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5 ways to guarantee a white Christmas in Bend, Oregon

December 8th, 2016

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?

Blogger Tawna (left) and her sister-out-law, Tamara, during their annual Christmas adventure at Mt. Bachelor's Snowblast Tubing Park.

Blogger Tawna (left) and her sister-out-law, Tamara, during their annual Christmas adventure at Mt. Bachelor’s Snowblast Tubing Park.

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).

A Christmas Day twirl around the ice rink at The Pavilion in Bend will give your family the white Christmas you're craving.

A Christmas Day twirl around the ice rink at The Pavilion in Bend will give your family the white Christmas you’re craving.

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?

A Christmas visit to Tumalo Falls will guarantee you see a little whitewater.

A Christmas visit to Tumalo Falls will guarantee you see a little 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.

A family sledding excursion is one of the best ways to enjoy a white Christmas.

A family sledding excursion is one of the best ways to enjoy a white Christmas.

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.

 

Develop dandruff

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)

December 1st, 2016
A snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours can be a treat for the whole family.

A snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours can be a treat for the whole family.

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.

    Fun on the Go-Karts at Sun Mountain Fun Center.

    Fun on the Go-Karts at Sun Mountain Fun Center.

  • 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.

    Mmmm....massage. Makes a great gift!

    Mmmm….massage. Makes a great gift!

  • 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.

    A Discovery Flight is a great gift for anyone who's dreamed of piloting a plane.

    A Discovery Flight is a great gift for anyone who’s dreamed of piloting a plane.

  • 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.

    Sled dog rides are great even in the summer when there's no snow on the ground.

    Sled dog rides are great even in the summer when there’s no snow on the ground.

  • 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.

    The otters are always a highlight at the High Desert Museum.

    The otters are always a highlight at the High Desert Museum.

  • 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.

    The adrenaline junkie in your life will love this experience from Airborne Outback Adventures.

    The adrenaline junkie in your life will love this experience from Airborne Outback Adventures.

  • 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!

What’s happening in Bend, Oregon for Thanksgiving 2016?

November 22nd, 2016

Oh, reader . . . you’re in for a real treat!

No, not this blog post (though that’s pretty swell, too). But if you’re reading this post, odds are good you’ve chosen to spend Thanksgiving 2016 in Bend, which is pretty smart of you.

So now that you’re here, what’s happening Thanksgiving week in Bend? Gobs of stuff! Here’s what’s in store for everyone who plans to be in Bend, Oregon for Thanksgiving 2016.

 

Gobble up some good grub

First things first. Let’s talk about where you want to have your main meal on November 24 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.

There are plenty of places to get your pumpkin pie fix in Bend this Thanksgiving.

There are plenty of places to get your pumpkin pie fix in Bend this Thanksgiving.


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 Thanksgiving 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.

Other hotspots include Jackalope Grill, 10 Below, Brasada Ranch, Black Butte Ranch, Currents at the Riverhouse, Black Bear Diner, Greg’s Grill, and oodles more. Be sure to check the list for a complete roundup of options!

Not in the mood to eat in a restaurant, but still don’t want to do the cooking? Not a problem! Catering experts Tate & Tate, Bistro 28, and Country Catering all offer holiday meals for pickup. Depending on when you read this, you may have missed the cutoff for Turkey Day, but now’s the time to plan ahead for Christmas Dinner.

 

Burn off those Turkey Day calories

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.

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.

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 at 10 a.m. in Sunriver.

To learn more about these races or other running events in Bend, 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. While things are always subject to change based on the whims of Mother Nature, Mt. Bachelor is currently scheduled to open Friday, November 25—the day after Thanksgiving.

Who's ready to carve some turns?

Who’s ready to carve some turns?

Make sure you check the online condition reports and follow Mt. Bachelor’s Facebook page for up-to-the-minute info about opening day.

And if you want to help usher in the white stuff, make sure you attend 10 Barrel Brewing’s annual Pray for Snow Party at 5 p.m. on November 25 at their brewing facility on NE 18th Street.

 

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 on Thanksgiving day, as well as 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 spots 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 TJ 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 Passport Event. Check out their page for details about shops and specials, including deals at great local boutiques like Hot Box Betty, Local Joe, and Clementine Urban Mercantile. You’ll also have a chance to win prizes valued at up to $2,000.

 

Christmas already?

Before we’ve even stashed the Thanksgiving leftovers, a lot of us are gearing up for the next major holiday. If you want to get a jump on Christmas, check out the Old Mill District’s Holiday Happenings page for a roundup of what’s going down. Santa will arrive via helicopter around 10 a.m. on Friday, November 25, to begin his tour of duty at Santaland. There will also be oodles of other Christmassy offerings like free carriage rides, carolers, kids’ activities, and more. Go here to see what’s in the lineup.

The lovely Christmas tree in Drake Park near Downtown Bend.

The lovely Christmas tree in Drake Park near Downtown Bend.

Downtown Bend is another festive place to be, with bright strings of lights and decorations adorning streets and shops. One of Bend’s most cherished holiday traditions is the annual Christmas tree lighting on December 2. 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 p.m., but you’d be smart to arrive at least half an hour before that to find a spot.

And if you’re sticking around longer, don’t miss the Bend Christmas Parade kicking off at noon on December 3 in Downtown Bend.

 

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:

Stargazing with Wanderlust Tours.

Stargazing with Wanderlust Tours.

  • 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.
  • Visit 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. Check out their website to learn more about the schedule of special events and 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 the popular holiday film A Christmas Story on the big screen. The show starts at 7 p.m. on November 25, and you can get tickets here. You can also catch a special production of The Nutcracker performed November 27 by students of Academie de Ballet Classique.

Ready for winter? We’ve got tips for kid-friendly and adult-only winter vacations in Bend!

November 17th, 2016

The clock is ticking, guys. It’s just a matter of weeks until Mt. Bachelor opens for another winter season, and it’s going to be AWESOME!

The newly-unveiled trail map for Mt. Bachelor.

