Bend Oregon Blog | The Bend Buzz Blog by Visit Bend
If you’re here on the Bend Buzz Blog, odds are good you fit one of three profiles:
- You’re someone who urgently wants to vacation in Bend.
- You live in Bend and still feel awestruck and giddy at your geographic good fortune.
- You accidentally stumbled upon the Bend Buzz Blog while researching yoga positions for bumblebees.
While I’m delighted you’re all here, it’s the first group I’d like to address here. Hello, friend. Why haven’t you booked that Bend vacation yet?
Ah, I hear you. No, really—I’ve heard the excuse before, which is why I’d like to politely counter some of the most common reasons people just don’t get around to scheduling that vacation to Bend.
A winter vacation? But I’m not a skier.
Friend, I hear you. As a fellow non-skier, I understand the reluctance to strap boards to your feet and slide down a mountain. Lucky for us, there are still tons of great reasons to enjoy a winter vacation in Bend.
Mt. Bachelor has tons of fun non-skier options like the Snowblast Tubing Park and sled dog rides. You can also take a whirl around the ice skating rinks in Sunriver, Redmond, or Seventh Mountain Resort.
Snowshoeing is another fun activity for the non-skier folks who still want to get out and enjoy winter’s bounty. Book a guided trip with Wanderlust Tours to leave the driving, navigation, and gear procurement to the professionals.
Want to avoid the snow entirely? Hey, that’s easy this time of year. Even when the snow piles up in the mountains, you’re likely to see dry land the Bend city limits. Now’s a great time for mountain biking, hiking, or even non-active activities like the Roundabout Art Tour or the Bend Ale Trail.
And when it’s time to warm up after all your winter play, try the saltwater soaking pool at McMenamins or the fire pits scattered throughout town. For more ideas on how to warm up around Bend, go here.
I can’t afford a vacation right now.
As a cheapskate traveler myself, I feel your pain. While there are plenty of options for luxury hotels and mid-range lodging in Bend, I will confess I’m a low-budget traveler who avoids paying more than $60 a night for a room anywhere.
If you share my cheapskate habits, you’ll find plenty of options for inexpensive lodging in Bend.
One property I’ve had the pleasure of touring is the Rainbow Motel on Franklin Avenue. It’s an older, no-frills sort of place, but the rooms are clean and comfortable, and the location near Downtown Bend can’t be beat. At $49 a night (plus tax) you’ll be able to save your pennies for important things like beer and lift tickets.
You’ll find plenty of other budget- friendly lodging options along Third Street. Motel West is one such property where I stashed my parents for a few nights when they visited in the middle of my home renovation. They didn’t need mountain views from a private balcony or breakfast in bed—they just needed a clean bed in a convenient location, and we found it there for $45 a night (plus tax).
Now that you’ve got a cheap roof over your head, let’s talk about my favorite subject—food. I’ve blogged several times about finding cheap dining in Bend, but in case you missed those posts, here are your links to finding lunch for $6 or less and cheap eats ranging from free to $3.50.
Looking for more free activities? Here are some extra ideas:
- First Friday Art Walk in Downtown Bend and the Old Mill District
- The Three Sisters Scenic Bikeway
- Roundabout Art Route
- A stroll through historic Drake Park
And depending on when you’re visiting, you’ll find season-specific freebie offerings. Snow fans on a budget will appreciate the free turns at Mt. Bachelor on the Carrousel Lift (a beginner lift for skiers or riders). In the summertime, catch free tunes with the Free Summer Sundays concert series, Alive After 5, or Munch & Music.
Watch for no-cost seasonal festivals like Farmers Markets, Summerfest, Saturday Market, Oktoberfest, Fall Festival, and Bite of Bend.
I’m afraid to drive in the snow.
I’m a fourth generation Oregon who’s lived in Bend 16 years and who went to college in Montana. You’d think I’d be totally comfortable driving in the white stuff, but you’d be mistaken.
Here’s one thing a lot of people don’t realize about Bend: While it’s true Mt. Bachelor has gotten more than 300 inches of snow this season, I’m looking out my window right now at blue skies and dry pavement. It’s easy to drive 20 minutes up the hill to find more snow than you can shake a stick at, but the city proper doesn’t actually get all that much snow. That’s a good thing for those of us who aren’t wild about driving in it.
Of course, you still have to get here. One of the most valuable resources for winter drivers is the TripCheck website from the Oregon Department of Transportation. Use it to map out the best route for your journey, and scan webcams for up-to-the-minute views of which roadways have been recently plowed.
Keep an eye on weather reports, too, and have a little flexibility in your schedule. I’ve been planning a trip to Salem to visit my grandparents, and opted not to do it last weekend when weather reports suggested storm would hit the mountains. By Tuesday this week, the weather guy confirmed snow levels were high again, so I’m making the journey this weekend with little threat of any white stuff.
And if you’d rather leave the driving to someone else, the Central Oregon Breeze offers an inexpensive shuttle service between Portland and Central Oregon.
Useful stuff, to be sure. But the Visit Bend team fields plenty of less-commonly-asked questions on Facebook, Twitter, or in the Bend Visitor Center. While they’re not always the sort of thing we’d post in an FAQ, they pop up often enough that it seemed worthwhile to share the answers with you here.
