Returning home to Bend after nine days in Hawaii had me pondering a lot of things, not the least of which was how I went from bikini to blizzard in 24 hours.
But I’m also mulling the importance of maximizing your time when you have a short vacation and oodles of things to see and do. Here are four fun shortcuts for travelers with only a small window of time to visit Bend.
Let me state for the record that I once completed the entire Bend Ale Trail on foot, in a snowstorm in 3.5 hours, so I know it can be done. But if you don’t feel like knocking yourself unconscious to hit all the breweries, you can still sample oodles of Bend beers from the comfort of a single barstool.
Besides offering some of the best food along the Bend Ale Trail, Old Mill Brew Wërks has a rotating tap list that includes all their own brews, plus several from other breweries. Their “guest taps” almost always include a couple beers from Boneyard Beer to satisfy visitors who show up after 6 p.m. when Boneyard’s tasting room is closed. You’ll often find a selection or two from GoodLife Brewing for the same reason (their tasting room is closed Mondays) plus plenty of other selections from around the Northwest. Just be sure to save room for a few sips of the Rabble Rouser Red from Brew Wërks—it’s one of the best brews in town!
For an even wider range of beer selections, visit Broken Top Bottle Shop at the base of College Way in NW Bend, or The Brew Shop on NE 3rd Street. Both offer fabulous tap lists featuring plenty of Bend brews, plus huge coolers full of bottles and cans of beers from all over the world. For an extra tasty treat, use your beer to wash down the gourmet tacos at the Bottle Shop or the smoked turkey wings from Platypus Pub below The Brew Shop.
Craving a lovely, beautiful hike, but you don’t have time for a long drive up the Cascade Lakes Highway? Get maximum scenery for minimum drive-time with a hike up Pilot Butte State Park. You can see this 500-foot cinder cone from almost any vantage point in Bend, and the one-mile hike to the top offers spectacular views of the city and mountains beyond. Opt for the slightly more rugged dirt path to the top in summer months, or utilize the less steep paved road when it’s closed to cars between late-fall and mid-April. Don’t forget your camera and a bottle of water.
If you’re not in the mood for an uphill trek, take a quick stroll through Drake Park, the beautiful crown jewel of Bend’s park system. It features a half-mile of lovely riverfront walking trails adjacent to historic Downtown Bend.
To see both (plus some other nearby sites with the aid of a knowledgeable guide) contact the Bend Visitor Center to nab a spot on one of the free guided tours on Fridays and Saturdays at 10 a.m.
Sampling new restaurants is one of my favorite things to do when vacationing, but it’s rare to have the time or money for three leisurely, sit-down meals a day. Need to grab a great breakfast sandwich for the car ride to Mt. Bachelor? Hit Rockin’ Daves Bagel Bistro & Catering Company on Greenwood Avenue. Your best bet is The Clogger, made on your choice of bagel with bacon, tomato, avocado, red onion, and cream cheese. The base price is $5.50, though I substitute egg for the cream cheese for $1 extra. You can also hit Sparrow Bakery in NW Bend for one of their famous Ocean Rolls spiked with cardamom and a scrumptious glaze that’ll leave you drooling in your lap.
Need a good grab-and-go lunch? Nab a tasty burrito at Longboard Louie’s, which offers locations in both NE and NW Bend. I also adore the wraps at Parilla Grill on 14th Street, and have devoured countless Bombay Bomburritos with one hand on the steering wheel en route to my favorite hike.
And whether you’re seeking a pre-made sandwich, freshly packaged sushi, or a bag of gourmet groceries to prep your own meal in your Bend vacation rental, be sure to hit Newport Avenue Market for a great selection of goodies to round out your quickie dining options.
Your ski days are limited, so get the biggest bang for your buck with one of their special promotions. Hop online at least four days before your trip to nab a killer discount on multi-day lift tickets. If you’re visiting after April 1, the Springtacular Season Pass offers an amazing deal if you purchase during their 96-hour sale March 15-19. Your $139 adult pass offers unlimited access the last two months of the season starting April 1.
And if you’re traveling with young’uns, don’t forget Bachelor’s Kids Ski Free products, offering complimentary multi-day tickets for dependent kids 12 and under with the purchase of each adult/parent multi-day ticket.
So how do you get the most out of a short trip to Bend? Please share! Couldn’t we all use more tips for quickies?
What is it about a good Bloody Mary that makes your toes curl, your taste buds dance, and your whole body glow with satisfaction?
What—that’s just me?
No matter. If you’re a fan of spicy, tomatoey goodness like I am, you’re in for a real treat when you’re in Bend. Though the Visit Bend team includes a number of Bloody Mary fans, we don’t all agree on the best spot to procure one. Below are some wholehearted endorsements from our staff.
I’ll admit I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to Bloody Marys. I like them basic, spicy, and served in bars with dim lighting, cheap beer, and menus that don’t include words like “charcuterie” or “demi-glace.”