The newly-unveiled trail map for Mt. Bachelor. Go here for a full-sized version.

Today they released their brand new Mt. Bachelor trail map and an exclusive 96-hour lift ticket sale that goes from noon on Thursday, Nov. 17 though noon on Monday, Nov. 21. There’s also a brand new chairlift under construction that’ll be complete sometime in December.

Besides scoring discounted lift tickets and having the new trail map tattooed across your chest, what should you be doing to get ready for winter fun in Bend? Here’s the inside scoop!

Gearing up for a grownup getaway

Planning an adults-only winter vacation in Bend? Here are a few things you can do right now to make sure you’re ready for Mt. Bachelor’s opening day, along with all kinds of other winter recreation opportunities:

    • Get pumped up. Whether you’re a skier, an ice skater, or a competitive bobsledder, we want everyone to stay safe when playing in the snow this year. Now’s a good time to work some of those key muscle group like legs and core. Squats and hamstring stretches are a great place to start to ensure your legs are up to the task of transporting your body over slippery terrain. Go here for some pre-season workout ideas.
    • Tune it up. Since you have a little time to kill, it’s a great opportunity to prepare your gear for the season. Get your skis or board waxed (or find a local professional to do it for you). Dig through your garage for those missing poles and spend some time walking around the living room in your ski boots so your feet don’t scream in protest the first time you hit the slopes.

      Who's ready to carve some turns?

      Who’s ready to carve some turns?

    • Cyberstalk the mountain. If you have a little flexibility in your schedule, it’s a smart idea to bookmark the Bachelor conditions report on your desktop or mobile device. You’ll see daily details about trail conditions and lift schedules, along with webcam images that update every 15 minutes. When conditions look perfect, hop in your car and go!
    • Repair, reuse. While getting new gear can be fun, it’s kinder for the environment (not to mention your wallet) to repair the gear you already have. With a few weeks to go before winter sports season, now’s a good time to get that jacket patched and your busted goggles fixed. Same deal with sleds, which often get chucked in the landfill when they’re a little banged up. Start your season right by paying a little extra for high-quality gear that’s less prone to breakage. If your sled does sustain an injury, look into repairing it before you toss it (and whatever you do, please, PLEASE don’t stuff busted sleds in the garbage bins at Sno-Parks—it’s crazy expensive to have that trash hauled away at the end of a holiday weekend). For more tips on being kind to the environment and the Bend community when you visit, check out our Visit Like a Local
    • Prepare your tummy for goodness. In a matter of days, you’ll be able to cap off a day of skiing with a Nacho Mountain and a Bloody Mary in the Clearing Rock Bar at Mt. Bachelor. Start salivating now.
The Bloody Marys at Mt. Bachelor are legendary.

The Bloody Marys at Mt. Bachelor are legendary.

  • Nail down a place to stay. While winter is a quieter time to visit Bend than, say, mid-August, lodging can still book up fast on weekends and peak holiday dates. Whether you’re looking for a budget hotel or for a Bend vacation home to share with a big pack of pals, book nice and early to ensure you have the optimum spot to rest your bones.
  • Double check the safety gear. If you’re a back-country skiing enthusiast, you already know it’s crucial to have your safety tools in tip-top shape. Get out your beacon, probe, shovel, and other safety gear and inspect it with a fine-toothed comb to make sure everything is in good working order. For tips on back-country skiing around Bend, go here.
  • Plan your downtime activities wisely. As much as you might dream of eating powder for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when you’re in Bend, you want to sprinkle in a few non-snow activities, too. If the Bend Ale Trail is on your wish list, make plans beforehand to have the Bend Brew Bus haul you around so there’s no risk of driving while impaired. If you’re a foodie who wants to experience the best of Bend’s culinary scene, peruse our dining pages or skim the drinking and dining category on this blog for ideas. Then make reservations so you won’t miss out on any of your top spots.

 

Prep for your family-friendly winter adventure

While many of the tips above apply to traveling parties of all sizes, there’s an extra layer of planning when you’re vacationing with kids.

I just spent the weekend helping my stepkids purge ill-fitting snow gear from their closets, so I know what a pain it can be to get everyone ready for winter with no missing mittens. Here’s where to start if you’re gearing up for a family vacation this winter.

    • Try on all the gear. Yes, your kids will think it’s silly to pull on snow pants when it’s 65-degrees and sunny outside, but now’s the time to figure out what you’ve got to work with. Have the youngsters try on everything—jackets, snow pants, gloves, thermal underwear, hats, boots, wool socks, and hats. Look for rips, tears, or things they’ve outgrown, and get those items replaced or repaired so you don’t figure out someone’s boots are too small two miles into a snowshoe trip. BONUS: Places like Costco still have a good selection of quality winter gear right now, but that won’t be the case in a few weeks when everything’s been picked over.

      Is your family's winter gear ready for everything from snowshoeing to tubing at Mt. Bachelor?

      Is your family’s winter gear ready for everything from snowshoeing to tubing at Mt. Bachelor?

    • Wash everything. All those hats and gloves I mentioned? They’re carrying some serious stank after sitting in the closet all summer. Get everything washed and ready to wear. You’ll thank me in a few weeks when you’re not doing loads of laundry at 2 a.m. the night before your Bend vacation.
    • Stockpile necessities. Treats are crucial when you’re traveling with kids, so make sure you have goodies on hand like granola bars and fruit leather. Stock up on post-snow sustenance like cocoa and cider packets or easy-to-mix chai. My stepkids are nuts about Trader Joes’ seasonal spiced cider, so we buy bottles in bulk and keep them on hand to warm up after a day of snow play.
    • Buy snow chains. Most folks visiting Bend from less snowy areas don’t have snow tires the way locals do, so it’s smart to have a set of chains in your car and the ability to put them on. Trust me: it’s a lot easier to learn to put chains on your car in the comfort of your garage than it is when you’re face-down in a snowbank on the side of the highway. I’m a big fan of Les Schwab, where they’ll not only tell you what sort of chains your vehicle needs, they’ll show you in an idiot-friendly fashion how to put them on.
Snowshoeing is one of dozens of ways to play in the snow in Bend.

