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How to sync your must-do list with your Bend vacation budget (plus a chance to win a family pass for Oregon Winterfest!)

January 15th, 2015

When you’re planning a winter vacation in Bend, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the “must-do” activities. You simply MUST ski at Mt. Bachelor. You absolutely MUST go shopping in the Old Mill District. You really MUST take the whole family out for a gourmet meal at one of Bend’s best restaurants.

If you’re traveling on a budget, it starts to feel like you MUST take out a second mortgage on your home to afford all that.

I agree a Bend winter vacation should include most of the following activities, and it’s also true there’s usually a good reason the pricier version costs more. That said, here are a few ways you can enjoy variations of some must-do winter activities on a shoestring budget.


Hit the Snowblast Tubing Park at Mt. Bachelor

What’s cool about it?

The Snowblast Tubing Park at Mt. Bachelor is a guaranteed good time.

The Snowblast Tubing Park at Mt. Bachelor is a guaranteed good time.

Mt. Bachelor’s Snowblast Tubing Park is my in-laws’ all-time favorite Bend activity, and no winter visit is complete unless we take the whole family up there for an afternoon of sliding down 800-foot slopes filled with rollers that make your belly flip with glee. With a pull rope that drags you to the top of the hill as you sit comfortably in the massive inner tube they provide, it’s the perfect activity for those who want the joy of sledding, but don’t want to deal with buying sleds or hiking up a slope again and again and again until you’re blue in the face.

As an added bonus, I always feel safe sledding there. Professionals man the top and bottom of the course, and they send people down the lanes in an organized fashion so no one gets squished. Even when the whole family joins hands to slide down together in a big cluster, there’s someone making sure we’re not doing anything sketchy. That’s a big bonus in my book, and generally worth paying $14 for adults or $11 for kids 12 & under to enjoy a two-hour session during non-holiday hours (prices go up for holiday periods or full-day passes).

What if I can’t afford that?

Sledding at Wanoga Sno-Park can be fun, too!

Sledding at Wanoga Sno-Park can be fun, too!

While Mt. Bachelor’s tubing park is a bucket-list item I highly, highly recommend, you don’t have to forego the sledding if you’re pinching pennies.

Just a few miles downhill from Mt. Bachelor is Wanoga Sno Park. For a $5 Sno-Park Permit (which you can purchase at the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava and Oregon) and the cost of a cheap plastic saucer sled (you can find ‘em for around $8 at spots like Dick’s, Big 5 and Home Depot), you’re ready to roll at this family-friendly sledding hill.

Bonus: You’ll get plenty of exercise hiking up the slope at the end of each run, and there’s a nice warming hut at the bottom where you can toast your toes by the fireplace. For more ideas on sledding in Bend, check out this blog post.




Enjoy a guided snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours

What’s cool about it?

Bound through the snow with ease when you head out with Wanderlust Tours.

Bound through the snow with ease when you head out with Wanderlust Tours.

When it comes to natural history and geology, the naturalist guides at Wanderlust Tours are like walking encyclopedias. That’s assuming walking encyclopedias could take you to really cool places like ancient caves and a massive amphitheater hand-carved into the snow.

Wanderlust’s winter tours are the crème-de-la-crème if you’re looking for the best snowshoe outing money can buy. You get all your gear, instruction, and transportation to and from your Bend hotel or vacation rental, plus cocoa (if you’re on a non-boozy daytime tour or one of their family-friendly adventures), local beer (if you’re on one of their Shoes, Brews, & Views tours), or other adult beverages and snacks (if you opt for one of their nighttime outings like Bonfire on the Snow or the Moonlight & Starlight trips).

Snowshoe tours range from $55-$75 per person, depending on your age and adventure of choice. I’ve gone snowshoeing with Wanderlust at least half-a-dozen times, and if money were no object, I would snowshoe with them every single day. Whether you’re a brand-new beginner who wants a bit of hand-holding, or an experienced trekker hoping to discover secret spots for launching yourself off snow-covered boulders into a pillowy sea of powder, an outing with Wanderlust is sure to be the highlight of your Bend winter vacation.

What if I can’t afford that?

Okay, okay . . . I get it. Sometimes a tour like that just isn’t in your budget. You’ve got a couple options here. You can rent a pair of snowshoes on your own and set out for a solo adventure. Local rental shops like Mountain Supply and Powder House can give you tips on where to go.

Snowshoeing at Wanoga Sno-Park with your pup can be fun, too.

Snowshoeing at Wanoga Sno-Park with your pup can be fun, too.

But if a guided snowshoe tour is what you want, drive up to Mt. Bachelor and knock on the door of the U.S. Forest Service shack in the parking lot not far from the main lodge. That’s where they offer free guided snowshoe trips with a Forest Service naturalist.

The good news: They provide snowshoes, instruction, and a pretty awesome 90-minute interpretive tour, where you’ll learn about the winter ecology at Mt. Bachelor, the geology of Central Oregon, the Deschutes National Forest watershed, and the plants and animals found throughout the area. The outing is free, though they accept donations for the Discover Your Forest program.

The not-so-good-news: These tours fill up super-fast, especially around the holidays. You also have to provide your own transportation to and from Mt. Bachelor. But if you’re willing to deal with those inconveniences, this is a pretty cheap way to get a taste of snowshoe adventure.



Go ice skating at Seventh Mountain or Sunriver Resort

What’s cool about it?

The ice rink at Seventh Mountain Resort is a great place to gather with friends and family.

The ice rink at Seventh Mountain Resort is a great place to gather with friends and family.

I’ve had the pleasure of twirling around the ice at both Seventh Mountain Resort and Sunriver Resort.

Okay, “twirling” might be a slight exaggeration. “Sliding awkwardly and falling down a lot” is probably more accurate.

Still, both of those resorts are a great place to do it. The rinks are large and well-maintained, and they offer amenities like private lessons and parties (Seventh Mountain) and a covered rink that stays nice and toasty (Sunriver). There’s also tons of room to move around without crashing into anyone (always a plus for novice skaters like me).

At Sunriver, the fee is $13 for adults or $9 for kids 5-12, and that includes your skate rental (though they’ll knock $3 off if you have your own skates). At Seventh Mountain Resort, you’ll pay $8 for admission and $6 for skate rental (though their weekly “Cheapskate Tuesday” deal gets you $10 admission with skates included all day each Tuesday, excluding holiday weeks).

What if I can’t afford that?

The municipal ice rink in Redmond  can be great fun, too!

The municipal ice rink in Redmond can be great fun, too!

My step-kids looooove ice skating. Me? I feel so-so about it, which is why I’m sometimes hesitant to shell out much money for the experience. My solution? A 15-minute drive to Redmond, where Redmond Parks & Recreation operates a perfectly lovely (albeit, small) ice skating rink.

Fees are $4 per person, which includes your skates (they knock a buck off if you have your own). Taking the whole family? Nab a $12 family pass for up to six people in the same household, and everyone can enjoy a full day of skating for less than the cost of a pizza.

Hours of operation can vary, depending on weather, so if temps are a little warmer, call first to make sure they’re open.



Check out Oregon Winterfest February 13-15

What’s cool about it?

