Bend Oregon Blog | The Bend Buzz by Visit Bend
8 ways to enjoy bluebird days in Bend this weekend (plus your chance to win a night at Wall Street Suites and $100 for Jackalope Grill!)
It’s no secret we’ve seen some severe weather in the Pacific Northwest this winter. Conditions have run the gamut from ice storms in Portland to flooding in southwest Washington to massive dumps of snow in Central Oregon.
It’s the latter that has snow-enthusiasts rejoicing about the winter of 2017, and they’re celebrating even harder as this weekend approaches. February 11 and 12 are predicted to be “bluebird days,” which is a fancy term for the holy trinity of clear blue skies, bright sun, and fresh snow.
Thinking about a last-minute getaway to Bend to enjoy this winter weather phenomenon? Here are 8 ways to spend a bluebird day in Bend.
Hit the slopes
If you’re a skiing or snowboarding enthusiast, Mt. Bachelor is already on your agenda. Conditions this season have been epic, with more than 360” of snowfall already, and plenty more to come. Their new Cloudchaser quad lift has added 635 lift-serviced acres to Mt. Bachelor’s existing terrain (not to mention reducing lift lines that were already pretty short).
Oh, and did you know kids 12 and under ski free with advance purchase of an adult lift ticket for three or more days?
Okay, but what if I’m not a skier?
There’s plenty to do at Mt. Bachelor even if you’re not a fan of strapping boards to your feet.
If snowshoeing is your scene, book a guided outing with Wanderlust Tours and leave the driving, gear, snacks, and decision-making to their skilled naturalist guides.
Walk the Bend Ale Trail
But when skies are clear and weather is mild, why not walk a portion of the legendary beer trail? More than half of the 15 breweries on the trail are within walking distance of each other, and it’s a great way to burn off a few of those beer calories while enjoying a leisurely stroll through Downtown Bend.
Recapture the thrill of a snow day
There’s something about the combination of blue skies and fresh snow that brings out the kid in a lot of us. Seize the moment by scheduling a snowball fight or making snow angels in fresh powder.
You can also recapture your youth by taking a twirl on the ice rink at The Pavilion or heading up to one of the Sno-Park to build a snowman.
The possibilities are endless, and I have it on good authority that giggling cures wrinkles.
Go for a hike
Clear skies make for perfect hiking conditions, and there are several hikes you can plan this time of year with no snowshoes required.
Stroll along the Deschutes River Trail with the added bonus of giving yourself easy access to post-hike snacks at one of several restaurants in the Old Mill District.
Late-winter is my very favorite time of year to visit the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. The craggy volcanic rocks and ancient junipers look stunning against a backdrop of blue sky, and with nearly 30,000 acres to explore, odds are good you’ll have a trail to yourself.
Hit the High Desert Museum
I adore the High Desert Museum for all its cool natural history and critters, but I’ll admit I’m a wimp about exploring the outdoor exhibits when the weather is nasty.
But blue skies are a great excuse to wander their expansive grounds checking out the birds of prey and the recently remodeled otter exhibit.
Check their online schedule to make sure you don’t miss any cool presentations or animal demos.
Save time for stargazing
Another upside of clear skies is the chance to check out the winter stars in all their twinkly glory. We’ll see a full moon on February 10, which means the whole weekend will be primo time for a moonlight snowshoe adventure.
As a bonus, this month’s full moon (known as the full snow moon) isn’t the only thing you’ll see when you look up at the sky. This weekend’s skies will also bring us a comet and a lunar eclipse, and being in Bend pretty much guarantees you a great viewing platform to take it all in.
Hang out under the stars by a fire pit at Wall Street Suites
Few things are as magical on a clear winter evening as cozying up beside a fire pit after a good meal and gazing up at the stars.
What’s that? You don’t have a fire pit handy? Well Wall Street Suites does. They also have some of the coolest luxury suites in Bend, and a fab Downtown setting that makes it easy to walk to the best shops and restaurants. Restaurants like . . . oh, I don’t know . . . Jackalope Grill?
Wanna win a package that includes a one-night stay at Wall Street Suites and $100 to spend at Wall Street Suites?
Leave a comment below and tell me your favorite thing to do on a bluebird day in Bend. Don’t worry if you’ve never been—you can just share which idea above sounds most appealing to you.
We’ll draw a winner at 4 p.m. on Friday, February 10. Good luck!
But after a long day of ice skating and making snow angels, you need to spend time warming up. Here are 8 of my favorite ways to get toasty in Bend.
Grab an adult beverage
I said “get toasty,” not “get toasted,” so moderation is key when it comes to imbibing in Bend.
But it’s true the city’s abundance of distilled spirits makes for some darn fine belly warmers this time of year. One of my personal faves is a shot of Bendistillery’s Crater Lake Pepper Vodka mixed with something tropical like pineapple, passionfruit, or mango juice. The peppery kick will warm you from the inside out, while the tropical flair will make you feel like you’re on a warm sandy beach.
If it’s a hot beverage you’re craving, there’s plenty to pick from. The spiced rum from Oregon Spirit Distillers is scrumptious in a mug of hot apple cider, or try blending Bendistillery’s Hazelnut Espresso Vodka with some warm cocoa and a dollop of whipped cream.
If beer is more your scene, a hearty stout or porter is just the ticket this time of year. The Tough Love Russian imperial stout from Crux Fermentation Project is particularly outstanding, or go for the classic Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery.
Or try a non-boozy belly warmer
Alcohol isn’t a requirement when you’re aiming to warm yourself from the inside out. Plenty of spots in Bend offer non-boozy belly warmers that are perfect for kids, teetotalers, or anyone else who’s laying off the sauce.