Book early to make sure you don’t miss out on snow-play with Wanderlust Tours.

  • Plan early for tours and special adventures. Last year my whole extended family visited Mt. Bachelor the day after Christmas to enjoy the Snowblast Tubing Park. While we were there, we watched the sled dog teams from Oregon Trail of Dreams and called to inquire about booking. The person who answered was kind enough not to laugh, but she did point out that the two weeks around Christmas had been booked solid for months. Lesson learned! I won’t make that mistake twice, whether I’m planning a snowshoe adventure with Wanderlust Tours or booking a snowmobiling tour. Book early at peak times so you don’t end up missing out!
  • Read up on deals and discounts. There are oodles of great promotions out there for families on a budget. Besides the 96-hour lift ticket sale I mentioned earlier, there’s the popular Kids Ski Free option and the Ski or Ride in 5 program for lessons. Off the snow, you’ll find several local restaurants with special deals for families. Both 900 Wall and Fire in Bend have kids-eat-free deals on Sundays, and Longboard Louie’s does it all weekend (that’s assuming you pay for adult meals, too). If you plan to do some ice skating at The Pavillion, buy a punch pass or season pass to save a bundle for the whole fam.

 

6 ways to do some post-election self-care in Bend, Oregon

November 10th, 2016

Regardless of whether you’re elated or heartbroken over the results of this week’s presidential vote, one thing’s pretty clear: This election cycle was hard on all of us.

You need a break. A reset. A chance to clear your head and remind yourself what’s really important.

The Alder Springs trail is one of countless hikes you can enjoy for a little head-clearing fresh air.

The Alder Springs trail is one of countless hikes you can enjoy for a little head-clearing fresh air.

Is there any better place on earth to do that than Bend, Oregon?

 

First things first. Get some fresh air.

Ever notice you breathe a little easier when you’re outside? (Er, when it’s not allergy season).

Whether you need a scenic space to let your jubilation soar, or a place to escape the din of news reports and social media, Bend is the perfect spot to find your outdoor sanctuary. Bonus: Temps have been surprisingly warm this fall, and there’s very little snow even at high elevations. That’s a fine excuse for a fall hike.

I rounded up my favorite family-friendly hikes in this blog post, or you can find more ideas on Visit Bend’s hiking page.

Get out there. Breathe deeply. Now on to the next step.

 

Treat yourself to a dose of bliss

A Bend vacation is the perfect time to splurge on a little pampering under any circumstances, but these post-election days make it extra vital to treat your body kindly.

Blogger Tawna and her husband, Craig, enjoy the glorious Couples Massage Workshop at Brasada Ranch.

Blogger Tawna and her husband, Craig, enjoy the glorious Couples Massage Workshop at Brasada Ranch.

Let a year’s worth of stress melt away when you book a massage or facial at one of our Bend day spas. If you’re here for a romantic getaway with your sweetie, consider booking a couples’ massage class at Brasada Ranch so you can continue your practice at home.

If you’re traveling on a budget, Phagan’s Cosmotology School and Premiere Aesthetics Institute both offer discounted services performed by students in training.

 

Honor the men and women who’ve served

Bend has one of the largest Veteran’s Day parades in the entire state, and it’s happening this Friday, November 11, 2016 at 11 a.m. in Downtown Bend. You can get the details here.

The Bend Heroes Memorial Plaza on the Deschutes River in Bend.

The Bend Heroes Memorial Plaza on the Deschutes River in Bend.

If you’d prefer to do your reflection in a more quiet fashion, visit the Bend Heroes Memorial Plaza in Brooks Park. There, you’ll find a collection of bricks engraved with the names of first responders, veterans, and others who’ve served the Bend community. You’ll also find pretty stunning views of the Deschutes River, so sit for a while on the bench and reflect.

If all that puts you in a frame of mind to pay your respects to those no longer with us, you’ll find several cemeteries around Central Oregon (including some with historic graves from early homesteaders).

 

Lend a hand

You'll find plenty of "voluntourism" opportunities in Bend (including things like Wanderlust Tours' annual cave cleanup event).

You’ll find plenty of “voluntourism” opportunities in Bend (including things like Wanderlust Tours’ annual cave cleanup event).

Whether you need the lift of helping others to soothe your own aching heart, or you have some extra joy to share right now, consider volunteering when you’re in Bend. You’ll find several “voluntourism” efforts rounded up in this blog post, ranging from cave cleanup efforts led by Wanderlust Tours to an annual river cleanup led by the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council.

There are also plenty of small ways to give back, including little efforts like picking up trash while you hike or paying with cash instead of cards so small business owners don’t get hit with fees. Check out our Visit Like a Local page for more ideas.

 

Now go grab some comfort food

The ultimate comfort food: mac & cheese made with beer and topped with bacon at Crux Fermentation Project.

The ultimate comfort food: mac & cheese made with beer and topped with bacon at Crux Fermentation Project.

The last twelve months have left all our bellies in knots at one time or another, so now’s a good time to treat your tummy to something soothing.

As you cruise around Bend’s culinary scene, you’ll find gluten-free eats and cuisine for vegetarian and vegan palates if that’s what your body needs. You can also seek out specific comfort foods like Bend’s best burgers or tasty bacon dishes or yummy eggs benedict.

And don’t forget to check out this blog post on some of my personal favorite comfort food dishes in Bend.

 

Be nice. You’re in Bend.

There’s a reason you see that little phrase on so many bumper stickers around town. There’s a kindness here that permeates the air, even in the midst of the most divisive election cycle of my lifetime.

Yes. This.

Yes. This.

Folks may be tearing each other apart in vitriolic Facebook posts, but on the streets of Bend, people still smile at each other. They hold doors open for one another and they occasionally sit at stop signs for much too long doing that overpolite back-and-forth dance of, “After you!” and “No, I insist—after you!”

