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4 Bend-centric books to add to your to-be-read pile

November 6th, 2014

What is it about November that gives me the urge to call in sick and spend the whole day cozied up by the fire with a glass of wine and a good book?

I suppose I shouldn’t post that on a blog my boss is likely to read.

Nevertheless, if the same fantasy is dancing through your head—along with visions of a Bend vacation—here are four Bend-centric books you should add to that growing to-be-read pile beside your fireplace.



Bend Beer: A History of Brewing in Central Oregon


Jon Abernathy

Where you can find it:

In the Bend Visitor Center at the corner of Lava & Oregon in Downtown Bend, History Press,, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, or at the official launch party at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, November 7, 2014 at the Deschutes Historical Museum.

What’s it about?

With more breweries per capita than any other Oregon city, Bend is a beer mecca. Prior to Prohibition, the state had a burgeoning brewing industry and plenty of saloons to cater to the needs of the hardy frontiersmen who settled Central Oregon. The teetotaling ‘20s brought all that to a screeching halt.

Author Jon Abernathy.

Author Jon Abernathy.

Fifty years later, the pioneers like Deschutes Brewery and Bend Brewing Company breathed new life into Bend’s beer and brought about the booming industry for which the area is known today. Author and “The Brew Site” creator Jon Abernathy traces Bend and Central Oregon’s hoppy history from early settlement to the present day, sharing the stories behind its most famous breweries and the communities that have fostered the industry.

What the author suggests you sip while reading it:

The beer that put Bend on the map—Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery!




100 Hikes Travel Guide: Central Oregon Cascades


William L. Sullivan

Where you can find it:

In the Bend Visitor Center at the corner of Lava & Oregon in Downtown Bend, Powell’s Books, Amazon, or download now for iPad, iPhone, or Kindle.

What’s it about?

The updated Fourth Edition of this classic guide includes a dozen new hikes and 32 pages of color photos, with travel tips for visiting the Bend area, Eugene, and Salem, as well as a guide to hot springs, campgrounds, cabin rentals, and wildflowers. Visit Bend’s Group Sales & Special Projects Manager, Hank Therien, is a huge fan of this book and says it’s easy to use, super-detailed, and full of great maps and directions.




Bend, Overall: 99 Hikes and Explorations in Central Oregon


Scott Cook

Where you can find it:

In the Bend Visitor Center at the corner of Lava & Oregon in Downtown Bend, Amazon, and Powell’s Books.

What’s it about?

Bend, Overall is all about hiking and exploring the Central Oregon region surrounding Bend. This book details all the popular hikes, but it also goes way beyond what the mainstream “hiking” guides concentrate on. Bend Overall describes hidden waterfalls, obscure lakes and swimming holes, and a bunch of rarely-seen local caves. Basically, you get the insight from a local who has been exploring the area for 20 years and is willing to share his hard-won secrets.




Tales, Tall Tales, and Outright Lies About Bend’s Iconic Pilot Butte


Linda Orcelletto

Where you can find it:

Bend Visitor Center at the corner of Lava & Oregon in Downtown Bend, Deschutes Historical Museum at 129 NW Idaho Avenue in Bend, and Dudley’s Bookshop Café in Downtown Bend.

What’s it about?

The Butte book offers short stories (true and otherwise) about Bend’s favorite outdoor fitness center. Be entertained while learning some facts and figures about the landmark in the middle of Bend. Tales is a unique collaboration with local author, Linda Kraemer Orcelletto and Pilot Butte Summit Seekers (PBSS). PBSS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the health and fitness aspects of Pilot Butte State Park.

Author Linda Orcelletto (photo courtesy of Kari Mauser)

Author Linda Orcelletto (photo courtesy of Kari Mauser)

A portion of the proceeds will be used to raise needed funds for Pilot Butte State Park and  to bring awareness of preservation of the Butte.

In the sequel, scheduled for May of 2015, we are encouraging people to share their own stories, which will then either be enhanced either as a stand-alone story or combined with other similar tales.

What the author suggests you sip while reading it:

Linda suggests one of Bend’s many fine brews, particularly an IPA. Apocalypse from 10 Barrel is her favorite, and Elk Lake IPA at Bend Brewing Company is always a winner, too.


9 reasons to do the Bend Ale Trail in November

October 30th, 2014

There’s pretty much no bad time of year to journey to Bend and trek the most famous trail of suds in the West. You can drink doppelbocks in December, sip sours in September, and acquire ambers in April.

While it’s true you can hit the Bend Ale Trail any day of the year gathering passport stamps to earn prizes, did you know there’s one month that rises above them all?

Behold, the trophy you'll get for bringing a newly-completed passport to the Bend Visitor Center during Bend Ale Trail month.

Behold, the trophy you’ll get for bringing a newly-completed passport to the Bend Visitor Center during Bend Ale Trail month.

November is Bend Ale Trail month, so in honor of this illustrious holiday, here are nine reasons to hit the Bend Ale Trail in November.



That’s right, my friends. We have trophies. Anyone who brings a newly completed Bend Ale Trail passport to the Bend Visitor Center during the month of November will earn an official Bend Ale Trail trophy.

That’s in addition to the regular Silipint you get for racking up 10 stamps and the bottle opener you get on top of that for hitting all 14. Wouldn’t that bad boy look fabulous on your mantle?


Seasonal suds

While it’s true Bend’s breweries release special seasonal brews at all times of the year, there’s something about the fall that seems to bring out the extra-special offerings.

Bend Brewing Company is a great place to find unique seasonal beers this time of year.

Bend Brewing Company is a great place to find unique seasonal beers this time of year.

I was at Bend Brewing Company a few days ago and stumbled upon a brand new Berliner Weisse that seriously left me swooning. That’s a German sour, in case you’re wondering, and the name—Volkssekt—translates to “the people’s champagne.” See? You’re getting lessons in language and culture in addition to great beer. BBC plans to have that on tap throughout November, plus several other seasonals like a nitro tap of Pollen Oats (an imperial honey oatmeal) and a black IPA.

Another of my favorite stops this time of year is Crux Fermentation Project. Their Crystal Zwickle (a fresh hop Belgian pale ale) will be on tap for as long as it lasts, which may not be long based on how fabulously popular it is. Hurry up and get yours while you can!


Try something new

I have a confession: While I’ve made the rounds on the Bend Ale Trail multiple times, I haven’t done my job in staying current on the new additions. I have failed to make it to Rat Hole Brewing since they were added to the program in May 2014, and I feel a great sense of shame for that.

Rumor has it Rat Hole Brewing has killer food (especially prime rib).

Rumor has it Rat Hole Brewing has killer food (especially prime rib).

But see, here’s my chance to make it right! Having the impetus of visiting 10-14 breweries in a short span of time means we’re all pretty likely to try someplace we’ve never been before. Download the free smartphone app for the Bend Ale Trail, and figure out which new breweries you need to visit this time around.


Stay for cheap

Let’s get off the subject of beer for a second and talk about lodging. Look, I get it—you want to save your cash for important things like an extra order of Cajun tots at McMenamins or the risotto fritters at Brew Werks. I don’t blame you.

Oodles of Bend lodging properties (like Mount Bachelor Village, shown here) offer special Bend Ale Trail packages.

Oodles of Bend lodging properties (like Mount Bachelor Village, shown here) offer special Bend Ale Trail packages.

Here’s a little secret about lodging deals in Bend—November is one of our slowest months for tourism. That means hotels, motels, and vacation rentals in Bend are all eager for your business. Like, really eager. If you’re looking for discounts, now’s the time to find them. Check Visit Bend’s Hot Deals page for the latest offerings, and book your beer vacation today!



I’m not sure I mentioned this yet, but did you know you earn a trophy if you stop by the Bend Visitor Center with a newly completed Bend Ale Trail passport in the month of November? You would be the envy of all your friends with this piece of hardware in the middle of your dining room table.


Fire pits

There’s always something cozy about snuggling up beside a roaring fire with a pint of craft beer, but it’s especially perfect in November when those hearty malts and porters work in tandem with the flames to take the chill from the air.

The modern-looking fire pit at Riverbend Brewing is always going strong.

The modern-looking fire pit at Riverbend Brewing is always going strong.

10 Barrel has one of the most popular fire pits along the Bend Ale Trail, and their patio is a hoppin’ place to mix and mingle. The fire pits at McMenamins are a little more intimate, and there are several to choose from scattered around their property.

Worthy Brewing is another great place to sip suds by the fire.

