Bend Oregon Blog | The Bend Buzz by Visit Bend
Outdoor dining in Bend is as common as craft beer, golden retrievers, puffy jackets, and Subarus loaded with bike gear.
In other words, no Bend vacation is complete without a few of those things.
While patio dining with a river views is a hallmark of summer, and noshing next to a fire pit is a quintessential winter experience, what about those in-between times when the weather is less-than-ideal?
No worries! Here are 5 places you can eat outdoors even when the weather outside is frightful.
One of Bend’s most popular breakfast spots, McKay Cottage is famous for its scrumptious hashes, delectable croissant-style French toast, and melt-in-your-mouth bacon.
The aforementioned popularity means wait times on weekend mornings can be long, especially in mid-summer when everyone’s jockeying for spots in their sunny outdoor courtyard.
But in fall, winter, and spring when temps are chilly and outdoor dining isn’t at the top of most folks’ to-do list, you can skate right to the front of the waiting list by requesting one of those patio tables.
The tables boast gas fire pits in the center, and your server will cheerfully bring you a stash of blankets to help ward off the chill.
Bundled up in your blankie, you can order tasty belly-warming favorites like the Hoodoo Hash made with golden-brown sweet potatoes, all-natural prime beef brisket, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, Grafton Village smoked cheddar, poached eggs, and house-made hollandaise. It’s served with a homemade butter scone and fresh fruit and is huge enough to split or to package up for leftovers the next day.
Sunriver Brewing (Galveston Pub in Bend)
It’s a fact that craft beer tastes better outdoors, and few pleasures rival the experience of sipping a pint next to a fire pit at your favorite stop on the Bend Ale Trail.
But for a truly unique outdoor dining experience at a brewery, check out the Sunriver Brewing Company’s Galveston Pub in Bend. Their indoor space has an industrial vibe and garage doors that open up in summer, while the outdoor space has a fab fire pit to keep you toasty.
But best of all is what’s adjacent to that fire pit. It’s an incredible replica of the Shevlin Covered Bridge, with a spacious row of tables inside. The space is kept toasty warm with heat lamps, and open to the elements on either end.
Bonus: On chilly nights, there’s usually a shorter wait-time for spots inside the bridge than there is for an indoor table.
Double-Bonus: The kids’ menu here is one of my faves, with entrees like mini hand-dipped corndogs, pulled pork sliders, mac & cheese, chicken strips, and more. Each comes with your choice from a list of sides that includes fresh fruit or cold veggies with ranch dip (a great way to make sure the young’uns are eating healthy).
Triple-Bonus: Pineapple poppers made with pepper bacon-wrapped pineapple, queso fresco, jalapeños, and burgundy reduction. Need I say more?
For the crème de la crème of outdoor dining in Bend, look no further than The Lot.
This one-of-a-kind eatery offers a unique spin on the food cart pods you find in many cities. A cluster of culinary trailers surrounds an open-air seating area with built-in tables, heated seats, and overhead heaters that keep the space nice and toasty.
There’s a bar with 16 tap handles, and plenty of space for families, dogs, or a group of pals to hang out. They’re open seven days a week, rain or shine, and can keep you toasty even on the chilliest days.
The food carts themselves offer a huge variety to choose from. A La Carte is my personal fave, with unique creations like their gorgonzola bacon fries, a mouthwatering array of tacos, and their famous mint lemonade. The winter months bring out their scrumptious lemongrass and coconut milk clam chowder, which is TO DIE FOR.
10 Barrel Brewing
You can fit a buttload of beer drinkers around it without feeling too crowded or giving up privacy. I’ve enjoyed countless romantic beer outings here with my hubby on the wide bench seats that allow us to snuggle up and tune out the other people around us.
Of course, if you feel like being social, it’s also a good place to chat up your fellow travelers or locals coming down from a long day on the slopes. There’s room enough for everyone!
Tip: Study the menu closely for their awesome suggestions on which beers pair best with each dish. Also, their pizzas here are OUTSTANDING.
Okay, so what if it’s really lousy outside? Like snowing sideways with winds gusting hard enough to make even semi-open-air dining impossible.
What you really need is a way to dine in a clear plastic bubble, complete with heat lamps, heated benches, and beautiful views of the outdoors. But where would you find such a thing?
At Kebaba, of course!
This charming little Middle Eastern bistro features mouthwatering kebabs, babaganoush, gyros, schwarmas, and hands-down the best hummus I’ve ever eaten (seriously—I don’t even like most hummus, but I once drove across town in a snowstorm at rush hour just to get my hands on theirs).
But back to the plastic bubble. The whole restaurant is situated in a charming craftsman bungalow, and the bubble is essentially a sun porch screened in with clear plastic panels. You still get the charm of outdoor dining and views of their pretty courtyard, but you stay nice and toasty and dry.
My favorite dish here is the karnabeet, which is a cauliflower dish that’s simply out-of-this-world. Their lunch plates are affordable and flavorful, or come for dinner and scope out plastic bubble dining with the magic of twinkle lights around you.
You know those T-shirts that say, “My mom went to Yellowstone and all she brought me was this lousy shirt?”
Um, yeah. The souvenirs I’m about to suggest to you are way worse. Like “what the @#%$ are you thinking?!” worse.
Nevertheless, there’s a reason you should pick up these six things in Bend, Oregon.
Bend was named the nation’s dog-friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine, and you know what that means?
Lotsa dogs = lotsa dog doodie.
Fortunately, locals know that good manners (not to mention the law) dictate you pick up after your pooch. Even more fortunately, you’ll find dog doo baggies all over town, including nearly all of Bend’s 80+ public parks.
Need extras? There’s a dispenser right outside my office window at the Bend Visitor Center, so grab one when you swing by for maps and travel tips (bonus: Our office is super dog-friendly, so bring Fido inside for some ear scritches from the staff).
You can also visit Bend Pet Express to buy a big stash of doodie bags for your very own. If you really want to generate some good karma, use those baggies to grab an extra nugget or two left behind by dog owners less responsible than you. I promise it’ll make you feel good.
