Bend Oregon Blog | The Bend Buzz Blog by Visit Bend
At the rate technology is advancing, I like to think I’ll someday be able to offer you a scratch-and-sniff blog post.
While I can’t do that yet, I can tell you Bend, Oregon, is one of the most deliciously fragrant places I’ve ever been. Sure, it looks beautiful, but here are five things you absolutely, positively must smell in Bend and Central Oregon.
Pine needles in the sun
There’s a deliciously nutty, piney fragrance you’ll notice when you hike the ponderosa-lined trails around Bend. The sun-soaked high desert earth bakes the needles to aromatic perfection, and I find myself wanting to press my nose against the red-barked trunks. I notice it most prominently along the Deschutes River Trail in the summer months when the sun shines particularly bright, but since it’s sunny year ‘round in Bend, you can pick up the scent nearly any day of the year. To find it for yourself, head up Century Drive and pick a trail that looks appealing. Then close your eyes and breathe deeply. Try not to run into any trees.
Festivals and Farmers Markets
I suppose you could just call this “food smells” and be done with it, but the fragrance enveloping Bend’s many festivals and Farmers Markets is so much more than that. It’s layer upon layer of delicious culinary scents like pungent leafy greens, grilled onions, and batter-dipped corndogs. Add in a dash of sunscreen, spilled beer, and the fragrance of poly-vinyl bouncy houses warming in the sun, plus a subtle undertone of river water and pine. The result is an indescribable perfume that’s actually not all that indescribable at all—it’s the fragrance of fun. To find a festival that fits your vacation schedule, check Visit Bend’s event calendar.
Juniper and sage in the rain
While I love this medley of fragrances in the sunshine, too, there’s something especially mesmerizing about the way these two scents mingle on our rare rainy days in the high desert. Imagine the woodsy, floral aroma of sage rinsed clean with the green botanical notes of juniper. I recently made saltimbocca (thin pieces of chicken breast wrapped in sage leaves and prosciutto) and served it with a Sauvignon blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough region, and that was pretty much the culinary equivalent of this fragrance. The Oregon Badlands Wilderness is a particularly lovely place to breathe in this intoxicating blend, with the added bonus of uncrowded trails and raw, scenic beauty.
Grassy lake shores
I’m not sure if it’s the tangle of reeds and grasses, the musk of damp earth, or the bright scent of the river water itself that produces this deliciously clean fragrance. It’s probably a mix of all three, and there’s something about it that instantly lowers my blood pressure. Sometimes I like to take off my shoes and squish my toes in the mud to fully embrace this fragrance. There are a few spots on the shore of Elk Lake where this is an option, and nearby Hosmer Lake is another great spot to wade in and experience it. There are also a number of spots along the Deschutes River with deliciously muddy banks, so take off your shoes and start sniffing. Wait…that came out wrong.
The cornucopia of food smells in Downtown Bend
Anytime between lunch and late-evening, you can walk the streets of Downtown Bend and breathe in the most heady blend of food smells imaginable. There’s a mix of exotic spices from Toomie’s Thai Cuisine, Taj Palace, and Five Fusion wafting on the breeze as you stroll from Minnesota Avenue toward Wall Street. Near 900 Wall and Brickhouse, you’ll breathe in the scents of peppery grilled meats and garlicky pizzas bubbling in wood-fired ovens. Don’t try this when you’re hungry, as there’s no possible way to resist ducking into one of the restaurants for a bite. On second thought, a state of hunger is precisely when you want to do this.
So that’s my roundup of five of my favorite fragrances in Bend. What’s yours? Please share in the comments!
From guided horseback riding to solo trail rides, you’ll find plenty of equestrian adventure in Bend
My grandparents raised racehorses in Central Oregon, so I grew up associating Bend with saddles and curry combs.
I’ve seen a recent uptick in journalists and visitors seeking info on horsey adventures in Bend, so I’m clearly not the only one realizing Central Oregon is a pretty fab place to get your giddyup going. Equitrekking recently named Bend the #1 town on their list of five great equestrian communities, so now seems like an excellent time to review the options for equine activities in Bend, Oregon.
Most Central Oregon visitors aren’t stuffing their own horses into carry-on luggage or making the trek over the mountains with a horse trailer in tow. Luckily, a plethora of local stables and equestrian centers make it possible for you to saddle up and ride off into the high desert sage anyway.
I recently visited the Brasada Ranch Equestrian Center where I joined my fiancé and his eight-year-old daughter on a trail ride. She immediately declared it “the best part of my whole summer,” which was saying something considering summer hadn’t actually started.
Nevertheless, I had to agree. The wranglers who accompanied us took excellent care in making sure everyone was properly mounted and comfortable in the saddle. Our group ranged from experienced riders to young kids who seemed uncertain which end of the horse to feed.
My trusty stead was named “Sweet Girl,” and seemed joyfully undaunted by the flatulence of the horse riding in front of us. While I admired breathtaking views of the Cascade Mountains and entertained a few western-themed fantasies that may or may not have involved shirtless cowboys, the professional wrangler leading our pack made engaging conversation with the eight-year-old, while the wrangler at the back soothed the nerves of a nervous six-year-old first-timer in our group.
There are plenty of other equestrian centers in Central Oregon offering guided trail rides and instruction. You’ll find a good roundup of giddyup on Visit Bend’s horseback riding page. Besides Brasada Ranch, visitors speak highly of their equestrian experiences at Sunriver Stables, Seventh Mountain Resort, and Black Butte Ranch.
If you’re looking for a horsey experience outside the resort scene, Bend has a number of small, independent ranches and stables offering boarding and private lessons.