Worthy Brewing is another great place to sip suds by the fire.

Crux Fermentation Project offers another popular fireside spot with their unique glowing orb. Worthy Brewing in northeast Bend has several cozy fire pits to pick from on their expansive patio. You can also hit Goodlife Brewing to toast your toes by a roaring fire. There’s even a cool modern-looking one at Riverside Brewing, and you’ll dig the ski lodge vibe if you nab a spot by the indoor fireplace at Cascade Lakes.


Score some awesome schwag

I already told you about the trophies, right? Okay, besides that, you’ll have chances to win tons of other amazing beer schwag throughout the month of November.

Just a small sampling of the brewery schwag you'll have a chance to win by using hashtag #bendaletrail during Bend Ale Trail month.

Just a small sampling of the brewery schwag you’ll have a chance to win by using hashtag #bendaletrail during Bend Ale Trail month.

Seriously, you should see our marketing director’s floor right now. It’s covered with t-shirts, hats, pint glasses, stickers, brewery gift certificates, and more. Enter to win by using hashtag #bendaletrail on Facebook or Instagram while you’re out there posting pics of yourself swilling brews in Bend.

But the best prize of all is the one we’ll be giving away to one random beer drinker who brings his or her completed passport to the Bend Visitor Center in November. Everyone will be entered in a drawing to win a vacation package for Bend Brewfest 2015, which will include lodging, a tasting package, and activities. How’s that for a beerventure?


Have the place to yourself

You know that thing I mentioned earlier about November being one of Bend’s slowest months for tourism? Think about what that means for you. No fighting to get a spot on one of the popular Deschutes Brewery tours. No waiting for your favorite table before the band takes the stage at Silver Moon. No long lines for growler fills at Boneyard Brewing. Seeing the appeal now?



Have I mentioned the trophies yet?

Did we mention the trophy?

How about that trophy?

9 great places to get your hot wing fix in Bend

October 24th, 2014

I love wings. I love saucy wings and spicy wings and wings you dunk in big, gooey cups of bleu cheese dressing. I love big ones and small ones and all the in-between ones, which is how I found myself consuming the equivalent of roughly 863 poultry appendages over the course of the last three weeks on a quest to find the best chicken wings in restaurants around Bend. Here are my favorites.


Broken Top Bottle Shop

The garlic tahini wings at Broken Top Bottle Shop will make you want to bathe in the dipping sauce.

The garlic tahini wings at Broken Top Bottle Shop will make you want to bathe in the dipping sauce.

So this is where the whole blog post started. I went to Broken Top Bottle Shop for an event, and decided to try the wings with my mug o’ tasty beer. “Which flavor do you want?” the cashier asked. “Buffalo, garlic tahini, or Georgia red barbecue sauce?” I considered the question while trying not to drool on the counter. “Will you hate me if I want all three?” I asked.

Not only did they not hate me, but they brought me the loveliest array of wings that each came with a special dipping sauce. While the Buffalo and barbecue versions were delightful, it was the garlic tahini that sent me swooning. They were perfectly crisp and flavorful, and the accompanying tahini sauce was so divine I dreamt about it that night. And the next night. And the…well, you get the idea.

Bonus: every Sunday throughout football season, they’re selling their wings for 50-cents apiece. Double bonus: Their wings are all gluten free. Dig in!


Deschutes Brewery

When I put out a call on Facebook asking for suggestions on Bend’s best wings, several folks called out the Thai wings of fire at Deschutes Brewery. Though it was a great hardship to have to consume a fresh hop beer sampler and a giant plate of wings on a random Tuesday afternoon, I persevered.

Thai wings of fire at Deschutes Brewery will get you seriously fired up.

Thai wings of fire at Deschutes Brewery will get you seriously fired up.

The Facebook folks weren’t kidding, and the Thai wings of fire were indeed the bomb. The wings themselves are covered in a scrumptious peanutty, gingery coating. The dipping sauce didn’t look like much at first—more of an oil or a liquid than a dressing—so I made the mistake of dunking my wing in it several times for maximum saturation. HOT!!! But also scrumptious and zippy, so if that’s your thing, you might want extra. If not, stick with a more ladylike dip.

The Buffalo sauced wings were delicious as well, and since you can try two varieties with each order, it’s worth sampling both to see which you like. Personally, I prefer a creamier bleu cheese dressing to accompany my wings, but if you like yours a little more tangy, you’ll appreciate what they offer at Deschutes. Don’t forget your Bend Ale Trail passport—here’s your first stamp!


Platypus Pub

The menu at Platypus Pub features both traditional wings (mild or smokin’ hot) and their own pub-smoked wings, and while I mean no disservice to lovers of tradition, it’s the smoked wings that are guaranteed to rock your world.

Make sure you order an Imperial IPA to pair with your wings at Worthy Brewing.

Make sure you order an Imperial IPA to pair with your wings at Worthy Brewing.

They use Draper Valley wings here, and for some reason they always seem larger than in most places. It might just be my imagination, or maybe it’s the effect of sampling my way through their extensive beer selection. Either way, make sure you nab an order of their spectacularly smoky wings with your choice of mild or smokin’ hot sauce.


Worthy Brewing

If you’ve tried the wings at Worthy before and weren’t a fan, give them another chance. They just changed their sauce last week, and it’s seriously scrumptious. Worthy’s wings are coated in a housemade habanero sauce that’s slightly sweet but not too spicy.

If you’re craving a good pairing, Worthy’s imperial IPA is the perfect complement to this dish. Try to stop by during happy hour when you get six of them for just $5, or show up anytime to score eight for $8. That includes a generous crudité of celery and carrots, plus dipping sauce.

Don’t forget to get another stamp in your Bend Ale Trail passport—you’re on a roll now!


Sidelines Sports Bar & Grill

The wings at Sidelines Sports Bar & Grill are my favorite old standby—my chicken wing security blanket, if you will. They’re consistently good, consistently big, and consistently satisfying no matter when you show up and order.

Mouthwatering wings at Sidelines let you control your own sauce distribution.

Mouthwatering wings at Sidelines let you control your own sauce distribution.

One unique trait of the wings at Sidelines is that they fry them up sauce-free and serve them with little dunking bowls of Frank’s Hot Sauce and your choice of ranch or bleu cheese dressing (the bleu cheese is creamy and excellent, by the way). For those who can be a little picky about the ratio of sauce to wing (me) this is a big plus.

Since this is a sports bar, it’s a great spot to hit if you want to watch men in tight shorts running around an athletic court or beating the crap out of each other. For me, it’s a fun place to go on girls’ night when we want cheap eats and super-friendly service, along with a good local tap list. For the record, Boneyard Brewing’s RPM + wings = heaven.



Wubba’s BBQ Shack

This little eastside barbecue joint isn’t a place most tourists will find on their own, but it’s worth a visit if you’re looking for stellar barbecue grub of any sort.

You've got lotsa wings to choose from at Wubba's, but the barbecue ones are simply divine.

You’ve got lotsa wings to choose from at Wubba’s, but the barbecue ones are simply divine.

But we’re talking specifically about wings here, and Wubba’s has some killer ones. The traditional Buffalo sauced ones are tasty, but it was the barbecue wings that really floated my boat. The sauce was tangy and smoky and absolutely perfect, and the wings themselves were generously meaty.

Let’s put it this way—my husband doesn’t like wings, and my two step kids can be embarrassingly picky eaters, especially when it comes to animal flesh. When I brought home a batch of these wings, we were literally fighting each other for them. Like, blood was shed. Okay, maybe not blood. But definitely barbecue sauce.



Hardy’s Hotwings and Hamburgers

They mention the wings in the name of the restaurant, so they’ve gotta be good, right?


You'll have tons of variety to choose from at Hardy's Hotwings and Hamburgers.

You’ll have tons of variety to choose from at Hardy’s Hotwings and Hamburgers.

First of all, Hardy’s is where you want to come if you’re a serious wing connoisseur. They have so many sauce varieties I actually lost count (though I think it was around 18). Choices range from traditional Buffalo to honey mustard. My personal favorite is the garlic and herb, which pairs beautifully with their housemade ranch dressing (though the bleu cheese is also divine).

If you’re really into hot wings and you have a high tolerance for pain, consider taking on the challenge to eat eight of their super-spicy hot wings in eight minutes. If you succeed, you get to hold up a nifty sign showing your time, and they’ll post it on their Facebook page. Previous victors have employed strategies ranging from latex gloves (hey, that sauce can burn!) to giant milkshakes, so give it a go and earn your bragging rights.