Bend has oodles of terrific coffee shops, which also double as great spots to cozy up and get warm in the steamy, coffee-scented air. I’m a big fan of the intimate vibe found at both Thump and Lone Pine, but you’ll find a full roundup of Bend coffee shops here. Pick one that looks like your special scene!
Tea drinkers will be happy to hear that both the aforementioned Thump and Lone Pine sell Metolius Artisan Tea, which is my absolute favorite. If you spot some, make sure you grab a jar of their Signature Blend made with lavender, blueberries, bachelor’s buttons, Madagascar vanilla bean, chocolate pieces, and three kinds of black tea. So good!
For the kiddos in your life, you’ll find hot cocoa at nearly every coffee shop on the list above. You can also grab Bubble Tea (either warm or cold) at Townshend’s Tea in Downtown Bend.
Try some hot yoga
Whether you can execute a perfect Bakasana in your sleep, or you’re only dimly aware that yoga isn’t something you top with granola for breakfast, you’ve probably at least heard of hot yoga.
It’s the practice of executing yoga poses in a high-temperature environment (typically 105-degrees) and it’s one way to boost your body temp on a cold winter day.
You’ll find drop-in hot yoga classes at Bikram Yoga Bend, Steve’s Hot Yoga, and Juniper Yoga, all of which offer slightly different pricing and approaches to the practice. Check out their websites and find the spot that looks like your ideal spot to get sweaty.
Find a fire pit
If you want to get warm but you’re not ready to head indoors just yet, you’ll find plenty of outdoor fire pits that make the perfect place to toast your toes.
The abundance of wood-burning pits on the patio outside O’Kanes at McMenamins Old St. Francis make it a popular wintertime hangout for those craving a brew and a pile of hot Cajun tater tots. You’ll also find a cool gas-powered fire feature just outside Jackson’s Corner Eastside, which makes it a great place to nibble a breakfast sandwich.
You’ll find quite a few large fire pits scattered throughout the Old Mill District, with plenty of room to snuggle up and mingle with locals and fellow travelers from all over the world.
For more ideas on where to find fire pits around Bend, check out this blog post.
Soak your bones
McMenamins Old St. Francis School boasts a beautiful tile soaking pool surrounded by shimmering turquoise tile, luminous stained glass, breathtaking murals, and an open-air ceiling that lets you check out the night sky. It’s filled with soft, buoyant saltwater, which makes for an environmentally friendly soak.
While guests staying at McMenamins have easy access to it, it’s also open to the public for your soaking pleasure. Check the website for fees and hours of operation.
Grab some comfort food
Warm yourself from the inside out with a big, heaping bowl full of whatever makes your tummy smile.
If mac and cheese is your comfort food of choice, Blacksmith has a terrific trio featuring a small portion of each of their three varieties (smoked cheddar, bacon, and truffle mac and cheese).
You’ll find tummy-pleasing soups at most Bend restaurants, but my personal fave is the Phở (pronounced “phuh”) at Phở Việt & Café. It’s a hot beef-noodle soup that’s a staple of Vietnamese cuisine and culture, and it’s oh-so-good on a cold winter’s day.
If you’re up at Mt. Bachelor, I have it on good authority that the Nacho Mountain in the Clearing Rock Bar will change your life (or at least improve your day significantly).
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my all-time favorite comfort food in Bend, the Grilled Cheesy at Crux Fermentation Project. It features asiago-cheese crusted panini with mixed ricotta, pepper jack, and white cheddar with diced bacon and spicy pickles on Italian country spent grain bread from DiLusso Bakery. Pair it with a beer sampler tray and prepare for one of the best meals of your life.
For more ideas on comfort food in Bend, check out this post.
Do a good deed
Ever notice how doing a good deed makes you feel warm all over?
Visit Bend’s Visit Like a Local page is chock full of ideas that’ll warm more than just your heart. From voluntourism opportunities, to ideas for leaving the hiking trail a little nicer than you found it, you’ll see oodles of tips that will leave you feeling good all over.
Watch this video
Can’t make it to Bend right this moment? You can experience that blend of tingly chill and toasty warmth by watching this short video titled, “Warmth.”
Listen. Do you hear that? It’s the sound of . . . well, nothing.
Something funny happens in Bend each year during the weeks that follow a chaotic Christmas break and precede the visitor uptick in mid-February for Presidents’ Weekend. Traffic dies down, shops and restaurants go quiet, and there’s a whole lot of solitude up for grabs out there in Bend’s expansive wilderness.
Some folks love the silence. Others (like retailers who depend on tourist spending) struggle a bit with the slowdown. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, here are four ways to make the most of mid-winter silence in Bend, Oregon.
Get outside and embrace the solitude
One of my favorite hiking memories is a solo trek I enjoyed around the Oregon Badlands Wilderness in late-January three years ago. It was just my dog, me, and a whole lot of crisp quiet (plus a good compass—that’s essential if you’re hiking solo).
If you like the sound of silence, there’s oodles of it to be found right now in Bend’s wilderness areas. Rent a fat bike and use pedal power to explore your favorite trails. Snowshoe into the vast, snowy woods and listen to your own heartbeat thudding in your ears.
The possibilities are endless, and the solitude is empowering.
Fill the silence with music and laughter
Now that you’ve recharged your batteries with the sound of silence, it’s time to add back a few happy sounds.
January and February are among the best times of year for performances at intimate venues like the Tower Theatre (including the Bend A Cappella Festival coming up in just a few weeks). You can also peruse Visit Bend’s event calendar for musical performances happening all over town during your Bend vacation.
Is laughter the sound you most want to hear? Check out The Pavilion for a few hours of gleeful twirling on Central Oregon’s only NHL-sized ice rink. There’s even a warm viewing area if you’re not up for strapping skates on your own feet.