Whether your chosen candidate won or lost, there’s been a lot of mud flung from all sides of the political spectrum. Now’s the time to wash our hands, scrape off the muck, and move forward with kindness.

Be nice to each other, guys. Especially when you’re in Bend.

Megan Phallon is the new featured artist for Visit Bend’s Pillars of Art program

November 3rd, 2016

At the Bend Visitor Center, we not only allow people to draw on the walls—we encourage it!

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Artist Megan Phallon does chalk art on the pillars in Visit Bend’s lobby.

Once a year, Visit Bend chooses a 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 Megan Phallon. For her Pillars of Art installment, she created an array of scenes featuring Central Oregon landmarks and landscapes. There’s even a hat-tip to Bend’s craft brewing industry and dog-friendly nature!

You can see Megan’s work at the Bend Visitor Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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

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

Megan: I grew up mainly in Northern California, but I’ve also lived in South Dakota, Utah, Minnesota, and in the Caribbean. We moved to the Bend area to look for change from the desert. More of a small town artsy vibe.
Visit Bend: Tell us about your artistic training.

Megan: I’m a self-trained artist, and I’ve joked with friends that I have no idea if I’m doing any of it right. I’ve loved art since I was a kid.

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Some of Megan Phallon’s artwork for the Pillars of Art program.

I started doing commissioned artwork about eleven years ago after I’d done some paintings on my friends’ kids’ walls. After that I started getting requests. I took it slowly when I lived in Utah — just, thematically, my stuff’s a little odd. I love surrealism and bright colors, but at the time I lived in Southern Utah, which was just landscape or religious art.

I just kind of put it on the back burner for a couple of years, and then we moved out of the country to the Caribbean. The last place I lived there was in the Dominican Republic. We had a ton of street artists who would come over from Haiti, and they loved the school-bus yellows and reds and oranges and blues. They were just so refreshing after living around very kind of oatmeal landscapes in many ways. I loved the mixture of colors.

 

Visit Bend: How would you describe your artistic style?

Megan: I love surrealist art. I have narcolepsy, which causes excessive, uncontrollable daytime sleepiness and occasional hallucinations. Very vivid dreams are part of the nervous disorder. I dream in sight, sounds, audio and visual, and even have sense hallucinations, which sounds really creepy. I see things from my dreams when I open my eyes. My dream-world sometimes blurs with reality, and when I channel that into my art, it results in vivid, surreal images with bright colors.

 

Visit Bend: What’s your favorite medium?

Megan: I really like to work with acrylic, but I also enjoy pen and ink and charcoal.

Visit Bend: Who are your artistic influences?

Megan:  I like Kyle P. Stuart, as well as several local artists, August Vielle, and Roxanne Patruznick, and Cristiano Tweny.

 

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

Megan: I love the Bend area! I live in Sisters where there’s a mix of people from every side of the country and the locals are intent on getting the best of life for themselves and their families and pets.

Living in Bend is to be inspired every day. The high contrast between the soft yellow fields and the sharp jagged snow-covered mountains and trees is stunning.

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More of Megan Phallon’s chalk art on the pillars in the Bend Visitor Center.

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

Megan: When I’m not painting, I enjoy spending time with my two sons, ages 15 and 12. They both love climbing and mountain biking.

I love running and coming up with inventions. And of course, napping, because of my narcolepsy!

 

Visit Bend:  What’s your impression of the Bend art scene, and how do you think the Pillars of Art program fits with that?

Megan: I appreciate the variety of local artists here. For small area, there’s some phenomenal representation.

The pillars are interesting because many of us are not used to working with chalk, so it helps us to express ourselves in a different way and to learn from it. I like the pillars because it reminds people to look at the ordinary and imagine the beautiful.

9 things you need to know about the Bend Ale Trail

October 27th, 2016

November is Bend Ale Trail Month, and 2016 marks the third time we’ve enjoyed this month-long celebration of Bend’s craft beer scene.

Behold, the coveted Bend Ale Trail Month trophy.

Behold, the coveted Bend Ale Trail Month trophy.

While you get a killer souvenir Silipint anytime you turn in a completed Bend Ale Trail passport, doing it in November earns you extra bragging rights, along with the oft-coveted Bend Ale Trail trophy to put on your mantle.

You’ll also have a shot at additional prizes throughout the month, which you can earn by posting about your Bend Ale Trail adventures on social media (keep reading to learn more about that!)

While we’re on the topic of the Bend Ale Trail, here are nine things you should know about trekking the nation’s top trail of beer.

 

You don’t have to drink a drop

Don’t get me wrong—if you want to spend your Bend Ale Trail adventure sipping your way through creamy porters and hoppy IPAs, rock on with your bad self.

But you’re not required to drink a single drop of beer. You do have to show up in person at each brewery to get your passport stamped, of course. But eating, drinking, or buying anything at all is optional. This is good news for teetotalers and designated drivers.

You don't have to drink a drop to complete the Bend Ale Trail, and many breweries (like Deschutes!) have tasty non-alcoholic options for those choosing to abstain.

You don’t have to drink a drop to complete the Bend Ale Trail, and many breweries (like Deschutes!) have tasty non-alcoholic options for those choosing to abstain.

And while kids under 21 aren’t allowed to participate in the Bend Ale Trail program, they’ll find plenty of non-alcoholic selections along the trail. My personal fave: The root beer and ginger beer brewed up fresh at Deschutes Brewery.

 

Pace yourself, buddy

If you do plan to swill beer during your Bend Ale Trail journey, it’s important to be smart about consumption. A few quick:

  • Eat a hearty meal before you set out, and plan to eat at a couple breweries along the way.
  • Take frequent water breaks. Tote your own Hydro Flask, or ask your server to set you up with a big glass of ice water.
  • Opt for smaller schooners instead of full pints of beer, or stick with samples.
  • Share a taster tray with a pack of friends so everyone can try a wide variety of beer without overindulging.
  • Don’t try to hit all the breweries in one weekend. Take it nice and slow!
  • Make a plan before you set out, including how many breweries you plan to hit and how you’ll get safely back to your Bend hotel or vacation rental.

