8 Awesome Things to Do in Ontario, Oregon

We’ve made our way through many Oregon towns, cities, and parks – which is why we have such a high number of posts on Oregon destinations (I’ll share some links at the end of the post). Ontario is a small town that should not be taken out of consideration for a trip destination. We haven’t visited there yet but I know we will because we love the American West, and this Oregon town – right on the border with Idaho – meets all the criteria to be considered a bona fide Western Town.

8 Awesome Things to Do in Ontario, OregonThere are many things to see and do in Ontario and around the small town as well. Here is a list of 8 things to do in Ontario:

  1. Four Rivers Cultural Center and Museum
  2. Stone House Museum
  3. Lake Owyhee State Park
  4. Lion Park
  5. Jordan Crater
  6. Ontario State Recreation Site
  7. Farewell Bend State Recreation Area
  8. Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area

Why you should visit Ontario, Oregon

Ontario, Oregon is home to stunning river canyons, arid desert beauty, and beautiful mountain ranges. Ontario is a great place to visit any time of year. This small town of around 11,000 people is a great destination for lovers of the outdoors.

8 Things To Do In Ontario, Oregon

Here is a useful list of 8 awesome things to do in Ontario and nearby Ontario as well. Everything listed on this list is within a one-hour drive range from Ontario.

1. Four Rivers Cultural Center and Museum

Four Rivers Cultural Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that conducts a wide variety of programs. Theater, music, civic discourse, humanities, art, educational and world culture events are organized by this organization.

Their primary goal is to manage an occupied schedule of lectures, concerts, meetings and fundraising events that improve the community experience in Ontario and nearby communities.

See more on the Four Rivers Cultural Center and Museum‘s website.

Fees:

Admission is usually free unless there is a big event.

Opening Hours:

Monday – Saturday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

2. Rhinehart Stone House Museum

The Rinehart Stone House was constructed in 1872. It was the first permanent structure in Malheur County. It is a rustic sandstone building that can be found on the Oregon Trail.

It replaced an earlier log house that was constructed by Jonathan Keeney. The Stone House was meant to be a wayside stop for exhausted travelers.

It was also a refuge for settlers throughout the Bannock Paiute uprising of 1878. Howard. Now, the newly restored Stone House is a museum exhibiting period photos, relics, and more. There are also interpretative exhibits regarding the Oregon Trail.

See more on the Rhinehart Stone House Museum‘s Facebook page.

Fees:

Admission is free.

Opening Hours:

It is open to visitors from March 1 to October 30, Tuesday through Saturday, from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

3. Lake Owyhee State Park

8 Awesome Things to Do in Ontario, Oregon
A majestic and overlooked area on the primary road to Lake Owyhee State Park | Photo by the Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington from Portland, America

Owyhee Reservoir is a lake that is 53-mile-long. It fills a deep, narrow canyon that has colorful volcanic rock formations. Many boaters retreat to this park each year to traverse the rugged mountains and desert canyon.

Some of the geology is only visible by boat. Fishermen are bestowed top-notch, warm water fish. Largemouth bass, white crappie, and black crappie are common at this park. The reservoir also has catfish and is stocked with rainbow trout occasionally.

See more on the Oregon state park‘s website.

Fees:

Admission is free.

Opening Hours:

Oregon state parks are open from 9 A.M. to 5 P. M.

4. Lion Park

8 Awesome Things to Do in Ontario, Oregon
Lions Park, Oregon | Photo by A’eron Blackman

Lions Park is an important part of the Ontario community. This park has a big number of large shade trees. There are also a large number of grassy areas and a playground area as well. You can find picnic tables all around the park.

There is a Veterans Monument that was introduced by Japanese partners in the community that wanted to honors the men and women that served in the military.

8 Awesome Things to Do in Ontario, Oregon
Lions Park, Oregon | Photo by A’eron Blackman

See more on the Ontario Oregon‘s website.

Fees:

Admission is free.

Opening Hours:

Oregon state parks are open from 9 A.M. to 5 P. M.