I mean it as a compliment when I refer to M&J’s Tavern on Greenwood Avenue as a dive bar. There’s nothing froofy about their Bloody Mary. They start with Demitri’s Bloody Mary mix and add a blend of horseradish, Tabasco, A-1, and a garnish of pickled green beans and olives for just $5. It’s served in a tall glass with a salted rim at a huge Formica bar you’ll share with a colorful array of blue-collar locals.
If I crave more variety but still want the ambiance of a no-frills watering hole, I head to Cascade West Grub & Alehouse on SW Century Drive. On Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. they pull out all the stops with a bloody mary bar offering six varieties of tomato juice, horseradish, wasabi, Tabasco, bacon, and every conceivable veggie ranging from peppers to avocado to celery to asparagus. They set the whole thing up on a pool table and let guests go crazy making their own special concoction. The bartender adds the liquor, and the whole thing is just $5 for basic well-vodka or $6 for Crater Lake Pepper Vodka from Bendistillery.
Lest you think I’m incapable of appreciating a more highbrow Bloody Mary, I’ll give a shoot-out to the Thai Bloody Mary at 900 Wall. It’s made with house-infused pepper vodka, thai chili, lime, cilantro, Clamato, and sesame seed spice blend for $9.50. Cheers!
The Victorian Café received votes from several members of the Visit Bend team, and here’s what Kevney had to say: “The Vic’s Bloody Mary has the perfect amount of heat and spice, but it’s not over the top. Plus it has a lot of veggies, which helps me justify drinking before noon. It has cured more than a couple headaches for me, so they must be doing something right.”
To score Valerie’s favorite Bloody Mary, you’ll need to venture up to Mt. Bachelor where you’ll enjoy their Mazama Spicy Bloody Mary in the Sun Bar. “It has the perfect celery salt rim and garnishes,” she noted. “The whole thing is enhanced by the spicy, local Crater Lake vodka and the views.”
I’ll second her vote on that one, since I have a soft spot for pickled asparagus and a celery stalk that’s more of a small tree than a dainty sliver. Bottoms up!
Is there anything better than bacon? Not much, in our CEO’s opinion. Doug is a big fan of the Bakon Bloody Mary at Brother Jon’s Public House. This treat is made with Bakon brand bacon-flavored vodka, their special house-made Bloody Mary mix, a dash of Lea & Perrins, a dash of Tabasco, a bacon salt rim, a slice of bacon, and lots of veggies.
When we asked him to go out and order one so he could take a picture, he obliged without a moment’s hesitation. “I had two,” he noted when he emailed the photo. “Don’t judge.”
We wouldn’t dream of it.
Another noteworthy Bloody Mary in Doug’s opinion is the one from D&D Bar and Grill in Downtown Bend. Their proprietary house-made mix is legendary among locals, and bartenders are generous with the vodka.
Chalk up another vote for The Vic. “I’m not a big Bloody Mary drinker (mostly because I don’t get out that often), but I really like the ones from Victorian Café,” Lisa shared. “I like Victorian Café Boody Marys because of the yummy spices and olives used. Plus, because it’s so filling, I only eat half my breakfast and save the rest for the next day!”
That sounds like pretty solid reasoning. And with dozens of creative Eggs Benedict offerings on the menu, The Vic makes the perfect weekend brunch for Bloody Mary fans hankering for a good meal to wash down the beverage.
Not a Bloody Mary enthusiast herself, Lynnette still took part in our poll. “I’m not a Bloody Mary fan so I asked a few of my girlfriends who drink them frequently (even hiking the Metolius a few weeks ago, they brought along Bloodys in a Silipint).”
Lynnette’s pals gave a few more shout-outs for The Vic. “It’s the perfect blend of spices, with the added bonus that they come in varying sizes, and with the option to add a skewer!” noted pal Sarah Kellogg, who also listed Brother Jon’s as a very close runner-up.
Lynnette’s other pal, Mieke Pistey, also had praise for Bloody Marys at The Victorian Café, offering up a photo of herself with what she calls her Proud Mary. “My favorite bloody made with Bendistillery pepper vodka, double the size, and it comes with a yummy skewer of cheese, prawn, sausage, olives and a breadstick on the side! Yummmm!”
So that’s it for our Bloody Mary roundup in Bend. Got a favorite that’s not on the list? Please share!
Welcome to your fifth edition of Mind Bend-ers, a special feature offering you the inside scoop on quirky Bend history and offbeat trivia.
There’s a reason you don’t hear much about Bend’s big gold rush. That’s probably because it wasn’t so much a rush as a minor drip.
On Friday, April 15, 1904, The Bend Bulletin printed an article headlined, “Steps to get gold.” In it, they noted gold had been found near Cline Butte just north of Bend, and residents were all a’twitter.
“There is said to be a very promising ridge extending over to the westward,” the article noted. “There was a distinct stampede for claims the latter half of last week.”
Indeed, oodles of mining claims were filed, and prospectors rubbed their hands together with glee. According to Jason Hogstad, the assistant curator of Living History programs at Bend’s High Desert Museum, the list of claimants included many of Bend’s movers and shakers at the time. Citizens were convinced the handful of gold bits found lying on the ground indicated an abundance of gold lurking just beneath the earth’s surface.
