Returning home to Bend after nine days in Hawaii had me pondering a lot of things, not the least of which was how I went from bikini to blizzard in 24 hours.

But I’m also mulling the importance of maximizing your time when you have a short vacation and oodles of things to see and do. Here are four fun shortcuts for travelers with only a small window of time to visit Bend.

 

When you don’t have time for the whole Bend Ale Trail

You'll find plenty of beers from the Bend Ale Trail when you visit Broken Top Bottle Shop.
You’ll find plenty of Bend beers at Broken Top Bottle Shop.

Let me state for the record that I once completed the entire Bend Ale Trail on foot, in a snowstorm in 3.5 hours, so I know it can be done. But if you don’t feel like knocking yourself unconscious to hit all the breweries, you can still sample oodles of Bend beers from the comfort of a single barstool.

Besides offering some of the best food along the Bend Ale Trail, Old Mill Brew Wërks has a rotating tap list that includes all their own brews, plus several from other breweries. Their “guest taps” almost always include a couple beers from Boneyard Beer to satisfy visitors who show up after 6 p.m. when Boneyard’s tasting room is closed. You’ll often find a selection or two from GoodLife Brewing for the same reason (their tasting room is closed Mondays) plus plenty of other selections from around the Northwest. Just be sure to save room for a few sips of the Rabble Rouser Red from Brew Wërks—it’s one of the best brews in town!

For an even wider range of beer selections, visit Broken Top Bottle Shop at the base of College Way in NW Bend, or The Brew Shop on NE 3rd Street. Both offer fabulous tap lists featuring plenty of Bend brews, plus huge coolers full of bottles and cans of beers from all over the world. For an extra tasty treat, use your beer to wash down the gourmet tacos at the Bottle Shop or the smoked turkey wings from Platypus Pub below The Brew Shop.

 

Great hiking without the long drive

Craving a lovely, beautiful hike, but you don’t have time for a long drive up the Cascade Lakes Highway? Get maximum scenery for minimum drive-time with a hike up Pilot Butte State Park. You can see this 500-foot cinder cone from almost any vantage point in Bend, and the one-mile hike to the top offers spectacular views of the city and mountains beyond. Opt for the slightly more rugged dirt path to the top in summer months, or utilize the less steep paved road when it’s closed to cars between late-fall and mid-April. Don’t forget your camera and a bottle of water.

Drake-Park-Sunrise-Paddle-Board-Fall
On foot or on a paddleboard, don’t miss Bend’s Drake Park.

If you’re not in the mood for an uphill trek, take a quick stroll through Drake Park, the beautiful crown jewel of Bend’s park system. It features a half-mile of lovely riverfront walking trails adjacent to historic Downtown Bend.

To see both (plus some other nearby sites with the aid of a knowledgeable guide) contact the Bend Visitor Center to nab a spot on one of the free guided tours on Fridays and Saturdays at 10 a.m.

 

Grab meals on the go

Sampling new restaurants is one of my favorite things to do when vacationing, but it’s rare to have the time or money for three leisurely, sit-down meals a day. Need to grab a great breakfast sandwich for the car ride to Mt. Bachelor? Hit Rockin’ Daves Bagel Bistro & Catering Company on Greenwood Avenue. Your best bet is The Clogger, made on your choice of bagel with bacon, tomato, avocado, red onion, and cream cheese. The base price is $5.50, though I substitute egg for the cream cheese for $1 extra. You can also hit Sparrow Bakery in NW Bend for one of their famous Ocean Rolls spiked with cardamom and a scrumptious glaze that’ll leave you drooling in your lap.

Ocean Rolls from Sparrow Bakery....mmmm!
Ocean Rolls from Sparrow Bakery….mmmm!

Need a good grab-and-go lunch? Nab a tasty burrito at Longboard Louie’s, which offers locations in both NE and NW Bend. I also adore the wraps at Parilla Grill on 14th Street, and have devoured countless Bombay Bomburritos with one hand on the steering wheel en route to my favorite hike.

And whether you’re seeking a pre-made sandwich, freshly packaged sushi, or a bag of gourmet groceries to prep your own meal in your Bend vacation rental, be sure to hit Newport Avenue Market for a great selection of goodies to round out your quickie dining options.

 

Get the most from your Mt. Bachelor experience

Springtacular2013_WebsiteHeaderYour ski days are limited, so get the biggest bang for your buck with one of their special promotions. Hop online at least four days before your trip to nab a killer discount on multi-day lift tickets. If you’re visiting after April 1, the Springtacular Season Pass offers an amazing deal if you purchase during their 96-hour sale March 15-19. Your $139 adult pass offers unlimited access the last two months of the season starting April 1.

And if you’re traveling with young’uns, don’t forget Bachelor’s Kids Ski Free products, offering complimentary multi-day tickets for dependent kids 12 and under with the purchase of each adult/parent multi-day ticket.

So how do you get the most out of a short trip to Bend? Please share! Couldn’t we all use more tips for quickies?

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