5. Jordan Crater

8 Awesome Things to Do in Ontario, Oregon
Jordan Craters | Photo by Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington

One of the most recent volcanic flows in Oregon is the 27-square-mile ovaline lava flow of Jordan Craters. Many locals insist that you can still view bootprints in certain places. The source of the flow is Coffeepot Crater which is a deep cavity near the far northeast of the flow.

Hiking near Coffeepot Crater and examining its tubes, side pits, and caves make for a fabulous journey on a landscape that is like the exterior of the moon.

See more on the Jordan Crater‘s Wikipedia page.

8 Awesome Things to Do in Ontario, Oregon
Jordans Crater | Photo by Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington

Fees:

Admission is free.

Opening Hours:

Oregon state parks are open from 9 A.M. to 5 P. M.

6. Ontario State Recreation Site

Ontario State Recreation Site is a serene, day-use park that can be found on the west bank of the Snake River which is north of Ontario, Oregon. Green grass, well-kept grounds, and convenient, modern restrooms welcome visitors that want to go out on their boat, swim, fish, or picnic during the day.

Sumptuous sumac, cottonwood trees, and fragrant junipers will cool you off with the shade they provide. The summer days are hot and the trees are quite colorful during the fall. Blue heron, river otter, Canada geese, and muskrat can be found in the grass and reeds near the banks of the Snake River.

See more on the Oregon state park’s website.

Fees:

Admission is free.

Opening Hours:

Oregon state parks are open from 9 A.M. to 5 P. M.

7. Farewell Bend State Recreation Area

Farewell Bend State Recreation Area, 8 Awesome Things To Do In Ontario, Oregon

Historic Farewell Bend State Recreation Area can be found on the Idaho-Oregon border which is northwest of Ontario. This recreation area offers a wonderful desert experience on the banks the Snake River’s Brownlee Reservoir.

Historic labels and interpretive displays give visitors information pertaining to the importance of the Farewell Bend on the Oregon Trail. The tent and RV campgrounds offer excellent base camps that allow you to examine the area thoroughly.

8 Awesome Things To Do In Ontario, Oregon

See more on the Oregon state park’s website.

Fees:

Admission is free.

Opening Hours:

Oregon state parks are open from 9 A.M. to 5 P. M.

8. Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area

8 Awesome Things To Do In Ontario, Oregon
Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area | Photo by BLMIdaho

The narrow canyon of the Snake River has its fair share of crevices as well as thermal updrafts. It houses some of the best concentrations of nesting birds of prey in North America. The mission at the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA) is to maintain and protect this wonderful wildlife habitat while making sure there are other compatible uses of the land as well.

Some 800 types of hawks, eagles, owls, and falcons come to this conservation area each spring to breed and raise their offspring. These amazing birds leave their cliffside aeries to hunt and fly on warm air currents that arise from the canyon’s surface.

See more on the Bureau of Land Management‘s website.

Fees:

Admission is free.

Opening Hours:

Oregon state parks are open from 9 A.M. to 5 P. M.

Best Free Things to do in Ontario, Oregon

You can make your way into most state and national parks for free. You will usually have to pay a fee for parking and other things as well. There are a couple of museums where adults and kids can get in without being charged.
The Rinehart Stone House Museum is free and is an ideal place to go to if you are interested in history.

Most Romantic Things to do in Ontario, Oregon

Bartender’s, Boot’s, & Buckles is a country bar that has great 1/2 lb. burgers. There is a romantic, large dance floor, dart boards, and pool table.

The Tap Lounge has been in business since the hotel that it is located in was built in 1973. Buy your lover some great Oregon wine to initiate a romantic night.

Suggested Reading

I promised to share some more links, so here they are. If you’re traveling to Oregon, you may find these posts helpful –

20 Must-See Places Along The Oregon Coast (Super Detailed Guide!)

The Oregon Bucket List: 11 Places You Really Should Visit

19 Top Things To Do In Salem, Oregon

Columbia River Gorge Day Trip Guide (Including A Map)

And as always, I love getting comments! If you’ve visited Ontario – or maybe even live there? – leave me a comment to let me know what you think about this list.

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