Question 1: Pretty as a Picture
Q: You guys have so many awesome photos of Bend. Can I use one for my brochure/website/butt tattoo?
A: Maybe it’s Bend’s scenic beauty, or maybe it’s the talent of the photographers in our area. It’s probably a bit of both, but whatever the reason, we’re lucky to have tons of great images on our website and social media sites.
Here’s the deal: Visit Bend is committed to supporting artists and making sure they’re paid fairly for their work. The photos you see on our website are images we’ve purchased for that purpose. If we give them away, it not only violates our legally-binding usage agreements, but it hurts the photographer’s ability to make a living. Make sense?
We do have a gallery of images for which we’ve purchased licensing rights to share with magazines, newspapers, and other members of the media who are writing about Bend. If you fall into that category, awesome! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the skinny on how it works.
Now, if you’re talking about photos on social media channels like Facebook, it’s a little different. Those images run the gamut from professional photographs captured by artists who’ve spent years making a living at their craft, to images shared with us by amateur photographers working to make a name for themselves in the industry, to regular old snapshots taken by tourists on their iPhones. We love them all, and we’re thrilled by how many of you are eager to share your photos on the Visit Bend Facebook page.
Whenever we can, we credit those folks in the post and tag the photographer’s Facebook page if there is one. We also encourage all of you to “like” the post, leave a comment, and share it with your own Facebook friends. If you love the image so much that you want to see it on a poster or calendar, we encourage you to reach out to that photographer directly to find out how to do that.
Question 2: Guide me! Love me! Show me the way!
Q: We just got to Bend for vacation! Now what?
A: One of the biggest changes we’ve seen in the last couple years with our website and social media traffic is that more and more of you are checking us out on the fly. Last year 44% of the traffic to visitbend.com came from a mobile device or tablet. That’s almost half of you who are using us while on-the-go.
One of the ways we’ve responded to that is with a recent website update that makes our website more friendly to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Check us out at www.visitbend.com and tell us what you think!
While you’re browsing on the fly, be sure to hit our Event Calendar for up-to-the-minute info about what’s happening while you’re here.
Facebook is another great resource for on-the-go travel info. We’re posting 2-5 times each day with updates that range from local events to scenic photos to where you can grab a great cup of coffee. Ditto that for Twitter and Instagram.
And of course, this blog is always a good source of info. Check out the “categories” sidebar on the right to search for specific posts related to drinking & dining, seasonal recreation, family-friendly activities, and more!
Question 3: We love what you’re doing! We hate what you’re doing!
Version #1 Q: Bend is so amazing! How can I move there?
Version #2 Q: Stop telling everyone Bend is amazing! We don’t want them to move here.
A: Visit Bend is a not-for-profit marketing agency with only one client (the City of Bend) and one primary goal—to convince tourists this is the best place in the world for vacation.
Since Bend is scenic, spectacular, and brimming with fun things to do, this isn’t exactly a hardship.
We recognize that people who vacation here often investigate the possibility of living in Bend. That’s why we added the move here tab on our website to help guide those folks to info about real estate professionals and what’s involved in relocating a business to the area.
We’re lucky to have dozens of great local organizations in Bend devoted to preserving the area’s local resources and natural beauty. From the Deschutes Land Trust to Central Oregon Trail Alliance to other similarly worthy groups, Bend has some amazing folks watching out for her well-being.
We’re excited to share this amazing place with visitors who come here and funnel much-needed tourism dollars into retailers, restaurants, and tour operators who depend that revenue to make a living. If you vacation here and decide to become a permanent resident, we won’t expect you to lock the door behind you on the way in so no one else can do the same.
We welcome everyone to enjoy, cherish, and respect Bend as much as we do. Happy travels!
I’m fortunate not to have any dietary restrictions beyond my unfortunate inability to consume my own body weight in bacon and red wine.
I do, however, have a number of friends who’ve committed to gluten-free eating for a variety of reasons ranging from celiac disease to gluten-intolerance to “gluten just makes me feel icky.” The unexpected bonus for me is that I’ve become quite familiar with Bend restaurants doing an outstanding job on the gluten-free front.
Here are seven dishes and eateries you simply MUST try, whether you’re a gluten-free diner or just a foodie looking for a great meal.
1) The barbecue shrimp at Zydeco. This has been one of my favorite dishes in Bend for years, and it wasn’t until two days ago I had any idea it was gluten-free. The spicy, creamy sauce they use on these shrimp is so magical, they actually sell it in containers to take home. If you’re lucky enough to eat it at the restaurant, you can choose between having it served over grit cakes or mashed potatoes. Both options are delicious, and if you’re not restricted to gluten-free dining, ask for extra bread to mop up the sauce (gluten-free diners can request gluten-free cornbread). Besides the shrimp, Zydeco has an impressive menu packed with gluten-free appetizers, main courses, sides, and desserts, so this is one of your best bets in town if you’re committed to omitting the gluten.
