The perfect day in Bend, according to Courtney Van Fossan of Bend Electric Bikes
Oh, blog readers. I have a treat for you!
For almost 7 years, you’ve gotten my weekly reports about my favorite things to do and see around town, including detailed itineraries for my perfect day in Bend.
But every now and then (like when I go on vacation!) I invite a special guest blogger to share his or her idea of a perfect Bend day. This week I summoned Courtney Van Fossan, whose job title is “Cultural Agent of Change” (love it!) with Bend Electric Bikes.
You can find their tours through The Bend Tour Company, and you can find Courtney’s idea of a perfect day in Bend below. Take it away, Courtney!
I’ve lived in Bend for about 5 years and, while I would call Bend a “small-ish” town, I never run out of new things to do and places to explore. The main reason I relocated here was to ditch the car and enjoy a biking/walking lifestyle with my kids. While there is always more progress to be made, Bend hasn’t disappointed. I ride and walk almost everywhere with a little help from electric cargo/family bikes.
Early Rising and Mount Bachelor
We woke up early and headed to Mt. Bachelor for a couple hours of skiing and snowboarding. We’re enjoying our first season at the mountain and took advantage of the Ski and Ride in 5 program offered for folks who are new to snow sports.
Now that we’ve graduated, we ski and snowboard as a family and it has been an invaluable bonding experience. I can’t recommend it enough—your kids will thank you for it! My son, Ike (age 9) loves the new Cloudchaser lift, and let me tell you, it’s a different world up there! The wide open views are stunning. Ike is also our mountain guide and helped plan our route for the day. With so many trails to explore, I’m glad we have him!
We often enjoy biking to the Park & Ride and taking the shuttle to the mountain, which is a convenient way to reduce traffic headed to the mountain and to avoid the fight for a parking space.
Urban Trails – Hidden Gems of the East Side
Our life revolves around family biking and working at a bike shop definitely helps when it comes to fun options for tootling around town and using our awesome Bend Urban Trail System.
We stopped at the shop to grab a couple of family/cargo bikes as an alternate to our usual ride—we like variety! I wanted to put a new family bike, the Benno Boost, to the test so we grabbed it and a nicely accessorized Xtracycle set up for family fun. The bike shop recently partnered with The Bend Tour Company and will be offering fun new eBike tours, so our exploration was part family time and part research into the best family riding in Bend.
My kids and I have been family biking since they were wee ones and they are the experts, giving me plenty of feedback on comfort, safety and fun factor. Both bikes got the stamp of approval from kids and parents.
We chose to explore the Coyner and Larkspur Trails, which are accessible on the east side of town. We picked up the Coyner Trailhead which is near Franklin and the 8th/9th Street roundabout. A community garden and a smooth, paved path enticed us to get going and see what we could find. Our first discovery was the Community Labyrinth, right off the trail. We stopped and ran around and around. The posted sign says, “The circular nature of a labyrinth reminds us that life is a journey rather than a destination.” That’s the truth, and it certainly worked for us!
We continued on the trail and came to Ponderosa Skate Park where we saw the beginnings of skateboarding season with a bunch of kids doing some amazing tricks—we could have watched for hours! After the skate park cleared a bit, we took some turns on our bikes and enjoyed the smooth concrete. We’ll be sharpening our family biking stunts in the coming months!
Next, we stopped at the Ponderosa Park playground, which is set up on a hill. The slide was the favorite for the day. It was long and fast—high marks from the shortstuffs. Our ride took us around the Bend Senior Center and we lollygagged on the trail for quite a while longer, enjoying the freedom and safety of the car-free path. We like to take advantage of these trails whenever we can and they are such a nice relief from the traffic on the roads.
Doggy time & curling—new and old Bend traditions
We had to take a break from the trail for a bit to head home and check on our new pup, Alice. We recently adopted her from the Humane Society of Central Oregon and she’s not quite ready to for the excitement of the trails and dog parks along the way. We had several visits to meet dogs and take them on walks before we adopted Alice. Many of us miss our pets when we’re traveling and this way, so this is one way to give you time with a cuddly dog or cat and give them some much needed exercise and attention.
We live a few short blocks from Miller’s Landing Park, where there is a wonderful paved trail that connects to the Old Mill District and the Colorado Bridge over the Bend Whitewater Park. My daughter, Georgia (age 7) and I walked Alice along the path, while Ike and Amy rode their bikes to the Pavilion where Bend curling action takes place.
Amy is new to the curling league, and was lucky to get a much coveted spot mid-season. The sport is very popular and gives way to more on-ice inspiration at the Pavilion, which goes from ice skating, ice hockey, and curling in winter, to warm weather recreation like basketball and pickleball in the summer.
Another zip along the trails
Back to bikes and trails! We picked up the Larkspur Trail by way of the Bend cemetery, (a quiet place to ride!) and a quick shortcut to the tunnel under Highway 20. The trail leads to the base of Pilot Butte State Park and around to the other side.
We took this fun and easy safe route and headed to dinner at Jackson’s Corner East. They have a great location near the hospital with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, fire feature, and much lighter crowds than the Westside location.
We walked right in, ordered a wonderful, local, healthy meal, and relaxed. Our favorite menu items are the fusilli pasta, meatball small plate, and kale Cesar, plus any of the specials. The kids like the cheesy sticks, elbow pasta, and sometimes the kids’ entrée with steak or chicken and seasonal veggies. The cold cases are filled with all kinds of fun drinks for kids and adults, and it’s always a treat that’s well worth the ride.
We headed back on the trail, dropped off the bikes at the shop and walked home through the lovely, historic Old Bend neighborhood. I’d say most days in Bend are near perfect, but when you can avoid traffic and get around by bike with the family, enjoy trails, parks, and easy recreation, we’ve got perfect pretty well figured out. Happy kids, happy parents, and happy trails!
By the way, visitors interested in group rides should check out Bendbikes.org. They coordinate group cycling events throughout the year, and it’s a great way for Bend visitors to try a fun, local activity with other families and folks who enjoy biking.