For more indoorsy squeals of laughter, take the kids to Sun Mountain Fun Center for bumper cars, bowling, and video games. You can also hit up the brand new Mountain Air Trampoline Park for giggly good times with the added bonus of burning A TON of kid energy. (Pro tip for moms: Wear a good sports bra. You’ll thank me later).
Help out a small business
I’ll admit it. There’s a part of me that enjoys walking into a Bend restaurant this time of year and knowing I’ll have no trouble getting a table.
But there’s a bigger part of me that knows small businesses in Bend struggle during this quieter time of year. The vacation crowds have died down, but the folks who own tour companies and small shops still have kids to feed.
Now is a great opportunity for some retail therapy in Downtown Bend or the Old Mill District. It’s also a terrific time to book a tour with a small family-owned operator like Wanderlust Tours, Cowboy Carriage, Bend Tour Company, Cog Wild, Extreme Oregon, or countless other tour operators you see listed right here.
Quietly spread joy
As an introvert who’d rather chew off her own arm than make small talk with strangers, I’m not always the best ambassador for the sort of open friendliness Bendites are known for.
That’s one thing I love about the Bend Joy Project. It’s all is all about finding small ways to spread joy and build bridges of kindness and compassion in Bend. There are billboards and videos, volunteer initiatives and bumper stickers, but my favorite thing is the “share cards.”
You’ll find these nifty little cards in about 150 locations around Bend, including our own Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava and Oregon. You can also find online versions to share via email. Some are interactive, like the one that says, “Make a stranger smile today” or “Give this card to someone you admire and share why.” Others are more reflective, like “Write down 5 things you are grateful for today.”
No matter which card you pick or with whom you share it, it’s a quiet, subtle way of spreading a little happiness without uttering a word.
Everyone’s looking for an inside tip. A secret or two that will help make vacation easier, cheaper, or just plain funner (that’s totally a word, right?)
A few months ago I published this post on lifehacks for a Bend family vacation. Now that winter travel is in full swing, it seems like a good time to revisit the concept with snowflakes in mind.
Hack #1: Beat the rush up the hill
It’s been a busy season up at Mt. Bachelor, and the road to the mountain can get packed with cars hustling to get there when the chairlifts start spinning at 9 a.m.
Want to skip the traffic? While it’s true the lifts open at 9, the lodge opens at 7:30. Beat the rush by heading up early, then nabbing yourself a tasty breakfast on the hill. You’ll still catch the first chair up the mountain, but you’ll spend that extra hour relaxing in a toasty warm ski lodge with a hot meal instead of staring at the line of cars in front of you. Heck, bring your laptop or your work colleagues and call it a board meeting.
Hack #2: Maximize your time in Downtown Bend
Sometimes it’s fun to look out my office window in Downtown Bend and see how many times a particular car will circle the block in search of a parking spot.
That’s probably not as fun for the person in the car.
Here’s a hint: It’s free to stash your car in the Parking Garage for up to three hours, and only $5 for all-day parking. Parking in the garage is always free on weekends, and you’ll rarely have trouble finding a spot. Bonus: You won’t have to scrape your windows or shove snow off your car when it’s time to leave.
Once you’ve found your spot, you can cram a whole lot of Bend goodness into your downtown experience. Grab lunch at one of the popular eateries, then do a little souvenir shopping. Afterward, stroll into Bend’s historic Drake Park to check out the icy Deschutes River and do a little people watching.
Hack #3: Plan your trip mid-week or during shoulder season for the best deals
Lodging in Bend can be tough to find during peak weekends, and rooms get pricey. An easy fix is to come in the middle of the week during shoulder season.
What’s shoulder season? That’s the gap between the busiest seasons of the year (those are summer, spring break, and Christmas break). In other words, you’ll find your best deals on lodging during the months of October, November, early-December, January, February, and late-April. To learn more about shoulder season vacations in Bend, check out this post.
Hack #4: Do your drinking like a grownup
More than half of all Bend visitors hit at least one brewery while they’re in town, and many pledge to tackle the entirety of the mighty Bend Ale Trail.
While sampling Bend’s craft beers, ciders, and distilled spirits is super awesome, a DUI is not. Neither is killing yourself or someone else. Death and jail time kinda put a damper on a Bend vacation.
Stay safe by letting the Bend Brew Bus handle your beerventure for you. If you’ve got a hankering for more than just beer, try their Local Pour Tour, which visits a winery, cidery, brewery, and distillery. All tours include samples, snacks, and most importantly, sober transportation to and from your hotel.
Hack #5: Slip a little goodwill into your good times
Whether you’re a do-gooder who looks for voluntourism opportunities on every vacation, or someone seeking little ways to leave a place better than you found it, you’ll find tons of great tips on our Visit Like a Local pages.
Bonus: there’s good insider info on everything from navigating traffic roundabouts to seasonal footwear selections.
Hack #6: Snag some cheap eats
Bend’s culinary scene is known as a foodie’s paradise, but sampling every buzz-worthy restaurant can empty your wallet in a hurry.
Hitting happy hours is a great way to sample a variety of cuisines for budget-friendly prices. Most Bend restaurants have them, and you can plant yourself in popular dining zones like the Old Mill District or Downtown Bend and walk between two or three hot eateries.
For a handy roundup of Bend’s best happy hours, go here.
Hack #7: Find the secret deals
Not everyone knows this, but lots of Bend hotels and lodging properties will throw out little perks to win your business. It’s not uncommon to see hotels offering discounted room nights, a bottle of wine, or even cheap Mt. Bachelor lift tickets to entice guests to stay with them.
Visit Bend keeps a list of such bargains on the Deals and Discounts page. Bookmark it and get ready to save big.
