Bend Oregon Blog | The Bend Buzz by Visit Bend
It’s been an epic snow year in Bend, with nearly 60 inches falling in town so far this season.
To put that into perspective, Bend’s normal average snowfall for the entire year is 24 inches. This is January, guys—we’re not even halfway done!
Fans of the white stuff have been flocking here this winter for sledding and snowball fights and all the fun things that make up a winter vacation.
But what else is there to do with all this snowy goodness? Here are eight ideas!
Ski, snowboard, or snowshoe
This one’s kinda obvious, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out all the ways you can enjoy our epic snow year at Mt. Bachelor.
There’s downhill skiing and snowboarding, plus Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and even unique options like sled dog rides and the Snowblast Tubing Park.
Wanderlust Tours has also been enjoying a fantastic season of snowshoeing. I took my whole extended family on their Bonfire on the Snow tour over the holidays, and if I had a snowball for every time someone uttered the phrase “magical,” I’d win the neighborhood snowball fight.
Dig yourself a snow cave
The snow is officially deep enough in town to make yourself a pretty sweet snow cave or igloo. What kid hasn’t fantasized about this at some point?
Just be careful not to let kids play in snow berms near roadways, since plows are continually piling up the white stuff and may not see them.
Make a tasty dessert
Anyone who’s been to Hawaii knows the pleasure that is “shave ice.” Fluffy mounds of frozen goodness get covered in flavored syrup and served atop a scoop of ice cream. Here’s your chance to try it Bend-style!
Note: If it appears the snow has already been doused with lemon syrup, choose different snow. Also worth noting: giardia is no fun, so be careful about using only pristine, untouched snow.
For more snow-based dessert ideas, check out this piece on making ice cream.
Get creative with your snowman (or woman!)
There’s tons of raw material to work with out there, so now’s a good time to add a little flair to your snowman or snowwoman. Heck, you can make a whole family of them!
Have a Snow-B-Que
Just because the snow is piled waist-high doesn’t mean grilling is out of the question. In fact, it’s a fun way to enjoy our winter wonderland while you grill up something warm to fill your belly.
Shovel some snow
Here’s your opportunity to add a little “voluntourism” to your Bend vacation.
Got a shovel and a strong back? Lend a hand if you spot a driveway or sidewalk that hasn’t been tended. Elderly and disabled homeowners are struggling right now, and it’ll make your heart feel good to help out.
It’s a timely effort not only because of the heavy snowfall, but because January 16 is celebrated as Day of Service. Go here for more ideas on getting involved and making a difference, or check out our Visit Like a Local page to get inspiration.
Chill your beer
This is nature’s cooler right here. And now there’s more room in the fridge for other things like…well, more Bend beer.
Just be cautious about what you’re leaving outside when temperatures dip much below freezing. There’s a bottle of soda on my back porch right now that looks like a science experiment gone bad.
Ice that aching knee
Got an old ski injury that flares up from time to time, or an owie that feels better when iced? The consistency of snow makes it a perfect, moldable ice pack when sealed in plastic baggies.
That might come in handy for your aching back if you get a little too hardcore with the aforementioned shoveling!
Welcome to 2017, everyone!
There are so many fab things to look forward to in Bend each year, and 2017 is no exception. As I sat down with my life planner to map out a year’s worth of events and activities, I remembered all over again what a cool town Bend is and how lucky we are to have something awesome happening every month of the year.
Here are some of my favorite things coming up in 2017 . . .
This month, the Joy Project launched in Bend to help add a little happiness and goodwill to an otherwise quiet month in the high desert. It’s a way of empowering people to show kindness and spread joy, and you can read more about it here.
January is also the month when I round out my New Year’s resolutions with a list of three new-to-me hikes I want to tackle in the coming year. To spark your own ideas, check out Visit Bend’s hiking page or Cascade Hiking Adventures.
For a short month, February manages to pack in some of my favorite Bend activities.
President’s Weekend boasts the renowned Oregon Winterfest, complete with live music, rail jam, and competitions ranging from fire pits to ice sculptures.
One of my all-time favorite events is Zwickelmania, the statewide celebration of Oregon’s craft breweries. Though it usually happens the same weekend as President’s Day, Central Oregon decided to branch off this year and do it the following weekend instead on Feb. 25.
I’m probably most excited about the second annual Bend A Cappella Fest, which I was lucky enough to attend with my family in its inaugural year. I was blown away by the sheer volume of talent and the entertainment value for all ages, and can’t wait to go again. Pro tip: It’s almost certain to sell out, so buy tickets early!
Spring Break around the Pacific Northwest can make March a bit busy in Bend, but that’s good news for those who love an air of giddy excitement mixed with their crisp wintery weather.
This is the month when hopeful little spring blooms start wiggling their way out of the dirt, making desert hikes especially fun for wildflower aficionados.
It’s also when the Les Schwab Amphitheater starts trickling out details about the summer concert lineup, adding to the giddy hopefulness of this still-chilly month. Keep your eyes on their Facebook page if you want to be among the first to see concert announcements.
For women seeking a way to celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, the Muse Conference brings together internationally-recognized artists, authors, athletes, entrepreneurs, activists, and social change leaders.
Though there’s still a lot of chilly weather and the occasional threat of snowfall, April typically brings the year’s first opportunity to trot out short-sleeved shirts (albeit, paired with a sweater—it ain’t July!)
My fondness for Bend’s culinary scene makes the Foodie Crawl one of my favorite April activities, with the chance to wander around Downtown Bend nibbling gourmet samples paired with cocktails, wine, and beer. Dates haven’t been announced yet, but keep watching for details.
Ahh, this is when it really starts to feel like spring in Bend.
The multi-sport Pole Pedal Paddle event ushers in the season whether you’re participating or just watching.
Snow enthusiasts will be thrilled to know there’s still a full month of spring skiing at Mt. Bachelor, which usually stays open through Memorial Day Weekend.
The summer concert season officially kicks off at the Les Schwab Amphitheater with at least a concert or two (and sometimes three!) on Memorial Day Weekend. If you’re lucky enough to score tickets, plan on bundling up!
