Bend Oregon Blog | The Bend Buzz Blog by Visit Bend
I should state, for the record, that I’m fairly certain people of all genders experience a plethora of magnificence while living or vacationing in Bend.
But since I happen to possess the chromosomal makeup marking me as female, I’m uniquely equipped to appreciate a few of the special things Bend offers to people of my gender. Here are a few of them.
A beer culture just for us
Last summer I had the pleasure of participating in a focus group through the Central Oregon Beer Angels in which women shared the evolution of their own beer appreciation. Not surprisingly, many of us grew up thinking of beer as “that gross warm stuff dad drinks from a can.”
Luckily, our beer experiences and beer culture in general has evolved a lot since then. Now there’s a whole segment of the beer world in Bend targeted specifically at women.
For starters, I’m wildly in love with my “girl vs. beer” t-shirt commemorating the Bend Ale Trail. I get compliments every time I wear it, and I crack up every time some big, burly guy walks into the Bend Visitor Center asking if we have one in his size. If you can’t stop by in-person, you can buy your own shirt online here. (Insider tip: They run a little small, so go one size bigger than you’d normally buy).
While I appreciate all kinds of beer from stouts to porters to IPAs, there’s a special place in my heart (not to mention my belly) for the female-centric brews at Boneyard Beer. This time of year, the sour ale Femme Fatale is usually on-tap and offering tasty raspberry flavors and a great breakfasty (that’s totally a word) flavor. In the summer months, their popular Girl Beer offers a similar raspberry peppiness, and despite its name, appeals to beer fans of all genders. For beer that’s actually created by a girl, I’m I huge fan of the summertime grapefruity Swill from 10 Barrel Brewing, where brewer Tonya Cornett is constantly pleasing my palate with an array of tasty, fruity sour beers.
When it’s time to clean up after a long day on Bend Ale Trail, I love working up a lather with Dirty Girl soap from LeCol’s Soap Bar. It’s made with beer from Boneyard Brewing, and smells fabulous. It’s also great for your skin, with hops that contain anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory components, plus amino acids for moisturizing.
Find your muse, or be your own!
If you’ve ever wanted a chance to celebrate everything awesome about women and girls, you’ll want to mark March 7-9 on your calendar. That’s the date of this year’s Muse Women’s Conference held in Bend.
Gather with your fab fellow females for workshops, performances, panel discussions, breakout sessions, and amazing keynote speakers like Amy Richards, Lynne Twist, and Zainab Salbi. You can read their bios here, and also scope out the schedule and purchase tickets.
The all-access passes have already sold out, but the $75 conference pass gives you the opportunity to enjoy all the Friday & Saturday events (including a Meet the Muse Reception).
The Bend conference is part of a bigger organization called World Muse, which is dedicated to the belief that women and girls can change the world. Not a bad way to spend a weekend, eh?
Get your girly self outdoors for some recreation
It’s not that we don’t like to play with the boys, right? It’s just that sometimes a gal wants to enjoy her fitness and recreation in the company of other wimminfolk.
There are tons of great opportunities to do that in and around Bend. At the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center, they offer oodles of great workshops and lessons to get you out there enjoying the cross country ski trails. Check out the She’s On Skis clinic, which is open to skate skiers at the advanced beginner level and above. Focus on technique instruction, getting a good workout, and best of all, female camaraderie. Clinics are offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and you can check out the schedule and pricing details here.
If mountain biking is more your scene, check out the Women’s Allride Clinic from Cog Wild. You’ll spend three days with world-renowned MTB instructor Lindsey Voreis enjoying trail riding, skills clinics, and tons of amazing food and views. If you’re a road cyclist or mountain bike fanatic who lives in Bend or visits more frequently, check out the offerings from Bend Bella Cyclists.
Ladies with a competitive spirit might enjoy the annual Happy Girls Run May 24-25 in Bend. The scenic route starts on the Deschutes River and includes a mix of gentle trails, groomed paths, and paved surfaces.
There’s also the annual Heaven Can Wait Walk/Run on June 1. It raises money for breast cancer education, research, and detection, and it’s a popular event for breast cancer survivors or those walking/running in memory of someone who’s battled cancer. Walking in it last year with my then-seven-year-old stepdaughter was one of the highlights of last spring for me, and I’m looking forward to doing it again this year.
Welcome to your eighth edition of Mind Bend-ers, a special blog feature offering you the inside scoop on quirky Bend history and offbeat trivia.
If you’ve passed through Downtown Bend, odds are good you’ve spotted the bright marquis of the Tower Theatre. Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to catch a concert or movie there, or perhaps you’ve walked by late at night and noticed a light still glowing inside long after everyone’s gone home when only ghosts are creeping about, lurking in shadows and trailing their long, cold fingers over—
Wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The Tower Theatre was originally built in 1940, and played host to a variety of fashion shows, amateur hours, and film screenings. Things were boss through the ‘50s, groovy in the ‘60s, far out in the ‘70s, and even pretty tubular though the ‘80s. But the place fell into disrepair in the ‘90s, prompting a spate of “save the theatre” fund raisers we suspect did not involve Sally Struthers telethons.