After you stop gagging, I mean.
Folks in Bend are big proponents of Leave No Trace ethics on hiking trails and around town. You can read about it on our Visit Like a Local page, or see it in action when you watch fellow hikers stop to pick up bits of trash that don’t even belong to them.
Want to pitch in? Stuff a small garbage sack in your backpack or pocket before set out for a walk or hike. As you go, stop every now and then to pick up a stray bottlecap or gum wrapper. It’s a great way to ensure you’ll always leave your favorite Bend trail just a little nicer than you found it.
Bottles and cans
This one goes along with the one about picking up trash, but there’s an added bonus for you if you stop to pick up stray cans and bottles left behind in parks and trails.
Thanks to Oregon’s Bottle Bill (which has been around since 1971), you can return cans and bottles for a deposit that ranges from 5-10-cents. That’s not a bad way to pick up a little pocket change (which makes a way better souvenir than the bottles and cans themselves).
Oh, and if you want to go a step further with reducing the number of cans and bottles in circulation, buy a reusable water bottle or growler from Hydro Flask or DrinkTanks. Not only will it keep your drink cool (or hot!), but you’ll be supporting a Bend-based business with your purchase.
One of the few things I don’t love about Bend is the prevalence of windy days. Unexpected wind gusts, combined with the popularity of outdoor dining in Bend, can turn a perfectly responsible human being into an unintentional litterbug in the blink of an eye.
That’s why you should always scoop up stray napkins if you spot one on the ground. If we all make a habit of it, some good Samaritan will pick up your escaped napkin the next time a sudden breeze swipes it from your hand and carries it miles from your dinner table.
When I was 19, I contracted giardia while hiking in Montana and drinking from a creek along a deer migration path. It’s an experience I don’t recommend.
But if you enjoy symptoms like fatigue, nausea, and vomiting, giardia might be right up your alley! And since few places on earth are as beautiful as Bend, you may as well pick it up right here in Central Oregon.
The best way to contract giardia is by eating yellow snow or drinking water contaminated by animal feces. Yummy!
Of course, if giardia doesn’t sound like your idea of a great souvenir, you should skip sucking water straight from creeks or rivers when you’re out hiking. Pack the aforementioned Hydro Flask or DrinkTanks with plenty of extra water to make sure you stay hydrated. If you absolutely must drink creek water when camping in the backcountry, make sure you have a good water filter or water treatment system in your pack.
We’ve all seen one. That single glove lying forlorn and alone on the fresh snow beneath the chairlift. It’s a common sight at any ski resort, including Mt. Bachelor.
It sucks to be that person who dropped a glove, and sucks even more not to be able to locate your lost glove during an epic day of powder skiing.
Do a solid for your fellow snow enthusiast: If you see a stray glove, pick it up and deliver it to the lift operator at the bottom of that run. Not only will it keep the slopes safe and clear, but it’ll save a stranger from chilly fingers.
For as long as I can remember, Oregon’s statewide celebration of craft beer has taken place Presidents’ Day Weekend. But Central Oregon shook things up for Zwickelmania 2017.
While Portland held the event as usual last weekend, Central Oregon is hosting Zwickelmania 2017 on February 25 instead.
While I’m personally bummed because I’ll be out of town, I’m professionally thrilled to bits. No more fighting holiday weekend crowds to get your beer, or splitting your time between Zwickelmania and Oregon Winterfest. Beer fans can devote a whole, luxurious afternoon to the one glorious day when breweries throw their doors wide open for tours, tastings, and more.
Planning to attend Zwickelmania 2017? Here are 10 tips to make the most of your experience!
There are oodles of online resources to help you achieve Zwicklemania nirvana, and it pays to study them before you’ve had a sip of beer.
Review the map to plot your best route between participating breweries.
Skim the online directory so you know what each brewery is offering in terms of beer samples, food, live music, tours, and other amenities.
It’s like cramming for a test, but soooooo much better.
When it comes to completing a Bend Ale Trail passport, you can take years to do it.
But your time is limited when it comes to Zwickelmania 2017, so it’s okay to be choosy. With sixteen breweries participating from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., it’s not physically possible to hit them all unless you plan to dash through the door, grab a beer, and pound it while sprinting to the next brewery.
I don’t recommend that.
What I do recommend is pinpointing a handful of breweries on the list that you really, truly want to visit. Maybe you’re dying to ask questions of the head brewer at McMenamins, or maybe it’s your life’s ambition to taste special brews straight from the Zwickel at Crux. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to see KC Flynn perform at Cascade Lakes Brewing, or maybe you really want to sample the cold-brew cocktails they’ll be doling out at Deschutes.
Bottom line: Pick what you most want to see/do/drink/eat and start there. Then work your way down the list.
Go with a full tummy
The event kickoff at 11 a.m. can throw you for a loop if you show up several hours post-breakfast and fail to get something substantial in your belly before you start guzzling beer. That’s why it’s key to grab a good snack before you set out.
Protein-rich foods like chicken or salmon take longer to digest, which will slow how fast your blood alcohol level goes up. Foods high on the glycemic index like pasta are also a good bet, since alcohol changes your body’s stores of glycogen (a quick energy source stored in the liver).
It’s also smart to snack along the way so you’re filling your belly with something besides beer suds. Most breweries will be doling out free food, so take advantage of it!
Pay attention to location
While many breweries are hosting Zwickelmania 2017 festivities at their actual pub, some are throwing open the doors at the brewing facility itself. Sometimes that’s the same place, and sometimes it isn’t.
To be safe, make sure you consult the list before setting out.
Buddy up to a brewer
Besides the free beer and nibbles, one of the biggest things that separates Zwickelmania from a regular trek around the Bend Ale Trail is the chance to interact with a brewer.
At most participating breweries, the brewers themselves will be on hand to answer questions, talk about the brewing process, or even pour you a pint.