There’s also the Fermentation Celebration in the Old Mill District, which isn’t on the calendar yet this year, but always seems to usher in Father’s Day Weekend. Coincidence? I think not.
This is one of the busiest months in Bend, and if you’re not a fan of crowds, you might want to plan your visit for a different month.
For those who do Visit Bend in July, there’s something happening nearly every day of the week. My personal faves are the Old Fashioned 4th of July Festival and its flagship event, the Bend Pet Parade.
Outdoor concerts abound with Munch and Music, Alive After 5, Free Summer Sundays, and the regular lineup at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. There’s also the annual Balloons Over Bend event, which is terrific fun for families.
This is also a primo month for whitewater rafting, floating the river, kayaking, canoeing, SUPing, and more. Go here for a roundup of all of Bend’s best water-based recreation activities.
It’s my birthday month, so is there really anything more important to highlight?
Okay, there’s also the Bend Brewfest (which just happens to coincide with my birthday this year, thank you very much).
My birthday offers a primo excuse for outdoor dining and the super-unique experience of riding a Mt. Bachelor chairlift to your sunset dinner spot at 7,800-feet above sea level.
Oh, and August 2017 also boasts the first solar eclipse to be seen in America for 26 years. Central Oregon is smack-dab in the path of it, prompting a staggering deluge of international visitors booking trips to the area. If you don’t already have a reservation the night of August 21, you’re probably out of luck. No joke!
And here we are at my favorite month of the year in Bend. The weather is milder, the crowds are smaller, the kids are back in school, and we’re all celebrating my wedding anniversary.
You are celebrating it, right?
One of the best ways to get festive is with the Little Woody Barrel-Aged Beer, Cider, and Whiskey Festival (say that five times fast). That’s happening September 1-2 in 2017, or you could do your beer-fueled celebrating a bit later in the month with Oktoberfest in Downtown Bend (dates haven’t been announced yet, but it’s typically around the middle of the month).
This is also a terrific month to cross off some of that hiking I dreamed up back in January.
Bend’s first snowfall of the season could happen anytime between October and November, so snow dancers start watching the skies this time of year.
October is also a great month for sipping pumpkin beer and scoping out the dramatic fall colors in spots like Drake Park and Shevlin Park. You can enjoy all of those things if you show up for one of the Tenth Month events, including the BendFilm Festival, Bend Venture Conferences, or the Swivel Digital Conference.
My favorite October activity is the Historical Haunts Tour sponsored by the Deschutes Historical Museum, which is a guided walking tour of Downtown Bend filled with lots of spooky stories.
Once upon a time, November was the slowest month for tourism in Bend.
That’s changed in recent years as Bend Ale Trail Month has brought a whole lot of beer aficionados to town on a quest for the trophy that’s awarded to those who turn in a completed Bend Ale Trail passport in November.
Mt. Bachelor’s opening day usually happens just after Thanksgiving, so that’s another big milestone in November. After that, you have the start of holiday festivities in the Old Mill District with carriage rides, caroling, and Santa arriving via helicopter.
December is filled with anticipation for folks waiting to see if we’ll be graced with a good old fashioned white Christmas (odds are pretty good!)
This is also a month when the Tower Theatre trots out some of their coolest shows, ranging from holiday concerts to screenings of popular Christmas movies.
So that does it for my roundup of the Bend events and activities I’m most excited about in 2017? What’s on your list?
A couple weeks ago I shared 25 Bend experiences that make great holiday gifts. While I’m a big advocate for giving experiences instead of things, there are times you want something tangible to put under the tree
I get it. With that in mind, here are five things you can totally stuff in my stocking (or the stocking of anyone who loves both you and Bend) this holiday season.
A new Hydro Flask mug
But sometimes when I’m sitting in the frigid cold at a kid’s soccer match or baseball game, I want something with extra power to keep my beverage piping hot for a long stretch of time.
That’s what sparked my desire for a 20-ounce travel mug from Hydro Flask (though the lightweights among you will be happy to know it comes in 12-ounce and 16-ounce varieties). My husband has one I’ve coveted for years, and he swears it keeps his coffee hot all day long.
It comes in lots of colors, so I’ll go ahead and let you choose which one to give me. You’re welcome.
Something tasty from Navidi’s
Yesterday I visited my go-to stop for gourmet olive oils, scrumptious balsamic vinegars, flavored salts, tasty pastas, and more. Do you know what I forgot as I stocked up on gifts at Navidi’s?
Something for me!
Let’s fix that. Their small three-ounce bottles of olive oil and balsamic make perfect stocking stuffers, and it’s fun to mix and match the flavors (I’m currently smitten with the blood orange olive oil blended with fig balsamic).
You can also indulge my popcorn habit by grabbing me a jar of flavored gourmet salt. I’ve been enjoying black truffle, curry, and alderwood smoked salt, so how about we try something new?
Adorable Bend-esque items from Clementine
I might have become a little obsessed with Clementine Urban Mercantile since they opened just over a year ago in Downtown Bend. I’ve found everything from cozy sweaters to cute workout gear to adorable novelty items like bumper stickers, bracelets, perfume, socks, books, mugs, handbags, and more.
In other words, they’ve got a lot of fun stuff, and you can’t go wrong with a gift certificate.
But if you’re looking for a tangible item to wrap, check out their “Mountains Please” t-shirts and caps adorned with a simple little mountain silhouette. Shirts come in men’s and women’s sizes from small to XXL.
I’ll take a medium, please.
What is it about soap that makes such a great stocking stuffer? It smells nice, it’s inexpensive, and it has the added benefit of helping that dirty person in your life get clean.
I have two favorite picks on this front. There’s Boneyard Beer soap made by LeCol’s. It’s made in Bend with Bend beer that has hops and amino acids to soften and soothe irritated skin, while the polyphenols in beer offer antibacterial properties.
I also adore Lava Love soaps that are made from natural volcanic ingredients, including bentonite clay, zeolite, and activated charcoal. The ingredients come from Oregon volcanoes, and promise to restore your body to its natural balance, leaving your skin clean, soft, and kissable.