They just had to get to it.
Claimholders ponied up big bucks the following week—about $5 apiece—to raise $150 toward prospecting the lode, purchasing blasting powder, and hiring men to open up the ledge. Bend residents buzzed about the possibility of a historic gold rush in Bend.
“If the mines pan out,” noted The Bend Bulletin, “a new town is likely to be built in that vicinity.”
Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out (though you’ve gotta appreciate the Bulletin’s gold pun).
The gold nuggets were sent to assayers, and as reports trickled in, prospectors ceased their Snoopy dancing. As it turned out, the gold wasn’t particularly high-quality. Ditto that for the silver found in the same area. Interest in Bend’s “gold rush” began petering out, and by June, the buzz had almost completely died. Funds for prospecting dried up, as did residents’ enthusiasm for the possibility of gold in them-thar hills.
Wishing you’d been a part of Bend’s gold rush trickle? You can still play make-believe at High Desert Museum.
Stake your claim when you stop by the museum’s Hall of Exploration and Settlement, which features a re-created underground mine. It’s dark and spooky and perfect for kids or grownups with an urge to play out their gold rush fantasies. There’s also a re-created placer mine with an indoor running stream, or head outside to the 1904 Miller Family Ranch and Sawmill for a chance to encounter a “rancher” (OK, maybe it’s a volunteer – don’t tell the kids) describing the gold he just found on his land.
The Hall of Exploration and Settlement is open seven days a week, and you can get a live tour from a Museum interpreter at 2:30 pm daily. You can also go prospecting on your own by downloading the 30-minute audio tour to your mobile device.
Happy gold hunting!
Katie is the latest artist chosen for Visit Bend’s Pillars of Art program, which features one local artist every six months. The chosen artist creates unique chalk drawings on the cement pillars in the lobby, and her framed work displayed and sold in the Bend Visitor Center.
Katie Daisy has lived in Bend for less than a year, but she’s no stranger to the art scene. Her clients include Target, American Greetings, Pottery Barn, Papyrus, Walkers, Madison Park Greetings, and more. She also has a line of home and garden products for Demdaco, a stationery line with teNeues Publishing Group, and a series of drawings featured in a book by bestselling self-help author Louise Hay.
Visit Bend is lucky to have her artwork gracing our pillars and walls, and even luckier for the chance to ask some questions about her life, art, and what it’s like to be a young creative professional in Bend.
Visit Bend: Where did you grow up, and how did you end up in Bend?
Katie: I grew up on a farm in Northern Illinois. As much as I loved it, I knew there was more of the world to see. I’ve lived in eight states so far and have always had a desire to explore the Pacific Northwest, so the move was inevitable!
Visit Bend: Tell us about your artistic training.
Katie: Art has been my passion since I can remember. Right after high school I attended the Minneapolis College of Art & Design and graduated with a BFA in Illustration. Since then I’ve sustained myself by running an Etsy shop and licensing my creations out for a variety of different items.
Visit Bend: How would you describe your artistic style?
Katie: My creations come from a deep appreciation for my rural upbringing. The beauty I find in nature is something that holds a wealth of inspiration for me. Much of my work reflects the open spaces and wild beauty I’m so familiar with. When I paint I’m trying to recreate a profound sense of those things for others: the peace of a meandering creek, the wonder of a starlit field, or the bubbling anticipation of early summer. To achieve this, I mix a vintage illustration style with modern techniques. I also use a lot of hand lettering, specifically in a Tuscan/Western style.
Visit Bend: What’s your favorite medium?
Katie: I find the combination of watercolor and acrylic paints to be flexible enough that I can achieve both transparency and bold, velvety textures. I always mix them.
Katie: Frida Kahlo, Olaf Hajek, Nathalie Lete, Grady McFerrin, Kandinsky, and Matisse.
Visit Bend: What do you like best about living in Bend, and how does it influence your artistic style?
Katie: I have an amazing community of friends here that encompass everything from writers and musicians, to other painters. It’s incredibly close-knit, and we’re able to share our ideas freely with one another. We also offer feedback on each others’ work, despite our differing media. When you experience those sorts of relationships it creates a powerful sense of self discovery, which is something I find essential to furthering my creativity.
Visit Bend: What do you enjoy doing in Bend when you’re not creating art?
Katie: I love having rooftop parties or creative gatherings that involve music, visual art, and poetry. It’s important to me to create an experience where everyone present can be in their element and find something to appreciate. I also love browsing the antique shops and local boutiques for inspiration on a regular basis. I frequent the many coffee shops in Bend (chiefly Lone Pine!) to reply to e-mails or sketch out new projects. In the warmer months, I enjoy taking my hammock to Drake Park and lounging by the river with my sketchbook.
Katie: The Bend art scene is incredible. It’s small, and very close-knit. I feel privileged to be within in a group of such diversely talented individuals. I think Bend is very proud of its artists and creatives. By creating the Pillars of Art program, it’s made that evident to anyone who comes here to experience our community.
