The first day of summer arrived earlier this week, with Summer Solstice ushering in Bend’s sunniest season on June 20, 2016.

I’ve admittedly been celebrating the arrival of a new season for several months already (occasionally while wearing mittens) but there are a few undeniable signs that summer has really, truly arrived in Bend. Here are five of ‘em.

RiverFloat

Everyone’s playing on the Deschutes River

The most devoted river floaters started hitting the water before the icy edges were melted, but now you can stroll the Old Mill District any day of the week and see happy inner-tubers drifting along beside kayaks, canoes, standup paddleboards, and the occasional random dude riding in his recycling bin (yep, I saw this once). Visit our website to get the inside scoop on floating the river in Bend.

But there are other ways to play on the river if floating doesn’t float your boat (so to speak). Sun Country Tours is off and running for the season with their whitewater rafting trips. If you prefer a mellower form of water recreation, try a canoe outing with Wanderlust Tours or call Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe about their kayak adventures.

If you want to try your hand at standup paddleboarding, you’ll find several local standup paddleboard rental companies offering lessons + boards including Stand on Liquid, Standup Paddle Bend, and many more.

 

Got your doggie’s costume ready?

Fourth of July is my favorite holiday of the year, and the buzz has already begun for Independence Day 2016 celebrations in Bend.

The annual Pet Parade is one of Bend's most popular July 4 traditions.
The annual Pet Parade is one of Bend’s most popular July 4 traditions.

There are tons of cool things scheduled for this year, ranging from Old Fashioned 4th of July Festival and pancake feed, to the annual fireworks display launched from atop Pilot Butte at 10 p.m.

But my very favorite event of all is Bend’s annual Pet Parade. It’s Bend’s largest parade, with 8,000+ spectators and participants, and it’s been happening since the 1930s. Critters and humans of all shapes and sizes march the route in costume, and it’s a display of small-town awesomeness guaranteed to warm your heart whether you’re participating or just watching. Make sure you arrive early for a good spot!

 

Catch a killer sunset

Bend’s sunsets are great all year long, but they take on an almost otherworldly magnificence in the summer months. Some of that is due to the prevalence of forest fires around the west throughout the summer and the way the light filters through drifting smoke.

Sunsets in Bend are something to celebrate, especially in summertime.
Sunsets in Bend are something to celebrate, especially in summertime.

Regardless of the reason, you haven’t truly experienced Bend until you’ve watched (and photographed!) at least one summer sunset in Bend. For ideas on the best spots to enjoy one, go here.

 

Hike at higher altitudes

You can hike year-round in Bend at lower-elevation spots like the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, Pilot Butte, and the Deschutes River Trail.

Summer's the time for high-elevation hiking around Bend.
Summer’s the time for high-elevation hiking around Bend.

But getting a look at high-elevation trails without the aid of snowshoes is a treat reserved for the warmer summer months. While you’ll still see chunks of snow dotting the ground the higher you get, now’s the time to visit favorite destinations off the Cascade Lakes Highway, including Devil’s Lake, Sparks Lake, Elk Lake, and more.

Don’t forget sunblock, extra layers, and a Hydro Flask of water to keep you hydrated!

 

Sip your suds and nosh your nibbles under the sun

Outdoor tables began popping up all over Bend a couple months ago, but now you can stroll past almost anytime and see people sitting at them in short sleeves and sundresses instead of winter coats.

Bend has oodles of great spots to dine outdoors this time of year.
Bend has oodles of great spots to dine outdoors this time of year.

Outdoor dining in Bend is one of my all-time favorite indulgences, with the smell of juniper wafting on the breeze and the high desert sun warming my shoulders. My favorite outdoor dining spots in Bend include Crux Fermentation Project and 900 Wall (which recently reopened after an impressively massive renovation). Ditto that for Currents, (the restaurant formerly known as Crossings at the Riverhouse) which just got an amazing renovation of the restaurant, lounge, and riverfront patio.

And speaking of riverfront dining, make sure you scope out my roundup of 11 great spots for riverfront dining in Bend.

Now get out there and enjoy your Bend summer!

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