We sell both options in the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava Ave. and Oregon Ave. in Downtown Bend.
A wilderness tour and photo tutorial with Extreme Oregon
This probably should have made my roundup of 25 Bend experiences that make great holiday gifts, but I didn’t learn until just now that photographer James Parsons of Extreme Oregon fame got licensed to lead wilderness tours.
He’s combining that with photo workshops to make this a fab experience whether you’re a budding photographer or someone who just wants an experienced guide to show you some of the best hiking trails.
Here’s the part that makes this a really awesome gift right now: This freakin’ adorable gift certificate that comes with a couple handmade cookies in a nifty little gift bag that makes it perfect for tucking in a stocking.
The other cool thing is that these Bend photography tours are totally customizable. For instance, let’s say my photographer husband wanted some tips on shooting waterfalls at sunset, while I wanted to tag along for hiking tips and a chance to learn more about “Leave No Trace” principles on the trail. No problem! Same deal whether you want to see mountains or lakes or rivers or some other scenic locale in any season.
Go here for more info on guided tours with Extreme Oregon.
Bend schools are enjoying their second snow day in a row, and I just had to put on snowshoes to get my mail.
In other words, driving can be tricky with two feet of snow on the ground.
It happens sometimes, which is why it’s good to know there are ways to get around our fair city without an automobile. Whether you’re cutting back on drive time to help the environment, or you hit one too many stops on the Bend Ale Trail, here are 5 ways to navigate Bend without getting behind the wheel.
Use your own two feet
Bend’s two most popular areas for shopping and dining are the Old Mill District and Downtown Bend. Lucky for you, there are plenty of Bend hotels in both locations, and it’s an easy walk to get from one area to the other.
Bonus: there’s no need to hassle with parking when you’re on foot!
Want to hoof it when the ground is covered in snow? Snowshoes, cross country skis, and fat bikes are easy to rent. Here’s a handy list of options for winter gear rentals.
Hop on the bus, Gus
While admittedly not as robust as the bus systems in larger cities, Bend’s Cascades East Transit bus system is a handy way to hop around town.
The system currently has 10 fixed routes in the city of Bend, with connections at transfer station in the center of town. Routes go as far south as Elk Meadow Elementary on Brookswood, and as far north at the Cascade Village Shopping Center. You can get west as far as Central Oregon Community College, and as far east as The Forum Shopping Center.
They also operate the Mt. Bachelor shuttle in wintertime and the Ride the River shuttle in the summer. You can even connect to other Central Oregon cities like Redmond and Madras.
For route information and schedules, go here.
Let tour operators do the driving
Want to venture into the wilderness without driving your own car? Book a trip with Wanderlust Tours! Not only will they provide round-trip transport from your hotel to the trailhead, they’ll supply all the gear and goodies, plus a naturalist guide who’ll tell you everything you want to know about Central Oregon’s unique landscapes. Snowshoeing is their most popular offering this time of year, but they have oodles of other outings ranging from canoeing to cave tours. They also operate the Bend Brew Bus that shuttles guests to breweries, distilleries, cideries, and more.
If mountain biking is on your agenda, hook yourself up with the folks from Cog Wild. They not only offer mountain biking tours, but shuttle services for cyclists who want to be dropped off and picked up at opposite ends of a trail.
For a complete list of tour operators in Bend, go here.
Catch a cab
Bend has a number of taxi operators and shuttle companies cruising the city, so go here for a listing of names and numbers.
And while Uber and Lyft haven’t made it to Bend just yet, odds are good it will happen in early 2017. Stay tuned for updates!
Try pedal power
Bend has been dubbed “Bike Town USA,” and there’s a good reason for that. You’ll find tons of great cycling trails and bike lanes all over town.
Don’t feel like hauling your bike here? There are plenty of bike shops that rent everything you need. You’ll even find several companies that rent electric bikes if you’d prefer to have some extra push behind your pedaling.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to strap on my snowshoes and start heading to Visit Bend’s holiday party!
This marks my 42nd Christmas on planet earth, and more than half of those have been in Bend. About half of those have been an actual white Christmas, which gives us decent odds of having some fluff on the ground December 25, 2016.
But what can you do to guarantee it?
While plenty of folks swear performing a little snow dance will make the white stuff fall, it’s seldom helped my step kids when they’re desperate for a snow day from school. But here are 5 tried-and-true ways to ensure you experience a real white Christmas in Bend this year.
Make plans at Mt. Bachelor
If you’re spending Christmas in Bend and want to see snow on the big day, you can make sure of it with a 20-minute drive to Mt. Bachelor. Yep, the mountain is open on Christmas Day.
Even if you’re not into skiing or snowboarding, there’s plenty to do up there. My own family has a tradition of hitting the Snowblast Tubing Park after all the presents are opened and everyone’s bundled up in Christmas sweaters and mittens.
You’ll also find opportunities for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and even sled dog rides (though make sure you have reservations for those, since they book early during the holidays).
For more info on conditions reports, hours of operation, and lift ticket specials, go here.
Take a twirl around the ice
A real white Christmas doesn’t technically require snow at all. Just a big sheet of glistening white ice, and you’ll find that at The Pavilion.
Central Oregon’s first and only NHL-sized 200’ x 85’ ice sheet is open for business on Christmas Day 2016. Besides the pristine sheet of pretty white ice, you’ll find a 30,000-square-foot roof and translucent panels that protect the rink from wind and sun exposure while still giving it an open air feel.
The Pavilion also has outdoor fire pits, a spectator area, skate rental, changing rooms, full-service concessions, and even an elevated viewing/warming room with free wi-fi.
For info on the holiday schedule, go here.
Did someone say whitewater?
If your definition of white Christmas extends to snow in its liquid form, why not take a Christmas Day stroll to see some of Central Oregon’s most scenic whitewater?
The easiest option is to station yourself near the Bend Whitewater Park to see if any insane brave kayakers decided to celebrate the season with a bit of frostbite. Even if no one’s in the water, it’s a lovely sight to see, and good inspiration for planning your next summer vacation in Bend.