Summit Saloon

Like Sidelines, Summit is a sports bar with tons of television screens to make it easy for you to catch whichever sporting event rolls your socks up.

Angel fire and Buffalo wings from Summit – the best of both wing worlds!

Angel fire and Buffalo wings from Summit – the best of both wing worlds!

But besides televisions, Summit has wings. Lots of glorious, saucy, delicious wings. These are hand-tossed with your choice of classic Buffalo, barbecue, or their own Angel Fire sauce. The latter has a sweet/hot Asian flair that’s perfect for those craving something a little different from traditional wings. No matter which sauce you pick, you can count on Summit to have some of the biggest, meatiest wings around, and their bleu cheese dressing is deliciously creamy with big chunks of cheese.

Show up at happy hour for extra special pricing. They don’t scrimp on the carrots and celery, either. Bonus: This is one of the few spots in Bend with a happy hour that goes all the way ‘til 7 p.m., a fact that makes me rejoice regularly when I’m getting a late start but still want good deals.


The camel wings at Joolz are the perfect wings for a girls’ night. I say that knowing someone might take me to task for generalizing about female appetites or drinking preferences, but I’ll take that risk. The camel wings are the smallest, daintiest wings in the roundup (I ate ten all by myself!) and they’re also the most exotic.

The secret sauce on the camel wings at Joolz will leave you licking your fingers.

The secret sauce on the camel wings at Joolz will leave you licking your fingers.

The secret sauce (which I sweet-talked the bartender into sharing with me) is a mouthwatering blend of middle-eastern spices like harissa and clove, along with fennel seeds, oodles of orange juice and zest, and a handful of other tasty ingredients. The result is a super unique sauce that gets even tastier when you dunk your wings in their housemade yogurt and bleu cheese sauce.

Joolz also offers some of the most unique cocktails in town, and their happy hour is divinely good. Pair your wings with an order of their crispy cauliflower, and you’ve got the best girls’ night around.

10 things you need to pack for your Bend vacation

October 16th, 2014

It goes without saying that your packing list for any upcoming trip to Bend should include things like clean undies and sturdy walking shoes.

Even on days it's warm enough for shorts for your hike up Pilot Butte, a jacket is a good idea in Bend.

Even on days it’s warm enough for shorts for your hike up Pilot Butte, a jacket is a good idea in Bend.

OK, depending on who you are and what you’re doing here, I suppose the undies are optional.

While I’m not going to remind you to pack your toothbrush, I am going to share 10 things you might not think to bring on your Bend vacation (and tell you why you ought to throw them in your bag).


A jacket

This seems obvious during Bend’s chillier months, but plenty of people think they can skip the jacket in the summer or late-fall. Not so—and not even when it’s 90-degrees in the middle of August.

Bend sits at an elevation of 3,600 feet in the mountainous high desert. That means it gets cold here at night. You need the jacket even more in fall or spring when temps can fluctuate from sub-freezing to above 80. No joke, nearly every day last week, I kicked off my workday by running the heater in my car, and ended it with the air conditioning running full blast. Layers are your friend in Bend, so don’t forget those sweaters and puffy vests.

This Otterbox waterproof case  has saved my phone's butt on more than one dunk in the Deschutes River while SUPing.

This Otterbox waterproof case has saved my phone’s butt on more than one dunk in the Deschutes River while SUPing.


Waterproof pouch

When you journey to Bend, there’s a good chance you’ll play in or near the water. In warmer months, that might mean kayaking or standup paddleboarding on one of the high Cascade lakes. In cooler months, you might find yourself hiking along the Deschutes River or spending a day sliding around on frozen water with a pair of boards strapped to your feet (i.e. skiing at Mt. Bachelor).

Whatever form your aquatic pursuit takes, you need to protect your smartphone. As someone who suffered water mishaps with my first couple iPhones, I can attest to the value of a triple-zippered waterproof pouch that can be worn around the neck. I bought mine at Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe, and it’s saved my phone more than once. If you’re especially prone to iPhone water mishaps (er, me) I recommend double-protection with a waterproof phone case like the ones made by Otterbox or Lifeproof.


Pack your phone with links and apps

Speaking of your smartphone, it can be your very best friend on a trip to Bend. Bookmark the link for so you’ve got easy access to info about lodging, activities, restaurants, and events.

The Bend Ale Trail app is a handy tool to have on your phone if you plan to explore Bend's craft beer scene.

The Bend Ale Trail app is a handy tool to have on your phone if you plan to explore Bend’s craft beer scene.

If you plan to hit the Bend Ale Trail, be sure to download the free smartphone app that helps you navigate and collect passport stamps to earn prizes. Fond of Facebook? We have an active Facebook community with more than 100,000 followers and 3-4 posts daily about things to see and do in Bend.


Lotion and lip balm

Visitors who hail from the rainy side of Oregon seem especially surprised to discover how dry the air is in Bend. Our high desert climate can be hard on your skin if you’re not used to it, so don’t forget to toss some extra lotion and lip balm in your bag.

Forgot your lip balm? We've got a great one for sale at the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava & Oregon.

Forgot your lip balm? We’ve got a great one for sale at the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava & Oregon.

Forgot yours? We sell a pretty nice lip balm in the Bend Visitor Center, or stroll around Downtown Bend to test out lotions and potions in gift shops. Some of our local day spas offer pampering packages specially designed to soothe the effects of our dry desert air, so check out this list if you need extra pampering.


Gloves and a hat

Admittedly this is less important in the summer months, but in the fall, spring, or winter, make sure you’ve got a plan to keep your fingers and ears toasty. Even if you aren’t trekking out into the snow, it behooves you to stuff your coat pocket with a pair of cheap stretchy gloves and a thermal cap. That way you can stroll around Drake Park or the Old Mill District without having to cut your adventure short on a chilly day.



Measurements for that empty spot on your wall

This is one you might not think about, but consider using your Bend vacation as an excuse to outfit your home with a special souvenir.

Whether you peruse the local galleries, or opt to buy art off the wall of a coffee shop like Thump, make sure you save room in your bag for a one-of-a-kind piece masterpiece.

Whether you peruse the local galleries, or opt to buy art off the wall of a coffee shop like Thump, make sure you save room in your bag for a one-of-a-kind piece masterpiece.

My living room is adorned with art I brought back from travels around the world. There are paintings from Morocco, Belize, Jamaica, and Australia lining my walls, and shelves holding sculptures and vases from Venezuela, New Zealand, Italy, Fiji, and more. Art makes one of the best, most meaningful souvenirs you can possibly acquire, and gives you a way to remember your trip each time your eyes land on that special piece.

Bend has a booming art community, with a huge collection of art galleries and a wide array of special events ranging from First Friday Art Walk each month to Art in the High Desert every August. Get out there and find that one-of-a-kind piece that’s right for your home.

Remember to stash a day pack in your luggage!

Remember to stash a day pack in your luggage!


A small backpack

This is an easy one for me to forget when I’m stuffing my wheeled suitcase for a weekend trip that won’t involve camping or backpacking. But there’s a good chance you’ll plan at least one small hike or picnic while you’re in Bend, so it’s a good idea to have a small day pack you can stuff with lunch, a camera, and all those jackets and gloves I mentioned earlier.


Your pooch

Think you need to find a sitter for Fido when you visit Bend? Think again! Bend was named the nation’s dog-friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine, and for good reason. When you come to Bend, you’ll find tons of dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, and off-leash dog parks, not to mention oodles of great trails where Rover can run free. For all the info you need about pet travel in Bend, go here.

Did you know dogs can fly in Bend? Don't leave Rover at home when you vacation in Central Oregon!

Did you know dogs can fly in Bend? Don’t leave Rover at home when you vacation in Central Oregon!


Tire chains

Folks who don’t hail from snow country sometimes forget this one, but it can be vital if you’re journeying over the mountains between October and March. If your vehicle doesn’t have traction tires, get yourself a cheap set of chains at Les Schwab. They’ll even show you how to put them on, and if you don’t end up using them, they’ll take them back.

If road reports show chains are suggested or required, don’t forget to grab a tarp or plastic garbage bag so you’ve got a waterproof barrier when you lie down on the ground to chain up. Gloves are important, too, as is a pack of wet wipes so you can scrub off the road dirt after messing with your chains.


Your laptop, camera, musical instrument, or sketch pad

Your creativity will soar when you're in Bend.

