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MY PERFECT DAY IN BEND: Emilie Cortes shares a dawn-to-dusk roundup of her favorite Bend activities


Hello, dear blog readers! Each week you tune in for the latest Bend tips and hints from Visit Bend’s PR & Communications Manager Tawna Fenske. She’s brought you posts on topics ranging from hiking to snow dancing to Bend’s best bacon dishes.

But every now and then we like to offer a different perspective on fun things to do in Bend, Oregon. This week we’re showcasing a post from Emilie Cortes, a Bend newcomer who moved from San Francisco just over a year ago to operate Call of the Wild adventure travel company for women. Drawn by the great weather and lower cost of living, Emilie picked Bend as her new home so she could enjoy all the hiking, climbing, and mountain biking the area had to offer.

So what’s Emilie’s idea of a perfect day in Bend, Oregon? Here’s what she had to say!


Start the day off with breakfast at McKay Cottage

Emilie Cortes kicks off her perfect day in Bend with breakfast at McKay Cottage.

Emilie Cortes kicks off her perfect day in Bend with breakfast at McKay Cottage.

McKay Cottage (62910 OB Riley Rd.) is one of my favorite breakfast spots in Bend, and its reputation is well-deserved after winning The Source Weekly best breakfast spot four years running.  The building was the original 1916 cottage of Clyde and Olive McKay, some of the original Bend settlers. The McKay Cottage potatoes are insane, and the Mt. Bachelor omelet dish is to die for.  The portions are generous, and after fueling up with a hearty breakfast, we head north on Hwy 97 for the day’s activities!


Head to Smith Rock State Park

Emilie (right) lends a hand to a friend learning to climb at Smith Rock.

From McKay Cottage, it’s a short 30-minute drive to world-class rock climbing that draws climbers from around the world.  The day use parking fee at Smith Rock State Park is $5, or if you know you’ll return frequently, an annual pass is just $30.  Thousands of sport and traditional rock climbing routes on volcanic tuff and basalt offer a climber’s dream playground that will keep you coming back.  It’s a short hike to any of the popular climbing areas in the park.  My favorite sections are the Morning Glory Wall, Peanut Gallery, and Rope de Dope areas, which offer easy and moderate options to work on my lead sport climbing skills.

On days when I have non-climber friends in tow, we hike the 700-ft ascent of Misery Ridge, offering unparalleled views of the Smith Rock

Beautiful Monkey Face at Smith Rock State Park.

complex as well as the Cascade volcanoes gracing the horizon.

If we continue on Misery Ridge Trail, we can see the iconic Monkey Face with Mt Jefferson and Mt Washington in the background.  Allow 2 to 2.5 hours to complete the loop.


Enjoy an early dinner at Terrebonne Depot

Climbing and hiking at Smith Rock can really build up an appetite, so I love to stop at the historic Terrebonne Depot (400 NW Smith Rock Way, Terrebonne) on my way back to Bend.  The restaurant is housed in a 100-year-old former train station and the deck is lovely in warm weather.  My favorite healthy option is the grilled radicchio salad with salmon, but sometimes my appetite is revving so much I have to go for a juicy buffalo burger!

The saltwater soaking pool at McMenamins is a great place to soak your bones after a long day of play.

Savor a Turkish bath at McMenamins

I make the short drive back to Bend and hit McMenamins Old St Francis School (700 NW Bond St) for a soak in the Turkish bath. Yep, you read that right!  There is a heated saltwater soaking pool with a skylight for just $5pp.  It’s ridiculously relaxing.  After a good soak and shower in the locker room, I like to have a drink at the bar and nibble on some of their awesome happy hour Cajun tater tots (ask for them even if it’s after happy hour).  Sadly, I’m gluten intolerant, but Bend is a gluten-free friendly town, so I indulge in a Bourbon Furnace with hot apple cider, lemon, honey and Kentucky Bourbon!

The perfect end to the perfect day…


Emilie Cortes resides in Bend and operates Call of the Wild Adventures – adventure travel for women.  To learn more about her trips, including the upcoming Central Oregon Classic in October, visit


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