Depending on snow levels December 25, you’re also likely to find a waterfall or two to give you a whitewater fix. Seeing Tumalo Falls this time of year will likely require snowshoes, but what a payoff when you get there!
You might also get a gander at some of the lower-elevation waterfalls like Steelhead Falls and Benham Falls.
For a good roundup of waterfalls in Central Oregon, check out this blog post.
Tune up that sled
If Mother Nature complies, we’ll have oodles of glorious powder coating Downtown Bend on Christmas morning. If that’s the case, spots like Drake Park and Hollinshead Park have lovely little sledding spots where you’ll be able to hop in your saucer sled and fly like a maniac.
But even if there’s no Christmas Day snowstorm in Bend-proper, you won’t have to journey far to find a perfect snow-covered sledding hill. Less than twenty minutes from Bend (just few miles before you hit Mt. Bachelor) is Wanoga Sno-Park. In addition to offering 180-miles of groomed snowmobile trails and some pretty awesome warming huts, they have dog-friendly snowshoeing and Nordic skiing trails.
But it’s the sledding hill that draws families this time of year, so make sure you packed your Flexible Flyer or saucer sled.
Pro Tip: If your sled happens to break, please, for the love of all that’s holy (not to mention your love of Bend’s pristine outdoor spaces) pack it out with you and dispose of it properly back in town. The sled graveyard that piles up during holiday breaks is time-consuming and expensive to clean up, so please do your part to pack out what you pack in.
For more sledding ideas in Bend, go here.
What? I didn’t say these were all good ideas.
Also, googling “How to develop dandruff” yields exactly zero helpful tips on contracting this condition, but a lot of handy hints for curing it. You’re welcome.
But seriously, no matter how you manage to do it, have a lovely white Christmas in Bend.
25 Bend experiences that make great 2016 holiday gifts (plus a chance to win a Brew-It-Yourself experience worth over $200)
There’s a trend in gift giving favoring “experiences, not things.” Studies have shown it’s more rewarding, plus the recipient isn’t faced with the daunting post-holiday task of figuring out where the @#$% to put everything.
It’s a trend I’ve happily embraced, and my step-kids have loved the thrill of opening a gift announcing a surprise bungee jump or an unexpected family vacation.
With that in mind, here are 25 unique Bend experiences that make great holiday gifts. Don’t forget to read all the way to the end for a chance to win #25 for your very own!
- A gift certificate for Wanderlust Tours. Let your recipient choose his or her own adventure with Wanderlust Tours. Offerings include snowshoe outings, cave tours, canoeing adventures, and more. A naturalist guide will provide all the gear and transportation, plus oodles of cool education about Bend’s ecology and geography.
- A gift certificate for a hotel stay in Bend. Whether your loved one favors luxury resorts, budget-friendly motels, cozy bed and breakfasts, upscale hotels, or vacation homes for rent, you’ll find tons of options to pick from in Bend. Check out our Bend lodging page for ideas!
- A gift certificate for Sun Mountain Fun Center. My step-kids (ages 11 and 15) love the go-karts and bumper cars, but you can keep it super cheap and just stuff a $5 Sun Mountain Fun Center gift card in each kid’s stocking. That’ll earn everyone a few video games and an entertaining diversion if you need a break from outdoor play.
- A gift certificate for Sun Country Tours. Plan ahead for a summertime whitewater rafting adventure with the whole family, or let your loved one use the Sun Country Tours gift card to rent float tubes or a standup paddleboard when the weather turns warm.
- Old Mill gift certificates and Downtown Dollars. Can’t decide what your loved one needs, but you want to make sure you’re supporting local Bend businesses? Grab a fistful of gift certificates for the Old Mill District or Downtown Bend. You can buy them in $10 or $25 increments, and they’re good at nearly any store, restaurant, gallery, or theater in that shopping district. Can you say stocking stuffer?
- A gift certificate for a spa treatment. From facials to massages to pedicures to wraps, Bend’s day spas offer the full gamut of luxury spa treatments. Know someone who could use a little pampering? Check out our spa page for ideas on where to send your sweetie for a little R&R.
- A gift certificate to fly an airplane. For my stepson’s 14th birthday, we bought a discovery flight from Professional Air. For just $69, the kid got a mini lesson on takeoff, landing, and controlling the aircraft. Then he got to fly the plane. Let me repeat that. MY 14-YEAR-OLD-STEPSON FLEW AN AIRPLANE BEFORE HE COULD LEGALLY DRIVE A CAR. Suffice it to say, this ended up being one of the highlights of his young life so far.
- A gift certificate to Central Oregon Bungee Adventures. Continuing our daredevil theme, my stepson got to enjoy the tallest commercial bungee jump in North America on his 15th He declared his leap from the historic Crooked River Bridge one of the coolest things he’s ever done. Buy gift cards for the daredevil in your life through Central Oregon Bungee Adventures.
- A gift certificate with Cog Wild. One handy thing about a Cog Wild gift certificate is that the gift recipient can use it almost any time of year. Pick from their array of mountain bike tours during the warmer months, or when there’s snow on the ground, try one of their popular fat bike tours.
- Bachelor gift certificates. You can buy Mt. Bachelor gift cards in any amount over $5, which gives your favorite snow bunny the freedom to choose from gear, lessons, lift tickets, and more. They can be purchased online, over the phone, or in person in the Gravity Sports Shop.
- A gift certificate for a restaurant. This is one of my favorite gifts to get. I love dining out, but it can be tough to justify the expense sometimes. Bend has an amazing array of restaurants to pick from, so snoop around to figure out the gift recipient’s favorite (or better yet, choose something special you know the person wouldn’t splurge on otherwise).
- A gift certificate for a sled dog ride. Now THIS is a bucket list item! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take a dogsled ride with Oregon Trail of Dreams at Mt. Bachelor. The company is operated by Rachael Scdoris, the first legally-blind competitor to run the Iditarod, so these folks know what they’re doing. Stick around afterward and help feed and water the dogs.
