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Give experiences, not things. 13 ways to do holiday gift giving Bend-style!

Sled dog rides at Mt Bachelor in Bend, OR

There’s been a trend these last couple years favoring “experiences, not things” when it comes to holiday gift ideas. Studies have shown it’s much more rewarding, plus the recipient isn’t faced with the daunting post-holiday task of figuring out where the @#$% to put all the new stuff they’ve acquired.

Know someone who'd like a snowshoe adventure as a stocking stuffer?

Know someone who’d like a snowshoe adventure as a stocking stuffer?

It’s a trend I’ve happily embraced. When we started gifting my step-kids things like gift certificates for Sun Mountain Fun Center or the surprise of an impending family vacation to some exotic locale, they seemed a lot more delighted than they are when we giftwrap some new plastic gadget they’re apt to forget in a week. Not only that, but we get to anticipate and enjoy the experience together.

While I urge you to check this blog post if you’re looking for a few tangible gift ideas for your list, here are 13 Bend experiences worth gifting to your loved ones this holiday season:

  1. A gift certificate for Wanderlust Tours. Let your recipient choose his or her own adventure with Wanderlust Tours. Offerings include snowshoe outings, cave tours, canoeing adventures, and more. A naturalist guide will provide all the gear and transportation, plus oodles of cool education about Bend’s ecology and geography.
  2. A gift certificate for a hotel stay in Bend. Whether your loved one favors luxury resorts, budget-friendly motels, cozy bed and breakfasts, upscale hotels, or vacation homes for rent, you’ll find tons of options to pick from in Bend. Check out our Deals and Discounts page for ideas!

    10-year-old Violet at Sun Mountain Fun Center in Bend.

    10-year-old Violet at Sun Mountain Fun Center in Bend.

  3. A gift certificate for Sun Mountain Fun Center. This is a good one if you have kids. My step-kids (ages 10 and 14) love going for the go-karts and bumper cars, but you can keep it super cheap and just stuff a $5 Sun Mountain Fun Center gift card in each kid’s stocking. That’ll earn everyone a few video games and an entertaining diversion if you need a break from outdoor play.
  4. A gift certificate for The Well Traveled Fork. Last year, Visit Bend staffers got to choose their holiday gift from among several gift certificate options, and the Well Traveled Fork was my personal selection. The hubby and I love taking their cooking classes together and coming home with a packet of recipes (not to mention new skills) to try on our own. You can also try one of their fun Bend culinary tours.

    It might be too chilly for this right now, but your loved one will thank you for thinking ahead.

  5. A gift certificate for Sun Country Tours. Plan ahead for a summertime whitewater rafting adventure with the whole family, or let your loved one use the Sun Country Tours gift card to rent float tubes or a standup paddleboard when the weather turns warm.
  6. A gift certificate for a spa treatment. From facials to massages to pedicures to wraps, Bend’s day spas offer the full gamut of luxury spa treatments. Know someone who could use a little pampering? Check out our spa page for ideas on where to send your sweetie for a little R&R.
  7. A gift certificate to fly an airplane. For my stepson’s 14th birthday, we bought a discovery flight from Professional Air. For just $69, the kid got a mini lesson on takeoff, landing, and controlling the aircraft. Then he got to fly the plane. Let me repeat that. MY 14-YEAR-OLD-STEPSON FLEW AN AIRPLANE BEFORE HE COULD LEGALLY DRIVE A CAR. Suffice it to say, this ended up being one of the highlights of his young life so far.

    Cedar learns to fly an airplane for his 14th birthday. A Discovery Flight from Professional Air makes an awesome gift for anyone who’s dreamed of flying.

  8. A gift certificate with Cog Wild. One handy thing about a Cog Wild gift certificate is that you’re the gift recipient can use it almost any time of year. Pick from their array of mountain bike tours during the warmer months, or when there’s snow on the ground, try one of their popular fat bike tours.
  9. A gift certificate for a restaurant. This is one of my favorite gifts to get. I love dining out, but it can be tough to justify the expense sometimes. Bend has an amazing array of restaurants to pick from, so snoop around to figure out the gift recipient’s favorite (or better yet, choose something special you know the person wouldn’t splurge on otherwise).
  10. A gift certificate for a sled dog ride. Now THIS is a bucket list item! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take a dogsled ride with Oregon Trail of Dreams at Mt. Bachelor. The company is operated by Rachael Scdoris, the first legally-blind competitor to run the Iditarod, so these folks know what they’re doing. Stick around afterward and help feed and water the dogs.

    A Segway tour from the Bend Tour Company is a fun, unique way to see the city.

    A Segway tour from the Bend Tour Company is a fun, unique way to see the city.

  11. A gift certificate for Vector Volcano. Know someone who loves old school video games from the ‘80s? That person needs a gift card to Vector Volcano! It’s an inexpensive stocking stuffer, with $5 earning you an hour of play or $10 for unlimited all-day play. They even serve beer, so the grownups can have fun reminiscing while the youngsters frolic and discover Pac Man for the first time.
  12. A gift certificate for The Bend Tour Company. Not sure if your loved one would prefer to scoot around town on a Segway, pedal the Cycle Pub, or cruise in a bus on the Art Safari tour? Pick up a gift card from The Bend Tour Company and let the recipient make the choice!
  13. A gift certificate for Bend Escape Room. Your newest indoorsy Bend activity, Bend Escape Room is a fun, immersive, interactive game experience that’s challenging for the whole family. In a nutshell, your group is locked in a room and given the clues to escape. It makes a fun team building or family activity for 2-6 people.

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