Must See Things to Do in Madras, Oregon

Not to be confused with the city in India, Madras (pronounced ‘MADruss’) is a small town located 50 minutes north of Bend in eastern Oregon.

We spent plenty of time in Madras while living and working in Prineville. Madras isn’t a thriving metropolis like its counterpart in India, but there are still plenty of must-see things to do, hidden gems, and local sights to see in Madras, Oregon.

1) Visit the Erickson Aircraft Collection

The Erickson Aircraft Collection is at the top of most “must-see” lists in Madras – and for good reason.

Yes, the small town of Madras, population 6,000, has a world-class collection of aircraft just five minutes up the hill.

I visited on a quiet day in December and basically had the building to myself. I spent 2+ hours exploring walking right up to some of the coolest historical aircraft I had ever seen, including World War II planes I had spent hours flying in video games (shoutout to Battlefield 1942).

Expect to see recognizable planes like P-51 Mustangs, B-17 bombers, F4U Corsairs, and P47D Thunderbolts, among other aircraft that helped us beat the Nazis.

Even if you’re not a history buff, the Erickson Aircraft Collection has plenty of cool things to see – including the real plane used in the Indiana Jones movies, the most famous seaplane in aviation history (the PBY 5A Catalina), and biplanes (like the Stearman PT-17).

The aircraft collection is owned by Jack Erickson, the guy who invented the Erickson Skycrane, a twin-engine heavy lift helicopter. It’s worth every penny of the $9 admission fee.

2) Walk Around Juniper Hill Park

It’s not the most exciting park, but Juniper Hill Park is a nice place to walk around with stunning views of Mount Jefferson on a clear day.

Located on a hill just above town, Juniper Hill Park has walking trails, a frisbee golf park, and multiple baseball diamonds. It’s more of a walk than a hike, but I always saw plenty of locals there walking around and getting their daily exercise.

3) Go Skydiving

Madras is home to its own skydiving center called Skydive Awesome.

If skydiving is on your bucket list, then Skydive Awesome is one place to do it in central Oregon.

4) Walk Through Downtown Madras

Madras has a small downtown area across a couple blocks. There are coffee shops, stores, and a dispensary.

I recommend The Dancing Bean for coffee and breakfast. It’s a straightforward place with good breakfast sandwiches and other options. I spent a few mornings working on their outdoor patio.

After grabbing a coffee and snack from The Dancing Bean, spend a few minutes (okay, like 30 seconds) walking through the heart downtown Madras. There are two dispensaries and even a gun store.  

5) Visit a Brewery, Distillery, or Bar

You’re at a website called the Wandering Boozebag. Of course I’m going to tell you to visit a brewery.

Madras is home to one brewery and not many bars. The aptly-named Madras Brewing is located in the heart of downtown Madras. It has a small patio and a nice indoor space. They also have a full menu of food along with cocktails, appetizers, etc.

New Basin Distilling Company, located just down the road from the Erickson Aircraft Collection, also makes spirits using local ingredients, and you can visit the taproom.

Wild Winds Station, located across the street from Safeway, has an extensive tap selection, good food, and growler fills.

As far as I could tell, there are only like three other pubs/bars in Madras, including Rialto Tavern, Madras Pub & Deli, and BackStreet Pub.  

Final Word: Visit Madras When Driving Through

Madras is worth a visit when driving through the area.

I’m not an aviation buff but I do like history, and the aircraft museum is worth a visit on its own.

The next time you’re driving from Portland to Redmond or Bend along 26, consider stopping in the little town of Madras for a quick visit. It’s not the most exciting place, and it doesn’t even have as much local charm as other small towns, but it does have a good aircraft museum.

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