Last year we gifted the young’uns with a few private lessons from Rhinestone Ranch. Located just five miles east of Costco, it’s a handy option for guests staying at a Bend hotel or vacation rental who want an equestrian option that doesn’t require much drive time. Owner Trisha Gallucci did a bang-up job of not only making the kids comfortable riding the horses, but teaching them how to properly comb them and clean their hooves. For more ideas on smaller, independent equestrian facilities, go here.
So what if you already have your own horse and you’re looking for a place to saddle up and ride?
Todd Lake is one of the most popular lakes for horse enthusiasts along the Cascade Lakes highway. Horse-friendly trails lead into the Three Sisters Wilderness, offering access to lovely spots like Cayuse Crater and Soda Creek. There are even a few tent campsites equipped for folks staying with horses.
The Oregon Badlands Wilderness offer another option for riders looking to head out on their own. Southeast of Bend on Highway 20 near milepost 18 is the Badlands Rock Trailhead. Popular with the horse crowd, the soft trail offers a look at the area’s unique volcanic rock formations along with stunning views of the Cascade Mountains.
For horse enthusiasts in the mood to be spectators, Bend is also home to a number of impressive equestrian events. The Oregon High Desert Classics is a world class horse show held east of Bend the last two weeks of July as a benefit for J Bar J Youth Services. The show offers free viewing during the day, plus celebration under the Patron’s Tent at night.
The Rose City Opener is another top-notch equestrian event bringing hunter/jumper competitors to Bend each May.
Fans of horse racing can travel to Prineville the second week in July for the horse racing segment of the Crooked River Roundup.
Parents of horse-crazy kids should check out the horseback riding camps at Camp Tamarack offered throughout August. While junior learns horse handling skills and grooming techniques, mom and dad can schedule a romantic grownup getaway in Bend.
Now get on out there and giddyup!
It’s been nearly three years since I wrote this post about floating the Deschutes River in Bend. Though it’s long-buried in the archives, it continues to rack up the highest number of views of all the Bend Buzz Blog posts.
Think that says something about the popularity of floating the river in Bend?
In the interest of making sure we’ve got the latest-and-greatest info out there for our lovely readers, here’s a revamped version of the post for your enjoyment . . .
For those who don’t live in Bend, the idea of floating the river can seem a little daunting. You see all the smiling, happy people floating past as you stroll through the Old Mill District for dinner or shopping, but um…well, how do they get there? And what are the rules?
Hey, relax. Floating the river is a cinch.
The easiest place to kick off your river float is from Riverbend Park, though another great spot is Farewell Bend Park just a little upstream on the opposite shore just a few feet downstream from the Bill Healy Memorial Bridge. Either place offers a safe, sandy shore for you to launch your air mattress, float tube, or raft. If you want a shorter float, you can also start just downstream from the Colorado Avenue Bridge on the sandy beach in McKay Park and float from there to Drake Park.
Don’t have an inner tube or a PFD? No problem. Head over to Riverbend Park and look for the little trailer with the Sun Country Tours logo on the side. Not only do they rent float tubes and standup paddle boards, they loan free PFDs (personal floatation devices) to children 12 and under. Another great option for float tube rentals is Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe. They also rent PFDs, canoes, kayaks, and standup paddle boards and are conveniently located close to the Old Mill District.
Everyone has a personal preference when it comes to floating the river. I’m a big fan of the single air mattress and a slow, easy stroke to keep myself heading straight. When I’m floating with the family, we usually opt for a queen-sized air mattress with the two kids in the middle and the grownups on either side for easy one-armed paddling.
OK, so you’ve got your floaty and you’ve hoped in the river somewhere near Riverbend Park. Now what?
You’ll meander along the Deschutes through the Old Mill District, passing under a couple bridges and waving to happy shoppers and diners. As you approach the Colorado Avenue Bridge, you’ll see a bunch of signs pointing you toward an exit. Follow the signs carefully, as a trip over the spillway would pretty much ruin your vacation (not to mention your life).
Once you’re out of the river, you have the option of walking around the spillway and continuing your journey by putting in again from the beach in McKay Park and floating from there to Drake Park. That’s usually what I do, but if you’re pressed for time, you can always hoof it back to your starting point or catch the Ride the River shuttle back to your starting point. If you continue on to Drake Park and you’re not shuttling with a two-car buddy system, the Ride the River shuttle can pick you up from here, too. Just be sure to check the website beforehand for schedule and pricing, since it doesn’t run every day and won’t kick off this year ‘til July 5.
There are a few rules you need to know before you hop in the water. Under Oregon law, all boats must carry a Coast Guard-approved PFD for every person onboard or being towed. Children under 12 must wear PFDs at all times on a moving boat, including inflatable rafts and kayaks. That doesn’t include individual air mattresses, inner tubes, and floating toys. However, if any of these are tied together, they count as “boats” and the PFD law applies.
Here are a few more things to keep in mind:
- Have some sort of water shoes that stay on your feet so you have protection when you hop out of the water and have to hoof it across a hot, rocky surface to your car or shuttle. Chacos, Tevas, or Keens are a good idea. Flip flops are risky, as they can slip off easily (my favorite Havaiana is probably still buried in the muck somewhere).
- Buy a waterproof pouch to wear around your neck for any essentials like car keys or phone. Consider having your sunglasses on a strap as well, in case you fall in.
- Pay attention to the signs as you approach the Colorado Avenue Bridge so you know where to exit the river safely.
- Please, please don’t litter. If you bring beverages or snacks, do not dump bottles and wrappers in our river. If I see you doing this, I will have no qualms about shoving you over the spillway.
- Have fun! This is pretty much a given, though.