Your creativity will soar when you’re in Bend.

In my non-Visit Bend life, I’m a romantic comedy author whose deadline schedule isn’t always convenient. That’s how I found myself waking early each morning of my recent honeymoon to crank out scenes in a new novel while my agent demanded frequent progress updates.

I don’t mean for any of this to sound lousy, because on the contrary—it was some of the most productive, creative, inspiring writing I’ve done in a long time. Sitting on a balcony overlooking the ocean while I wrote scenes of love and longing was amazing, which is why I’d tell any creatively-minded individual to bring the tools of his or her trade on a vacation to Bend.

There’s something about being in the great outdoors that’s beautifully inspiring. Haul your sketchpad on a hike in the Three Sisters Wilderness. Tote your camera to the top of Mt. Bachelor. Strum your guitar on a bench in the Old Mill District. If you’re looking for creative inspiration, I can promise you’ll find it in Bend.




5 things to do before the snow flies in Bend, Oregon

October 9th, 2014
Photographer Pete Alport  recently captured the first snowfall of the 2014-2015 ski season up at Mt. Bachelor.

Photographer Pete Alport recently captured the first snowfall of the 2014-2015 ski season up at Mt. Bachelor.

Last week, Bend photographer Pete Alport was up at Mt. Bachelor to capture a few images of our first snowfall for the 2014-2015 season.

Pretty as it was, I’m not ready to bust out my puffy coat and winter boots just yet. Here are five things we all need to enjoy before snow starts falling hard in Bend:


Roll in the leaves

The leaves started turning in early October this year, which should mean we’ve got a couple more weeks to admire the bright fall colors around Bend.

Drake park—the 13 acre crown jewel of Downtown Bend—is a glorious place to admire all the leafy glory reflected in Mirror Pond. If the mood strikes you, make a crunchy pile of them and jump into it. Just downstream, Pioneer Park is a smaller riverfront locale that offers a good array of trees sporting bright gold and yellow adornments. Either spot is great for a fall picnic or stroll.

Who's up for some leaf jumping in Drake Park?

Who’s up for some leaf jumping in Drake Park?

A drive along Mount Washington Drive will give you a showy look at the endless rows of leafy colors lining both sides of the street. Watch out for cyclists (or better yet, grab your bike and join them!)

You’ll also get some lovely views when the aspens start changing color in Shevlin Park.

For a bigger roundup of where to see fall colors in Bend, check out this blog post.


Hike, bike, or drive at high elevations

When Old Man Winter blankets the Bend area with white stuff, a number of roads shut down for the season. The Cascade Lakes Highway beyond Mt. Bachelor closes to through traffic around late-October or early-November, and doesn’t re-open until May. If you’re itching to hike around Devil’s Lake, enjoy a bit of fishing in Hosmer Lake, or do some horseback riding around Todd Lake, now’s the time to get up there.

Cycling Mt. Washington Drive in the fall is definitely an experience for your bucket list.

Cycling Mt. Washington Drive in the fall is definitely an experience for your bucket list.

The road up to Paulina Peak in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument shuts down when the snow starts flying, so you should have a couple more weeks to drive to the top for killer views from 8,000 feet.

As someone who loves hiking Pilot Butte without having to watch for cars, I’ll admit I celebrate in late-fall when they close the road to motorized traffic. But if hiking isn’t an option for you for whatever reason, you’ll want to jump in the rig and zoom up there before the gates close for the season.

If you’re a cyclist whose bucket list includes a ride along the Old McKenzie Pass Highway (OR 242) you’d better hop to it quickly. That bad boy will be covered with snow before you know it, and they won’t plow it to re-open until late-spring.


Make the most of evening daylight

Daylight Savings Time is slated for November 1 in 2014, at which point we’ll all “fall back” by an hour. That means darkness will come earlier, putting a seasonal end to some of the evening recreation we’ve been enjoying.

There's still time to do some early-evening SUPing in Bend.

There’s still time to do some early-evening SUPing in Bend.

To make the most of the daylight we’ve got left, I’ve been hustling straight to the Deschutes River every day after work this week to sneak in an hour of standup paddleboarding. If that’s your sport of choice, you’ve still got a few evenings left to get out there and splash around.

Evening is also a great time to walk around Downtown Bend or the Old Mill District to enjoy the fall colors en route to your favorite Bend restaurant.

If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, early evening is also a great time for hiking or mountain biking in Bend. Scope out the trail maps and get out there to enjoy some of our autumn landscapes!


Stuff your face outside

The fire pits at McMenamins (as well as the ones at Crux and 10 Barrel) are a great way to extend your outdoor dining season.

The fire pits at McMenamins (as well as the ones at Crux and 10 Barrel) are a great way to extend your outdoor dining season.

Bend’s warm weather is dwindling rapidly, and you could probably count on one hand the number of outdoor dinners or lunches you can bank on for 2014. Still, there are plenty of spots where outdoor dining (or at least outdoor sipping) stretches into late-fall, thanks to outdoor fire pits.

The ones on the patio at McMenamins Old St. Francis are some of my favorites, and I love snuggling up by the fire with a pint of Ruby and some Cajun tots. Crux Fermentation Project also has a killer fire pit, and the added bonus of the best grilled cheese sandwich you’ll ever eat. Either spot makes a great place to cozy up with a pint and earn a stamp in your Bend Ale trail passport.

For a roundup of other Bend hotspots with fire pits (no pun intended) check out this post.

And if a warm fall afternoon leaves you craving an al fresco lunch, go here to peruse the lineup of Bend restaurants with outdoor patios. Many of them are still open for a few more weeks, especially if the warm weather holds.


Canoe or kayak while you can

Fall canoeing with Wanderlust Tours is an experience you'll remember for years to come.

Fall canoeing with Wanderlust Tours is an experience you’ll remember for years to come.

Once the snow starts flying, the folks at Wanderlust Tours will be booking snowshoe tours faster than you can shake a snowflake off a spatula. But before that happens, it’s a great time to head out with them for one of their incredible canoe trips on the high Cascade lakes. The price includes all your gear and transportation, plus amazing insights from a talented naturalist guide.

Another option for paddle-sports is Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe. While most of their regularly scheduled classes and tours have ended for the season, they’re still offering plenty of private lessons, plus gear rental for those who want to go it alone. If you end up loving your kayak or paddleboard so much you want to strap one to your car and haul it home, now’s a great time to score a killer deal by purchasing some of their demo gear.

10 tasty pumpkin-themed treats you’ll find around Bend for October 2014

October 2nd, 2014

It’s October in Bend, and you know what that means?

Well, besides the fact that it’s time to start planning a Halloween costume you can wear with a winter coat (or while riding your bike during the Halloween Cyclocross Crusades, if you’re really getting into the spirit of BikeTown USA).

But besides all that, October sparks a plethora of pumpkin-flavored goodies popping up in Bend pubs and eateries. Here are ten of my favorites:

Get your pumpkin on with a big ol' 22 of Big Ol' Pumpkin from 10 Barrel Brewing.

Get your pumpkin on with a big ol’ 22 of Big Ol’ Pumpkin from 10 Barrel Brewing.


Big Ol’ Pumpkin Beer from 10 Barrel Brewing

Let me say right off the bat that pumpkin beer is my favorite pumpkin-flavored treat of all, and the Big Ol’ Pumpkin from 10 Barrel does not disappoint. It’s a 9.3% imperial ale brewed with more than 14 pounds of organic pumpkin per barrel. They finish it off with cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to give it that tasty pumpkin pie flavor. The spices aren’t as prominent as you’ll find in some pumpkin brews, but the overall flavor profile is quite good (plus it’s an imperial, so how can you go wrong?)

This is a limited-release beer, and you can find it all over the northwest in 22 ounce bottles at grocery stores or at 10 Barrel’s pubs in Bend and Boise. Drink up now while you can!

Bonus: While it’s not done quite yet, Silver Moon Brewing will be releasing their pumpkin brew sometime around mid-October. Twisted Gourd is always a seasonal favorite, so keep your eyes peeled for this one.


The chicken & pumpkin waffle from La Magie Bakery

This southern staple is offered year-round at La Magie Bakery and Café, and it’s one of their most popular breakfast items. Rather than using a standard waffle, La Magie whips up their batter with a scrumptious blend of pumpkin and spices. The result is a waffle that holds up beautifully beneath two generous pieces of buttermilk fried chicken.

