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Bend Ale Trail 3.0 launches today! Here are 7 tips for navigating your beerventure.

May 8th, 2014

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

The new Bend Ale Trail atlas in front of one of the newest breweries to join the program, Riverbend Brewing.

The new Bend Ale Trail atlas in front of one of the newest breweries to join the program, Riverbend Brewing.

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.

A Hydro Flask filled with water is a great tool to take along on your Bend Ale Trail adventure.

A Hydro Flask filled with water is a great tool to take along on your Bend Ale Trail adventure.

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:

fron view of cowboy carriage in front of cascade lakes brewery

Cowboy Carriage – one of many fun ways to trek the trail without drinking and driving.

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.

 

Blogger Tawna in her Girl vs. Beer t-shirt.

Blogger Tawna in her Girl vs. Beer t-shirt.

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

The risotto cakes stuffed with goat cheese and served with pesto cream & balsamic reduction....totally worth maiming someone for.

The risotto cakes stuffed with goat cheese and served with pesto cream & balsamic reduction at Old Mill Brew Wërks.

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:

Let’s do a springtime stroll around the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection in Bend!

April 30th, 2014

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.

"Born Again Ghost" by Megan McGuinness is the first piece you'll see on your self-guided tour of the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection.

“Born Again Ghost” by Megan McGuinness is the first piece you’ll see on your self-guided tour of the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection.

With the weather warming up in Bend right now, it’s the perfect time for a walk. Let’s go!

Step 1:

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.

Step 2:

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?

Crews install Taylor Rose's painting, "Tangled," in Tin Pan Alley.

Crews install Taylor Rose’s painting, “Tangled,” in Tin Pan Alley.

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.

Step 3:

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.

Mother and son stop to admire "The Day We All Looked Up" by Kaycee Anseth.

Mother and son stop to admire “The Day We All Looked Up” by Kaycee Anseth.

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.

Crews install "Voyage" by Caroline Cornell and "Klondike Kate" by Sheila Dunn in the alley beside Toomies.

Crews install “Voyage” by Caroline Cornell and “Klondike Kate” by Sheila Dunn in the alley beside Toomies.

Ready to roll again?

Step 4:

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.

Step 5:

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?

The newest addition to the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection isn't even mounted yet. " Megan Phallon's "Dawn of a New Day" will be showcased near the O'Kane Building in historic Downtown Bend.

The newest addition to the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection isn’t even mounted yet. ” Megan Phallon’s “Dawn of a New Day” will be showcased near the O’Kane Building in historic Downtown Bend.

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!

Five things you MUST include in your Bend vacation itinerary

April 24th, 2014

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

The views atop Pilot Butte are well worth it whether you hike, bike, drive, or crawl to the summit.

The views atop Pilot Butte are well worth it whether you hike, bike, drive, or crawl to the summit.

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).

The outdoor patio at McMenamins is one of many spots you'll enjoy along the Bend Ale Trail even if you don't like beer at all.

The outdoor patio at McMenamins is one of many spots you’ll enjoy along the Bend Ale Trail even if you don’t like beer at all.

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

There are a million ways to play in Bend's great outdoors. Pick one and get to it!

There are a million ways to play in Bend’s great outdoors. Pick one and get to it!

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

Bend boasts about 70 parks in the city limits, ranging from sprawling, riverfront green-space to tiny playgrounds tucked in neighborhoods. You’ll find a list of parks here, or a handy map here.

Ahhh, Drake Park...the crown jewel of Bend's park system, and a must-see for any Bend visitor.

Ahhh, Drake Park…the crown jewel of Bend’s park system, and a must-see for any Bend visitor.

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

Bend Brewfest, one of many amazing events you won't want to miss in Bend.

Bend Brewfest, one of many amazing events you won’t want to miss in Bend.

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.

Need a donut fix? Here’s where to find the tastiest donuts in Bend

April 18th, 2014

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!

 

 

Hank Therien formulates a plan for devouring enough donuts to feed a small army.

Hank Therien formulates a plan for devouring enough donuts to feed a small army.

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:

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.
Bend-Oregon-Donuts-Webres SMALL
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.
Bend-Oregon-Donuts-Webres-5 SMALL
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.

Hank Therien makes the most of his quest to find Bend's best donuts.