It’s been an epic snow year in Bend, with nearly 60 inches falling in town so far this season.
To put that into perspective, Bend’s normal average snowfall for the entire year is 24 inches. This is January, guys—we’re not even halfway done!
Fans of the white stuff have been flocking here this winter for sledding and snowball fights and all the fun things that make up a winter vacation.
But what else is there to do with all this snowy goodness? Here are eight ideas!
Ski, snowboard, or snowshoe
This one’s kinda obvious, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out all the ways you can enjoy our epic snow year at Mt. Bachelor.
There’s downhill skiing and snowboarding, plus Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and even unique options like sled dog rides and the Snowblast Tubing Park.
Wanderlust Tours has also been enjoying a fantastic season of snowshoeing. I took my whole extended family on their Bonfire on the Snow tour over the holidays, and if I had a snowball for every time someone uttered the phrase “magical,” I’d win the neighborhood snowball fight.
Dig yourself a snow cave
The snow is officially deep enough in town to make yourself a pretty sweet snow cave or igloo. What kid hasn’t fantasized about this at some point?
Just be careful not to let kids play in snow berms near roadways, since plows are continually piling up the white stuff and may not see them.
Make a tasty dessert
Anyone who’s been to Hawaii knows the pleasure that is “shave ice.” Fluffy mounds of frozen goodness get covered in flavored syrup and served atop a scoop of ice cream. Here’s your chance to try it Bend-style!
Note: If it appears the snow has already been doused with lemon syrup, choose different snow. Also worth noting: giardia is no fun, so be careful about using only pristine, untouched snow.
For more snow-based dessert ideas, check out this piece on making ice cream.
Get creative with your snowman (or woman!)
There’s tons of raw material to work with out there, so now’s a good time to add a little flair to your snowman or snowwoman. Heck, you can make a whole family of them!
Have a Snow-B-Que
Just because the snow is piled waist-high doesn’t mean grilling is out of the question. In fact, it’s a fun way to enjoy our winter wonderland while you grill up something warm to fill your belly.
Shovel some snow
Here’s your opportunity to add a little “voluntourism” to your Bend vacation.
Got a shovel and a strong back? Lend a hand if you spot a driveway or sidewalk that hasn’t been tended. Elderly and disabled homeowners are struggling right now, and it’ll make your heart feel good to help out.
It’s a timely effort not only because of the heavy snowfall, but because January 16 is celebrated as Day of Service. Go here for more ideas on getting involved and making a difference, or check out our Visit Like a Local page to get inspiration.
Chill your beer
This is nature’s cooler right here. And now there’s more room in the fridge for other things like…well, more Bend beer.
Just be cautious about what you’re leaving outside when temperatures dip much below freezing. There’s a bottle of soda on my back porch right now that looks like a science experiment gone bad.
Ice that aching knee
Got an old ski injury that flares up from time to time, or an owie that feels better when iced? The consistency of snow makes it a perfect, moldable ice pack when sealed in plastic baggies.
That might come in handy for your aching back if you get a little too hardcore with the aforementioned shoveling!
Welcome to 2017, everyone!
There are so many fab things to look forward to in Bend each year, and 2017 is no exception. As I sat down with my life planner to map out a year’s worth of events and activities, I remembered all over again what a cool town Bend is and how lucky we are to have something awesome happening every month of the year.
Here are some of my favorite things coming up in 2017 . . .
This month, the Joy Project launched in Bend to help add a little happiness and goodwill to an otherwise quiet month in the high desert. It’s a way of empowering people to show kindness and spread joy, and you can read more about it here.
January is also the month when I round out my New Year’s resolutions with a list of three new-to-me hikes I want to tackle in the coming year. To spark your own ideas, check out Visit Bend’s hiking page or Cascade Hiking Adventures.
For a short month, February manages to pack in some of my favorite Bend activities.
President’s Weekend boasts the renowned Oregon Winterfest, complete with live music, rail jam, and competitions ranging from fire pits to ice sculptures.
One of my all-time favorite events is Zwickelmania, the statewide celebration of Oregon’s craft breweries. Though it usually happens the same weekend as President’s Day, Central Oregon decided to branch off this year and do it the following weekend instead on Feb. 25.
I’m probably most excited about the second annual Bend A Cappella Fest, which I was lucky enough to attend with my family in its inaugural year. I was blown away by the sheer volume of talent and the entertainment value for all ages, and can’t wait to go again. Pro tip: It’s almost certain to sell out, so buy tickets early!
Spring Break around the Pacific Northwest can make March a bit busy in Bend, but that’s good news for those who love an air of giddy excitement mixed with their crisp wintery weather.
This is the month when hopeful little spring blooms start wiggling their way out of the dirt, making desert hikes especially fun for wildflower aficionados.
It’s also when the Les Schwab Amphitheater starts trickling out details about the summer concert lineup, adding to the giddy hopefulness of this still-chilly month. Keep your eyes on their Facebook page if you want to be among the first to see concert announcements.
For women seeking a way to celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, the Muse Conference brings together internationally-recognized artists, authors, athletes, entrepreneurs, activists, and social change leaders.
Though there’s still a lot of chilly weather and the occasional threat of snowfall, April typically brings the year’s first opportunity to trot out short-sleeved shirts (albeit, paired with a sweater—it ain’t July!)
My fondness for Bend’s culinary scene makes the Foodie Crawl one of my favorite April activities, with the chance to wander around Downtown Bend nibbling gourmet samples paired with cocktails, wine, and beer. Dates haven’t been announced yet, but keep watching for details.
EDIT: Date has been announced! The Foodie Crawl is happening April 23, 2017 from 3-6 p.m. Tickets go on sale March 20, and will sell out fast!