The spices in the chicken’s coating perfectly complement the ones in the waffle, and while you won’t notice a heavy pumpkin flavor overall, you will get a dish that’s satisfyingly zingy and different.

You've never had chicken and waffles like the one at La Magie Bakery.

You’ve never had chicken and waffles like the one at La Magie Bakery.

If you haven’t gotten your fill of pumpkin by the time you leave, be sure to pick up a slice of their pumpkin cheesecake to take home with you!


Pumpkin cupcakes from Ida’s Cupcake Café

While I’m not usually a fan of most sweet treats, I’ll make the occasional exception for cupcakes from Ida’s Cupcake Café. They have two locations in Bend, and both rolled out their seasonal pumpkin cupcakes the last day of September. They’ll be available through the end of the year, and you can snag a free taste during the first week of October.

The best thing about Ida’s is that you can pick your own frosting combo from their extensive selection. Though many folks choose to pair their buttercream or the cream cheese frosting with the pumpkin, my personal weakness is the salted caramel.

An added bonus here is that Ida’s also makes treats for the gluten-free members of your family. The pumpkin cupcakes are one of several flavors they offer in a gluten-free version, and they also make a chocolate cupcake that’s vegan (perfect for my egg-allergic stepson).

Pumpkin spice gelato from Bontá Natural Artisan Gelato

This Bend-based company routinely makes me swoon with their flavorful concoctions like Tumalo lavender & honey gelato and their divine vanilla porter gelato made with Deschutes Brewery’s Black Butte Porter. When I heard a rumor that Bontá had rolled out a seasonal pumpkin spice gelato, I had to scurry to Newport Avenue Market to find some.

Once you've had the pumpkin spice gelato from Bonta, you'll never be the same again.

Once you’ve had the pumpkin spice gelato from Bonta, you’ll never be the same again.

OHMYGOSH, you guys! This is seriously one of the tastiest pumpkin treats I’ve ever sampled. Imagine all the flavor of a slice of pumpkin pie, but in ice cream form. It’s just sweet enough to be perfect without the cloying character of some pumpkin-flavored desserts. They make it from scratch with locally-sourced milk and cream, and you can definitely taste the freshness in every bite. My ice cream loving husband asked if we could skip pumpkin pie entirely this Thanksgiving and just buy a few pints of this to serve with gingersnaps, a proposal I wholeheartedly accepted.

In addition to Newport Market, you can find it at Whole Foods, CE Lovejoys, Devore’s, and Central Oregon Locavore. Snap it up now while you can still find it!

Pumpkin curry from Thai on the Fly or Taste of Thai

Both of these little mobile eateries are favorites among locals. You’ll find the Thai on the Fly food cart near the corner of Bond and Oregon in Downtown Bend around lunchtime. The Taste of Thai trailer is a great spot to hit for either a lunchtime treat or a tasty dinner to take back to your Bend hotel or vacation rental.

Both spots routinely offer a pumpkin curry that’s absolutely divine. It’s packed with hearty chunks of the nutty-tasting squash simmered in a coconut and red curry broth. The curry is delicious over rice, and there’s just enough spice to pep up your taste buds. I prefer mine with chicken, but they also do a vegetarian version that’s equally divine.

Mmmm....squash soup from Barrio!

Mmmm….squash soup from Barrio!

If you’re lucky enough to pick some up on a warm fall day, this makes a perfect picnic in the park while you admire the autumn leaves.


Thai curry squash soup from Barrio

Technically, Barrio bills this as a butternut squash soup, but as owner Steven Draheim explained, there’s a whole family of Calabaza squash that encompasses fall favorites like pumpkin and butternut. The flavor is essentially the same, and the dish is too tasty to split hairs.

This scrumptious soup has a vegan base with a creamy blend of squash and coconut milk. My favorite thing about soups at Barrio is the pile of “stir ins” they provide to ensure you’ve got a hearty meal in your bowl. Vegetarians can opt for a hefty helping of avocado, while meat eaters will enjoy swirling a pile of zesty pork carnitas, along with crunchy goodies like radish and cabbage. That’s all included in the price, by the way. For a bonus boost of pumpkin, order it with Sally’s Super Salad, which is sprinkled with pepitas (pumpkin seeds).


Pumpkin spice chai and coffee from Townshend’s Tea or Belatazza

The pumpkin spice syrup at Bellataza is made in Bend by the same guy who makes their chai.

The pumpkin spice syrup at Bellataza is made in Bend by the same guy who makes their chai.

I know most folks get giddy about pumpkin lattes this time of year, so it warms my tea-loving heart to know Townshend’s Tea is there for me year-round with their pumpkin spice chai. They blend all the spices in a typical pumpkin pie to create the same effect in a loose tea form. You’ll detect notes of cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, clove, and nutmeg, along with a full-flavored black tea. You can have them make you a tasty mug of it at their downtown Bend tea shop, or pick up a few ounces of loose tea to take home as a Bend souvenir.

Another tasty option for fans of warm pumpkin-flavored beverages is Belatazza Cofee. More a coffee shop than teahouse, they nevertheless offer a tasty chai that’s crafted locally by the same Bend-based vendor who makes some of their specialty flavored syrups like cardamom and lavender. Their pumpkin spice syrup is a nice addition to the chai, or you can add it to a latte or any other coffee-based beverage for a treat that’s sure to warm your tummy and satisfy your sweet tooth.


Buy a beer, get a pumpkin at Crux Fermentation Project

The folks at Crux are known for their creative approach to beer, so leave it to them to come up with a similarly creative pumpkin promo.

Gotta love the beer & pumpkin combo at Crux!

Gotta love the beer & pumpkin combo at Crux!

For a limited time, Crux is offering a combo deal that allows you to buy a beer and a pumpkin together for $10. Since this is one of kid-friendliest breweries along the Bend Ale Trail, they’ve even set it up so junior can decorate his gourd while mom and dad sip suds. The farmer who hauls away Crux’s spent grain to feed to livestock grows the pumpkins for this promotion, so it’s a pretty cool example of sustainability.

Besides the beer/pumpkin combo, Crux is rolling out some pumpkin-themed menu items throughout the month, including a candied pumpkin salad and harvest bruschetta with pumpkin crostini. They’ve got some great new seasonal beers I’m dying to try, so you’ll see me out there this weekend with one of their beer samplers, a tasty Grilled Cheesy sandwich, and a big, fat gourd. Guess I should bring the kids, too, huh?



The Pumpkin One O One from Noi Thai Cuisine

Noi has one of my favorite happy hours in town, and I’m especially smitten with their cocktails. This time of year, the one that makes me giddy is a delectable concoction of pumpkin puree, simple syrup, and vanilla vodka known as the Pumpkin One O One.

Cheers to the Pumpkin One Oh One at Noi.

Cheers to the Pumpkin One O One at Noi.

Enjoy it with an order of their tasty green curry and a side order of fresh rolls, and you’ve got yourself a fabulous meal.


Assorted baked goods from Nancy P’s, Sparrow Bakery, and Sweetheart Donuts

My lack of love for sweets and baked goods made me a poor judge of anything beyond the Ida’s Cupcake stop, so I reached out to my friend Shannon Hinderberger, the marketing manager at the Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center. She’s a big fan of pumpkin treats and always has the inside scoop on baked goodies, so I asked for her recommendations on Bend’s best pumpkin pastries and pies.

Tasty pumpkin scones in the bakery case at Nancy P's.

Tasty pumpkin scones in the bakery case at Nancy P’s.

Sparrow Bakery is legendary in Bend for all manner of tasty baked goods, and Shannon spotted an array of fresh homemade pumpkin pies lining their bakery case recently. They guarantee no can openers and only fresh ingredients, so these pies promise fresh-tasting melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.

Shannon also got the inside scoop that Sweetheart Donuts is rolling out a brand new pumpkin spice cake donut and a pumpkin fritter. Shannon worked in a bakery years ago and is a self-professed fritter fanatic (say that five times fast!) so you know it means something when she says Sweetheart makes the best fritters around.

We also have Shannon’s ringing endorsement that the pumpkin scones at Nancy P’s Café and Bakery are “to die for,” so I’m inclined to take her word for it. These scones are less traditional and are more biscuit-like, flakey with a hint of cinnamon and just enough maple syrup icing.

What the @#$% is shoulder season? Six reasons you should know (and should plan your Bend vacation around it!)

September 26th, 2014

When I started working for Visit Bend four years ago and first heard the term “shoulder season,” I thought of bare arms in a summery sundress on a warm July day in Bend.

