Visit Bend Blog

Category: Shopping & Dining

6 reasons Bend is better than Hawaii (don’t tell my parents!)

April 6th, 2017

I just returned from a blissful week-long vacation on the island of Kauai, where my parents were kind enough to retire so I could visit them there regularly.

That may not have been their sole motivation.

The destination was warm, lush, tropical, beautiful and sooo . . . not Bend.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot to be said for a relaxing Hawaiian vacation in paradise. But here are 6 reasons I think Bend makes a better destination.

Can we not tell my parents about this?


Easier standup paddleboarding

One of my favorite warm-weather activities is standup paddleboarding, and I’ve been lucky enough to do it on rivers, lakes, and ocean bays throughout the six years I’ve been paddling.

Blogger Tawna with her dog, Bindi, on their standup paddleboard in the Deschutes River.

While I’ll admit that toppling into a warm ocean is a bit more pleasant than a tumble into a glacier-fed river, the relative stillness of lakes and rivers means you’re much less likely to topple at all. I’d been SUPing for years without a single fall off my board when I first tried it in Kalapaki Bay on Kauai. Within the first five minutes, a wave knocked my butt right into the water.

Now granted, you can do your SUPing year-round in Kauai, but there’s a reason Outside magazine named Bend the best SUP getaway in the world. It’s the beauty, the variety, and the phenomenal availability of the sport right here in our little high desert oasis.


Dry heat, dry cold

Ever notice how an 80-degree day feels much hotter in a humid climate like Florida than it does in a drier locale? The same holds true for “damp cold” (the sort you experience on a winter’s day in Portland) versus “dry cold” (the kind we have here in the mountainous high desert of Bend).

Bend’s desert climate means there’s no such thing as “damp cold” or “humid heat.”

It’s an important distinction.

Dampness has a way of making temperatures feel super-intense, which can be downright uncomfortable at the extremes of either end.

That’s one thing I’ve always loved about Bend. The dryness of our desert climate means 75-degrees feels like 75-degrees, and 35-degrees feels like 35-degrees. No need to account for humidity!


More room to spread out           

I know Bend locals sometimes fret about crowding at popular hiking trails and scenic landmarks. It’s one reason the Visit Like a Local movement took hold as a way of encouraging folks to help preserve our natural spaces.

Luckily, Bend has lots of those natural spaces to choose from. We certainly have more than an island constrained on all sides by a large body of water.

Two of the best Bend books you can possibly get your hands on will help you explore some of the area’s lesser-known attractions.

Too many hikers on Green Lakes Trail? Head someplace less-trafficked like the Oregon Badlands Wilderness or some of the areas west of Sisters. Pick an area along the Deschutes River Trail, many of which boast plentiful parking.

One of the best investments you can make in your quest to explore Central Oregon is a good guide book that opens your eyes to lesser-known trails and vistas. Two of my faves are Bend Overall by Scott Cook and Bend, Oregon Daycations (Day Trips for Curious Families), by Kim Cooper Findling. We sell both in the Bend Visitor Center, and I’d highly recommend either one to spark a host of new ideas for where to play and explore in Bend.


Cool critters

I love the tropical fish and birds that Hawaii has to offer, and feeding peacocks at Smith Gardens is one of my favorite Kauai activities. That said, I always feel like something’s missing in the critter department.

Bend is brimming with tons of unique critters!

That’s one thing I love about Bend. Any trek through the wilderness will expose you to oodles of creatures that might include eagles, falcons, otters, beavers, deer, elk, porcupines, and bats.

And while small mammals can decimate a place like Hawaii (i.e. the mongoose problem on the Big Island), little fuzzy guys like chipmunks, raccoons, squirrels, pikas, and rabbits frolic freely around Central Oregon, kept in check by predators like foxes, coyotes, and cougars who think they’re the best snacks ever.


Lower prices

Hey, I don’t blame the Hawaiian Islands for jacking up prices on things like sunscreen or fresh produce. It takes a lot of money and resources to transport those things to the islands.

Shopping in Bend is pretty darn reasonable.

But that’s not an issue here in Bend, with plentiful access to produce, relatively low gas prices, and budget-friendly hotels and vacation rentals that won’t require you to take out a second mortgage.

Tip: Pay cash when you can in Bend, instead of whipping out the plastic. Not only does it save vendors from getting hit with extra fees (which keeps prices lower for all of us!) but it’s a great way to track your vacation budget.


What’s that smell?

No place on earth smells quite like Bend. It’s this unique combination of sun-warmed desert sage and juniper that makes my heart feel happy every time I return home from vacation and crack the car window open just to breathe it in.

It smells like home, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.


4 ways to relish the sound of silence in Bend, Oregon

January 26th, 2017

Listen. Do you hear that? It’s the sound of . . . well, nothing.

Something funny happens in Bend each year during the weeks that follow a chaotic Christmas break and precede the visitor uptick in mid-February for Presidents’ Weekend. Traffic dies down, shops and restaurants go quiet, and there’s a whole lot of solitude up for grabs out there in Bend’s expansive wilderness.

Blogger Tawna with her dog, Bindi, enjoying the solace in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness.

Some folks love the silence. Others (like retailers who depend on tourist spending) struggle a bit with the slowdown. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, here are four ways to make the most of mid-winter silence in Bend, Oregon.


Get outside and embrace the solitude

One of my favorite hiking memories is a solo trek I enjoyed around the Oregon Badlands Wilderness in late-January three years ago. It was just my dog, me, and a whole lot of crisp quiet (plus a good compass—that’s essential if you’re hiking solo).

If you like the sound of silence, there’s oodles of it to be found right now in Bend’s wilderness areas. Rent a fat bike and use pedal power to explore your favorite trails. Snowshoe into the vast, snowy woods and listen to your own heartbeat thudding in your ears.

The possibilities are endless, and the solitude is empowering.


Fill the silence with music and laughter

Now that you’ve recharged your batteries with the sound of silence, it’s time to add back a few happy sounds.

Catch a show at the Tower Theatre to break the sound of silence with the sound of music.

