The fact that tourism is booming in Bend, Oregon is either a testament to how well we’re doing our jobs at Visit Bend, or a testament to how cool Bend is. How about we just say it’s both?
In any case, it’s not uncommon for vacationers to arrive in the summer months to discover everyone simultaneously had the same idea about where to stay, where to drink, or what to do. Never fear! If this happens to you, here’s a roundup of ideas to make sure you can still snooze, sip, and splash in style.
Help! The campground I like is full!
We hear this most often from visitors hoping to stay at Tumalo State Park. No surprise, since its proximity to Bend and natural beauty make it the ideal place to camp (not to mention the ideal place for my upcoming wedding, but I digress).
If you arrive at the campground to find it packed, there are still plenty of spots to pitch your tent or park your camper. The Visit Bend website has an awesome page devoted to camping and RV parks, complete with handy grids to show you the amenities available at each place.
There are several private campgrounds within the city limits of Bend. Crown Villa (smack dab in the middle of town) and Scandia RV Park (also right in the city limits) both offer plenty of RV sites to choose from.
If you’re willing to stay 20 minutes west of Bend, Sisters City Park has both RV and tent sites in a lovely creekside setting.
State Parks are another great option for those willing to drive 20-40 minutes. Smith Rock State Park has great spots for tent campers, while La Pine State Park, Cove Palisades, and Prineville Reservoir can all accommodate both RVs and tents.
Some tent campers might enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of dispersed camping in the Ochoco or Deschutes National forests.
RV enthusiasts will find hookups and bathrooms with showers at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds RV Park. Though Mt. Bachelor doesn’t have hookups, they do offer bathrooms and showers in the Guest Services building for those who want to park their RVs in the designated area at the mountain.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a super-unique camping experience, try renting a luxury camper trailer from Cricket Rentals. Then haul your temporary new home wherever you please. Ask about their “glamping” packages, as well as options for pre-reserved campsites and equipment delivery/setup.
Help! The brewery I want to visit is jam-packed
OK, here’s the thing about the Bend Ale Trail: Having a program that lets participants earn prizes for gathering passport stamps at up to 14 breweries means Bend’s brew pubs are among the most popular attractions in our fair city. Nearly 50% of all Bend travelers visit at least one brewery during their stay, and 6-7% of Bend tourists list “beer tourism” as the primary reason for their visit.
As you can imagine, some of the breweries get packed, especially on holidays and weekends. I was reminded of this over Memorial Day Weekend when I dropped by Crux Fermentation Project for their sunset happy hour specials and discovered they had a two-hour wait for food (though for the record, I got my beer sampler in record time, and they were happy to offer me free bowls of tasty potato chips to nibble).
So what’s a beer enthusiast to do when faced with daunting crowds? Well, the fact that there are 14 breweries to pick from means you’ve got a lot of options. Can’t find a table at 10 Barrel? Head over to GoodLife, which has an awesome outdoor biergarden and tasty beer to boot. Unimpressed by the wait time at the first brewery you try in Downtown Bend? Keep walking. Silver Moon, Bend Brewing Company, Deschutes Brewery, Boneyard Beer, and McMenamins are all within a few blocks of each other, so whip out your Bend Ale Trail map and hoof it to the next one.
Of course, sometimes you’re not in the mood for a quest or for throngs of people. This was how I felt Saturday night, and my solution was to head to Hideaway Tavern. As the name implies, it’s a little off the beaten track. Besides offering a quiet refuge from the crowds, it’s a great place to grab a local craft beer and some out-of-this-world grub (try the truffle mac & cheese or the poutine with duck gravy).
Other non-brewery options for grabbing local craft beer include Summit Saloon, Broken Top Bottle Shop, Brother Jon’s (which has two locations), and Platypus Pub. You can also opt to hit one of the local growler fill stations and take your beer to go so you can enjoy it at your Bend vacation rental or Bend hotel.
Help! I want to float the river, but didn’t bring my tube
I feel your pain. Floating the river is one of Bend’s most divine summer pleasures, and on hot weekends, it feels like everyone has the same idea to laze on an inner tube or air mattress while drifting down the Deschutes.
More than once in my 16+ years in Bend, I’ve discovered a hole in my favorite air mattress in mid-July and spent half the afternoon running from Target to Fred Meyer to Walmart, only to discover the shelves cleared out because everyone had the same idea.
The aforementioned shops are all great options, and probably the most popular places to search for air mattresses and other inflatable devices. Big 5 Sporting Goods and BiMart aren’t usually the first places people check, so their shelves are often still stocked after the other guys have run low on inventory.
But if you’re just here for the weekend, why not rent your floaty? Sun Country Tours, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe both offer rental float tubes that are far superior to what you’ll find to purchase on most store shelves. These are professional-quality tubes with handles, mesh bottoms, and plenty of room for you to kick back and relax. Best of all, you won’t have to pass out in the parking lot because you also forgot your air pump.
Not that I’d know anything about that.