So you’re planning to spend Turkey Day 2014 in the land of snow-capped mountains and high desert stars. Why don’t you go ahead and pat yourself on the back right now for your good decision?
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the fun things in store for everyone who plans to be in Bend, Oregon this Thanksgiving!
Gobble up some good grub
First things first. Let’s talk about where you want to have your main meal on November 27 this year.
For some, the thought of preparing your own feast in the kitchen of your Bend vacation rental has the homey sorta vibe you’re craving. If that’s the case, go here to scope out a variety of vacation homes and condos with ovens waiting to welcome that big, juicy bird.
If you’d rather leave the cooking to someone else, you have plenty of options to pick from. Check out this list for a roundup of restaurants ready to make your holiday meal extra special. The Turkey Day buffet at McMenamins Old St. Francis is one of the most popular offerings in town, with mealtimes offered from noon to 6 p.m. Reservations are required, and the roundup of food will include fresh-carved turkey, fireside port cranberry relish, roasted pork loin with Edgefield cider jus, poached salmon, tortellini salad, garlic green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey gravy, along with a wide array of fresh fruit, salads, and desserts.
If you feel like venturing a bit out of town, Brasada Ranch has a three-course prix fixe dinner from noon to 6 p.m. They don’t charge extra for the killer mountain views or gorgeous scenery.
Not in the mood to eat in a restaurant, but still don’t want to do the cooking? Not a problem! Catering experts Baldy’s, Tate & Tate, and Country Catering all offer holiday meals for pickup.
Run off those Turkey Day calories
Feeling guilty about that sixth helping of mashed potatoes? Never fear, Bend has a variety of Thanksgiving-themed runs and walks to help burn off those extra calories.
The Bend Thanksgiving Classic 10k/5k walk/run and the I Like Pie Thanksgiving Day walk/run both kick off at 9 a.m. in different parts of Bend on Thanksgiving morning. The day after Thanksgiving, the Turkey Trot is taking place in Sunriver.
To learn more about each of these races, check out our Event Calendar.
Who’s ready to ski?
I know plenty of you are waxing your snowboards and tuning your skis in anticipation of Mt. Bachelor’s first day of operations.
While things are always subject to change based on the whims of Mother Nature, Mt. Bachelor is currently scheduled to open the terrain parks and Nordic areas on Monday, November 24, with alpine skiing operations kicking off Wednesday, November 26—the day before Thanksgiving.
Make sure you check the online condition reports for up-to-the-minute info about opening day. And oh yeah—pray for snow!
UPDATED NOV. 26, 2014: Rainy conditions have put a damper on opening day plans, but Mt. Bachelor is now aiming to be up and running the day after Thanksgiving. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the online condition reports for all the latest info.
Shop ‘til you drop
For those who favor indoorsy pursuits over outdoorsy ones (or for those who simply love a good bargain), don’t miss the Black Friday shopping deals around town.
Bend’s Old Mill District features stores like Victoria’s Secret, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, Zumiez, and more. Check out their Black Friday Specials page for info on who’s opening at midnight, 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 5 a.m., and other more sane hours.
Fans of outlet shopping will want to check out the Bend Factory Stores for big bargains. Shops include hotspots like the Coach Factory Outlet, Nike Outlet, Eddie Bauer, Columbia Outlet, and much more.
For deals at places like Best Buy and Cost Plus World Market, head north to the Cascade Village Shopping Center. And if big-box stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s, and T.J. Maxx are on your agenda, be sure to hit the Bend River Promenade in the middle of town. While you’re on the north end of town, pop into Pomegranate Home & Garden, a locally-owned shop in a historic farm house, for some really unique gifts.
To help you spread things out a bit, many shops in Downtown Bend are participating in Small Business Saturday. Check out their page for details about shops and specials, including deals at great local boutiques like Hot Box Betty, Local Joe, and Tres Jolie.
Before we’ve even stashed the Thanksgiving leftovers, a lot of us are gearing up for the next major holiday. If you’re ready to get a jump on Christmas, head to the Old Mill District. Santa will arrive via helicopter around 10 a.m. on Friday, November 28, to begin his tour of duty at Santaland. There will also be oodles of other Christmassy offerings like carriage rides, carolers, kids’ activities, and more. Go here to see what’s in the lineup.
Downtown Bend is another festive place to be, with oodles of lights and decorations adorning streets and shops. One of Bend’s most cherished holiday traditions is the annual Christmas tree lighting on November 29 (the Saturday after Thanksgiving). The live tree is located at the top of Drake Park near Mirror Pond Plaza, and guests get to sing carols and watch Santa light the tree. Festivities get underway at 6:30 p.m., but you’d be smart to arrive at least half an hour before that to find a spot.
Only in Bend
Yes, I acknowledge there are Black Friday sales and Christmas tree lightings happening in most towns around America this time of year. While I encourage you to enjoy those activities, here are a few only-in-Bend things to add to your holiday agenda:
- Snowshoe with Wanderlust Tours. Let the naturalist guides at Wanderlust lead you into the wilderness to traipse through pristine fields of pillowy snow. Tours include all gear and transportation, not to mention snacks and warm drinks. They offer daytime or starlight outings, and kids are welcome, too.
- Science Parties at the High Desert Museum. Bend’s popular High Desert Museum offers fascinating exhibits, cool animals, and tons of opportunities to learn more about the culture and history of the high desert. During Thanksgiving week, the Science Party on tap is called Winged Wonders. It’s a chance to explore the world of flight with live animals and breathtaking experiments. Check out their website to learn more about the schedule and other exhibits at the museum.
- Special programs at the Tower Theatre. Even if they weren’t having any shows at all, Bend’s historic Tower Theatre would be worth checking out just for the beauty of it. But during Thanksgiving week, you’ll have the chance to see National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on the big screen. The show starts at 7 p.m. on November 28, and you can get tickets here.
- Festivities at Sunriver Resort. If you’re up for a 20-minute drive, Sunriver Resort is a lovely place to spend an afternoon this time of year, particularly if you want to get into the holiday spirit. Check out special events like their annual Holiday Marketplace November 28-29 (a great place to pick up crafts, treats, and ornaments) or their Grand Illumination Ceremony November 28.