January and February are among the best times of year for performances at intimate venues like the Tower Theatre (including the Bend A Cappella Festival coming up in just a few weeks). You can also peruse Visit Bend’s event calendar for musical performances happening all over town during your Bend vacation.

Is laughter the sound you most want to hear? Check out The Pavilion for a few hours of gleeful twirling on Central Oregon’s only NHL-sized ice rink. There’s even a warm viewing area if you’re not up for strapping skates on your own feet.

For more indoorsy squeals of laughter, take the kids to Sun Mountain Fun Center for bumper cars, bowling, and video games. You can also hit up the brand new Mountain Air Trampoline Park for giggly good times with the added bonus of burning A TON of kid energy. (Pro tip for moms: Wear a good sports bra. You’ll thank me later).


Help out a small business

I’ll admit it. There’s a part of me that enjoys walking into a Bend restaurant this time of year and knowing I’ll have no trouble getting a table.

The silence in Bend isn’t all that great for small local businesses, so get out there and shop, eat, and support Bend’s tour operators.

But there’s a bigger part of me that knows small businesses in Bend struggle during this quieter time of year. The vacation crowds have died down, but the folks who own tour companies and small shops still have kids to feed.

Now is a great opportunity for some retail therapy in Downtown Bend or the Old Mill District. It’s also a terrific time to book a tour with a small family-owned operator like Wanderlust Tours, Cowboy Carriage, Bend Tour Company, Cog Wild, Extreme Oregon, or countless other tour operators you see listed right here.


Quietly spread joy

As an introvert who’d rather chew off her own arm than make small talk with strangers, I’m not always the best ambassador for the sort of open friendliness Bendites are known for.

You can pick up share cards in 150 locations around Bend.

That’s one thing I love about the Bend Joy Project. It’s all is all about finding small ways to spread joy and build bridges of kindness and compassion in Bend. There are billboards and videos, volunteer initiatives and bumper stickers, but my favorite thing is the “share cards.”

You’ll find these nifty little cards in about 150 locations around Bend, including our own Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava and Oregon. You can also find online versions to share via email.  Some are interactive, like the one that says, “Make a stranger smile today” or “Give this card to someone you admire and share why.” Others are more reflective, like “Write down 5 things you are grateful for today.”

No matter which card you pick or with whom you share it, it’s a quiet, subtle way of spreading a little happiness without uttering a word.

10 Essentials for a Bend vacation, whether you’re adventurous or lazy

August 25th, 2016

The headlines are freaking me out, guys. No, it’s not the politics.

It’s a scary uptick in the number of hikers, river floaters, and other recreation lovers forced to summon Deschutes County Search & Rescue when a day of outdoor play goes awry in Bend.

Just a few of the essentials you should have when venturing into the great outdoors.

Just a few of the essentials you should have when venturing into the great outdoors.

Our VP of Sales & Marketing suggested we share the “Ten Essentials” for camping and hiking in the wilderness, which is a darn fine idea. In fact, you should have it tattooed on your forearm.

But since not everyone visiting Bend has outdoor adventure on the agenda, I assembled my own “Ten Essentials” for the laidback traveler. The un-adventurer, if you will.

Behold, we give you Ten Essentials for an active (and a not-so-active) Bend vacation.


Ten Essentials, Nate Wyeth style

I live for exploring Bend’s outdoor landscapes, so I know the weather can change in mere seconds. That’s why it’s crucial to have the following ten items in your pack anytime you’re heading out camping, hiking, or exploring.

    • A map and compass. Don’t count on Siri to get you where you’re going in the great outdoors. Coverage can be spotty in the wilderness, and you’re better off with one of the sturdy hard-copy maps you’ll find in the Bend Visitor Center or the Deschutes National Forest Welcome Station.
    • Sun protection. The sun can be fierce in the high desert, so remember your shades and sunblock even if it’s cloudy.
    • Extra clothing. Temps can fluctuate wildly in Central Oregon, so don’t forget layers. Gloves, hats, jackets, sweatshirts—even if you think you don’t need them, you want to be prepared.
Having the right gear is essential to a safe and fun high desert adventure.

Having the right gear is essential to a safe and fun high desert adventure.

  • Illumination. Again, don’t rely on your cell phone. Pack a headlamp in case of an unplanned sleepover or a hike that goes later than expected.
  • First aid supplies. You can find awesome little kits at outdoor equipment retailers like REI.
  • Fire. A lighter or waterproof matches are essential when venturing into the outdoors. Just make sure you check first to be sure fires aren’t restricted in the area you’re hiking or camping.
  • Tools. No, you don’t need a chainsaw on your hiking adventure. But you do need a good multipurpose tool like a Leatherman or pocketknife.
  • Extra food. Snacks, particularly high-protein ones, are essential. Think about how hungry you might get if your four-hour hike turned into a twenty-four-hour hike and pack accordingly.
  • Extra water. This is a biggie, especially here in the high desert. Plan on drinking at least ½ cup to a cup of water every 30-40 minutes. A good water filtration system can work if you’re hiking along creeks or lakes, but don’t count on finding water everywhere. Always pack more H2O than you think you’ll need.
  • Emergency shelter. Day-trippers getting caught unexpectedly overnight is frighteningly common, and smart adventurers always pack an ultralight tarp or emergency space blanket. Even a large plastic bag will do in a pinch (plus you can use it to collect trash and feel good about leaving your favorite adventure spot nicer than you found it).


Ten Essentials, Tawna Fenske style

Blogger Tawna reading on the shore of Crescent Lake (about 1.5 hours from Bend) on a lazy late-September morning.

Blogger Tawna reading on the shore of Crescent Lake (about 1.5 hours from Bend) on a lazy late-September morning.

I’m not lazy. Okay, I’m not always lazy. I do love hiking and snowshoeing and standup paddleboarding, and you’ll find me enjoying those things pretty often in Bend.