Ahh, this is when it really starts to feel like spring in Bend.
The multi-sport Pole Pedal Paddle event ushers in the season whether you’re participating or just watching.
Snow enthusiasts will be thrilled to know there’s still a full month of spring skiing at Mt. Bachelor, which usually stays open through Memorial Day Weekend.
The summer concert season officially kicks off at the Les Schwab Amphitheater with at least a concert or two (and sometimes three!) on Memorial Day Weekend. If you’re lucky enough to score tickets, plan on bundling up!
There’s also the Fermentation Celebration in the Old Mill District, which isn’t on the calendar yet this year, but always seems to usher in Father’s Day Weekend. Coincidence? I think not.
This is one of the busiest months in Bend, and if you’re not a fan of crowds, you might want to plan your visit for a different month.
For those who do Visit Bend in July, there’s something happening nearly every day of the week. My personal faves are the Old Fashioned 4th of July Festival and its flagship event, the Bend Pet Parade.
Outdoor concerts abound with Munch and Music, Alive After 5, Free Summer Sundays, and the regular lineup at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. There’s also the annual Balloons Over Bend event, which is terrific fun for families.
This is also a primo month for whitewater rafting, floating the river, kayaking, canoeing, SUPing, and more. Go here for a roundup of all of Bend’s best water-based recreation activities.
It’s my birthday month, so is there really anything more important to highlight?
Okay, there’s also the Bend Brewfest (which just happens to coincide with my birthday this year, thank you very much).
My birthday offers a primo excuse for outdoor dining and the super-unique experience of riding a Mt. Bachelor chairlift to your sunset dinner spot at 7,800-feet above sea level.
Oh, and August 2017 also boasts the first solar eclipse to be seen in America for 26 years. Central Oregon is smack-dab in the path of it, prompting a staggering deluge of international visitors booking trips to the area. If you don’t already have a reservation the night of August 21, you’re probably out of luck. No joke!
And here we are at my favorite month of the year in Bend. The weather is milder, the crowds are smaller, the kids are back in school, and we’re all celebrating my wedding anniversary.
You are celebrating it, right?
One of the best ways to get festive is with the Little Woody Barrel-Aged Beer, Cider, and Whiskey Festival (say that five times fast). That’s happening September 1-2 in 2017, or you could do your beer-fueled celebrating a bit later in the month with Oktoberfest in Downtown Bend (dates haven’t been announced yet, but it’s typically around the middle of the month).
This is also a terrific month to cross off some of that hiking I dreamed up back in January.
Bend’s first snowfall of the season could happen anytime between October and November, so snow dancers start watching the skies this time of year.
October is also a great month for sipping pumpkin beer and scoping out the dramatic fall colors in spots like Drake Park and Shevlin Park. You can enjoy all of those things if you show up for one of the Tenth Month events, including the BendFilm Festival, Bend Venture Conferences, or the Swivel Digital Conference.
My favorite October activity is the Historical Haunts Tour sponsored by the Deschutes Historical Museum, which is a guided walking tour of Downtown Bend filled with lots of spooky stories.
Once upon a time, November was the slowest month for tourism in Bend.
That’s changed in recent years as Bend Ale Trail Month has brought a whole lot of beer aficionados to town on a quest for the trophy that’s awarded to those who turn in a completed Bend Ale Trail passport in November.
Mt. Bachelor’s opening day usually happens just after Thanksgiving, so that’s another big milestone in November. After that, you have the start of holiday festivities in the Old Mill District with carriage rides, caroling, and Santa arriving via helicopter.
December is filled with anticipation for folks waiting to see if we’ll be graced with a good old fashioned white Christmas (odds are pretty good!)
This is also a month when the Tower Theatre trots out some of their coolest shows, ranging from holiday concerts to screenings of popular Christmas movies.
So that does it for my roundup of the Bend events and activities I’m most excited about in 2017? What’s on your list?
A couple weeks ago I shared 25 Bend experiences that make great holiday gifts. While I’m a big advocate for giving experiences instead of things, there are times you want something tangible to put under the tree
I get it. With that in mind, here are five things you can totally stuff in my stocking (or the stocking of anyone who loves both you and Bend) this holiday season.
A new Hydro Flask mug
But sometimes when I’m sitting in the frigid cold at a kid’s soccer match or baseball game, I want something with extra power to keep my beverage piping hot for a long stretch of time.
That’s what sparked my desire for a 20-ounce travel mug from Hydro Flask (though the lightweights among you will be happy to know it comes in 12-ounce and 16-ounce varieties). My husband has one I’ve coveted for years, and he swears it keeps his coffee hot all day long.
It comes in lots of colors, so I’ll go ahead and let you choose which one to give me. You’re welcome.
Something tasty from Navidi’s
Yesterday I visited my go-to stop for gourmet olive oils, scrumptious balsamic vinegars, flavored salts, tasty pastas, and more. Do you know what I forgot as I stocked up on gifts at Navidi’s?
Something for me!
Let’s fix that. Their small three-ounce bottles of olive oil and balsamic make perfect stocking stuffers, and it’s fun to mix and match the flavors (I’m currently smitten with the blood orange olive oil blended with fig balsamic).
You can also indulge my popcorn habit by grabbing me a jar of flavored gourmet salt. I’ve been enjoying black truffle, curry, and alderwood smoked salt, so how about we try something new?
Adorable Bend-esque items from Clementine
I might have become a little obsessed with Clementine Urban Mercantile since they opened just over a year ago in Downtown Bend. I’ve found everything from cozy sweaters to cute workout gear to adorable novelty items like bumper stickers, bracelets, perfume, socks, books, mugs, handbags, and more.
In other words, they’ve got a lot of fun stuff, and you can’t go wrong with a gift certificate.