2) Grab a sandwich at La Magie Bakery and Café. One of the most common complaints I hear from gluten-free pals is that gluten-free bread often tastes like dusty shoe leather. That’s fortunately not the case at La Magie, which boasts some of the best baked goodies in town, including divinely delicious (not to mention non-leathery) gluten-free breads. Most of the sandwiches and burgers are available on this bread, so you can pick among tasty options like an avocado club, mushroom swiss burger, Venetian chicken, and much more.
3) The to-die-for-desserts at Salud! Raw Food. When a friend suggested I try dessert at this place, I was skeptical. I’m not much of a dessert fan as it is, and the idea of eating one that was raw, gluten-free, and mostly vegan (minus the honey) it sounded as appealing as snacking on a piece of cardboard. Talk about eating my words! I ordered a slice of their spiced apple cinnamon cheesecake claiming “I’ll just try a bite.” I was so smitten after one taste that I had to fight the urge to throat-punch my friend so I could eat the whole thing. The crust is a delicious blend of cinnamon, almonds, and dates, while the cheesecake is a mix of coconut oil, cashews, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, raw honey, apple juice, and lemon with a little swirl of maple syrup and cinnamon on top. It was deliciously moist and flavorful, and I would go so far as to say this is one of the best desserts I’ve had in Bend PERIOD—never mind the gluten-free label. Salud! circulates new desserts regularly, so check back often to see what they have.
4) Pizza at Local Slice. Plenty of Bend pizzerias have hopped on the gluten-free bandwagon and started offering options for gluten-free diners. One of the tastiest in town is Local Slice, which makes their dough from Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Mix. Their toppings and cheese are locally-sourced, and they offer an interesting array of options like the Fire on the Mountain (spicy red chili, roasted peppers, red onions, fennel sausage, mozzarella & tomato pomodoro). Bonus: If pizza isn’t your thing, grab a gluten-free calzone made from the same dough!
5) Tasty tacos at Spork. Some of you might know Spork from its days as a cute little street cart, and others might know it from this amazing write up in the New York Times. What’s most important to know is that most things on the Spork menu are naturally gluten-free and absolutely delicious. One gluten-free pal speaks highly of their fried chicken, but I’m fiercely loyal to their tacos. It’s a tossup for me between the pork carnitas tacos (cotija, radish, green onion, cilantro, fried garlic salsa verde, and jalapeño pickles) or the fried catfish tacos (chili mayo, salsa verde, cabbage, radish, jalapeño, green onion, and cilantro) so I usually just order one of each for $3 apiece. They can also do vegan or dairy-free versions if that’s what rolls your socks up.
6) Sticky chicken at Real Food Street Bistro. I’m obsessed with the soups and sandwiches from this awesome little food cart at The Lot, but I just learned they also offer a unique array of gluten-free entrees. One that caught my eye (not to mention my palate) is the sticky chicken. It’s a lightly fried chicken breast in sweet chili sesame sauce served with your choice of kimchee salad or carrot-cucumber-ginger salad for $9. The specials and soup selections here change regularly, so keep an eye on their Facebook page for regular updates.
7) Nachos at Broken Top Bottle Shop. Like Zydeco, this is another Bend restaurant that’s really got it dialed-in on the gluten-free scene. There are tons of gluten-free options on the menu at BTBS, ranging from salads to entrees to desserts, but one of my favorite treats is the gluten-free nachos. They feature corn tortilla chips topped with gluten-free, vegetarian chili, cheddar cheese, green onions, black olives, O’Hana salsa, sour cream, and edamame guacamole. Yum! It’s $6 for a small, $10 for a large, and an extra $4 to add roasted chicken or pulled pork. There’s always at least one cider on their tap menu and several gluten-free beers in the bottle cooler, so the gluten-free folks have something sudsy to sip.
Whoever’s been doing the snow dance must have some mad boogie skills.
Over the last week, Mt. Bachelor has gotten more than five feet of new snow, and some parts of Bend had two feet of fresh snowfall last weekend. Kinda makes you want to grease up the saucer sled and hit the slopes for some good old fashioned sledding fun, huh?
When the snow piles up in town, any sloped space becomes fair game in local parks. Bend Parks and Recreation has nearly 70 parks to choose from, and several offer fun spots for sledding when there’s snow on the ground.
Bend’s crown jewel, Drake Park, spans 13 acres with several easy slopes that transform into popular sledding hills when the white stuff piles up. Hollinshead Park also has several nice sledding spots dotted around its 16.5 acre space. In the northeast part of town, try Al Moody Park, which also boasts some awesome playground equipment in case the kiddies need a change of scenery.
If snow isn’t blanketing the ground in town, drive just 20 minutes up Century Drive to Wanoga Sno-Park. Besides its snowmobile area and fabulous dog-friendly trails for snowshoeing and Nordic skiing, Wanoga offers an expansive sledding area with a huge warming hut (complete with woodstove and picnic tables) at the base. Don’t forget to buy a sno-park permit, which you can grab at the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava & Oregon in Downtown Bend.
Looking for a sledding experience that doesn’t require you to have your own sled? Check out Mt.Bachelor’s Snowblast Tubing Park. Located between the Mountain Gateway building and the bottom of Red Chair, the tubing park is an 800-foot ride complete with lanes, rollers, and surface lifts that pull you and your tube up the hill quickly and comfortably.