It’s a great opportunity to get the inside scoop about your favorite beer direct from the guy or gal who made it, so don’t be shy! If it helps, jot down a question or two before you go.
Drink plenty of water
Making sure your body fluid doesn’t become 100% beer over the course of an afternoon is crucial when you’re attending a beer-centric event like this. I always stuff a Hydro Flask full of ice water in my purse and refill often as I go.
Don’t even THINK of drinking and driving
There are gazillion ways to travel between breweries without risking a DUI or someone’s life. Here are just a few of them:
- Walk. Especially if the weather’s nice. It’s a great way to see Bend.
- Arrange a shuttle or a Segway outing with The Bend Tour Company.
- Book a half-day tour with The Bend Brew Bus.
- Hit the trail on a horse-drawn carriage with Cowboy Carriage Company.
- Pedal a bicycle made for 14 with The Cycle Pub of Bend.
- Cruise on an electric bicycle with Let It Ride Electric Bikes’ Brewdie Tour.
- Head out with in a nineteenth-century Victorian-style trolley with The Bend Trolley.
- Travel the trail in style with a limo from JD’s Car Service.
- Call a cab.
While Lyft and Uber aren’t yet in Bend, city officials are getting closer to making it happen (hopefully as soon as May).
But 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.
Grab a memento
Zwicklemania is a big deal, and it’s fun to have a souvenir to commemorate it. Many participating breweries are offering deep discounts on schwag, so stock up while you can!
Most others will have T-shirts and hats for sale, or pick up a logo’d growler to take home.
Know the secrets
Psst….want a few tidbits of insider info? Here you go:
- Did you notice 10 Barrel Brewing isn’t listed in the lineup of participating breweries? I won’t go into the politics of why that is, but I will tell you they’re definitely still rolling out the red carpet for Zwickelmania. In fact, their Zwickelmania event is typically the first one I hit (and there have been years where I’ve just stayed there the whole day!) This year’s celebration features free Hawaiian style burgers and dogs from Mauna Kea Grill, pulled pork sliders and chicken tacos from Curb B Q, live music, and tons (literally, tons) of free beer. The event takes place at their brewing facility on NE 18th, though there’s a free shuttle from the pub that’ll run you out there and back.
- Not sure you want to spend precious Zwickelmania time driving all the way to Sisters for a visit to Three Creeks Brewing? Here’s something that’ll convince you: The brewery is hosting their annual Zwickelmania breakfast from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., with breakfast snacks, breakfast beers, tours, zwickel tastes, and coffee. It’s a great chance to get an early start before the rest of Zwickelmania festivities even start.
- While Zwickelmania technically ends at 4 p.m., festivities run a little later at Crux Fermentation Project. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., they’re offering behind-the-scenes tours, rare tastings from their BANISHED series (straight from the barrel!), and tons of great food including their Pork Parfait, Smoke-Aroni, and Rooster’s Kick-Ass Beef Jerky. If I were a betting woman, I’d say the food could run out earlier in the day, but it’s worth staying late anyway for great beer tasting and chats with the brewers.
Don’t forget your Bend Ale Trail passport
Zwicklemania is a great way to collect a whole lot of Bend Ale Trail passport stamps in one afternoon, so make sure you snag an atlas at the first brewery you visit or download the free Bend Ale Trail app.
Finished gathering stamps? The Bend Visitor Center is open seven days a week so you can collect your prize anytime. Stop by the corner of Lava and Oregon in Downtown Bend between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays or 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, but there are plenty of other reasons to feel the love in Bend. I mean besides the fact that Livability.com named us one of America’s most romantic cities, or the fact that there are so many fab spots to kiss, get married, get engaged, or honeymoon in Bend.
Incidentally, this is what happens when you have a romance author writing a tourism blog.
But today I’m talking about aphrodisiacs. You know, those special ingredients that leave you feeling happy, loving, and maybe a little frisky.
Here are 7 popular aphrodisiac ingredients (and the best spots to find them!) in Bend.
Let’s start with the obvious. Oysters have long been touted as aphrodisiacs, and for good reason. They’re high in zinc and contain amino acids that have been found to trigger the production of sex hormones.
So where can you find good oysters in landlocked Bend? One of my favorite go-to spots for tasty seafood in Bend is Anthony’s Home Port. They’ve got a wide variety of oyster preparations ranging from baked to pan fried to barbecued to oyster shooters. Several are included on the happy hour menu, and all are served up with stunning views of the Deschutes River.
High Tides Seafood Grill is another fab option if you’re looking for a quaint, locally-owned spot that not a ton of tourists know about. Their pan-friend oysters are legendary, or try their tasty oyster bisque when it’s in season.
Yes, it makes your pee smell weird. But if you’re sniffing pee on a date, you likely have issues that aphrodisiacs won’t solve.
In any case, asparagus is packed with potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin E, all of which help boost energy and libido. You’ll see it popping up on a lot of menus in March and April around Bend, though plenty of places offer it year-round if you know where to look.
The Green Hornet omelet at the Victorian Café features fresh spinach, asparagus, jalapeños, scallions, and Gruyere cheese in a three-egg omelet topped with avocado. That’ll pep up your morning!
If you have a hankering for sushi, try the Shogun Roll at Kanpai. It’s made with escolar, asparagus, and avocado, then tempura fried and topped with spicy salmon, tobiko, and unagi sauce.
If you’re looking for a hearty winter meal, check out the pork chop at Stihl Whiskey Bar. It’s served with a melt-in-your-mouth pan sauce, along with mashed potatoes and a generous helping of asparagus.
This leafy herb has several libido-boosting nutrients like vitamin A, beta carotene, and magnesium.
While basil tastes good in almost anything, one of my favorite uses is in pesto. Cibelli’s Pizza lets you add dollops of the green goodness to any pizza, so load up and chow down.
Another great use of basil is in caprese salad. You’ll find it at oodles of restaurants around Bend, but one of my personal faves is the one at Ariana Restaurant. They shake things up seasonally, depending on what’s fresh, but their use of olive oil crumbs, heirloom tomatoes, and burrata (not to mention fresh basil from their summertime garden) take this caprese to a whole new level.