You'll be walkin' in a winter wonderland at this year's Oregon Winterfest.

You’ll be walkin’ in a winter wonderland at this year’s Oregon Winterfest.

Oregon Winterfest is a massive annual celebration of the snowy season, and it happens right here in Bend. There’s live music, a Wine Walk, The Playground Games featuring both ski and snowboard competitions, live music, ice carving, a fire pit competition, live music, motocross with Metal Mulisha, an OMSI kids’ tent, live music, a 5k and 10k race, tasty food and beverages, live music, and more.

Did I mention live music? There’s tons of that, including March Fourth Marching Band (described by the Phoenix New Times as “like Sergeant Pepper leading a freaky Cirque du Soleil performance from the bandstand or European Gypsy camps stumbling upon the rhythms of Brazilian Jungle tribes”). You’ll also have the chance to see platinum-selling artists, Filter, in their only Northwest show on the tour. They’re known for their rough-around-the-edges production, lavish bass lines, and jagged guitars set to a backdrop of drum machines punctuated by the unfurling of Richard Patrick’s vocal prowess and signature roar.

Seriously, Oregon Winterfest is one of those awesome winter events you don’t want to miss. Check out the schedule of events here and plan your Presidents’ Day Weekend trip accordingly. Advance buttons are $6 at OnPoint Community Credit Union, or $8 at the Old Mill District’s Ticket Mill and Newport Avenue Market. They’re $10 at the gate. You can also purchase a family pass at the gate, which includes four all-access buttons for $30. Tickets are also available online through

What if I can’t afford that?

Don't miss the ice sculptures at the 2014 Oregon Winterfest.

Don’t miss the ice sculptures at the 2014 Oregon Winterfest.

How about the chance to WIN a family four-pack of buttons? Free is a pretty budget-friendly price.

Here’s how you enter: Go here and “like” the Oregon Winterfest Facebook page so you’ll have up-to-the-minute updates on what’s happening at the event.

Then leave a comment on this blog post sharing what Oregon Winterfest event or activity you’re most looking forward to this year. Need a roundup of ideas? Go here.

You’ve gotta do both things to make your entry count. We’ll draw a winner at noon on Thursday, January 22 so you have plenty of time to plan your trip.

Now get out there and enjoy the season!



Want an offbeat adventure during your Bend vacation? Tattoo studios, psychics, aerial tours, and more await you!

January 9th, 2015
My rib art, courtesy of  Aaron Borden at Monolith Tattoo.

My rib art, courtesy of Aaron  at Monolith Tattoo.

Sure, most folks plan a Bend vacation to enjoy popular activities like hiking, biking, skiing, or sipping suds on the Bend Ale Trail. While I encourage you to do every single one of those things (though not necessarily in that order) why not leave room in the agenda for some of Bend’s less common attractions?

Here are just a few to put on your bucket list.

Get tattooed

While permanently inking your body isn’t something you want to do on a whim, visitors already considering some new body art might appreciate the significance of getting a tattoo to commemorate a Bend vacation.

My husband's forearm art, courtesy of Jace at Eternal Body Art.

My husband’s forearm art, courtesy of Jace at Eternal Body Art.

Bend has an abundance of top-notch tattoo studios to pick from, with award-winning artists eager to give you a souvenir you’ll always remember. My personal fave is Monolith Tattoo Studio, which has been named Bend’s best tattoo studio three years in a row by readers of The Source Weekly. They have seven different artists offering distinctive styles and experience, and they’re always willing to do custom designs. Appointments can book up fast, though you can sometimes spot last-minute openings on their Facebook page. Either way, it’s wise to plan ahead if you think you might want some vacation ink.

Another small but worthy studio is Eternal Body Art. For years, my hubby wanted a design of a domestic cat done in a Pacific Northwest tribal style. He shared his vision with Jace, who drew up an incredibly unique design that looked terrific when it was inked into the flesh of my beloved’s forearm.

One more studio worth noting is Mum’s Tattoos. Angela has been tattooing for nearly two decades, and she’s a favorite among many locals (particularly those who fancy a female artist and studio owner). She did a nice piece on the back of my neck several months ago, and I had good luck getting a last-minute appointment during slower winter months.


See a psychic

Whether you’re a staunch believer in all things paranormal, or just someone with a mild curiosity, a visit to a professional psychic, oracle, or other intuitive professional is one of those bucket list items you kinda ought to try at least once. Why not give it a shot while you’re in Bend?

Bend's Cosmic Depot is a great spot to delve into a more offbeat side of Bend.

Bend’s Cosmic Depot is a great spot to delve into a more offbeat side of Bend.

Kaira Sherman of Divine Guidance offers services ranging from tarot card readings to spiritual guidance since 1998. I had the pleasure of doing a short reading with her several years ago at a street fair in Downtown Bend, and I was amazed by her insights and professionalism. She does readings in her local studio or by phone, and even teaches regular classes on tarot and intuitive development.

Brenden Avery Butler is another local intuitive offering readings I can pretty much guarantee will blow your mind. I’ve visited him on two occasions, and also have several friends who’ve walked away from a reading marveling at the depth of insight he offered. (Common refrain: “Seriously, there’s NO WAY he could have known that stuff about me – I’ve never told anyone!”) Aside from the mind-blowing aspect, it can bee a good way to gain insight into a troublesome issue, untie knots, overcome an obstacle, heal, or grow in some fashion. Not a bad way to spend some vacation time, eh?

Brenden does readings by donation, and you can get in touch by phone (541-771-8447), email (, or telepathy (I’ll leave that one up to you).

When summer rolls around, the Cosmic Depot holds weekly events on the sprawling lawn outside their shop. There, you’ll find an array of tarot card readers, Reiki practitioners, astrology experts, and more, offering services in exchange for donations to the local food bank. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for details and dates, or stop by the shop to browse their awesome selection jewelry, tapestries, incense, candles, stones, essential oils, legal herbal smoking pipes, and more.


Get airborne

You may have glimpsed Bend from above by hiking Pilot Butte, but you haven’t truly seen an aerial view of our fair city until you’ve done a scenic aerial flight.

How's this for a once-in-a-lifetime experience? The folks at Airborne Outback Adventures can hook you up with a tour!

How’s this for a once-in-a-lifetime experience? The folks at Airborne Outback Adventures can hook you up with a tour!

Several companies offer tours and discovery flights departing the Bend airport by helicopter or small plane, including Professional Air and Leading Edge Aviation. There are even options that allow you to co-pilot the plane with help from an instructor.

For a super-unique experience, head to the Redmond airport for a tour with Big Sky Balloon Company. They do scenic balloon flights in a hand-painted balloon.

If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie, book a jump with Central Oregon Skydiving, or check out the ultralight flying options from the folks at Airborne Outback Adventures.

For a list of all the tour operators and options, visit our Aerial Tours page on the Visit Bend website.

Oh, and if you’re craving a flight experience, but prefer to keep your feet on solid ground, check out the North Star Flight Lab to try a hydraulic flight simulator that’s amazingly realistic and accurate.


Swill beer at a museum

Vintage beer cans are part of the display at the High Desert Museum's new craft beer exhibit.