A total reconstruction kicked off in the early 2000s, and the Tower Theatre reopened in 2004 as a spiffy art deco live performance theatre that’s hosted everything from weddings to film festivals to top-notch performers like Brandi Carlile (who, for the record, is not a ghost).
Okay, so about that light—the one that’s still blazing in the theatre at 2 a.m. What gives?
According to Executive Director Ray Solley, theatrical tradition calls for something called a “ghost light” to illuminate the inside of a theatre 24/7. “Generally, it’s a stand with a bare light bulb—a bit like a floor lamp without a lampshade.”
At the Tower Theatre, it takes the form of two florescent lights in the rafters that shine down on the front of the stage and the first few rows. Why?
“Many theatres have some history of ghost sightings or myths about ghosts,” Ray explained. “The ghost light can either keep them away or give them light to see by.”
We’ll go with the second explanation, since it sounds more welcoming. And according to local scuttlebutt, ghosts have felt welcome at the Tower Theatre from time to time, with one person spotting a figure in the Romeo & Juliet window near the stage (a figure that vanished quickly, followed by the slamming of a back door). On another occasion, some performers rehearsing late at night spotted a couple seated in the back row. When someone hopped down off the stage to investigate, the spooky pair vanished.
Anyone else have goosebumps?
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, we guarantee you’ll get a few pleasant goosebumps from some of the stellar performances liked up at the Tower Theatre in the coming year. Check out their calendar of events and start planning your special night on the town now.
They’ll leave the light on for you. Or for the ghosts. Whatever.
A new year is upon us, which brings us a lot to look forward to in Bend. Besides the usual glorious views, amazing high-desert climate, and endless abundance of recreation opportunities, here are four brand-spanking new things coming to Bend in 2014 that have me dancing on my desk.
This spring: Dogwood Cocktail Cabin in Downtown Bend
Does it make me a lush if I admit I’m excited anytime a new bar opens in Bend? But this isn’t just any bar.
Dogwood Cocktail Cabin is slated to open this spring on NW Minnesota Avenue in Downtown Bend in the space that’s been vacant more than two years since the fabulous Astro Lounge moved around the corner. It’s a primo location made even more amazing by what they plan to do with it.
Dogwood Cocktail Cabin will specialize in house-infused culinary cocktails. Think one-of-a-kind blends like butternut squash-infused vodka and tobacco-infused rum. DJs will spin electronic dance music, and the décor will be hip and urban.
Eyeing their menu from their existing location in Crested Butte, Colorado, I have to say I’m most excited about the D-cup—a cocktail blended with Pimms, Hendrick’s Gin, cucumber, and wasabi. Save me a seat at the bar?
In April: Wanderlust Tours starts offering road bike trips
I’m proud to say I’ve tried nearly every single outing offered by the folks at Wanderlust Tours, so I was delighted earlier this week to learn they’ll be rolling out a new host of options this spring.
Beginning in April, Wanderlust will offer five new half-day road bike tours including a Sisters to Smith Rock route and an outing along the MetoliusRiver. Trips will go from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. or from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The $80 price tag includes a guide, transportation, heavy snack, and a Sag Wagon with mechanic’s station, repair parts, cold drinks, and a chance to hop aboard if your legs need a break.
These half-day outings are perfect for those who know which direction to face on a bicycle seat, but who aren’t looking for a hardcore training ride. Think of it as an interpretive tour with frequent stops, tasty food, and plenty of fascinating local insights from your professional naturalist guide. They’ll also offer full-day trips for more experienced riders.
Road bike tours won’t start until April, but now’s a great time to start planning your vacation itinerary. Call the good folks at Wanderlust Tours today to figure out which trip is right for you.
In June: The Oregon Senior Games
It might seem odd for a 39-year-old to be this excited about a sporting event that’s only open to athletes 50 and older, but I find myself feeling oddly giddy about the Oregon Senior Games coming up June 19-22 in Bend.
For starters, it marks the end of Oregon’s sad status as one of only two states in the U.S. with no state senior games. Having the event in Bend is the perfect way to show off the city’s status as the outdoor playground of the west.
Aside from that, there’s something inspiring about the idea of hundreds of 50+ athletes out there kicking butt at swimming, track & field, tennis, archery, pickleball, cowboy action shooting, and plenty of other events throughout the four-day competition. Anyone who meets the age criteria can compete, and the top four finishers in most sports in each age group will qualify to compete in the 2015 National Senior Games in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Whether you’re watching or participating, this event promises to be inspiring all around! To register or learn more, go here.
In August: Dave Matthews Band at the Les Schwab Amphitheater
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen the Dave Matthews Band perform over the last 15 years, but it’s more than a dozen. As I’ve driven over the mountains to Portland or across the desert to The Gorge, I’ve always wished for the opportunity to see them in my own hometown.
To my utter surprise and delight, I’m getting my wish on August 26 when the Dave Matthews Band plays the Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend’s Old Mill District. Tickets for this once-in-a-lifetime show will go on sale February 7, and I can pretty much guarantee they’ll sell out fast.