Thanks to Katie for taking the time to chat with us, and for making the Bend Visitor Center look so very lovely right now. Want to come check out Katie’s work? Her pillars and other artwork will be on display now through June 1. The Bend Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Stop by and check it out!
There are certain days I like to call my friends in other cities to gloat about living in Bend. I limit the calls to days ending in “y,” but I’ll admit there are times I’m extra eager to crow about being here in the outdoor playground of the West.
President’s Day Weekend (February 15-18) is one of those times, and here are five good reasons you should consider visiting Bend for this year’s holiday.
Zwickelmania is Oregon’s statewide brewery celebration, so you’ll find cities all over the state celebrating craft beer on Saturday. But no one does it quite like Bend. All the breweries along the Bend Ale Trail (plus a few outliers) throw open their doors to offer tours, tastings, and a chance to ask questions of brewmasters and staff. The event lasts from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and I know from experience it’s possible to hit all the stops in that time. To make it easier, the Oregon Brewers Guild and local breweries are sponsoring a free shuttle from Wanderlust Tours. They’re still working out the precise schedule, but it’ll be posted here in plenty of time for you to plot your route.
It’s also pretty easy to walk between many of the breweries, and I recommend doing that for the fresh air and a chance to burn off a little alcohol. You should also be sure to schedule a lunch stop at one of the tasty pubs to be sure there’s food in your belly and fuel in your gas tank. Don’t forget to download the free Bend Ale Trail app or stop by the Bend Visitor Center for your passport – it’s a great day to collect most of the stamps you’ll need to earn a prize.
Join thousands of people from across the Northwest for the 14th annual Bend WinterFest in Bend’s Old Mill District. Check out the best things winter has to offer, including the Day Glow Big Air Show, hot music acts like Hell’s Belles and Tony Furtado, ice and snow sculptures, artists and artisan food at the Marketplace Tent, and Metal Mulisha’s death-defying motorcycle show.
The event kicks off Friday from 5-10 p.m. and continues Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. before wrapping up Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can buy a commemorative button that grants you access to all WinterFest activities as well as discounts at local retailers and restaurants. Buttons are available at OnPoint Community Credit Union for $5 or our other button outlets for $6. Family four packs are available for $20 in advance at all outlets. Tickets are available at the gates for $8, family four packs for $28. Mt. Bachelor Season Pass holders get into the event for free (must show pass at the gate), and kids 3 and under get in for free.
Right about now, you’re wondering where you’re going to stay when you come to town for all the President’s Day Weekend festivities. I’m sorry to say my guest room is spoken for, but luckily, there are tons of local lodging establishments offering great deals this time of year. Check out our Bend lodging page to start the search for your perfect hotel, condo, or vacation home, or go straight to our Bend lodging specials page for oodles of deals that include perks like free ski passes, free nights, and extra amenities. The Riverhouse Hotel & Convention Center even has a has specials just for President’s Day Weekend starting at just $105, so check out their page for details.
I’ll admit the idea of jumping into an icy river is about as appealing to me as sliding down a razor-blade banister into a barrel of grapefruit juice, but clearly the Polar Plunge appeals to tons of people. The event takes place in Riverbend Park on February 16, and participants can check in between 8:30-10:45 a.m. The costume contest kicks off at 10:30, and the actual plunge (i.e. hoards of insane individuals dunking their goosebumpy skin into the frigid Deschutes River) takes place at 11. To avoid lines on event day, pre-register from 4-7 p.m. at the Bend Fred Meyer near the apparel section. Freddies will even throw in a free towel, and proceeds from the event help out Oregon Special Olympics.
Just don’t blame me if you lose any vital parts of your anatomy.
Craving some winter entertainment that doesn’t require bundling up or shucking your clothes? As part of the Sisters Folk Festival Winter Concert Series, the Portland Cello Project is performing at the Sisters High School Auditorium at 7 p.m. Friday evening. This eclectic and riveting act combines the power of 7 cellos performing everything from Radiohead to Metallica to classical music. Tickets are just $15 in advance for adults, $10 for students, and $20 at the door. Go here for more information on times and ticket sales. Sisters is just a 25-minute drive west of Bend, so you’ll have no trouble driving there for an early dinner & a pint at Three Creeks Brewing (our extra credit brewery on the Bend Ale Trail), enjoying the concert in Sisters, and heading back to your Bend hotel for a good night’s rest before all the weekend festivities.
Valentine’s Day is just a couple weeks away, though you don’t need a cheesy holiday to plan a special date in Bend. In case you haven’t heard, Bend was just named one of the nation’s ten most romantic cities by Livability.com!
There are oodles of unique ways to enjoy a romantic outing with your sweetie in this Central Oregon paradise, and my gentleman friend (more commonly known as copywriter/photographer Craig Zagurski) set out with me to try a few. Here are our top three ways to canoodle with your honey in Bend!
I adore live music, though jazz isn’t usually my favorite. But after three years of hearing everyone gush about the fabulousness of Jazz at the Oxford, I caved.
