attend a performance or concert at the Elgin Opera House

Elgin Opera House interior

The Elgin Opera House is a beautiful and historic building, with ornate decor and a rich history dating back to its construction in the late 1800s. Attending a performance or concert at the Elgin Opera House is a unique and memorable experience.

Located in the charming town of Elgin, OR, the historic theater has been beautifully restored and is now a popular venue for a variety of live performances.

The theater has a capacity of approximately 400 seats and offers a range of seating options, including orchestra, balcony, and box seats.

Tickets for shows at the Elgin Opera House can be purchased online or at the door, depending on availability. Prices vary depending on the show and seating location, but are generally very reasonable, with many shows priced at under $20 per ticket.

9. Attend the annual Eastern Oregon Film Festival

Eastern Oregon Film Festival

This is an annual event that takes place in La Grande, typically in October. The festival celebrates independent film and provides a platform for filmmakers from around the world to showcase their work.

Eastern Oregon Film Festival typically screens a diverse range of films, including narrative features, documentaries, short films, and experimental works.

In addition to its film screenings and events, the Eastern Oregon Film Festival also highlights the local arts scene and provides a space for community engagement and dialogue.

The festival is a great opportunity for film lovers to discover new and exciting works and connect with fellow film enthusiasts and industry professionals.

10. Take a sip of coffee at Blue Mountain Outfitters

Cappuccinos at Blue Mountain Outfitters

Located in a historic building that was formerly a sporting goods store, the building has been beautifully restored early 2000s and now serves as a popular gathering place for locals and guests alike.

The restaurant features a diverse menu that highlights locally sourced ingredients and offers a range of options to suit a variety of tastes and dietary preferences.

Some popular menu items include the elk burger, the wild mushroom flatbread, and the smoked salmon salad.

The interior of the restaurant is cozy and inviting, with exposed brick walls, wooden beams, and an open kitchen. There is also a spacious outdoor patio that is perfect for enjoying a meal or drinks during the warmer months.

11. Attend the annual Eastern Oregon Half-Marathon

Eastern Oregon Half-Marathon

The half-marathon is typically held in the late summer or early fall and features a 13.1-mile course that winds through the beautiful landscapes of Eastern Oregon. The course starts and finishes in downtown La Grande, taking runners through rolling hills, lush forests, and stunning vistas.

The event is open to runners of all skill levels, with separate categories for men and women, as well as age group divisions. In addition to the half-marathon, there is also a 5K race that is perfect for beginners or those who prefer a shorter distance.

All participants in the Eastern Oregon Half-Marathon receive a race shirt and finisher’s medal, as well as access to post-race refreshments and activities so make sure you take part.

12. Visit the Union County Museum

If you’re visiting La Grande, Oregon, a visit to the Union County Museum is a must-see! This museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the area and is packed with interesting exhibits and artifacts that are sure to fascinate any history buff or curious traveler.

When you visit the Union County Museum, you can expect to see a variety of exhibits that showcase the unique history and culture of Eastern Oregon. You’ll be able to explore the life and traditions of the area’s indigenous tribes, as well as the pioneers and settlers who helped shape the region.

13. Go bird-watching at Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area


During the spring and summer months, you can expect to see a variety of waterfowl, such as ducks, geese, and swans. These birds are attracted to the area’s marshes and wetlands, which provide a perfect habitat for them.

In the fall, the wildlife area is a popular stopover for migratory birds like sandhill cranes, herons, and shorebirds. You might be able to see them resting and feeding in the fields and wetlands of the wildlife area as they make their way south for the winter.

During the winter months, the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area is home to a variety of raptors such as eagles, hawks, and owls. These birds of prey are attracted to the open fields in the area, which provide a great opportunity for hunting.

14. Have dinner at Ten Depot Street

Ten Depot Street is a popular restaurant that is housed in a beautifully restored historic building that was once a train depot, which adds to the restaurant’s charm and unique atmosphere.

The interior of the restaurant is cozy and elegant, with high ceilings, exposed brick walls, and vintage accents that pay homage to the building’s history. There is also a spacious outdoor patio that is perfect for enjoying a meal or drinks during the warmer months.

15. Explore the historic Summerville Cemetery and its pioneer graves

Summerville Cemetery

Named after John Summerville, the cemetery is a historic place located near La Grande, Oregon. It was established in 1863 and is the final resting place for many pioneers, early settlers, and veterans of various wars.

Later on, John Summerville donated the land for the cemetery and is buried there himself, along with several members of his family.

In the early 1900s, a new entrance gate was added, and a chapel and office building were constructed. In the 1930s, a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was established nearby, and the workers helped to improve and maintain the cemetery grounds.

The cemetery is also a popular spot for genealogy research and historical study.


The old saying is, “The best things come in small packages.” Le Grande is not the most prominent place in the world, but what it lacks in population size, it makes up for with scenery and memorable moments.

Le Grande can not only provide a relaxing experience with beautiful things to look at, but also it can give you a new vision of the life you never once thought was possible. So forget Miami and New York and check out Le Grande, OR. It will surely be an experience you will not forget. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is La Grande known for?

La Grande is known for its scenic beauty, cultural events, and outdoor recreational opportunities. It’s home to Eastern Oregon University and is a hub for arts, history, and local festivals.

Is La Grande a good place to live?

La Grande offers a close-knit community, access to education, and a variety of outdoor activities. However, personal preferences for amenities, job opportunities, and lifestyle play a role in determining if it’s a good fit.

What county is La Grande Oregon in?

La Grande is located in Union County, Oregon.

What county is Union Oregon in?

Union, Oregon is also located in Union County.

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