Hank Therien makes the most of his quest to find Bend’s best donuts.

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.

MY PERFECT DAY IN BEND: Emilie Cortes shares a dawn-to-dusk roundup of her favorite Bend activities

April 9th, 2014

Hello, dear blog readers! Each week you tune in for the latest Bend tips and hints from Visit Bend’s PR & Communications Manager Tawna Fenske. She’s brought you posts on topics ranging from hiking to snow dancing to Bend’s best bacon dishes.

But every now and then we like to offer a different perspective on fun things to do in Bend, Oregon. This week we’re showcasing a post from Emilie Cortes, a Bend newcomer who moved from San Francisco just over a year ago to operate Call of the Wild adventure travel company for women. Drawn by the great weather and lower cost of living, Emilie picked Bend as her new home so she could enjoy all the hiking, climbing, and mountain biking the area had to offer.

So what’s Emilie’s idea of a perfect day in Bend, Oregon? Here’s what she had to say!

 

Start the day off with breakfast at McKay Cottage

Emilie Cortes kicks off her perfect day in Bend with breakfast at McKay Cottage.

Emilie Cortes kicks off her perfect day in Bend with breakfast at McKay Cottage.

McKay Cottage (62910 OB Riley Rd.) is one of my favorite breakfast spots in Bend, and its reputation is well-deserved after winning The Source Weekly best breakfast spot four years running.  The building was the original 1916 cottage of Clyde and Olive McKay, some of the original Bend settlers. The McKay Cottage potatoes are insane, and the Mt. Bachelor omelet dish is to die for.  The portions are generous, and after fueling up with a hearty breakfast, we head north on Hwy 97 for the day’s activities!

 

Head to Smith Rock State Park

Emilie (right) lends a hand to a friend learning to climb at Smith Rock.

Emilie (right) lends a hand to a friend learning to climb at Smith Rock.

From McKay Cottage, it’s a short 30-minute drive to world-class rock climbing that draws climbers from around the world.  The day use parking fee at Smith Rock State Park is $5, or if you know you’ll return frequently, an annual pass is just $30.  Thousands of sport and traditional rock climbing routes on volcanic tuff and basalt offer a climber’s dream playground that will keep you coming back.  It’s a short hike to any of the popular climbing areas in the park.  My favorite sections are the Morning Glory Wall, Peanut Gallery, and Rope de Dope areas, which offer easy and moderate options to work on my lead sport climbing skills.

On days when I have non-climber friends in tow, we hike the 700-ft ascent of Misery Ridge, offering unparalleled views of the Smith Rock complex as well as the Cascade volcanoes gracing the horizon.

Beautiful Monkey Face at Smith Rock State Park.

Beautiful Monkey Face at Smith Rock State Park.

If we continue on Misery Ridge Trail, we can see the iconic Monkey Face with Mt Jefferson and Mt Washington in the background.  Allow 2 to 2.5 hours to complete the loop.

 

Enjoy an early dinner at Terrebonne Depot

Climbing and hiking at Smith Rock can really build up an appetite, so I love to stop at the historic Terrebonne Depot (400 NW Smith Rock Way, Terrebonne) on my way back to Bend.  The restaurant is housed in a 100-year-old former train station and the deck is lovely in warm weather.  My favorite healthy option is the grilled radicchio salad with salmon, but sometimes my appetite is revving so much I have to go for a juicy buffalo burger!

 

Savor a Turkish bath at McMenamins

The saltwater soaking pool at McMenamins is a great place to soak your bones after a long day of play.

The saltwater soaking pool at McMenamins is a great place to soak your bones after a long day of play.

I make the short drive back to Bend and hit McMenamins Old St Francis School (700 NW Bond St) for a soak in the Turkish bath. Yep, you read that right!  There is a heated saltwater soaking pool with a skylight for just $5pp.  It’s ridiculously relaxing.  After a good soak and shower in the locker room, I like to have a drink at the bar and nibble on some of their awesome happy hour Cajun tater tots (ask for them even if it’s after happy hour).  Sadly, I’m gluten intolerant, but Bend is a gluten-free friendly town, so I indulge in a Bourbon Furnace with hot apple cider, lemon, honey and Kentucky Bourbon!