It was hardly a sacrifice.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the upscale Oxford Hotel, and enjoyed plentiful drinks in their restaurant 10Below, but Jazz at the Oxford is an entirely different scene. We had the pleasure of catching multi-Grammy nominee Karrin Allyson in mid-January, and the place was packed.
We seized the opportunity to get dressy in cocktail attire, and many members of the audience had the same idea. If you want to break out the suit or the little black dress, this is a great excuse.
I’m not sure how the Oxford manages to pack so many people into one room and achieve an intimate, romantic vibe, but they pull it off brilliantly. The dim lighting lends a dreamy feel to the space, making it easy to grope your date’s knee under the table.
So I’ve heard.
During the show, you can order from an impressive menu of cocktails, wine, beer, and food. We opted for a couple glasses of wine and a simple charcuterie tray, while the couple beside us went for a full-on dinner including buttery clams and a thick steak.
For a truly special evening on the town, you’d be smart to book dinner reservations at 10Below either before the event (if you’re catching the 8 p.m. show) or afterward for those with 5 p.m. tickets. That way you can fully enjoy your meal without worrying you’ll plop a scallop on your lap or stab a fellow concertgoer with your steak knife. You can even book an overnight stay at The Oxford or one of countless other Bend hotels, motels and resorts listed on our Bend lodging page.
There are a couple more jazz nights in the lineup before the season ends, including shows by Mel Brown Septet (Feb. 22-23) and Tom Scott & California Express (March 15-16). Tickets range from $35-$49, and you should buy now since shows almost always sell out.
Grab a pair today, and get ready for the ultimate romantic evening!
Many Bend visitors come here seeking recreation, so my gentleman friend and I planned one date with this in mind.
After packing a simple lunch of apples, cheese, peanuts, and cold chicken, we headed to Pine Mountain Sports to rent cross country ski gear. Though I grew up nordic skiing, I hadn’t been out on the trail for nearly ten years. My gentleman friend, on the other hand, had never set foot on skis of any kind.
I’ll admit I worried one of us might pull a groin (thereby putting a crimp on any future romantic plans), but I needn’t have worried. The trails at Virginia Meissner were perfectly groomed and easy to follow, making our trek a snap on the Tangent Loop Trail.
Even with our minimal skills and occasional spills, we made the 1.5 mile trip to our chosen warming hut in about 45 minutes. Though we’d planned to enjoy our picnic snuggled beside the hut’s wood stove, the weather was too nice to resist. We dragged a couple logs out of the woodshed and parked our butts out in the snow to enjoy breathtaking mountain views while sharing our meal.
If cross country skiing isn’t your thing, try the snowshoe trails instead. The Meissner Nordic folks do a superb job marking trails to make it clear which ones are for which use, and you end up in the same place either way.
Can’t resist the urge to bring Fido on your romantic outing? There’s a warming hut at Wanoga SnoPark, too, and as long as you pick up after your pooch, he’s welcome to join you as you ski, snowshoe, or even walk off that hearty picnic.
One word of caution: though it might be tempting to pack cocoa & schnapps or even a bottle of wine, don’t forget to toss in some water, too. It’s important to rehydrate anytime you work up a sweat with your sweetie.
Countless studies and women’s magazines tout the romantic benefits of couples learning new skills together.
That – combined with the fact that my gentleman friend and I truly love food – is what landed us in a Well Traveled Fork cooking class with Chef Bette Fraser.
We joined several other couples at Chef Bette’s magnificent Bend home for an intimate evening of slicing, sautéing, and learning to prepare the perfect Valentine’s dinner. Our classmates ranged from competent cooks to those who seemed uncertain which end of the knife to hold, which is part of what made the experience so enchanting.
My gentleman friend learned to grate gourmet chocolate over a delectable tiramisu, while I worked on my technique for frying homemade corn chips to accompany our fresh fruit salsa. Looking around the cozy kitchen, I saw couples young and old sharing fond smiles as they refilled each other’s wine glasses or worked together to cut the perfect parchment heart for our fish en papilote.
Once we finished assembling the meal, we all went home hungry.
I’m kidding, of course. We all sat down and enjoyed a wonderfully romantic dinner made even more scrumptious by the fact that we helped prepare it. And we got to take home our new knowledge – not to mention easy-to-follow recipes – so we can make the same tasty meal at home where we’re less likely to offend anyone by wearing nothing but aprons and smiles.
Sorry about that, Chef Bette.
The Well Traveled Fork has tons of other great classes on the schedule that are perfect for couples looking to learn some new culinary skills together.
If cooking doesn’t roll your socks, up, check out the schedule of continuing ed classes offered by Central Oregon Community College. There’s a Thai for Two massage workshop slated for Feb. 10 with a few slots left, and oodles of other offerings to suit all kinds of interests.
So what’s your favorite way to spend a romantic date in Bend? Please share!
And please have a very happy Valentine’s Day no matter how you choose to spend it!
Surely I’m not the only person to grapple with Bend’s great wintertime conundrum: you’re just energetic enough to crave outdoor exercise, but too lazy to dig up the snowshoes or rent nordic skis.
