Perched on the edge of the Grande Ronde Valley, La Grande is sheltered by the Blue Mountains to the west and the Wallowas to the east. The natural hot springs and abundant wildlife and vegetation attracted many Native American tribes, including the Bannock, the Nez Perce and Cayuse. Later, trappers and missionaries roamed the area. The discovery of gold in the Blue Mountains spurred settlement by farmers who grew food for the miners.
Today, the area is a recreational mecca that puts visitors in the enviable position of choosing between hiking, skiing, hunting, fishing, horseback riding and of course, biking. Road riders can hit the Grande Tour Scenic Bikeway. Mountain Bikers can visit the Mount Emily Recreation Area.
Downtown La Grande is lined with beautiful brick buildings and specialty shops, where you can find the perfect keepsake, peruse great books and hunt for antiques. There also are lots of restaurants. Ten Depot and Mamacita’s come highly recommended and are two eateries on our list to check out
Home to Eastern Oregon University, La Grande boasts a unique blend of urban and rural living, with year-round concerts, plays and art exhibits as well as a nod to the past via the Oregon Trail Interpretive Park at Blue Mountain Crossing, the Union County Museum and The Eastern Oregon Fire Museum.
When it’s time to crash for the night, visitors have their choice of hotels like the Best Western Rama Inn and Suites and more intimate lodging like the La Grande Inn or the Hot Springs Bed & Breakfast.