Prices vary depending on the date range, your age, and whether you’re looking for a full day or just a couple hours, but expect to pay anywhere from $10-$31 (not too shabby, considering the price includes your tube and as many rides as you can handle without having to hoof it to the top lugging a heavy sled).
For more ideas on sledding around Bend and Central Oregon, check out Visit Bend’s sledding page.
Oh, and in case you’ve wondered what it’s like to cruise down the sledding hill at the Mt. Bachelor Snowblast Tubing Park, here’s an up-close-and-personal look at it from Pete Alport:
Valentine’s Day 2014 is just around the corner, so it seems appropriate that Travel + Leisure magazine just declared Bend one of America’s most romantic towns.
I coulda told you that!
With Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday this year, it’s the perfect time to plan a romantic weekend getaway for you and your sweetie. Here’s how to make that happen!
Book yourself some swanky digs
First things first—you’ve gotta have a place to sleep. Or not sleep, depending on how romantic this vacation will be.
The Riverhouse offers several romance packages, including the Rendevous for Two. It features one night of lodging, complimentary welcome beverage, chilled champagne and chocolates in your room, an elegant dinner for two at their on-site restaurant, a $100 spa voucher for Anjou Spa, and a complementary full, hot breakfast. Rates this time of year start at $324, though you can upgrade to a room with a spa or fireplace for a bit more.
If the scene in Downtown Bend is more your style, now’s a great time to check out the newly-rennovated Wall Street Suites just across from PioneerPark. I use the term “renovated” loosely, as this is a complete rebirth for a property that’s gone from “meh” to a gorgeous, luxurious, hip space with a great location. They’ve got a great romance package that includes fresh flowers, handmade chocolates, and a split bottle of champagne upon your arrival. Add it to your regular room rate for just $50 extra!
For a complete rundown of Bend resorts, boutique hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, Bend vacation homes, condos, and more, check out our Bend lodging page on our website.
Have a romantic dinner for two
Now that you’ve got a place to stay, it’s time to make plans for your romantic meal. Check out our Bend dining page and peruse for everything from seafood restaurants to Mexican eateries to restaurants featuring new American & continental cuisine. Many places will book up early during Valentine’s weekend, so make sure you call for reservations.
Some Bend restaurants are doing special dinner packages just for the occasion. One of my favorite spots for super-fresh, locally-sourced gourmet meals is Bend’s Chow restaurant, but they’re typically only open for breakfast and lunch. As a special treat for Valentine’s Day, they’re offering a specialty dinner menu by reservation only. Call 541-728-0256 to book your spot.
If you’re willing to journey just a little northeast of town, consider booking your romantic meal out at Pronghorn Resort, where you’ll enjoy killer views and an awesome Prix Fix meal. Their special Valentine’s dinner is available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for $65 a person. The menu includes scrumptious offerings like a first course choice between seared sea scallops, handmade duck confit agnolotti, or Chioggia beet salad; a second course of lobster, lamb, or elk, and your choice among two drool-worthy desserts. Add a flight of bubbly paired with each course for $30.
If you’re opting for the privacy of a romantic Bend vacation home with a kitchen, venture forth to Newport Avenue Market where you’ll find all the fixins’ for a romantic dinner you can make for yourself. Bon appétit!
Now get out there and do something lovey!
There’s no shortage of romantic ways to spend your weekend in Bend!
If you and your sweetie have the urge to melt a little snow, head out on a cross country ski outing to Virginia Meissner. The trails are well-groomed, and you’ll find cozy warming huts where you can cuddle and enjoy a romantic winter picnic. Craving a nighttime snow adventure? During Valentine’s weekend, Wanderlust Tours is taking their Bonfire on the Snow Snowshoe Tour and turning it into something extra romantic. For just $85, get all the equipment, transportation, and insights from a professional naturalist guide, plus fresh desserts from Sparrow Bakery, hot cocoa with Bendistillery Hazelnut Espresso Vodka, and a champagne toast. This is an adults-only tour, and makes an awesome way to propose if that’s on your agenda this Valentine’s season.
If you’d prefer to stick closer to town, the soaking pool at McMenamins Old St. Francis School is a gorgeous, semi-enclosed saltwater pool crafted in shimmering turquoise tile work. Check out the stars through the open ceiling as you bob in the warm, non-chlorinated water and play footsie with your loved one.
Need to grab a last-minute Valentine’s gift? You’ll find tons of great treasures in local jewelry shops in Downtown Bend, ranging from gorgeous sunstone pieces at Douglas Fine Jewelry Design to creative creations from Karen Bandy Design Jeweler and John Paul Designs. In the Old Mill District, visit Saxons Fine Jewelers to scope out their gorgeous selection (insider tip: try your luck winning a Valentine’s gift from Saxons by entering their Facebook contest for a stunning heart pendant).
Of course, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a romantic Bend outing without spending a dime. Check out our hiking page to plan a special adventure with your honey, or consult our previous post on great places to kiss in Bend for ideas on staging the perfect romantic lip-lock.
Whatever you do, you’re sure to have a fabulous Valentine’s weekend in Bend!
I should state, for the record, that I’m fairly certain people of all genders experience a plethora of magnificence while living or vacationing in Bend.
