Bend, Oregon – The best town in the Pacific Northwest. Home to 26 breweries, 15 snowy mountains, more than 30 Cascade Lakes, over 300 miles of single-track mountain biking trails, 22 golf courses, Smith Rock, and word class skiing. Bend boasts of 300 days of sunshine a year, and with the Deschutes river running right through town, it’s an oasis for kayakers, fishermen, and stand-up paddle boarders.
Since moving to Bend, I have received many messages about what to do here! Apparently lots of people vacation in Bend, and I can see why;) Although I would love to individually point each of you in the direction of joy and adventure, I simply don’t have time to respond to each of your messages! BUT, I don’t want to leave you hanging, so I decided to craft up a list of my favorite spots and things to do in Bend, Oregon!
Mt. Bachelor – The best skiing in the PNW. I grew up down hill ski racing for Mt. Bachelor soooooo I might be a little bias… but I also skied all over the northwest and Bachelor ranks among the best! Plus why go to Utah or Colorado when you can ski here in Oregon for HALF the cost!! Bachelor has over 3,700 acres of lift-accessible terrain, deep power, lots of sunshine, and the highest skiable elevation in all of Oregon and Washington. The backside of “Bachey” (as my siblings and I called it growing up) is unbeatable on a blue bird day. If you are an experienced skier, take the Summit chairlift to the top, and drop down on the backside of the mountain. You will be looking at three of the other Cascade Mountains, as well as a dozen cascade lakes below you! Bachelor also has a lodge at the top of the mountain most well known Pinnacle’s Coffee, Chili Bread Bowls, and Red Chair IPA. My favorite run on the whole mountain is Sparks Lake run off of Northwest. Mt. Bachelor also has ski school for kids, hundreds of miles of cross country skiing trails, snowmobiling, snow sowing, dog sledding, and inner-tubing. The mountain usually opens around Thanksgiving and stays open until early May when they host their annual pond skim.
Smith Rock – This oasis stretches over 650 acres and hovers around 3,000 feet in elevation. The major rock faces are welded tuff, or compressed volcanic ash. A Rock climbers dream. Smith Rock attracts over 600,000 rock climbers and campers from around the world every year. Although Smith Rock’s is much more pleasant in the spring and summer, the park is open year round. There are dozens of trails that stretch out along the canyon, and Crooked River. On top of Smith Rock is one of the best places in Bend to catch the sunset.
Shevlin Park – For all you runners, this is your jam. Shevlin Park is the largest park in Bend with a network of trails perfect for runners, hikers and bikers. This run with take your breath away and not because of the elevation… it’s gorgeous. The running trails cut through forest, prairies, covered bridges, flowers, and along the Tumalo Creek River. It stays cool in the summertime because it’s in a canyon but make sure you get your run in before sunset cause it gets dark and cold fast! Also a great place for picnics, photos, and running the dogs!
Lava River Cave – As part of my Bachelorette party we went to the lave tubes. Yes, some girls go dancing and drinking and we went lava cave exploring;) Bend has over 1000 lava tubes created by volcanic activity thousands of years ago. You can go down into these God-made forts and crawl through the tunnels. Some spots have an ending where you can climb out of the tube, and walk back to your car on a trail, while others require you to make a U-turn at the end. It is freakin’ COLD in there though so make sure you dress warm, and you’re down to get dirty. Also, make sure you have a legit lantern or well stocked flashlight because once you get in there you might as well close your eyes it’s so dark! Fun fact: Jeremy and I went to the “Ape Caves” (similar to these) in Washington before we were dating. It was one of our first “hang outs” long before dating… It was basically me, Tori (who had just started dating Zach) and bunch of dudes.
McMenamins Old St. Francis School – If you are visiting Oregon in general, not specific to Bend, you MUST go to a McMenamins. McMenamins has been in Oregon and Washington since 1983 and they are known for their atomosphere, charm, and sense of community. Many of the McMenamins are old historic buildings converted into a hotel with restaurants, brew pubs, movie theaters, spas, and concert venues. Jer and I go to the one in Bend, Old St. Francis School, all the time to see $5 dollar movies, sit in the comfy vintage couches, and have dinner and drinks served to us. It is pure brilliance. If you go for drinks or dinner, be sure to try the Edgefield Blackberry Cider! The Old. St. Francis School is a converted 1936 Catholic schoolhouse in downtown Bend. Here is the link to all the McMenamins in Oregon and Washington where you can find their lists of events, concerts, movies, ect.
Cultus Lake – One of the many prime spots in Bend for camping and boating. Cultus Lake is one of the beautiful clear water cascade lakes in central Oregon. There is ample camping here for RV’s, tents, and they even have cabins you can rent out! The lake has a marina with a restaurant, rentals, and sand beaches. Neighboring Cultus Lake includes; Little Cultus, Devils Lake, Elk Lake, Waldo Lake, Lave Lake, and sparks lake. Cultus is one of the only natural lakes that permits boats for waterskiing, wakeboarding ect.
