Bend, Oregon, is well known as a destination that offers quality outdoor recreation all year round. Located just east of Oregon's Cascade Mountain Range, the Bend region offers a variety of interesting and scenic terrain, including lakes, rivers, desert, forest, and volcanic peaks. The city of Bend also has lovely parks, interesting shopping, and great food and drink options. Whether you're planning a family vacation, a romantic escape, or a girlfriend's getaway, if outdoor activities are part of your wish list, Bend, Oregon, is the place for you.
Fun Things to Do in Bend, Oregon
Bend Oregon's best visitor attractions include:
Drake Park and Mirror Pond
Adjacent to Bend's historic downtown, Drake Park is the site of Bend community events throughout the year. As you wander the park's trails you'll enjoy lovely water views and learn about local history from interpretive signs.
Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint
Whether you choose to walk or drive, you'll enjoy awesome 360-degree views of Bend, the mountains, and the desert plain from the top of this city landmark. Those looking for a workout can walk the road or trails that wind up and around Pilot Butte. Leashed dogs are permitted.
Deschutes River Trail
Part of Bend's network of urban recreation trails, the Deschutes River Trail runs along or near the Deschutes River, passing through parks, across footbridges, and through canyons.
High Desert Museum
Part museum, part zoo, the High Desert Museum is the place to learn about the human and natural history of America's high desert region. Outdoors, you'll find exhibits featuring native critters such as river otters and birds of prey and you'll learn about the forest, Native Americans, and pioneer life. Live wildlife exhibits can be found inside the High Desert Museum's main building, along with history exhibits and art galleries.
Deschutes Brewery Tour
Stop by the Deschutes Brewery tasting room and gift shop for a free afternoon tour of the brewing facility. You'll learn about the ingredients that go into Deschutes' craft beers, how beer is brewed and bottled, and how they control the quality of each batch. Be sure to sample their Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale, two of the Deschutes Brewery beers that are popular throughout the Northwest.
Old Mill District
This mixed-use development is based around the location of a huge old Bend sawmill. Visitors to the Old Mill District can enjoy shopping, dining, lodging, a multi-screen theatre, and a children's museum. The neighborhood's Les Schwab Amphitheater is a great venue for outdoor concerts. The river and the urban trail system both pass through the Old Mill District.
Golf in Bend, Oregon
Central Oregon is a popular destination for golf vacations. Visitors can choose from several public golf courses right within the city of Bend, including:
- River's Edge Golf Course
- Lost Tracks Golf Club
- Widgi Creek Golf Club
Des Chutes Historical Museum
Located in the old downtown Reid Schoolhouse, this history museum focuses on the history of Bend and Central Oregon.
Fun Things to Do Near Bend in Central Oregon
The area around Bend, Oregon, is heaven for anyone who loves spending time in the outdoors. Hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, rafting, and golfing opportunities are all available in abundance. Here are my recommendations for fun things to do near Bend:
Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock is famous world-round as a mecca for rock climbers. You don't have to be a rock climber, however, to have a truly enjoyable experience visiting Smith Rock State Park. Even if you just park in the day-use parking lot to take in a view of the majestic red rocks and winding Crooked River, Smith Rock is worth the visit. Most people can experience the rock's many faces on a day hike. Depending on which trail you choose, your hike can be flat and easy, or steep and challenging. I would recommend the 2.2-mile River Trail. While the short stretch of trail from the parking lot to the footbridge is steep and rocky, the bulk of the route is flat and smooth, allowing you to relax and enjoy the scenery. Along the way, you can watch the rock climbers dangling from spots all along the rock spires. Some park trails are available for biking and horse riding. Smith Rock State Park is located north of Bend.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
You can spend a day or more checking out the many interesting places in Newberry National Volcanic Monument, including Lava Lands Visitor Center, Lava Cast Forest, and Lava River Cave.
Winter at Mount Bachelor Ski Resort means snow sports of all kinds, including alpine skiing, snowboarding, Nordic skiing, tubing, sled dog riding, and snowshoeing. During the summer, the mountain is great for hiking, mountain biking, and disc golfing.
This small museum in Prineville has some interesting exhibits on local history. CCC memorabilia and homestead-era medical equipment are among the more intriguing exhibits, as is a collection of mousetraps from around the world and throughout time.
Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway
There are numerous places to stop and enjoy the magnificent mountain and lake scenery along this 100-mile loop drive out of Bend.
Golf Near Bend
In addition to the public courses located in Bend, you can choose from several in the surrounding region.