If you’ve never seen this band live, you’re in for an amazing treat of stellar jams, entertaining antics, and of course, incredible music. The amphitheater’s riverside locale and grassy spaces make it the perfect venue for kicking back with a frosty craft brew and a pack of pals grooving to the tunes.
Tickets are general admission only, and while it’s a bit of a splurge at $75 apiece, I can assure you it’s worth it. For ticket info and details, go here.
My headline might be misleading, so make no mistake about it—you’re going to look like a total dork.
But with tons of snow scheduled to hit Mt.Bachelor in the coming days, it’s crucial we all do our part to ensure the mountains surrounding Bend have plenty of fluffy white stuff this season.
At some point during your Bend vacation, you must do a snow dance. You’re welcome to dredge the depths of your creativity to make up your own, or consider using one of the following options.
The sugar snow dance
- Stroll through Downtown Bend en route to Thump Coffee. Pause along the way to admire the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection scattered throughout public areas, including the parking garage, Gasoline Alley, and Tin Pan Alley.
- Enter Thump Coffee and order the tasty beverage of your choice (I recommend Blue People Oolong for tea drinkers and the Violet Beaurgard—that’s a salted blueberry mocha—for coffee fans). Don’t forget the muffin.
- Carry your drink to the condiment station at the rear of the shop and take a firm hold of the sugar dispenser.
- Pour one tablespoon of sugar directly into your palm, toss it up in the air, open your mouth to catch the flakes on your tongue, and sing the following song to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat:”
Snow, snow in my mouth
My face, my hair and ears
Mother Nature, send us more
I’ll buy you seven beers
- Apologize to the barista and request a broom so you can clean up your mess.
- Hold good on your promise by embarking on a journey along the Bend Ale Trail, where you will visit all 12 breweries collecting passport stamps, earning prizes, and lifting at least seven of your favorite craft brew selections in a toast to Mother Nature.
The doggie snow dance
- Head up to Mt.Bachelor and schedule a sled dog ride with Oregon Trail of Dreams.
- Go out and greet your sled dog team, making sure to congratulate them on the fact that Bend was named the nation’s dog-friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine.
- When the dogs begin howling, barking, and lunging with excitement (either because of the article or the upcoming journey) join in with your own giddy display of jumping and yipping, followed by a chorus of the following melody sung to the tune of Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog:”
You ain’t nothin’ but a snow dog
Runnin’ in the pow
You’re a very lucky snow dog
More snow is comin’ now
Yeah, your tail will be a waggin’
You can have Dawg Grog and chow
- After you enjoy your exciting sled dog ride, return to Bend and procure several bottles of Dawg Grog beer for dogs. Take it to your sled dog pals, along with a copy of the recent article in Costco Connection touting this amazing made-in-Bend brew.
The snowshoe snow dance
- Book a snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours. The night owls among you will want to check out the Moonlight & Starlight Snowshoe Tours, while those who prefer daylight will be most comfortable boogying down on one of their daily snowshoe adventures.
- While your naturalist guide drives you up the mountain sharing information about the geology and history of the area, take the opportunity to do some sharing of your own by teaching your snow dance lyrics to others on the tour.
- Enjoy your snowshoe adventure to the fullest, soaking up plenty of fresh air, gorgeous scenery, and fascinating knowledge from your naturalist guide.
- During the segment of the tour when your guide offers warm beverages to the group, extract one marshmallow from your cocoa, toss it into the air as an offering to the snow gods, and turn slowly in a circle as you sing to the tune of “My Favorite Things:”
Steep chutes and tree lines and wide open spaces
Running and jumping puts smiles on our faces
Grins from the kids make us just want to sing
These are a few of our favorite things!
- Encourage your fellow snowshoe enthusiasts to craft lyrics of their own, offering up the requisite marshmallow sacrifice with each new stanza. In accordance with Wanderlust’s commitment to leaving no trace, remember to pick up any marshmallows that go unclaimed by the snow gods.
- Return to Bend and hop on the Mt.Bachelor website to check out their upcoming promotions, including Kids Ski Free, Ski or Ride in 5 and their new #MtBachelorStoked contest where they’re giving away $15,000 in cash and prizes.
Got a snow dance of your own? We’d love to see it! Shoot an Instagram video and tag us at @visitbend, or post your video to YouTube and share it with us on the Visit Bend Facebook page.
We’ll choose a winner on Thursday, January 23 to receive two free Fat Bike rentals from fabulous Downtown Bend shop The Hub Cyclery—perfect for enjoying all that new snow!
The champagne is gone, the noisemakers are stashed, and it’s time to get serious about those pesky New Year’s resolutions.
Some good news: this is the year you’re finally going to achieve all those goals you set for yourself. Your secret weapon? A vacation in Bend, Oregon.
Here’s how a Bend vacation can help you achieve six of the most common New Year’s resolutions.