For more information on floating the river, including safety tips and a handy map, check out this page from Bend Metro Parks & Rec.
And for more ideas on other forms of water recreation including whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and more, check out this page on the Visit Bend website.
The fact that tourism is booming in Bend, Oregon is either a testament to how well we’re doing our jobs at Visit Bend, or a testament to how cool Bend is. How about we just say it’s both?
In any case, it’s not uncommon for vacationers to arrive in the summer months to discover everyone simultaneously had the same idea about where to stay, where to drink, or what to do. Never fear! If this happens to you, here’s a roundup of ideas to make sure you can still snooze, sip, and splash in style.
Help! The campground I like is full!
We hear this most often from visitors hoping to stay at Tumalo State Park. No surprise, since its proximity to Bend and natural beauty make it the ideal place to camp (not to mention the ideal place for my upcoming wedding, but I digress).
If you arrive at the campground to find it packed, there are still plenty of spots to pitch your tent or park your camper. The Visit Bend website has an awesome page devoted to camping and RV parks, complete with handy grids to show you the amenities available at each place.
There are several private campgrounds within the city limits of Bend. Crown Villa (smack dab in the middle of town) and Scandia RV Park (also right in the city limits) both offer plenty of RV sites to choose from.
If you’re willing to stay 20 minutes west of Bend, Sisters City Park has both RV and tent sites in a lovely creekside setting.
State Parks are another great option for those willing to drive 20-40 minutes. Smith Rock State Park has great spots for tent campers, while La Pine State Park, Cove Palisades, and Prineville Reservoir can all accommodate both RVs and tents.
Some tent campers might enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of dispersed camping in the Ochoco or Deschutes National forests.
RV enthusiasts will find hookups and bathrooms with showers at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds RV Park. Though Mt. Bachelor doesn’t have hookups, they do offer bathrooms and showers in the Guest Services building for those who want to park their RVs in the designated area at the mountain.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a super-unique camping experience, try renting a luxury camper trailer from Cricket Rentals. Then haul your temporary new home wherever you please. Ask about their “glamping” packages, as well as options for pre-reserved campsites and equipment delivery/setup.
Help! The brewery I want to visit is jam-packed
OK, here’s the thing about the Bend Ale Trail: Having a program that lets participants earn prizes for gathering passport stamps at up to 14 breweries means Bend’s brew pubs are among the most popular attractions in our fair city. Nearly 50% of all Bend travelers visit at least one brewery during their stay, and 6-7% of Bend tourists list “beer tourism” as the primary reason for their visit.
As you can imagine, some of the breweries get packed, especially on holidays and weekends. I was reminded of this over Memorial Day Weekend when I dropped by Crux Fermentation Project for their sunset happy hour specials and discovered they had a two-hour wait for food (though for the record, I got my beer sampler in record time, and they were happy to offer me free bowls of tasty potato chips to nibble).
So what’s a beer enthusiast to do when faced with daunting crowds? Well, the fact that there are 14 breweries to pick from means you’ve got a lot of options. Can’t find a table at 10 Barrel? Head over to GoodLife, which has an awesome outdoor biergarden and tasty beer to boot. Unimpressed by the wait time at the first brewery you try in Downtown Bend? Keep walking. Silver Moon, Bend Brewing Company, Deschutes Brewery, Boneyard Beer, and McMenamins are all within a few blocks of each other, so whip out your Bend Ale Trail map and hoof it to the next one.
Of course, sometimes you’re not in the mood for a quest or for throngs of people. This was how I felt Saturday night, and my solution was to head to Hideaway Tavern. As the name implies, it’s a little off the beaten track. Besides offering a quiet refuge from the crowds, it’s a great place to grab a local craft beer and some out-of-this-world grub (try the truffle mac & cheese or the poutine with duck gravy).
Other non-brewery options for grabbing local craft beer include Summit Saloon, Broken Top Bottle Shop, Brother Jon’s (which has two locations), Riverside Market & Pub, and Platypus Pub. You can also opt to hit one of the local growler fill stations and take your beer to go so you can enjoy it at your Bend vacation rental or Bend hotel.
Help! I want to float the river, but didn’t bring my tube
I feel your pain. Floating the river is one of Bend’s most divine summer pleasures, and on hot weekends, it feels like everyone has the same idea to laze on an inner tube or air mattress while drifting down the Deschutes.
More than once in my 16+ years in Bend, I’ve discovered a hole in my favorite air mattress in mid-July and spent half the afternoon running from Target to Fred Meyer to Walmart, only to discover the shelves cleared out because everyone had the same idea.
The aforementioned shops are all great options, and probably the most popular places to search for air mattresses and other inflatable devices. Big 5 Sporting Goods and BiMart aren’t usually the first places people check, so their shelves are often still stocked after the other guys have run low on inventory.
But if you’re just here for the weekend, why not rent your floaty? Sun Country Tours, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe both offer rental float tubes that are far superior to what you’ll find to purchase on most store shelves. These are professional-quality tubes with handles, mesh bottoms, and plenty of room for you to kick back and relax. Best of all, you won’t have to pass out in the parking lot because you also forgot your air pump.
Not that I’d know anything about that.
Bend is a pretty spectacular place to be any time of year, but there’s something extra-special about Memorial Day Weekend. Maybe it’s that we’re all shifting our gazes to summer, or perhaps it’s the energy from all the out-of-towners flocking here for a long weekend. Or maybe it’s just that there’s so freakin’ much to do. Here are 8 awesome happenings lined up for you between May 23-31 2014:
Jam with The National at Les Schwab Amphitheater (May 23)
Every year I get giddy about the kickoff of Bend concert season at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. This season’s first show takes place Friday evening, May 23, with The National promising a moody blend of indie folk rock. Opening for The National are the Tune Yards. Gates open at 5 p.m. and the music starts at 6:30. If our weather holds out, it looks like it’ll be a rain-free evening with warmer temps in the day. Things cool off quickly at night in Bend, so be sure to dress in layers and bring a blanket or someone warm to snuggle. Low-backed sand chairs are allowed for this show, and there’s a ton of great food and beverages sold inside the venue. Ticket prices range from $39 to $40 and you can purchase them at the gate or right here.
