19 Best & Fun Things To Do In John Day, OR

Are you planning a trip to John Day, Oregon, and in search of fun activities to make your trip special? Look no further! You’re at the ideal place, as we’ll explore the 19 best and fun things to do in John Day, Oregon, making a special trip for you and your family.

Named after the John Day River, the city of John Day is located about 2 miles north of Canyon City in Grant County, Oregon. This picturesque town founded in 1863 to serve miners, grew slowly over the years and is known for its rich history, natural beauty, and friendly people.

With its location in eastern Oregon, near the Blue Mountains, the town is situated at an elevation of 3,491 feet and is also the home to several historic buildings, including the Grant County Courthouse, natural landscape, recreational opportunities, and rich history making it a go-to destination for fun lovers and travel enthusiasts seeking relaxation and outdoor adventure.

John Day invites you to experience the best of what Grant County region has to offer, ranging from adventure on the water, relaxation in the great outdoors, or a taste of small-town charm.


19 Best And Fun Things To Do In John Day, OR (2024)


1. Grant County Library

things to do in John Day, OR

Exploring Grant County Library is one of the best and most educative things to do in John Day, OR, as a book lover.

This attraction boasts a large collection of books, audiobooks, fiction and non-fiction books for adults, young adults, and children, DVDs, digital resources, magazines, and newspapers thus, catering to age groups, and reading levels.

What’s more, Grant County Library also provides events like book clubs, author talks, or story time for children, free Wi-Fi, and friendly and knowledgeable staff to guide you in the exploration of the library.

Address: 507 S Canyon Blvd, John Day, OR 97845, United States.

2. John Day Farmers Market

Things To Do In John Day, OR

One of the most fun things to do in John Day, OR,  on weekends is to explore the John Day Farmers Market which is seasonally operated  from mid-June to mid-October,

This farmers market which is located in downtown John Day offers a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs grown by local farmers. It also features unique handmade crafts and artwork by local artisans.

Enjoy delicious homemade baked goods, jams, jellies, and other prepared foods, as well as, fresh seafood from local vendors.

Address:  520 SW Brent Drive, John Day, OR 97845, United States.

3. journey through time scenic byway oregon

Things to do in John Day, OR

One of the many fun and exciting things to do in John Day with family is to embark on a drive on the 286-mile route that traverses through ranchlands, forests, and canyons, the byway winds its way through five counties in north-central to eastern Oregon.

Time Scenic Byway is known for its famous scenic drives, hiking, and fishing, with the John Day River cutting across most of this route providing perfect opportunities for excellent rafting, fishing, and camping.

Suitable for those seeking a more off-the-beaten-path adventure, this scenic route features numerous natural landscapes and other attractions including the John Day River,  painted hills, the Blue Basin unit, and a lot more.

Address: John Day, OR, United States.

4. John Day Trailer Park & Laundromat

Things to do in John Day, OR

One of the fun and interesting things to do in John Day today with kids is exploring the John Day Trailer Park & Laundromat. With just a few steps away from the highway, this park offers a welcoming haven for travelers and locals alike.

Shaded by tall cottonwood trees, this park provides a tranquil setting for residents who call this place home, with tidy rows of trailers and RVs lining the gravel pathways.

Adjacent to the park, is a Laundromat that hums with activity, where patrons chat while waiting for their laundry to spin clean.  At sunset, the park comes alive with the sound of laughter and music as families and friends gather around picnic tables for shared meals.

Address: 660 W Main St, John Day, OR 97845, United States.

5. A Bit of Europe

Things To Do In John Day, OR

Are you searching for fun activities to engage in that give the feel of a foreign taste? Then visit A Bit Of Europe, an antique store that poses as a portal to a world of history, culture, and exquisite finds.

A Bit of Europe is a treasure hunter’s paradise and a haven for antique enthusiasts with shelves brimming with unique European finds – furniture, paintings, porcelain, a handcrafted French clock, a delicate Italian tea set, a weathered trunk, and more.

