There are many things to do in this small city on the Deschutes River in Oregon. For a small town, it has lakes, mountains, an extinct volcano, caves and diverse wildlife.
Bend has a high desert climate, but it does snow…a lot. Makes it perfect for winter fun and beautiful scenery. But its equally as entertaining in the summer.
Whether summer or winter, there are plenty of things to do in Bend, Oregon year-round.
WHAT TO DO IN BEND
Bend is famous for is craft breweries, such as 10 Barrel Brewing. So if your thing is to bike and drink, or ski and drink, or kayak and drink, or hike and drink, well you get the point, then you might want to check out Bend!
You will also be in doggie heaven if you’re a pooch lover. Bars, restaurants, retail shops all permit your pooch freely, no service dog requirement needed. It makes it easier to spend your day petting all the four legged beauties.
Here are the top things to do, what to see and where to go in Bend, Oregon!
A 3,683 acre stratovolcano that’s famous for being the 6th largest ski resort in North America. Mt Bachelor is active year round. Winter hosts skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, even dog sledding.
In the summer, hiking, biking, walking trails and chair lifting will keep you busy. If you fly in, you’ll get the best “drone” view of this famous mountain.
Drive or hike to the top of this is volcanic cinder cone. From here, it’s an amazing view of Bend with surrounding mountains and buttes in all directions. And you guessed it, Fido can come along with you.
Other famous buttes to climb 😉 Lava Butte
High Desert Museum
A specialized museum to educate about and preserve wildlife and natural history. The 135 acre museum has two sections: indoor exhibits and outdoor exhibits.
Here, you can learn about otters, wildcats and even see live porcupines. Some of the exhibits are interactive, but all are educational.
It’s the perfect place to take the family for the afternoon. The museum even has specialized educational programs by way of camps, classes, and tours.
Tumalo State Park
Spend the weekend here. Ten miles outside of Bend along the Deschutes River and great for RV’s, camping and hiking.
Take a walk to the splendid Tumalo Falls with its 89 foot drop and step out to the overhanging platforms for heart racing selfies. Doggie approved, of course.
Note: it’s graveled road for the last few miles to the Falls, so be prepared for rocks and potholes.
Mirror Pond/Drake Park
Nestled between Pacific Power’s Bend Hydro dam and the Colorado dam on the Deschutes River, the pond’s fame grew as Mirror Pond Pale Ale became Deschutes Brewery’s best selling beer. On its banks, take the time to picnic adn throw the frisbee with Fido in the 13 acre Drake Park.
Drake Park is home to the Great Horned Owls who actively nest with their owlets. Can we collectively say, “Awwww!”
Lava River Cave
Descend about 55 steps to the longest river tube in the state. Take a self guided tour that’s about 2 miles long roundtrip.
It’s dark and cavernous so dress accordingly and of course, appropriate closed toed shoes. Also, it’s home to bats so be prepared for that as well.
Two MUST DO’s before you go: Bring or rent two light sources AND to prevent the spread of White-nose Syndrome to bats that reside in the Cave, do not wear or bring into the cave any clothing or gear you have used in any other cave or mine. The cave is closed from October to April. Sorry, no furry friends allowed here.
Do not take these other caves for granite ;): Boyd Cave, Skylight River Cave, Redmond Caves
IF YOU HAVE TIME: THE OLD MILL DISTRICT
Transformed from two timber Mills on the Deschutes River, the shops in the Old Mill aren’t a must see, but a stroll around this scenic area is picturesque and relaxing complete with a footbridge over the river. A great running path and a perfect place to stroll with Fido. The open aired Les Schwab Amphitheatre can entertain up to 8,000 patrons for concerts or other events.
WHERE TO DRINK…ERR EAT
915 NW Wall St.
Born from a food truck, delicious Latin American and Spanish cuisine featuring tasty and colorful paellas, tacos and tapas. Barrio is perfect for a variety of flavors paired with a variety of cocktails. Grab a pitcher of margaritas and Buen Apetito!
Happy Hour 3-6pm Monday to Friday
1110 NW Newport Ave.
Mouthwatering farm-to-table breakfast and brunch eatery. Chow has a cozy feel as it’s a converted house. Many items are home made, such as the cheese and bread and gets many of its ingredients from its on-site garden. The restaurant is also more than happy to create raw, vegan and gluten-free dishes.
Or check out a similar local favorite: McKay Cottage
745 NW Columbia St.
Food cart pods taken to a whole new level here. The Lot is a great spot to snag a bite and a beer, with covered, heated outdoor seating as well as live music and events.
There are four carts on site, serving burgers, salad, Thai food and gyros. Don’t forget to snag a burger for Fido!
BONUS: SPARROW BAKERY
50 SE Scott St.
Tantalizing baked goods from croissants to macarons makes this a great place to cheat on your diet. Come for the famous Ocean Roll (and come early because they do sell out!) and leave with much much more. Also serving breakfast and lunch.
Sparrow actually has two locations: the original shop on Scott Street has a medieval feel whereas the NorthWest Crossing location seems to be the exact opposite. At either location, just come and spend the whole day noshing on goodies!
BEND A.K.A. BEERTOWN
Welcome to Beertown, USA! You pretty much can’t go wrong in this former logging town. For the best beer spots and breweries, I recommend following the The Bend Ale Trail.
Some of my favorites are: Deschutes Brewery, 10 Barrell Brewing, Bend Brewery, Crux Fermented Project, and Craft Kitchen and Brewery. But if cocktails are your thing, check out 900 Wall or Stihl Wiskey Bar.
WHERE TO STAY
SUNRIVER RESORT: At the foot of the Cascade Mountains right outside of Bend, this resort offers vacation rentals from condos to luxury homes. Enjoy the on location spa, golfing and minutes from Mt. Bachelor.
MCMENAMINS: A very eclectic hotel located in downtown Bend. Refurbished from an old schoolhouse (St. Francis) and turned into a Bend hotel and restaurant. The hotel includes an old Turkish bath and a movie theater, along with a pub. There is also a secret bar you can find in the wall, as well as some other secret rooms throughout the buildings.
HILTON GARDEN INN BEND: Located in Old Mill District, central to several sites, eateries and even the cinema. Has an indoor pool so feel free to bring your swimsuit year-round.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON BEND
By the way, everyone in Bend seems to be a runner, like a marathon runner, ironic for all the drinking that’s done here. If you are a runner, here are some great trails you shouldn’t miss: Travel Oregon, Visit Bend, and Great Runs.
If you are not a runner, when Zombieland comes, you do not want to be in Bend as they all seem to take “Rule 1” seriously!
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