The perfect end to the perfect day…

 

Emilie Cortes resides in Bend and operates Call of the Wild Adventures – adventure travel for women.  To learn more about her trips, including the upcoming Central Oregon Classic in October, visit www.callwild.com.

 

Looking for a Bed and Breakfast in Bend, Oregon? Here’s what makes Bend’s B&Bs extra special!

April 3rd, 2014

What is it about a bed & breakfast that conjures up visions of snuggling beneath a fluffy duvet and eating gourmet French toast as you gaze out the window over treetops rustling in the breeze?

Maybe that’s just me.

Regardless of your personal vision, there’s something magical about the B&B experience. It’s especially true of the three fabulous B&Bs in Bend, Oregon. To give you an inside peek at what makes them unique, we asked a few questions of the folks running the show at each of the Bend, Oregon B&Bs. Here’s the inside scoop on what it’s like to stay at a bed & breakfast in Bend, Oregon!

 

Lara House Bed and Breakfast
Owners: Brian and Sandy Griffin
Find them at www.larahouse.com

The historic Lara House B&B.

The historic Lara House B&B.

What’s the history of your B&B?
The Lara House was built in 1910 by Arthur and Mable Lara.  The Laras sold the home in 1919, and since then it has been various housing establishments. It served as a girls’ dormitory for a while, then as a boarding house during the Depression.  During WWII it housed some of the families who had loved ones stationed at the Army Camp at Sunriver.  It has been a B&B for the past 30+ years under various owners.  The home has a wonderful history and is a cherished landmark for the City of Bend.

What features or amenities make you most proud of your B&B?
The features we are most proud of are our historic designation as well as our location.  We are only B&B that is downtown within two blocks of Drake Park and the historic downtown shopping and dining district.

The Drake room at Lara House.

The Drake room at Lara House.

What’s for breakfast?
Breakfast is different every day. We trade off between a sweet main entree and a savory main entree.  Included in breakfast is a fruit/yogurt and/or granola and then our main entree and pastry.

In your opinion, what’s the best thing about the B&B experience for vacationers?
The best thing about the B&B experience for vacationers is the personalized service they will receive.  It is a great alternative to a hotel.  For us, not only is breakfast included in their room price, but also wine and beer hour. We serve Naked Winery wine as well as local craft beers.

 

Hillside Inn Bed and Breakfast
Owner and innkeeper: Annie Goldner
Find them at www.bendhillsideinn.com

Hillside Inn B&B.

Hillside Inn B&B.

What’s the history of your B&B?
I purchased the home in August 2001 and began running the B&B in October 2002. The modern, craftsman style, 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom house was built in 1999 and the previous owners attained the conditional use permit and ran it briefly as a B&B until my purchase in 2001.

I relocated to Bend from NYC, and at that time my three children were grown and independent and I could choose the place to live “the rest of my life.” I searched for a small town (fewer than 100,000 people) with four seasons and dry weather and visited a dozen locations west of the Rockies that fit that description. I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Bend felt as if it has a mid-west background and culture. I spent two years visiting Bend, and on the third visit, found this very special home in a great neighborhood for walking. Bend’s Riverwest neighborhood is close to Newport Market, restaurants and coffee shops, and all that Bend’s Westside offers in “walk to” convenience.

What features or amenities make you most proud of your B&B?
The B&B has all the modern conveniences you would require. My guests often say, “you’ve thought of EVERYTHING.” I prepare breakfast to the guests’ preference. I often have visitors who like organic, gluten free, vegan, lactose intolerant, etc etc . I enjoy the challenge of cooking to particular dietary requirements. I have been told that men often resist going with their wives to a B&B because it’s too feminine with flowers and dolls, etc. Men love my place as for the modern, contemporary furnishings and super comfortable bed and European bedding. The ladies love the colorful décor and attention to detail.

I’m very proud, yet humbled by the wonderful 100 perfect ratings given on TripAdvisor.com by my guests to my B&B over the past 12 years. I’m in awe of the fact that over 3,000 people have the memory of a visit to Hillside Inn B&B, a business I created and continue to create as a lodging alternative in Bend.

The balcony suite at Hillside B&B.

The balcony suite at Hillside B&B.