Kick off Central Oregon Beer Week (May 23-31)
Bend’s first big beer fest of the season kicks off Memorial Day Weekend, and it’s a doozy. This year’s Central Oregon Beer Week spans May 23-31, and offers a nine full days of events guaranteed to leave any beer connoisseur drooling. Um, in a good way.
You’ll find a complete calendar here, including fun stuff like growler fill specials, barbecues, live music, karaoke contests, beer education, and more. There’s even an ice cream truck cruising around with beer-themed flavors to enjoy. Bottoms up!
Catch a ballgame at the Bend Elks Youth Baseball Tournament (May 25-27)
Since 2005, the Bend Elks (our local baseball team) have hosted one of the Northwest’s biggest youth baseball tournaments. Even if you’re not the world’s greatest fan of the sport, it’s hard not to be impressed by the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains and the sheer volume of high school athletes journeying here to play their young hearts out. If you’re just showing up to watch, you’ll be happy to know there’s no gate fee. Catch a game or two, eat a hot dog, and feel happy knowing proceeds from team entry fees help support youth baseball in Bend. You can find details and game schedules here.
Happy Girl Half-Marathon, 10k, 5k, and Happy Little Kids’ Run (May 24-25)
Grab your girlfriends and get running! The scenic route starts along the Deschutes River, and includes a mix of gentle trails and paved surfaces. Women will be spoiled with a great goody bag and a fun pre-race expo, plus on-course support (including handsome pacers). Finishers get a cool custom necklace instead of a medal. The expo is Saturday, and the run is Sunday, and you won’t want to miss either. For details and registration, visit the event website.
Opening day for the Saturday Market (May 24-25)
Kick off the 2013 season of the Central Oregon Saturday Market across the street from the Deschutes Public Library. Browse handcrafted jewelry, artwork, clothing, household goods, and more. Normally, this is a Saturday-only event (as you might’ve guessed from the name) but for Memorial Weekend they’re open both Saturday and Sunday. This is always a great spot to grab gifts to take home to friends and family, so bring an extra shopping bag.
Finale weekend at Mt. Bachelor (May 24-25)
I’m not even a skier, and I’m heading up to Mt. Bachelor for their final weekend of the season. This is the place to be if you’re looking to kiss winter goodbye with the ultimate panache. Check out the North American Pond Skimming Championship on Sunday, or enjoy live music and a cold one (or eight) at the annual Brewski celebration of Bend’s craft beer. There’s still plenty of snow for skiing and boarding, so this is your chance to carve a few final turns this season.
Time to break out that fishing rod (May 24)
Bend is known around the country as a mecca, with Fly Fisherman magazine naming the city one of the top fly fishing towns in the nation. Trout season opens on May 24 this year, clearing the way for you to fish lakes and rivers throughout the area. To celebrate, Confluence Fly Shop is having a Trout Season Kickoff Party May 23, complete with discounts, giveaways, beer, and more. You’ll find details here.
Two great bike races for the cycling crowd (May 24 & 25)
Road cyclists rejoice on Saturday in the fast and furious Bend Don’t Break circuit course bike race. A beginner’s clinic that morning gives newbies a chance to prepare, or race hard in the more elite categories. The race is part of the 2013 Oregon Women’s Prestige Series, though there are plenty of men’s categories as well. It’s also part of the Oregon Senior Games this year, so folks in the 50+ category have a chance to vie for a spot in the National Senior Games.
On Sunday, head west to Sisters with your mountain bike strapped to your car, and get ready for the Sisters Stampede. This uniquely-Sisters event lets you race your bike on the beautiful Peterson Ridge Trail in Sisters. Now in its fifth year, this is Oregon’s largest cross country mountain bike race, with 23 different race categories, and a party at the finish line. Each racer gets a goody bag filled with cool schwag, and there’s $1000 in cash prizes up for grabs for the top three men and women in the Pro or Cat 1 categories. For event details and registration, go here. Believe it or not, that’s only a sampling of events happening in and around Bend this weekend. For a complete list, check out the Visit Bend Event Calendar. You can search for cool happenings this weekend or any other weekend you plan to Visit Bend.
Welcome to your eighth edition of Mind Bend-ers, a special feature offering you the inside scoop on quirky Bend history and offbeat trivia.
Women in Bend have always been the adventurous sort, pursuing passions like skiing, rock climbing, rafting, and marching through downtown wearing a showgirl costume and rolling a cigarette with one hand.
The latter was the domain of Kate Rockwell, more commonly known as Klondike Kate. Klondike Kate earned her nickname from an illustrious career as a vaudeville performer and showgirl, which included a stint in Alaska before the spring of 1910. That’s when Kate plunked down the cash for a horse, a gun, and a camping outfit.
In other words, all the necessities for a lady of the time.
She bought a piece of property 40 miles east of Bend sight-unseen and spent three years homesteading to earn the title to the land. When she wasn’t wrangling cattle, Kate frequented local dance halls and became the 1915 equivalent of a cougar, marrying a 20-year-old cowboy when she herself was 39. The marriage lasted only a few years, and was one of many tumultuous relationships in her life.