But there are times I just want to go full-on vacation mode when reveling in my hometown. For those who want to experience Bend in a more laidback fashion, here are my ten essentials:

    • A good book. First things first. If you’re lounging lakeside or by your hotel pool, you need good reading material. Hit a quirky local bookstore like Dudley’s Bookshop Café (where they also make a mean cup of coffee).
    • Super-cute sandals or slip-ons. If you’re a dude, omit “super-cute.” But you do need good slip-ons, because tying shoes is sooooo tedious. Resist flip-flop temptation, since those slip off when floating the river. Tevas, Chacos, or Keens are perfect for summer. In wintertime, Downtown Bend retailers like North Soles and CC McKenzie have a great array of clogs and loafers.
    • Sunscreen. Here’s one of several items you’ll find on both lists. To make things easier, opt for a locally-made spray like T’s Tonics SPF 30 Sunscreen so you don’t have to rub in a pesky cream. You can also go the pampering route with luxurious suncare products from local fave Angelina’s.
    • Tickets. Even if you plan to spend 90% of your Bend vacation lazing in a float tube on the river, save one evening for dinner and a show. Maybe it’s a concert at the Tower Theatre or an indy movie during BendFilm, but you’re gonna want to sample Bend’s lively arts and culture scene.
    • Postcard stamps. You want to gloat to all your friends about how awesome your vacation is, right? Hit the Bend Visitor Center for a great selection of postcards. And if you forget the stamps, we’re just 100 feet from the closest post office.
    • Waterproof case for your iPod or phone. Whether you’re on the river or near a pool, there’s a good chance you’ll interact with a body of water in Bend. I’ve lost enough phones to know a LifeProof case or OtterBox is a smart idea.
    • Gourmet snacks. When you’re treating yourself, no ordinary Doritos will do. Hit Newport Market for the best selection of gourmet goodies and locally-made specialty items, or hit Devore’s across the street for killer wraps and salads.
Yala Bamboo sleepwear from Oregon Body & Bath is essential for a relaxing Bend vacation.

Yala Bamboo sleepwear from Oregon Body & Bath is essential for a relaxing Bend vacation.

  • Beverages in good containers. Water is essential whether you’re trudging up a mountain or lounging by a lake, but don’t forget to sample Bend’s craft beer scene, too. Fill a couple Hydro Flasks with ice and water, then stock a DrinkTank Growler with Keg Cap Accessory Kit with your favorite brew from the Bend Ale Trail. Just make sure you pack out all cups and trash or I will hunt you down and pee on your lawn.
  • Cash. Whether you’re tipping the bartender or just trying to keep track of your vacation budget, an ample stash of cash is a good idea for a lazy vacation. Bonus: When small local retailers aren’t hit with credit card fees, it helps keep prices low for all of us.
  • Cozy loungewear. Yala Bamboo Dreams clothing made from breathable, anti-microbial, temperature-regulating bamboo is the most comfortable stuff imaginable. I have nighties, a robe, and even a skirt purchased from Oregon Body and Bath in Downtown Bend. Bonus: they have a great stock of bath products so you can really pamper yourself.

8 things that haven’t changed much at all in Bend

October 22nd, 2015

So my grandma died yesterday.

Blogger Tawna hangs out with her stepdaughter on the banks of Paulina Lake in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Blogger Tawna hangs out with her stepdaughter on the banks of Paulina Lake in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

I know I’m usually upbeat on this blog, so I promise I’ll still lace this post with a few doses of irreverent humor.

I’ve been feeling nostalgic about my childhood summers in Central Oregon. I’m a fourth-generation Oregonian who grew up in Salem, but for much of my childhood, my grandparents lived in Central Oregon raising racehorses. I spent a lot of time in Bend as a kid, so I’ve been thinking about my memories of the area in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

While you can’t throw a rock these days without hitting someone in the midst of remarking how Bend has changed in recent years, here are eight things that are still basically the same as when I was an awkwardly-coiffed first grader learning to skip rocks in the Deschutes River in 1981.


Scope out some really old rocks

While Newberry National Volcanic Monument wasn’t actually named a national monument until 1990, the features that make it up have been around since way before you and I were twinkles in our grandparents’ eyes. The area includes nearly 50,000 acres of lakes, waterfalls, obsidian fields, lava flows, and amazing, ancient geologic features you won’t find anywhere else in the state.

As a kid, I remember being fascinated by the glittery obsidian and the itty-bitty chipmunks skittering everywhere. I could pick up a bumpy, porous rock off the ground and know it was once lava—lava!!—and find myself endlessly enthralled by that idea. My own stepkids expressed much of the same delight when we enjoyed a two-day excursion out there last summer.

It's a great time of year for a hike up Pilot Butte!

Pilot Butte has been drawing visitors since before you were a twinkle in your grandparents’ eyes.

Beyond the ancient lava flows of Newberry, there are countless other geologic attractions around Bend and Central Oregon that haven’t changed much over the years. A hike up Pilot Butte will give you killer views of a city that’s grown quite a bit recently, but if you look down at the ground under your feet, you can think about the fact that this 500-foot cinder cone has been standing in the middle of Bend for thousands of years. Pioneers used the volcano as a landmark to guide wagon trains seeking a safe passage crossing the Deschutes River, and the land was given to the state back in 1927.

There are oodles of other geologic wonders around Central Oregon that still (mostly) smell, sound, and look the same as they did when I was a kid. Check out the Oregon Badlands Wilderness to see untouched desert landscapes at their finest, or head northwest to Cove Palisades State Park to splash around in the same lake that enchanted me when I was still rockin’ pigtails and a Sesame Street bikini. I promise I didn’t pee in the water. Much.


That’s how we used to party, sonny

Folks in Bend get pretty excited about special events, and that dates back long before the Bend Pet Parade featured Chihuahuas floating from hot air balloons.

The annual Fourth of July Parade has been going strong in Bend since the 1930s.

The annual Fourth of July Parade has been going strong in Bend since the 1930s.

The annual Fourth of July parade through Downtown Bend got its start way back in the 1930s, and it’s grown to be the largest parade of the year in Bend with more than 8,000 participants.

Athletic endeavors have always been a part of Bend culture, even when participants were sporting tube socks and mullets. The multi-event Pole, Pedal, Paddle race each May has been a Bend staple since 1975, and the Cascade Cycling Classic isn’t far behind with origins dating back to 1979. That makes it the longest consecutively run elite road bike stage race in the United States.


