Baker City, Oregon is located along Interstate 84 in Eastern Oregon in Baker County and while you maybe haven’t heard of Baker City just yet – it’s worth considering for a Pacific Northwest roadtrip destination. Baker City was once called the “Paris of the Northwest” back in the late 1800s when the city was the center of a gold rush that lasted well into the 20th century. The town features numerous attractions, a stunningly beautiful downtown and great cuisine that spans from ranch-grown beef bbq to Chinese.
Historic Baker City is a charming small town nestled in the Baker Valley. With the Blue Mountains all around, this beautiful town has long been a part of Oregon’s history – as the major Eastern Oregon city along the Oregon Trail, later a gold boom town and now a scenic city rich with history, amazing food and wonderful people.
Let’s explore Baker City!
Natural Beauty Abounds
Our first stop in the Baker City area was at Sumpter, which is up in the Elkhorn mountains above Baker City. Sumpter, now a very small town, was once a boomtown as a gold rush hit in the late 1800’s – and at its peak, Sumpter was home to 4,000 people. We were in Sumpter to see The Sumpter Valley Dredge, a giant machine that separated gold from rock and dirt.
As the Powder River was rich with gold, the Dredge operated throughout the Sumpter Valley. At the Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area, our kids were able to pan for gold with a State Park Ranger and we were able to be a part of a led tour that highlighted the valley’s history, geology and mining legacy. The Heritage Area is definitely worth the 30 minute drive up from Baker City as the scenery is beautiful.
When you go, be sure to call ahead to the visitor’s center to know the hours that day and when the tours might occur.
Where To Eat in Baker City
If you’re familiar with Oregon beer and brewers, you might be familiar with Barley Brown’s. The Baker City brewery is known for amazing beers and at their tap house in downtown Baker City – yummy, family friendly dining. We sat outside and had a wonderful meal while pedestrians walked by as they bounced around downtown Baker City spots.
If you’re a carnivore, Big Chief BBQ does not disappoint! We had pulled pork and beef brisket with sides such as mac and cheese, coleslaw and more. The prices are reasonable and the portions are large and served family style – which was perfect for our crew of five.
D&J Taco Shop
Our family loves tacos – and Baker City has a great little corner taco shop that was fantastic. We each had either chicken or steak tacos and it was a fantastic meal that was quite affordable. We were able to eat outside, which was really nice as the inside of this shop is a little small. Heads up – if you have a large party, this may not be best if you want to sit together – or go at an off-peak time.
Sweet Wife Bakery
Located one block off Main street in Baker City is Sweet Wife Bakery, a family-owned bakery that’s as cute inside as the treats are yummy. We had sweet treats and an iced coffee and enjoyed talking to the owner and socializing with others on an evening stroll.
Oregon Trail Interpretive Center
Being right on the Oregon Trail, Baker City is home to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. The Center is 10 minutes out of Baker City, overlooking the Baker Valley and provides a perspective of life on the trails through interactive displays, movies, outdoor experiences and more. Our children, aged 6-10 all walked away with a taste of what it was like to be an Oregon pioneer in the 1800s.
Baker City, Oregon should definitely be on your list of family road trips. We found the city to be charming, fun and easily accessible for families. In fact – we’re already planning on visiting next summer!