Vintage beer cans are part of the display at the High Desert Museum’s new craft beer exhibit.

The High Desert Museum is always on my list of recommended spots for visitors, whether they’re fond of natural history and culture, or fans of critters like porcupines, otters, badgers, birds of prey, and a bobcat.

But from January 16 through Memorial Day Weekend 2015, there’s an extra incentive to stop by for everyone with an interest in Bend’s craft beer scene. The new exhibit titled, “Brewing Culture: The Craft of Beer” opens January 16 with an exhibit preview party at 6:30 p.m. that will feature live music, kids’ activities, a panel discussion, and tastings from ten local breweries. Go here to buy tickets and RSVP (which is kinda mandatory, since it’s likely to sell out).

Even if you miss the opening event, the exhibit itself is worth checking out while you’re in Bend. Conceived and designed by the High Desert Museum curatorial staff, it will present the history of brewing, the ingredients used in craft beers, the process of brewing, and the culture of the craft brewing industry. Go here to learn more.


Sample from a hodge-podge of other ideas

Still looking for unique things to try while you’re in Bend? Here are a few more ideas:

  • Maverick’s Country Bar & Grill offers regular line dancing, dance lessons, and live music. Check out their Facebook page for up-to-the-minute schedules and info.

    The free app for the Heritage Walking Tour from the Deschutes Historical Society is a great way to scope out the history around Downtown Bend.

    The free app for the Heritage Walking Tour from the Deschutes Historical Society is a great way to scope out the history around Downtown Bend.

  • History buffs will love downloading a free app to enjoy The Heritage Walk history audio tour of Downtown Bend. It’s offered by the Des Chutes Historical Museum, and you can read all about it here.
  • Want to watch chicks on roller skates shoving each other around? Check the schedule for the Lava City Roller Dolls, and enjoy a fun evening of roller derby action.
  • The Well Traveled Fork offers a variety of cooking classes and tours to add some culinary spice to your Bend adventure.


And don’t forget, the Visit Bend Event Calendar is packed full of unique activities ranging from concerts to organized hikes to educational presentations.

Now get out there and do something fun.

What’s happening in Bend for Christmas 2014? Tons!

December 23rd, 2014

Whether you’re a frequent Bend tourist, a dreamer planning your first Bend vacation, or a resident who pops in regularly to remind yourself why it’s so awesome to be here, there’s a web page you really need to bookmark. Ready?

This is the link for the Visit Bend event calendar.

It is hands-down the most comprehensive assembly of what’s going on around Central Oregon – every holiday and Christmas happening you can think of! You can search by date or by the type of activity you’re seeking, and it’s an invaluable resource for anyone seeking fun holiday events and activities.

Don't miss Santa on the Slopes this Thursday at Mt. Bachelor.

Don’t miss Santa on the Slopes this Thursday at Mt. Bachelor.

I perused that handy resource this morning to pick out a sampling of some of the best things happening around Bend this holiday season. Here are a few highlights of things to do:


Make it a white Christmas

One of the best things about being in Bend for the holidays is that you’re pretty much guaranteed a white Christmas. True, it may not snow in town (though current weather predictions show a strong chance of snow on Christmas Eve, followed by low temps that would make the snow stick around for the next couple days).

But even if there’s no snow in the city, you just have to drive 20 minutes to Mt. Bachelor to find plenty of the white stuff. There, you’ll discover endless skiing, snowboarding, tubing, Nordic skiing, and sled dog rides. The big guy in red will even be there on Christmas Day for the annual Santa on the Slopes festivities, so make sure you check that out.

If snowshoeing is more your speed, get in touch with the folks at Wanderlust Tours to learn more about their daytime outings, moonlight tours, and their kid-friendly “Family Rumpus” snowshoe trips.


OK, but what if I don’t like snow?

An electric bike tour with Let it Ride is a great way to see the sights in Bend.

An electric bike tour with Let it Ride is a great way to see the sights in Bend.

Hey, I get it. While plenty of people flock to Bend in search of a classic winter vacation, there are others who aren’t huge fans of the white stuff.

Here’s the beauty of a winter vacation in Bend: While Mt. Bachelor gets an average of 462 inches of snow each season, the city of Bend averages only 23.8 inches. Credit the marvel of elevation gain for that one, but what it means for you is that it’s possible to appease the snow-loving and snow-hating members of your family with a single trip.

Hiking is a popular pastime all year long in Bend. My favorite wintertime hikes are Pilot Butte (offering killer views of the city) and the Oregon Badlands Wilderness for its rugged beauty and unique volcanic landscapes.

A hike up Pilot Butte should be on your list of must-do activities when you're in Bend.

A hike up Pilot Butte should be on your list of must-do activities when you’re in Bend.

Organized tours are another great way to get to know Bend. The Bend Tour Company has a variety of offerings ranging from Segway tours to guided explorations of Bend’s unique public art collection. Let it Ride Electric Bikes offers another unique way to see the city with the option to pedal or let the motor do the work.

If you’re curious about Bend’s culinary scene, try a tour with The Well Traveled Fork. They offer walking tours around town, or outings like the Farm and Ranch Tour giving you an up-close-and-personal look at farming and ranching in Central Oregon.

I mentioned before that Wanderlust Tours has great snowshoe adventures, but they’ve also got plenty of non-snowy tours offering cave exploration and a chance to check out the Bend Ale Trail or the city’s breweries, distilleries, cideries, and wineries (ask about the Bend Brew Bus or the Local Pour Tour, respectively).

Dining and shopping in the Old Mill District is a great way to spend some time in Bend.

Dining and shopping in the Old Mill District is a great way to spend some time in Bend.


Let’s Eat!

Bend has been lauded for its amazing food and the diversity of its culinary scene, so a winter vacation is a great time to sample from Bend’s best restaurants.

Finding holiday grub is important when you don’t feel like cooking on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Go here to find a roundup of which restaurants are open and what they’re serving for the holidays.

Many places require reservations, so make sure you call first to check on availability.


Shop ‘til you drop

Whether you’re scrambling for a last-minute gift, or looking to score some deals at post-holiday sales, you’ll find oodles of great shopping in Bend.

In the Old Mill District, Santa will be seeing kids at Santaland until 5 p.m. on Dec. 23, so you’ve still got time to tell the big guy what you want. Even if you miss Santa, you’ve still got time to enjoy a ride from Cowboy Carriage. Check out the Old Mill’s holiday happenings page for schedules and info.

Historic Downtown Bend is another terrific shopping district if you’re looking to score souvenirs or dine in some of Bend’s award-winning restaurants. Be sure to stroll adjacent Drake Park while you’re there, and snap a few photos of one of Bend’s scenic crown jewels.

For more ideas on shopping in Bend, go here.


Five Christmas gifts you should buy me (and, uh, everyone else you love) BONUS: Win a $50 gift card from Oregon Body & Bath!

December 18th, 2014

Admittedly, there’s a chance I’m not on your holiday gift-buying list.

It’s okay, I’m not hurt. Much.

But I do think there are a number of items on my Christmas list that would make cool gifts for all the people you love more than me. To prove I’m not bitter, here are five awesome holiday gifts you can find for your loved ones right here in Bend.


