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Written by Katryna Vecella
Photos by
Anna Jacobs

Begin the New Year with a Sisters Staycation

Downtown Sisters Oregon in the snow

An easy escape to the vibrant Western-themed town of Sisters, Oregon is a short drive away from Bend. Pack up the skis and fishing reels—or just a wool hat and scarf to keep warm while window-shopping—and head to Sisters for a hassle-free, recharge weekend.

Ski Inn Taphouse Hotel

This hotel is located in the heart of East Cascade Avenue, is a central base camp for adventure or ambling around town while unwinding from the busy holidays and continuing to enjoy the season. “If you want that quintessential, holiday season experience, Sisters is tough to beat,” Brady Rhodes, owner of Ski Inn Taphouse and Hotel, said. The city’s lights, paired with the slow pace of the small town waiting just outside the rustic modern motif of Ski Inn, gives the feel of a classic movie.

Ski Inn Taphouse Hotel

The original Ski Inn dated back to 1972. For more than 40 years, the breakfast and burger spot, with its retro booths and hearty fare, had been a meeting place for locals and a road trip stop for travelers. In 2013, a ponderosa pine totaled the building during a windstorm. Rhodes and his partner bought the lot and in 2019 began to rebuild from the ground up, reopening the Inn’s doors in 2021 with a larger footprint and upstairs lodgings for guests. Rhodes wanted to pay homage to the restaurant by preserving the name. “I’ve talked to so many travelers and locals who say, ‘Growing up we always stopped at the Ski Inn,’” Rhodes said. “We felt it was a fun tip of the cap to keep the name alive.”

Enjoying a beverage at the Ski Inn Taphouse Hotel

After a quick and easy contact-free arrival, much like an Airbnb check-in, the smell of in-house smoked brisket, pulled pork and ribs has a good chance of leading guests downstairs. A fan favorite is the Eddy burger, a classic bacon cheeseburger named after Rhodes’ daughter.

Things To Do in Sisters, Oregon

As the sun sets, head out onto the 1880s-era main street for entertainment like only Sisters can offer. The Barnconsidered a community hub—is just one street over. Depending on the evening, enjoy live music in the open space while choosing from a selection of microbrews or craft cocktails and local food carts. The Belfry, a charming 100-year-old church adorned with stained glass windows and a namesake bell tower, now serves as an eccentric concert venue for shows and festivals, including the Sisters Folk Festival in the fall. Or, head to Sisters Movie House, an independent theater set inside a big red barn, and drink a local beer or have a meal delivered seat side while watching the newest box office hits.

Relaxing at the Ski Inn Taphouse

In the morning, wake up in the middle of it all. Find a spot in line early at Sisters Bakery to pick up a local treat—the cinnamon roll or berry scone. Both a resident favorite as well as a road-trip pit stop, the bakery offers pastries, plus local coffee for energy to take on the day. Then, let the town’s Western theme inspire shopping at Baldwin’s, Blazing Saddles or Dixie’s. From leather goods to hats and boots, the fun is in finding a modern cowboy look. Peruse nearly a dozen art galleries featuring local artists, multiple sporting goods shops, eclectic gift boutiques and restaurants.

Sisters is a gateway to outdoor activity, and in the winter, nearby Hoodoo Ski Area tops the winter list for locals. Known for being “cheaper, deeper and steeper,” the five-lift mountain is one of Oregon’s oldest resorts and beloved by many. Located near the summit of the Santiam Pass, Hoodoo is about a 40-minute drive from Sisters.

Take full advantage of winter’s short days and long nights by trying night skiing at Hoodoo Ski Area through late March. Wednesday through Saturday, 4 to 9 p.m., ski 23 night runs lit by overhead lights on the mountain. Skiing under the moon and stars is a unique experience, and snowfall under the lights can be magical. Plus, Hoodoo Ski Area hosts live music with bonfires on Friday nights.

Downtown Sisters Oregon

Another favorite winter activity around Sisters is fishing along the Metolius River. “It’s the best in January,” Ski Inn’s Rhodes explained. “Fewer people are fishing it, and it’s a spring-fed river, so the river stays the same temperature within a degree or two. The fish don’t notice if there’s three feet of snow on the ground or it’s 90 degrees. I’ve had some of my best days in the winter.”

Read more about Sisters Oregon or head over to our TRIP IDEAS to plan your next retreat. Don’t miss another issue of Bend Magazine – subscribe here.

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