If you’ve resolved to get fit…
Dubbed “the outdoor playground of the west,” Bend is the place to be if fitness and recreation are part of your plans for the New Year. No matter what form of fitness you prefer, Bend offers the best playground to do it. Is snowplay your thing? National Geographic listed Bend as one of the world’s top 25 ski towns. Fond of hunting and fishing? Outdoor Life named Bend the nation’s #1 town for sportsmen. Both Competitor and Outside magazine named Bend the top town for trail running, while Mountain Bike Action spotlighted the city as America’s #1 mountain biking town.
If you’re new to fitness and all this sounds a little too expert-level for your taste, don’t worry! You’ll find plenty of help for newbies just looking to get started. Try a basic mountain biking tour with Cog Wild, or scope out Visit Bend’s hiking page or Cascade Hiking Adventures to choose a good starter hike that’s more your pace.
If you tend to be more goal-oriented with your fitness, skim our event calendar for upcoming races like the Pole, Peddle, Paddle in May, the Dirty Half Marathon in June, the Deschutes Dash in July, or the Haulin’ Aspen in August. Then start your training program now so you’re ready to compete on race day.
If you’ve resolved to spend more time with family…
When it comes to family fun, no one does it better than Bend. Grab a bottle of bubbles at the Dollar Tree before you head out for a family-friendly hike up Pilot Butte. When you reach the top, blow bubbles for the kids to chase.
If snow-play is your scene, Mt.Bachelor offers the ultimate family-friendly package with their kids ski free offer that allows kids 12 and under to ski free with the purchase of an adult lift ticket. You can also opt for an afternoon at the SnowBlast Tubing Park or a truly special experience with a family sled dog rides with Oregon Trail of Dreams.
For a guided outing you’ll all remember, try a cave tour or a snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours.
Feeling more indoorsy? Enjoy an evening of arcade games and bowling at Sun Mountain Fun Center. For the consummate Central Oregon experience, check out the High Desert Museum where you’ll enjoy artful exhibits, history, culture, and cool local critters like the bobcat, lynx, badger, and porcupine.
Do the kids still have energy to burn? Bend has nearly 70 public parks scattered all over town where you can run, cavort, slide, swing, and frolic ‘til everyone’s tuckered.
If you’ve resolved to have a better work/life balance…
In 2012, Entrepreneur magazine touted Bend as “the most entrepreneurial city in America.” If you’re tired of the rat race in your current city of residence, now might be the time to consider a move to Bend. As any HR director will tell you, employees are more productive when they’re happy, healthy, and inspired by the natural beauty around them.
If you’re thinking of relocating a business to Bend, the city has plenty of competitive advantages, including an affordable cost of living and business-friendly infrastructure. Bend also offers fast access to major business markets, with direct flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Denver, and Salt Lake City.
Go here to request a business relocation packet and to learn more about moving your business to Bend.
If you’ve resolved to be smarter with money…
OK, I can’t claim you’ll actually save money with a Bend vacation if you’re choosing between that and staying home on your sofa. But if you’re scheduling a vacation anyway and considering options like Vail or Tahoe, Bend wins hands-down on the affordability scale.
Whether you’re analyzing prices on Bend hotels and vacation rentals or checking out the price of activities, you’ll find Bend to be one of the least expensive mountain destinations in the region. Just ask TripAdvisor (the world’s largest travel site) which recently analyzed the most popular ski destinations in the U.S. based on common ski trip expenses like hotel stay, lift ticket, rental equipment pricing, food, and beer. Bend was named the #2 value in all of the U.S. and Canada. Not too shabby!
For even more tips on saving money in Bend, keep your eyes on the Bend Buzz Blog. Posts like Cheapskates, Rejoice! Bend has great lunch options for $6 or less as well as Your guide to finding Bend’s best cheap eats for $3.50, $2.50, $1.50, or (*gasp*) FREE! can help you stretch your vacation dollars to the max.
If you’ve resolved to eat better…
No matter what your culinary resolutions entail, you’ll find a great support system in Bend. Going gluten-free? Bend is teeming with restaurants catering to your culinary needs, and you’ll find a roundup of them here. You can also check here for oodles of great ideas on finding vegetarian chow in Downtown Bend.
You’ll find a bounty of nutritious offerings at Sara’s Raw & Vegan Café, which features handcrafted smoothies, daily lunch specials, yummy vegan snacks, raw desserts, and more. If you’ve pledged to focus on locally-sourced foods, check out the selections at Chow or Jackson’s Corner, where they make it their mission to incorporate as much local food as possible into their meals.
You know that saying about giving a man a fish so he can eat for a day or teaching him to fish so he eats for a lifetime? If you want to learn to eat for a lifetime (and eat really, really well while you’re at it) check out the schedule of cooking classes offered by Well Traveled Fork. They’re designed to teach you everything from seasoning techniques to cooking with aphrodisiacs, and you’re guaranteed to have a good time while you’re at it.
If you’ve resolved to master a new skill…
There are plenty of things you can learn in Bend, depending on what interests you. Hook up with a local fly fishing outfitter to learn casting techniques or the best place to find big, fat trout.