What’s that smell?

Scientists have done tons of studies on olfactory memory and the reason certain scents can transport you instantly to a place in your own history.

The smell of sage and juniper baking in the sun in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness is one of those fragrances that'll stick with you your whole life.

The smell of sage and juniper baking in the sun in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness is one of those fragrances that’ll stick with you your whole life.

Even though I’ve lived in Bend almost 18 years, that unmistakable smell of sun-baked desert sage brings me right back to summers spent playing hide-and-seek in Redmond’s Dry Canyon. When it rains these days, I like to stand on my porch, breathe the scent of rain-drenched juniper, and remember my first high desert storm back when I could still run topless through the raindrops without getting arrested.

No matter how much Bend has changed over the years, I can almost guarantee the early pioneers used to stand on the banks of the Deschutes River and savor that perfect perfume of ponderosa pine bark and river water. If someone could figure out a way to bottle the fragrances of Bend, I swear they’d make a fortune.


Stuff your face where grandpa used to eat

Bend’s outstanding culinary scene has made lots of headlines lately, with the Huffington Post naming us one of nation’s top 15 “best restaurant cities.” And while it might be tempting to give credit to all the new award-winning eateries popping up over last decade, there are plenty of spectacular dining spots that have been serving up tasty chow since before some of those chefs were born.

One of Bend's oldest and best-known riverfront restaurants, The Pine Tavern.

One of Bend’s oldest and best-known riverfront restaurants, The Pine Tavern.

Bend’s iconic Pine Tavern is best known for the two towering ponderosa pines (one dead, one very much alive) jutting up through the ceiling of the dining area. But did you know this Bend landmark will celebrate 80 years in the restaurant biz in 2016? At a time when the country was barely pulling itself out of the Great Depression, the founders of Pine Tavern built a thriving restaurant serving timber workers and their families starting in 1936. These days you can stop by for one of the best happy hours in town and a basket of mouthwatering sourdough scones drizzled with honey butter.

If burgers are your passion, you’ll find two old-fashioned drive-in hot spots to satisfy you. Dandy’s Drive-in has been owned and operated by the same family since 1981, and its old-school charm is made more charming by the roller skating servers who zip out to your car to take your order. Pilot Butte Drive-In has been serving up juicy, tasty burgers at the base of the aforementioned Pilot Butte since 1983 (though they’ve since added a second location on Bend’s Westside).

Servers on roller skates have been delivering burgers right to your car at Dandy's since 1981.

Servers on roller skates have been delivering burgers right to your car at Dandy’s since 1981.

Bend old-timers occasionally lament the fact that famed Jake’s Truck Stop is no longer on the south end of town dishing up some of the city’s tastiest breakfasts, but did you know it’s still operating? The name changed slightly to Jake’s Diner, and it relocated to Bend’s eastside in 2005, but you’ll still find many of the same menu items and crew members who made the place great in 1987.

Other longtime Bend eateries include Kayo’s (serving up tasty steaks and seafood since 1982), the D&D (Bend’s oldest bar, established in 1986), and Roszak’s Fish House (an old-school eatery offering seafood and prime rib since 1981).

And if you’d prefer to stock the fridge at your Bend vacation rental, try longtime grocery favorites Newport Avenue Market (open since 1976), Nature’s Marketplace (open since 1983), and Erickson’s (serving Central Oregon since 1915!)


Bobcats and otters and skunks, oh my!

When I was in third grade, my Campfire troop visited the High Desert Museum and I married a chipmunk. I’m a little fuzzy on the details of the ceremony and why I thought a rodent might make a suitable spouse, but one thing I do remember is that I loved the High Desert Museum.

There are always new exhibits at the High Desert Museum, but the place itself has been operating since 1982.

There are always new exhibits at the High Desert Museum, but the place itself has been operating since 1982.

That hasn’t changed much since my first visit in 1984, just two years after they opened to the public. I still love going there and checking out the animal exhibits ranging from porcupines to badgers to otters to creepy-crawlies like snakes, spiders, fish, turtles, and other desert dwellers like a raccoon and a bobcat.

Besides cool critters, the High Desert Museum boasts an impressive array of natural history exhibits. Their 135-acre grounds has more than 100,000 square feet of exhibit space containing Native American artifacts, an authentic homestead and sawmill from 1904, and countless hands-on programs that bring history and science to life for kids and adults alike.


I wasn’t a beer-swilling 14-year-old, I swear

Deschutes Brewery may have gotten a bit bigger, but they've been serving up suds in Bend since 1988.

Deschutes Brewery may have gotten a bit bigger, but they’ve been serving up suds in Bend since 1988.

It’s true, the legendary Bend Ale Trail was not a part of Bend’s culture back when my grandma used to chase Grandpa out of the bar. But 1988 (right about the time I was jammin’ to Debbie Gibson on my Walkman) was when Deschutes Brewery burst onto the craft brewing scene in Bend. Things haven’t been the same since, with 16 breweries now rounding out the Bend Ale Trail, and a total of 28 breweries within 30 minutes of Bend.

But if you prefer your fizzy, frothy dose of drinkable nostalgia in a non-alcoholic form, you can always hit Goody’s Chocolates. Since 1984, they’ve been making the best old-fashioned sodas, milkshakes, hand-dipped chocolates, ice cream sundaes, and much more.


History buffs rejoice


Try a walking tour from Des Chutes Historical Museum for a look at historic buildings in Bend.

I can’t claim I ever visited the Deschutes Historical Museum as a kid, but odds are good I strolled by it en route to Drake Park (which has been drawing awestruck visitors since 1921). Housed in the old Reid School (a historic landmark built in 1914), the Deschutes Historical Museum was created in 1979 and has been treating guests to a healthy dose of history and culture ever since.

While I’m pretty sure their free Heritage Walk App wasn’t around when I was learning to moonwalk on Grandma’s kitchen floor, it’s still worth downloading if you want some great insights into historical buildings around Downtown Bend.