This tasty fruit contains bromelain, which some believe can trigger testosterone production. Whether you’re interested in testosterone or just a tasty smoothie, check out Mother’s Juice Cafe. They have three locations around Bend, including a brand new spot that just opened downtown.
Tons of their smoothies include bananas, but my personal fave is the one called Digestion (I know, I know…not a very romantic name). But the flavors are fab, with pineapple, banana, avocado, mint, ginger, cinnamon, honey, and coconut milk.
You’ll also find banana pancakes on the menu at Original Pancake House, which has a location in Bend as well as one in Redmond right by the airport (perfect if you have an early morning flight!)
A little spice can stimulate endorphins, which are the brain’s natural feel-good chemicals. They can also speed up your heart rate, and is there anything more stereotypically romantic than having your heart flutter just a bit?
The Crying Tiger at Noi Thai Cuisine is particularly tasty pick, made with grilled flat iron steak marinated Thai style with dry chili and dipping sauce. Both Barrio and El Sancho offer a huge array of unique twists on Mexican street food, with plenty of chili-filled options to choose from.
To get your chili fix for breakfast, order the Eggs Ala Caesar at Chow. The dish features poached eggs, cheesy corn cake, roasted chilis, avocado, queso, and chili hollandaise. Bonus: Chow makes their own fresh salsas that are guaranteed to add some extra kick to your meal (and possibly your love life).
I hesitate to include any alcoholic beverages in this roundup, since consent is kinda vital when we’re discussing amorous exchanges.
But if you’re limiting your intake to one drink, sparkling wine has some definite perks. Besides the fact that it lowers inhibition by slowing down the central nervous system, it also has a “giddy effervesce” that lends itself to quicker absorption.
Lots of spots around Bend offer champagne cocktails that give me the aforementioned giddiness, but I’m particularly fond of the Mellow Yellow at 10 Below. It’s made with whipped cream flavored vodka, lemon juice, and champagne syrup.
There’s also the Mirrorball at Astro Lounge, which is made with Crater Lake vodka, infused watermelon vodka, cranberry juice, simple syrup, and champagne.
I’m also smitten with the Pear to the People at Stihl Whiskey Bar, which is made with pear vodka, elderflower liqueur, fresh lemon juice, and champagne. Cheers!
I’ve loved beets long before I knew they had aphrodisiac properties, but I love them more knowing they’re a good source of tryptophan and betaine, which promote a feeling of well-being. They also contain high amounts of boron, a trace mineral that increases the level of sex hormones in the human body.
There are dozens of beet salads in Bend that make me swoony, but some of my faves can be found at Worthy Brewing, Craft Kitchen and Brewery, and Jackalope Grill. The varieties are endless, too, ranging from your standard purple-red beets to more exotic candycane beets.
I recently discovered the roasted beet salad at Stihl Whiskey Bar, which has the added bonus of an orange clove vinaigrette dressing that’s super-tasty and an amazingly unique complement to the flavors of beet and goat cheese.
Oh, and if you ever happen to find yourself at 5 Fusion on an evening they have the beet martini on the specials menu, ORDER IT! You’ll thank me later.
8 ways to enjoy bluebird days in Bend this weekend (plus your chance to win a night at Wall Street Suites and $100 for Jackalope Grill!)
It’s no secret we’ve seen some severe weather in the Pacific Northwest this winter. Conditions have run the gamut from ice storms in Portland to flooding in southwest Washington to massive dumps of snow in Central Oregon.
It’s the latter that has snow-enthusiasts rejoicing about the winter of 2017, and they’re celebrating even harder as this weekend approaches. February 11 and 12 are predicted to be “bluebird days,” which is a fancy term for the holy trinity of clear blue skies, bright sun, and fresh snow.
Thinking about a last-minute getaway to Bend to enjoy this winter weather phenomenon? Here are 8 ways to spend a bluebird day in Bend.
Hit the slopes
If you’re a skiing or snowboarding enthusiast, Mt. Bachelor is already on your agenda. Conditions this season have been epic, with more than 360” of snowfall already, and plenty more to come. Their new Cloudchaser quad lift has added 635 lift-serviced acres to Mt. Bachelor’s existing terrain (not to mention reducing lift lines that were already pretty short).
Oh, and did you know kids 12 and under ski free with advance purchase of an adult lift ticket for three or more days?
Okay, but what if I’m not a skier?
There’s plenty to do at Mt. Bachelor even if you’re not a fan of strapping boards to your feet.
If snowshoeing is your scene, book a guided outing with Wanderlust Tours and leave the driving, gear, snacks, and decision-making to their skilled naturalist guides.
Walk the Bend Ale Trail
But when skies are clear and weather is mild, why not walk a portion of the legendary beer trail? More than half of the 15 breweries on the trail are within walking distance of each other, and it’s a great way to burn off a few of those beer calories while enjoying a leisurely stroll through Downtown Bend.
Recapture the thrill of a snow day
There’s something about the combination of blue skies and fresh snow that brings out the kid in a lot of us. Seize the moment by scheduling a snowball fight or making snow angels in fresh powder.
You can also recapture your youth by taking a twirl on the ice rink at The Pavilion or heading up to one of the Sno-Park to build a snowman.
The possibilities are endless, and I have it on good authority that giggling cures wrinkles.
Go for a hike
Clear skies make for perfect hiking conditions, and there are several hikes you can plan this time of year with no snowshoes required.
Stroll along the Deschutes River Trail with the added bonus of giving yourself easy access to post-hike snacks at one of several restaurants in the Old Mill District.
Late-winter is my very favorite time of year to visit the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. The craggy volcanic rocks and ancient junipers look stunning against a backdrop of blue sky, and with nearly 30,000 acres to explore, odds are good you’ll have a trail to yourself.