Folks come to Bend in search of snow this time of year, but sometimes you just want some winter recreation without the risk of sinking in snow up to your crotch. For a fun winter hike that doesn’t require any special equipment, here are three great options.
I have a special fondness for the sprawling desert landscape of the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, but I particularly love it in wintertime. Even when much of Bend is blanketed with snow, the white stuff is generally sparse in this 30,000 acre stretch of wild desert just a few miles east of town.
There are plenty of places to access the area, but one of the easiest is the Larry Chitwood Trailhead. To find it, head east on Highway 20, then north on Dodds Road and continue about four miles before hanging a right on Obernolte Road.
There’s a sign at the trailhead with a good map, and you’d be smart to study it a bit before heading out. The trail offers a flat 4.5 mile loop dotted with an abundance of craggy old-growth juniper, ancient lava flows, and a lot of random rusted items ranging from cans to cars. They’re protected as artifacts, so leave them alone and just enjoy the random quirkiness as you move along.
The trail is marked, but be aware that people sometimes steal the signs, so pay attention. When in doubt, remember it’s a loop, and you can always follow your own footsteps back out.
I’ll admit I sometimes get spooked hiking alone, and I become convinced a cougar is stalking me each time my dog pricks her ears. Play it safe and bring a buddy, along with plenty of water and a decent map.
There are two routes up this 500-foot cinder cone in the center of Bend: a wide, paved road, or a slightly shorter, steep dirt trail. I’m partial to hiking the paved road, but fear for my life half the year when I share it with massive SUVs barreling up the asphalt and careening around corners.
That’s why I love having the paved road all to myself during the winter vehicle closure from late fall to mid-April.
Well, not all to myself. There are plenty of other hikers with the same idea, which is to enjoy a brisk hike to the summit for a rewarding 360-degree view of Bend and surrounding areas.
Technically an extinct volcano, Pilot Butte State Park is a 100-acre State Scenic Viewpoint that was acquired by the city in 1927. The views from the top are incredible, and Bend is one of the only cities in the nation with a volcano right in the middle of town.
There’s an outhouse at the top and a small park at the bottom. You’ll need to keep dogs on-leash, and there are baggies at the bottom for picking up Fido’s droppings. When conditions are icy, keep a close eye out for patches of black ice on the road, or play it safe by walking in the gravel shoulder.
For added family fun, consider bringing a small container of bubbles to the top. I’m not sure why, but my gentleman friend’s offspring adore scurrying to the summit and running around chasing bubbles adrift on the wind.
Just remind them to save some energy for the hike back down.
Tumalo Falls is gorgeous 365 days a year, but it’s a special treat to visit when temperatures drop below freezing and the falls begin to look more like a giant, drippy popsicle.
That sounded weirder than I meant it to.
Though you’ll encounter plenty of snow up there this time of year, the area is so well-trodden that you can hike it easily without snowshoes. You can keep your explorations in the lower area near the falls, or keep hiking beyond that for some lovely river views and solitude.
Keep Rover leashed in the parking area and at the trailhead, but feel free to unleash him as you get further up the trail. On sunny days, find a dry stump at the edge of the river and enjoy a nice winter picnic as you enjoy the burble of the river and the cleanest, freshest mountain air imaginable.
Got any favorite winter hikes of your own in Bend? Please share!
Do you ever get the urge to roll up your sleeves and devour pub food until you’re coated elbow-deep in wing sauce and nacho cheese?
I know it’s not just me.
Luckily, Rivals Sports Bar, Grill, & Poker offers a great spot for doing just that while enjoying one of their daily poker tournaments, an evening of karaoke, or a chance to just chill and watch your favorite sporting event on one of their 15 big screens.
When the Visit Bend team stopped by Tuesday evening, we kicked things off with some drinks and appetizers. My bloody mary was the prefect blend of spicy and tangy, with an asparagus, olive, and cocktail onion garnish that gave me plenty to nibble while I waited for the first round of food.
Others at the table seemed particularly swoony over the Lunazul Margarita made with 100% agave tequila, triple sec, and sweet-n-sour. I also got to sample the Stiegel grapefruit beer on tap, which was a delightfully light & tangy brew more reminiscent of a cider than a beer.
When our food arrived, our staff lunged like a pack of starving dogs. The calamari appetizer was perfectly crisp on the outside and supremely tender inside, with a horseradish tomato sauce that tied the whole tasty dish together. We also enjoyed the fried potato skins topped with three cheeses, bacon, green onions, and sour cream.
But the true highlight of the appetizer menu was our double order of cream cheese jalapeño wrappers. These bad boys are hand-rolled by the culinary geniuses at Rivals, who stuff them with applewood smoked bacon, cream cheese, and jalapeño and serve them up with a divine thai chili sauce. I promised myself I’d only eat half of one, and then devoured three when I thought no one was looking.
Luckily, I still had room for my entrée. I chose the prime rib dip after the owner told me he has customers who drive over from Madras every week just to order this sandwich.
I can see why.