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Set back in time as you explore the different items decorated in this treasure paradise. Whether you’re searching for a statement piece for your home or simply love browsing fascinating objects, this store offers something for every taste and budget.

Address: 234 S Canyon Blvd, John Day, OR 97845, United States.

6. Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site and Museum

Things to do in John Day, OR. Established in 1865, the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site and Museum documents the history of the lives of Chinese immigrants in the early 20th-century American West.

This Museum and heritage center is a go-to location for history buffs and enthusiasts, offering ample opportunities for visitors to explore a store filled with original merchandise, from traditional Chinese medicines to hardware supplies, engaging exhibits with historical photographs, artifacts, and informative panels.

The Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site and Museum was also a social hub for the Chinese community in John Day. It served as a post office, library, and gathering place.

Exploring the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site and Museum should be on your bucket list of fun and educative things to do in John Day.

Address: 125 NW Canton Street, John Day, OR 97845, United States.

7. John Day/Canyon City Parks & Recreation District

Things to do in John, Day

As a fun lover seeking a perfect blend of fun and memorable things to do in John Day, OR, John Day/Canyon City Parks & Recreation District offers a peaceful getaway from the busy cityscape.

Nestled in the heart of John Day on 23 acres of parkland, this attraction provides an assortment of outdoor recreation, a variety of green spaces, leisure activities, and park enjoyment for visitors and locals alike.

This attraction features walking/ running trails, ample space for picnicking, and fun and engaging activities for kids to stay active and socialize.

Visitors to this bustling destination can also explore amenities like a kids’ playground, tennis and basketball court, picnic tables, pools, and lots more. Also, visitors get to partake in the district events like the community gatherings or fitness classes hosted in the park throughout the year

Address: 1/2 845 NW Bridge Street, John Day, OR 97845, United States.

8. Grant County Oregon Historical Museum

things to do in John Day

The Grant County Oregon Historical Museum, located in Canyon City, OR, is a treasure house boarding the history of the pioneers, ranchers, and the communities that shaped Eastern Oregon.

Established in 1953, the museum aims to conserve, interpret, and share the rich history of Grant County, from the Native American tribes who were the first inhabitants of the land to the arrival of the European settlers and the development of ranching and mining industries.

Grant County Oregon Historical Museums houses an extensive archive with over 7,000 photographs and 3,000 historical documents, artifacts, documents, and historic structures of the people who lived and worked in the region over the centuries.

 This is one of the educative and must-do things to do in John Day as a history lover, exploring this museum offers you the opportunity to examine everything from farming tools used by homesteaders, clothing worn by pioneers, or mining equipment that helped shape the local economy.

Address: 101 S. Canyon Blvd, Canyon City, OR 97820, United States.

9. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

things to do in John Day

One exciting outdoor activity to engage in while in John Day, OR,  is visiting John Day Fossil Bed National Monument, a colorful rock formation located within the John Day River Basin.

Spanning a total of 13,944 acres, and plunging an average of about 2,200 feet, the John Day Fossil Beds Nationa Monuments consists of 3 widely separated units which are the Sheep Rock, Painted Hils, and Clarno offering good hiking opportunities.

Discover the mesmerizing beauty of hills, deep ravines, and eroded fossil-bearing rock formations. Explore the interpretive exhibits, join a ranger-led program, or embark on a self-guided hike along scenic trails.

This attraction caters to visitors of all ages and interests,  as it boasts easy strolling trails to a challenging climb, giving a breathtaking view of the scenic and diverse landscapes.

Address: 32651 OR-19, Mitchell, OR 97750, United States.

10. Bates State Park

things to do in John Day, OR

An ideal place to bask in a tranquil escape for nature lovers, campers, and history buffs is visiting Bates State Park. Bates Park offers a distinctive blend of outdoor recreation, historical significance, and natural beauty.

Located along the Middle Fork John Day River, Bridge Creek, and Clear Creek, this 131-acre park features an ideal basecamp for exploring the surrounding areas, a 3-mile trail that cuts through the park offering breathtaking vistas of the valleys and old mill pond, a 28 primitive campsite, amenities including picnic tables and fire rings.