Hit the High Desert Museum
I adore the High Desert Museum for all its cool natural history and critters, but I’ll admit I’m a wimp about exploring the outdoor exhibits when the weather is nasty.
But blue skies are a great excuse to wander their expansive grounds checking out the birds of prey and the recently remodeled otter exhibit.
Check their online schedule to make sure you don’t miss any cool presentations or animal demos.
Save time for stargazing
Another upside of clear skies is the chance to check out the winter stars in all their twinkly glory. We’ll see a full moon on February 10, which means the whole weekend will be primo time for a moonlight snowshoe adventure.
As a bonus, this month’s full moon (known as the full snow moon) isn’t the only thing you’ll see when you look up at the sky. This weekend’s skies will also bring us a comet and a lunar eclipse, and being in Bend pretty much guarantees you a great viewing platform to take it all in.
Hang out under the stars by a fire pit at Wall Street Suites
Few things are as magical on a clear winter evening as cozying up beside a fire pit after a good meal and gazing up at the stars.
What’s that? You don’t have a fire pit handy? Well Wall Street Suites does. They also have some of the coolest luxury suites in Bend, and a fab Downtown setting that makes it easy to walk to the best shops and restaurants. Restaurants like . . . oh, I don’t know . . . Jackalope Grill?
Wanna win a package that includes a one-night stay at Wall Street Suites and $100 to spend at Wall Street Suites?
Leave a comment below and tell me your favorite thing to do on a bluebird day in Bend. Don’t worry if you’ve never been—you can just share which idea above sounds most appealing to you.
We’ll draw a winner at 4 p.m. on Friday, February 10. Good luck!
But after a long day of ice skating and making snow angels, you need to spend time warming up. Here are 8 of my favorite ways to get toasty in Bend.
Grab an adult beverage
I said “get toasty,” not “get toasted,” so moderation is key when it comes to imbibing in Bend.
But it’s true the city’s abundance of distilled spirits makes for some darn fine belly warmers this time of year. One of my personal faves is a shot of Bendistillery’s Crater Lake Pepper Vodka mixed with something tropical like pineapple, passionfruit, or mango juice. The peppery kick will warm you from the inside out, while the tropical flair will make you feel like you’re on a warm sandy beach.
If it’s a hot beverage you’re craving, there’s plenty to pick from. The spiced rum from Oregon Spirit Distillers is scrumptious in a mug of hot apple cider, or try blending Bendistillery’s Hazelnut Espresso Vodka with some warm cocoa and a dollop of whipped cream.
If beer is more your scene, a hearty stout or porter is just the ticket this time of year. The Tough Love Russian imperial stout from Crux Fermentation Project is particularly outstanding, or go for the classic Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery.
Or try a non-boozy belly warmer
Alcohol isn’t a requirement when you’re aiming to warm yourself from the inside out. Plenty of spots in Bend offer non-boozy belly warmers that are perfect for kids, teetotalers, or anyone else who’s laying off the sauce.
Bend has oodles of terrific coffee shops, which also double as great spots to cozy up and get warm in the steamy, coffee-scented air. I’m a big fan of the intimate vibe found at both Thump and Lone Pine, but you’ll find a full roundup of Bend coffee shops here. Pick one that looks like your special scene!
Tea drinkers will be happy to hear that both the aforementioned Thump and Lone Pine sell Metolius Artisan Tea, which is my absolute favorite. If you spot some, make sure you grab a jar of their Signature Blend made with lavender, blueberries, bachelor’s buttons, Madagascar vanilla bean, chocolate pieces, and three kinds of black tea. So good!
For the kiddos in your life, you’ll find hot cocoa at nearly every coffee shop on the list above. You can also grab Bubble Tea (either warm or cold) at Townshend’s Tea in Downtown Bend.
Try some hot yoga
Whether you can execute a perfect Bakasana in your sleep, or you’re only dimly aware that yoga isn’t something you top with granola for breakfast, you’ve probably at least heard of hot yoga.
It’s the practice of executing yoga poses in a high-temperature environment (typically 105-degrees) and it’s one way to boost your body temp on a cold winter day.
You’ll find drop-in hot yoga classes at Bikram Yoga Bend, Steve’s Hot Yoga, and Juniper Yoga, all of which offer slightly different pricing and approaches to the practice. Check out their websites and find the spot that looks like your ideal spot to get sweaty.
Find a fire pit
If you want to get warm but you’re not ready to head indoors just yet, you’ll find plenty of outdoor fire pits that make the perfect place to toast your toes.
The abundance of wood-burning pits on the patio outside O’Kanes at McMenamins Old St. Francis make it a popular wintertime hangout for those craving a brew and a pile of hot Cajun tater tots. You’ll also find a cool gas-powered fire feature just outside Jackson’s Corner Eastside, which makes it a great place to nibble a breakfast sandwich.
You’ll find quite a few large fire pits scattered throughout the Old Mill District, with plenty of room to snuggle up and mingle with locals and fellow travelers from all over the world.
For more ideas on where to find fire pits around Bend, check out this blog post.
Soak your bones
McMenamins Old St. Francis School boasts a beautiful tile soaking pool surrounded by shimmering turquoise tile, luminous stained glass, breathtaking murals, and an open-air ceiling that lets you check out the night sky. It’s filled with soft, buoyant saltwater, which makes for an environmentally friendly soak.
While guests staying at McMenamins have easy access to it, it’s also open to the public for your soaking pleasure. Check the website for fees and hours of operation.
Grab some comfort food
Warm yourself from the inside out with a big, heaping bowl full of whatever makes your tummy smile.
If mac and cheese is your comfort food of choice, Blacksmith has a terrific trio featuring a small portion of each of their three varieties (smoked cheddar, bacon, and truffle mac and cheese).
You’ll find tummy-pleasing soups at most Bend restaurants, but my personal fave is the Phở (pronounced “phuh”) at Phở Việt & Café. It’s a hot beef-noodle soup that’s a staple of Vietnamese cuisine and culture, and it’s oh-so-good on a cold winter’s day.