Hydro Flask – the best water bottle you'll ever own. Seriously.

Hydro Flask – the best water bottle you’ll ever own. Seriously.

A Hydro Flask

I probably sound like a broken record, because I know I’ve mentioned this Bend-made product on the blog before. If you’ve never had a Hydro Flask, you might be raising an eyebrow and thinking “why would I pay that much for a freakin’ water bottle?”

This is no ordinary water bottle. Through some magical form of engineering I’m convinced involves fairies, this thing will keep ice water at the right temperature for 24 hours or more. It does the same for hot beverages, according to my husband who uses one for his coffee each morning.

Since our household already has a flip-top 18-ounce one for hot drinks ($24 in the Bend Visitor Center) and the screw-top 21-ouncer I keep in my purse to help me stay hydrated ($28), I’d kinda like either the 40-ounce one for longer hikes ($36), or the 64-ounce growler for beer runs ($58). They come in tons of different colors, and I’ll go ahead and let you pick which one to give me. I like surprises.


A Bamboo robe from Oregon Body & Bath

The Bamboo Dreams nightie I already own, paired with the robe I really want for Christmas.

The Bamboo Dreams nightie I already own, paired with the robe I really want for Christmas.

I discovered Yala Bamboo Dreams sleepwear a few months ago when I wandered into Oregon Body & Bath on a sweltering summer afternoon. I saw a rack of simple, lovely nighties crafted from bamboo, and I read the tag that described them as breathable, temperature-regulating, moisture wicking, and antimicrobial. Sold!

What I’ve discovered in the five months since then is that Bamboo Dreams sleepwear is the softest, comfiest, most luxurious sleepwear I’ve ever owned, putting my stash of Victoria’s Secret to shame. They’re perfect for summer or winter, since they’re breathable, beautiful, and make you feel sexy to boot. How many garments do that?

Oregon Body & Bath is the only place in Bend that carries Yala Bamboo Dreams Sleepwear, so that’s where you need to go to buy my gift (not to mention some great stocking stuffers like made-in-Bend soaps and lotions). Since I already own the Cleo Gown nightie, I’d love to own one of their shorty robes. There are two styles to choose from—one with longer sleeves and a detachable tie, and one with shorter, blousier sleeves and an attached tie. I think I’m partial to the one with longer sleeves, but I’ll be delighted with either one you want to buy for me. What do you think, blue? No, maybe the deep purple. Wait, the peachy-pink is pretty, too. Or maybe the black one?

No matter, they can have any size or color at the shop within two days, so go ahead and peruse. Oh, and they offer free gift wrapping to make life easier for you. I’d like the gold ribbon on the leopard print paper, please.

BONUS: Oregon Body & Bath is giving away a $50 gift card to one lucky blog reader. Just comment on this blog post sharing what YOU hope to see in your stocking this year. We’ll draw a winner on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at noon!


Something sparkly and pretty

Lovely Hangr earrings made from recycled skateboards. Find 'em at Rescue Moderne Consignment.

Lovely Hangr earrings made from recycled skateboards. Find ‘em at Rescue Moderne Consignment.

At the risk of perpetuating stereotypes, let me go ahead and put this out there: I am a girl, and I like sparkly things. I’m not saying I need ten-carat diamond earrings in my stocking, but a meaningful piece of jewelry is one of my favorite things to get for Christmas.

Assuming there’s someone in your life who feels the same, you’re in luck when it comes to finding awesome jewelry made right here in Bend. The Feather’s Edge in Downtown Bend carries a beautiful array of jewelry made by Bend artist McKenzie Mendel. Her necklaces, earrings, and rings are handmade with hammered sterling silver and a thin layer of high-carat gold on the surface, lending each piece a unique, mixed-metal feel. Prices range from about $65-$85, and The Feather’s Edge is the only shop in Bend where you can find it.

A few blocks away, Clutch: A Handbag Boutique is the only local shop carrying EML Sparklies made by Bend artist Erin Latham. Her super-unique creations use semi-precious stones and make awesome statement pieces for a woman looking for a one-of-a-kind bling. Prices range from $3 for adorable hair pins to $45 for necklaces and some of the more intricate earrings.

So many sparkly pretties made by McKenzie Mendel and sold at The Feather's Edge.

So many sparkly pretties made by McKenzie Mendel and sold at The Feather’s Edge.

You’ll find tons of great locally made jewelry at Rescue Moderne Consignment. My personal fave is Hangr, an array of jewelry made from recycled skateboards. As an added bonus, this is one of the best consignment shops in town, so stay awhile and browse for gently-used designer clothes and shoes.

If your tastes trend toward higher-end jewelry, hit Karen Bandy Design, John Paul Designs, or Douglas Fine Jewelry Design in Downtown Bend, or head for the Old Mill District to check out Saxons Fine Jewelers.

Speaking of the Old Mill District, you’ll encounter the Old Ironworks Art District as you head that way from Downtown. Stop and shop for a while, browsing unique jewelry from Stuarts of Bend (touted as “Bend’s least normal jewelry) and an array of other designers with pieces at The Workhouse.

Once you’re in the Old Mill District, head for Nashelle, one of Bend’s best-known creators of unique jewelry. Their designs have been featured in oodles of splashy fashion magazines, and their personalized charm necklaces make one of the most unique gifts you can give. Even better? Their Shop for a Cause program gives you a chance to support some pretty awesome charities with your purchases.


Experiences, not things

There’s been a trend in gift-giving in recent years prompting people to give “experiences,” rather than things. I’m a big fan of this movement, mostly because I don’t need more clutter in my house.

Blogger Tawna (center) enjoying a Segway tour from The Bend Tour Company.

Blogger Tawna (center) enjoying a Segway tour from The Bend Tour Company.

Luckily, there’s no shortage of awesome experiences to be had in Bend. Give a gift certificate for Wanderlust Tours and let your loved one choose from caving, snowshoeing, canoeing, and tons more terrific ways to explore the Central Oregon outdoors.

For several years running, my hubby has gotten me a voucher for the two of us to enjoy a cooking class together from The Well Traveled Fork. It’s a fabulous bonding experience, not to mention a great way to pick up new culinary skills and recipes. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, they also offer a variety of tours, plus their new Mountain Menu (an easy way to get fresh, locally-made food to take with you on your winter outing).

The Bend Tour Company is another terrific company offering a variety of unique tours, ranging from the Art Safari (a chance to see Bend’s art scene up close and personal) to Segway tours. If cruising around Bend on an electric bike sounds like a fun way to see the town, consider a gift certificate for Let It Ride.

To peruse a more extensive lineup of local tour offerings ranging from fly fishing to mountain biking, go here.


Can’t decide? Grab Old Mill Bucks or Downtown Dollars!

DowntownDollarsOldMillBucksWant to let me choose my own gift, but think cash is too impersonal? Hey, thank you! I also applaud your effort to keep the spending local by giving me Downtown Dollars or Old Mill Bucks.

Just as the names imply, those are gift cards that can be used in either Old Mill District or Downtown Bend. They spend the same as cash at restaurants and boutiques in those areas, and you can purchase them right here in the Bend Visitor Center.