What’s for breakfast?
So many of my guests ask for low carb breakfast.  Thus, I don’t make muffins and seldom pancakes or waffles, although my Belgian waffles are in demand. I love to cook with grains served with a lazy susan of fruits, nuts, and dried fruit. The guests love a mix of brown rice, quinoa, and couscous sautéed quickly with fresh veggies served with a poached egg on top. Also egg soufflé nested in a portabella mushroom is a big hit. The Brits love the fried egg and broiled tomato on toast. The Germans and Austrians love the bread, cheese, and muesli selection, and the locals enjoy omelets with a choice of veggies and cheese. Each breakfast begins with a fruit medley or a smoothie and fresh squeezed juices. Guests are ALWAYS asked, “what is your favorite breakfast? Challenge me, please.”

In your opinion, what’s the best thing about the B&B experience for vacationers?
The personal touch…. from providing all the details in amenities that make the guests feel at home to the conversation with them about Bend and all it offers. B&Bs are particularly sought out by visitors who are considering relocating to Bend and wish to chat-up the innkeeper about the community. I was the chair of the Riverwest neighborhood association for 8 years and learned much about how the city manages the community and these are questions these visitors often have for me. A B&B is not “just a room” in a house or a hotel or a motel. Each B&B is very unique it what they offer to their guests. There is that pleasant surprise when the guests arrive…the ah-ha moment when they check into the room and often say it appears lovelier than the photos on the website. They feel at home and settle in completely. The B&B is a total creation of the innkeeper, unlike the corporate directives of a hotel or motel. The guest feels it is special and not a cookie-cutter predictable lodging experience.

 

Mill Inn Bed & Breakfast
Proprietors: Zane and Trish Littrell
Find them at www.millinn.com

The Mill Inn B&B.

The Mill Inn B&B.

What’s the history of your B&B?

The Mill Inn was built in 1917 as the original hotel and boarding house for the Brooks-Scanlon Saw Mill.  In 1990, the building was completely renovated by the owners at the time, and converted to a casual 10-room bed & breakfast. In 2005, the Mill Inn changed hands again, and was renovated to complement the contemporary design vision of the new owner who had moved to Bend from New York (hence the Statue of Liberty in front of the building).  In 2013, we happily became the new owners of the Mill Inn, and couldn’t be more excited to share in and be a part of its rich history and bright future as Bend’s truly original boutique hotel.

What features or amenities make you most proud of your B&B?
The features and amenities that make us most proud of the Mill Inn are those most appreciated and loved by our guests, such as the fabulous gourmet breakfast made to order and served daily in the common dining area, our central location, the beautifully designed and super-comfortable sleeping rooms that inspire our guests to stay with us whenever visiting Bend, and our back deck with an outdoor spa that’s perfect for relishing the fresh air morning, afternoon, and night.  These features, together with our passion for ensuring all guests have an amazing experience during their stay, are what make us most proud of the Mill Inn.

The cozy side deck at Mill Inn – great for barbecues or drinks under the stars!

The cozy side deck at Mill Inn – great for barbecues or drinks under the stars!

We also have a secure basement storage facility equipped with a washer and dryer, ski and snowboard racks, waxing tables, and a work station for bicycles.

What’s for breakfast?
We’ve never had a guest leave the Mill Inn hungry after indulging in our delectable, seven-course gourmet breakfast.  We offer a buffet style menu consisting of an amazing assortment of quiches, potatoes, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, homemade scones, coffee, tea, and juice, along with Belgian waffles and eggs made to order.  Our master chef will accommodate any dietary restrictions such as gluten and dairy intolerance and vegetarian/vegan requests.

In your opinion, what’s the best thing about the B&B experience for vacationers?
The best thing about the B&B experience is spontaneity.  From impromptu wine/beer social hours to engaging with other travelers from all over the world, you never know what the day may bring or who you’ll meet in the process, and it’s always tons of fun!

***

Eager to learn more about Bend, Oregon bed and breakfasts? Check out Visit Bend’s B&B page!

Spending spring break in Bend? Here’s a handy rundown of seasonal schedules and what to see if your favorite landmark is buried in snow.

March 27th, 2014

Tis the season for spring breakers to descend upon Bend in search of the ultimate snowy vacation in the winter wonderland of Bend. Happy families are arriving en masse to enjoy skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing.

The only problem with spring break in a winter wonderland? It’s, uh . . . still winter.