 

And speaking of being responsible…

Don’t even think of drinking and driving. Seriously.

Leave the driving to someone else when you book an outing with the Bend Brew Bus.

Leave the driving to someone else when you book an outing with the Bend Brew Bus.

There are gazillion ways to travel between breweries without risking a DUI or someone’s life. Here are just a few of them:

While Lyft and Uber aren’t currently in Bend, city officials are currently exploring the possibility. Bottom line: There’s no excuse for driving while impaired. Ending up dead or in jail will put a serious damper on your Bend vacation.

 

There’s no expiration date

While you do need to turn in your completed passport in November if you want the trophy for Bend Ale Trail Month, there’s no urgency to hit all the breweries in one trip to Bend. Your Bend Ale Trail passport never expires, so you can gather stamps over multiple visits to Bend. Heck, we’ve had folks show up in the Bend Visitor Center to claim passports they’ve been working on for years. Take your time and savor every last drop!

 

Wanna win stuff?

I already mentioned the trophies, which are clearly the top prize during Bend Ale Trail Month.

Bend Ale Trail Month is a great time to visit some of the newer breweries that were recently added to the program, including Sunriver Brewing.

Bend Ale Trail Month is a great time to visit some of the newer breweries that were recently added to the program, including Sunriver Brewing.

But beyond the trophies, the breweries are extra generous with prizes this time of year. Hats, shirts, stickers, gift cards, Hydro Flasks, Silipints, and so much more can be yours with just a few taps of your phone screen.

Just snap a pic of your beerventure and share it on Instagram using the hashtag #bendaletrailmonth. We’ll randomly select winners to receive schwag throughout the month. Easy peasy!

 

Don’t break the bank for a place to snooze

Unless money’s no object, you don’t have oodles of cash to spend on your Bend Ale Trail journey.

Save your funds for important things like beer and food by checking out our deals page for discounts on Bend lodging. Plenty of Bend hotels offer special pricing and packages during Bend Ale Trail Month.

 

The Grilled Cheesy from Crux Fermentation Project. It'll change your life, I swear.

The Grilled Cheesy from Crux Fermentation Project. It’ll change your life, I swear.

The beer’s great, sure! But have you tried the food?

I love beer, don’t get me wrong. But the thing I love best about doing the Bend Ale Trail is the chance to sample tasty chow at so many different breweries.

Since it behooves you to have some food in your belly while you’re trekking the trail, here’s a handy guide to my favorite dish at every brewery on the Bend Ale Trail:

The only brewery on the list that doesn’t currently have food is Boneyard Brewing, so I can’t weigh in on the best dish there (though I can tell you their RPM IPA will vastly improve your life). But since they currently have a new brew pub under construction, you can expect to see food very soon. Keep an eye on their website for updates on the completion date.

 

Jog it off

Planning to visit Bend for Bend Ale Trail month, but worried about all those extra beer calories? Never fear! Sign up for the Bend Ale Run on November 12 and fit in a little cardio with your fellow beer-lovers.

There’s a half-marathon and a 10k, plus an option to pedal the course for cyclists. You can even opt to walk it with a generous 5-hour time slot for completion.

To learn more and to register, go here.

 

Yum.

Yum.

There’s an app for that

Not in the mood to pack the Bend Ale Trail atlas with you everywhere you go? No problem!

Save trees and keep everything tucked neatly in your pocket when you check in at all your stops using the handy Bend Ale Trail app.

It’s free to download for iPhone and Android devices, and you can gather virtual stamps right there in the app (not to mention plotting your route, reading up on each brewery, and finding a place to stay). Download the app here.

7 fab ways to do date night in Bend, Oregon

October 20th, 2016

Date nights are a rare and precious thing in my world. Between family time, my job at Visit Bend, and my not-so-secret life as a romantic comedy author, it’s tough to find free time for a bathroom break, let alone a whole date night.

But studies have shown regular date nights are crucial for any relationship, so I’m making the effort. Luckily, Bend is a great place to plan one. Or two. Or heck, a whole week of them.

The new Broom Closet Bar at McMenamins has a cozy, romantic vibe.  Photo by Kathleen Nyberg

The new Broom Closet Bar at McMenamins has a cozy, romantic vibe.
Photo by Kathleen Nyberg

Here are seven tried-and-tested date nights to try in Bend, Oregon.

 

Dinner and a movie with a Bend twist

Turn your boring “dinner and a movie” habit into something magical (not to mention convenient) when you park yourself at McMenamins Old St. Francis in Downtown Bend.

The property got its start as a 1930s Catholic schoolhouse, but was transformed into a hotel, movie house, brewery, and more in 2004. A brand new renovation completed in July 2016 added two new buildings, a bunch of guest rooms, and even a new “hidden” bar, all of which are worth checking out if you haven’t been there for a while.

Start in the cozy Fireside Bar for an intimate pre-dinner drink, or head straight to the Old St. Francis Pub for dinner. You’ll find standard pub fare like pasta, burgers, and pizza, or opt for something more exotic like the poke marinated ahi (my personal fave).

With your bellies full, head for the movie theater and snag a comfy loveseat for two so you can snuggle. Don’t worry if you didn’t grab dinner first. You can order food to enjoy in the theater, including full meals or just Cajun tots and a beer.

After the show, head for the soaking pool. You and your honey will luxuriate in soft, saline water while scoping out the artwork and shimmering turquoise tile. Don’t forget to look up through the open ceiling for a glimpse of the stars.

Time for a post-soak drink? Park yourself by one of the fire pits at O’Kanes, or hunt for the elusive new Broom Closet Bar. Then retire to your room at McMenamins knowing you accomplished an entire date night without venturing more than a few hundred feet from your bed.

 

The Downtown get-around

Can’t decide which Bend restaurant or watering hole you want to visit? There’s no need to choose! Plan a route through Downtown Bend that lets you hit all the hot spots on your list.