If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at writing, Nature of Words often hosts creative workshops for adults and kids. You’ll also find an array of community learning classes offered through Central Oregon Community College. Choose from professional development classes like foreign language or computer skills, or opt for continuing ed courses ranging from yoga to art to gardening.
Want to try your hand at photography? Cascade Center of Photography offers a variety of workshops to nurture your inner shutterbug.
Believe it or not, winter is a great time to learn to kayak. Rather than dunking you in a frigid river, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe makes it simple for you to learn basic techniques in their shop and a swimming pool before you head out on the open water. Go here to learn about classes offered now, including their three-hour brace and roll class offered most weekends throughout the winter.
I already mentioned the Well Traveled Fork in the last section, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest their cooking classes here as well for those looking to pick up some new techniques or start from scratch as a newbie cook.
So what’s your New Year’s resolution this year? And more importantly, when will we see you in Bend so you can start fulfilling it?
Judging from the number of cars I saw while en route to the office today, a whole big bunch of you decided to spend the Christmas holiday in Bend. Either that, or there’s a zombie apocalypse.
But assuming it’s just the holiday, welcome! Now get out there and experience the best Bend has to offer this time of year. Want some examples? Here are nine of ‘em!
Eat, drink, and be merry!
Food is a big part of the holidays for most families. Lucky for you, plenty of Bend restaurants are dishing up tasty meals even on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. For a list of restaurants open for business on the holidays, go here. You’ll find something special whether you follow my family’s tradition of going out for Chinese food on Christmas Eve, or you’re just looking for a fancy dinner Christmas Day.
Go on, get holy
Looking for a church to attend while you’re here in Bend? Whether you’re seeking a place to attend midnight mass, or a place to celebrate faith ranging from Judaism to Baha’i, you’ll find whatever your soul is seeking in our roundup of churches, synagogues, and other places of worship.
Roll around in the snow
If you’re visiting Bend from a non-mountainous area, odds are good you’ve come seeking a taste of the white stuff. We’ve got plenty of it up at Mt. Bachelor, where kids 12 and under ski free. If skiing and boarding aren’t your thing, you can still have plenty of fun at Mt. Bachelor slipping down the slopes at the Snowblast Tubing Park or enjoying a sled dog ride from Oregon Trail of Dreams.
If snowshoeing is more your style, you’ll find a wide array of guided outings from Wanderlust Tours. Take the kids out for a daytime trip, or enjoy cocoa and stories under the stars with an evening tour. Prefer to set out on your own for some solo snowshoe action? Go here to learn where you can grab rental gear and which trails to hit once you’ve got it.
If cross country skiing is your thing, Bend is a great place to enjoy it whether you’re a skate ski fanatic or a classic style purist.
Sale away with me
End-of-year sales will be in full swing at many area retailers, whether you prefer to peruse historic Downtown Bend, or if you’re browsing the shops in Bend’s Old Mill District. Don’t forget the Old Mill is offering free carriage rides through December 30 as part of their holiday lineup. Go here for details. And once you’ve filled your shopping bags in Downtown Bend, grab a cup of cocoa from a small café before setting out for a stroll in scenic Drake Park.
Hike or bike off those holiday calories
Unless the weatherman is lying, it won’t likely be a white Christmas in town this year. This is good news for those who prefer to enjoy the white stuff at Mt. Bachelor (just 20 minutes from town) for part of the day before hitting the non-snowy trails for the rest of the afternoon.
This is a great time of year for hiking around the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, so head east to explore this untamed area of Central Oregon. Tumalo Falls is another great hiking spot that this time of year, or check out Cascade Hiking Adventures for other ideas.
If mountain biking is your thing, the good folks at Cog Wild can hook you up with gear, guided tours, and a guaranteed good time.
Unwind at a museum
Feeling a bit more indoorsy? The High Desert Museum is a great place to be right now, with tons of cool exhibits and animals guaranteed to enthrall you whether you’re eight or 80. You can also hit the Des Chutes Historical Museum to learn more about Bend’s history and heritage. For a list of other museums around the Central Oregon area, go here.
Wipe out your holiday stress with some suds
No visit to Bend is complete without at least one stop along the Bend Ale Trail to sample some tasty craft beer. If you’re looking to make it a casual thing, stop for a quick lunch at one of the pubs like Deschutes Brewery, Worthy Brewing, or GoodLife. Aiming to tackle the whole Bend Ale Trail to collect all 11 stamps and earn your prize? Here are six tips for making the most of your Bend Ale Trail experience. Cheers!
Get your art and culture fix
Want an activity that’ll be fun for the whole family, ranging from restless gradeschoolers to your crotchety grandpa? The Roundabout Art Route is a great way to check out Bend’s amazing collection of public art and have little fun while you do it. Pick up a map at the Bend Visitor Center and do a self-guided tour at your own pace, checking off pieces along the way and answering trivia questions as you go.
You can also head out with GETIT Shuttle for John Flannery’s fabulous Bend Art Safari tour. The $25 per person price tag will be money well spent for awesome art insights from one of Bend’s most engaging and entertaining tour operators. Answer 10 of the 20 trivia questions on your Roundabout Art Route map and bring it to the Bend Visitor Center to earn a special chocolate prize!