The fall leaves around Drake Park in Downtown Bend are one of many reasons  Bend is a great spot for a shoulder season vacation.

The fall leaves around Drake Park in Downtown Bend are one of many reasons Bend is a great spot for a shoulder season vacation.

Turns out I wasn’t even close. Shoulder season refers to periods of lower tourism activity sandwiched between the busiest times. In Bend’s case, tourism is booming in the summer months when everyone shows up for rafting, hiking, standup paddleboarding, and other warm-weather activities. Same deal with winter, when folks arrive in droves driving cars loaded down with skis, snowboards, snowmobiles, snowshoes, and sleds.

Does that mean fall and spring are less desirable times to plan a Bend vacation? Nothing could be further from the truth! Here are six reasons Bend’s shoulder seasons are an amazing time visit Bend, Oregon.


Score screamin’ deals

When tourists get scarce, Bend hotels and resorts get competitive. That means fall and spring are some of the best times to score killer deals on Bend lodging. If you’re considering a shoulder season visit to Bend, check out Visit Bend’s Hot Deals page for the latest promotions and specials.

For instance, the Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center has a list of dates offering a 25% reduction off their normal room rate. Go here to see what they are. Brasada Ranch has a wide range of specials offering free nights and deep discounts on their luxury cabins.


Avoid the crowds

Skiing at Mt. Bachelor can be fabulous in the spring and fall.

Skiing at Mt. Bachelor can be fabulous in the spring and fall.

Introverts like me especially appreciate Bend’s fall and springtime seasons when the crowds thin out around town. Plan a visit to Bend during the shoulder season and odds are good you’ll never have to fight for dinner reservations at any Bend restaurant or wait long to be seated while you’re scoping out the city’s best eggs benedict for breakfast.

Had trouble in the past with organized tours filling up during a peak-season visit? Not a problem when you show up in October or April. You’ll have the place to yourself!

If snowplay is your thing, you’ll be thrilled to know Mt. Bachelor consistently has one of the best spring skiing seasons in North America, with snowpack that sticks around longer and deeper than anyplace else.


See the seasons change

April is a great time to see things starting to bloom in Bend.

April is a great time to see things starting to bloom in Bend.

As you probably noticed, Bend’s shoulder seasons correspond with the transition from warm weather to chilly, or vice versa. Visit Bend in late-September to watch the leaves change, or show up in October and November to savor the sight of pumpkins on doorsteps and the ear-to-ear grins of folks giddy at the sight of those first falling snowflakes (a much nicer sight than the mid-March scowls when we’re all tired of shoveling snow).

When springtime rolls around, it’s a great time to enjoy the first buds on trees and the amusing sight of folks jumping the gun on warm weather recreation by heading out to standup paddleboard in puffy jackets and gloves.

Sights like these are the sort of things Bend residents treasure and savor, but few tourists get to enjoy them. Dontcha kinda want to enjoy Bend the way the locals get to?


Play outside all year round

Bend’s outdoor recreation is legendary, with Outside magazine dubbing Bend the world’s top SUP getaway and National Geographic naming us one of the world’s top 25 ski towns.

How about a fall fly fishing adventure in Bend?

How about a fall fly fishing adventure in Bend?

But let’s not forget Bend offers a wealth of other recreation opportunities even when you can’t ski or splash in the river in your bikini.

Fall is the perfect time of year to plan a fishing trip to Bend, with oodles of steelhead just begging you to break out that fly rod. Mountain biking is another terrific shoulder season sport, with the folks at Cog Wild offering guided trips all year long.

When the weather is less-than-stellar, it’s a great time to explore Bend’s volcanic landscapes with a cave adventure from Wanderlust Tours.


Did someone say seasonal beer specials?

Mmmm....Jubelale from Deschutes Brewery.

Mmmm….Jubelale from Deschutes Brewery.

The Bend Ale Trail is a popular attraction all year long, but there are some added incentives for trekking this trail of craft beer during Bend’s shoulder seasons.

For starters, there’s Bend Ale Trail Month. Each November, anyone who completes the Bend Ale Trail and submits a completed passport at the Bend Visitor Center during the month will receive a special trophy, along with some killer bragging rights.

If that’s not enticement enough, consider the fact that fresh hop season happens in September and pumpkin brews abound in October. Fall is also when Deschutes Brewery starts to trot out seasonal favorites like Jubelale and The Abyss.

When springtime rolls around, it’s a great time to be here for the release of brews designed for swilling in the sunshine on the back deck of your Bend vacation rental. You can also plan a spring trip around Zwickelmania, the statewide celebration of craft beer happening every February over President’s Day Weekend. Go here to check out the schedule of events for this year, then plan your vacation accordingly.


Come for the special events

I don’t think I’m giving away any huge trade secrets when I tell you tourism folks like to plan cool festivals during the shoulder seasons. It’s a great way to draw visitors here when the city needs a bump in business.

BendFilm is a great excuse to visit Bend in October.

BendFilm is a great excuse to visit Bend in October.

Visit Bend’s Event Calendar is a great place to scope out what’s happening throughout the year. You can search by date or by the type of event you prefer.

Some of the highlights from the fall season include Bend Fall Festival and BendFilm Festival in October. In early November, come out for the Halloween Cross Crusades cyclocross race and all the fun events associated with it.

When spring rolls around, we’ve got the aforementioned Zwickelmania in February, along with the popular Oregon Winterfest.

The annual Springtacular event at Mt. Bachelor spans several weeks in March and April, and offers a great opportunity to score great deals on spring skiing (not to mention tons of fun competitions and live music!)

Want to get engaged in Bend? 5 couples share how they did it!

September 17th, 2014

As I shared in last week’s post, I just got married September 6. While I’m with you all in spirit, I have to confess I’m currently on a beach in Belize sipping fruity drinks and feeling a little nostalgic I’m missing my favorite time of year in Bend.

But in the spirit of passing along some giddy romantic vibes, we recently asked folks on Visit Bend’s Facebook page to share stories of marriage proposals that took place in Bend and Central Oregon. After all, the town named one of America’s Most Romantic Cities by should have some great tales of people getting down on one knee to pledge eternal devotion.

Here’s what we rounded up for you:


Greg and Kristen (a January proposal at Smith Rock State Park)

Greg and xxx celebrate their engagement at Smith Rock.

Greg and Kristen celebrate their engagement at Smith Rock.

“I proposed to my fiancée back in January,” Greg shared on Visit Bend’s Facebook page. “I surprised her by telling her I wanted to do a hike up to Misery Ridge [at Smith Rock State Park] to watch the sunrise. Little did she know our closest friends and family had hiked up at 4 a.m. to hide and take pictures, carrying celebration champagne to the top. It worked out perfectly, and I proposed at the bench on the lookout on top of Misery Ridge. We watched the sunrise, even though it was freezing fog.”

The couple is planning a June wedding in Bend.


Misty and Novin (a July proposal at Tumalo Falls)

Misty and Novin get engaged at Tumalo Falls.

Misty and Novin get engaged at Tumalo Falls.

“Bend is THE PLACE to get engaged!” Misty shared on Visit Bend’s Facebook page. “My fiancé proposed on the Fourth of July last year at Tumalo Falls. We were standing on this rock admiring the falls, and he was looking nervous and awkwardly fumbling with his pocket. He started mumbling some nice words I can’t remember, and he tried to take the ring out of the box, but I started yelling at him to stop because I had a bad feeling he would drop the ring into the water. Haha!

“We moved back onto the trail so he could safely put the ring on my finger. We spent the holiday weekend with family in Sunriver and celebrated the rest of the weekend at several awesome spots including Sunriver Brewing Company and Ariana Restaurant. We’re getting married in September at Eagle Crest Resort. We just love Central Oregon that much!”



Jacob and Rebecca (a July proposal at Suttle Lake)

Jacob and Rebecca's romantic proposal scene at Suttle Lake.

Jacob and Rebecca’s romantic proposal scene at Suttle Lake.

“Rebecca had just landed at PDX airport after climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro,” Jacob shared on Visit Bend’s Facebook page. “I had given her a letter for every day she was gone and then this big surprise on the way home.”

Jacob really wanted to surprise her, so he pulled off the road next to Suttle Lake on the way back to their hometown in Bend, Oregon, right at sunset. Some good friends helped him set up a candlelit dinner scene with Rebecca’s favorite dessert and music by the side of the lake.

After a few minutes of slow dancing, he spun her onto his knee and asked if she’d spend the rest of her life with him.