But if you’re looking for a tangible item to wrap, check out their “Mountains Please” t-shirts and caps adorned with a simple little mountain silhouette. Shirts come in men’s and women’s sizes from small to XXL.
I’ll take a medium, please.
What is it about soap that makes such a great stocking stuffer? It smells nice, it’s inexpensive, and it has the added benefit of helping that dirty person in your life get clean.
I have two favorite picks on this front. There’s Boneyard Beer soap made by LeCol’s. It’s made in Bend with Bend beer that has hops and amino acids to soften and soothe irritated skin, while the polyphenols in beer offer antibacterial properties.
I also adore Lava Love soaps that are made from natural volcanic ingredients, including bentonite clay, zeolite, and activated charcoal. The ingredients come from Oregon volcanoes, and promise to restore your body to its natural balance, leaving your skin clean, soft, and kissable.
We sell both options in the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava Ave. and Oregon Ave. in Downtown Bend.
A wilderness tour and photo tutorial with Extreme Oregon
This probably should have made my roundup of 25 Bend experiences that make great holiday gifts, but I didn’t learn until just now that photographer James Parsons of Extreme Oregon fame got licensed to lead wilderness tours.
He’s combining that with photo workshops to make this a fab experience whether you’re a budding photographer or someone who just wants an experienced guide to show you some of the best hiking trails.
Here’s the part that makes this a really awesome gift right now: This freakin’ adorable gift certificate that comes with a couple handmade cookies in a nifty little gift bag that makes it perfect for tucking in a stocking.
The other cool thing is that these Bend photography tours are totally customizable. For instance, let’s say my photographer husband wanted some tips on shooting waterfalls at sunset, while I wanted to tag along for hiking tips and a chance to learn more about “Leave No Trace” principles on the trail. No problem! Same deal whether you want to see mountains or lakes or rivers or some other scenic locale in any season.
Go here for more info on guided tours with Extreme Oregon.
Bend schools are enjoying their second snow day in a row, and I just had to put on snowshoes to get my mail.
In other words, driving can be tricky with two feet of snow on the ground.
It happens sometimes, which is why it’s good to know there are ways to get around our fair city without an automobile. Whether you’re cutting back on drive time to help the environment, or you hit one too many stops on the Bend Ale Trail, here are 5 ways to navigate Bend without getting behind the wheel.
Use your own two feet
Bend’s two most popular areas for shopping and dining are the Old Mill District and Downtown Bend. Lucky for you, there are plenty of Bend hotels in both locations, and it’s an easy walk to get from one area to the other.
Bonus: there’s no need to hassle with parking when you’re on foot!
Want to hoof it when the ground is covered in snow? Snowshoes, cross country skis, and fat bikes are easy to rent. Here’s a handy list of options for winter gear rentals.
Hop on the bus, Gus
While admittedly not as robust as the bus systems in larger cities, Bend’s Cascades East Transit bus system is a handy way to hop around town.
The system currently has 10 fixed routes in the city of Bend, with connections at transfer station in the center of town. Routes go as far south as Elk Meadow Elementary on Brookswood, and as far north at the Cascade Village Shopping Center. You can get west as far as Central Oregon Community College, and as far east as The Forum Shopping Center.
They also operate the Mt. Bachelor shuttle in wintertime and the Ride the River shuttle in the summer. You can even connect to other Central Oregon cities like Redmond and Madras.
For route information and schedules, go here.
Let tour operators do the driving
Want to venture into the wilderness without driving your own car? Book a trip with Wanderlust Tours! Not only will they provide round-trip transport from your hotel to the trailhead, they’ll supply all the gear and goodies, plus a naturalist guide who’ll tell you everything you want to know about Central Oregon’s unique landscapes. Snowshoeing is their most popular offering this time of year, but they have oodles of other outings ranging from canoeing to cave tours. They also operate the Bend Brew Bus that shuttles guests to breweries, distilleries, cideries, and more.
If mountain biking is on your agenda, hook yourself up with the folks from Cog Wild. They not only offer mountain biking tours, but shuttle services for cyclists who want to be dropped off and picked up at opposite ends of a trail.
For a complete list of tour operators in Bend, go here.
Catch a cab
Bend has a number of taxi operators and shuttle companies cruising the city, so go here for a listing of names and numbers.
And while Uber and Lyft haven’t made it to Bend just yet, odds are good it will happen in early 2017. Stay tuned for updates!
Try pedal power
Bend has been dubbed “Bike Town USA,” and there’s a good reason for that. You’ll find tons of great cycling trails and bike lanes all over town.
Don’t feel like hauling your bike here? There are plenty of bike shops that rent everything you need. You’ll even find several companies that rent electric bikes if you’d prefer to have some extra push behind your pedaling.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to strap on my snowshoes and start heading to Visit Bend’s holiday party!
This marks my 42nd Christmas on planet earth, and more than half of those have been in Bend. About half of those have been an actual white Christmas, which gives us decent odds of having some fluff on the ground December 25, 2016.
But what can you do to guarantee it?
While plenty of folks swear performing a little snow dance will make the white stuff fall, it’s seldom helped my step kids when they’re desperate for a snow day from school. But here are 5 tried-and-true ways to ensure you experience a real white Christmas in Bend this year.
Make plans at Mt. Bachelor
If you’re spending Christmas in Bend and want to see snow on the big day, you can make sure of it with a 20-minute drive to Mt. Bachelor. Yep, the mountain is open on Christmas Day.
Even if you’re not into skiing or snowboarding, there’s plenty to do up there. My own family has a tradition of hitting the Snowblast Tubing Park after all the presents are opened and everyone’s bundled up in Christmas sweaters and mittens.