- A NW Forest Pass, State Park Pass, or Sno Park Pass. These handy permits are a necessary part of recreating in some of our most scenic spots, and they come with the added bonus of helping to maintain these wilderness areas. Choose from day passes, multi-day passes, or annual passes. We sell them all right here in the Bend Visitor Center.
- A trip with Bend Jeep Tours. Is there someone in your life who’d enjoy the ultimate off-road adventure deep in the Deschutes National Forest? Guests will discover ancient lava flows, waterfalls, and a top-of-the-world view of the majestic Cascade Mountains. Go here to learn more.
- An all-terrain adventure with Outriders NW. Similar to the jeep tours above, but in a crazy-cool all-terrain vehicle that lets you explore towering Cascade Mountains, historic volcanic monuments, and the unique high desert environment. Good for families, groups, or individuals. You can learn more here.
- Tickets to an event at The Tower Theatre. Got a loved one who loves live performances in a cool, artsy venue? Check the schedule at Bend’s historic Tower Theatre and snap up some fab seats at an upcoming event. If you’re not sure whether to choose tickets for a musical performance, a film, or a theater event, just opt for a Tower Theatre gift card and let your loved one do the choosing.
- A gift certificate for Vector Volcano. Children of the ‘80s and ‘90s will fall in love with this quirky Downtown arcade packed with vintage video games. Vector Volcano is family-friendly, but they also serve local craft beer. Admission gets you unlimited game play for the time period you pick, with no quarters or tokens required.
- Passes to the High Desert Museum. A favorite among families, the High Desert Museum is chock full of natural history exhibits and the coolest desert-dwelling animals you’ll find anywhere. I could spend hours just watching the otters, and with an annual family membership, your loved ones will be able to do just that! Visit their website to learn more about passes and membership.
- An adventure with The Bend Tour Company. Not sure if your loved one would prefer to scoot around town on a Segway, pedal the Cycle Pub, or cruise in a bus on the Art Safari tour? Pick up a gift card from The Bend Tour Company and let the recipient make the choice.
- Membership to the Deschutes County Historical Society. The history buff in your life will love having a membership that lets him or her scope out the Deschutes Historical Museum as many times as possible over the course of a year. Individual memberships start at just $20 for the year, so visit them online to learn more.
- Passes to Mountain Air Trampoline Park. This one’s so new that I haven’t had a chance to visit yet (though we did promise my stepdaughter a belated-birthday stop at Mountain Air Trampoline Park). This brand new indoor attraction features a main court with 26 trampolines surrounded on two sides by angled trampoline walls. There’s also a super-long jumping and tumbling runway, plus lots of raised and padded features to add to the excitement. Sounds like a great way for active kiddos to get the wiggles out!
- Bowling for the whole family. Bowling is the ultimate family activity for all ages, and Bend is lucky enough to have two great spots for it. Grab a gift certificate for Lava Lanes or Sun Mountain Fun Center and tuck that bad boy in your pal’s favorite bowling shoes.
- A gift certificate for Bend Escape Room. Another great indoorsy Bend activity, Bend Escape Room is a fun, immersive, interactive game experience that’s challenging for the whole family. In a nutshell, your group is locked in a room and given the clues to escape. It makes a fun team building or family activity for 2-6 people.
- A flight with Airborne Outback Adventures. Here’s another high-octane outing for the adrenaline junkies on your list. Airborne Outback Adventures offers scenic flights and aerial tours using powered hang gliders, ultralite trikes, and more. It’s the ultimate way to see sights like Smith Rock State Park and the Cascade Peaks.
- A Brew-It-Yourself session at Immersion Brewing. Got a craft beer fanatic in the family who’d like to try his or her hand at brewing a special batch of suds? Immersion Brewing offers Brew-It-Yourself workshops with a professional brewer. The session includes all ingredients, bottles, caps, custom labels, and approximately five gallons of your very own craft beer.
Does that last item sound like a winner for someone in your family? Here’s your chance to win a brewing workshop worth more than $200! Comment on this post sharing which of the 25 gifts YOU would most want to receive (besides the Brew-It-Yourself session at Immersion Brewing….we already know that if you’re vying for the prize!) We’ll draw one winner on Wednesday, December 16. Good luck, and happy shopping!
Oh, reader . . . you’re in for a real treat!
No, not this blog post (though that’s pretty swell, too). But if you’re reading this post, odds are good you’ve chosen to spend Thanksgiving 2016 in Bend, which is pretty smart of you.
So now that you’re here, what’s happening Thanksgiving week in Bend? Gobs of stuff! Here’s what’s in store for everyone who plans to be in Bend, Oregon for Thanksgiving 2016.
Gobble up some good grub
First things first. Let’s talk about where you want to have your main meal on November 24 this year.
For some, the thought of preparing your own feast in the kitchen of your Bend vacation rental has the homey sorta vibe you’re craving. If that’s the case, go here to scope out a variety of vacation homes and condos with ovens waiting to welcome that big, juicy bird.
If you’d rather leave the cooking to someone else, you have plenty of options to pick from. Check out this list for a roundup of restaurants ready to make your holiday meal extra special. The Thanksgiving buffet at McMenamins Old St. Francis is one of the most popular offerings in town, with mealtimes offered from noon to 6 p.m. Reservations are required, and the roundup of food will include fresh-carved turkey, fireside port cranberry relish, roasted pork loin with Edgefield cider jus, poached salmon, tortellini salad, garlic green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey gravy, along with a wide array of fresh fruit, salads, and desserts.
Other hotspots include Jackalope Grill, 10 Below, Brasada Ranch, Black Butte Ranch, Currents at the Riverhouse, Black Bear Diner, Greg’s Grill, and oodles more. Be sure to check the list for a complete roundup of options!
Not in the mood to eat in a restaurant, but still don’t want to do the cooking? Not a problem! Catering experts Tate & Tate, Bistro 28, and Country Catering all offer holiday meals for pickup. Depending on when you read this, you may have missed the cutoff for Turkey Day, but now’s the time to plan ahead for Christmas Dinner.
Burn off those Turkey Day calories
Feeling guilty about that sixth helping of mashed potatoes? Never fear, Bend has a variety of Thanksgiving-themed runs and walks to help burn off those extra calories.