Tumalo Falls – Tumalo falls is a 97ft waterfall in the Deschutes National Forest. The trailhead at the falls provides access to biking/hiking trails and picnic areas. It’s a summer time venture because you can only get there by snowmobile in the winter! This beautiful place speaks for itself! Go!
Umpka Hot Springs – If you’re up for a drive, Upmqua Hot Springs is pretty magical and it’s open year round if your willing to walk in or ski a couple miles to get to it! There are 3 hot spring pools, and one is covered. There are actually two campsites at the hot springs, and there is a picnic area as well. Soak in these steaming natural bath tubs in the snow or on a summer night!
Crater Lake – Oregon’s only National Park is Crater Lake. A destination spot for people all over the country. It’s about a two-hour drive from Bend, but it’s deep blue beauty is worth the trip. Crater lake is surrounded by cliffs towering at 2,000 ft, and the lake is 1,946 ft deep – that’s the deepest lake in the United States! If you visit, keep an eye out for, “Old Man Of The Lake,” a 30 ft tree stump that has been bobbing up and down in Crater lake since 1896! This bleached white and weathered stump sticks out about 4 feet from the water. It’s said to be wide and buoyant enough to hold a persons weight, if you dare…
Newberry National Volcanic Monument – It includes 50,000 acres of lakes, lava flows, and forest. Basically a vast expanse of places to adventure and get lost. Oregon’s longest known lava tube (the Lave River Cave I listed above) is in this park and it can be explored by lantern! There are multiple peaks and buttes that you can hike to see the lakes and mountains surrounding.
Zydeco Restaurant – Hands down best food in Bend. It’s located in the heart of downtown Bend. Great service and atmosphere. Definitely try the house smoked trout dip, and their cocktails are bomb!
Deschutes and Worthy Brewing – Deschutes Brewery was established in 1988 in Bend. Their craft brews are very popular in the pacific northwest and most known for their Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter. One of the newer breweries in Bend is Worthy Brewing. Our good family friend Roger Worthington started it a few years ago and they make great beer with some rad names. Worthy brewing also has killer pizza, and a great outdoor vibe in the summertime.
Velvet Bar – A fun and funky bar on the corner of downtown. They play ski movies on the tv’s in the winter time, and often have live music! Great casual night out spot.
Looney Bean Coffee – There are actually quite a few good coffee shops in Bend, (Backporch, Thump, Blue Bird, Lone Pine, Dudley’s and Strictly Organic) but this one has the best atmosphere and coffee combined. It is in an old house that was renovated into a coffee shop with a huge porch and yard that overlooks the Deschutes River. In the summer they have yard games and lots of outdoor seating on the river bank lawn.
The Old Mill And The River– The Deschutes River runs through the Old Mill to give it it’s charm and lure. There are multiple dog parks and a trails that follows the river for miles. Bend is known for it’s iconic three milling towers (in the Old Mill shopping area) that still stand, but are no longer in use. The Old Mill is an outdoor shopping mall with a movie theater, restaurants, wineries, and an outdoor amphitheater right next to the river. Well known artists from around the world come to Les Schwab to preform. In the summertime people float, stand up paddle board, and kayak down the river! Great fishing and running trails along the river too:)
Cycle Pub – The epitome of Bend… biking and beer. The cycle pub is basically a moving pub on wheels, that you pedal. You can rent these vehicles for up to 12 people, and a driver is provided so you can legally drink will you bike around Bend!
After reading about all this bliss…. Looking for an excuse to come to Bend?! Well here you go! I am inviting you to Pursuit Conference! I am speaking at this conference in Sunriver (just outside of Bend) this June!!! COME!!!!
If you sign up with the code: ROLOFF at checkout, you will get a $50 discount!!! You can read about the conference details here!
“This June, we will gather at Sunriver Resort outside of Bend, Oregon for 3 incredible days of worship, inspiration, friendship, adventure, creativity, rest, fire pits, kayaking, drawn out dinners, and the good stuff of life. Imagine summer camp, for adults. Except the rooms are gorgeous and lavish, and we get craft beer and wine instead of kool-aid. In the morning and evenings, we will be hearing from inspirational speakers about business, life, faith, marriage, and creativity. By afternoon, our currated Adventure Guide gives you extraordinary opportunities to experience the wonders of Bend, Sunriver, and your creative heart. A few options already on the schedule are hiking, mountain biking, paddle boarding, a step-by-step date day, horseback riding, hand-lettering, watercolor, cave exploring, the Bend Ale Trail, inner-tube sledding and more. We will gather nightly by the fire, and top off our time together with our Signature Art of Community Celebration dinner by the river.” – Karen Stott, Founder of Pursuit Community