Not by the calendar, of course, but in terms of seasonal closures that affect Central Oregon roadways and landmarks. Some of our region’s most popular summertime hotspots are buried under a few feet of snow in March and April, so it’s important to know what’s open, what’s closed, and what to check out as an alternative if your destination of choice happens to be a bit hard to reach right now.

Tumalo Falls

Tumalo Falls is lovely in the wintertime, even when you have to hike a bit to get to it.

Tumalo Falls is lovely in the wintertime, even when you have to hike a bit to get to it.

No, they don’t shut down the waterfall for winter, but they do close off the road just past Tumalo Creek. Soon after the snow starts to fly, the gate swings closed for the season so cars can’t pass beyond that point and get stuck. Those accustomed to parking just 50 feet from the waterfall viewpoint in the summer months may be disappointed to discover the closest parking spot is roughly two miles away in March.

So what’s a wintertime waterfall enthusiast to do? You can still visit Tumalo Falls, but you’ll have to do a little extra hiking. Just stash your car near the gate, grab your snowshoes, and set out on foot. Right now you’ll likely find bare dirt for a couple miles (though watch for icy patches in the shade). Depending on how far you want to go, the snowshoes will come in handy the closer you get to the falls and beyond that. Don’t forget a bottle of water and some snacks, and it’s a good idea to dress in layers, since weather can be unpredictable this time of year.

While it’s a little extra effort, it’s worth the opportunity to see Tumalo Falls with her winter coat and frosty galoshes.  Don’t forget your camera!

For those who’d prefer to wait ‘til the gate re-opens and the parking area near the viewpoint is available once more, check back sometime in mid-May. In the meantime, Smith Rock State Park and the Oregon Badlands Wilderness make for excellent wintertime hiking.

 

Lava Lands Visitor Center & Newberry Crater

Guests eager to do some sightseeing in Bend often head for the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. In the summer months, Lava Lands Visitor Center is teeming with tourists eager to attend a ranger talk, browse the gift shop, catch an educational film, or drive to the top of Lava Butte for scenic views of Central Oregon. When snow starts flying in the fall, those amenities close down so everyone stays safe.

Bend Buzz Blog author, Tawna, with 11-year-old Cedar for Wanderlust Tours' popular Cave Tour.

Now’s a great time of year to book a cave tour with Wanderlust Tours or head out on your own to explore Bend’s Boyd Cave.

While the Lava Lands Visitor Center won’t reopen until May 1, guests can still park outside the visitor center and walk around the lava beds on a self-guided tour. Cars aren’t allowed to drive Lava Butte, but it’s a fun hike to the top on foot.

Lava River Cave is closed this time of year, but if you’re craving a cave outing, consider Bend’s lovely Boyd Cave. Located  off China Hat Road just south of Bend, it’s open to the public all year long. To get there, take Highway 97 south and exit at Knott Road. Hang a left toward China Hat Road and watch for signs. For a truly unforgettable cave outing, head out with Wanderlust Tours. They’re the only outfitter with permits to visit off-limits Skeleton Cave, and their naturalist guides will hook you up with the gear, transportation, and insider info guaranteed to make this an unforgettable experience.

While the Newberry Crater area of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument is mostly closed to vehicles this time of year, you can go here to learn more about areas for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling. If it’s the caldera views you’re after, consider a short trip to Crater Lake National Park. It’s the deepest lake in North America, and it formed when Mount Mazama erupted 7,700 years ago and the resultant crater filled with water. For info on their seasonal closures, go here.

 

Pilot Butte State Park

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

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

While Pilot Butte is open for hiking year-round, the road is closed to vehicles from late fall through mid-April to keep cars off the icy roadway.

Can I be honest and admit this is one seasonal closure I wish would last all year long?

This time of year is a wonderful relief for those who love to hike the wide open roadway without dodging cars. There are two routes to the top of this 500-foot dormant volcano in the middle of town. Either way will earn you spectacular views of the city and a pretty good workout to boot. I walk it at least a couple times a week with my pup, and the trails are always teeming with happy families and trail runners out for a bit of exercise. The views from the top are well worth the hike!