The Bend Thanksgiving Classic 10k/5k walk/run and the I Like Pie Thanksgiving day walk/run both kick off at 9 a.m. in different parts of Bend on Thanksgiving morning. The day after Thanksgiving, the Turkey Trot is taking place at 10 a.m. in Sunriver.
To learn more about these races or other running events in Bend, check out our Event Calendar.
Who’s ready to ski?
I know plenty of you are waxing your snowboards and tuning your skis in anticipation of Mt. Bachelor’s first day of operations. While things are always subject to change based on the whims of Mother Nature, Mt. Bachelor is currently scheduled to open Friday, November 25—the day after Thanksgiving.
And if you want to help usher in the white stuff, make sure you attend 10 Barrel Brewing’s annual Pray for Snow Party at 5 p.m. on November 25 at their brewing facility on NE 18th Street.
Shop ‘til you drop
For those who favor indoorsy pursuits over outdoorsy ones (or for those who simply love a good bargain), don’t miss the Black Friday shopping deals around town.
Bend’s Old Mill District features stores like Victoria’s Secret, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, Zumiez, and more. Check out their Black Friday Specials page for info on who’s opening on Thanksgiving day, as well as who’s opening at midnight, 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 5 a.m., and other more sane hours.
Fans of outlet shopping will want to check out the Bend Factory Stores for big bargains. Shops include spots like the Coach Factory Outlet, Nike Outlet, Eddie Bauer, Columbia Outlet, and much more.
For deals at places like Best Buy and Cost Plus World Market, head north to the Cascade Village Shopping Center. And if big-box stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s, and TJ Maxx are on your agenda, be sure to hit the Bend River Promenade in the middle of town. While you’re on the north end of town, pop into Pomegranate Home & Garden, a locally-owned shop in a historic farm house, for some really unique gifts.
To help you spread things out a bit, many shops in Downtown Bend are participating in Small Business Saturday Passport Event. Check out their page for details about shops and specials, including deals at great local boutiques like Hot Box Betty, Local Joe, and Clementine Urban Mercantile. You’ll also have a chance to win prizes valued at up to $2,000.
Before we’ve even stashed the Thanksgiving leftovers, a lot of us are gearing up for the next major holiday. If you want to get a jump on Christmas, check out the Old Mill District’s Holiday Happenings page for a roundup of what’s going down. Santa will arrive via helicopter around 10 a.m. on Friday, November 25, to begin his tour of duty at Santaland. There will also be oodles of other Christmassy offerings like free carriage rides, carolers, kids’ activities, and more. Go here to see what’s in the lineup.
Downtown Bend is another festive place to be, with bright strings of lights and decorations adorning streets and shops. One of Bend’s most cherished holiday traditions is the annual Christmas tree lighting on December 2. The live tree is located at the top of Drake Park near Mirror Pond Plaza, and guests get to sing carols and watch Santa light the tree. Festivities get underway at 6 p.m., but you’d be smart to arrive at least half an hour before that to find a spot.
And if you’re sticking around longer, don’t miss the Bend Christmas Parade kicking off at noon on December 3 in Downtown Bend.
Only in Bend
Yes, I acknowledge there are Black Friday sales and Christmas tree lightings happening in most towns around America this time of year. While I encourage you to enjoy those activities, here are a few only-in-Bend things to add to your holiday agenda:
- Snowshoe with Wanderlust Tours. Let the naturalist guides at Wanderlust lead you into the wilderness to traipse through pristine fields of pillowy snow. Tours include all gear and transportation, not to mention snacks and warm drinks. They offer daytime or starlight outings, and kids are welcome, too.
- Visit the High Desert Museum. Bend’s popular High Desert Museum offers fascinating exhibits, cool animals, and tons of opportunities to learn more about the culture and history of the high desert. Check out their website to learn more about the schedule of special events and exhibits at the museum.
- Special programs at the Tower Theatre. Even if they weren’t having any shows at all, Bend’s historic Tower Theatre would be worth checking out just for the beauty of it. But during Thanksgiving week, you’ll have the chance to see the popular holiday film A Christmas Story on the big screen. The show starts at 7 p.m. on November 25, and you can get tickets here. You can also catch a special production of The Nutcracker performed November 27 by students of Academie de Ballet Classique.
The clock is ticking, guys. It’s just a matter of weeks until Mt. Bachelor opens for another winter season, and it’s going to be AWESOME!
Today they released their brand new Mt. Bachelor trail map and an exclusive 96-hour lift ticket sale that goes from noon on Thursday, Nov. 17 though noon on Monday, Nov. 21. There’s also a brand new chairlift under construction that’ll be complete sometime in December.
Besides scoring discounted lift tickets and having the new trail map tattooed across your chest, what should you be doing to get ready for winter fun in Bend? Here’s the inside scoop!
Gearing up for a grownup getaway
Planning an adults-only winter vacation in Bend? Here are a few things you can do right now to make sure you’re ready for Mt. Bachelor’s opening day, along with all kinds of other winter recreation opportunities:
- Get pumped up. Whether you’re a skier, an ice skater, or a competitive bobsledder, we want everyone to stay safe when playing in the snow this year. Now’s a good time to work some of those key muscle group like legs and core. Squats and hamstring stretches are a great place to start to ensure your legs are up to the task of transporting your body over slippery terrain. Go here for some pre-season workout ideas.
- Tune it up. Since you have a little time to kill, it’s a great opportunity to prepare your gear for the season. Get your skis or board waxed (or find a local professional to do it for you). Dig through your garage for those missing poles and spend some time walking around the living room in your ski boots so your feet don’t scream in protest the first time you hit the slopes.
- Cyberstalk the mountain. If you have a little flexibility in your schedule, it’s a smart idea to bookmark the Bachelor conditions report on your desktop or mobile device. You’ll see daily details about trail conditions and lift schedules, along with webcam images that update every 15 minutes. When conditions look perfect, hop in your car and go!
