My parents spend several months a year on Kauai, and when I visited recently, they showed me their secret spots – a hidden beach, an off-the-beaten path farmers’ market, a secluded place to watch the sunset.
They’re protective of their secrets, and threatened dismemberment if I shared. While I’m not willing to risk a limb for Kauai, I am willing to cough up some of my own favorite secrets for Bend, Oregon.
Bend has amazing hiking trails, and while you can’t go wrong with common spots like Tumalo Falls or the Deschutes River Trail, my personal favorite isn’t as well known. The trailhead for Blow Lake is right off the Cascade Lakes Highway about a mile south of Elk Lake. It’s a 1 mile hike to Blow Lake, and another 1.5 miles to equally beautiful Doris Lake. Besides being gorgeous and fairly easy to hike, the trails are often empty. I seldom encounter other hikers even in peak season, which makes it a peaceful place to let my dog run without the risk she’ll tackle small children. It’s also a great spot for a picnic if you don’t mind foregoing tables and tossing a blanket on the ground.
For picnic fixins
Speaking of picnicking, that’s one of my favorite Bend activities. My secret spot to buy picnic goodies is Bend’s locally owned Grocery Outlet on 3rd Street. This bargain store is a hodgepodge of food and household goods at insanely low prices. You never know what you’ll find, but I have great luck scoring unique cheeses, tasty prosciutto, seasonal fruit, and crackers for a fraction of prices at other places. The best feature is the wine. Many times I’ve taken a gamble on a $3.99 bottle of something mysterious and foreign and returned for an entire case. If you’re a serious bargain hunter who likes sampling new things, this is the place for you.
If you’d rather have someone else assemble your lunch, two of my favorite spots are Parilla Grill and Croutons. Neither is in the middle of Downtown or Old Mill where visitors tend to gravitate. Instead, they’re a few blocks apart on 14th Street (technically, Croutons is on SW Century Drive…don’t ask me why the road randomly changes names). Parilla specializes in amazing wraps, and my favorite is the Bombay Bomburrito. Croutons features fabulous soups, salads, and sandwiches. Try a combo and sample a tasty Santa Fe Salad paired with a Granny Smith Chicken Salad Flatini.
I have a tough time keeping up on fashion trends, and a tougher time paying the prices required to be trendy. A wise person once shared a secret: if you splurge on a few high-end accessories, you’ll look fashionable no matter what you’re wearing. That concept makes me a huge fan of Clutch: a handbag boutique on Minnesota avenue in Downtown Bend. They specialize in handbags and wallets by designers like Hayden Harnett, Rebecca Minkoff, Kooba, Lauren Merkin, Mar Y Sol, Elaine Turner, Ellington, Hobo International, and more. I can buy a sassy little clutch or a gorgeous leather shoulder bag and feel like a million bucks without having to purchase an entire outfit. Their prices are surprisingly reasonable, and the owner is great at helping you find exactly the right bag to match your style or budget.
That’s it for my roundup of Bend secrets. What are yours? Share if you can (without risk of dismemberment, of course).