But since I happen to possess the chromosomal makeup marking me as female, I’m uniquely equipped to appreciate a few of the special things Bend offers to people of my gender. Here are a few of them.
A beer culture just for us
Last summer I had the pleasure of participating in a focus group through the Central Oregon Beer Angels in which women shared the evolution of their own beer appreciation. Not surprisingly, many of us grew up thinking of beer as “that gross warm stuff dad drinks from a can.”
Luckily, our beer experiences and beer culture in general has evolved a lot since then. Now there’s a whole segment of the beer world in Bend targeted specifically at women.
For starters, I’m wildly in love with my “girl vs. beer” t-shirt commemorating the Bend Ale Trail. I get compliments every time I wear it, and I crack up every time some big, burly guy walks into the Bend Visitor Center asking if we have one in his size. If you can’t stop by in-person, you can buy your own shirt online here. (Insider tip: They run a little small, so go one size bigger than you’d normally buy).
While I appreciate all kinds of beer from stouts to porters to IPAs, there’s a special place in my heart (not to mention my belly) for the female-centric brews at Boneyard Beer. This time of year, the sour ale Femme Fatale is usually on-tap and offering tasty raspberry flavors and a great breakfasty (that’s totally a word) flavor. In the summer months, their popular Girl Beer offers a similar raspberry peppiness, and despite its name, appeals to beer fans of all genders. For beer that’s actually created by a girl, I’m I huge fan of the summertime grapefruity Swill from 10 Barrel Brewing, where brewer Tonya Cornett is constantly pleasing my palate with an array of tasty, fruity sour beers.
When it’s time to clean up after a long day on Bend Ale Trail, I love working up a lather with Dirty Girl soap from LeCol’s Soap Bar. It’s made with beer from Boneyard Brewing, and smells fabulous. It’s also great for your skin, with hops that contain anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory components, plus amino acids for moisturizing.
Find your muse, or be your own!
If you’ve ever wanted a chance to celebrate everything awesome about women and girls, you’ll want to mark March 7-9 on your calendar. That’s the date of this year’s Muse Women’s Conference held in Bend.
Gather with your fab fellow females for workshops, performances, panel discussions, breakout sessions, and amazing keynote speakers like Amy Richards, Lynne Twist, and Zainab Salbi. You can read their bios here, and also scope out the schedule and purchase tickets.
The all-access passes have already sold out, but the $75 conference pass gives you the opportunity to enjoy all the Friday & Saturday events (including a Meet the Muse Reception).
The Bend conference is part of a bigger organization called World Muse, which is dedicated to the belief that women and girls can change the world. Not a bad way to spend a weekend, eh?
Get your girly self outdoors for some recreation
It’s not that we don’t like to play with the boys, right? It’s just that sometimes a gal wants to enjoy her fitness and recreation in the company of other wimminfolk.
There are tons of great opportunities to do that in and around Bend. At the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center, they offer oodles of great workshops and lessons to get you out there enjoying the cross country ski trails. Check out the She’s On Skis clinic, which is open to skate skiers at the advanced beginner level and above. Focus on technique instruction, getting a good workout, and best of all, female camaraderie. Clinics are offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and you can check out the schedule and pricing details here.
If mountain biking is more your scene, check out the Women’s Allride Clinic from Cog Wild. You’ll spend three days with world-renowned MTB instructor Lindsey Voreis enjoying trail riding, skills clinics, and tons of amazing food and views. If you’re a road cyclist or mountain bike fanatic who lives in Bend or visits more frequently, check out the offerings from Bend Bella Cyclists.
Ladies with a competitive spirit might enjoy the annual Happy Girls Run May 24-25 in Bend. The scenic route starts on the Deschutes River and includes a mix of gentle trails, groomed paths, and paved surfaces.
There’s also the annual Heaven Can Wait Walk/Run on June 1. It raises money for breast cancer education, research, and detection, and it’s a popular event for breast cancer survivors or those walking/running in memory of someone who’s battled cancer. Walking in it last year with my then-seven-year-old stepdaughter was one of the highlights of last spring for me, and I’m looking forward to doing it again this year.
Welcome to your eighth edition of Mind Bend-ers, a special blog feature offering you the inside scoop on quirky Bend history and offbeat trivia.
If you’ve passed through Downtown Bend, odds are good you’ve spotted the bright marquis of the Tower Theatre. Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to catch a concert or movie there, or perhaps you’ve walked by late at night and noticed a light still glowing inside long after everyone’s gone home when only ghosts are creeping about, lurking in shadows and trailing their long, cold fingers over—
Wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The Tower Theatre was originally built in 1940, and played host to a variety of fashion shows, amateur hours, and film screenings. Things were boss through the ‘50s, groovy in the ‘60s, far out in the ‘70s, and even pretty tubular though the ‘80s. But the place fell into disrepair in the ‘90s, prompting a spate of “save the theatre” fund raisers we suspect did not involve Sally Struthers telethons.
A total reconstruction kicked off in the early 2000s, and the Tower Theatre reopened in 2004 as a spiffy art deco live performance theatre that’s hosted everything from weddings to film festivals to top-notch performers like Brandi Carlile (who, for the record, is not a ghost).
Okay, so about that light—the one that’s still blazing in the theatre at 2 a.m. What gives?