Start with a happy hour drink at Dogwood Cocktail Cabin, which has some of the most unique concoctions you’ll find anywhere in town. Happy hour is also a great time to hit 5 Fusion, which boasts a menu created by Chef Joe Kim, a three-time semifinalist for the James Beard Award (sorta like the Oscars for chefs). Order an array of tasty sushi, or satisfy any non-fishy fans in the party with their filet mignon lollipops.

The balsamic grilled artichoke is a new addition to the menu at 10Below and sooooo tasty!

The balsamic grilled artichoke is a new addition to the menu at 10Below and sooooo tasty!

With your appetite whetted, head someplace you can order smaller dishes with some fun variety. I’m partial to Joolz with its unique Mediterranean fare and specially-priced menu that’s available anytime you opt to sit at the bar. The Camel Wings and the cauliflower are my personal faves.

Ready to get down? Head below street-level to The Capitol to soak up live music and a fun, funky vibe while you sip the Capitol Manhattan with blackberry and cocoa nib bourbon.

Want to keep going? There’s a terrific late-night happy hour at 10Below Restaurant & Lounge that features great deals on drinks and apps. Keep it light with their sweet cardamom pretzel with three dipping sauces, or indulge your craving for savory with their mouthwatering balsamic grilled artichoke.

Wrap up your evening by calling a cab so you make it safely back to your Bend hotel or vacation rental.

 

Plan a picnic (even in the dead of winter!)

Date nights don’t necessarily need to take place at night. Why not plan a romantic picnic so you can savor time with your sweetie in Bend’s beautiful outdoor spaces?

Try a romantic post-Thanksgiving outing with Wanderlust Tours.

A winter picnic makes a great date!

First things first: The food. Stock up on gourmet nibbles or grab-and-go eats at Newport Avenue Market. You’ll also find a terrific selection of ready-made salads and wraps right across the street at Devore’s Market.

Now you need to pick a place. If it’s warm outside, peruse this list of local parks to find the right spot. With nearly 80 parks scattered around our fair city, you can pick among cozy pocket parks, scenic riverfront locales, or a snazzy covered pavilion near a playground so you can frolic like kids after your meal.

And don’t think you have to skip the picnic just because there’s snow on the ground. Take a romantic winter Nordic skiing adventure together with the picnic goods in your backpack. Once you’ve worked up a good sweat on the trails at Virginia Meissner Sno Park, stop at one of the romantic warming huts to enjoy your meal (along with the views!)

 

A night under the stars

Love the idea of an al fresco outing, but you don’t feel like picking a place, rounding up gear, and driving to your destination?

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

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

Let Wanderlust Tours do the work for you! During the winter months, book their Bonfire on the Snow tour. You and a small group will join a knowledgeable naturalist guide as you hoof it through the starlit forest to an amphitheater carved in the snow. There, you’ll nibble sweet treats and sip an adult beverage as you take in the stars together. Wanderlust has had dozens of couples get engaged on this outing over the years, so if you’re thinking of popping the question, this is a fab time to do it.

In warmer months, Wanderlust Tours runs moonlight/starlight canoe tours on the High Cascade Lakes. What could be more romantic than canoodling in a canoe? Just like with the snowshoe tours, all your gear is included, along with transportation and treats.

 

The Old Mill stroll

One of Bend’s most vibrant shopping districts spans a scenic section of the Deschutes River. That makes the Old Mill District a terrific spot for a mid-afternoon date that can continue as late as you like.

Grab a romantic river view table at Greg's Grill in the Old Mill District.

Grab a romantic river view table at Greg’s Grill in the Old Mill District.

Seize the daylight before sunset and set out on a stroll along the Deschutes River. Make it a game to see who can spot otters, beavers, or countless birds shown in the free birding guide you can pick up in the Ticket Mill (along with free rental binoculars if you like).

Weave your way in and out of cute boutiques and cafes, stopping to grab a cup of coffee at Strictly Organic or a glass of wine at the tasting room for Naked Winery or Va Piano.

When your stomach starts growling, head to Greg’s Grill or Anthony’s  for a romantic riverfront dinner. If you’ve planned ahead, you can reserve a table with views of the water so you don’t have to give up a single second of sightseeing.

After dinner, stroll over to Flatbread Community Oven for a scoop of gelato and an excuse to warm your ice cream chilled hands in someone else’s back pocket. Um, preferably your loved one.

 

Get jazzy with your sweetheart

Full disclosure: I am not a fan of jazz music.

Blogger Tawna on a date night for Jazz at the Oxford.

Blogger Tawna on a date night for Jazz at the Oxford.

But you know what? That’s never stopped me from thoroughly enjoying Jazz at the Oxford events hosted October through March in the Oxford Hotel for the last seven years.

Maybe it’s the terrific food and wine or the swanky setting, or maybe it’s the thrill of doing something a little outside my normal comfort zone. Either way, I’m not surprised the shows sell out every single season.

Which is one reason I was thrilled to learn the Riverhouse on the Deschutes just launched their own jazz series spanning October through April. This is a great chance to check out the $10-million renovation project they just completed, and to have a killer meal in the new Currents restaurant.

You can see the schedule (and learn more about their special Jazz + Ski + Stay packages) right here.

 

Come on baby, light my fire

I love fireplaces and fire pits so much that I once wrote an entire blog post about them.

Even if you don’t share my fire fanaticism, you’ve gotta admit there’s something magical and romantic about snuggling up beside crackling flames as you sip a craft beer or enjoy a romantic fireside meal.

Sipping beer by the fire at Crux Fermentation Project makes a romantic date night in any season.

Sipping beer by the fire at Crux Fermentation Project makes a romantic date night in any season.

Why not do a mini-tour of some of Bend’s best fireside hot spots?

Start with brunch at Jackson’s Corner Eastside, which boasts a cool patio fire feature in front of the restaurant. Cozy up together and enjoy matching bacon biscuit sandwiches and warm mugs of local tea.