You’ll also find opportunities for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and even sled dog rides (though make sure you have reservations for those, since they book early during the holidays).
For more info on conditions reports, hours of operation, and lift ticket specials, go here.
Take a twirl around the ice
A real white Christmas doesn’t technically require snow at all. Just a big sheet of glistening white ice, and you’ll find that at The Pavilion.
Central Oregon’s first and only NHL-sized 200’ x 85’ ice sheet is open for business on Christmas Day 2016. Besides the pristine sheet of pretty white ice, you’ll find a 30,000-square-foot roof and translucent panels that protect the rink from wind and sun exposure while still giving it an open air feel.
The Pavilion also has outdoor fire pits, a spectator area, skate rental, changing rooms, full-service concessions, and even an elevated viewing/warming room with free wi-fi.
For info on the holiday schedule, go here.
Did someone say whitewater?
If your definition of white Christmas extends to snow in its liquid form, why not take a Christmas Day stroll to see some of Central Oregon’s most scenic whitewater?
The easiest option is to station yourself near the Bend Whitewater Park to see if any insane brave kayakers decided to celebrate the season with a bit of frostbite. Even if no one’s in the water, it’s a lovely sight to see, and good inspiration for planning your next summer vacation in Bend.
Depending on snow levels December 25, you’re also likely to find a waterfall or two to give you a whitewater fix. Seeing Tumalo Falls this time of year will likely require snowshoes, but what a payoff when you get there!
You might also get a gander at some of the lower-elevation waterfalls like Steelhead Falls and Benham Falls.
For a good roundup of waterfalls in Central Oregon, check out this blog post.
Tune up that sled
If Mother Nature complies, we’ll have oodles of glorious powder coating Downtown Bend on Christmas morning. If that’s the case, spots like Drake Park and Hollinshead Park have lovely little sledding spots where you’ll be able to hop in your saucer sled and fly like a maniac.
But even if there’s no Christmas Day snowstorm in Bend-proper, you won’t have to journey far to find a perfect snow-covered sledding hill. Less than twenty minutes from Bend (just few miles before you hit Mt. Bachelor) is Wanoga Sno-Park. In addition to offering 180-miles of groomed snowmobile trails and some pretty awesome warming huts, they have dog-friendly snowshoeing and Nordic skiing trails.
But it’s the sledding hill that draws families this time of year, so make sure you packed your Flexible Flyer or saucer sled.
Pro Tip: If your sled happens to break, please, for the love of all that’s holy (not to mention your love of Bend’s pristine outdoor spaces) pack it out with you and dispose of it properly back in town. The sled graveyard that piles up during holiday breaks is time-consuming and expensive to clean up, so please do your part to pack out what you pack in.
For more sledding ideas in Bend, go here.
What? I didn’t say these were all good ideas.
Also, googling “How to develop dandruff” yields exactly zero helpful tips on contracting this condition, but a lot of handy hints for curing it. You’re welcome.
But seriously, no matter how you manage to do it, have a lovely white Christmas in Bend.
25 Bend experiences that make great 2016 holiday gifts (plus a chance to win a Brew-It-Yourself experience worth over $200)
There’s a trend in gift giving favoring “experiences, not things.” Studies have shown it’s more rewarding, plus the recipient isn’t faced with the daunting post-holiday task of figuring out where the @#$% to put everything.
It’s a trend I’ve happily embraced, and my step-kids have loved the thrill of opening a gift announcing a surprise bungee jump or an unexpected family vacation.
With that in mind, here are 25 unique Bend experiences that make great holiday gifts. Don’t forget to read all the way to the end for a chance to win #25 for your very own!
- A gift certificate for Wanderlust Tours. Let your recipient choose his or her own adventure with Wanderlust Tours. Offerings include snowshoe outings, cave tours, canoeing adventures, and more. A naturalist guide will provide all the gear and transportation, plus oodles of cool education about Bend’s ecology and geography.
- A gift certificate for a hotel stay in Bend. Whether your loved one favors luxury resorts, budget-friendly motels, cozy bed and breakfasts, upscale hotels, or vacation homes for rent, you’ll find tons of options to pick from in Bend. Check out our Bend lodging page for ideas!
- A gift certificate for Sun Mountain Fun Center. My step-kids (ages 11 and 15) love the go-karts and bumper cars, but you can keep it super cheap and just stuff a $5 Sun Mountain Fun Center gift card in each kid’s stocking. That’ll earn everyone a few video games and an entertaining diversion if you need a break from outdoor play.
- A gift certificate for Sun Country Tours. Plan ahead for a summertime whitewater rafting adventure with the whole family, or let your loved one use the Sun Country Tours gift card to rent float tubes or a standup paddleboard when the weather turns warm.
- Old Mill gift certificates and Downtown Dollars. Can’t decide what your loved one needs, but you want to make sure you’re supporting local Bend businesses? Grab a fistful of gift certificates for the Old Mill District or Downtown Bend. You can buy them in $10 or $25 increments, and they’re good at nearly any store, restaurant, gallery, or theater in that shopping district. Can you say stocking stuffer?
- A gift certificate for a spa treatment. From facials to massages to pedicures to wraps, Bend’s day spas offer the full gamut of luxury spa treatments. Know someone who could use a little pampering? Check out our spa page for ideas on where to send your sweetie for a little R&R.
- A gift certificate to fly an airplane. For my stepson’s 14th birthday, we bought a discovery flight from Professional Air. For just $69, the kid got a mini lesson on takeoff, landing, and controlling the aircraft. Then he got to fly the plane. Let me repeat that. MY 14-YEAR-OLD-STEPSON FLEW AN AIRPLANE BEFORE HE COULD LEGALLY DRIVE A CAR. Suffice it to say, this ended up being one of the highlights of his young life so far.