According to Executive Director Ray Solley, theatrical tradition calls for something called a “ghost light” to illuminate the inside of a theatre 24/7. “Generally, it’s a stand with a bare light bulb—a bit like a floor lamp without a lampshade.”
At the Tower Theatre, it takes the form of two florescent lights in the rafters that shine down on the front of the stage and the first few rows. Why?
“Many theatres have some history of ghost sightings or myths about ghosts,” Ray explained. “The ghost light can either keep them away or give them light to see by.”
We’ll go with the second explanation, since it sounds more welcoming. And according to local scuttlebutt, ghosts have felt welcome at the Tower Theatre from time to time, with one person spotting a figure in the Romeo & Juliet window near the stage (a figure that vanished quickly, followed by the slamming of a back door). On another occasion, some performers rehearsing late at night spotted a couple seated in the back row. When someone hopped down off the stage to investigate, the spooky pair vanished.
Anyone else have goosebumps?
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, we guarantee you’ll get a few pleasant goosebumps from some of the stellar performances liked up at the Tower Theatre in the coming year. Check out their calendar of events and start planning your special night on the town now.
They’ll leave the light on for you. Or for the ghosts. Whatever.
A new year is upon us, which brings us a lot to look forward to in Bend. Besides the usual glorious views, amazing high-desert climate, and endless abundance of recreation opportunities, here are four brand-spanking new things coming to Bend in 2014 that have me dancing on my desk.
This spring: Dogwood Cocktail Cabin in Downtown Bend
Does it make me a lush if I admit I’m excited anytime a new bar opens in Bend? But this isn’t just any bar.
Dogwood Cocktail Cabin is slated to open this spring on NW Minnesota Avenue in Downtown Bend in the space that’s been vacant more than two years since the fabulous Astro Lounge moved around the corner. It’s a primo location made even more amazing by what they plan to do with it.
Dogwood Cocktail Cabin will specialize in house-infused culinary cocktails. Think one-of-a-kind blends like butternut squash-infused vodka and tobacco-infused rum. DJs will spin electronic dance music, and the décor will be hip and urban.
Eyeing their menu from their existing location in Crested Butte, Colorado, I have to say I’m most excited about the D-cup—a cocktail blended with Pimms, Hendrick’s Gin, cucumber, and wasabi. Save me a seat at the bar?
In April: Wanderlust Tours starts offering road bike trips
I’m proud to say I’ve tried nearly every single outing offered by the folks at Wanderlust Tours, so I was delighted earlier this week to learn they’ll be rolling out a new host of options this spring.
Beginning in April, Wanderlust will offer five new half-day road bike tours including a Sisters to Smith Rock route and an outing along the MetoliusRiver. Trips will go from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. or from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The $80 price tag includes a guide, transportation, heavy snack, and a Sag Wagon with mechanic’s station, repair parts, cold drinks, and a chance to hop aboard if your legs need a break.
These half-day outings are perfect for those who know which direction to face on a bicycle seat, but who aren’t looking for a hardcore training ride. Think of it as an interpretive tour with frequent stops, tasty food, and plenty of fascinating local insights from your professional naturalist guide. They’ll also offer full-day trips for more experienced riders.
Road bike tours won’t start until April, but now’s a great time to start planning your vacation itinerary. Call the good folks at Wanderlust Tours today to figure out which trip is right for you.
In June: The Oregon Senior Games
It might seem odd for a 39-year-old to be this excited about a sporting event that’s only open to athletes 50 and older, but I find myself feeling oddly giddy about the Oregon Senior Games coming up June 19-22 in Bend.
For starters, it marks the end of Oregon’s sad status as one of only two states in the U.S. with no state senior games. Having the event in Bend is the perfect way to show off the city’s status as the outdoor playground of the west.
Aside from that, there’s something inspiring about the idea of hundreds of 50+ athletes out there kicking butt at swimming, track & field, tennis, archery, pickleball, cowboy action shooting, and plenty of other events throughout the four-day competition. Anyone who meets the age criteria can compete, and the top four finishers in most sports in each age group will qualify to compete in the 2015 National Senior Games in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Whether you’re watching or participating, this event promises to be inspiring all around! To register or learn more, go here.
In August: Dave Matthews Band at the Les Schwab Amphitheater
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen the Dave Matthews Band perform over the last 15 years, but it’s more than a dozen. As I’ve driven over the mountains to Portland or across the desert to The Gorge, I’ve always wished for the opportunity to see them in my own hometown.
To my utter surprise and delight, I’m getting my wish on August 26 when the Dave Matthews Band plays the Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend’s Old Mill District. Tickets for this once-in-a-lifetime show will go on sale February 7, and I can pretty much guarantee they’ll sell out fast.
If you’ve never seen this band live, you’re in for an amazing treat of stellar jams, entertaining antics, and of course, incredible music. The amphitheater’s riverside locale and grassy spaces make it the perfect venue for kicking back with a frosty craft brew and a pack of pals grooving to the tunes.
Tickets are general admission only, and while it’s a bit of a splurge at $75 apiece, I can assure you it’s worth it. For ticket info and details, go here.
My headline might be misleading, so make no mistake about it—you’re going to look like a total dork.