Be nice. You’re in Bend.


Enough said.

With an office that sits in the middle of the Bend Visitor Center lobby, I hear a lot of comments from Bend tourists. Besides “Bend is sure pretty!” and “man, you’ve got a lot of great beer,” do you want to know one of the top remarks I hear from our guests?

“Everyone’s so friendly in Bend!”

Yep. It was true when I was a kid, and it’s still true now. It doesn’t matter if our population has surged from 18,575 in 1986 to 33,740 when I moved here in 1997 to more than 82,000 today—we’re still the friendliest, happiest, most cheerful folks you’ll encounter almost anywhere.

My grandma would be proud.


Six signs spring is on its way to Bend, Oregon

March 13th, 2014

Last weekend I ventured over the mountains to Salem where cherry trees are blooming and the ground is awash in tulips and bluebells.

Here in Bend, springtime isn’t quite as flashy. Sure, we saw temperatures in the mid-sixties this week, but I’ll bet my snow shovel we’ve got at least a couple more snowstorms on the horizon before Old Man Winter throws in the towel.

Downtown Bend is brimming with oodles of little-bitty crocuses.

Downtown Bend is brimming with oodles of little-bitty crocuses.

Nevertheless, springtime in Bend is a magnificent thing if you know what to watch for. Here are six signs it’s on the way!

Bloom, little buddy, bloom!

What Bend lacks in showy blossoms it makes up for in sweet little blooms that seem to pop up in the oddest places. Wander out to the Oregon Badlands Wilderness and you’ll see hardy native wildflowers like sand lilies and larkspur miraculously thrusting themselves up through the lava rock. In Downtown Bend, sweet little crocuses make their way up through paver bricks around trees. There’s something inspiring about flowers that manage to bloom in Bend’s harsh high desert climate, and it’s fun to stroll around town looking for them.

Open the floodgates!

This week's stock run on one of Bend's irrigation canals is a sign of more water on the way for Central Oregon.

This week’s stock run on one of Bend’s irrigation canals is a sign of more water on the way for Central Oregon.

The farms and ranches surrounding Bend rely on irrigation canals to keep pastures lush and livestock watered. In warmer months, the canals are great places to hike alongside flowing water, but they only flow a few days a month in the winter to offer water for livestock. These winter stock runs give us a glimpse of what’s to come in April when the canals start flowing again and everyone flocks to the easements on the banks of the canals for an afternoon dog walk or an evening trail run.




Who’s ready for Springtacular?

Springtacular2013_WebsiteHeaderMt. Bachelor is legendary for its amazing spring skiing and one of the longest seasons in North America. That’s probably why their annual Springtacular event is so popular. The 96-hour sale on Springtacular passes kicks off at 12 p.m. on Thursday, March 13 and goes through 12 p.m. Monday, March 17. Once the sale ends, Springtacular passes are still available, but at a higher price.

Springtacular passes are valid to use starting Monday, March 31 and are valid every day Mt. Bachelor is open through the tentative planned closing date of May 25.  Besides killer skiing and snow riding, Springtacular festivities include concerts, competitions, camps, prize giveaways, and more. To learn more about Springtacular and to nab your pass, go here.


Break out the paddles!

Scenes from the River Rendevous event on the Deschutes River.

Scenes from the Riverhouse Rendevous Slalom event on the Deschutes River.

The instant people begin feeling confident a plunge in the Deschutes River won’t result in instantaneous frostbite, the river is awash in kayaks, canoes, and standup paddleboards. It’s a great time to try one of those activities to hone your skills before the season is in full swing. Go here for info on renting gear or scheduling a lesson.

Already fairly experienced with your paddle skills? Don’t miss the sixth annual Riverhouse Rendevous Slalom on Sunday, March 30 at 10 a.m. in the Deschutes River behind the Riverhouse Hotel & Convention Center in Bend. Throughout the day, paddlers divided by age group, type of boat, and gender, will test their skills on the quarter-mile whitewater course. Go here for more info on the event.


Daylight savings = more time to play outside!

While my sleep-deprived brain is still recovering from “springing forward” with daylight savings last weekend, the rest of me is giddy about what this means for evening recreation opportunities. Two months ago, 5 p.m. was a time for retreating along darkened streets and hunkering down at home. Now it’s the perfect time to hike Pilot Butte, where you’ll see oodles of post-workday locals out walking or running up this 500-foot cinder cone. If you start no later than 5:30, you’ll have plenty of time to make it up and down by the time daylight is gone. There are plenty of other places for an evening stroll in Bend, including Drake Park and Farewell Bend Park. For more ideas on places to plan an after-hours walk, go here.


Time for a new spring wardrobe?

Shopping in Downtown Bend.

Shopping in Downtown Bend.

The instant Bend temperatures creep into the high 50s and low 60s, you see something remarkable—skin! Women shed their leggings and tights, and people of all genders ditch the puffy coats and strip down to short sleeves. Seems like the perfect excuse to grab a few new items for your spring wardrobe, right? Stroll around Downtown Bend to hit cool boutiques and shops like CC McKenzie, Kariella, Local Joe, and The Frugal Boutique consignment shop. Then head over to the Old Mill District and browse their riverfront shops to stock up on goodies from Banana Republic, Buckle, Vanilla Urban Threads, and more. You’ll also find popular, bargain-packed shopping districts at the Bend Factory Stores and the Cascade Village Shopping Center.

Once you’ve stocked up on a few new pieces for spring, get out there and strut your stuff along Bend’s sun-drenched urban hiking trail system!

Five must-have beauty products made in Bend and Central Oregon – just in time for holiday shopping!

November 7th, 2013

It’s that time of year when Bend’s dry air can wreak havoc on our skin, and bundling up in winter coats and boots can leave you feeling less than glamorous.

It’s also the time of year when people start requesting ideas for locally-made holiday gifts.

Why not mash the two ideas together? Below are suggestions from five fabulous Bend women offering up their favorite locally-made products that help them feel fantastic!


Valerie Warren shows off her favorite products from Angelina Organic Skincare.

Valerie Warren of Visit Bend shows off her favorite products from Angelina Organic Skincare.