 

Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway

During warmer months, most folks drive to the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway  by hanging a right just past Mt. Bachelor on Century Drive. When winter rolls around, that route closes as the snow piles up and winter recreation lovers seize the opportunity to break out the snowshoes, cross country skis, and snowmobiles.

Don’t want to miss your shot at driving the scenic Cascade Lakes Highway? You don’t have to! You can do a mini-loop on Forest Service Road 45. Just drive like you’re headed to Mt. Bachelor and watch for signs for Sunriver. You’ll hang a left there, and enjoy a lovely scenic loop that will eventually spit you out back on Highway 97 near Sunriver. The whole thing is roughly 50-60 miles from Bend and back.

You’re likely to find dry pavement this time of year, but be mindful of icy roads and unpredictable snowstorms that can make conditions slick or dangerous. Still, it’s a beautiful drive, and a great opportunity to explore a different route than the one you’re used to in the summertime.

Four things I was wrong about in Bend, Oregon

March 20th, 2014

They say it takes a big person to admit when he or she is wrong. Since I’m getting measured for my wedding dress soon, I’m not sure I want anyone labeling me “big.” Nevertheless, I’m ready to confess there are a number of things I’ve been wrong about in my 16+ years living in Bend. Here are four of them.

I WAS WRONG . . .to think canned beer sucks

Blogger Tawna enjoys a can of Sweet As on Elk Lake last summer.

Enjoying my cold can of Sweet As from GoodLife on Elk Lake last summer.

I remember my dad sipping beer out of cans when I was a kid, but my first experience trying it myself was in college. It wasn’t good. Maybe it was the cheap beer, or maybe it was the canning process used back then. Either way, canned beer became stuck in my mind as watery, metallic-tasting liquid I’d prefer to avoid.

Oh, how times have changed. The canned beer craze is booming in the craft beer industry, and it’s a whole new ballgame from what I remember 20 years ago. For starters, the materials have improved, which means that tinny taste in canned beer is a thing of the past. In fact, many brewers will argue the canning process actually preserves the beer’s flavor better than glass bottles do. For starters, cans reduce the amount of oxygen in the vessel and protect the brew from harsh light that can degrade it. Cans are also easier to transport, cutting back on shipping and breakage costs for breweries, and making it easier for recreation-minded Bend vacationers to tuck a few cans in a cooler or backpack.

Worthy Brewing it is crushing it with the canned beer craze.

Worthy Brewing it is crushing it with the canned beer craze.

GoodLife Brewing was the first Bend brewery to jump into the canned beer revolution, and you can now find six-packs of Descender IPA and Sweet As in grocery stores all over Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, including Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Fred Meyer, Albertsons, and smaller, locally-owned shops. The latter is one of my favorite things to pack for a summertime picnic at the lake.

Worthy Brewing began canning its beer in August 2013, just six months after opening. They now sell Worthy IPA, Pale Ale, Easy Day Kolsch, and Lights Out Stout in cans, and you can find six-packs at Safeway, Fred Meyer, Albertsons, and small grocery stores and bottle shops around Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. I can personally attest to the fact that the stout makes an amazing brew to sip beside a winter fire. 10 Barrel Brewing also offers their Pub Beer in cans, though you can only purchase it in one of their pubs.

If you’re not a canned beer convert yet, pick up a six pack of one of those brews and give it a shot. I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

 

I WAS WRONG . . .to grumble about the Old Mill District

The Old Mill District has turned the rundown site of a former sawmill into something truly magnificent.

The Old Mill District has turned the rundown site of a former sawmill into something truly magnificent.

One of the first jobs I had after moving to Bend in 1997 was in an office overlooking a section of the Deschutes River that now houses the Old Mill District. Back then, the area was the vacant site of two former sawmills, and I’d walk the dusty, empty riverbank every day with my dogs. I’ll admit that when I heard about a shopping district moving in, I grumbled along with other locals who worried this private little section of river would be “ruined.”

But instead of stealing it from me, they managed to improve it and make it accessible and beautiful for everyone. I can still stroll the riverbank with my dog, but now I can do it on paved paths leading to amazing restaurants where I dine at outdoor tables with my pooch. I can still enjoy killer mountain views, but now I can do it from my picnic blanket at the Les Schwab Amphitheater while grooving to music from Dave Matthews Band and Jack Johnson. Where I might have hesitated before to drag out-of-town guests through dust and rocks and waist-high weeds, I can now proudly take them to fun festivals, hip restaurants, or a girls’ shopping trip followed by cocktails and an evening of standup paddleboarding.