I’ll take a few of each, okay?

DON’T FORGET! Comment on this post for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Oregon Body & Bath. Just share what YOU hope to see in your stocking this year. We’ll draw a winner on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at noon!


Wouldn’t a Bend Oregon photo look great on your living room wall?

December 11th, 2014

If you’re one of the 110,000+ people following Visit Bend’s Facebook page, you’re already familiar with the backbone of our social media: photography! Hundreds and hundreds of breathtaking photos captured by talented photographers out enjoying Bend’s scenic beauty and taking their cameras along for the ride.

Page fans ask us regularly how to purchase prints and postcards of the images they see on our page, and while we always link to the Bend Oregon photographers‘ Facebook pages or websites, how about we make this easy for you?

Here’s a roundup of nine photographers whose images have racked up the highest number of likes, comments, and shares on our Facebook page in recent months. Like what you see? With the holidays approaching, now’s the perfect time to pick up a pack of Bend Oregon photo greeting cards or a framed print for that special someone!


Photographer Jason Brownlee.

Photographer Jason Brownlee.

Jason Brownlee

Where can we find you online?

What are your most popular photo items for sale?
Up until this fall it was my limited edition prints, but over the last couple months, my new 2015 calendar has rapidly become my most popular (and affordable) item I offer.

One of Jason Brownlee's most popular photos.

One of Jason Brownlee’s most popular photos.

Favorite places and subjects to photograph around Bend?
I love to shoot all kinds of different subjects to keep my skills fresh, with my favorites being any shoot in the outdoors.

What’s the best thing about being in Bend?
The area’s diversity in landscape and terrain, and the plethora of outdoor activities available here.



Photographer Majeed Badizadegan

Photographer Majeed Badizadegan

Majeed Badizadegan

Where can we find you online?

What are your most popular photo items for sale?
​Lately, a hot seller of mine has been Redwood Grove. This shot has sold over 6 times in the past couple months, and every buyer has bought it between 3 and 4 feet wide! ​Since July 4, 2014, when Light from Within was taken, I’ve sold about two prints per month on various mediums and sizes!

One of Majeed Badizadegan's most popular photos.

One of Majeed Badizadegan’s most popular photos.

Favorite places and subjects to photograph around Bend?
​Bend is my favorite area in Oregon to photograph. I love Sparks Lake, Smith Rock, the Painted Hills, ​Crater Lake, Proxy Falls… The list goes on and on.

What’s the best thing about being in Bend?
​The best thing about being in Bend is the convenient access to all the amazing beauty.  If you love the outdoors, there are really not many places that compare to the Bend area.




Photographer Glen Thuncher

Photographer Glen Thuncher

Glen Thuncher

Where can we find you online?

What are your most popular photo items for sale?
All my photos are available for sale in different sizes and formats, including metal prints and standard photo prints.

One of Glen Thuncher's most popular photos.

One of Glen Thuncher’s most popular photos.

Favorite places and subjects to photograph around Bend?
Sparks Lake is my muse, and I long for her during those long cold winter months when the Cascade Highway is closed and access denied. I feel the same way about the Deschutes River (all of it!)

What’s the best thing about being in Bend?
First and foremost, the awe-inspiring natural beauty that surrounds Bend makes it the best place to live in America. The town itself is hip, cool, and vibrant – and it’s the perfect place to raise a family, run a business, and live a healthy life.



Photographer Pete Alport

Photographer Pete Alport

Pete Alport

Where can we find you online?

One of Pete Alport's most popular photos.

One of Pete Alport’s most popular photos.

What are your most popular photo items for sale?
My most popular photos items for sale are scenic and sports action photography based out of Oregon.

Favorite places and subjects to photograph around Bend?
There is no particular favorite spot to shoot; I love shooting in Drake Park all the way to the Three Sisters Wilderness.

What’s the best thing about being in Bend?




Photographer Malcolm Lowery

Photographer Malcolm Lowery

Malcolm Lowery

Where can we find you online?

One of Malcolm Lowery's most popular photos.

One of Malcolm Lowery’s most popular photos.

What are your most popular photo items for sale?
Landscape images of Central Oregon.

Favorite places and subjects to photograph around Bend?
Anywhere in Central Oregon early in the morning as nature is waking up. I love the peace and quiet.

What’s the best thing about being in Bend?
The amazing variety of scenery within minutes of Bend that changes with every season.




Photographer Kathy Lowery.

Photographer Kathy Lowery.

Kathy Lowery

Where can we find you online?

What are your most popular photo items for sale?
Outdoor senior portraits are my specialty.

One of Kathy Lowery's most popular photos.

One of Kathy Lowery’s most popular photos.

Favorite places and subjects to photograph around Bend?
I love photographing the beauty in Bend, the nature, our unique city, and the people.  The Sisters Mountains, Sparks Lake, and the Deschutes River are some of my favorite subjects.

What’s the best thing about being in Bend?
Everything!  I am so thankful to live in such a wonderful city that has so much to offer.  I never get tired of the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets we get to enjoy here.




Photographer James Dustin Parsons

Photographer James Dustin Parsons

James Parsons of Extreme Oregon

Where can we find you online?

What are your most popular photo items for sale?
My most popular photo items for sale are canvas and paper prints.

One of James Dustin Parsons' most popular photos.

One of James Dustin Parsons’ most popular photos.

Favorite places and subjects to photograph around Bend?
My favorite places to photograph around Bend are from Tumalo Mountain because the views are world class for a fairly short hike, and Sparks Lake.

What’s the best thing about being in Bend?
The best thing about being in Bend is the access to so many natural wonders in a very short distance, no doubt.




Photographer Jeffrey Murray

Photographer Jeffrey Murray

Jeffrey Murray

Where can we find you online?

What are your most popular photo items for sale?

Limited edition fine art prints on metal of Central Oregon Landscapes (many of which can be viewed and purchased in person in my gallery on Minnesota Avenue in Downtown Bend).

One of Jeffrey Murray's most popular photos.

One of Jeffrey Murray’s most popular photos.

Favorite places and subjects to photograph around Bend?
The country roads east of town, specifically off of McGrath Road.  Ever since a young age, I have always been interested in old ranching equipment and the ranching culture.  East of Bend there are endless opportunities for old machinery, fence lines, and barns.  Because the landscape is rather flat and featureless, I find that area provides great light that travels long distances, giving me the amazing sunrise and sunset colors I search for while shooting.

What’s the best thing about being in Bend?
Bend provides the vast landscape and impressive scenery I have always been drawn to as a photographer and outdoor enthusiast. The combination of the surrounding High Desert and Cascade Range is amazing. Not to mention the weather and the skiing!  There is always a weather system on the horizon that is great for photographing, whether it’s pouring rain, snow, freezing fog, or simply dense clouds.  Because of the desert to our east, our sunrise light is particularly superb, and what better way to top off an early morning shoot than heading to Mt. Bachelor to make some turns.


Photographer Skyler Hughes.

Photographer Skyler Hughes.

Skyler Hughes

Where can we find you online?