If you can’t get enough of Bend’s art scene, check out the Tin Pan Alley art collection, or stop by the Bend Visitor Center to admire the Pillars of Art. Just a reminder: the Bend Visitor Center will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but open all other weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Find your own fun with our event calendar
Not seeing anything that rolls your socks up in the eight previous suggestions? No problem! Check out Visit Bend’s event calendar to search for specific activities and dates.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you I intend to throat-punch the next person who asks me “have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?”
Luckily, there’s a veritable arsenal of amazing holiday gifts for sale just 20 feet from my office. Even luckier for you, it’s open to the public. I’m talking about the incredible retail items available in the retail shop at the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava & Oregon in Downtown Bend.
Are you in Bend? You can stop by Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to browse the gift shop. We’re not open Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, so make sure you visit us before that.
Even better, stop by during our Shoppy Hour Block Party from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. this Friday, December 20 when we’ll be offering oodles of retail items at up to 50% off. Salud Raw Food will have treats and gift cards on hand, and neighboring businesses like Kariella and Studio DeVine will be serving wine and offering killer discounts you won’t want to miss.
And if you can’t visit in person, no worries. You’ll find plenty of this stuff in our online gift shop (though keep in mind, you’re too late to have it shipped in time for Christmas).
Now that we have that out of the way, check out these awesome products you’ll want to snap up as gifts for your friends, family, dog walker, and bikini waxer.
Best of Bend Stocking Stuffers
- Bend Local Roast by fundroast: $15
- Bend Ale Trail Koozie: $3.50
- Bend Logo Silishot: $4.95
- Bend Logo Bike Bell: $15
- Bend Ale Trail Wood Handle Opener: $10
- Via Delia Bottle Opener: $8
- Bend Logo Dog Tag/Zipper Pull/Keychain: $3.50
- ScoutWallet Elk Lake/Hosmer LakeWallet: $20
- TrailRags Deschutes River Trail Bandana Map: $12
Bend gifts to pamper your mind, body, and soul
- Volcano Vineyards Bend Blend Red: $13
- 21 ounce Bend Logo Hydro Flask: $28
- Coco’s Haven Gift Pack – lavender, lemongrass and vanilla body oils and either a chocolate or vanilla kiss lip balm: $15
- Bend Soap Company Mt. Bachelor Pine Soap: $5
- Via Delia Pocket Mirror: $6.50
- Bend Logo Vance Family Soy Candle: $9
- “Bathe with a Dirty Girl” Beer Soap by LeCol’s Soap Bar: $5
- Douglas Fine Jewelry Bend Logo Sterling Silver Pendant: $60
- Bend Logo Lip Balm Tin: $4
- Spoke-Bracelet: $35
- Bend BlackStrap Sunglasses: $12.99
- Dawg Grog Ladies T-shirt: $22
Game night goodies (buy all of it for a special package price!)
- Two Cupsco Bend Logo Stainless Steel Cups ($20 value)
- Your Choice of any 22 ounce beer or cider in stock ($3.85 to $5.99 value)
- Bend Ale Trail Metal Bottle Opener ($5 value)
- One Deck of Bend Playing Cards by Aaron Trotter ($20 value)
Offered at $35 – over 25% off!
The “I miss Bend!” package
- Bend Ale Trail Hydro Flask Growler: $55
- 2013 Old Mill District Limited Edition Silipints: $10 each or $38 for a set of 4
- Bend Logo “Bike TownUSA,” “Bend Ale Trail,” or “Oregon” Trucker Hat: $20
- PaulLeightonTumaloFalls Poster: $10
- I Love Bend, OR Sticker: $2.50
- Ruff Life, Bend, Oregon Sticker: $3
- Via Delia Bend Logo Keychain: $6.50
‘Tis the season for running in frantic circles of holiday shopping and vacation planning and contemplating whether a Pop Tart counts as a balanced dinner.
Or is that just me?
I’m pretty sure it isn’t. In the spirit of ensuring all of us can find the perfect, nourishing, comfort food when we need it most, here’s my roundup of the best dining options in Bend this time of year.
Fast food with no pink slime
When you’re on the go, you need something you can order fast and eat even faster. But what’s a weary traveler to do if you don’t want to sacrifice your arteries, waistline, or foodie sensibilities?
One of my favorite options during an afternoon of shopping in Bend’s Old Mill District is Café Yumm. Their Yumm Bowls are created around the basic staples of rice and beans, and rounded out with delicious, nourishing additions. My favorite is the the Edamame Bowl, which is layered with organic brown rice, Yumm Sauce, and edamame, topped with nori (seaweed), shredded Tillamook cheddar cheese, diced tomato, fresh avocado, olives, and sour cream. The medium-sized Yumm Bowl is perfect for me, though small and large are good options, depending on your appetite. Order quickly at the counter, lick the bowl clean, and get right back on the shopping train.
Another good grab-and-go option is the classic burrito. Locally-owned Longboard Louie’s offers tons of great options, including dishes for vegetarians, vegans, and even gluten-free diners. They have locations on Bend’s Eastside and the Westside so you can swing by whether you’re doing a Costco run or en route to Downtown Bend.