If you’re up at Mt. Bachelor, I have it on good authority that the Nacho Mountain in the Clearing Rock Bar will change your life (or at least improve your day significantly).
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my all-time favorite comfort food in Bend, the Grilled Cheesy at Crux Fermentation Project. It features asiago-cheese crusted panini with mixed ricotta, pepper jack, and white cheddar with diced bacon and spicy pickles on Italian country spent grain bread from DiLusso Bakery. Pair it with a beer sampler tray and prepare for one of the best meals of your life.
For more ideas on comfort food in Bend, check out this post.
Do a good deed
Ever notice how doing a good deed makes you feel warm all over?
Visit Bend’s Visit Like a Local page is chock full of ideas that’ll warm more than just your heart. From voluntourism opportunities, to ideas for leaving the hiking trail a little nicer than you found it, you’ll see oodles of tips that will leave you feeling good all over.
Watch this video
Can’t make it to Bend right this moment? You can experience that blend of tingly chill and toasty warmth by watching this short video titled, “Warmth.”
Listen. Do you hear that? It’s the sound of . . . well, nothing.
Something funny happens in Bend each year during the weeks that follow a chaotic Christmas break and precede the visitor uptick in mid-February for Presidents’ Weekend. Traffic dies down, shops and restaurants go quiet, and there’s a whole lot of solitude up for grabs out there in Bend’s expansive wilderness.
Some folks love the silence. Others (like retailers who depend on tourist spending) struggle a bit with the slowdown. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, here are four ways to make the most of mid-winter silence in Bend, Oregon.
Get outside and embrace the solitude
One of my favorite hiking memories is a solo trek I enjoyed around the Oregon Badlands Wilderness in late-January three years ago. It was just my dog, me, and a whole lot of crisp quiet (plus a good compass—that’s essential if you’re hiking solo).
If you like the sound of silence, there’s oodles of it to be found right now in Bend’s wilderness areas. Rent a fat bike and use pedal power to explore your favorite trails. Snowshoe into the vast, snowy woods and listen to your own heartbeat thudding in your ears.
The possibilities are endless, and the solitude is empowering.
Fill the silence with music and laughter
Now that you’ve recharged your batteries with the sound of silence, it’s time to add back a few happy sounds.
January and February are among the best times of year for performances at intimate venues like the Tower Theatre (including the Bend A Cappella Festival coming up in just a few weeks). You can also peruse Visit Bend’s event calendar for musical performances happening all over town during your Bend vacation.
Is laughter the sound you most want to hear? Check out The Pavilion for a few hours of gleeful twirling on Central Oregon’s only NHL-sized ice rink. There’s even a warm viewing area if you’re not up for strapping skates on your own feet.
For more indoorsy squeals of laughter, take the kids to Sun Mountain Fun Center for bumper cars, bowling, and video games. You can also hit up the brand new Mountain Air Trampoline Park for giggly good times with the added bonus of burning A TON of kid energy. (Pro tip for moms: Wear a good sports bra. You’ll thank me later).
Help out a small business
I’ll admit it. There’s a part of me that enjoys walking into a Bend restaurant this time of year and knowing I’ll have no trouble getting a table.
But there’s a bigger part of me that knows small businesses in Bend struggle during this quieter time of year. The vacation crowds have died down, but the folks who own tour companies and small shops still have kids to feed.
Now is a great opportunity for some retail therapy in Downtown Bend or the Old Mill District. It’s also a terrific time to book a tour with a small family-owned operator like Wanderlust Tours, Cowboy Carriage, Bend Tour Company, Cog Wild, Extreme Oregon, or countless other tour operators you see listed right here.
Quietly spread joy
As an introvert who’d rather chew off her own arm than make small talk with strangers, I’m not always the best ambassador for the sort of open friendliness Bendites are known for.
That’s one thing I love about the Bend Joy Project. It’s all is all about finding small ways to spread joy and build bridges of kindness and compassion in Bend. There are billboards and videos, volunteer initiatives and bumper stickers, but my favorite thing is the “share cards.”
You’ll find these nifty little cards in about 150 locations around Bend, including our own Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava and Oregon. You can also find online versions to share via email. Some are interactive, like the one that says, “Make a stranger smile today” or “Give this card to someone you admire and share why.” Others are more reflective, like “Write down 5 things you are grateful for today.”
No matter which card you pick or with whom you share it, it’s a quiet, subtle way of spreading a little happiness without uttering a word.
Everyone’s looking for an inside tip. A secret or two that will help make vacation easier, cheaper, or just plain funner (that’s totally a word, right?)
A few months ago I published this post on lifehacks for a Bend family vacation. Now that winter travel is in full swing, it seems like a good time to revisit the concept with snowflakes in mind.
Hack #1: Beat the rush up the hill
It’s been a busy season up at Mt. Bachelor, and the road to the mountain can get packed with cars hustling to get there when the chairlifts start spinning at 9 a.m.
Want to skip the traffic? While it’s true the lifts open at 9, the lodge opens at 7:30. Beat the rush by heading up early, then nabbing yourself a tasty breakfast on the hill. You’ll still catch the first chair up the mountain, but you’ll spend that extra hour relaxing in a toasty warm ski lodge with a hot meal instead of staring at the line of cars in front of you. Heck, bring your laptop or your work colleagues and call it a board meeting.
Hack #2: Maximize your time in Downtown Bend
Sometimes it’s fun to look out my office window in Downtown Bend and see how many times a particular car will circle the block in search of a parking spot.
That’s probably not as fun for the person in the car.
Here’s a hint: It’s free to stash your car in the Parking Garage for up to three hours, and only $5 for all-day parking. Parking in the garage is always free on weekends, and you’ll rarely have trouble finding a spot. Bonus: You won’t have to scrape your windows or shove snow off your car when it’s time to leave.
Once you’ve found your spot, you can cram a whole lot of Bend goodness into your downtown experience. Grab lunch at one of the popular eateries, then do a little souvenir shopping. Afterward, stroll into Bend’s historic Drake Park to check out the icy Deschutes River and do a little people watching.
