If you’re here on the Bend Buzz Blog, odds are good you fit one of three profiles:
- You’re someone who urgently wants to vacation in Bend.
- You live in Bend and still feel awestruck and giddy at your geographic good fortune.
- You accidentally stumbled upon the Bend Buzz Blog while researching yoga positions for bumblebees.
While I’m delighted you’re all here, it’s the first group I’d like to address here. Hello, friend. Why haven’t you booked that Bend vacation yet?
Ah, I hear you. No, really—I’ve heard the excuse before, which is why I’d like to politely counter some of the most common reasons people just don’t get around to scheduling that vacation to Bend.
Excuse #1: A winter vacation? But I’m not a skier.
Friend, I hear you. As a fellow non-skier, I understand the reluctance to strap boards to your feet and slide down a mountain. Lucky for us, there are still tons of great reasons to enjoy a winter vacation in Bend.
Mt. Bachelor has tons of fun non-skier options like the Snowblast Tubing Park and sled dog rides. You can also take a whirl around the ice skating rinks in Sunriver, Redmond, or Seventh Mountain Resort.
Snowshoeing is another fun activity for the non-skier folks who still want to get out and enjoy winter’s bounty. Book a guided trip with Wanderlust Tours to leave the driving, navigation, and gear procurement to the professionals.
Want to avoid the snow entirely? Hey, that’s easy this time of year. Even when the snow piles up in the mountains, you’re likely to see dry land the Bend city limits. Now’s a great time for mountain biking, hiking, or even non-active activities like the Roundabout Art Tour or the Bend Ale Trail.
And when it’s time to warm up after all your winter play, try the saltwater soaking pool at McMenamins or the fire pits scattered throughout town. For more ideas on how to warm up around Bend, go here.
Excuse #2: I can’t afford a vacation right now.
As a cheapskate traveler myself, I feel your pain. While there are plenty of options for luxury hotels and mid-range lodging in Bend, I will confess I’m a low-budget traveler who avoids paying more than $60 a night for a room anywhere.
If you share my cheapskate habits, you’ll find plenty of options for inexpensive lodging in Bend.
One property I’ve had the pleasure of touring is the Rainbow Motel on Franklin Avenue. It’s an older, no-frills sort of place, but the rooms are clean and comfortable, and the location near Downtown Bend can’t be beat. At $49 a night (plus tax) you’ll be able to save your pennies for important things like beer and lift tickets.
You’ll find plenty of other budget- friendly lodging options along Third Street. Motel West is one such property where I stashed my parents for a few nights when they visited in the middle of my home renovation. They didn’t need mountain views from a private balcony or breakfast in bed—they just needed a clean bed in a convenient location, and we found it there for $45 a night (plus tax).
Now that you’ve got a cheap roof over your head, let’s talk about my favorite subject—food. I’ve blogged several times about finding cheap dining in Bend, but in case you missed those posts, here are your links to finding lunch for $6 or less and cheap eats ranging from free to $3.50.
Looking for more free activities? Here are some extra ideas:
- First Friday Art Walk in Downtown Bend and the Old Mill District
- The Three Sisters Scenic Bikeway
- Roundabout Art Route
- A stroll through historic Drake Park
And depending on when you’re visiting, you’ll find season-specific freebie offerings. Snow fans on a budget will appreciate the free turns at Mt. Bachelor on the Carrousel Lift (a beginner lift for skiers or riders). In the summertime, catch free tunes with the Free Summer Sundays concert series, Alive After 5, or Munch & Music.
Watch for no-cost seasonal festivals like Farmers Markets, Summerfest, Saturday Market, Oktoberfest, Fall Festival, and Bite of Bend.
Excuse #3: I’m afraid to drive in the snow.
I’m a fourth generation Oregon who’s lived in Bend 16 years and who went to college in Montana. You’d think I’d be totally comfortable driving in the white stuff, but you’d be mistaken.
Here’s one thing a lot of people don’t realize about Bend: While it’s true Mt. Bachelor has gotten more than 300 inches of snow this season, I’m looking out my window right now at blue skies and dry pavement. It’s easy to drive 20 minutes up the hill to find more snow than you can shake a stick at, but the city proper doesn’t actually get all that much snow. That’s a good thing for those of us who aren’t wild about driving in it.
Of course, you still have to get here. One of the most valuable resources for winter drivers is the TripCheck website from the Oregon Department of Transportation. Use it to map out the best route for your journey, and scan webcams for up-to-the-minute views of which roadways have been recently plowed.
Keep an eye on weather reports, too, and have a little flexibility in your schedule. I’ve been planning a trip to Salem to visit my grandparents, and opted not to do it last weekend when weather reports suggested storm would hit the mountains. By Tuesday this week, the weather guy confirmed snow levels were high again, so I’m making the journey this weekend with little threat of any white stuff.
And if you’d rather leave the driving to someone else, the Central Oregon Breeze offers an inexpensive shuttle service between Portland and Central Oregon.