Super soups to fill your belly
Few things are more comforting on a cold winter day than a big, warm bowl of soup. Luckily, Bend offers plenty of choices no matter which side of town you’re on when hunger hits.
One of my favorite picks when I’m feeling under-the-weather is Phở. Pronounced “phuh,” it’s a hot beef-noodle soup that’s a staple of Vietnamese cuisine and culture. There are several dozen variations to choose from at Phở Việt & Café on NE Third Street and Sweet Saigon in Downtown Bend. Be adventurous and order the special combination Phở that includes “tripe, tendon, well-done flank, lean and richesbrisket, tendon and beef meatballs” along with an assortment of bean sprouts, cilantro, rice noodles, onion, lime wedges, and the most delicious broth imaginable.
Another delicious Asian option is the Thai soup known as Tom Kah. Most variations are made with coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal root, mushrooms, and onion. Two great places to grab a bowl are Toomies Thai Cuisine and Noi Thai Cuisine, both located in Downtown Bend just a few blocks apart.
If you’re craving soup that’s more like grandma used to make, head to either Caldera Grille or D & D Bar and Grill (commonly known by locals as “The D.” Both have terrific homemade soups like Jalapeño Corn Chowder (Caldera) or to-die-for Chicken and Rice (The D). Order a big bowl with fries and half a sandwich, plus a bloody mary to take the holiday edge off.
Some of my favorite soup-n-salad options are offered in abundance at Croutons. With two locations in Bend, they offer a huge array of soups, salads, and sandwiches you can mix and match in endless combinations. Try a big bowl of their Roasted Tomato Basil soup with the Santa Fe Salad on the side.
Have dinner in bed!
Sometimes it’s romantic. Sometimes it’s just because it’s the warmest, coziest place in your Bend vacation home or Bend hotel. Whatever the reason, there are times there’s nothing more comforting than enjoying dinner while snuggled under the covers.
Sushi is one of my personal favorites for this dining option. Five Fusion has a terrific array of rolls and sides that package up nicely for easy eating in a non-traditional setting. The Shogun Roll is worth a $16 splurge, and made with escolar, asparagus, avocado, tempura fried, topped with spicy salmon, tobiko, and unagi sauce.
Another great sushi option is Kan Pai. They have an amazing sushi sampler for just $21, which features a selection of three nigiri, sashimi, and half orders of their California Roll and Spicy Tuna Roll. It’s a great choice for sharing or when you just can’t make up your mind.
Not a fan of sushi? Pizza makes another great choice for boudoir dining. Swing by one of three locations for Cibelli’s Pizza and grab a pie to go. Anything on their menu is made even tastier with a drizzle of their tasty pesto on top.
One of Bend’s most treasured hidden gems is the Taste of Thailand food cart. Tucked beside a lube shop on NE Greenwood, this is a cash-only spot with the friendliest customer service you’ll find anywhere. While you wait in your car, they’ll bring out an array of delicious samples and friendly smiles as you make your selection. If you see pumpkin curry on the day’s menu, get it. Then haul it back to your cozy Bend vacation rental, curl up with your blankie, and enjoy!
Feel-good meals worth putting on pants
Not in a huge hurry and willing to crawl out of bed? There are plenty of comfort food options in Bend that are worth taking the time to sit down at a table with real utensils.
One of my favorite recent additions to Bend’s culinary scene is Drake. They describe themselves as offering “creative and inspired comfort food,” which is pretty much what we’re all craving this time of year, right? My favorite item on their menu is Shrimp and Grits, which is served with roasted peppers, corn, caramelized onion, bacon, fresh herbs, and pan sauce. It’s a steal at $12, and you’ll likely end up with lunch leftovers.
Another cozy spot offering high-end comfort food is one of Bend’s oldest restaurants, the Pine Tavern. You know the place in Downtown Bend with two big pine trees sprouting up through the roof? That’s it. Their menu includes delectably frou-frou versions of comfort food staples like meatloaf and chicken pot pie, plus other scrumptious offerings like pasta and fish. But the best reason to go to Pine Tavern is to get your hands on a steaming hot basket of their homemade sourdough scones with honey butter. I’m not ashamed to say I have eaten my body weight in these and then asked for more.
If mac and cheese is your comfort food of choice, The Blacksmith offers the crème de la crème of cheesy goodness. Their regular menu offers three varieties, including smoked mac and cheese, bacon mac and cheese, and truffle mac and cheese. If you’re like me and can’t possibly choose between them, you don’t have to. During happy hour from 4-6 and 9-close, score a small portion of all three for just $6. Pair with one of their fabulous Caesar salads, order a couple glasses of wine, and share the whole thing with a pal. Bon appétit!
Take your smartphone for a scenic stroll in Downtown Bend with a cool, free app from the Des Chutes Historical Museum
When guests ask about don’t-miss activities for a Bend vacation, I always suggest a walk around Downtown Bend. It’s a great way to get a taste of the city’s historical buildings and scenic Mirror Pond, not to mention a bit of fresh air.