“She was a good businesswoman, but she made poor decisions with men,” explained Vanessa Ivey, Museum Manager for the Deschutes County Historical Society.
Hey, haven’t we all done it a time or two?
In any case, Kate eventually left her homestead in the mid 1920s and moved to downtown Bend on Franklin Avenue to be closer to the general populace. The general populace had mixed feelings about that.
“People either took to her and became friends with her and called her Aunt Kate, or they highly disapproved of her and avoided her,” explained Kelly Cannon-Miller, executive director for the Deschutes County Historical Society. “She was the source of a lot of rumor mongering.”
Her choice to hire local transient men to construct her new fireplace and do other work on the home raised the ire of cultured folks in Bend, many of whom found it unladylike for a woman to pick up bums. “Some people thought she was a prostitute or a lady of ill-repute, but that was never the case,” Ivey added.
For those who adored her, Kate was a legend. She earned accolades for tending to the sick, particularly during the flu pandemic of 1918 when the whole city of Bend was quarantined for two months. The Bend Fire Department made her an honorary member for her tireless efforts to bring food to firefighters while they fought blazes on cold nights. Charitable to a fault, she was famous for declaring, “Whenever I get down to my last dollar, there’s always someone who needs it more than I do.”
Kate died in 1957, and her ashes were scattered from an airplane over the site of her former high desert homestead. Perhaps that’s part of why her spirit lives on in Bend. You can see it every day in the fearlessness of our outdoorswomen and in the brazenness of the ladies out on the Bend Ale Trail. Whaddya say we all lift a pint in memory of Klondike Kate?
Next month, the Bend Ale Trail will mark its four-year anniversary. We’re getting a jump on the celebration this week by launching Bend Ale Trail 3.0, featuring a newly-updated Bend Ale Trail Atlas and two new breweries: Riverbend Brewing and Rathole Brewing. We’ve also introduced a brand new prize structure that lets you get the most out of your beerventure.
In honor of the new release, here are a few tips for maximizing your Bend Ale Trail experience.
Plan your route wisely
Gone are the days when you can safely hit all the breweries in a three-hour span (something I accomplished more than once back when there were only seven or eight stops). The new Bend Ale Trail atlas features 14 (yep, 14!) breweries. While no purchase is required to obtain a passport stamp at any of the breweries, half the fun is sampling the suds at all the locations.
With that in mind, you want to be smart about your routing. Your best approach is to study the map beforehand online, in your printed Bend Ale Trail Atlas (available at all participating breweries and the Bend Visitor Center downtown) or in your free app for Droid or iPhone. While there’s a good cluster of breweries in and around downtown, there are now a fair number outside that zone.
One strategy is to start with the outlying breweries, including Worthy Brewing, newcomer Riverbend Brewing, and Cascade Lakes Brewing Company. Yes, I realize those three breweries are in completely different directions, but the objective here is to start early with the ones that require driving or biking to reach.
From there, you can leave your car in a safe location and maneuver on foot between the breweries near the Old Mill District. A good route there is to start with Rat Hole Brewing, then Crux Fermentation Project, Brew Werks, and finally the Deschutes Brewery brewing facility. A sane beer drinker would call it a day here, but the ambitious among you (or those limiting yourselves to small samples at each stop) could theoretically keep going on foot to Good Life and 10 Barrel from here.
The cluster of breweries in Downtown Bend makes another nice batch to hit on foot. A fairly easy route there is to start at Boneyard, then hit McMenamins Old St. Francis, then the Deschutes Brewery pub if you didn’t already hit the brewery itself (though you can always do both to enjoy both the impressive facility tour and the equally impressive pub fare). From there, continue on to Bend Brewing Company and Silver Moon.
And of course, don’t forget Three Creeks Brewing in Sisters, which makes an excellent excuse to plan a little day trip to this cute town 22 miles west of Bend (see this post on road trips for tips and ideas).
Keep an eye on the clock
Be sure you know everyone’s hours of operation before you set out. For instance, the Deschutes Brewery warehouse stops offering tours and tastings at 5 p.m. You can still get your passport stamped at the downtown pub, but the warehouse tour is a pretty cool highlight you really shouldn’t miss.
You also want to keep in mind that Boneyard’s tasting room closes at 6 p.m., so plan to hit them a little earlier.
10 Barrel is always packed to the gills, so your best bet there is to avoid lunch hour or dinnertime. Hours at all breweries are subject to change seasonally, so when in doubt, call first.
Be smart with your beer intake
Eat a hearty meal before you set out. Bring your own water bottle or ask for glasses of water at brewery stops so you stay well-hydrated. Order food at pubs throughout your journey so you always have something in your belly. Opt for smaller schooners instead of full pints, or stick with a little sample every now and then instead of glugging whole beers. Above all, be responsible. Which leads to the next topic.
Don’t even THINK of drinking and driving
There are tons of great ways to ensure everyone stays safe and out of jail. I’ve had a blast doing nearly every single item on the following list:
- Walk. Especially if the weather’s nice. It’s a great way to see Bend.
- Arrange a shuttle, a pedicab, or even a Segway outing with The Bend Tour Company.
- Add a culinary twist to your beerventure with the Fermentation Tour from The Well Traveled Fork.
- Book a half-day tour with The Bend Brew Bus.
- Hit the trail on a horse-drawn carriage with Cowboy Carriage Company.
- Check out Bend Hoppy Tours, touted as Bend’s ‘Good Times’ tour company.
- Pedal a bicycle made for 14 with The Cycle Pub of Bend.
- Cruise on an electric bicycle with Let It Ride Electric Bikes’ Brewdie Tour.
- Head out with in a 1980s-style trolley with The Bend Trolley.
