Top 10 things to do in Bend Oregon
What was once a sleepy logging town at the confluence of the high desert of Central Oregon and the back side of the Cascade mountains has developed into what locals call “Disneyland for athletes!” While you don’t need to be an athlete to enjoy all that Bend has to offer, most activities are centered around a healthy outdoor lifestyle. With amazing trails, camping, world class climbing and the Deschutes River dissecting town the wilderness experience is always beckoning. Dirt bagging with the climbers or mountain bikers isn’t your style? Try Alpine skiing at Mt Bachelor or golf at a Jack Nickalus designed course through lava caves and juniper trees? At the end of the day we often find ourselves exhausted and enjoying a beer and the sunset at one of the 17 breweries, cider houses or distilleries?
With that, we give present our Top 10 things to do in Bend:
- Go Ski! Nordic, alpine or backcountry, we have it all! About 20 miles to our west sits the reason many locals call bend home: Mt Bachelor. With 3700 acres of lift served fun, Mt. Bachelor is a winter paradise of high speed quads and friendly locals. But don’t restrict yourself to skiing just in winter as Mt. Bachelor is legendary for excellent spring skiing conditions so bring your sunscreen and enjoy the best corn snow in the PNW! Chairlifts aren’t your style? Hire a guide for safety and try back country skiing. I consider this to be the “mountain biking” of the winter as you have to use special traction devises on your skis the help you walk up the hills to “earn your turns” on the way back down. There is amazing terrain in nearly every direction from Bend that can be skied for most of the winter and even into the early summer months! At nearly Bend is just 10 minutes from Virginia Meisner snow park has many miles of well groomed trails for both classic and skate ski disciplines of cross country skiing.
- Go Ride! Bend is consistently named as one of the best places for mountain biking in the US. With miles of beginner friendly trails to multi-day epics through the Cascades, there’s something for every level of rider. Rumor has it that there are over 300 miles of single track accessible from town and my own experience is consistent with this claim. Add in bike paths and bike friendly businesses and Bend is truly a bike-mecca. If it’s snowy you can head out to the desert to the East or grab a fat bike and hit some of the fat bike trails recently put in at the Wanoga Sno-park
- Go Hike! An evening along the Deschutes or an adventure up to the top of South Sister, there is hiking for all levels here in Bend, Oregon
- Play in the water! The Deschutes River flows right through town and provides endless possibilities for family friendly entertainment. In winter the Deschutes can be beautiful and scenic and proved some decent fishing if the flow isn’t too heavy. Stand on the Colorado Bridge and watch the kayakers and surfers at the new white water park. If it’s warm out rent a tube at Riverbend park and float down to Drake park then catch the city bus back to Riverbend for a couple of dollars. You won’t be alone on warm days! Head up to Shevlin Park with your family and test out your cast at the Aspen Hall children and youth stocked fishing pond. While they are doing that, you can try your hand at some spooky wild trout in Tumalo Creek.
- See a festival! Locals joke with visitors by asking if they they want to go to a festival while they are here. Inevitably, the visitor will ask “what festival” to which the response is usually “I don’t know, there’s probably 2 or 3 going on!” Summer months have endless festivals from the big ones like SummerFest (there’s also Fall, Winter and SpringFest’s) to running events, climbing, paddling and every other kind of festival including a multitude of beer festivals. More on that to come!
- Go golf! While I’m not personally a golfer, I do see the appeal here as there are several world class level courses with some of the most gorgeous views of the Oregon Cascades imaginable. There are wooded courses, mountain courses and even one that utilizes the volcanic landscape to include a pretty amazing lava tube.
- Go Climb a Rock! Since the early 80’s, Bend has become a mecca for rock climbers as Smith Rock State park is just about 25 miles from Bend. Being the closest good sized town with all the other stuff there is to do, many climbers will camp out at Smith Rock for a few nights then come “recover” at the local breweries or float the river to relax. There are also several bouldering and top roping spots around Bend and even a bit of trad climbing near Tumalo Falls.
- Sleep under the Stars! From the most family friendly campgrounds to multi day backpacking adventures, Bend is surrounded by amazing camping in every direction. The high lakes in summer are absolutely magical with panoramic views of the mountains and comfortable campgrounds that access hiking and biking trails in nearly every direction. Want to be close to town? Tumalo State Park is a family friendly campground with everything from tent sites to full RV hookups and even cabins and yurts. The campground was named by Sunset Magazine as a top 10 family campground in the west for it’s close proximity to the fun of Bend, excellent amenities and all there is to do with the Deschutes River flowing through the middle and hiking trails all over. Want to “dirt bag” it? Any of the millions of acres of national forest around Bend can be camped in for no fee.
- Have a Beer! Bend is consistently named as a top beer loving town. What’s not to like? We have somewhere in the neighborhood of 24 breweries with world class beers being made utilizing the pristine waters of the Cascades. Deschutes is the “big dog” in town with excellent beers and a restaurant pub downtown. The wait can be long but the food and beer is great. Red Chair Ale is a local seasonal favorite being a bit more hoppy than a traditional ale but not so much that it could be mistaken for an IPA. Expect a restaurant feel as that is what it is. Craving more of a beer garden/brew house experience? Crux Fermentation Project makes some of the best beers anywhere and has a great vibe plus views of the Cascades to take your breath away. Always creative but respectful of tradition, expect creative twists on traditional beers, excellent IPA’s and Ales as well as gorgeous Saison’s and Sours. My personal favorites are Half Hitch IPA and Better Off Red (a barrel aged sour) but the list is constantly changing so you will never get bored. There’s a great lawn outside for the kids (or Cornhole fans) to play with food trucks (try the tacos, best in town!) and giant fire pits. Expect to see hundreds of happy families on weekend nights or any night around sunset. Another favorite is Boneyard Brewing; A simple tasting room with outstanding beers. RPM IPA and their Bone-A-Fide Pale Ale are a must. So many choices it’s hard to narrow it down!
- Remember it all with a photo session! Snapshots are nice but having a professional photographer spend a bit of time with you while you are doing all the fun activities you do on your Bend Oregon vacation is the ultimate way to remember your trip! This started out when friends kept commenting on my personal family photos that they wished they could have similar quality photography on their vacations. So I created the session to capture your family fun without taking you away from all their is to do. Want to go ski, bike or climb and get some awesome candid photographs and a nice photo of your family together? I know all the best spots to go and won’t take you away from your vacation time. Or just a quick trip to an iconic location with the beautiful City of Bend or the Cascade Mountains as the backdrop? There are several hidden spots just minutes from downtown where we can capture the essence of your trip. Contact me today to book your session.