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!