- Try a personalized, four-person, six-hour tour with Bend Adventure Tours.
- Travel the trail in style with a limo from JD’s Car Service.
- Call a cab.
- Arrange for Sober Dudes to take you home in your own car.
Seriously, guys, don’t drink and drive. I once had to bail a pal out of jail for making this mistake. He was lucky, as were the other people in his path that night who could have been injured or killed if things had gone differently. You DO NOT want to mess around with this one.
Don’t forget your schwag
Besides the beer, one of the best parts of the Bend Ale Trail is the fact that you earn prizes for collecting passport stamps at the breweries you visit. With the newly released Bend Ale Trail atlas comes an update in the prize system. Participants can now earn a commemorative Bend Ale Trail Silipint pint glass for visiting just 10 of the 14 breweries. Those who visit all 14 will not only receive the Silipint, but also a Bend Ale Trail bottle opener.
Also new to the Bend Ale Trail program is the creation of Bend Ale Trail month. Each November, anyone who completes the Bend Ale Trail and submits the passport at the Bend Visitor Center will earn a free Man vs. Beer or Girl vs. Beer t-shirt.
When it’s time to turn in your passport and collect your prize, remember the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava and Oregon downtown is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We’re closed Sundays until our summer hours kick in Memorial Day weekend. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the Visitor Center is open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Scope out food specials and tap lists beforehand
Call me a neurotic planner, but I love checking before I set out so I know who’s got seasonal specials and don’t-miss food deals. I’m a huge fan of the food at Old Mill Brew Wërks, so I always make sure I hit them around mealtimes or happy hour for the best deal on their to-die-for risotto cakes stuffed with goat cheese and served with pesto cream & balsamic reduction. Their bacon-wrapped scallops are also a culinary highlight here.
The cream cheese jalapeño wrappers at Riverbend Brewing are another item to include on your must-try list. These bad boys are hand-rolled and stuffed with applewood smoked bacon, cream cheese, and jalapeño and served up with a divine Thai chili sauce.
Knowing McMenamins Old St. Francis has a late-night happy hour starting at 10 p.m. makes it a great last-stop for $3.50 pints and $2.50 Cajun tots. Don’t be afraid to study your map carefully or call around beforehand asking about specials.
Above all, have fun out there as you explore our beloved beervana. See you on the trail!
Save the date!
Bend has oodles of beer festivals on the horizon, so if you’re a brew fan, make sure you mark your calendar for these dates:
- Central Oregon Beer Week (May)
- Fermentation Celebration (June)
- Bend BrewFest (August)
- Little Woody Barrel-Aged Brew Festival (August)
- Bend Oktoberfest (September)
Ever notice how you look better outside? The sun glints a little in your eyes and makes your hair glossier and your skin rosier.
The same holds true for art—at least it does in Bend. It just looks lovelier outside. The city has an amazing collection of public art, ranging from the Roundabout Art Route to Pillars of Art. The newest program, the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection, has the added bonus of giving you the perfect excuse for a stroll through Downtown Bend where you can see more than a dozen pieces (and counting!) that make up the exhibit.
With the weather warming up in Bend right now, it’s the perfect time for a walk. Let’s go!
Walk out the door of the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava and Oregon. Turn right so you’re headed south and walk about 84 steps. Pivot right and walk 19 more steps into the parking garage so you’re standing in front of the large painting anchored to the cement wall. Stand there a moment and bask in the beauty of “Born Again Ghost” painted by Megan McGuinness. She created the piece with acrylic and gold leaf, noting how the peacock represents renewal in many cultures and serves as an inspiration for everyone to be a better version of themselves.
Duly inspired, say goodbye to Megan’s painting as you venture deeper into the parking garage headed west. See that pathway off to the left that leads to the elevator and stairwell? Head toward it and take the stairs down to the lowest level of the garage. As you come through the doorway at the bottom, hang a right and look up. Ooooh! Ahhh! See those two massive paintings above you?
The mixed-media piece (created with spray paint, latex house paint, and acrylic) is “Central” by Mark Rada. The second piece—inspired by the region’s Native Americans—is titled “We Will Rise,” and was created by artist Jesse Roberts. Depending on the lighting and the time of day you visit, they always look a little bit different.
Speaking of light, you see that glow off to your right? It’s not a band of angels descending on the parking garage (though the beauty of the artwork might cause you to think that). No, that’s the sun shining on Tin Pan Alley. Walk toward it through the same door you came through a minute ago and take 37 steps to the edge of Minnesota Avenue. Look both ways, then cross the street. Wait, I should clarify—only cross the street if there are no cars coming. No sense turning yourself into a pancake for a few paintings, no matter how awesome they are.
OK, so now you’re across the street on the south side of Tin Pan Alley where you’ll see five (count ‘em, FIVE!) pieces of amazing artwork. You’ll want to spend some time here reading all the plaques to learn more about each of the artists and what inspired each piece.
The five pieces in this section of the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection include:
- “Finding Gold in Cascadia” by Megan McGuinnness
- Untitled metal relief sculpture by Andrew Wachs
- “Tangled” by Taylor Rose
- “The Day We All Looked Up” by Kaycee Anseth
- “All Good Things are Wild and Free” by Katie Daisy
Wow. That’s a whole ‘lotta great art, huh? Now might be a good time for a snack. Since you’re already standing in Tin Pan Alley, duck into Lone Pine Coffee Roasters for something to sip and maybe a bagel. If an adult beverage is what you crave, Tin Pan Alley is also home to The Wine Shop where you can grab a glass or five and maybe a tasty cheese tray.
Ready to roll again?
