Exploring Baker City, Oregon & celebrating 175 years of the oregon trail
This post is sponsored by Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
We recently had the opportunity to explore one of Oregon's most historic cities for the 175th commencement of the Oregon Trail. Baker City was a former gold rush boomtown in the late 1800's & sits in the direct path of the Oregon Trail, which spanned from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon. In 1843, around one thousand pioneers made the 2,170 mile journey from Independence to Oregon in search of a better life. Over the next 25 years, hundreds of thousands of people made the trek in search of farmlands, gold, & most importantly, a new life. For two days, we were able to tour around Baker City, located in Eastern Oregon & meet some modern-day pioneers!
Day one started out pretty chilly & rainy, but we bundled up & headed to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. This particular day was Wild Horse Day, so fees were waived & when you arrived at the entrance they let you spin a wheel that determined what prize you would receive. Oliver's spin made him win a horse stuffed animal. On my spin, I won a little mule stuffed animal (which of course I gave to Ollie)! Once inside, we began the tour with a life-size pioneer exhibit, showcasing how life was like on the trails. At the Interpretive Center, you get to experience what life was like on the Oregon Trail through living history demonstrations, exhibitions, special events & interpretive programs. There are even actual ruts near the Interpretive Center that were carved out from the many pioneer wagons traveling west! They even had a little area where kids could play, color, & dress up like pioneers! Be sure to check out their events page by clicking HERE!
After visiting the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, we headed into Baker City & had lunch at The Lone Pine Cafe (we highly recommend this restaurant as a MUST when you head to Baker City). I had a side salad & a side of fries...both were so good, plus the atmosphere & service were great! Since we had a few minutes to spare before checking into our hotel, we walked to a local coffee shop, Mad Matilda's Coffee House. This is another place I recommend! It was so cute inside & the coffee was delicious.
After we drank our coffee, we drove over to where we were staying for the night, the Geiser Grand Hotel. Some of you may not have known, but my husband is from Oregon & we used to live in a small town just outside of Baker City. Every time we drove through, I wanted to stay at this historic hotel. It was originally built in 1889 by local merchants, but after being closed for almost thirty years, Barbara & Dwight Sidway restored & reopened the hotel in 1997. It is absolutely beautiful inside & they even have a tour of the hotel which was very interesting to learn not only about the Geiser Grand, but Baker City too!
After we got settled in the hotel, Matt & I went to visit the Baker Heritage Museum while Matt's mom watched Oliver as he napped in the hotel room. The building was built in 1920 & used as a natatorium & also had a ballroom on the top floor! Today, the building is now the Baker Heritage Museum, which showcases many historical exhibits. Some of these exhibits include the history of mining, timber, Chinese culture, wildlife, ranching & the early life of Baker City. The museum also boasts an extensive rock collection filled with fossils, minerals & of course, rocks! My favorite was the magnetic rock they had on display with nails that would stick to the rock! Another awesome discovery was that the Airstream founder, Wally Byam, was born in Baker City (you can read more about him HERE). Check out the museum's website here & find out their current events they have HERE!
Day two was all about meeting the local modern pioneer makers! I was actually really nervous to meet these three businesses, but was totally put at ease with how down-to-earth everyone was. Usually you never think about the owner or how much work was done to create a business & keep it running. Meeting everyone proved to be such an amazing experience because I realized how much work goes into the smallest details & how we really need to support local businesses to help make our town thrive. I encourage you to shop local, eat local & get to know the makers behind the business! Here are three creative & hardworking individuals I met in Baker City (of course, there are so many more in this beautiful city, these are just a few)!
jenny mowe: sweet wife baking
2080 Resort Street, Baker City
We were so excited to start our day with the cutest bakery, Sweet Wife Baking. Something about having a baked good made completely from scratch, makes my morning feel a lot better! The founder & owner, Jenny Mowe, is a wife, mother to two sweet boys, former WNBA player & coach. They were originally living in Eugene, Oregon, when they decided to move to her husband's hometown of Baker City, where her in-laws lived. Her mother-in-law made almost everything from scratch & it was then that Jenny really started to take an interest in baking from scratch instead of baking with pre-made mixes. She started out making desserts for a few local businesses & selling homemade treats at the local farmers market. In 2011, she opened her kitchen to start fulfilling more orders & then in 2015, she opened her bakery to the public (& we are so glad she did)! She sells so many wonderful baked goods from macarons to quiche & has a full-time staff to help keep up with the demand of her products. Jenny really is so sweet & she even gifted Ollie with a bag of colorful sprinkles to have for his birthday! When you travel to Eastern Oregon, be sure to stop & grab a baked good from Sweet Wife Baking & say hi to Jenny!
Here are some photos of her darling bakery!
Tyler brown: Barley brown taphouse/brewpub
2200 Main Street, Baker City
If you are looking for a family-friendly restaurant to grab a bite or simply looking for a cool spot to enjoy a cold drink, you need to try Barley Brown’s Restaurant or stop in to their taphouse right across the street. As modern-day pioneers, Tyler Brown’s family headed west in hopes of finding a better life. On the trek from Connecticut to Seattle, the Browns broke down in Baker City & they never left. After growing up in the restaurant business in Baker City, Tyler wanted a place where his friends and their families could come to hang out and enjoy a good pint. He decided to open up a brewpub featuring his homemade beer. Twenty years & a laundry list of awards later (check out their list of awards HERE), Barley Brown’s Beer is one of Oregon’s best craft breweries. Tyler’s modest goal of making good beer and having a cool place for friends and family to hang out has not changed. In spite of loads of awards, Tyler is content with making quality beer for his friends (and thousands of others).
Here are some shots of us talking with Tyler and touring the tap house.
chelsa mitchell: mad habit boutique
1798 Main Street, Baker City
Our last stop of the day was the Mad Habit Boutique located right downtown. The store front is pink & gorgeous, especially with the potted peony flowers out front! The owner of Mad Habit Boutique, Chelsa Mitchell, is seriously amazing. She is a wife, mother to sweet Knox & a really talented creative who sells the cutest products in her boutique which specializes in local, fair-trade & handmade items. We hit it off the first moment I met her & we talked about everything from being a mother to owning a business! She is really intentional with what she sells & has a passion for supporting women entrepreneurs. A lot of her products are fair-trade from Guatamala & India, but she also sells a lot of products from other like-minded women. Chelsa & her husband, Logan, remodeled the inside of the building to a beautiful shop & studio where she creates gorgeous jewelry (she was so generous & even gifted me one of her handmade stone necklaces). Her shop is perfect for finding that perfect gift & also for yourself & home. She also shares her shop with her best friend Haley (how fun would that be!?), who owns Rice & Beans Boutique which specializes in collected & curated goods, so be sure to check her shop out too!
Here are some photos of the two shops & how fun that Chelsa even has a little space for her son Knox to play (Ollie loved it & enjoyed having a little buddy to play with).
I am really excited to share all these local modern day pioneers with you & hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about each of them & their business. Baker City has so much to offer & we were so blessed to be able to do this & explore one of the historic cities located on the Oregon Trail. For more information about the 175th commencement of the Oregon Trail, click HERE & to read what other bloggers had to say, click HERE. I hope you are able to travel to Oregon & when you do, be sure to check out many of their historic cities, including Baker City! Here is a little video of our trip so you can get a feel of what it was like!
Here are also a few other blogger's posts that follow along the Oregon Trail that you can read along with!
- Ox Mama