Welcome to one of nature’s most beautiful playgrounds, just a 3-hour drive from Portland, Oregon along the spectacular Santiam River Highway!!
What would you do if you only had one sunny summer day in the Sisters, Oregon area? If you’re adventuresome you might get up into the gorgeous wildflower-strewn North Cascade Mountains nearby to bike, climb, hike or camp. Or head for a pristine river (Metolius or Deschutes) to whitewater raft or fly fish. Golfing might take you to Black Butte Ranch or Aspen Lakes Golf.
I recently took a short vacation to visit Ellen, an old (?) friend (well, we’ve know each other since kindergarten!) who lives near Sisters, Oregon, and had just one full day to spend. I wanted it to be a relaxing visit, where we’d eat well, hear some live music, shop a little and take a hike in the mountains. Ellen has lived in the small town of Camp Sherman (pop. around 200) for 30 years, so I figured she’d have her favorite places in the area. I knew I was looking for a little more charm and sophistication than the Camp Sherman General Store has to offer, so that meant driving into Sisters (pop. around 2,000), 20 minutes away.
Ellen started us off, appropriately, at the Sisters Coffee Company, where they serve espresso and specialty coffee drinks made from beans they roast themselves. The owners had started out 15 years ago selling their self-roasted coffee beans, before opening up a coffee shop a couple of years ago. With outside tables, fine pastries and plenty of ambience, they had a happy crowd that Sunday morning.
The charm that Sisters exudes comes partly from its 1880’s theme, giving an old-Western feel to the buildings. The town is known for its unique shops. Ellen took us to one of her favorites, Bedouin, a delightful clothing and gift store with another coffee café, the artsy Navigator News, within. Many other shops are similarly grouped together so that you can amble from one shop to another without going outdoors, creating a cozy community feel.
Another shop that Ellen adores is the Stitchin’ Post, where we found exquisitely beautiful fabrics, and its neighboring cubby hole gift store, Twigs. It’s owned by Jean Wells who started the Sisters Annual Outdoor Quilt Show (largest show of its kind in the world!) 35 years ago. This event draws busloads of people to the town for a week of classes leading up to the day-long show that is held the 2nd Saturday in July and claims 12,500 attendees. The hotels fill up to the point of residents renting out rooms in their homes to accommodate visitors. Check out upcoming quilting classes here!
All that browsing in the shops built up our appetites. Depot Deli was next on the agenda for stamina rebuilding. Delicious food! My chicken quesadilla on a spinach tortilla was divine and Ellen’s spinach salad looked creative and yummy. We sat at an outdoor table soaking in the sun, entertained by various whimsical sculptures in the courtyard, invented from recycled goods.
The Rooster Rock Fire was just getting under control during my stay, so Depot Deli had to get in the acknowledgment act with a burger tribute…looks like a hot & spicy item!
Time to move a little faster on our feet after lunch. We had stunning views of the Cascades from Sisters, but we never actually made it up into the mountains after spending more time shopping and dining in Sisters than we’d planned. But hey, who needs too many plans when you’re on vacation?
Instead, we took a refreshing, leisurely afternoon stroll on a well-worn path right along the banks of the Metolius River, near its headwaters in Camp Sherman. We were treated to the sweet smell of the Ponderosa Pines as the sap warmed during the day’s heat. There’s nothing like it!
We rounded out the day listening to live music at two fun spots. First at Black Butte Ranch, sitting out on the lodge’s sunny upstairs deck, taking in Black Butte across a lovely pond complete with grazing cows in the far meadow. The Misty River Band was playing over yonder and we could hear their beautiful voices. We were then lured to Aspen Lakes Lodge at the far edge of Sisters for some rockin’ good tunes from a Rockabilly band out on their patio. We lasted until the sun went down and then called it a day. What a day!! And all this a mere hop, skip and a jump from Portland! I hope you feel compelled now to make the trip to Sisters for your own adventure. I know I’ll be back!
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Jane Lee is a Real Estate Broker with eXp Realty in Lake Oswego, Oregon