She said yes (of course!) and the couple is set to wed in early October.


Larry and Lisa* (a November proposal at Mt. Bachelor)

Lisa and Larry moments after they got engaged at Mt. Bachelor more than 27 years ago!

Lisa and Larry moments after they got engaged at Mt. Bachelor more than 27 years ago!

“Larry was working at the Olympia Brewery at the time, when we decided to spend a long weekend in Bend,” Lisa shared. “We had been dating for a while, and both of us knew we had found our soulmates. It was Sadie Hawkins Day, and I was getting increasingly chicken about proposing while skiing at Mt. Bachelor.  Finally, Larry couldn’t wait any longer and while we were taking in the view, he popped the question.  I was so surprised, he had to ask twice! (Larry really likes to tell this part of the story).  This was 27 wonderful years, two kids, and two breweries ago!


* Lisa Sidor is the Visitor Information Specialist for Visit Bend, and Larry Sidor is the owner/brewer at Crux Fermentation Project.



Becky and Geoff (a March proposal at Smith Rock State Park)

“My now fiancé, Geoff, my dog Yogi, and I visited Smith Rock for the first time in December 2013,” Becky shared in an email. “We fell in love with it so much that we hiked there twice in one weekend. Although only visiting there twice, I claimed that was my favorite place in all of Oregon and the entire world. I made plans with a running guide to trail run there as well in May.

Geof and Becky got engaged at Smith Rock last spring.

Geof and Becky got engaged at Smith Rock last spring.

“On Saturday, March 22, 2014, Geoff, my dog Yogi, and I drove all the way to Terrebonne from Portland, anticipating a great day of hiking. It was 60 degrees, sunny, in my favorite place in the world.

“We hiked the Misery Ridge trail, and once we got to the summit, he took me to an area that was secluded from the hikers.  He started taking photos of me, and I didn’t know why. He kept saying I looked really beautiful and kept snapping away. After soaking in the beautiful views of Smith Rock, I jokingly mentioned “this would have been the perfect place to propose”. He laughed and said “eventually!” We stayed for a bit as he took photos of me, then told me to lead us back to the trail. Then he said, “Becky?” I thought he was going to tell me a joke, and I said, “WHAT?” Then I saw him on one knee, with the ring out, and he asked “Will you marry me?”

“I was in so much shock, I didn’t expect a proposal. My dog, Yogi, was our only witness! I was so happy and the first words that immediately came out of my mouth were, “what the hell?!” Because I was so surprised. I then started crying, kissed him, and said “yes!” It was the perfect moment, on Smith Rock, on one of the most gorgeous days! Or maybe it’s always gorgeous. We spent the entire hike smiling, kissing, and enjoying the moment.”



7 reasons Bend makes a great place to honeymoon, get hitched, or drop to one knee

September 8th, 2014
Your regular blogger, Tawna, won't be here for a couple weeks. This is why.

Your regular blogger, Tawna, won’t be here for a couple weeks. This is why.

I got married at Tumalo State Park in Bend this past Saturday, so you might say I have weddings on the brain. The fact that I already live here precluded me from choosing Bend as a honeymoon destination, but rest assured, I’m aware that this is one of the most romantic spots in the universe.

Here are seven of my favorite reasons Bend makes a fabulous place for a romantic marriage proposal, a couples’ getaway, or a destination wedding:


How ‘bout that backdrop?

Whether you’re popping the question or popping the cork on your wedding day champagne, you want a scenic backdrop to your special moment. Luckily, Bend is packed full of vistas so beautiful you want to gobble them up with a spoon.

It's too bad Bend is such an unpleasant place to get married (said no bride, ever, including Tawna from her scenic wedding site at Tumalo State Park).

It’s too bad Bend is such an unpleasant place to get married (said no bride, ever, including Tawna from her scenic wedding site at Tumalo State Park).

Want a romantic riverfront setting? Scope out the parks map to find a setting that’s perfect for your big moment. Scenic locales like Smith Rock State Park and Tumalo Falls are popular places for couples to get engaged or share a romantic moment. Just about any hiking trail around Central Oregon will lead you to a scenic, secluded setting that’s perfect for asking your honeybun to be with you ’til it’s time to choose matching cemetery plots.

Planning a wedding? It cost me a whopping $50 to reserve the picnic area where we wed last Saturday at Tumalo State Park, so clearly you can get the scenic setting on a budget. For more elaborate affairs, consider the stunning backdrop at Brasada Ranch and start planning your destination wedding today.

Visit Bend has multiple web pages devoted to finding the right venue, flowers, DJ, and more, so click the link to get started.


Spoil me, pamper me, love me

River views abound from the styling chairs at Luminescence Salon in Bend.

River views abound from the styling chairs at Luminescence Salon in Bend.

If your vision of a romantic weekend getaway involves a decadent massage for two, you’ll find tons of great ideas on Visit Bend’s spa page. Two of my favorite spots offering couples’ massage are Jinsei and Anjou. Both have cozy, romantic suites where they set up two massage tables side-by-side and spoil you with chocolates and champagne.

Bend’s spas are a great place to get spiffed up and beautiful for a wedding, too. In the weeks leading up to my own nuptials, I sprung for a series of facials at Revive Skin Services to help smooth out some of the damage done by Bend’s harsh desert climate. Jen at Polish works magic when it comes to waxing and eyelash extensions, and my tootsies were perfectly pampered thanks to a pedicure at Raelynn at Images Salon. I’ve trusted Fawnda at Luminescence to trim and style my hair for more than a decade, with the added bonus of stunning river views as I sit in her chair.

To plan your own weekend of pampering in Bend, be sure to check Visit Bend’s spa page.


Make memories together

There’s nothing quite like marking a special vacation with an activity you’d never get to do at home. Whether you choose to propose during a romantic moonlight snowshoe tour, or celebrate your honeymoon with a starlight canoe outing, you owe it to yourself (not to mention your sweetie) to book a special outing with Wanderlust Tours.

One of many couples to get engaged during the Bonfire on the Snow outing with Wanderlust Tours.

One of many couples to get engaged during the Bonfire on the Snow outing with Wanderlust Tours.

If you’re more of a foodie than an adventurer, schedule a cooking class together with The Well Traveled Fork. I can’t tell you how many times my new hubby and I have consulted the recipe packets from our classes with Chef Bette, and it makes us smile every time we prepare one of the dishes we learned to make together. Watch her offerings around Valentine’s Day for special classes like aphrodisiac cooking!

Want to bond over a shared adrenaline rush? Book a whitewater raft trip with Sun Country Tours, or opt for the ultimate adventure with an aerial tour. You can see Bend from the vantage-point of a helicopter, airplane, or hot air balloon. You can even scope out the scenery while skydiving. Talk about taking the plunge!


Table for two, please?

If you’re looking to canoodle over canapés, there are plenty of romantic restaurants in Bend for your special occasion. One of my favorite splurgy dinner spots is Ariana Restaurant. Their outdoor patio is sunny and open, and their indoor space is cozy and romantic. The menu is centered around Northwest cuisine and unique twists on classic dishes, and their wine list can’t be beat.

The herb gardens adorning the cozy courtyard at Jackalope Grill are one of many things to make this a great spot for a romantic dinner.

The herb gardens adorning the cozy courtyard at Jackalope Grill are one of many things to make this a great spot for a romantic dinner.

If you want Italian cuisine like you’ve never experienced before, Trattoria Sbandati is your spot. You can go here to read my full write-up on this magnificent little Italian restaurant, or just trust me when I say the food here is one of those things you’ll remember for years after you’ve lovingly polished off the last forkful of Tagliatelle al Gorgonzola.

Jackalope Grill is another special occasion hotspot guaranteed to leave you swooning from more than just the romance. Order the Osso Bucco and a seat in their sunny courtyard, and prepare to have your mind blown.

If you feel like venturing outside the city limits for something a little different, check out the scenic dining at Black Butte Ranch. Their menu features creative Northwest cuisine, and you’ll always find unique dishes like elk loin or brook trout.

For a complete roundup of Bend restaurants to fit every taste and budget, go here.


The honeymoon suite

Whether you’re planning a honeymoon, or just a romantic weekend getaway, Bend is jam-packed with hotels, motels, vacation rentals, and resorts. For an in-depth look at the charming array of bed and breakfast establishments in Bend, check out this post, or peruse Visit Bend’s lodging page for info on all kinds of great places to stay.

