It’s a magical little mountain town tucked beneath the slopes of the Cascades and bristles of Evergreen. The High Desert air is dry and juniper filled. It’s the land of 300 days of sunshine and endless outdoor opportunities to use them on.
The magic of this place doesn’t just inspire your adventure – Central Oregon is brimming with entrepreneurism. There are 25 breweries in the region and each one is unique. Bend is also home to two brands you might recognize – Hydroflask and Ruffwear.
Get There: There are two popular options to get to Bend, which is just about smack dab in the center of Oregon.
The first option is flying into the Redmond Airport. Roberts Field is a small airport so flights to and from can be pricey. That being said, because it’s so small it’s extremely quick from taxi to takeoff. If you do choose to fly into Redmond, it’s a 25 minute drive to Bend down U.S. 97 (it’s a VERY small highway). This is the EASIEST option. Keep in mind when leaving Redmond – even though it’s small and quick, get to your flight with at least 40 minutes to spare. Because it’s a small airport, many times, the attendants at the check-in desk leave to attend to the flight check-in desk. I’ve seen someone miss a flight because no one was there to check her bags.
Your other, and more scenic, option is to fly into Portland. PDX is about two hours and 45 minutes from Bend. You’ll fly in and drive through the beautiful Mt. Hood National Forest to Bend. It’s gorgeous. Just be sure to check the weather – it can get snowy and icy over the pass.
Stay: While Bend is very residential, its economy is built on tourism, so unlike residential options, there are plenty of short term places to choose from.
Airbnb is huge here, but it’s also very popular – make sure you book in advance, especially if you want to stay in a highly coveted bungalow on the westside.
The Oxford Hotel in downtown Bend is a pricey, but a nice option right in the middle of all the action and within walking distance to the famous Deschutes Brewpub.
For the adventurous, don’t forget camping. There are plenty of ideal campsites around Bend – especially up Cascade Lakes Highway (again – book well in advance!).
Do: Bend is BRIMMING with activities, from sitting and drinking beer to white water rafting. Pick your poison from our carefully curated list below!
The Old Mill
The Old Mill was built along the Deschutes River just south of downtown Bend. The Old Mill (an actual old mill) serves two purposes: a shopping center and an outdoor recreation mecca. First off, if shopping is your thing, you can’t go wrong here. There’s a movie theatre, many name brand stores and restaurants. We recommend a glass of wine to watch the sun set over the river at Greg’s Grill or a pint of cider at ATLAS Cider Company just a short walk up the river.
It’s hard to beat a summer stroll in the Old Mill, especially if that stroll is along the Deschutes River Trail. It’s a 3.7 mile loop trail that takes you along both sides of the Deschutes River. In the summer months the river is also a popular place to float. The water is cool but the Central Oregon sun is hot – we call that ‘just right.’ Hop on your flotation device of choice on the opposite side of the river next to the dog park. If you don’t want to have to walk back to the parking lot (though, it’s not a bad walk – just make sure to bring your flip flops along for the float), park a second car at the end of the float, at Mirror Pond, before parking your first car in the drop-in lot. In recent years, the city actually removed a dam in the river to create three channels: one to protect the natural habitat, one white water channel for surfers, SUPers and kayakers and another channel for floaters.
Les Schwab Amphitheater is known for hosting the annual Bend Brewfest and plenty of summer concerts – you can check the schedule, here.
The famous Deschutes Brewery, located in the Old Mill, is open for tours. The brewery is to thank for the scent of malted barley wafting through this section of town.
Downtown Bend is comprised of just two streets: Wall Street and Bond Street. There are plenty of boutiques to rummage through – we’re partial to Lone Crow Bungalow, a mountain lover’s dream for decor.
The Deschutes Brewery Brewpub is located in downtown Bend. McMenamins Old St. Francis is a great stop, whether it’s cold or hot outside. Grab a seat by the fire out back!
If nightlife is what you’re looking for, you’ll find a hip scene at Velvet, where the Rosemary Rickey tastes pretty fine. Around the corner, Dogwood Cocktail Cabin organizes their elixirs by liquor – check out their whiskey options to warm your tummy on a frigid night.
Bend is just 30 minutes from Mt Bachelor, a skier and snowboarder paradise.
Others prefer a bit of a longer drive to HooDoo. It’s an hour from Bend.
Central Oregon is a playground for EVERY kind of snow sport – this place is a haven for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, nordic skiing, ice skating and fat biking. If you have the passion, it can and will happen!
In the summer, Mt. Bachelor transforms into a downhill bike park. A lift ticket will give you access to the chair up the mountain, where the descent is steep, rocky and technical. The trails will give experienced downhill bikers a run for their money.
The woods surrounding Bend are filled with single-track trails for the novice to the extreme. Phil’s Trail is the most popular – it’s a good jumping off point for finding some of the less frequented options.
Head east out of town into the open desert for epic road biking. Just be sure to pack food and water – the road really empties out. Pronghorn is a beautiful resort for a drink pit stop.
Cascade Lakes Highway
The way to Mount Bachelor is paved by crystal blue mountain lakes on Cascade Lakes Highway. Head up the road with your kayak or stand up paddle board. Don’t forget to pack some snacks or grab a bite at our favorite little burrito place on the way – Parilla. You can thank us later 😉
There’s a sign as you head up that tells you what lakes you can visit and how far they are.
Deschutes River Trail: Old Mill
Deschutes River Trail: Benham Falls, off Cascades Lake Highway
South Sister: Three Sisters Wilderness
Tumalo Falls: Bend
Shevlin Park Trail System: Bend
Lava Butte: near Sunriver
Day trips outside Bend
Crater Lake – It’s a 2.5 hour drive and worth every second of it. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and it’s the bluest blue I’ve ever seen.
The Painted Hills – Drive through Prineville for a direct out-and-back trip to the amazing Painted Hills in the John Day Fossil Beds, or, make it an hours-long loop, stopping in the tiny town of Shaniko on the way out.
Blue Pool, Tamolitch Falls – Hike along the McKenzie River, which bubbles and flows into a perfectly blue pond. It’s an 8 mile hike that’s worth every step.
- 10 Barrel
- Crux Fermentation Project
- Atlas Cider Co.
- Worthy Brewing Co.
- Cascade Lakes Brewing Company
…And many, many more!
Grab a table here:
- Jackson’s Corner – family friendly joint with handmade pasta and pizza
- Humm Kombucha – try their Kombucha float!
- Sparrow Bakery – great for breakfast! Try the cardamom-laced Ocean Roll
- Chow – their brunch is tasty, but get there early!
- Spork – the perfect spot for an asian-inspired lunch
- Parilla Grill – the burrito on steroids
- Planker Sandwiches – their Chicken Salad Cobb is ahhhh!
Co-Authored By Katie Higgins and Grace Joyal.