Everyone has a time of year they love more than any other in Bend, and for me, that time is now.
Nights have turned chilly and trees have gone from ablaze in the literal sense (@#$% forest fires) to ablaze in autumnal hues of red, orange, and yellow leaves. Crowds have thinned out, but the weather is still warm enough that I can enjoy an afternoon of SUPing on my favorite lake and have the whole place to myself.
Sound awesome? It is! Here are five things that make fall a stupendous time of year to be in Bend, Oregon.
The best of both weather worlds
Last weekend, Mt. Bachelor became the first ski area in North America to offer skiing and snowboarding in advance of the 2017-18 winter season when they created a free walk-up terrain park and offered “snow-seeing” chairlift rides.
Today, it’s 80-degrees in Bend and I’m plotting ways to escape work early for some standup paddleboarding on the Deschutes.
Fall is the time of year in Bend when you’ll see the greatest swoops in weather condition, and for those who crave variety, it’s a wonderful thing to behold.
Farewell to the crowds
As someone who works in tourism promotion, I’m the last person to whine about summertime crowds in Bend. Nevertheless, I’ll admit I experience Bend differently when things quiet down in autumn and I have the luxury of solitude in so many of my favorite spots.
Hiking trails get quieter. Wait times are shorter at my favorite restaurants. When I get distracted gawking at autumn leaves while strolling the streets of downtown Bend, I’m a lot less likely to run my clumsy face into someone doing the same thing.
If you come to Bend for tranquility and quiet, fall is a great time to find it.
Save a bundle during shoulder season
Not everyone outside the tourism biz knows the term“shoulder season,” but those who do know it’s the best time of year to score great deals on lodging and activities.
In Bend, our shoulder season happens from late-fall to early-winter and then again in early spring (by contrast, peak times are summer break, winter break, and spring break).
In other words, October is pretty much the perfect time to plan a Bend vacation. Crowds are smaller, prices are lower, and the weather is still pretty mild.
For the inside scoop on shoulder season deals, check out our Deals and Discounts page.
Oh, the events!
Some of my very favorite events take place in Bend this time of year. Though we’ve already had Oktoberfest, the Bend Fall Festival is coming up October 6-8 with three days of live music, abundant food, and plenty of things to do for kids. There’s also a Harvest Market, a Fine Artist Promenade, and the ever-popular Pumpkin Carving Contest.
October also ushers in Tenth Month, which is a month-long celebration of brave ideas and innovation in art, film, marketing, technology, and design. It includes events like the BendFilm Festival, Bend Venture Conference, Bend Design Conference, and Swivel, which makes the whole month of October a pretty inspiring time to be in Central Oregon.
And can I just add an extra shout-out here for the BendFilm Festival? It’s seriously one of my favorite events in Bend for the entire year, which is high praise coming from someone who generally doesn’t love movies at all (hashtag booksnob). The films are amazing, the parties are excellent, and it’s a terrific opportunity to rub shoulders with actors, directors, filmmakers, and other assorted creatives. There’s a vibe in Bend during BendFilm Festival that’s unlike anything you’ll experience other times of year, and I can’t wait for the event to kick off October 12-15.
The tastiest time of year
A lot of great Bend restaurants have found a niche serving up seasonal, locally grown produce, and there’s something about fall’s bounty that seems to bring out the best stuff.
Chow is currently cranking out magical meals featuring locally-sourced sweet pickled corn, organic kale, and housemade raw beet noodles. If that sounds too veggie-centric for you, you’ll be happy to know they’ve also been crafting fabulous dishes with so-fresh-it’s-still-mooing Cascade Angus natural beef.
Other great restaurants specializing in seasonal local produce include Ariana, 900 Wall and Jackson’s Corner.
If you’d prefer to handle food prep on your own, don’t forget the Bend Farmers Market is still going through October 11. Now’s a great time to stock up on fresh produce and flowers, not to mention enjoying live music and a great chance to stroll at the edge of Mirror Pond while the weather’s still warm.
And don’t get me started on all the amazing seasonal beers you’ll find along the Bend Ale Trail right now. Creamy stouts, hoppy IPAs, and a plethora of barrel-aged brews, seasonal sours, and the occasional pumpkin beer. Cheers to fall in Bend!