What are your most popular photo items for sale?
Currently my most popular item is 20×30 metal prints. Metal prints come ready to hang on the wall, with no frame needed. I offer a variety of sizes, and people can contact me through my website with any questions.

One of Skyler Hughes' most popular photos.

One of Skyler Hughes’ most popular photos.

Favorite places and subjects to photograph around Bend?
The landscapes of Central Oregon is the reason why I live here. There is an endless opportunity for photography, not to mention the seasons always changing. From autumn to winter, the mountains, waterfalls, and trees are always changing.

What’s the best thing about being in Bend?
Other than landscapes, the people of Bend is the best thing. A supportive community that really appreciates art. From First Friday to Last Saturday there is a wide variety of art, not only photography.

5 ways to rock your winter vacation in Bend

December 4th, 2014

If you’re a fan of skiing and snowboarding, odds are good you’re already aware that Bend, Oregon, makes a killer place for a winter getaway.

But whether or not you love strapping slippery boards to your feet and sliding down an incline, Bend still offers a dizzyingly diverse array of activities to enjoy during the snow-packed months of winter. Here are five winter vacation ideas you can get the most from your vacation in Bend.


Do the ever lovin’ heck out of Mt. Bachelor

Carving some turns at Mt. Bachelor is just the beginning of your winter vacation in Bend.

Carving some turns at Mt. Bachelor is just the beginning of your winter vacation in Bend.

First things first: Mt. Bachelor has the highest skiable elevation in all of Oregon and Washington, and it’s one of the largest single-mountain resorts in the country. The fact that it’s a dormant volcano gives you the rare opportunity to ride 360-degrees off the summit, and with an average snowfall of 462 inches, there’s plenty of white stuff to go around.

Like to ski and snowboard? They’ve got 3,700 acres of lift-accessible terrain ranging from beginner slopes to terrain parks to treed slopes with pillowy caches of powder. And unlike a lot of resorts around the country, Mt. Bachelor makes sure you spend a lot more time on the slopes than you do standing in lift lines.

If Nordic skiing is more your speed, Bachelor has the longest groomed Nordic season in North America, with trails open from mid-November to late-May. More than a dozen trails sweep over 56km of forest, and the area is machine-groomed and track-set every night.

Craving something a little outside-the-box from your Mt. Bachelor experience? Try a sled dog ride with Oregon Trail of Dreams, or grab the whole family for an afternoon of sledding fun on the Snowblast Tubing Park.


Biking in wintertime?

Rent a fat bike from Hub Cyclery and cruise through snowbanks on two weeks.

Rent a fat bike from Hub Cyclery and cruise through snowbanks on two weeks.

When I explain the basics of a Bend winter vacation to journalists who’ve never been here, one thing that consistently blows their minds is the idea that you can ski powder all morning, then drive 20 minutes down the hill and spend your afternoon mountain biking on 277 miles of sweeping singletrack.

That’s the beauty of this area. While Bachelor might get the aforementioned 462 inches of snow each season, the city of Bend averages only 23.8 inches. You can credit the magic of elevation gain and the high desert climate for that little miracle.

If you’ve got your mountain bike loaded on your car already, check out Visit Bend’s mountain biking guide to learn everything you need to know to have a blast when you’re out riding. Prefer to hit the trails in the company of a seasoned tour guide who can hook you up with all the equipment you need? Book a full-day or half-day adventure with Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours.

If you just can’t get enough snow, you’ll be fired up about the latest cycling craze. Fat bikes have oversized tires designed to cruise through the snow. You can rent one from Hub Cyclery in Downtown Bend, then stick around and enjoy a free beer from their in-house tap while you chat up the staff about which trails to hit.


Now it’s time for some suds

You’ve played hard in the great outdoors, so you’ve earned the right to reward yourself with some delicious craft beer along the Bend Ale Trail.

Boneyard Beer is one of many fantastic stops along the Bend Ale Trail.

Boneyard Beer is one of many fantastic stops along the Bend Ale Trail.

Pick up your passport at the Bend Visitor Center or any of the 14 breweries that are part of the program. Then sip your way from brewery to brewery gathering passport stamps and sampling hoppy IPAs, malty porters, and unique seasonal selections you’ll only find in the pubs.

For tips on making the most of your Bend Ale Trail adventure, check out this post!


Soak up some arts and culture

Now that you’re nice and relaxed, it’s time to scope out Bend’s unique arts and culture scene. If you’re in town at the beginning of the month, don’t miss First Friday Art Walk and the awesome opportunity to browse shops in Downtown Bend while enjoying music, art, wine, nibbles, and the chance to chat with artists about their work.

Soak up some arts and culture at Bend's iconic Tower Theatre.

Soak up some arts and culture at Bend’s iconic Tower Theatre.

If you want to catch a show, the historic Tower Theatre is a great place to start, or check out the kitschy-cool Tin Pan Theater. While you’re there, stroll around Downtown Bend checking out the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection for a look at one of Bend’s most unique assortments of outdoor art. Want more? Swing by the Bend Visitor Center to grab a passport for the Roundabout Art Route, then set out on a mission to see an exciting array of sculptures in the center of Bend’s traffic circles. If you’d prefer to leave the driving to someone else, call Bend Tour Company and book their popular Bend Art Safari tour.

If you’ve got a hankering for some Bend history, check out the Des Chutes Historical Museum, or visit the High Desert Museum for Central Oregon’s coolest collection of natural history exhibits and animals.

You'll experience a whole new realm of snow play when you head out for an adventure with Wanderlust Tours.

You’ll experience a whole new realm of snow play when you head out for an adventure with Wanderlust Tours.

If music is your passion, don’t miss the Jazz at the Oxford series at Bends super swanky Oxford Hotel, or see what Opera Bend has going on during the time of your visit.


Snow play without slipping and sliding

Ready to get back to the snow now? Try snow play of a different sort when you book a snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours.

Choose from daytime outings with your kids in tow, or opt for the Shoes, Brews & Views tour featuring an array of local beer from breweries along the Bend Ale Trail. If you’re more of a night owl (or just want the experience of seeing the snowy landscape under sparkling stars) try one of their Moonlight or Starlight Snowshoe Tours, where you’ll trek to an amphitheater carved into the snow.

Your snowshoe outings with Wanderlust include all gear, transportation, refreshments, and the most engaging, entertaining, and educated naturalist guides in the biz.


Avlis Leumas is the new featured artist for Visit Bend’s Pillars of Art program

November 25th, 2014

2014-november-avlis-finished-pillars-of-art-1SMALLAt the Bend Visitor Center, we not only allow people to draw on the walls—we encourage it!

Every six months, Visit Bend chooses one local artist to create unique chalk drawings on the cement pillars in the Visitor Center lobby. The artist also has his or her framed work displayed and sold in the Visitor Center for the duration of his or her show. It’s part of the Pillars of Art program, which was created to introduce tourists to Bend’s unique arts and culture scene, and to support emerging local artists.

The newest Pillars of Art creator is Avlis Leumas. For his Pillars of Art installment, Avlis crafted a delightful collection of superheroes depicted in fr2014-September-Pillars-Avlis-32 SMALLont of Central Oregon landmarks and landscapes. This brightly-colored exhibit is proving particularly popular with young children.