Hack #3: Plan your trip mid-week or during shoulder season for the best deals
Lodging in Bend can be tough to find during peak weekends, and rooms get pricey. An easy fix is to come in the middle of the week during shoulder season.
What’s shoulder season? That’s the gap between the busiest seasons of the year (those are summer, spring break, and Christmas break). In other words, you’ll find your best deals on lodging during the months of October, November, early-December, January, February, and late-April. To learn more about shoulder season vacations in Bend, check out this post.
Hack #4: Do your drinking like a grownup
More than half of all Bend visitors hit at least one brewery while they’re in town, and many pledge to tackle the entirety of the mighty Bend Ale Trail.
While sampling Bend’s craft beers, ciders, and distilled spirits is super awesome, a DUI is not. Neither is killing yourself or someone else. Death and jail time kinda put a damper on a Bend vacation.
Stay safe by letting the Bend Brew Bus handle your beerventure for you. If you’ve got a hankering for more than just beer, try their Local Pour Tour, which visits a winery, cidery, brewery, and distillery. All tours include samples, snacks, and most importantly, sober transportation to and from your hotel.
Hack #5: Slip a little goodwill into your good times
Whether you’re a do-gooder who looks for voluntourism opportunities on every vacation, or someone seeking little ways to leave a place better than you found it, you’ll find tons of great tips on our Visit Like a Local pages.
Bonus: there’s good insider info on everything from navigating traffic roundabouts to seasonal footwear selections.
Hack #6: Snag some cheap eats
Bend’s culinary scene is known as a foodie’s paradise, but sampling every buzz-worthy restaurant can empty your wallet in a hurry.
Hitting happy hours is a great way to sample a variety of cuisines for budget-friendly prices. Most Bend restaurants have them, and you can plant yourself in popular dining zones like the Old Mill District or Downtown Bend and walk between two or three hot eateries.
For a handy roundup of Bend’s best happy hours, go here.
Hack #7: Find the secret deals
Not everyone knows this, but lots of Bend hotels and lodging properties will throw out little perks to win your business. It’s not uncommon to see hotels offering discounted room nights, a bottle of wine, or even cheap Mt. Bachelor lift tickets to entice guests to stay with them.
Visit Bend keeps a list of such bargains on the Deals and Discounts page. Bookmark it and get ready to save big.
It’s been an epic snow year in Bend, with nearly 60 inches falling in town so far this season.
To put that into perspective, Bend’s normal average snowfall for the entire year is 24 inches. This is January, guys—we’re not even halfway done!
Fans of the white stuff have been flocking here this winter for sledding and snowball fights and all the fun things that make up a winter vacation.
But what else is there to do with all this snowy goodness? Here are eight ideas!
Ski, snowboard, or snowshoe
This one’s kinda obvious, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out all the ways you can enjoy our epic snow year at Mt. Bachelor.
There’s downhill skiing and snowboarding, plus Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and even unique options like sled dog rides and the Snowblast Tubing Park.
Wanderlust Tours has also been enjoying a fantastic season of snowshoeing. I took my whole extended family on their Bonfire on the Snow tour over the holidays, and if I had a snowball for every time someone uttered the phrase “magical,” I’d win the neighborhood snowball fight.
Dig yourself a snow cave
The snow is officially deep enough in town to make yourself a pretty sweet snow cave or igloo. What kid hasn’t fantasized about this at some point?
Just be careful not to let kids play in snow berms near roadways, since plows are continually piling up the white stuff and may not see them.
Make a tasty dessert
Anyone who’s been to Hawaii knows the pleasure that is “shave ice.” Fluffy mounds of frozen goodness get covered in flavored syrup and served atop a scoop of ice cream. Here’s your chance to try it Bend-style!
Note: If it appears the snow has already been doused with lemon syrup, choose different snow. Also worth noting: giardia is no fun, so be careful about using only pristine, untouched snow.
For more snow-based dessert ideas, check out this piece on making ice cream.
Get creative with your snowman (or woman!)
There’s tons of raw material to work with out there, so now’s a good time to add a little flair to your snowman or snowwoman. Heck, you can make a whole family of them!
Have a Snow-B-Que
Just because the snow is piled waist-high doesn’t mean grilling is out of the question. In fact, it’s a fun way to enjoy our winter wonderland while you grill up something warm to fill your belly.
Shovel some snow
Here’s your opportunity to add a little “voluntourism” to your Bend vacation.
Got a shovel and a strong back? Lend a hand if you spot a driveway or sidewalk that hasn’t been tended. Elderly and disabled homeowners are struggling right now, and it’ll make your heart feel good to help out.
It’s a timely effort not only because of the heavy snowfall, but because January 16 is celebrated as Day of Service. Go here for more ideas on getting involved and making a difference, or check out our Visit Like a Local page to get inspiration.
Chill your beer
This is nature’s cooler right here. And now there’s more room in the fridge for other things like…well, more Bend beer.
Just be cautious about what you’re leaving outside when temperatures dip much below freezing. There’s a bottle of soda on my back porch right now that looks like a science experiment gone bad.
Ice that aching knee
Got an old ski injury that flares up from time to time, or an owie that feels better when iced? The consistency of snow makes it a perfect, moldable ice pack when sealed in plastic baggies.
That might come in handy for your aching back if you get a little too hardcore with the aforementioned shoveling!
Welcome to 2017, everyone!
There are so many fab things to look forward to in Bend each year, and 2017 is no exception. As I sat down with my life planner to map out a year’s worth of events and activities, I remembered all over again what a cool town Bend is and how lucky we are to have something awesome happening every month of the year.
Here are some of my favorite things coming up in 2017 . . .
This month, the Joy Project launched in Bend to help add a little happiness and goodwill to an otherwise quiet month in the high desert. It’s a way of empowering people to show kindness and spread joy, and you can read more about it here.