From the mouth of Tin Pan Alley, turn left and walk west approximately 143 steps to the mouth of another alley (looking both ways before you cross Bond, of course). Since you’re already on the south side of the street, start by turning left into the alley next to Toomie’s Thai Cuisine—oh, green curry?! Try not to get distracted. You can come back later for one of their killer lunch specials.
For now, duck into the alley and admire “Voyage” by Caroline Cornell and “Klondike Kate” by Sheila Dunn. The two pieces couldn’t be more different, with “Voyage” serving as the artist’s deeply personal representation of winter, nature, color, and light, and “Klondike Kate” offering an inspiring depiction of one of the most iconic women in Bend’s history.
Ready to move again? Okay, grab the green curry first. I’ll wait.
Next, cross Minnesota Avenue to the mouth of the alley on the other side of the street. Remember that thing about looking both ways first? Do that.
Now that you’re in the alley on the opposite side of Minnesota Ave, pause to check out the two paintings located here. “Sunset over Sisters” by Kevin Schwarting was inspired by the deep contrasts when the sun falls below a mountain, while “Van Matre’s Eternal Tambourine” by Avlis Leumas was inspired by Bend’s historic Tower Theatre. Spellbinding, no?
Now do you want to know the best thing about the Tin Pan Alley art collection? It’s expanding CONSTANTLY. Case in point—there’s a finished painting leaning up against the wall outside my office just waiting for me to write copy for the plaque and for crews to hang it near Bend’s iconic O’Kane building (along with a couple other paintings the artists are working on RIGHT NOW!) Isn’t that cool to think about?
Now get out there and enjoy some art!
Part of my job requires me to suggest Bend vacation agendas for journalists coming here to write about our fair city. Since telling other people what to do is a personal hobby of mine, it’s a task I embrace with open arms.
It’s worth noting that the trip I’m likely to plan for a reporter writing about arts and culture for a glossy national magazine is different from the itinerary I’d suggest for a writer on assignment for Mountain Bike Action. But there are a handful of suggestions I include on the short list for everyone’s trip to Bend.
Are they on yours?
Haul your bootie up Pilot Butte
No matter how you get to the top, you absolutely need to ascend the 500-foot dormant volcano in the middle of Bend. There are a few ways to get to the top of Pilot Butte for the most spectacular views imaginable. My personal preference is to hike, which takes roughly 30 minutes up and about 20 on the way down. It’s great exercise, and an excellent way to know you’ve earned those glorious 360-degree views of the city and our surrounding mountains, buttes, and other landmarks.
If you’re pressed for time or if hiking isn’t your thing, you can opt to drive to the top during warmer seasons when the road is open to motorized vehicles. The gate typically opens in mid-April and closes again in late-fall, and it’s already open for the 2014 season.
No matter how you get to the top, plan on spending a few minutes up there snapping photos, studying the layout of the city, and just basking in the beauty of Bend.
Make at least one stop on the Bend Ale Trail
Even when visitors tell me they’re not big beer fans, I still suggest a stop along the Bend Ale Trail. Why? For starters, breweries vital part of Bend’s economy culture. You’re not required to sip any suds to be amazed by the bottling line at Deschutes Brewery (though they do offer a plethora of awesome free samples with the brewery tour) and you certainly don’t have to guzzle from a growler to enjoy the cozy outdoor fire pits and some lawn games at Crux Fermentation Project (though their tasty brews are an excellent accompaniment to the Grilled Cheesy—pretty much the best grilled cheese sandwich you’ll ever eat in your life).
For folks pressed for time and in need of a designated driver, the Bend Brew Bus has half-day tours every afternoon. For $60 a person, you get sober transportation, a knowledgeable guide, behind-the-scenes brewery tours, appetizers at one stop, and an opportunity to have your Bend Ale Trail passport stamped at four different breweries.
If you prefer to go it on your own, I always recommend a tour at Deschutes Brewery’s brewing facility to admire the impressive magnitude of the nation’s fifth largest craft brewery and see where it all began. Then hit one of the smaller, newer breweries like Silver Moon, Boneyard, or Crux to enjoy the contrast and the fabulous experimental beers.
And naturally if you want to keep going, you can hit all 12 breweries along the trail (soon to be 14 when our updated Bend Ale Trail atlas is released May 1!)
Get outside and play
More than 40 percent of Bend visitors list outdoor recreation as their primary reason for coming to Bend, with hiking and trail running topping the list of popular activities with 54 percent of all Bend guests enjoying at least one hike or jog during their stay. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll on a riverside trail or a chance to plunge through whitewater rapids in your kayak, there’s a wealth of outdoor fun to be found in Bend’s scenic playground.
For ideas on summer recreation activities ranging from canoeing to hiking to rock climbing, check out our summer fun page. Planning a winter vacation in Bend? You’ll find all kinds of ideas ranging from skiing to ice skating to dogsled rides on our winter fun page.
Take a walk in Drake Park
But without a doubt, the crown jewel of Bend’s park system is Drake Park. One of the city’s most beloved and scenic landmarks, Drake Park spans 13 breathtaking acres along the Deschutes River in Downtown Bend. Its rolling hills and grassy expanses are perfect for your picnic blanket, and you’ll find oodles of festivals and concerts here during the summer months.
Stroll along the lovely paver path to the footbridge for a few photos. Then wander into Downtown Bend for lunch and a little shopping in the cool downtown boutiques.
Scope out a special event
I’m not suggesting you crash a wedding (though if you do, please save a cupcake for me). One of the coolest things about Bend is the fact that pretty much every day of the week offers up some sort of live music, festival, or other special event. The summer months are especially ripe with street fairs and concerts, ranging from Nortwest Crossing Hullabaloo (check out the free Indigo Girls concert Friday night!) to Bend BrewFest (yay, beer!) to a huge array of shows at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.
