The weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Day are some of the most magical times to be in Bend, and it’s not tough to find ways to spend your time. From skiing to shopping to snowshoeing to scoping out Bend’s fabulous restaurant scene, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
A question we hear often in the Bend Visitor Center is “what’s happening for the holidays?”
The short answer is to point you to our Bend Event Calendar, which is a great spot to scope out what’s going on in Bend during your planned vacation (or to hunt for great events and then plan your vacation around them!)
But to help you out, I’ve scouted around for some of the coolest things happening in Bend during the final weeks of 2015. Here’s a roundup:
Get yourself some grub
If you’re in Bend on a major holiday, you might be fretful about figuring out which restaurants are open. Never fear! This handy list is your go-to resource for who’s open and how to nab reservations. Places like 10 Below, Black Bear Diner, and McMenamins, and more can be counted on to provide you with a tasty Christmas dinner that you won’t have to clean up afterward.
Go glide around the ice
Bend has been abuzz for more than a year about the construction of The Pavillion, our new NHL full-size ice rink. The facility is slated to open Monday, Dec. 28 and features a 30,000-foot protective roof with translucent panels on the sides, lobby and concessions, outdoor plaza and fire pits, a warming/viewing room, changing rooms with lockers, and more.
You can rent your gear there, and it’s super family-friendly. Check out their Facebook page for the latest news and skating schedule.
Giddyup in the Old Mill District
Bend’s Old Mill District is a veritable holiday wonderland, with roving carolers and a standing appearance from Old Saint Nick. But even after the jolly fat man has left for the season, the Old Mill still offers one of my favorite holiday perks: free carriage rides from Cowboy Carriage!
Carriage rides are offered from 2-5 p.m. on Dec. 21-23 and again Dec. 27-29. Best of all, they’re totally free (though they do recommend a donation to benefit the Kids Center). It’s hard think of anything more festive than dashing through the snow in a horse-drawn carriage.
Gobble up some fresh powder at Mt. Bachelor
As of Wednesday, Mt. Bachelor had gotten more than 136-inches of snow in the first 23 days of the month, for a total of 221-inches of snowfall so far this season. To say it’s an epic snow year would be putting it mildly. To say you should probably brush up on your deep snow safety would be putting it safely.
We get lots of folks asking about the holiday schedule at Mt. Bachelor, and the short answer is HECK YES they’re open on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Do keep in mind that this is one of the busiest times of the year at Mt. Bachelor, and parking can be nutso. Consider riding the shuttle or carpooling.
For detailed reports on Mt. Bachelor conditions, hours of operation, prices, and more, go here.
Glam up for New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is an excellent time to head out on the Bend Ale Trail in Bend, and it’s worth having McMenamins on your list of stops. Their festivities include oodles of good beer, plus live music from Tubaluba and MOsley WOtta.
You can also opt to ring in the new year at Brasada Ranch where they have celebrations for all ages. There’s a family craft event, a cosmic pool party, and a special New Year’s Eve dinner, followed by a party with live music, dancing, and a champagne toast at midnight.
If you plan to drink, please, please, PLEASE do not drive. You’ll find a handy list of Bend cab companies here.
Feel like ringing in the New Year in a more outdoorsy fashion? Consider competing in Fleet Feet’s Run Into the New Year event kicking off at 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, or book a moonlight snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours.
For more ideas on how to spend New Year’s Eve in Bend, check our Bend Event Calendar.
Get goofy in the freezing cold
File this under “No way in @#$% would I ever try that myself,” but folks of all ages seem to love the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Sunriver Resort on the first day of the year.
Join a bunch of other crazies in taking an icy plunge into The Cove swimming pool at 10 a.m. in the freezing cold. Afterward, you can grab your commemorative logoed mug and warm your bones with cocoa.
One last note
Since the Visit Bend staff kinda likes to spend time with family, too, the Bend Visitor Center will be closed on the following dates:
- Thursday, December 24
- Friday, December 24
- Thursday, December 31
- Friday, January 1
Otherwise, the Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday from 9-5, and Saturdays and Sundays from 10-4. Keep those dates and times in mind if you’re redeeming a Bend Ale Trail passport, or go here to learn about redeeming one through the mail.