- A gift certificate to Central Oregon Bungee Adventures. Continuing our daredevil theme, my stepson got to enjoy the tallest commercial bungee jump in North America on his 15th He declared his leap from the historic Crooked River Bridge one of the coolest things he’s ever done. Buy gift cards for the daredevil in your life through Central Oregon Bungee Adventures.
- A gift certificate with Cog Wild. One handy thing about a Cog Wild gift certificate is that the gift recipient can use it almost any time of year. Pick from their array of mountain bike tours during the warmer months, or when there’s snow on the ground, try one of their popular fat bike tours.
- Bachelor gift certificates. You can buy Mt. Bachelor gift cards in any amount over $5, which gives your favorite snow bunny the freedom to choose from gear, lessons, lift tickets, and more. They can be purchased online, over the phone, or in person in the Gravity Sports Shop.
- A gift certificate for a restaurant. This is one of my favorite gifts to get. I love dining out, but it can be tough to justify the expense sometimes. Bend has an amazing array of restaurants to pick from, so snoop around to figure out the gift recipient’s favorite (or better yet, choose something special you know the person wouldn’t splurge on otherwise).
- A gift certificate for a sled dog ride. Now THIS is a bucket list item! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take a dogsled ride with Oregon Trail of Dreams at Mt. Bachelor. The company is operated by Rachael Scdoris, the first legally-blind competitor to run the Iditarod, so these folks know what they’re doing. Stick around afterward and help feed and water the dogs.
- A NW Forest Pass, State Park Pass, or Sno Park Pass. These handy permits are a necessary part of recreating in some of our most scenic spots, and they come with the added bonus of helping to maintain these wilderness areas. Choose from day passes, multi-day passes, or annual passes. We sell them all right here in the Bend Visitor Center.
- A trip with Bend Jeep Tours. Is there someone in your life who’d enjoy the ultimate off-road adventure deep in the Deschutes National Forest? Guests will discover ancient lava flows, waterfalls, and a top-of-the-world view of the majestic Cascade Mountains. Go here to learn more.
- An all-terrain adventure with Outriders NW. Similar to the jeep tours above, but in a crazy-cool all-terrain vehicle that lets you explore towering Cascade Mountains, historic volcanic monuments, and the unique high desert environment. Good for families, groups, or individuals. You can learn more here.
- Tickets to an event at The Tower Theatre. Got a loved one who loves live performances in a cool, artsy venue? Check the schedule at Bend’s historic Tower Theatre and snap up some fab seats at an upcoming event. If you’re not sure whether to choose tickets for a musical performance, a film, or a theater event, just opt for a Tower Theatre gift card and let your loved one do the choosing.
- A gift certificate for Vector Volcano. Children of the ‘80s and ‘90s will fall in love with this quirky Downtown arcade packed with vintage video games. Vector Volcano is family-friendly, but they also serve local craft beer. Admission gets you unlimited game play for the time period you pick, with no quarters or tokens required.
- Passes to the High Desert Museum. A favorite among families, the High Desert Museum is chock full of natural history exhibits and the coolest desert-dwelling animals you’ll find anywhere. I could spend hours just watching the otters, and with an annual family membership, your loved ones will be able to do just that! Visit their website to learn more about passes and membership.
- An adventure with The Bend Tour Company. Not sure if your loved one would prefer to scoot around town on a Segway, pedal the Cycle Pub, or cruise in a bus on the Art Safari tour? Pick up a gift card from The Bend Tour Company and let the recipient make the choice.
- Membership to the Deschutes County Historical Society. The history buff in your life will love having a membership that lets him or her scope out the Deschutes Historical Museum as many times as possible over the course of a year. Individual memberships start at just $20 for the year, so visit them online to learn more.
- Passes to Mountain Air Trampoline Park. This one’s so new that I haven’t had a chance to visit yet (though we did promise my stepdaughter a belated-birthday stop at Mountain Air Trampoline Park). This brand new indoor attraction features a main court with 26 trampolines surrounded on two sides by angled trampoline walls. There’s also a super-long jumping and tumbling runway, plus lots of raised and padded features to add to the excitement. Sounds like a great way for active kiddos to get the wiggles out!
- Bowling for the whole family. Bowling is the ultimate family activity for all ages, and Bend is lucky enough to have two great spots for it. Grab a gift certificate for Lava Lanes or Sun Mountain Fun Center and tuck that bad boy in your pal’s favorite bowling shoes.
- A gift certificate for Bend Escape Room. Another great indoorsy Bend activity, Bend Escape Room is a fun, immersive, interactive game experience that’s challenging for the whole family. In a nutshell, your group is locked in a room and given the clues to escape. It makes a fun team building or family activity for 2-6 people.
- A flight with Airborne Outback Adventures. Here’s another high-octane outing for the adrenaline junkies on your list. Airborne Outback Adventures offers scenic flights and aerial tours using powered hang gliders, ultralite trikes, and more. It’s the ultimate way to see sights like Smith Rock State Park and the Cascade Peaks.
- A Brew-It-Yourself session at Immersion Brewing. Got a craft beer fanatic in the family who’d like to try his or her hand at brewing a special batch of suds? Immersion Brewing offers Brew-It-Yourself workshops with a professional brewer. The session includes all ingredients, bottles, caps, custom labels, and approximately five gallons of your very own craft beer.
Does that last item sound like a winner for someone in your family? Here’s your chance to win a brewing workshop worth more than $200! Comment on this post sharing which of the 25 gifts YOU would most want to receive (besides the Brew-It-Yourself session at Immersion Brewing….we already know that if you’re vying for the prize!) We’ll draw one winner on Wednesday, December 16. Good luck, and happy shopping!