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Venture out for fishing adventures in the nearby waterways, explore the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, or visit the historic town of Prairie City.

Bates State Park is an ideal destination for budget-conscious travelers, history enthusiasts, and anyone craving a tranquil retreat.

Address: John Day, OR, United States.


Exploring other attractions near John Day, OR?? Why not check out some fun things to do in Silverton, ORand fun things to do in Prineville, OR?


11. South Fork John Day River Back Country Byway

things to do in John Day, OR

Embarking on a mesmerizing journey along the South Fork John Day River Back Country Byway is one of the free things to do in John Day.

This 50-mile odyssey encompasses deep canyons of Columbia River Basalts, through stands of old-growth ponderosa pines, Douglas and white fir, and willows that line the road.

Beginning from its northern terminus at Dayville to the northern border of Malheur National Forest to the south, the byway winds its way through a picturesque river containing beautiful rapids and the Izee Falls, which drops 56 feet vertically.

As you travel through the region, you’ll encounter the Aldrich Mountain Wilderness Study Area and the Black Canyon Wilderness, both offering opportunities for hiking, hunting, and wildlife viewing.

Also take a quick stop at the Murderer’s Creek area, especially known for its diverse wildlife, including deer, elk, black bears, coyotes, bighorn sheep, and various upland bird species.

Address: John Day, OR, United States.

12. John Day Golf Club

Things To Do In John Day, OR

One of the numerous fun things to do in John Day, OR, this weekend is to book a tee time at John Day Golf Club, a course sitting admist rolling green hills offering a challenging yet exciting golfing experience for golf enthusiasts, tourists, and locals alike.

Established in 1953, John Day Golf Club offers experienced and inexperienced golfers a fair challenge. Sitting on an expansive acre, the neatly groomed public  9-hole golf course spans 2930  yards from the back tees with 111 slopes and plays to a par 35.

The well-equipped golf course features facilities ranging from a full bar, driving range, pro shop, or shop, free camping, rental carts and pull carts, confidence room, and practice green.

Address:  27631 Golf Club Road, John Day, OR 97845, United States

13. John Day River

Things to do in John Day, OR

Spanning approximately 284 miles, this undammed river is teeming with natural beauty,  clear vegetation, and stunning Canyon walls offering an exhilarating opportunity for outdoor and water recreation for nature lovers.

Known for its large population of steelhead trout, spring Chinook salmon, and warm-water base, John Day River draws in locals and tourists alike to explore and enjoy its serene natural environment.

Embarking on a kayaking or rafting adventure, and paddling through scenic canyons, clear vegetation and gentle rapids are among the fun things to do in John Day, OR, in the summer.

Explore the picturesque trails that wind along the riverbanks, offering breathtaking views and opportunities for wildlife spotting. Set up camp near the water’s edge and dazzle at the beauty of the John Day River system.

Additionally, before embarking on this thrilling water adventure, be sure to research on which section of the river to visit and check for water flow conditions.

Address: John Day, OR, United States.

14. Davis Creek Trail

Things to do in John Day, OR

The Davis Creek Trail located in the heart of John Day is a four-trailed park that runs through Davis Creek and is a perfect destination for outdoor activities with families, friends, and loved ones.

Established in 2020, this trail offers breathtaking viewpoints of streams, rock gardens, biking and hiking trails, bird watching, and riverfront trails.

As part of the fun outdoor activities to do in John Day, enjoy a leisurely stroll, have a picnic with a view to watch the sunset over the valley, hike, mountain bike, or go on a horseback ride on this 0.75 miles of comfortable trail.

Address: John Day, OR, United States.

15. 7th Street complex

things to do in John Day, OR

Nestled in the heart of John Day is a 23-acre multi-use facility with an array of recreational activities for all ages, locals and tourists alike. Exploring the exhilarating atmosphere of the 7th Street Complex is one of the many free things to do in John Day, OR, today.