So what could make it even better?
There’s an app for that!
No, seriously. Several weeks ago, the Des Chutes Historical Museum launched the Bend Heritage Walk application for smart phones and tablets. It’s totally free to download, thanks to a generous grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission.
Go grab it right now for Apple products or for Android, then poke around through the audio narration, historical photographs, and trivia questions. You can do it without leaving the comfort of your couch, but it’s way more fun to enjoy it while walking between the seven landmarks on the tour.
I decided to take the app for a test run so I could tell you guys what it’s like. Because I’m a poor planner not terribly bright always eager for a new challenge, I set out for my heritage walk on an afternoon of single-digit temperatures in Bend.
Fortunately, the app makes it easy to pause along the way, stopping to warm up in downtown coffee shops or browse cool boutiques. You can restart whenever you feel like it or opt to read transcripts instead of listening to the audio.
You can even see the landmarks out of order by jumping around on the map. Go on, be wild and crazy like that. I won’t tell.
The tour features seven downtown locations, ranging from the oldest standing structure in Bend to the first “modern” school built by Bend residents.
If you do it straight through, the walking tour is designed to take 20-30 minutes. Personally, I enjoyed taking my time meandering. The Goodwillie-Allen-Rademacher House (Bend’s only example of a very early Craftsman Bungalow) is now Crow’s Feet Commons, which is an awesome little café and bike/ski shop. I seized the opportunity to pause the audio and have a big mug of tea before moving on.
Likewise, my stop at the Tower Theatre was a great chance to wander inside and check the schedule of performances for the coming months.
The app even lets you use Facebook or Twitter to check in at the various sites, and it’ll ask you fun trivia questions if you want. I’m pretty sure it can even shovel snow off your car, but I couldn’t find the button for that.
Wanna know something cool? The app was designed by SideStreet, which is the same company that created the Bend Ale Trail app. Just don’t confuse the two and go staggering around to historic sites with a bottle of Mirror Pond in-hand.
For more info about the app or the DesChutesHistoricalMuseum, check ‘em out here. And stay tuned for announcements about future apps for other areas of Bend.
Now go get that app!
Judging from the volume of traffic in the Bend Visitor Center this week, a whole lot of you have come to Bend for the holidays.
Either that, or you got lost en route to the North Pole.
Welcome to all of you, whether you’ve arrived by car or or by plane, with an assortment of kids or furry friends or imaginary pals in your trunk.
Now that you’re here, what do you plan to do? There are literally hundreds of options, and it’s up to you to decide. Here are five places you can go to get ideas, schedules, and more:
Everyone’s favorite resource: Visitbend.com
At the risk of sounding like a marketing geek, I’ll tell you nearly half the traffic to Visit Bend’s website comes from mobile devices. It’s a dramatic shift we’ve seen in recent years, and it signals more and more guests are using their smartphones to plan vacation activities once they’ve already arrived.
So what does that mean for you?
Assuming you have a smartphone, you have a magnificent array of travel ideas at your fingertips when you hop on visitbend.com.
Not a mobile user? Not a problem! The site is accessible from your laptop or desktop computer, and you can visit it from home or after you’ve arrived in Bend.
But what if I’m looking for a special event?
Maybe you’re already aware of all your options for snowshoeing, mountain biking, or shopping in Bend. Maybe you’re looking for something extra special that’s only happening right now. No problem! Visit Bend’s Event Calendar is one of our most popular web pages, and for good reason. Just plug in the date range of your visit and voila! The calendar will show you what’s happening around town during your vacation. You can also search for specific kinds of events or activities, ranging from sports to art to educational offerings.
I’m here for the snow. Gimme.
No problem. We’ve got it. Well, Mt. Bachelor has it, and it’s looking pretty nice so far this year. Though the mountain won’t be open on Thanksgiving this year, they have oodles of lifts and terrain operating the very next day and beyond. To check up-to-the-minute snow conditions and operation schedules, go here for the current snow report.
Wanna be our friend?
We’re always looking for new friends, especially in the social media world. If you’re a Facebook user, keep an eye on Visit Bend’s Facebook page where we’re posting a minimum of two times daily (and usually more like four or five) with updates about activities, weather conditions, events, and oodles of scenic photos guaranteed to leave you drooling and planning your next Bend vacation before you’ve even concluded this one.
If you’re craving a cold brew and specific updates about the Bend Ale Trail, keep an eye on the Twitter handle @BendAleTrail or on the Bend Ale Trail Facebook page.
Hey, this blog is kinda cool…
Thanks! We’re glad you like it. Did you know it’s searchable? We’ve been racking up weekly posts for nearly four years, so there’s a pretty good archive of info here at the Bend Buzz Blog. There’s a drop-down menu that lists “categories,” and from there, you can choose to scroll through posts about outdoor recreation, family fun, shopping, or whatever rolls your socks up.
Want to make sure you’re always in-the-know about new posts? Just plug your email address into the “subscribe” field for the Bend Buzz Blog and we’ll make sure you never miss another post.