Valerie Warren

Who am I?
Operations Director for Visit Bend

What made-in-Bend beauty product do I love?
Angelina Organic Skincare Double Action Ayurvedic Cleansing Grains and Youth in Bloom Hydrating Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid.

Why do I love it?
I’m absolutely obsessed with skincare products and Angelina Organic Skincare makes some of the best! These two put together make for a great morning cleansing ritual. Here’s what I do: 1. While I’m standing outside the shower waiting for the water to warm up, I stick my hand under the water just long enough to make a paste with the Cleansing Grains and do a quick exfoliation as I’m getting into the shower. 2. After rinsing, I massage in the Hydrating Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid and let it sit on my face until just before I’m ready to turn off the water and get out. I feel like this is an anti-aging double- whammy! Another great thing about the Cleansing Grains is that you can also use them to mix up a facial masque.



Shannon Hinderberger displays her lovely jewelry from Nashelle.

Shannon Hinderberger of The Riverhouse Hotel & Convention Center displays her lovely jewelry from Nashelle.

Shannon Hinderberger

Who am I?
Marketing Manager for the Riverhouse Hotel & Convention Center, Crossings Restaurant, River’s Edge Golf Course AND Blogger at Working Mom Goes Green.

What made-in-Bend beauty product do I love?
Nashelle necklaces that benefit charities.

Why do I love it?
I love that Nashelle uses recycled 14k gold fill and sterling silver material, which fits perfectly with my family’s green/eco-friendly mission. Made in the USA, they also support many charity causes including Feeding America, Food for the Hungry, the Family Access Network, KIDS Center and their Pay it Forward line which benefit causes that are close to their heart, such as East Coast Disaster Relief in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.





Lynnette Braillard can't stop sniffing her yoga mat after spritzing it with Traveler's Spray.

Lynnette Braillard of LuLish Design can’t stop sniffing her yoga mat after spritzing it with Traveler’s Spray.

Lynnette Braillard

Who am I?
The girl behind the curtain at LuLish Design (aka Founder & Creative Director)

What made-in-Bend beauty product do I love?
Traveler’s Spray Natural Sanitizer from T’s Tonics

Why do I love it?
This natural spray sanitizer is a favorite local product that I picked up year’s ago at Green Plow, a coffee house in Redmond, while waiting for my latte. I spray it on my yoga mat, in the car, on airplane seats, and occasionally huff it – it smells oh-so-good! It’s made with seven therapeutic essential oils shown to kill 99% of all air-born bacteria. I can be a germ-phobe so this made-in-Powell Butte product keeps me sane and comfy while traveling the world or just Highway 97. Plus, 25-percent of all profits go to help international student travel.



Tawna Fenske feels saucy when sudsing up with beer soap from LaCol.

Tawna Fenske from Visit Bend feels saucy when sudsing up with beer soap from LeCol.

Tawna Fenske

Who am I?
PR & Communications Manger for Visit Bend (and the regular author of this blog)

What made-in-Bend beauty product do I love?
Dirty Girl soap from LeCol’s Soap Bar

Why do I love it?
This amazing beer soap is made with beer from Boneyard. It smells fabulous and lathers up beautifully. The anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory components in hops make it great for skin, and the amino acids are very moisturizing. Best of all, we sell it at the Bend Visitor Center for only $5, so I can easily grab a bar when we run out at home. Oh, and lest you think it’s strictly a girly product, I should tell you my fiancé loves this beer soap, too (especially the one made with oatmeal stout).





Lindsay Landgraf of Worthy Brewing loves her hop-inspired earrings from Hop Jump.

Lindsay Landgraf of Worthy Brewing loves her hop-inspired earrings from Hopped Up Jewelry.

Lindsay Landgraf

Who am I?
Social Media Marketer, Tour Coordinator, and Beertender at Worthy Brewing

Planning Board Member and Social Media Coordinator with Central Oregon Beer Angels (a local women’s beer group)

What made-in-Bend beauty product do I love?
Hopped Up Jewelry

Why do I love it?
Central Oregon beer is a career and a hobby for me, and this line of jewelry is the best way to represent that! First of all, they’re SO cute. I get compliments on them constantly while pouring beers at Worthy Brewing. I love the fact that I can show my hop love with more than just a typical t-shirt. And they’re made locally by a super sweet lady, which is a big bonus. I’m currently coveting their new hop necklaces. If you’re reading this and want to buy me one, you get a free hug!


Three fun road trips venturing out from Bend, Oregon

April 16th, 2013

Bend is an amazing place. I mean, that’s why we’re all here on this website instead of the one for Visit Blue Ball, Ohio (that’s a real town. I swear).

While Bend has everything you could possibly wish for in a vacation destination, it’s possible you’ll feel like exploring elsewhere for an afternoon. Hey, we aren’t here to judge. We’re here to offer three suggestions for fun day trips you can take from your Bend home base.

Kah-Nee-Ta Resort & Spa (69 miles from Bend)

Fun times at Kah-Nee-Ta's enormous hot springs mineral pool.

Fun times at Kah-Nee-Ta’s enormous hot springs mineral pool.

Located on the Warm Springs reservation northeast of Bend, Kah-Nee-Tah is a fun day trip for families in particular. Though you’ll find all kinds of activities like biking, horseback riding, mini golf, a day spa, and even a casino, the best reason to head to Kah-Nee-Tah is the hot springs mineral pool. It’s warm and soothing in the winter months (heated to 92 degrees) and cooled during the summer. There are two awesome slides, incluging a 184-foot enclosed tube and a 140-foot slide with an open top for claustrophobic fraidy-cats like me. There are a couple hot tubs, a kids’ wading pool, and these adorable bear statues that have been squirting water into the pool since my parents first brought me here in a swim diaper. My gentleman friend and I recently made the day-trip here with his offspring (ages 7 and 11) and the whole family had a blast swimming, splashing, sliding, and snacking. Don’t forget tons of sunscreen and an air mattress, and remember your camera to snap scenic shots of the landscape surrounding the Warm Springs reservation. Rates for the hot springs pool are $15 for those 11 and older, and $10 for kids 10 and under.