After that, head for the Old Mill District to do a little shopping. You can make a fire pit pit stop (har!) at several locations including Pastini Pastaria (which boasts two vertical, standing outdoor fireplaces), Greg’s Grill (which boasts a huge outdoor fire pit that seats 20) and Anthony’s  (which has three fire pits that can hold about 12 people each).

Finished shopping? Time to check out Bend’s craft beer scene with a stop or two on the Bend Ale Trail. The fire pit at Crux Fermentation Project is one of my favorites, and makes a great spot to share a taster tray. Make it a relationship-building exercise to choose your six sample beers together or try and guess what your loved one might pick.

10 Barrel has a killer fire pit as well, along with a tap list that always includes at least a couple sour beers (yum!) You can also cozy up together in the biergarten at GoodLife Brewing to share a snuggle by the fire, followed by a lively game of bocce ball.

 

8 ways to survive Election 2016 by hanging out in Bend, Oregon

October 13th, 2016

Is anyone else feeling bogged down by all the negative garbage in this election season? The bickering, the accusations, the comment trails that leave you wishing you could poke your eyes out with a rusty fork . . .

Escape election cycle insanity with a walk int he woods!

Escape election cycle insanity with a walk int he woods!

With nearly four weeks to go, it’s easy to see how you might feel a little disheartened by politics and the world in general. While I won’t claim we’re immune from political lunacy here in our little Bend utopia, I’ve rounded up eight ways you can shake off the election season blahs in Bend, Oregon.

 

Indulge in a little nature therapy

There’s something about fresh air that always hits the reset button on my attitude. Luckily, there’s plenty of that to go around in Bend.

Go for a fall hike someplace the colors are at their peak right now. Tumalo Falls, the Deschutes River Trail, Drake Park, and Shevlin Park are all great options at the moment (er, at least until the storm knocks all the leaves off the trees!)

For a stronger adrenaline rush, book a mountain biking tour with Cog Wild or do something really wild like bungee jumping with Central Oregon Bungee Adventures.

If you prefer to find serenity on the water, book a canoe or kayak outing with Wanderlust Tours or Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe.

 

Distract your brain from the madness

With the constant onslaught of nasty Facebook posts and debate coverage, it can help to focus your mind on something less chaotic.

Give your brain a break from politics by visiting the Deschutes Historical Museum and checking out their awesome Nordic skiing exhibit.

Give your brain a break from politics by visiting the Deschutes Historical Museum and checking out their awesome Nordic skiing exhibit.

Scope out the schedule at AstroLounge and hit their ever-popular Trivia Night to exercise your mind muscles in a way that doesn’t involve leaving fiery comments on your crazy uncle’s Facebook posts.

You can also flex your brain with a visit to Bend Escape Room. 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.

For more cerebral distractions in Bend, check out the critters and natural history at the High Desert Museum, or learn about the historical side of bend at the Deschutes Historical Museum.

You can also get your science fix (along with a tasty craft beer!) by attending one of the Science Pub events at McMenamins Old Saint Francis.

For more mental distractions, peruse our Event Calendar to learn more about special events like Tenth Month or opportunities to catch a play or concert.

 

Watch the tails wag

Few places on earth are as happy-making as Bend’s off-leash dog parks. There are eight of them to choose from, and each one offers a joyful abundance of gleeful tail wagging and giddy pup play.

Watch the tails wag (and giggle like a 12-year-old over scenes like this) when you visit an off-leash dog park in Bend.

Watch the tails wag (and giggle like a 12-year-old over scenes like this) when you visit an off-leash dog park in Bend.

It’s fun to watch even if you don’t have a dog, but you should really remedy things if that’s the case. How about adopting a rescue dog from the Humane Society of Central Oregon or Brightside Animal Center? Those pups have been trail tested on Central Oregon terrain, so you know you’ll get a buddy who’ll be happy to join you each time you return for a dog-friendly Bend vacation.

 

Do good deeds

When you’re feeling crappy about humanity (and let’s be honest—this election cycle is making a lot of us feel that way) it can help to do something nice for someone else.

You'll find plenty of "voluntourism" opportunities in Bend (including things like Wanderlust Tours' annual cave cleanup event).

You’ll find plenty of “voluntourism” opportunities in Bend (including things like Wanderlust Tours’ annual cave cleanup event).

It can be as simple as buying a treat for the person in line behind you at a Bend coffee shop. (Note, if I happen to be in line behind you, I’m especially fond of the chai at Thump Coffee).

If you’d rather lend an outdoorsy twist to your do-gooding, tuck a trash bag in your pack and pick up garbage along the trail during your hike. That way you’ll leave Bend’s outdoor spaces a little nicer than you found them!

You can also seek out organized volunteer opportunities through Connect Central Oregon or by scoping out some of the “voluntourism” opportunities I rounded up in this post.

 

Be a kid again

Remember when you were six years old and cared more about your gumball collection than who might become president of the United States?

Recapture that lost innocence by planning a kid-centric outing (even if you don’t have children!)

Blogger Tawna's family prepares to cruise in the go karts at Sun Mountain Fun Center.

Blogger Tawna’s family prepares to cruise in the go karts at Sun Mountain Fun Center.

Ride go-karts at Sun Mountain Fun Center. Frolic in piles of leaves at Drake Park. Go roller skating at Cascade Indoor Sports.  Play vintage arcade games at Vector Volcano. Go bowling at Lava Lanes. Run around like a maniac at one of Bend’s 80+ parks and playgrounds.

Then cap off your day of fun with a treat at Goody’s or a burger and fries at Dandy’s Drive-In (where the servers will roller skate to your car to deliver your food!)

 

Treat yourself  

There’s no shame in self-care, and there are plenty of ways to pamper yourself when you’re in Bend.

Massage is a great way to offset political stress with a healthy dose of bliss.

Massage is a great way to offset political stress with a healthy dose of bliss.

Schedule a massage or facial at a Bend day spa, or go the extra mile by booking a couples’ massage class at Brasada Ranch so you and your sweetie can replicate the experience at home.

