Year round outdoor adventures surrounded by the majestic scenery of the Cascades Mountain Range, inspired cuisine made with local ingredients, more breweries per capita than any other city in Oregon, and enough coffee shops and cups of joe to keep you awake to experience it all. And all of this while being one of the greenest, sunniest (reportedly 300 days a year) and dog friendliest cities in the Northwest and it even has a river running through it. This is Bend, Oregon. Hip and energetic, Bend inspires you to get outdoors and not just walk the downtown area or revitalized Old Mill District, but also rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard to view the city from the Deschutes River.
On a recent trip to Central Oregon, the highlight was viewing the total solar eclipse from atop Green Ridge in the Deschutes National Forest, but the other activities and experiences leading up to that pinnacle moment are reasons enough to plan a visit to this vibrant small city.
What to See and Do
Bend is the perfect destination to take on new and adrenaline rush activities like mountain biking or snowboarding on Mt. Bachelor, hiking the Big Obsidian Flow of the Newberry Caldera (just like NASA’s astronauts have done), whitewater rafting on the rapids of the Deschutes River, or step completely out of your comfort zone and go paragliding over the High Desert at 6,407 feet on Pine Mountain. Local outfitters and tour companies, like Wanderlust Tours, offer these types of excursions, and some even combine adventure with tastings at local breweries. Hike in the dark to sit by a bonfire, sip hot coffee drinks, and listen to stories while the moon and stars reflect off the snow covered fields and peaks and the flames of the fire dance on the snow. They even have a tour for that.
Breweries and Restaurants
Back in town, the dining and drinking options are impressive. If you’re a beer aficionado, The Bend Ale Trail is the largest of its kind in the West. It’s easy to be an award-winning beer mecca when the water is so clear and pure due to the natural filtration process of the surrounding volcanic rock. Dechustes, Crux Fermentation Project, and 10 Barrel are three local favorites. For a different spin on visiting breweries, hop on a Cycle Pub Tour to experience the views around town along with a few brews on the cycle. There’s also no shortage of bars and craft cocktails in town and two of the most popular spots are Stihl Whiskey Bar and Dogwood Cabin.
When it’s time for breakfast and you’re on the go, grab an Ocean Roll from Sparrow Bakery. This decadent and buttery treat is filled with cardamom, sugar, and vanilla. For a relaxed morning, have a seat at Chow or Jackson’s Corner, two of Bend’s iconic spots. And finally, after working up an appetite in the great outdoors or peddling around town drinking beer, head to Pine Tavern or Drake for dinner.
Where to Stay
Make a reservation at the SpringHill Suites in the Old Mill District, the newest hotel in town. This revitalized part of Bend has everything from breweries to movie theaters, restaurants, and shopping, and it’s just a few minutes by car to downtown. The property is actively involved in giving back to the community through their program called Art of Local Live where they host events to introduce local artists to the hotel guests. One of these special evenings took place during the solar eclipse and the festivities included appetizers created with the theme of the eclipse, interactive art exhibits, and a photographer explaining the tools and apps to best capture the eclipse.
For exciting outdoor adventures, spectacular scenery, and exceptional brews and food, plan to visit Bend and be sure to include a hike to watch the sunrise over the Ochoco Mountains.
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