The Top 8 Things to Do in Bend, Oregon

Smith Rock, Oregon - Morning Glory
••• Nonac_Digi for the Green Man/Getty Images

Bend, Oregon, is a mountain resort town filled with outdoorsy adventures just waiting to be had. It’s the perfect place for a romantic getaway or a family vacation alike. Weather tends to be different than what you’d think of as typical Northwest weather with sunny days and cool evenings, but that’s because of its location between the mountains and the deserts of Central Oregon. This same location is what makes Bend awesome to visit any time of year, whether you want to ski, enjoy the outdoors or just relax.  

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    Idyllic Shot Of Mt Bachelor Against Clear Sky
    ••• Jesse Kraft / EyeEm/Getty Images

    Mt. Bachelor is one of the Northwest’s biggest ski resorts and this is one of the main reasons people flock to Bend. The ski resort gets more than 460 feet of light, dry snow each year and the ski season often extends right into spring when many other ski areas shut down for the season. For non-skiers or beginners, there’s also a tubing park and lessons, and you can even join up with a dog sled tour, a heli tour or snowshoe tour for something a little different. Summer is also a fine time to head to the resort as the trails on Mt. Bachelor open up plenty of hiking and mountain biking opportunities. Dining at Mt. Bachelor is a treat any time of year. In the summer, sunset dinners at Pine Mountain Lodge are a relaxing and beautiful way to end a day.

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    Explore Downtown Bend

    Downtown Bend is cute and quaint, but has enough to see and do to fill a day. For shoppers, downtown Bend is fun to wander with lots of local storefronts as well as a few smaller chains in the mix, too. For the artsy, you’ll find plenty of galleries to wander. And if you’re gearing up for a getaway in the mountains or on the rivers, stores like Patagonia will get you ready to go. There are also plenty of places to eat and stay right downtown, and it makes a great base for exploring the area overall.

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    Hit the Rivers

    Old Mill District, Deschutes River, Bend, Oregon
    ••• Stephen Saks/Getty Images

    The Deschutes River is one of Oregon’s most iconic. It’s even got a brewery named after it (and their beers are wonderful). Bend is the perfect base for white water rafting on the river, or even just floating in an innertube if rafting is too adventurous for you. But make no mistake, you don’t have to be a river expert to go rafting. Tour companies like Sun Country Tours, Riverstone Adventures or Ouzel Outfitters run rafting trips for all skill levels on the Deschutes as well as other area rivers.

    River fun isn’t limited to rafting and floating. Fishers will find themselves in a little slice of paradise in this area as the Deschutes and other area rivers are also ideal for fishing – especially fly fishing. If you aren’t an experienced fisherperson, plenty of companies offer fly fishing tours so you can try your hand at the sport with an experienced person at your side.

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    Take to Trails Galore

    Bend Oregon Trails
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    Chances to get out on the local trails run the gamut as the area is crisscrossed by trails for all abilities. Whether you’re out to go hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding, you’ll find a place to do it in the area. Mt. Bachelor has trails open throughout the warmer months, but don’t stop there. You’ll find everything from super easy hikes like the ones at Sparks Lake, to a range of trails at Smith Rock State Park, to the 750-mile Oregon Desert Trail that’s just 20 minutes out of town.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Want to learn about the local area? This museum is a unique place to do just that. Rather than solely static exhibits, the High Desert Museum has a focus on living history — characters that visitors can interact with while they learn what life in this high desert area was like in the early 1900s. There are also both indoor and outdoor exhibits throughout the 135-acre campus that showcase local art, history and wildlife too. In fact, many animals live at the museum and help illustrate what kinds of critters live in the local environment.

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    Smith Rock State Park
    ••• Lijuan Guo Photography/Getty Images

    There’s no shortage of gorgeous natural landscapes in and around Bend, but Smith Rock State Park is something special. The park is the perfect place to rock climb (you might have guessed from the park name that there is a lot of rock here), hike, bike or view wildlife. The craggy rocks throughout the park make great photos, too.

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    ••• Les Schwab Amphitheater

    Les Schwab Amphitheater is a fabulous outdoor concert venue that’s great to add in to any visit, if there’s a show in town while you are. The amphitheater plays host to some pretty big touring headliners. Most shows involve general, opening seating/standing. Bring along a low chair or a blanket and kick back on a sunny afternoon to some tunes. Check the calendar before you go.

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    Go Shopping

    Shopping doesn’t have to stop in downtown Bend. If trails and endless amazing nature is just not for you, never fear. Shopping centers are nearby. For deals, look to the Bend Factory Stores. For antiques, the Redmond Antique District should fit the bill. Or for a night out, visit the Old Mill District where chain stores dominate, but the Les Schwab Amphitheater is also located so it pairs well with an outdoor concert if one is in town during your visit.