Buy yourself a tasty gelato at Bonta, or treat yourself to a super-special meal at one of Bend’s renowned restaurants like 5 Fusion, Jackalope Grill, Ariana Restaurant, Chow, Greg’s Grill, Trattoria Sbandati, or the Blacksmith.

Want to indulge in a little retail therapy? You’ll find tons of great shops in Downtown Bend and the Old Mill District, or check out our abundance of thrift stores and consignment shops to score a secondhand find.

Sometimes just sitting still is a great way to feel better about the world.

Sometimes just sitting still is a great way to feel better about the world.

 

Soak up some feel-good photos

Seven days a week, 365 days a year, Visit Bend is out there posting beautiful Bend photos on our social media channels. We promise they’ll lift your spirits and give you something to smile about even when you’re not able to be in Bend.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to make sure you never miss a post!

 

Sit still

Find a park bench. Maybe it’s somewhere in Drake Park overlooking Mirror Pond and the distant mountains. Maybe it’s in Downtown Bend where you can watch people strolling past with steaming mugs of cocoa and bright fall sweaters.

Have a seat. Breathe in. Breathe out. Be still. Feel the tension slowly draining out of your shoulders.

Ahhhhh….

6 reasons to get excited about October in Bend

October 6th, 2016

One of the upsides of living in Bend for nearly 20 years is that I’ve developed a sort of Christmas-morning-like excitement about the surprises our autumn weather has in store. Will it dump a foot of snow on Bend the way it did in early-October 2009? Or is the weatherman right in his prediction that our temps this weekend will hit an unseasonably-warm 77-degrees?

You kinda never know, which keeps me in a constant state of giddy excitement this time of year. Here are six other things I dearly love about October in Bend, Oregon.

 

Drake Park is a must-see in October for fans of fall color.

Drake Park is a must-see in October for fans of fall color.

Fall colors abound

The fall foliage is in full bloom right now in Bend, dazzling us with glorious rainbows of red, gold, orange and everything in between.

Some of my favorite spots to see autumn’s glory include Drake Park and nearby Pioneer Park. Cruise along Mt. Washington Drive for another scenic swatch of color, or stroll Downtown Bend or the Old Mill District (assuming high winds don’t knock all the leaves down over the next few days).

The Three Sisters got a dusting of snow earlier this week.

The Three Sisters got a dusting of snow earlier this week.

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

 

Snow Watch 2016

If you follow the Facebook pages for Mt. Bachelor and Visit Bend, you know this is the time when we’re all breathlessly posting images with captions like “first snow!” and “more fresh powder!”

Even if you’re not a winter sports enthusiast (raises hand) you can’t help but feel giddy about the changing seasons and the beautiful skiffs of white stuff piling up in the mountains.

Snowball fight, anyone?

 

Pumpkin-flavored EVERYTHING

Maybe the pumpkin-flavored lattes popping up in the coffeehouse chains this time of year aren’t your thing, but there are plenty of other ways to get your fill of this festive gourd in Bend.

10 Barrel makes a tasty pumpkin beer!

10 Barrel makes a tasty pumpkin beer!

For a pumpkiny twist on the Bend Ale Trail, check out seasonal faves like Twisted Gourd from Silver Moon Brewing or Big Ol’ Pumpkin from 10 Barrel.

When lunchtime rolls around, try the Thai Curry Squash Soup at Barrio. If your sweet tooth starts calling it, answer with Pumpkin Spice Gelato from Bontà.

For more ideas, check out this roundup I wrote 2 years ago featuring 10 great pumpkin-flavored treats in Bend.

 

Wallow in creativity

I’ve always loved the weekend of the Bend Film Festival (October 6-9, 2016) when the air is crisp, the leaves are bright, and there’s a hum of creative energy buzzing all over town.

BendFilm is a great excuse to visit Bend in October.

BendFilm is a great excuse to visit Bend in October.

And since I also get my creative fix later in the month when the Swivel Digital and Creative Marketing Conference rolls around (Oct. 10-11, 2016) I was tickled when someone came up with the idea of pulling it all together under one creative umbrella.

Tenth Month is a month-long celebration of innovation in art, film, marketing, technology, and design. It incudes the events I just mentioned, plus Bend Venture Conference and Bend Design Conference. Check out their website to find out what’s happening and to plan your ultimate creative getaway in Bend this October!

 

Get goosebumps on a Historical Haunts Tour

I almost hesitate to mention this one, since the tours always book up fast and I want to make sure my family doesn’t miss out.

The historic Tower Theatre is one of the regular stops on the Historic Haunts tour.

The historic Tower Theatre is one of the regular stops on the Historic Haunts tour.

But the Historical Haunts Tour from the Deschutes Historical Society is offered for only a brief time each October, so you’ll want to mark your calendar if you love spooky ghost stories as much as I do.

The money you save on Bend lodging in October will leave you more to spend while you kick through the leaves in Downtown Bend.

The money you save on Bend lodging in October will leave you more to spend while you kick through the leaves in Downtown Bend.

The tours are guided by volunteers and staff at the Deschutes Historical Museum, and last about an hour. You’ll be taken to a variety of historical buildings and sites around Downtown Bend, and you’ll hear spooky tales guaranteed to raise the hair on your arms.

The 2016 tours are happening Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29 with the first tour beginning at 4 p.m. and the last departing at 7:30 p.m. Call early on the day of your tour to pre-pay and reserve a spot, and be sure to bring a flashlight and wear good walking shoes. For pricing, registration info, and more, go here.

 

Save a few bucks during shoulder season           

Not everyone outside the tourism biz know the term “shoulder season,” but those who do know it’s the best time of year to score great deals on lodging and activities.

In Bend, our shoulder season happens from late-fall to early-winter and then again in early spring (by contrast, peak times are summer break, winter break, and spring break).

In other words, October is pretty much the perfect time to plan a Bend vacation. Crowds are smaller, prices are lower, and the weather is still pretty mild.

For the inside scoop on shoulder season deals, check out our Deals and Discounts page.

 


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