Now that the Old Mill District has been part of Bend for more than a decade, I can admit they’ve done an outstanding job rescuing and preserving the area, and it’s one of the best things to happen to Bend in my 16+ years here.

 

I WAS WRONG . . .to say that mountain over there is . . . well, whatever I called it

Most Bend residents have a keen ability to gaze out at the mountains and say, “wow, Jefferson got some snow last night,” or “Broken Top is really socked in.”

Learn the names of all the mountains from the handy guide atop Pilot Butte.

Learn the names of all the mountains from the handy guide atop Pilot Butte.

I am not one of those people.

No matter how many times I look out over the Cascade Mountains and urge myself to remember the difference between Mt. Bachelor and South Sister, I will fail. If you stop me on the street and ask me to name the mountains, I might give it my best shot, but there’s a good chance I’ll be wrong.

The one place I’m on safe ground, however, is at the top of Pilot Butte. There, I can study the handy reference guide with arrows pointing to each of the peaks and spelling out their names. If we ever meet atop the Butte, please ask me to name the mountains. It’ll make me feel smart.

And if you struggle with mountain nomenclature yourself, use this as a good excuse to plan your own little hike up Pilot Butte.

 

I WAS WRONG . . .to think $28 is too much for a water bottle

Hydro Flask water bottle – worth every penny.

Hydro Flask water bottle – worth every penny.

For years I watched friends tote their brightly-colored Hydro Flask water bottles and thought, “they’re just being trendy. Why would anyone pay that much for a @#$% water bottle?”

Now that I’ve owned one for more than a year, I’m not only eating my words, but washing them down with perfectly-chilled ice water. I can throw a handful of ice cubes and some water in the morning, and I’ll still have ice water by 10 p.m.  My fiancé uses one for coffee and says it offers the same insulation for hot drinks.

I carry it constantly in my purse and to the gym, and it never sweats or leaks or gunks up my backpack. The Hydro Flask is double-wall insulated, BPA free, and stainless steel. I’m partial to the 21-ouncer we sell at the Bend Visitor Center for $28, but you can get a smaller 18-ounce size for $25, a 40-ouncer for $36, or a 64-ounce growler for $55. Worth every penny, and the ones we sell here have a cool Bend logo.

Six signs spring is on its way to Bend, Oregon

March 13th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Bloom, little buddy, bloom!

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

Open the floodgates!

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

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

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

 

 

 

Who’s ready for Springtacular?

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

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

 

Break out the paddles!

Scenes from the River Rendevous event on the Deschutes River.

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

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

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

 

Daylight savings = more time to play outside!

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

 

Time for a new spring wardrobe?

Shopping in Downtown Bend.

Shopping in Downtown Bend.

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

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

You’ve got excuses? We’ve got responses! There’s no reason not to plan a Bend vacation NOW!

March 7th, 2014

If you’re here on the Bend Buzz Blog, odds are good you fit one of three profiles:

  1. You’re someone who urgently wants to vacation in Bend.
  2. You live in Bend and still feel awestruck and giddy at your geographic good fortune.
  3. You accidentally stumbled upon the Bend Buzz Blog while researching yoga positions for bumblebees.

While I’m delighted you’re all here, it’s the first group I’d like to address here. Hello, friend. Why haven’t you booked that Bend vacation yet?

Ah, I hear you. No, really—I’ve heard the excuse before, which is why I’d like to politely counter some of the most common reasons people just don’t get around to scheduling that vacation to Bend.

Excuse #1:
A winter vacation? But I’m not a skier.

Friend, I hear you. As a fellow non-skier, I understand the reluctance to strap boards to your feet and slide down a mountain. Lucky for us, there are still tons of great reasons to enjoy a winter vacation in Bend.

Ice skating at Seventh Mountain Resort is an excellent winter activity this time of year.

Ice skating at Seventh Mountain Resort is an excellent winter activity this time of year.

Mt. Bachelor has tons of fun non-skier options like the Snowblast Tubing Park and sled dog rides. You can also take a whirl around the ice skating rinks in Sunriver, Redmond, or Seventh Mountain Resort.