Sisters Oregon (22 miles from Bend)

Sisters Oregon

Handcrafted log furniture, wool blankets, and unique gifts can be found at Sisters Log Furniture & Home Decor

While Sisters makes an excellent outing for recreation-lovers looking to prowl the 1.6 million acres of national forest surrounding this tiny town, that’s not the best reason to visit. Located west of Bend, Sisters is a shopping mecca brimming with quaint stores, art galleries, and unique eateries. Start your day early at the old-timey Gallery Restaurant. Order a hearty helping of corned beef hash & eggs with a side of their homemade applesauce and enjoy it while you check out the walls covered with one of the world’s largest collections of Winchester rifles. With your belly full, browse dozens of cute shops ranging from Beacham’s Clock Co. (one of the world’s few complete master clockmakers that can design and build the entire product) to the Stitchin’ Post (a popular spot for fans of the Sisters Quilt Show) to Sisters Log Furniture (offering handcrafted rustic and western gifts and décor). Time for lunch? Head to Angeline’s Bakery for some healthy eats like raw zucchini noodles with pumpkin seed pesto, or belly up to the bar for some old fashioned grub at Bronco Billy’s Ranch, Grill, and Saloon. Then hit the streets again to browse art galleries, coffee shops, thrift stores, and more. Just make sure you’ve got extra room in the trunk for all the goodies you’re sure to take home.


Crater Lake National Park (105 miles from Bend)

Beautiful Crater Lake.

Beautiful Crater Lake.

One of the most pristine national parks on the planet is just a little over two hours from Bend. Crater Lake National Park features towering cliffs, stunning volcanic islands, and the most shockingly blue water you’ll ever see. At 1,943-feet deep, it’s the deepest lake in the United States, and the seventh deepest in the world. It formed when Mt. Mazama erupted 7,700 years ago in a massive volcanic eruption. Then the whole thing collapsed on itself, creating a big hole that eventually filled with water to become the amazing lake you see today. Personally, I love visiting Crater Lake in the summer months when roads are clear of snow, chipmunks are scurrying through the pine needles, and brave souls can go swimming in the icy water. If you find yourself there in the winter months, you can explore the area with a free Ranger-guided snowshoe tour. No matter when you choose to go, make sure you’ve got plenty of room on your camera card to snap tons of photos. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime views you’ll want to remember for a long time.

The “I can’t quit you” culinary tour of Bend: Locals share go-to dishes at area restaurants

January 13th, 2012

Bend locals are spoiled by many things: gorgeous scenery, amazing hiking trails just out the front door, terrific microbrews along the Bend Ale Trail, and a plethora of amazing restaurants.

There’s a funny phenomenon with the restaurants. Though their menus boast a huge array of selections, locals become fiercely loyal to one dish. We may sample the variety, but we always circle back to our favorite.

Knowing this information might be handy for visitors, I polled my Visit Bend colleagues for their top “I can’t quit you” dishes at local restaurants. Here’s what they had to say:

Kevney Dugan, Director of Sales & Sports Development

Kevney Dugan

I’m a big fan of the Jambalaya at Zydeco Kitchen and Cocktails in downtown Bend. This is a hearty, real meal best saved for when you’re very hungry. The jambalaya includes shrimp, andouille sausage, and crawfish served with rice and homemade cornbread. Some places have jambalaya that’s more on the soupy side, but this isn’t one of those. It’s extremely hearty with plenty of rice and a good kick of spice without being overpowering. It goes great with a local IPA!

Valerie Warren, Operations Manager

Valerie Warren

I’ve recently switched to a gluten-free diet, which means my dining options can be a bit limited. Longboard Louie’s offers a gluten-free, paleo-friendly meal with their Low-Carb Bowl. Here’s how it works: you pick as many fillings as you like from a list that includes lettuce, cabbage, green pepper, spinach, tomatoes, cheese, onions, pickled jalapeño, cilantro, and salsa. Next, you choose a protein from a list that includes a good variety of meat, fish, chicken, and vegetarian options. Last, you pick as many toppings as you like – guac, sour cream, enchilada sauce, or chipotle dressing. Voila! Instant meal, either in a small bowl or a large one. My favorite low-carb bowl includes buffalo, spinach, lettuce, cilantro, pico de gallo, peppers, and mushrooms. Then I hit the salsa bar for their pineapple and mango blend or the fire roasted tomato salsa. You can order this at either their Westside location or on the east side of Bend, so it’s handy no matter where you’re staying.

Lisa Sidor, Visitor Information Specialist

Lisa Sidor

The Caribbean Benedict at the Victorian Café is my go-to choice.  It’s all I’ve ever ordered.  It’s large enough that I can take half home, and have my mouth-watering favorite another day.  It features Cuban seasoned ham, mango, black beans and cilantro with two poached eggs on a grilled English muffin with house-made hollandaise sauce. It’s served with homestyle potatoes or applesauce. I usually get the applesauce, which is homemade and has big chunks of apple and plenty of cinnamon, but the potatoes are terrific, too!

Tawna Fenske, Communications Manager (and blog queen!)

Tawna Fenske

Toomies in downtown Bend is one of my favorite lunch spots, especially when I’m craving warm and spicy Thai cuisine. I’ve tried at least half the items on their extensive menu, but I always seem to circle back to their Green Curry Chicken. It’s the perfect blend of green pepper, eggplant, chicken, bean sprouts, and a scrumptious, spicy coconut broth. The lunch special comes with rice, salad, and a noodle side dish, and it’s large enough that I always end up with leftovers.

One of my most beloved breakfast spots is Alpenglow Café, and though I’m always tempted by the other scrumptious options on their menu, I can’t seem to shake my love for Zeus’s Favorite Frittata. It’s made with fresh oregano, kalamata olives, caramelized onions, fresh tomatoes, feta, cream cheese and scallions and served with a side of Alpenglow’s amazing home fries. You also get your choice of fruit, toast, or their unbelievable coffee cake. It’s the perfect winter breakfast. Or spring breakfast. Or summer. Or…

With a full agenda of summertime fun, Mt. Bachelor isn’t just for winter play

July 22nd, 2011

If you’re visiting Bend this summer, you might find yourself gazing longingly at Mt. Bachelor and counting the days ‘til you can head up for some winter recreation.