- Black Butte Ranch
- Crooked River Ranch
- Desert Peaks Golf Course
- Eagle Crest Resort
- Greens at Redmond
- Juniper Golf Club
- Quail Run
- The Woodlands Course
Special Events and Festivals in Bend, Oregon
The community of Bend, Oregon, celebrates a variety of annual events throughout the year, many featuring sports and recreation.
- Bend Winterfest (Feb) - snow- and ice-related activities of all kinds
- Pole Peddle Paddle (May) - teams and individuals compete in this multisport event that includes alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biking, running, paddling, and sprinting
- Balloons Over Bend (June) - community festival featuring hot air balloons
- Bite of Bend (Jun) - food, food, and more food
- Bend Summer Festival (Jul) - visual and performance art, food booths, and family-friendly fun
- Deschutes Brewery Sagebrush Classic (Jun) - gourmet food, microbrews, golf, and more, all to benefit local children's charities
- JELD-WEN Tradition Golf Tournament (Aug) - pro-am championship golf accompanied by a community festival
Popular annual events that take place near Bend in Central Oregon include:
- Sisters Rodeo (Jun)
- Crooked River Roundup in Prineville (Jun)
- Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (Jul)
- La Pine Rodeo (Jul)
- Deschutes County Fair in Redmond (Aug)
Shopping and Galleries in Bend, Oregon
Dedicated shoppers will find several places to check out while visiting Bend, Oregon. Art lovers will be impressed by the high quality and selection of work offered in local galleries, much of it by local artists.
Shopping in Downtown Bend
Bend's historic downtown provides a nice alternative to the ubiquitous chain stores available everywhere. Here is a sample:
- Glass Gallery - this gallery offers one of the best displays of glass art I've seen anywhere in the Northwest - highly recommended
- Bend Bungalow - you'll find a fine selection of craftsman home furnishing, including pottery, tiles, rugs, linens, and lighting
- AZU: A Plethora of Neat Stuff - unique and clever items for your kitchen, home, and office
Shopping in Bend's Old Mill District
In addition to such popular franchises as Orvis, Coldwater Creek, and REI, these Old Mill District shops are worth a stop:
- Tumalo Art Co: A Fine Art Collective - featuring the works of local artists in a variety of media
- The Duck Shop - University of Oregon clothing, gear, and gift items
Outlet Shopping at the Bend Factory Stores
Highlights of your outlet options at Bend Factory Stores include:
- Columbia Sportswear
- Eddie Bauer
- Pearl Izumi
- Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
Where to Eat in Bend, Oregon
Visitors to Bend, Oregon, can enjoy some great food and beer. I can recommend the following:
- Baltazar's Seafood Ristorante & Spirits- fine Mexican food and cocktails
- Bend Mountain Coffee - this local coffee spot serves a great breakfast bagel sandwich
- Deschutes Brewery & Public House - local craft beers and upscale pub food
- Flatbread Community Oven - yummy casual Italian-style eatery in the Old Mill District
- Goody's Soda Fountain and Candy - the place for an afternoon treat while shopping downtown
- McMenamins St. Francis School - this old-Catholic-schoolhouse-turned-brewpub serves tasty food in a casual, funky environment
- Victorian Cafe - popular breakfast spot known for their eggs benedict
Hotels and Lodging in Bend, Oregon
Lara House Lodge
If you're looking for romantic accommodations convenient to Bend's downtown park and shops, Lara House is a perfect choice. Occupying a magnificent historic craftsman home, this bed and breakfast puts an emphasis on the breakfast, serving a delicious full gourmet meal each morning. Quality elements such as polished woodwork and luxurious textiles can be found throughout Lara House's guest rooms and common areas, creating an elegant atmosphere. Each evening, wine and appetizers are served, allowing guests and hosts to mingle in a relaxed environment.
Mount Bachelor Village Resort
Guests at this private, wooded resort can choose from hotel rooms, condominiums, or homes for their accommodations. For those planning an extended stay in Bend, the condominiums with kitchens are an excellent choice. On-site amenities include an upscale restaurant, an athletic club, a business center, meeting facilities, and a river trail. Mount Bachelor Village Resort is located within the city of Bend, not actually on Mount Bachelor; the resort does offer complimentary shuttle service to Mount Bachelor Ski Area.
Riverhouse on the Deschutes
In addition to standard rooms, guests at The Riverhouse Hotel can also choose from a variety of suites with such amenities as fireplaces, kitchens, or a hot tub, many with river views. Fine dining, meeting space, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, and an exercise room are all available on-site. The resort is home to the River's Edge Golf Course.