Each year in late-July, stores bombard us with back-to-school ads and displays of school supplies. It always sends me cowering in the corner and whimpering at the thought that summer is half over.
But it’s a good reminder that now’s the time to get a jump on your summertime checklist in Bend. Several of the city’s best events and activities are the limited-time-only variety, so here’s what you simply MUST do in Bend in the coming weeks.
Browse the Farmer’s Market
The Bend Farmer’s Market takes place each Wednesday in Downtown Bend in the Brooks Street Plaza above the city’s iconic Mirror Pond. It typically runs from early June through mid-October each year, and the 2015 end date is slated to be October 14.
While that means you’ve still got plenty of time to hit one before summer ends, now’s a pretty ideal time to go. The produce vendors are hawking oodles of fresh fruits and veggies grown at nearby farms. Fresh flowers are in abundance, and the weather is perfect for a leisurely stroll through the market.
One thing I’ve noticed this season is that 2015 boasts one of the most impressive lineups of vendors I’ve seen at the Bend Farmer’s Market in previous years. In addition to fresh, locally-grown produce, you’ll find unique offerings like artisan cheese, locally-raised meats, fresh honey and jellies, baked goods, handmade pastas, and much more. Plan on spending at least an hour browsing the booths and enjoying live music between 3 and 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
Attend a concert
You’ve still got oodles of great concerts to choose from in the 2015 summertime lineup, including a lot of great free music (yes, FREE!)
Munch and Music (a free summertime concert series in Drake Park each Thursday evening) has shows booked through August 13, so check out their lineup and pick on that works for your schedule. In the Old Mill District, the Alive After 5 music series offers free concerts on Wednesday evenings though August 5, so scope out the remaining shows and plan accordingly.
There’s also the popular Free Summer Sunday music series at the Les Schwab Amphitheater most Sundays through August 2 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. I’ve found this often fits nicely with an early afternoon river float, which we’ll get to in just a moment.
If you’re willing to pony up a few bucks for concert tickets, check out the remaining lineup at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. The 2015 agenda still has shows from Pink Martini, Wilco, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Weird Al Yankovic, and Ben Harper, so go here to check the schedule and buy tickets.
Float the river
As I’ve said many times, floating the Deschutes River in Bend is one of the most divine summer pleasures you can imagine.
It’s also something you can’t do in, say, December, so you want to make sure to check this off in the next couple months.
Pick a sunny afternoon, plunk your inner tube or air mattress in the water at Riverbend Park, and spend the next hour or two drifting blissfully through the Old Mill District and several scenic neighborhoods before ending up in Bend’s beautiful Drake Park
For tips on floating the river like a local (including how to get around the Colorado Avenue spillway) go here.
Have a gourmet dinner at 7,800 feet
There’s a limited window of time each year between July 5 and Labor Day weekend when Mt. Bachelor lets guests ride the chairlift to the Pine Marten Lodge for an exquisite Sunset Dinner. We’re right in the middle of that period now, and reservations are going fast for the unique opportunity to enjoy a gourmet meal at 7,800 feet.
Seatings are offered every 15 minutes between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., and reservations are required. The menu features Northwest-style cuisine and a tempting variety of creative cocktails, appetizers, desserts, and locally-grown ingredients. Of course, the highlight of the experience is the sunset itself, which you can enjoy from your table, or step out onto the balcony to bask in the golden glow and the fresh mountain air. Afterward, enjoy a starlight chairlift ride back down the mountain (Note: It gets chilly up there at night, so dress wisely!)
If you can’t make it to Mt. Bachelor, go here to peruse other listings for restaurants with decks and patios available for outdoor dining. Some of my personal faves include Anthony’s and Greg’s Grill in the Old Mill District, Worthy Brewing on the east end of town, and 900 Wall and Pine Tavern in Downtown Bend.
Enjoy those hikes you can’t do all winter
Winter may seem like it’s still a long way off in the future, which might tempt you to procrastinate some of those high-elevation hikes on your bucket list.
Don’t do that.
I learned this the hard way last year when I put off the Proxy Falls hike I’d been meaning to do all summer. I finally found time in October, but had to turn back en route to the trailhead when an early season blizzard made driving there too dangerous. Don’t let that happen to you.
Act now if your bucket list includes a hike at any of the areas along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, including Todd Lake, Sparks Lake, Elks Lake, Green Lake, Devil’s Lake (wow, are we running out of lakes yet? Answer: Not even close). Ditto that if you want to explore along the McKenzie Pass, including Proxy Falls or Scott Lake. Same thing with the Newberry National Volcanic National Monument, particularly Paulina Peak with its 8,000-foot altitude that makes it inaccessible except at the height of summer.
Snow and ice can start hitting all the high-altitude areas in the very early fall, so don’t miss your chance to explore them safely and without the need for a million layers of clothing.