But with tons of snow scheduled to hit Mt.Bachelor in the coming days, it’s crucial we all do our part to ensure the mountains surrounding Bend have plenty of fluffy white stuff this season.
At some point during your Bend vacation, you must do a snow dance. You’re welcome to dredge the depths of your creativity to make up your own, or consider using one of the following options.
The sugar snow dance
- Stroll through Downtown Bend en route to Thump Coffee. Pause along the way to admire the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection scattered throughout public areas, including the parking garage, Gasoline Alley, and Tin Pan Alley.
- Enter Thump Coffee and order the tasty beverage of your choice (I recommend Blue People Oolong for tea drinkers and the Violet Beaurgard—that’s a salted blueberry mocha—for coffee fans). Don’t forget the muffin.
- Carry your drink to the condiment station at the rear of the shop and take a firm hold of the sugar dispenser.
- Pour one tablespoon of sugar directly into your palm, toss it up in the air, open your mouth to catch the flakes on your tongue, and sing the following song to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat:”
Snow, snow in my mouth
My face, my hair and ears
Mother Nature, send us more
I’ll buy you seven beers
- Apologize to the barista and request a broom so you can clean up your mess.
- Hold good on your promise by embarking on a journey along the Bend Ale Trail, where you will visit all 12 breweries collecting passport stamps, earning prizes, and lifting at least seven of your favorite craft brew selections in a toast to Mother Nature.
The doggie snow dance
- Head up to Mt.Bachelor and schedule a sled dog ride with Oregon Trail of Dreams.
- Go out and greet your sled dog team, making sure to congratulate them on the fact that Bend was named the nation’s dog-friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine.
- When the dogs begin howling, barking, and lunging with excitement (either because of the article or the upcoming journey) join in with your own giddy display of jumping and yipping, followed by a chorus of the following melody sung to the tune of Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog:”
You ain’t nothin’ but a snow dog
Runnin’ in the pow
You’re a very lucky snow dog
More snow is comin’ now
Yeah, your tail will be a waggin’
You can have Dawg Grog and chow
- After you enjoy your exciting sled dog ride, return to Bend and procure several bottles of Dawg Grog beer for dogs. Take it to your sled dog pals, along with a copy of the recent article in Costco Connection touting this amazing made-in-Bend brew.
The snowshoe snow dance
- Book a snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours. The night owls among you will want to check out the Moonlight & Starlight Snowshoe Tours, while those who prefer daylight will be most comfortable boogying down on one of their daily snowshoe adventures.
- While your naturalist guide drives you up the mountain sharing information about the geology and history of the area, take the opportunity to do some sharing of your own by teaching your snow dance lyrics to others on the tour.
- Enjoy your snowshoe adventure to the fullest, soaking up plenty of fresh air, gorgeous scenery, and fascinating knowledge from your naturalist guide.
- During the segment of the tour when your guide offers warm beverages to the group, extract one marshmallow from your cocoa, toss it into the air as an offering to the snow gods, and turn slowly in a circle as you sing to the tune of “My Favorite Things:”
Steep chutes and tree lines and wide open spaces
Running and jumping puts smiles on our faces
Grins from the kids make us just want to sing
These are a few of our favorite things!
- Encourage your fellow snowshoe enthusiasts to craft lyrics of their own, offering up the requisite marshmallow sacrifice with each new stanza. In accordance with Wanderlust’s commitment to leaving no trace, remember to pick up any marshmallows that go unclaimed by the snow gods.
- Return to Bend and hop on the Mt.Bachelor website to check out their upcoming promotions, including Kids Ski Free, Ski or Ride in 5 and their new #MtBachelorStoked contest where they’re giving away $15,000 in cash and prizes.
Got a snow dance of your own? We’d love to see it! Shoot an Instagram video and tag us at @visitbend, or post your video to YouTube and share it with us on the Visit Bend Facebook page.
We’ll choose a winner on Thursday, January 23 to receive two free Fat Bike rentals from fabulous Downtown Bend shop The Hub Cyclery—perfect for enjoying all that new snow!
The champagne is gone, the noisemakers are stashed, and it’s time to get serious about those pesky New Year’s resolutions.
Some good news: this is the year you’re finally going to achieve all those goals you set for yourself. Your secret weapon? A vacation in Bend, Oregon.
Here’s how a Bend vacation can help you achieve six of the most common New Year’s resolutions.
If you’ve resolved to get fit…
Dubbed “the outdoor playground of the west,” Bend is the place to be if fitness and recreation are part of your plans for the New Year. No matter what form of fitness you prefer, Bend offers the best playground to do it. Is snowplay your thing? National Geographic listed Bend as one of the world’s top 25 ski towns. Fond of hunting and fishing? Outdoor Life named Bend the nation’s #1 town for sportsmen. Both Competitor and Outside magazine named Bend the top town for trail running, while Mountain Bike Action spotlighted the city as America’s #1 mountain biking town.
If you’re new to fitness and all this sounds a little too expert-level for your taste, don’t worry! You’ll find plenty of help for newbies just looking to get started. Try a basic mountain biking tour with Cog Wild, or scope out Visit Bend’s hiking page or Cascade Hiking Adventures to choose a good starter hike that’s more your pace.