Made with thinly-sliced prime rib, the sandwich is topped with Swiss cheese and served on a fluffy French roll with a side of piping hot au jus. I opted for the side salad, though French fries are a tasty alternative.
Though I was delighted with my sandwich (and by “delighted” I mean “willing to stab anyone who tried to take it,”) I’ll admit I coveted my colleague’s Reuben sandwich. The loveliest slabs of marble rye were piled with thinly-sliced corned beef, sauerkraut, melted Swiss, and thousand island. We hardly had time to snag a picture before he inhaled the entire creation.
The vegetarian in our group was delighted with the chipotle veggie burger with Swiss, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and red onion on a Kaiser bun, while our gluten-free diner enjoyed a tasty looking bunless burger and salad.
We capped the whole meal off with an order of deep fried Twinkies drizzled with Hershey’s chocolate. It was a decadent treat for just $4, and in light of all the Hostess drama in the news lately, it made me feel like I was eating an endangered species (in a perfectly ethical, non-creepy way.)
I’ll admit I’m not a sports fan, which is why my out-of-town houseguests always ask where they can go to watch “the big game” (whatever that may be). Rivals is an excellent spot, and I suspect I’ll end up back there for a serious game of Cornhole on the outdoor patio in the springtime, or perhaps for karaoke some future Friday or Saturday from 8:30-12:30 p.m.
For tasty pub food, excellent service, and a whole lot of action, Rivals is a fab option, especially if you’re staying at one of the Bend hotels on the north end of town.
Save some jalapeño wrappers for me, OK?
Take Dawg Grog, for instance. It’s a non-alcoholic beer for dogs invented by Boneyard Beer employee Daniel Keaton. This past week, a routine local news story about the product went viral, prompting everyone from CNN to Conan O’Brian to crow about this hot new doggie brew.
My dog, Bindi, has been a Dawg Grog fan from day one, which got me thinking about other made-in-Bend items with a special place in my heart. Allow me to introduce you to my top five favorite products made right here in beautiful Bend, Oregon.
Since then, I’ve acquired half-a-dozen, and you’ll rarely find me without a Silipint within arm’s reach. My cats knock them off my desk constantly, and instead of cleaning up broken glass, I just laugh as the Silipint bounces across the floor.
For two years, I filled my Silipints with ice water and the occasional craft beer. Then Silipint introduced a lid. For just $2.50 a pop, I get an instant travel mug. Voila! Now I journey to work every day with hot tea in my Silipint, making it the only beverage container I could ever need.
I should note here that several of my co-workers swear by the Hydro Flask as the Bend-made beverage receptacle of choice. Though I have yet to try one myself, I hear they’re fabulous for keeping cold things cold, and hot things hot.
I’m staggeringly lazy with my hair. I wash it a couple times a week, and on a good day, I might consider brushing it. Fortunately, these adorable, handmade silk headbands by Bend designer Linda Spring of Underground Spring are an easy, inexpensive way to give the impression I’ve made an effort. They come in tons of great colors, and are just $12 at artisan marketplace Tres Jolie in Downtown Bend. Grab more than one, and prepare to look fabulous.
And until last summer, she smelled like it.
But that all changed when Bend-based Ruffwear began making the Headwater collar. This waterproof, stinkproof collar is perfect for dogs that frequent the water or live in wet climates. The coated webbing is flexible, but non-absorbent—solving the wet, stinky collar problem! It’s even got a cute reflective pattern that provides visibility in low-light conditions.
Best of all, Bindi looks stylin’. It’s kinda like my silk headband. For the record, neither of us stinks.
Bend-made Nashelle jewelry has been featured everywhere from People magazine to InStyle, and worn by stars ranging from Kourtney Kardashian to Chelsea Handler. There’s a reason for that—the jewelry is freakin’ awesome!
Nashelle creations have long been available online and in their Bend showroom, but I just learned yesterday there’s a Nashelle retail shop opening in Bend’s Old Mill District later this month. What a great opportunity for everyone to stock up on this fabulous jewelry.
Just save some for me, OK?
When I told two Visit Bend colleagues I was writing about my favorite made-in-Bend items, they nodded knowingly.
I had to confess that despite every local woman I know gushing about Angelina Skincare products for years, I hadn’t tried any.
My boss shook her head in disgust. “Tomorrow’s Friday. You need to book one of their free Friday facials so you can learn what all the fuss is about.”
The fact that I’m commanded to get facials is one of 2,896 things I love about my job, but I digress.
And I also agree that Angelina’s organic skincare products live up to the hype. I was instantly smitten with the Lavender and Aloe Facial Toner as a natural, gentle alternative to the harsh facial astringent I’ve used since puberty. I also zeroed in on the Skin Doctor Hand Cream after I watched four different strangers file through the shop and purchase it with the declaration that it’s the best hand cream they’ve ever tried.
I’d heard rumors that Angelina’s products had been included in celebrity gift bags at the Academy Awards, and Angelina herself confirmed that to be true. The most popular item among celebrities was the Radience Serum, which repairs damaged skin, fades age spots, and even soothes sunburn.