- Repair, reuse. While getting new gear can be fun, it’s kinder for the environment (not to mention your wallet) to repair the gear you already have. With a few weeks to go before winter sports season, now’s a good time to get that jacket patched and your busted goggles fixed. Same deal with sleds, which often get chucked in the landfill when they’re a little banged up. Start your season right by paying a little extra for high-quality gear that’s less prone to breakage. If your sled does sustain an injury, look into repairing it before you toss it (and whatever you do, please, PLEASE don’t stuff busted sleds in the garbage bins at Sno-Parks—it’s crazy expensive to have that trash hauled away at the end of a holiday weekend). For more tips on being kind to the environment and the Bend community when you visit, check out our Visit Like a Local
- Prepare your tummy for goodness. In a matter of days, you’ll be able to cap off a day of skiing with a Nacho Mountain and a Bloody Mary in the Clearing Rock Bar at Mt. Bachelor. Start salivating now.
- Nail down a place to stay. While winter is a quieter time to visit Bend than, say, mid-August, lodging can still book up fast on weekends and peak holiday dates. Whether you’re looking for a budget hotel or for a Bend vacation home to share with a big pack of pals, book nice and early to ensure you have the optimum spot to rest your bones.
- Double check the safety gear. If you’re a back-country skiing enthusiast, you already know it’s crucial to have your safety tools in tip-top shape. Get out your beacon, probe, shovel, and other safety gear and inspect it with a fine-toothed comb to make sure everything is in good working order. For tips on back-country skiing around Bend, go here.
- Plan your downtime activities wisely. As much as you might dream of eating powder for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when you’re in Bend, you want to sprinkle in a few non-snow activities, too. If the Bend Ale Trail is on your wish list, make plans beforehand to have the Bend Brew Bus haul you around so there’s no risk of driving while impaired. If you’re a foodie who wants to experience the best of Bend’s culinary scene, peruse our dining pages or skim the drinking and dining category on this blog for ideas. Then make reservations so you won’t miss out on any of your top spots.
Prep for your family-friendly winter adventure
While many of the tips above apply to traveling parties of all sizes, there’s an extra layer of planning when you’re vacationing with kids.
I just spent the weekend helping my stepkids purge ill-fitting snow gear from their closets, so I know what a pain it can be to get everyone ready for winter with no missing mittens. Here’s where to start if you’re gearing up for a family vacation this winter.
- Try on all the gear. Yes, your kids will think it’s silly to pull on snow pants when it’s 65-degrees and sunny outside, but now’s the time to figure out what you’ve got to work with. Have the youngsters try on everything—jackets, snow pants, gloves, thermal underwear, hats, boots, wool socks, and hats. Look for rips, tears, or things they’ve outgrown, and get those items replaced or repaired so you don’t figure out someone’s boots are too small two miles into a snowshoe trip. BONUS: Places like Costco still have a good selection of quality winter gear right now, but that won’t be the case in a few weeks when everything’s been picked over.
- Wash everything. All those hats and gloves I mentioned? They’re carrying some serious stank after sitting in the closet all summer. Get everything washed and ready to wear. You’ll thank me in a few weeks when you’re not doing loads of laundry at 2 a.m. the night before your Bend vacation.
- Stockpile necessities. Treats are crucial when you’re traveling with kids, so make sure you have goodies on hand like granola bars and fruit leather. Stock up on post-snow sustenance like cocoa and cider packets or easy-to-mix chai. My stepkids are nuts about Trader Joes’ seasonal spiced cider, so we buy bottles in bulk and keep them on hand to warm up after a day of snow play.
- Buy snow chains. Most folks visiting Bend from less snowy areas don’t have snow tires the way locals do, so it’s smart to have a set of chains in your car and the ability to put them on. Trust me: it’s a lot easier to learn to put chains on your car in the comfort of your garage than it is when you’re face-down in a snowbank on the side of the highway. I’m a big fan of Les Schwab, where they’ll not only tell you what sort of chains your vehicle needs, they’ll show you in an idiot-friendly fashion how to put them on.
- Plan early for tours and special adventures. Last year my whole extended family visited Mt. Bachelor the day after Christmas to enjoy the Snowblast Tubing Park. While we were there, we watched the sled dog teams from Oregon Trail of Dreams and called to inquire about booking. The person who answered was kind enough not to laugh, but she did point out that the two weeks around Christmas had been booked solid for months. Lesson learned! I won’t make that mistake twice, whether I’m planning a snowshoe adventure with Wanderlust Tours or booking a snowmobiling tour. Book early at peak times so you don’t end up missing out!
- Read up on deals and discounts. There are oodles of great promotions out there for families on a budget. Besides the 96-hour lift ticket sale I mentioned earlier, there’s the popular Kids Ski Free option and the Ski or Ride in 5 program for lessons. Off the snow, you’ll find several local restaurants with special deals for families. Both 900 Wall and Fire in Bend have kids-eat-free deals on Sundays, and Longboard Louie’s does it all weekend (that’s assuming you pay for adult meals, too). If you plan to do some ice skating at The Pavillion, buy a punch pass or season pass to save a bundle for the whole fam.
Regardless of whether you’re elated or heartbroken over the results of this week’s presidential vote, one thing’s pretty clear: This election cycle was hard on all of us.
You need a break. A reset. A chance to clear your head and remind yourself what’s really important.
Is there any better place on earth to do that than Bend, Oregon?
First things first. Get some fresh air.
Ever notice you breathe a little easier when you’re outside? (Er, when it’s not allergy season).
Whether you need a scenic space to let your jubilation soar, or a place to escape the din of news reports and social media, Bend is the perfect spot to find your outdoor sanctuary. Bonus: Temps have been surprisingly warm this fall, and there’s very little snow even at high elevations. That’s a fine excuse for a fall hike.
Get out there. Breathe deeply. Now on to the next step.
Treat yourself to a dose of bliss
A Bend vacation is the perfect time to splurge on a little pampering under any circumstances, but these post-election days make it extra vital to treat your body kindly.
Let a year’s worth of stress melt away when you book a massage or facial at one of our Bend day spas. If you’re here for a romantic getaway with your sweetie, consider booking a couples’ massage class at Brasada Ranch so you can continue your practice at home.