If you tend to be more goal-oriented with your fitness, skim our event calendar for upcoming races like the Pole, Peddle, Paddle in May, the Dirty Half Marathon in June, the Deschutes Dash in July, or the Haulin’ Aspen in August. Then start your training program now so you’re ready to compete on race day.
If you’ve resolved to spend more time with family…
When it comes to family fun, no one does it better than Bend. Grab a bottle of bubbles at the Dollar Tree before you head out for a family-friendly hike up Pilot Butte. When you reach the top, blow bubbles for the kids to chase.
If snow-play is your scene, Mt.Bachelor offers the ultimate family-friendly package with their kids ski free offer that allows kids 12 and under to ski free with the purchase of an adult lift ticket. You can also opt for an afternoon at the SnowBlast Tubing Park or a truly special experience with a family sled dog rides with Oregon Trail of Dreams.
For a guided outing you’ll all remember, try a cave tour or a snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours.
Feeling more indoorsy? Enjoy an evening of arcade games and bowling at Sun Mountain Fun Center. For the consummate Central Oregon experience, check out the High Desert Museum where you’ll enjoy artful exhibits, history, culture, and cool local critters like the bobcat, lynx, badger, and porcupine.
Do the kids still have energy to burn? Bend has nearly 70 public parks scattered all over town where you can run, cavort, slide, swing, and frolic ‘til everyone’s tuckered.
If you’ve resolved to have a better work/life balance…
In 2012, Entrepreneur magazine touted Bend as “the most entrepreneurial city in America.” If you’re tired of the rat race in your current city of residence, now might be the time to consider a move to Bend. As any HR director will tell you, employees are more productive when they’re happy, healthy, and inspired by the natural beauty around them.
If you’re thinking of relocating a business to Bend, the city has plenty of competitive advantages, including an affordable cost of living and business-friendly infrastructure. Bend also offers fast access to major business markets, with direct flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Denver, and Salt Lake City.
Go here to request a business relocation packet and to learn more about moving your business to Bend.
If you’ve resolved to be smarter with money…
OK, I can’t claim you’ll actually save money with a Bend vacation if you’re choosing between that and staying home on your sofa. But if you’re scheduling a vacation anyway and considering options like Vail or Tahoe, Bend wins hands-down on the affordability scale.
Whether you’re analyzing prices on Bend hotels and vacation rentals or checking out the price of activities, you’ll find Bend to be one of the least expensive mountain destinations in the region. Just ask TripAdvisor (the world’s largest travel site) which recently analyzed the most popular ski destinations in the U.S. based on common ski trip expenses like hotel stay, lift ticket, rental equipment pricing, food, and beer. Bend was named the #2 value in all of the U.S. and Canada. Not too shabby!
For even more tips on saving money in Bend, keep your eyes on the Bend Buzz Blog. Posts like Cheapskates, Rejoice! Bend has great lunch options for $6 or less as well as Your guide to finding Bend’s best cheap eats for $3.50, $2.50, $1.50, or (*gasp*) FREE! can help you stretch your vacation dollars to the max.
If you’ve resolved to eat better…
No matter what your culinary resolutions entail, you’ll find a great support system in Bend. Going gluten-free? Bend is teeming with restaurants catering to your culinary needs, and you’ll find a roundup of them here. You can also check here for oodles of great ideas on finding vegetarian chow in Downtown Bend.
You’ll find a bounty of nutritious offerings at Sara’s Raw & Vegan Café, which features handcrafted smoothies, daily lunch specials, yummy vegan snacks, raw desserts, and more. If you’ve pledged to focus on locally-sourced foods, check out the selections at Chow or Jackson’s Corner, where they make it their mission to incorporate as much local food as possible into their meals.
You know that saying about giving a man a fish so he can eat for a day or teaching him to fish so he eats for a lifetime? If you want to learn to eat for a lifetime (and eat really, really well while you’re at it) check out the schedule of cooking classes offered by Well Traveled Fork. They’re designed to teach you everything from seasoning techniques to cooking with aphrodisiacs, and you’re guaranteed to have a good time while you’re at it.
If you’ve resolved to master a new skill…
There are plenty of things you can learn in Bend, depending on what interests you. Hook up with a local fly fishing outfitter to learn casting techniques or the best place to find big, fat trout.
If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at writing, Nature of Words often hosts creative workshops for adults and kids. You’ll also find an array of community learning classes offered through Central Oregon Community College. Choose from professional development classes like foreign language or computer skills, or opt for continuing ed courses ranging from yoga to art to gardening.
Want to try your hand at photography? Cascade Center of Photography offers a variety of workshops to nurture your inner shutterbug.
Believe it or not, winter is a great time to learn to kayak. Rather than dunking you in a frigid river, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe makes it simple for you to learn basic techniques in their shop and a swimming pool before you head out on the open water. Go here to learn about classes offered now, including their three-hour brace and roll class offered most weekends throughout the winter.
I already mentioned the Well Traveled Fork in the last section, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest their cooking classes here as well for those looking to pick up some new techniques or start from scratch as a newbie cook.
So what’s your New Year’s resolution this year? And more importantly, when will we see you in Bend so you can start fulfilling it?