Bend is one of the most amazing places on earth to spend winter break, no matter which holiday you’re celebrating these last couple weeks of December. Heck, you don’t even need to celebrate a holiday—there are festivities galore for people from all walks of life.
Scoping out phpstack-307602-2431607.cloudwaysapps.com is a great place to start if you’re looking for things to do, and don’t forget to consult our Event Calendar for special happenings around the holidays.
For those planning to be in Bend for December’s final days, here’s what you need to know!
What’s to eat?
First things first: Food! The holidays are all about the grub for many of us, and you won’t go hungry in Bend.
Lots of Bend vacation rentals come with fully equipped kitchens that allow you to prepare the main meal in style. You’ll find a handy list of grocery stores on our website if you need to stock up on ingredients.
If you’re planning to eat out on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, check out this list of restaurants open for the holidays. You’ll find plenty of options to pick from! Reservations are recommended at many of them, since spaces can fill fast.
Oh, holy night
Like to commemorate the holiday with a visit to a church, synagogue, or other place of worship? Go here to find listings for holy places representing a variety of denominations and faiths.
Beyond the ho ho ho
Christmas isn’t the only game in town this time of year, and several local businesses are acknowledging Winter Solstice and other noteworthy holidays.
On Dec. 21, The Brown Owl is hosting A Festivus for the Rest of Us (inspired by the Seinfeld-created holiday). They’re teaming up with Monkless Belgian Ales to throw a Festivus extravaganza featuring meatloaf, a Festivus pole, airing of grievances, feats of strength, and Monkless Brewing’s new “Friars Festivus” Belgian Quad.
Also on Dec. 21, Wren and Wild is hosting a Winter Solstice and Mala Gathering Party from 7-9 p.m. For $40, participants will enjoy a special evening of celebration, mantras, ceremony, and making a mala necklace or bracelet (a strand of beads traditionally used for counting during meditations). Chai tea and snacks will be provided.
On Dec. 22, The Pavilion ice rink is holding a Winter Solstice Celebration. The whole family can enjoy a joyful evening of ice skating, treats, and twinkling lights. There’s even a special performance by the Bend Ice Figure Skating Club. Cost is $6 a person, including skate rental, when you bring a canned food donation to benefit NeighborImpact’s Food Bank.
Road closures and openings
It’s old news that the gate to the Cascade Lakes Highway and the road up Pilot Butte both closed to vehicles in October, but there are a couple more recent closures you should be aware of.
The gate to Tumalo Falls (Forest Road 4603) closed Dec. 20 to vehicles. If you had your heart set on seeing the falls, you can still hike or snowshoe to it. Just avoid parking on the road so you don’t block traffic for residents beyond the hairpin turn at the gate
An unusual closure worth noting is Santiam Pass from MP 55-81 (that section near Detroit/Idanha). A tragic tanker truck crash on Dec. 15 near milepost 63 damaged the road so severely that it remains closed as of this writing (Dec. 21). If that’s the path you’d normally take from the valley to Bend, consult ODOT’s TripCheck site for updates on road conditions and alternate routes.
Get some giddyup!
Got a horse fanatic in your party? There’s an interesting abundance of horse-themed events happening this year, you’ll want to mark at least one of these on your calendar.
The Old Mill District is offering free carriage rides (courtesy of Cowboy Carriage) Dec. 23 and 24, so it’s a great excuse to get your last-minute shopping done down there.
If you’re venturing a bit farther afield, Black Butte Ranch also has horse-drawn carriage rides Dec. 23-24 and again Dec. 26-Jan. 1. The cost is $12 a person, and you’ll find more info here.
Another fun horsey option is Santa on the Ranch Day Camp at Rhinestone Ranch on Dec. 23 for kids 4 and up. $65 gets your kiddos some horseback riding, hay rides, Christmas crafts, and a visit with Santa (including photo!) It’s a great chance for mom and dad to get some shopping done while the young’uns get their horse fix.