How to do Bend well (and how to do it even better!)
There are certain things that make it on most visitors’ summer bucket list: Go hiking, catch an outdoor concert, then set out for a leisurely river float before ending your evening with a cold pint along the Bend Ale Trail.
They’re all pretty simple activities you can probably master all by yourself.
But there are special ways to take your enjoyment to the next level (not to mention leaving Bend’s special places even better than you found them). Here’s how to do it.
Head out for a hike
You’re already familiar with the concept of lacing up your shoes and putting one foot in front of the other, so you’ve nailed the first part of hiking.
Knowing where to hike is the second part of the equation. Spots like Pilot Butte and the Deschutes River Trail make awesome in-town options with minimal drive time.
Tumalo Falls is just a short drive away (though you’ll want to get there early to dodge crowds and find a parking spot).
For more ideas on where to hike around Central Oregon, check out this post.
How to do it better:
Okay, so let’s say you arrive at your chosen trailhead and find the parking lot full. It’s not uncommon this time of year, and what you don’t want to do is get frustrated and smash out your own parking spot atop delicate saplings and the fragile forest floor. Instead, have a backup plan for an alternate hike nearby. There are plenty to choose from, and it’s better for everyone if we all spread out. A great guidebook can help you get a good list going.
Next, make sure your pack is loaded with the essentials: No earth-harming disposable plastic bottles for you, no sir! You’ve got your reusable Hydro Flask tucked in your pack (we sell ‘em at the Visitor Center if you need one). You’ve also got your trusty map and the rest of your ten essentials tucked in your pack.
After you set out, make sure you stick to marked trails to help protect our forest areas. Follow Leave No Trace ethics while you’re out and about, and please, please don’t litter.
Want extra bonus points? Carry a small trash bag in your pack and pick up litter left behind by hikers less conscientious than you. Now that’s how you Visit Like a Local!
Float the river
No activity represents the quintessential Bend experience more than floating the river on a warm summer day. All you really need is a floatation device, a willingness to get a little wet, and a plan for getting back to your car at the end. You can learn everything you’ll need to know in this blog post.
How to do it better:
I know it looks crazy-fun to ride a giant inflatable swan down the Deschutes, but flimsy pool toys can get chewed up in the Passageway Channel of the Bend Whitewater Park. Since popped floaties create gobs of garbage at the takeout point, you should either plan on renting a more durable tube, or simply hoof it along the portage path around the Passageway and put in on the other side.
Next, take extra care with the footwear you choose. Flip-flops might protect the bottoms of your feet on the walk back to your car, but they also flop right off in the water or on the muddy river bottom. The result? You’re without shoes, and the river ends up clogged with them. Instead, choose sturdy water shoes like Tevas or Keens.
And speaking of your car, there’s no need to do the dual-car shuffle between your starting point and end point. Just buy a pass for the Ride the River Shuttle and leave the driving to someone else!
Catch a concert
Last year, Travel + Leisure named the Les Schwab Amphitheater one of America’s coolest music venues, so it’s no surprise if catching a concert there is on your summer bucket list.
Here are the bare basics you should know: Buy tickets early, since some shows sell out. Each concert has different rules for what you can bring, so go here to learn if your concert allows low-backed chairs and blankets or if those are a no-go for your show.
Empty water bottles are cool (remember those reusable Hydro Flasks we talked about earlier?) but no outside food or beverages are allowed. Oh, and plan for temperature shifts—even if it’s 90-degrees at the start of a show, you may need a jacket by the end.
How to do it better:
With help from The Broomsmen, the Les Schwab Amphitheater has gotten serious about reducing waste at concerts. The Take Note Initiative seeks to make Les Schwab a more sustainable venue by eliminating single-use plastic bottles and making sure vendors use 100% compostable cups, plates, and utensils. So what does this mean for your concert experience?
For one, it means you can buy a limited-edition Silipint for beer, cider, wine, or cocktails for just $20. Your first beverage is included in the price, and you get $1 off all subsequent beverages. Not only can you use it from one season to the next, but the thing glows in the dark. How cool is that?
Want to be an extra-super-duper informed consumer of live music? Check out this blog post featuring 15 tips for concert-going at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.
Hit the Bend Ale Trail
The number of breweries in Bend seems to climb daily, and there are currently 15 on the Bend Ale Trail. That means you can grab a printed passport or download the free app to gather stamps as you sip your way around the trail of suds.
Before setting out, peruse the list of Bend Ale Trail breweries here, and get a feel for which one(s) you want to hit. Choosing one close to your hotel or vacation rental will make it easy for you to walk from brewery to brewery. Since most of them post current tap lists online, you can browse options beforehand to get a feel for what you’d like to try.
How to do it better:
The first rule of Fight Club is . . . wait, no. Wrong blog post.
The first rule of the Bend Ale Trail is NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE. Seriously. We have Uber, Lyft, taxis, guided tours, horse-drawn carriages, and a zillion other options to keep you alive and out of jail. Go here to learn more. As a matter of fact, read that entire blog post, since it has oodles of tips about navigating the nation’s most awesome trail of beer.
Chief among them: Pace yourself. Drink lots of water. Remember that you don’t have to drink a drop of alcohol to gather passport stamps and earn prizes (seriously—no purchase necessary). Eat hearty snacks or meals at the breweries not just because it’ll help absorb alcohol, but because the food is really freakin’ awesome.
And did I mention the part about not drinking and driving?