The long, slow death of the state’s timber industry broke a lot of small towns in Oregon. But Central Oregon has bounced back—Bend turned itself into a tourism and beer mecca, and now it’s Prineville’s turn to get in on the reinvention act. Thanks to the addition of several Facebook and Apple data centers, people—and money—have flocked to this town of fewer than 10,000.
But the best thing about Prineville is that in spite of this reinvention, the city is sticking to its roots. While new facilities go up and the city grows, Prineville’s stalwarts such as Barney Prine’s Steakhouse & Saloon, Prineville Men’s Wear and the Tastee Treet continue to thrive. It’s easy to unplug and get creative when walking the streets of a small town with Western flair, and that’s just what Prineville offers.
It’s also an excellent starting point to hop into nature. Prineville is steps from the Ochoco National Forest and a half hour from the Crooked River National Grassland and Smith Rock State Park. Reconnect with nature and refill your tank with trips to Walton Lake and Prineville Reservoir. A bit farther afield, the Painted Hills and the John Day Fossil Beds serve as a reminder of how big the world is and are sure to get your imagination firing.
In town, in addition to the old-school Western gear you can pick up, there are a variety of secondhand shops to pick up odd objects and rockhounding storefronts that will leave you inspired. Finish up with a beer and a snack at Ochoco Brewing as the final Central Oregon touch—the market on brewpubs isn’t entirely cornered by Bend.
Key Creative Resources:
Crook County Cultural Coalition
Picnic in the Park
Dan Gauthier, actor (One Life to Live);
A tour of the old timey courthouse and a milkshake from the Tastee Treat
Median Home Price: