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6 ways you know fall is here in Bend, Oregon

Drake Park in Bend, OR

September is unfolding a bit differently in 2015 than the month has rolled out previously in Bend. Little dustings of snow showed up earlier in the mountains, and leaves began changing color nearly four weeks before it usually happens.

I’m not sure what that means in terms of the sort of winter we can expect, but a few things remain pretty constant when it comes to the onset of autumn in Central Oregon. Though the first day of fall won’t arrive until September 23, here are six ways you know autumn has already arrived in Bend.


Oktoberfest (Sept. 18-19) and Bend Fall Festival (Oct. 2-4)

One of many fun scenes you'll likely witness at Oktoberfest in Downtown Bend.

One of many fun scenes you’ll likely witness at Oktoberfest in Downtown Bend.

Before anyone says it’s weird to have Oktoberfest in September, I’ll point out that traditional German Oktoberfest starts in mid-September and goes into early October, so Bend’s annual festival is nothing unusual.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, you won’t want to miss Downtown Bend’s iteration of this fabulous festival September 18-19. Enjoy Bavarian style music, beer, wine, cider, food, and absurd games of skill for prizes, including yodeling, hammerschlagen, costume contest, tricycle races, and medieval swordplay. Most importantly, there’s the annual Wiener Dog Racing—trust me, you don’t want to miss this spectacle (and get there early for a good spot!)

Not planning to be in Bend this weekend? You’ll have another shot at an autumn celebration when the Bank of the Cascades Bend Fall Festival rolls around October 2-4. Also happening in Downtown Bend, this festival features live music, an art promenade, a conscious living showcase, kids’ games and activities, a harvest market, and 30+ food vendors.

Admission is free to both festivals, so you can hit ‘em both if you’re going to be in town!


The leaves they are a changin’!

The leaves are already changing along the Metolius.

The leaves are already changing along the Metolius.

When I began noticing brightly-colored leaves around town last week, something seemed a little off. I went and looked up my 2013 blog post about the best places to see fall colors around Bend, and sure enough, it was posted October 17.

Those of you who usually mark your calendars for a mid-October leaf show might want to change the date this year. Our Marketing Director hiked the Metolius River last night and brought back shots of orange and gold leaves. While there’s still plenty of green on the trees around town, our best guess is that things will start peaking before the end of September this year, so get out there and roll in some leaves!


Boots, scarves, and sweaters, oh my!

If you dig vintage boots, you'll want to hit Cowgirl Cash.

If you dig vintage boots, you’ll want to hit Cowgirl Cash.

While I sometimes dread the arrival of winter in Bend, I always look forward to the chance to break out brightly-colored sweaters and snazzy new boots. Even though the weatherman predicts we’ll hit 82-degrees this weekend in Bend, our days are turning chillier.

That’s a great excuse to pick up some new fall accessories, and shopping during your Bend vacation lets you snag some wearable souvenirs. In Downtown Bend, try Clutch Handbag Boutique and Active Girl for cute socks and fashionable scarves, then hit Hot Box Betty for the hippest Frye boots (or try Cowgirl Cash if vintage boots are more your style). When you’re in the Old Mill District, start your sweater hunt at locally-owned Vanilla Urban Threads and continue on to hot-spots like Gap and Banana Republic for all the latest fashions.

Then go for a stroll along the Deschutes River with your pumpkin spice latte in hand. Speaking of which…


Pumpkin, pumpkin everywhere!

One of many tasty pumpkin-flavored treats you'll find around Bend – Pumpkin Spice gelato from Bonta!

One of many tasty pumpkin-flavored treats you’ll find around Bend – Pumpkin Spice gelato from Bonta!

While we still have a couple weeks before we’re all swimming in pumpkin-flavored treats, I’m already seeing the pumpkin craze heating up in Bend. Just yesterday I snagged a couple bottles of pumpkin soda at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe in Downtown Bend with the intention of offering it to my stepkids as a weekend treat.

Is it wrong that we’re already down to one bottle?

From pumpkin beers to pumpkin lattes to special treats like pumpkin gelato and pumpkin waffles, you’ll find oodles of pumpkin-flavored goodies around Bend in the coming weeks. For last season’s roundup of 10 great pumpkin-themed treats in Bend, check out this blog post to get your mouth watering.


Swap your kayak for a mountain bike

Who's ready for fall mountain biking?

Who’s ready for fall mountain biking?

While some of us are still clinging to the hope of trying out the new Bend Whitewater Park at least once before the weather turns chilly, many folks are already turning their attention to more fall-oriented recreation.

This is a great time of year for mountain biking in Bend, when temps are milder and the trails are in good condition. Want to try it out but prefer not to go it alone? The folks at Cog Wild can hook you up with all the gear you’ll need, plus tours designed for everyone from brand-new newbies to skilled mountain bikers.

If hiking is more your speed, this is an excellent time of year to hoof it around Central Oregon’s abundant trails. Try the Metolius River northwest of Bend, or the Peter Skene Ogden Trail in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument for glimpses of bright fall colors. It’s also a great time of year to hike Pilot Butte for killer views of the whole city and surrounding mountains and countryside.


Mmm . . . fall beer is here!

10 Barrel makes a tasty pumpkin beer!

10 Barrel makes a tasty pumpkin beer!

At the risk of insulting the other seasons, I must say that fall is one of the best times of year to hit the Bend Ale Trail. In September we have a rush of fresh hop beers from many of the local breweries. October heralds in the pumpkin-themed brews, and November marks the return of Bend Ale Trail Month (when you can score oodles of special prizes in addition to the regular schwag you get for trekking the trail).

And to answer the oft-asked question, YES, we are bringing back the trophies this year for anyone who turns in a completed Bend Ale Trail passport in November. You’re welcome.

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