You can see his work at the Bend Visitor Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also drop by after 5 p.m. during First Friday Art Walk on December 5 when the Visitor Center will be open late.

We caught up with Avlis recently and asked a few questions about his art, his life, and everything in between. Here’s what he shared with us:

Visit Bend: Where did you grow up, and how did you end up in Bend?

Avlis: I grew up in the Bay Area and spent 30 years there before leaving for Bend. When I was a child, my family would spend weekends working on a home near Lake Tahoe. The plan was to eventually move there, but my father passed away when I was in eighth grade and things changed. I always envisioned going back to the mountains; we found Bend in 2004 and put an offer on a home the second day we were here.

Visit Bend: Tell us about your artistic training.

Avlis: Nothing formal—a couple art classes in the two high schools I attended. Other than that, I grew up co2014-november-avlis-finished-pillars-of-art-10SMALLllecting comic books because the art was fascinating, dynamic, and told a story. I tried for years to emulate that style and finally gave up on art my junior year of high school to play bass in a band. It was a better fit for me at the time.

Visit Bend: How would you describe your artistic style?

Avlis: I don’t know, perhaps comic-pop art. I like hard, defined lines that create movement. It took a long time to figure out how to bring movement into a piece and not have it look stiff or rigid. Once you understand that approach, it’s hard to define what it is, but you know it is happening because it comes out effortlessly.

Visit Bend: What’s your favorite medium?

Avlis: I love pencil sketches over anything because they show that intangible place where imagination and intuition sync up with creative expression. It’s a map of connection with our highest consciousness; it’s creativity’s dwelling place coming into manifestation in its most raw form.

Visit Bend: Who are your artistic influences?

Avlis: Da Vinci, Van Gough, Tim Vigil, Mike Deodato, and Bernie Wrightson. Local influences and loves a2014-September-Pillars-Avlis-25 SMALLre: Alex Reisfar, Sheila Dunn, Meghan McGuiness, and Kaycee Anseth.

Visit Bend:  What do you like best about living in Bend, and how does it influence your artistic style?

Avlis: Freedom from chaos. I felt this every day during my final years in the Bay Area. It feels timeless here; almost like I moved to Neverland. I’m not sure how it influences my artistic style, but it did cause me to pick up the pencil again after almost 20 years. I can say I love the art community and how much everyone supports each other’s work.

Visit Bend:  What do you enjoy doing in Bend when you’re not creating art?

Avlis: I have been an instructor at COCC for almost seven years and love it so much. When I’m not there, I love being with my wife and son—we spend time with friends/family, but just being out in Bend. It’s nice to leave Central Oregon too, but you know you’re in the right place when it feels good to be home each time.

Visit Bend:  What’s your impression of the Bend art scene, and how do you think the Pillars of Art program fits with that?2014-november-avlis-finished-pillars-of-art-2SMALL

Avlis: The Bend art scene is incredible! There is so much talent in this little city and everyone’s style is so different. I think the pillars are great because the medium of chalk and the confined canvas of a pillar forces the creative process to manifest in a very different way than the artist is used to—it’s brilliant!


DON’T FORGET! Stop by the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava and Oregon in Downtown Bend to check out this great collection of artwork by Alvis. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also drop by during First Friday Art Walk after 5 p.m. on Friday, December 5.

To check out his art online, visit


What’s happening in Bend, Oregon for Thanksgiving 2014?

November 20th, 2014

So you’re planning to spend Turkey Day 2014 in the land of snow-capped mountains and high desert stars. Why don’t you go ahead and pat yourself on the back right now for your good decision?

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the fun things in store for everyone who plans to be in Bend, Oregon this Thanksgiving!


Gobble up some good grub

First things first. Let’s talk about where you want to have your main meal on November 27 this year.

The cozy dining room at Greg's Grill is one of many spots in Bend where you can enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner this year.

The cozy dining room at Greg’s Grill is one of many spots in Bend where you can enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner this year.

For some, the thought of preparing your own feast in the kitchen of your Bend vacation rental has the homey sorta vibe you’re craving. If that’s the case, go here to scope out a variety of vacation homes and condos with ovens waiting to welcome that big, juicy bird.

If you’d rather leave the cooking to someone else, you have plenty of options to pick from. Check out this list for a roundup of restaurants ready to make your holiday meal extra special. The Turkey Day buffet at McMenamins Old St. Francis is one of the most popular offerings in town, with mealtimes offered from noon to 6 p.m. Reservations are required, and the roundup of food will include fresh-carved turkey, fireside port cranberry relish, roasted pork loin with Edgefield cider jus, poached salmon, tortellini salad, garlic green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey gravy, along with a wide array of fresh fruit, salads, and desserts.

If you feel like venturing a bit out of town, Brasada Ranch has a three-course prix fixe dinner from noon to 6 p.m. They don’t charge extra for the killer mountain views or gorgeous scenery.

Not in the mood to eat in a restaurant, but still don’t want to do the cooking? Not a problem! Catering experts Baldy’s, Tate & Tate, and Country Catering all offer holiday meals for pickup.


Run off those Turkey Day calories

Run off those Turkey Day calories in the Thanksgiving Classic or one of the other fun runs happening this year.

Run off those Turkey Day calories in the Thanksgiving Classic or one of the other fun runs happening this year.

Feeling guilty about that sixth helping of mashed potatoes? Never fear, Bend has a variety of Thanksgiving-themed runs and walks to help burn off those extra calories.

The Bend Thanksgiving Classic 10k/5k walk/run and the I Like Pie Thanksgiving Day walk/run both kick off at 9 a.m. in different parts of Bend on Thanksgiving morning. The day after Thanksgiving, the Turkey Trot is taking place in Sunriver.

To learn more about each of these races, check out our Event Calendar.


Who’s ready to ski?

I know plenty of you are waxing your snowboards and tuning your skis in anticipation of Mt. Bachelor’s first day of operations.

Who's ready to carve some turns at Mt. Bachelor?

Who’s ready to carve some turns at Mt. Bachelor?

While things are always subject to change based on the whims of Mother Nature, Mt. Bachelor is currently scheduled to open the terrain parks and Nordic areas on Monday, November 24, with alpine skiing operations kicking off Wednesday, November 26—the day before Thanksgiving.

Make sure you check the online condition reports for up-to-the-minute info about opening day. And oh yeah—pray for snow!

UPDATED NOV. 26, 2014: Rainy conditions have put a damper on opening day plans, but Mt. Bachelor is now aiming to be up and running the day after Thanksgiving. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the online condition reports for all the latest info.


Shop ‘til you drop

For those who favor indoorsy pursuits over outdoorsy ones (or for those who simply love a good bargain), don’t miss the Black Friday shopping deals around town.

Bend’s Old Mill District features stores like Victoria’s Secret, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, Zumiez, and more. Check out their Black Friday Specials page for info on who’s opening at midnight, 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 5 a.m., and other more sane hours.

There are plenty of places to shop 'til you drop in Bend for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

There are plenty of places to shop ’til you drop in Bend for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

Fans of outlet shopping will want to check out the Bend Factory Stores for big bargains. Shops include hotspots like the Coach Factory Outlet, Nike Outlet, Eddie Bauer, Columbia Outlet, and much more.