Want an easy way to see what’s happening during your Bend vacation? Check out our online events calendar. You can plug in different dates or search for specific kinds of activities ranging from sporting events to live music to farmers’ markets.
While regular blog author Tawna Fenske is away, this week’s blog post is brought to you by Hank Therien, group sales & special projects manager for Visit Bend. At 6’8” and 270 pounds, Hank seemed like the best man to tackle a blog post spotlighting Bend’s amazing array of donut shops.
We’re pretty sure his sugar buzz will subside sometime in the next week.
Take it away, Hank!
Quick disclaimer: I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. If given the choice, I would generally take a larger entrée portion and skip desert.
But when Tawna approached me and asked if I’d do a guest blog post for her on the emerging donut market in Bend, my inner fat kid did a little happy dance.
When I was a kid, getting up before sunrise with my dad for fishing trips was always made easier with the promise of donuts and chocolate milk for breakfast. My go-to donut choices were always the classics. Maple bars, apple fritters, buttermilk bars, and old fashioned donuts always have been my favorites because of that history.
Since 1990, however, much has happened in the donut world. Just like the variety you can find along the Bend Ale Trail, there is a donut for every palate in Bend.
My intention was to visit seven different donut shops on my tour including:
- Delish Donuts
- Go Donuts
- Sweetheart Donuts
- The Dough Nut
- Richard’s Donuts
- Luv’s Donuts
- Glazed & Amused
I ended up sampling donuts from four of the intended donut shop stops.
My first stop was at The Dough Nut on Galveston. The Dough Nut makes 100% of their donuts from scratch, including their gluten free & vegan options. I ordered a Maple Hog (bacon strips on a maple bar), a PB&J, and a French toast donut that is egg-washed and pan fried like French toast. The French toast donut was aptly named and had a great texture, but the PB&J was probably my favorite donut of the day. The peanut butter was the perfect juxtaposition to the sweetness of the jelly donut.
My next two stops on the quest for pastry perfection were less successful. I went from The Dough Nut to Delish Donuts where I found a sign stating that they had sold out of donuts and that there would be a fresh batch ready at 5 p.m. It was 9:45 a.m. and they were out of donuts! I was starting to get the feeling I had underestimated the demand for donuts in Bend. Visitors, take note: the early bird gets the worm (or the donut, as the case may be). Even though I missed out on a Delish Donuts experience of my own, local friends have shared their own positive experiences. One pal in particular praised their ability to crank out large quantities of fresh, tasty donuts for special events—something to keep in mind if you’re planning a banquet or conference in Bend. They also play up the seasonal angle, offering special donuts for Easter and other holidays.
From Delish Donuts I made my way to Greenwood & 8th to check out the brand new Go Donuts only to find out that I had jumped the gun. The “coming soon” sign was probably good for my blood pressure, but I was looking forward to learning more about the emerging donut trend from another donut shop in its infancy. Luckily for Bend visitors, they opened April 10—just a few days after my initial visit. Judging by the buzz around town, these guys make a classic glazed donut that’s guaranteed to leave you drooling and begging for more. Their frosted cake donuts look amazing, too, and the pics on their Facebook page promise creations as pretty as they are delicious.
Sweetheart Donuts was next. On the east side of 3rd street, just south of the underpass between Franklin & Wilson, Sweetheart offered me the chance to sample goods from a new player in Bend’s donut market. The young man working the counter couldn’t have been more excited to tell me all about their old fashioned donut, their yeast-raised pretzel donut, and their Bigfoot. The Bigfoot is a foot-shaped chocolate or maple donut filled with whipped cream. It was a donut sure to satisfy the most serious sweet tooth (or foot fetish, I suppose). Sweetheart Donuts is one of only two Oregon donut shops where you can get your hands on these big feet.
After picking up my goodies from Sweethearts, I was off to sample the donuts from the veteran of the Bend donut scene. When asked what set Richard’s Donuts apart, the employee informed me they stick to the traditional styles and good ol’ fashioned customer service to move donuts. I took advantage of the opportunity to travel back in time with a glazed donut, a maple bar, an old fashioned, and an apple fritter. The latter was a fantastic blast from the past. Richard’s is perfect for a reminiscent donut experience.
I found out on my way to Luv’s Donuts that Glazed & Amused is only open in the evening. While I was intrigued by their VERY original menu (which includes specialties with names like zombie nuts and death by monkeys) I took comfort in the fact that I’d be one donut shop further from slipping into a diabetic coma. One of these nights though, I’m sure I’ll find myself drawn to the donut truck outside of the Domino Room. Maybe in the magical hour immediately following a reggae concert. In any case, Bend visitors can rejoice in the fact that there’s a handy spot for a nighttime sugar and fat fix.
My final stop was Luv’s Donuts in Downtown Bend. Luv’s recently moved into the space next to the Oxford Hotel on Minnesota. They have a Krispy Kreme’esque line where you can watch your donuts being made fresh. They are also proud to offer their own coffee and have delivery available to any location in Bend. I was told they’d even make a delivery run to Redmond if needed. How’s that for service? I had another maple-bacon donut, a chocolate donut with sprinkles, and a fantastic chocolate old fashioned that was perfect for a dunk into my glass of milk.
At this point I was so saturated with sugar that syrup was oozing from my pores. Maybe it was my sugar buzz, but I could clearly see the donut market in Bend is wildly varied and there’s enough demand to warrant the recent additions.
While this has been one of the most fun projects I have been assigned at Visit Bend, I think that I have satisfied my sweet tooth until at least 2015.