January is also the month when I round out my New Year’s resolutions with a list of three new-to-me hikes I want to tackle in the coming year. To spark your own ideas, check out Visit Bend’s hiking page or Cascade Hiking Adventures.
For a short month, February manages to pack in some of my favorite Bend activities.
President’s Weekend boasts the renowned Oregon Winterfest, complete with live music, rail jam, and competitions ranging from fire pits to ice sculptures.
One of my all-time favorite events is Zwickelmania, the statewide celebration of Oregon’s craft breweries. Though it usually happens the same weekend as President’s Day, Central Oregon decided to branch off this year and do it the following weekend instead on Feb. 25.
I’m probably most excited about the second annual Bend A Cappella Fest, which I was lucky enough to attend with my family in its inaugural year. I was blown away by the sheer volume of talent and the entertainment value for all ages, and can’t wait to go again. Pro tip: It’s almost certain to sell out, so buy tickets early!
Spring Break around the Pacific Northwest can make March a bit busy in Bend, but that’s good news for those who love an air of giddy excitement mixed with their crisp wintery weather.
This is the month when hopeful little spring blooms start wiggling their way out of the dirt, making desert hikes especially fun for wildflower aficionados.
It’s also when the Les Schwab Amphitheater starts trickling out details about the summer concert lineup, adding to the giddy hopefulness of this still-chilly month. Keep your eyes on their Facebook page if you want to be among the first to see concert announcements.
For women seeking a way to celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, the Muse Conference brings together internationally-recognized artists, authors, athletes, entrepreneurs, activists, and social change leaders.
Though there’s still a lot of chilly weather and the occasional threat of snowfall, April typically brings the year’s first opportunity to trot out short-sleeved shirts (albeit, paired with a sweater—it ain’t July!)
My fondness for Bend’s culinary scene makes the Foodie Crawl one of my favorite April activities, with the chance to wander around Downtown Bend nibbling gourmet samples paired with cocktails, wine, and beer. Dates haven’t been announced yet, but keep watching for details.
EDIT: Date has been announced! The Foodie Crawl is happening April 23, 2017 from 3-6 p.m. Tickets go on sale March 20, and will sell out fast!
Ahh, this is when it really starts to feel like spring in Bend.
The multi-sport Pole Pedal Paddle event ushers in the season whether you’re participating or just watching.
Snow enthusiasts will be thrilled to know there’s still a full month of spring skiing at Mt. Bachelor, which usually stays open through Memorial Day Weekend.
The summer concert season officially kicks off at the Les Schwab Amphitheater with at least a concert or two (and sometimes three!) on Memorial Day Weekend. If you’re lucky enough to score tickets, plan on bundling up!
There’s also the Fermentation Celebration in the Old Mill District, which isn’t on the calendar yet this year, but always seems to usher in Father’s Day Weekend. Coincidence? I think not.
This is one of the busiest months in Bend, and if you’re not a fan of crowds, you might want to plan your visit for a different month.
For those who do Visit Bend in July, there’s something happening nearly every day of the week. My personal faves are the Old Fashioned 4th of July Festival and its flagship event, the Bend Pet Parade.
Outdoor concerts abound with Munch and Music, Alive After 5, Free Summer Sundays, and the regular lineup at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. There’s also the annual Balloons Over Bend event, which is terrific fun for families.
This is also a primo month for whitewater rafting, floating the river, kayaking, canoeing, SUPing, and more. Go here for a roundup of all of Bend’s best water-based recreation activities.
It’s my birthday month, so is there really anything more important to highlight?
Okay, there’s also the Bend Brewfest (which just happens to coincide with my birthday this year, thank you very much).
My birthday offers a primo excuse for outdoor dining and the super-unique experience of riding a Mt. Bachelor chairlift to your sunset dinner spot at 7,800-feet above sea level.
Oh, and August 2017 also boasts the first solar eclipse to be seen in America for 26 years. Central Oregon is smack-dab in the path of it, prompting a staggering deluge of international visitors booking trips to the area. If you don’t already have a reservation the night of August 21, you’re probably out of luck. No joke!
And here we are at my favorite month of the year in Bend. The weather is milder, the crowds are smaller, the kids are back in school, and we’re all celebrating my wedding anniversary.
You are celebrating it, right?
One of the best ways to get festive is with the Little Woody Barrel-Aged Beer, Cider, and Whiskey Festival (say that five times fast). That’s happening September 1-2 in 2017, or you could do your beer-fueled celebrating a bit later in the month with Oktoberfest in Downtown Bend (dates haven’t been announced yet, but it’s typically around the middle of the month).
This is also a terrific month to cross off some of that hiking I dreamed up back in January.
Bend’s first snowfall of the season could happen anytime between October and November, so snow dancers start watching the skies this time of year.
October is also a great month for sipping pumpkin beer and scoping out the dramatic fall colors in spots like Drake Park and Shevlin Park. You can enjoy all of those things if you show up for one of the Tenth Month events, including the BendFilm Festival, Bend Venture Conferences, or the Swivel Digital Conference.
My favorite October activity is the Historical Haunts Tour sponsored by the Deschutes Historical Museum, which is a guided walking tour of Downtown Bend filled with lots of spooky stories.
Once upon a time, November was the slowest month for tourism in Bend.
That’s changed in recent years as Bend Ale Trail Month has brought a whole lot of beer aficionados to town on a quest for the trophy that’s awarded to those who turn in a completed Bend Ale Trail passport in November.
Mt. Bachelor’s opening day usually happens just after Thanksgiving, so that’s another big milestone in November. After that, you have the start of holiday festivities in the Old Mill District with carriage rides, caroling, and Santa arriving via helicopter.
December is filled with anticipation for folks waiting to see if we’ll be graced with a good old fashioned white Christmas (odds are pretty good!)
This is also a month when the Tower Theatre trots out some of their coolest shows, ranging from holiday concerts to screenings of popular Christmas movies.
So that does it for my roundup of the Bend events and activities I’m most excited about in 2017? What’s on your list?