For deals at places like Best Buy and Cost Plus World Market, head north to the Cascade Village Shopping Center. And if big-box stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s, and T.J. Maxx are on your agenda, be sure to hit the Bend River Promenade in the middle of town. While you’re on the north end of town, pop into Pomegranate Home & Garden, a locally-owned shop in a historic farm house, for some really unique gifts.

To help you spread things out a bit, many shops in Downtown Bend are participating in Small Business Saturday. Check out their page for details about shops and specials, including deals at great local boutiques like Hot Box Betty, Local Joe, and Tres Jolie.


Christmas already?

Carriage rides are one of many festive traditions happening in the Old Mill District.

Carriage rides are one of many festive traditions happening in the Old Mill District.

Before we’ve even stashed the Thanksgiving leftovers, a lot of us are gearing up for the next major holiday. If you’re ready to get a jump on Christmas, head to the Old Mill District. Santa will arrive via helicopter around 10 a.m. on Friday, November 28, to begin his tour of duty at Santaland. There will also be oodles of other Christmassy offerings like carriage rides, carolers, kids’ activities, and more. Go here to see what’s in the lineup.

Downtown Bend is another festive place to be, with oodles of lights and decorations adorning streets and shops. One of Bend’s most cherished holiday traditions is the annual Christmas tree lighting on November 29 (the Saturday after Thanksgiving). The live tree is located at the top of Drake Park near Mirror Pond Plaza, and guests get to sing carols and watch Santa light the tree. Festivities get underway at 6:30 p.m., but you’d be smart to arrive at least half an hour before that to find a spot.


Only in Bend

Yes, I acknowledge there are Black Friday sales and Christmas tree lightings happening in most towns around America this time of year. While I encourage you to enjoy those activities, here are a few only-in-Bend things to add to your holiday agenda:

  • Snowshoe with Wanderlust Tours. Let the naturalist guides at Wanderlust lead you into the wilderness to traipse through pristine fields of pillowy snow. Tours include all gear and transportation, not to mention snacks and warm drinks. They offer daytime or starlight outings, and kids are welcome, too.

    Snowshoeing by starlight is one of those once-in-a-lifetime activities you can enjoy with Wanderlust Tours in Bend.

    Snowshoeing by starlight is one of those once-in-a-lifetime activities you can enjoy with Wanderlust Tours in Bend.

  • Science Parties at the High Desert Museum. Bend’s popular High Desert Museum offers fascinating exhibits, cool animals, and tons of opportunities to learn more about the culture and history of the high desert. During Thanksgiving week, the Science Party on tap is called Winged Wonders. It’s a chance to explore the world of flight with live animals and breathtaking experiments. Check out their website to learn more about the schedule and other exhibits at the museum.
  • Special programs at the Tower Theatre. Even if they weren’t having any shows at all, Bend’s historic Tower Theatre would be worth checking out just for the beauty of it. But during Thanksgiving week, you’ll have the chance to see National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on the big screen. The show starts at 7 p.m. on November 28, and you can get tickets here.
  • Festivities at Sunriver Resort. If you’re up for a 20-minute drive, Sunriver Resort is a lovely place to spend an afternoon this time of year, particularly if you want to get into the holiday spirit. Check out special events like their annual Holiday Marketplace November 28-29 (a great place to pick up crafts, treats, and ornaments) or their Grand Illumination Ceremony November 28.

6 ways to get ready for Mt. Bachelor’s opening day

November 13th, 2014

The seasonal countdown has begun, and powder hounds around the Northwest are watching the weather and gearing up for opening day at the mountain with the highest skiable elevation in Oregon and Washington (uh, that’s Mt. Bachelor, in case you’re wondering).

Time to get your ski gear ready for this. Or, uh...something a little more mellow.

Time to get your ski gear ready for this. Or, uh…something a little more mellow.

While the actual date is in the hands of Mother Nature, Mt. Bachelor’s website indicates they’re hoping for the traditional Thanksgiving week opening around November 26. So what should you do to get ready?


Get your gear in order

Whether you need a brand new set of skis and bindings, or just a tune-up for your snowboard, you’ll find tons of shops in Bend where they’ll be happy to hook you up. Check out our winter gear rental page to browse retailers and rental shops, or visit the retail and demo shop at Mt. Bachelor for all the latest equipment.


Become a stalker

No, we don’t want you dressing in black and following strangers down the street. Being a snow-stalker is a lot less creepy (not to mention less likely to get you arrested). Facebook fans will find frequent mountain updates on the Mt. Bachelor Facebook page, or check out Visit Bend’s Facebook page 3-5 daily posts about everything facebook iconfrom snow conditions to Bend events to what’s happening along the Bend Ale Trail.

Fans of Instagram will find tons of great photos on Visit Bend’s page, or follow local photographer Pete Alport, who spends nearly every waking hour (and many non-waking hours) on the mountain.

Mt. Bachelor does an awesome job keeping their website updated with current conditions, so check it often for up-to-the-minute info about lift operations and snow reports.


Line up your lodging

The beautiful, snowy view from Bend's luxurious Pine Ridge Inn on November 13.

The beautiful, snowy view from Bend’s luxurious Pine Ridge Inn on November 13.

Hotels and Bend rentals can book up fast once the snow starts falling, so don’t get caught without a reservation. Now’s a great time to scope out the roundup of hot deals on Visit Bend’s lodging pages. Book early to find the best selection of bargains ranging from kids-stay-free promos, to packages that include lift tickets or even free nights.


Live in a fantasy world

I know it’s weird to suggest you deliberately watch a television commercial—much less two television commercials—but hear me out on this.

In the moments leading up to your first seasonal swoop through shimmering powder, it pays to get yourself pumped up. Visit Bend just debuted a pair of amazing commercials guaranteed to leave you pining for a winter vacation. Check out the one titled “Warmth” before bopping over to scope out “Outside.”

If that doesn’t leave you craving a winter getaway to Bend, check your pulse.

Snow enthusiasts stroll the streets of Downtown Bend on November 30.

Snow enthusiasts stroll the streets of Downtown Bend on November 30.


Do a snow dance

I’ll admit it—I’m superstitious.

I know I’m not alone, as plenty of our social media pals have made mention of doing a snow dance to ensure plenty of fresh powder at Mt. Bachelor. Assuming they’re serious (and who would joke about such a thing?) I encourage you to join the ranks of the snow dancers by performing a little jig of your own. No, really. Go on, I’ll hold your beer.

In case you need ideas, check out this blog post for a few helpful hints on performing your own snow dance. Then get out there and boogie with your bad self.


Snag a promotional deal at Mt. Bachelor

Mt. Bachelor is famous for killer discounts and cost-saving programs like Kids Ski Free, but the pre-season promo prices tend to be extra special. Their new “Any 5” package offers five days of coaching, appetizers, beer, and fun, but you have to purchase it by Nov. 30 to get it for just $229 (after that, the price goes up to $279).  Go here to learn more about it, or keep an eye on their deals & discounts page for the latest bargains.

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.


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