The stunning view from Tawna's wedding night suite at Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center.

The stunning view from Tawna’s wedding night suite at Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center.

Even though I was Belize-bound for my honeymoon, I chose to spend my wedding night in a lovely river-view suite at the Riverhouse Hotel & Convention Center. We had a breathtaking view of the Deschutes River, an in-room hot tub, and a fireplace that came fully-stocked with everything we needed to start a toasty little fire to sit beside while we enjoyed the champagne and chocolate they left for us. Perfect!


Hey, don’t just take my word for it

OK, I know what you’re thinking. “Of course the lovestruck newlywed thinks Bend is the perfect place for romance.” That may be true, but I’m not the only one with that opinion. Travel + Leisure included Bend in their January 2013 roundup of America’s most romantic towns, and ranked Bend in the #1 slot in their roundup of the nation’s top 10 romantic cities. See? It’s not just me.


Come back again and again

When you get engaged, hitched, or otherwise romantic in a certain city, ever notice how you want to go back? Once you’ve made some memories in Bend, we hope you’ll want to return for anniversaries and special getaways. Luckily, it’s easy to reach Bend from just about anywhere. Nonstop flights depart daily to major hubs like Seattle, Portland, LA, San Francisco, Denver, and Salt Lake City.

If you crave the bonding time of a road trip, check out our handy Getting Here page for maps and info about travel times.


6 Bend breakfast spots you MUST visit for divine eggs benedict

September 3rd, 2014

There are certain comfort foods that leave me feeling warm all over. Mac & Cheese. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Bacon.

Those are all live links to posts I’ve done previously in my quests to find the best dishes Bend has to offer in each of those categories. Since we’ve had a lot of requests lately from folks wanting the inside scoop on finding a great breakfast in Bend, I decided it was my patriotic duty to embark upon a mission to the city’s best eggs benedict.

Here are some of my favorite spots:

The Victorian Café

Scrumptious eggs benedict at The Vic. Add a little avocado and tomato if you feel like being healthy.

Scrumptious eggs benedict at The Vic. Add a little avocado and tomato if you feel like being healthy.

This Westside hotspot has been voted Bend’s best breakfast so many times they should probably stop counting. While I’ll admit there’s often a part of me that sees long lines outside some renowned Bend eateries and scoffs “overrated,” that’s not the case with the Victorian Café. The breakfasts here are worth every bit of buzz they generate, and then some.

Their creativity when it comes to eggs benedict is unparalleled. They offer seemingly endless variations, ranging from Naples eggs benedict (housemade Mediterranean sausage, shitake mushrooms, feta, roasted red peppers, with two poached eggs on a Big Ed’s English muffin, topped with housemade hollandaise) or the Caribbean benedict (Cuban seasoned ham, mango, black beans, fresh cilantro, plus all the usual benedict goodies).

For the purpose of this blog post though, I stuck as closely as possible to traditional eggs benedict. I was definitely not disappointed here, as the hollandaise was rich and flavorful, and the ratio of egg to ham to muffin to sauce was somehow precisely perfect. You can pick between their homestyle potatoes or homemade applesauce as a side, and while both are delicious, I highly recommend the applesauce. Wash it down with one of their award-winning (and monstrous bloody marys) and you’ve got the perfect Sunday brunch.

Rockin’ Daves

These guys are famous for their delicious bagels, so they make good use of them when they create an order of eggs benedict. If you arrive right as Rockin Daves opens, be prepared to wait a few minutes while they whip up the hollandaise sauce from scratch. It’s well worth the wait, and you can definitely taste the freshness of the ingredients.

The bagel-based eggs benedict at Rockin' Daves is perfect for those who like a hearty foundation.

The bagel-based eggs benedict at Rockin’ Daves is perfect for those who like a hearty foundation.

You’ll find a lot of creative seasonal specials on their menu as well, including specialty benedicts and to-die-for veggie scrambles. Be sure to grab a few bagels to take home, or have them whip up some bagel sandwiches for your afternoon hike.

Even if the food here weren’t amazing, I’d still love visiting Rockin’ Daves for the creative way they take your order. Rather than asking for your name, they request your favorite band or musician. Few things are as entertaining as sitting there on a busy Saturday morning hearing the server call out, “Justin Timberlake? Milli Vanilli?” and watching who raises a hand.


Café Sintra

I’ve been to this cozy little Mediterranean bistro plenty of times for lunch, but I’d never tried their breakfasts until I posted a Facebook query asking folks to share their favorite eggs benedict in Bend. The volume of commenters who raved about Café Sintra was enough to send me scurrying over there to see what all the fuss was about.

Linguiça and chipotle hollandaise add a little zing to your breakfast at Café Sintra.

Linguiça and chipotle hollandaise add a little zing to your breakfast at Café Sintra.

I opted to sample two variations on the dish. One was their version of a traditional eggs benedict with sourdough toast in place of the English muffin and a serving of ham on the side as opposed to layered beneath the hollandaise. There was something about the flavor and texture of the sourdough that added an amazing zing to this dish, and the hollandaise was sinfully buttery. There’s also a slice of roma tomato in the mix, adding another dimension of flavor to the dish.

At the urging of several Facebook fans, I also tried their specialty Sintra eggs benedict with Linguiça (a traditional Portuguese sausage) and their chipotle hollandaise. This is a dish to wake you up in the morning! I loved the combination of spicy, creamy, zingy, and crunchy. Added bonus: my dining companion declared both their pancakes and their bacon some of the best he’s ever tasted.


McKay Cottage

Regular blog readers may recall McKay Cottage earned my effusive praises for offering some of the best bacon in Bend.

Don't forget to nab a side of bacon when you enjoy eggs benedict at McKay Cottage.

Don’t forget to nab a side of bacon when you enjoy eggs benedict at McKay Cottage.

They’ve also got some of the best hashes around, especially when they whip up seasonal specialties to the enchantment of fans who’ve named them Bend’s Best Breakfast in The Source Weekly every year since 2010.

The classic benedict here is every bit as scrumptious as you’d expect, with housemade hollandaise that’ll leave you licking the plate. The wait at McKay can be lengthy on weekends, but it’s especially worth it if you can nab one of their sunny outdoor tables before the weather turns too cool. Vegetarians will appreciate that you can choose an organic veggie patty over the ham in their benedict.

If you’re not a vegetarian though, be sure to order an extra side of bacon. You’ll thank me for it.



This charming Westside eatery always wins my undying love for their commitment to fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. You’ll see it in their expansive on-site gardens, and in their creative daily specials featuring meats and produce purchased directly from local farmers.

The blackstone benedict at Chow perfectly showcases this restaurant's commitment to seasonal, locally-sourced food.

The blackstone benedict at Chow perfectly showcases this restaurant’s commitment to seasonal, locally-sourced food.

You’ll see it in their eggs benedict, too, with fresh local eggs and locally-sourced meats. Chow’s traditional eggs benedict is always a good staple, with a choice of béarnaise or hollandaise for the discerning palate. Folks craving a creative twist will love the Blackstone benedict, which features corn-crusted tomatoes in place of the English muffin, spinach, bacon, and béarnaise sauce.

This is another restaurant where I’ve been known to lick the plate if I think no one’s looking. Be forewarned, it’ll bring out that urge in you, too.


Palmer’s Café

I’ll confess I was a little surprised when I saw Palmer’s Café popping up over and over in comments on our Facebook page. This tucked-away little diner on Greenwood doesn’t seem like anything remarkable from the outside, and I hadn’t ventured inside for 17 years.

The potatoes at Palmer's Café are like nothing you've ever experienced. Trust me here.

The potatoes at Palmer’s Café are like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Trust me here.

Boy, was I in for a surprise. The line outside clued me in that the little diner that touts itself as “Bend’s best kept secret” isn’t a secret from everyone. They had hot coffee for folks who had to wait, and the service was cheerful and speedy.

The eggs benedict itself was your classic fare—a large English muffin, thick ham, well-poached eggs, and generous ladles of hollandaise. But it was the side dish of housemade potatoes that really had me swooning. Holy cow, you guys, these potatoes blew me away. I know that seems weird to say about potatoes, but trust me when I say I’m going back for these alone. A drool-worthy hybrid of potato chunks smooshed and fried like hashbrowns, they perfectly complemented the meal and had me using them to mop up any leftover hollandaise.

I’m getting dizzy just thinking about those potatoes, so I probably need to stop now. Who wants breakfast? And who has YOUR favorite eggs benedict in Bend?


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