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This attraction features amenities for family fun, sports fields, playgrounds, open green areas for outdoor activities and relaxation, multipurpose rooms used for sports, fitness classes, community meetings, and pet area

What’s more, this beehive also provides its visitors with a basketball court, tennis court, baseball field, two picnic shelters, a small fishing pond that gets stocked yearly for anglers, a mile-long paved walking/running trail that includes 6 workstations, a skatepark and even a splash pad to keep your kids engaged.

Address: 215 NW 9th Avenue, John Day, OR 97845, United States.

16. Thomas Condon Visitor Center

Things to do in John Day, OR.

Located in the Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, the Thomas Condon Visitor Center serves as the main visitor hub and offers a comprehensive introduction to the region’s paleontological wonders.

This knowledge trove features engaging educational exhibits that showcase the geology, paleontology, and natural history of the John Day Fossil Beds., interceptive programs,  a laboratory with collections of over 60,000 specimens., fossils display,  colorful murals, gifts shop, maps, brochures, and informative booklets to guide your visit.

Step back in time as you explore nearly 50 million years of the Age of Mammals, hundreds of fossil specimens, from prehistoric horses and camels to sabertooth tigers, and eight large murals adorning the walls of the visitors center.

Also, you can hike scenic trails that wind through the geological formations, marvel at the dramatic landscape of Sheep Rock, and imagine the prehistoric creatures that once roamed this area.

Visiting the Thomas Condon Visitor Center is one of the most fun and educative things to do in John Day as this is a place to learn, explore, and be captivated by the wonders of prehistoric life.

Address:  32651 OR-19, Kimberly, OR 97848, United States.

17. painted hills

Things to do in John Dat, OR.

Another exciting and memorable things to do near John Day on weekends is exploring John Day Painted Hills.

Located in Mitchell Oregon, just an hour’s drive away from John Day is a mesmerizing natural wonder renowned for its vibrant colors, which range from deep reds and oranges to soft yellows and grays, creating a stunning visual display that changes with the light throughout the day.

Enjoy panoramic views of the Painted Hills from designated viewpoints and hiking trails,  and admire nature artwork.  Also, its landscape provides a picturesque setting for photographers, especially during sunrise or sunset when the colors are most vivid.

Address:  37375 Bear Creek Road, Mitchell, OR 97750, United States.

18. Prairie City Ranger Station

Things to do in John Day, ORNestled in Prairie City, Oregon, the Prairie City Ranger Station serves as your portal to unlocking the wonders of the Malheur National Forest, embark on a journey filled with outdoor activities tailored to your adventurer’s heart as a nature lover.

Another educative and memorable thing to do near John Day, Or, is to explore Prairie City Ranger Station, a haven for wildlife lovers, motorized exploration, scenic trails winding through towering pines, and camping spots.

What’s more, enjoy hiking trails that wind through lush forests and lead to scenic viewpoints, perfect for birdwatching and photography, nearby camping areas that provide a rustic retreat under the stars, ideal for families and adventurers, and educational programs on forestry, ecology, and wilderness survival.

Address: 327 Front Street, Prairie City, OR 97869, United States.

19. John Day Skate Park

things to do in John Day, OR

Experience a spirit of adventure and athleticism at the John Day Skate Park, a haven for skateboarding enthusiasts of all skill levels.

Nestled within John Day, this park offers a space to shred, practice tricks, and enjoy the thrill of skateboarding featuring a variety of amenities such as ramps, rails, ledges, and bowls that cater to various skill sets.

Looking for free and interesting things to do in John Day as a sports lover, visiting  John Day Skate Park offers ample opportunities to explore, enjoy, and engage with people of like minds.

Additionally, the skate park serves as a venue for youth events, workshops, and competitions, fostering a positive and healthy outlet for young people in the community.

Address: 311 NE 7th Avenue, John Day, OR 97845, United States.

Plan your visit to John Day, Oregon

As part of the eastern Oregon area, John Day, OR, offers many things for all and sundry, from national monuments, and recreational parks to sporting activities, open-air adventurers, and culture explorers.

To maximize your trip, be sure to include these attractions in your schedule to craft unforgettable experiences in John Day.

 

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