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The active baby-boomers' guide to a great weekend in Bend, Oregon

kayaking the deschutes river

Though regular blog author Tawna Fenske does a fine job describing fun things to do in Bend, we wanted to offer some insights from an outsider with a baby-boomer perspective on travel.

Tawna’s parents, Dixie and David Fenske, are retired teachers who live in Salem, Oregon. They’re active baby-boomers who love to visit Bend not just because their daughter whines until they do, but because there’s tons of fun stuff happening there. It’s worth noting that Dixie originally titled this post, “Bend for old farts.” Tawna employed a rare moment of good taste and renamed it.

Check out what Dixie had to say about fun things to do in Bend for active baby-boomers!


Dixie and David Fenske enjoy standup paddleboarding courtesy of StandUp Paddle Bend.

If you’re expecting to find your regular blog post here, courtesy of Tawna Fenske, you may be disappointed.  Instead, you’ll find me, Dixie Fenske, Tawna’s mother, attempting to describe our experiences, (her father’s and mine, + Tawna), during our most recent visit to Bend.

Tawna, not being a person who takes “no” for an answer, wanted to take us out standup paddleboarding. While I love to look at and be around any type of water, the thought of ending up in an extremely cold river was not something I found very appealing.

Tawna’s answer to that fear was, “Don’t fall in.”

So, with that bit of advice, we drove to Riverbend Park in the Old Mill District where people seem to congregate for floating the river, as well as standup paddling.

We were given a lesson by Kama Borne from StandUp Paddle Bend. The young woman gave us specific instructions on how to mount the board, begin to paddle from a position on our knees, then use the paddle to balance on the board while we stood.  Kama was an excellent instructor and had us in the water in no time.

Standup paddling was much easier than I had imagined it would be, and we were cruising on the river in no time.  The water was smooth and perfect for beginners, as was the weather. Best of all, I remained upright on the board during the entire experience.  I really loved the feeling of gliding on top of the water.  Standup paddling is something I will definitely try again, and I really recommend the lessons from StandUp Paddle Bend.

After our paddling trip, we had really worked up an appetite as well as a thirst.  Tawna had that covered as well.  Our next stop was The Blacksmith restaurant.  We arrived in time for happy hour and thoroughly enjoyed a variety of appetizers and drinks.  My favorite drink was the Whiskey Daisy, made with bourbon, orgeat syrup, and fresh lemon. It was very fruity, yet not too sweet.  The food was incredible, too, and we especially enjoyed the carpaccio, the ceviche, and the fried green tomatoes.  Delicious!

On the second day of our activities, we were fortunate enough to enjoy the Bend Summer Festival.  We not only sampled a variety of ethnic foods, but also loved shopping in the various art booths and enjoying live music. Since it is so close to Drake Park, we also took a short walk along the river. That area is so beautiful and one of my favorite places in Bend.

Dixie and David Fenske hanging in Bend with their grand-dog, Bindi.

Next, Tawna decided to throw in something more catered to her dad. We headed to Deschutes Brewery for a tour and a few samples.  The young man who led our tour had more information and enthusiasm than I’ve seen in years.  Not only were we well informed about the business of brewing beer, we were entertained by quirky stories and antics.  They tell me the beer was great, too.

Tawna wanted us to see several parts of the Bend Ale Trail, so we also visited Boneyard Beer and could see the contrast in size of the two breweries, with the enthusiasm still a huge part of that tour as well.

Our evening was capped off with a concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.  While Saturday evening the entertainer was Alison Krauss and Union Station (outstanding music!) we have enjoyed several concerts in that venue.  What a perfect area for concerts, with the river as a backdrop!

One thing I’m most aware of when visiting Bend is that you not only have all the natural beauty an area could ask for, but there’s so much going on all the time.  Bend has athletic events, (bicycle races, triathlon, skiing, fishing, hiking, camping, etc.), as well as a host of fabulous restaurants and eateries.  There are also many quaint shops scattered all around.

While we didn’t have time during our recent trip, one of my favorite hikes, in Bend is the climb to the top of Pilot Butte.  Not only does the walk get your blood pumping a little, you are richly rewarded once you reach the top, with one of the most astounding views around.

While it’s the young adults you so often see in and around Bend, those of us in the “baby boomer generation” are equally blessed with the sights, sounds and awesome activities offered in this great part of the state.

Photos by Craig Zagurski.

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