Snowshoeing is another fun activity for the non-skier folks who still want to get out and enjoy winter’s bounty. Book a guided trip with Wanderlust Tours to leave the driving, navigation, and gear procurement to the professionals.

Want to avoid the snow entirely? Hey, that’s easy this time of year. Even when the snow piles up in the mountains, you’re likely to see dry land the Bend city limits. Now’s a great time for mountain biking, hiking, or even non-active activities like the Roundabout Art Tour or the Bend Ale Trail.

And when it’s time to warm up after all your winter play, try the saltwater soaking pool at McMenamins or the fire pits scattered throughout town. For more ideas on how to warm up around Bend, go here.

 

Excuse #2:
I can’t afford a vacation right now.

As a cheapskate traveler myself, I feel your pain. While there are plenty of options for luxury hotels and mid-range lodging in Bend, I will confess I’m a low-budget traveler who avoids paying more than $60 a night for a room anywhere.

The "recession buster burrito" from Longboard Louie's, one of many cheap eats you'll find in Bend.

The “recession buster burrito” from Longboard Louie’s, one of many cheap eats you’ll find in Bend.

If you share my cheapskate habits, you’ll find plenty of options for inexpensive lodging in Bend.

One property I’ve had the pleasure of touring is the Rainbow Motel on Franklin Avenue. It’s an older, no-frills sort of place, but the rooms are clean and comfortable, and the location near Downtown Bend can’t be beat. At $49 a night (plus tax) you’ll be able to save your pennies for important things like beer and lift tickets.

You’ll find plenty of other budget- friendly lodging options along Third Street. Motel West is one such property where I stashed my parents for a few nights when they visited in the middle of my home renovation. They didn’t need mountain views from a private balcony or breakfast in bed—they just needed a clean bed in a convenient location, and we found it there for $45 a night (plus tax).

The free app for the Heritage Walking Tour from the Deschutes Historical Society is another fun freebie option.

The free app for the Bend Heritage Walk from the Des Chutes Historical Museum is another fun freebie option.

Now that you’ve got a cheap roof over your head, let’s talk about my favorite subject—food. I’ve blogged several times about finding cheap dining in Bend, but in case you missed those posts, here are your links to finding lunch for $6 or less and cheap eats ranging from free to $3.50.

Looking for more free activities? Here are some extra ideas:

And depending on when you’re visiting, you’ll find season-specific freebie offerings. Snow fans on a budget will appreciate the free turns at Mt. Bachelor on the Carrousel Lift (a beginner lift for skiers or riders). In the summertime, catch free tunes with the Free Summer Sundays concert series, Alive After 5, or Munch & Music.

Watch for no-cost seasonal festivals like Farmers Markets, Summerfest, Saturday Market, Oktoberfest, Fall Festival, and Bite of Bend.

 

Excuse #3:
I’m afraid to drive in the snow.

I’m a fourth generation Oregon who’s lived in Bend 16 years and who went to college in Montana. You’d think I’d be totally comfortable driving in the white stuff, but you’d be mistaken.

Leave the driving to someone else when you catch the bus from Portland to Bend.

Leave the driving to someone else when you catch the bus from Portland to Bend.

Here’s one thing a lot of people don’t realize about Bend: While it’s true Mt. Bachelor has gotten more than 300 inches of snow this season, I’m looking out my window right now at blue skies and dry pavement. It’s easy to drive 20 minutes up the hill to find more snow than you can shake a stick at, but the city proper doesn’t actually get all that much snow. That’s a good thing for those of us who aren’t wild about driving in it.

Of course, you still have to get here. One of the most valuable resources for winter drivers is the TripCheck website from the Oregon Department of Transportation. Use it to map out the best route for your journey, and scan webcams for up-to-the-minute views of which roadways have been recently plowed.

Keep an eye on weather reports, too, and have a little flexibility in your schedule. I’ve been planning a trip to Salem to visit my grandparents, and opted not to do it last weekend when weather reports suggested storm would hit the mountains. By Tuesday this week, the weather guy confirmed snow levels were high again, so I’m making the journey this weekend with little threat of any white stuff.

And if you’d rather leave the driving to someone else, the Central Oregon Breeze offers an inexpensive shuttle service between Portland and Central Oregon.

 

 


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