The best collection of Bend tips in the whole wide universe
My office in the Bend Visitor Center is roughly two kayak lengths from the front desk, which means I spend all day eavesdropping on conversations positively dripping with great Bend tips.
There’s an endless wealth of great Bend knowledge in my co-workers’ brains, so I asked them to crack those noggins wide open and share some of the best tips they have to offer. Below is very likely the best collection of insider information you’ll ever find about playing, eating, and navigating your way around Bend, Oregon.
- If someone is giving you directions and they say, “Just jump on Highway 97 and head north . . .” it means nothing, because there are two versions of Highway 97 that run north/south. They are referred to as The Parkway, and 3rd street. The distinction clears up a lot of confusion when giving newbies directions around town.
- If you can see the mountains, you are looking west.
- Make reservations for your summer trip to Bend. Otherwise, you may be pitching your tent on a dusty road in the BLM or spending your evenings in a motel 15 to 45 miles out of town.
Group Sales & Special Projects Manager
- Hiking and exploring with young children is a great way to introduce them to the great outdoors, but it’s important to plan ahead. I fill my day pack with the usual essentials like water, bug spray, and extra layers/jackets for changes in weather. It’s especially crucial to have lots of sunscreen, since the high elevation here requires frequent and careful application. Snacks are important not only to fuel little bodies, but as motivational tools for kids. Other kid-friendly hiking essentials include hats, sunglasses, and a way to clean grubby hands for snack time.
- It can be disheartening to see garbage left behind on trails and at picnic areas, and it makes me feel better to be part of the solution. I always stuff a garbage sack or dry bag into my day pack and make an effort to collect trash as I’m hiking. This is also a great way to teach my daughter about sustainability and leaving a place better than you found it.
PR & Communications Manager
- Wall and Bond are the two main streets that run parallel through Downtown Bend, and I spent at least a decade confusing the two until someone told me to remember the “W” in “Wall” is a memory jogger for “water.” In other words, Wall is the street closest to the Deschutes River, while Bond is one street over.
- When floating the river, DO remember shoes (particularly if you plan to hoof it back to your car) but DON’T wear flip-flops, as they easily slip off or get stuck in a muddy river bottom. Keens, Tevas, or water shoes are best!
- If you’re tackling a bunch of Bend Ale Trail breweries in one day, order a schooner instead of a full pint. You’ll still get to enjoy the beer (and you won’t feel like a cheapskate the way you might if you just stuck with free samples) but you won’t end up tipsy after two stops.
Vice President of Operations & Policy
- Don’t attend an evening concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater without bringing a winter jacket—even if it’s a warm summer day when you head out!
- Bend is a surprisingly easy place to dine with special dietary needs, and most restaurants know how to accommodate requests. It’s also smart to check the Bend Buzz blog for ideas on things like gluten-free dining or vegan/vegetarian food in Bend.
Visitor Center Manager
- In addition to Tawna’s idea of ordering a schooner, I also tell folks just starting the Bend Ale Trail to share a flight and hang out at their favorite afterwards.
- A great time to paddle on Sparks Lake is late afternoon to early evening. Most folks are leaving by then, and you almost have the lake to yourselves. Even better is going out just before a full moon pops up! Early morning out on the lakes is also a quiet time to paddle. Usually the wind picks up in the early afternoon.
- In the summer heat, it’s best to visit Smith Rock State Park first thing in the morning.
- When exiting our plethora of roundabouts, ALWAYS signal—it makes the traffic flow much smoother. (We all have many skills, but mind reading isn’t one of them).
- Many of the streets, particularly in midtown, are in alphabetical order (starting with Alder and ending with Xerxes). Along that line, streets typically run north/south, whereas avenues run east/west.
- Here’s a tip to use in Bend (and just about everywhere in the US with a few exceptions): Highways running north/south are named with odd numbers (Hwy 97); east/west highways have even numbers (Hwy 20). So if you find yourself a bit turned around, remember this rule.
- When heading up to the Cascade Lakes Highway, make certain to take with you: extra layers, hat, sunscreen, water, and extra snacks. Temps drop dramatically when the sun sets. Gas up before you head out. Also, don’t make headlines because you were “one of those” who was unprepared. Depending on your cell phone for directions isn’t a good idea, as coverage can be spotty up there. Stop at the Visitor Center for area maps.
- Be nice, you’re in Bend!