But perhaps my favorite item of all was the Kama Body Incense. This sensuous powder perfume is scented with exotic Indian lotus petals, sandalwood, frankincense, and other top-secret ingredients Angelina wouldn’t reveal even after I threatened to throw myself on the floor and cry. Regardless of what’s in it, this gorgeous fragrance caused everyone around me to swoon for the rest of the day.
I really need to apologize to the postman for that.
So that’s it for my roundup of my top five favorite made-in-Bend goodies. Please share yours!
Most folks flocking to Bend this time of year are in search of one thing: snow.
You’ll find no shortage of it this season, but what about those who (gasp!) don’t care for the cold stuff? I know…I should give up my Bend resident card just for writing that, but sometimes I crave a break from winter’s chill.
Whether you’re a cold-phobic like me, or just looking to thaw out after a day on the slopes, here are my top tips for getting warm in Bend this time of year.
I had a thorough roundup of Bend’s indoor and outdoor fireplaces in this post a few months ago, and it goes without saying a cozy fire is the ultimate way to toast your toes. I’m less apt to visit the outdoor fire pits in single-digit temps, but there are tons of great indoor options for cozying up to a fire.
Pilot Butte Drive-in on Bend’s east side not only boasts some awesome breakfasts and lunches, but a cheery gas fireplace in the center of the restaurant. Scanlon’s Restaurant in the Athletic Club of Bend has a unique, antique brick fireplace that was rescued from a historic hotel that was razed in 1917.
If you’re journeying the Bend Ale Trail, be sure to hit O’Kanes near at the back of McMenamins Old Saint Francis Pub. They have a groovy indoor pot-belied stove that gets so hot sometimes it glows red. En route to or from the mountain? Swing by the 3,000-foot Cascade Lakes Lodge for a tasty pint and a chance to thaw out beside their massive stone fireplace.
Few things warm me up faster than soaking in a nice, hot bubble bath. Though I can’t invite you all back to my place to join me in my tub, there are plenty of alternatives.
The soaking pool at McMenamins Old St. Francis School is a gorgeous, semi-enclosed saltwater pool crafted in shimmering turquoise tile work. Check out the stars through the open ceiling as you bob in the warm, non-chlorinated water.
If you’re a hot springs fan and don’t mind a short drive from your Bend home-base, Belknap Hot Springs is one of my favorite spots along the McKenzie River. Make the 1.5-hour trek westward in the morning, spend the day soaking in two mineral hot spring pools and exploring acres of gorgeous gardens, and head back to Bend in time for a fab dinner. Roughly the same drive-time headed north will get you to Kah-Nee-Ta Resort where you can soak in their double Olympic-sized hot-springs fed mineral pool.
And don’t forget to check the handy chart onVisit Bend’s lodging page to scout for digs that boast hot tubs or in-room Jacuzzis.
It’s no joke. You can stroll a warm, tropical garden in Bend in the middle of January. Through April 7, the High Desert Museum is featuring their popular Birds and Hummingbirdsexhibit. Breathe the warm, fragrant air as exotic hummingbirds and butterflies flutter around lush plants. It’s a great way to learn about biodiversity, migration, navigation, plant interactions, and conservation of these fascinating insects and birds.
Or forget all that, and just figure it’s a darn fine way to get warm!
You deserve a spa day. Luckily, Bend boasts a wide array of full-service day spas willing to pamper you silly in a warm, cozy space. Treatments like hot stone massage or luxurious facials are offered at more than a dozen spots and provide a wonderfully warm respite.
Opt for the ultimate cold-day pampering at Spa W ith their Moor Mud Body Mask. The treatment kicks off with a dry-brush exfoliation, followed by a purifying moor mud mask spread all over your body to cleanse pores and improve muscle tone. Then you’re wrapped up in a cocoon before enjoying a facial, followed by a serene Vichy shower and moisturizing application. Sixty minutes of warm heaven for $90 – what a deal!
For something a little different, try a Thai Yoga Massage. It’s an ancient, therapeutic full-body massage that combines supported assisted-yoga stretches, acupressure, gentle twisting, soothing rocking, and meditative, rhythmic massage. It’s performed fully clothed and oil-free on a comfortable mat in a cozy room, and I’ll confess I actually wept tears of bliss after my 90-minute treatment one blustery day last month.
Visiting Bend with your paramour? There are plenty of ways to heat things up with some frisky romance. Bend boasts a number of fashionable lingerie shops like uber-classy French lingerie boutique Romantique in Downtown Bend, or the popular Victoria’s Secret shop in the Old Mill District. If you’re seeking something a little naughtier, Tres Chic in Downtown Bend offers lingerie with a more risqué twist.
If a nice bottle of wine is what it takes to get you feeling warm and frisky, Bend offers several great wine shops near Downtown and the Old Mill District. The folks at Good Drop Wine Shop are spectacular at picking the perfect wine to pair with your romantic dinner by the fire, or opt for a little Latin spice when you visit Southern Wine Group, specializing in Latin American wine. Cheers!
So what’s your favorite way to keep warm in Bend when the weather outside is frightful? Please share!