Heading out for a sled dog ride with Jerry Scdoris (behind the wheel) as Rachel Scdoris stands by.

But you might be surprised to know there’s a whole lot going on at Mt. Bachelor even when the snow isn’t flying.

I learned this firsthand last weekend when I visited the mountain for a bit of summertime recreation. While there’s still plenty of snow on the ground, the activities don’t require you to have waxed boards strapped to your feet.

One great option is the Summertime Dog Sled Rides. You may already be familiar with the wintertime rides offered by four-time Iditarod musher Rachel Scdoris and her father/trainer, Jerry Scdoris. The warm-weather trip is a bit different, with a dry-land cart instead of an actual sled, but the fun-factor is still there in spades.

Oh, how I want to take them home!

Before we set out, I got a chance to mingle with the dogs, pet the puppies, and chat with Rachel and her father. One thing that’s evident from the get-go is how enthusiastic everyone is about the whole process. The pups shriek and howl with eager anticipation, and while Rachel and her dad don’t do much shrieking or howling, their passion for the dogs and the sport is evident.

We sat down in the wheeled cart, Jerry gave the command, and away we went, bouncing along a winding path. At one point, Jerry stopped to let the dogs catch a breath and the photographer snap a photo, but it was clear from the canine squeals of “let’s go, let’s go!” that they wanted to get moving again. Though the ride was brief, it was well worth the $10 per person fee just for the uniqueness of the experience. It would be a great activity to add to a family vacation, birthday party, or even a classroom trip.

After the dog sled ride, we stopped at the Ski & Sport Shop to grab a couple tickets for the chairlift. Though disc golf wasn’t on our agenda that evening, we got to check out the gear for sale and read a bit about the course. Players ride the Pine Marten chair up to the first hole and work their way down the mountain to the final 18th hole. Elevation and the varied terrain add extra elements to the game. Use of the course is free, but players must provide their own equipment and buy a lift ticket ($16 for adults, $13 seniors, $10 youth 6-12 and kids 5 and under are free). Looked like a lot of fun!

Once you’ve purchased your lift ticket, you definitely won’t want to miss one of Central Oregon’s most unique dining experiences. Sunset dining at Pine Marten Lodge is offered Friday through Sunday from 5-8 p.m. Reservations are a must, and the views are absolutely stunning. Besides, how often do you get a chance to dine at 7,775 feet?

The food was so beautifully presented, photographer & dining companion Craig Zagurski wouldn’t stop taking pictures of it until I threatened to eat his meal.

There’s a full bar and an excellent wine list. I was particularly impressed with the restaurant’s selection of Oregon Pinot Noir, and the knowledgeable restaurant manager recommended a bottle that was completely swoon-worthy and a fabulous complement to the dinner.

The smoked salmon tartare with jalepeno cream was an excellent starter, followed by a caesar salad large enough for two people (and possibly an additional small army) to split. I loved the Griswold Seared Scallops with Balsamic Syrup and Wild Oregon Mushroom Pilaf, while my dining companion (who happens to be the photographer supplying the lovely images for this blog post) enjoyed the New York Strip Steak with Sweet Corn & Tillamook Queso Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus. The breathtaking views seemed to amplify everything about the meal, and the service was particularly attentive and friendly.

We capped everything off by devouring the crème brule, some very tasty cheesecake, and some more of those delicious views.

Though the food and views are first-class, the atmosphere in the restaurant is casual. This is a good thing, as you’ll definitely want to leave the evening gown at home and opt for layers. Riding the chairlift down in the moonlight is fabulously romantic, but also cold as frozen snot on a brass rail. You’ll be glad you packed your fleece, and I know I was feeling pretty smug about having a hat and gloves.

Besides what I’ve listed here, Mt. Bachelor’s summer offerings include hiking, scenic chairlift rides, and interpretive talks from US Forest Service rangers. Check out their summertime schedule for more details, and I’ll see you on the mountain!

Photos by Craig Zagurski (um, except for the photo of him taking a photo. That would be weird).

Fill your belly, help the hungry, get some gorgeous pottery

November 3rd, 2010

How many opportunities do you get to support a terrific cause, eat amazing food, and take home a one-of-a-kind souvenir?

I can think of one, and it’s happening November 14 in Bend.

Empty Bowls is a fund-raising event for NeighborImpact, which does great work in the community feeding the hungry and supporting programs like Head Start, energy and rent assistance, tutoring homeless kids, and more. This will be Bend’s 9th annual Empty Bowls event, and it’s happening at Central Oregon Community College’s new Campus Center.

I’ve had the pleasure of attending before, and you can bet I’ll snap up tickets early this year since it almost always sells out.

Here’s how it works: you walk in and choose from over 750 hand-crafted bowls created and donated by local potters. Then you fill your bowl again and again with delicious gourmet soups created by Chef Julian Darwin of the Cascade Culinary Institute.

My favorite treasure from a past Empty Bowls event.

There are usually four soups to choose from, including vegan and gluten-free options. Word of advice? The curried cauliflower and potato is TO DIE FOR.

Local bakers and restaurants get in on the act as well, with Flatbread Community Oven, CHOW, and Sparrow Bakery donating breads and desserts. There’s even a commemorative cookbook for sale, and tons of raffle items that support the great work NeighborImpact does in Bend.

The highlight, though, is the bowls. “The ones we have this year are beautiful,” said Sandy Klein, development specialist for NeighborImpact. “Last year’s bowls were a little smaller, but this year we’ve got some gorgeous medium to big ones.”

Personally, I’ve got a special shelf at home for the ones we’ve collected. They’re great showpieces for nuts and appetizers, and friends always ooh and ahh when I bring them out.

Want to attend? There are two seatings at 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Tickets are $18, and you can find all the details for purchasing them right here.

Just leave the prettiest bowl for me, OK? And don’t eat all the soup.

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