Honor the men and women who’ve served
Bend has one of the largest Veteran’s Day parades in the entire state, and it’s happening this Friday, November 11, 2016 at 11 a.m. in Downtown Bend. You can get the details here.
If you’d prefer to do your reflection in a more quiet fashion, visit the Bend Heroes Memorial Plaza in Brooks Park. There, you’ll find a collection of bricks engraved with the names of first responders, veterans, and others who’ve served the Bend community. You’ll also find pretty stunning views of the Deschutes River, so sit for a while on the bench and reflect.
If all that puts you in a frame of mind to pay your respects to those no longer with us, you’ll find several cemeteries around Central Oregon (including some with historic graves from early homesteaders).
Lend a hand
Whether you need the lift of helping others to soothe your own aching heart, or you have some extra joy to share right now, consider volunteering when you’re in Bend. You’ll find several “voluntourism” efforts rounded up in this blog post, ranging from cave cleanup efforts led by Wanderlust Tours to an annual river cleanup led by the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council.
There are also plenty of small ways to give back, including little efforts like picking up trash while you hike or paying with cash instead of cards so small business owners don’t get hit with fees. Check out our Visit Like a Local page for more ideas.
Now go grab some comfort food
The last twelve months have left all our bellies in knots at one time or another, so now’s a good time to treat your tummy to something soothing.
As you cruise around Bend’s culinary scene, you’ll find gluten-free eats and cuisine for vegetarian and vegan palates if that’s what your body needs. You can also seek out specific comfort foods like Bend’s best burgers or tasty bacon dishes or yummy eggs benedict.
And don’t forget to check out this blog post on some of my personal favorite comfort food dishes in Bend.
Be nice. You’re in Bend.
There’s a reason you see that little phrase on so many bumper stickers around town. There’s a kindness here that permeates the air, even in the midst of the most divisive election cycle of my lifetime.
Folks may be tearing each other apart in vitriolic Facebook posts, but on the streets of Bend, people still smile at each other. They hold doors open for one another and they occasionally sit at stop signs for much too long doing that overpolite back-and-forth dance of, “After you!” and “No, I insist—after you!”
Whether your chosen candidate won or lost, there’s been a lot of mud flung from all sides of the political spectrum. Now’s the time to wash our hands, scrape off the muck, and move forward with kindness.
Be nice to each other, guys. Especially when you’re in Bend.
At the Bend Visitor Center, we not only allow people to draw on the walls—we encourage it!
Once a year, Visit Bend chooses a local artist to create unique chalk drawings on the cement pillars in the Visitor Center lobby. The artist also has his or her framed work displayed and sold in the Visitor Center for the duration of his or her show. It’s part of the Pillars of Art program, which was created to introduce tourists to Bend’s unique arts and culture scene, and to support emerging local artists.
The newest Pillars of Art creator is Megan Phallon. For her Pillars of Art installment, she created an array of scenes featuring Central Oregon landmarks and landscapes. There’s even a hat-tip to Bend’s craft brewing industry and dog-friendly nature!
You can see Megan’s work at the Bend Visitor Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
We caught up with Megan recently and asked a few questions about her art, her life, and everything in between. Here’s what she shared with us:
Visit Bend: Where did you grow up, and how did you end up in Bend?
Megan: I grew up mainly in Northern California, but I’ve also lived in South Dakota, Utah, Minnesota, and in the Caribbean. We moved to the Bend area to look for change from the desert. More of a small town artsy vibe.
Visit Bend: Tell us about your artistic training.
Megan: I’m a self-trained artist, and I’ve joked with friends that I have no idea if I’m doing any of it right. I’ve loved art since I was a kid.
I started doing commissioned artwork about eleven years ago after I’d done some paintings on my friends’ kids’ walls. After that I started getting requests. I took it slowly when I lived in Utah — just, thematically, my stuff’s a little odd. I love surrealism and bright colors, but at the time I lived in Southern Utah, which was just landscape or religious art.
I just kind of put it on the back burner for a couple of years, and then we moved out of the country to the Caribbean. The last place I lived there was in the Dominican Republic. We had a ton of street artists who would come over from Haiti, and they loved the school-bus yellows and reds and oranges and blues. They were just so refreshing after living around very kind of oatmeal landscapes in many ways. I loved the mixture of colors.
Visit Bend: How would you describe your artistic style?
Megan: I love surrealist art. I have narcolepsy, which causes excessive, uncontrollable daytime sleepiness and occasional hallucinations. Very vivid dreams are part of the nervous disorder. I dream in sight, sounds, audio and visual, and even have sense hallucinations, which sounds really creepy. I see things from my dreams when I open my eyes. My dream-world sometimes blurs with reality, and when I channel that into my art, it results in vivid, surreal images with bright colors.
Visit Bend: What’s your favorite medium?
Megan: I really like to work with acrylic, but I also enjoy pen and ink and charcoal.
Visit Bend: Who are your artistic influences?
Megan: I like Kyle P. Stuart, as well as several local artists, August Vielle, and Roxanne Patruznick, and Cristiano Tweny.
Visit Bend: What do you like best about living in Bend, and how does it influence your artistic style?
Megan: I love the Bend area! I live in Sisters where there’s a mix of people from every side of the country and the locals are intent on getting the best of life for themselves and their families and pets.
Living in Bend is to be inspired every day. The high contrast between the soft yellow fields and the sharp jagged snow-covered mountains and trees is stunning.
Visit Bend: What do you enjoy doing in Bend when you’re not creating art?
Megan: When I’m not painting, I enjoy spending time with my two sons, ages 15 and 12. They both love climbing and mountain biking.
I love running and coming up with inventions. And of course, napping, because of my narcolepsy!
Visit Bend: What’s your impression of the Bend art scene, and how do you think the Pillars of Art program fits with that?
Megan: I appreciate the variety of local artists here. For small area, there’s some phenomenal representation.
The pillars are interesting because many of us are not used to working with chalk, so it helps us to express ourselves in a different way and to learn from it. I like the pillars because it reminds people to look at the ordinary and imagine the beautiful.