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What to do while everyone else goes skiing in Bend

hiking Smith Rock

Bend is an epic ski town. Everyone knows that.

Skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor is amazing, but it’s not the only thing to do in Bend during the winter.

But not everyone skis. Heck, I’ve lived here 21 years and only once have I strapped boards to my feet and aimed them down a slope.

I can vouch for the fact that there’s tons of stuff to do in Bend while the rest of your traveling party is out swooshing through fresh powder at Mt. Bachelor. Here’s how it works.


While they’re out devouring 4,300 acres of powder-coated, lift-accessible terrain…

Mirror Pond Bend Oregon Sunset

Drake Park makes a nice place to stroll while your family is off skiing at Mt. Bachelor.

You enjoy an early morning stroll along the Deschutes River Trail, taking in the sights and sounds of a peaceful river pathway. Watch for osprey and otters while you savor the cool morning air.

Follow that with a scrumptious breakfast at Lemon Tree or 10Below in Downtown Bend, then grab a coffee to go at Thump or Bellatazza. Now you’ve got a tasty handwarmer to savor while you walk around enjoying all the public art that’s part of the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection.

Duck into shops and galleries along the way, picking up souvenirs and enjoying the sights. Meander ‘til you get to Drake Park, the 13-acre crown jewel of Bend’s park system. Stake out a riverfront park bench and spend some time watching the ducks and geese paddling around while you think fond thoughts of your loved ones up frolicking on the slopes of Mt. Bachelor.


While they’re carving turns at the resort with the highest skiable elevation in Oregon and Washington…

It’s time to hit Bend’s Old Mill District for some shopping and Deschutes River eye candy. Stroll along the paved riverfront walkways popping in and out of shops ranging from chains like Gap and REI to locally-owned faves like Vanilla Urban Threads and Hello Sunshine.

Stop at Strictly Organic in the Old Mill to grab some cocoa for your stroll.

Time for lunch? Tons of Old Mill eateries boast river views, so cozy up to a window seat at Greg’s Grill or Anthony’s and order the day’s special. You might even spot a brave kayaker out there paddling through the frigid water.

Ready to shop some more? Fortify yourself with some hot cocoa at Strictly Organic to warm your belly as you browse Old Mill District art galleries including Tumalo Art Co, Lubbesmeyer Studio & Gallery, and DeWilde Art Glass. Then pop over to the Regal Cinemas theater to catch a matinee.

Time for happy hour? Level 2 Global Food & Lounge boasts one of Bend’s most impressive cocktail menus, and a plate of their crispy calamari with tangy ponzu sauce will be just the ticket to nibble while you sip.


While they’re riding rails in a Mt. Bachelor terrain park…

Plan a low-key snowventure of your own! Wanderlust Tours offers a variety of snowshoe outings including the beer-centric Shoes, Brews, and Views tour or their nighttime Bonfire on the Snow outing. All tours include gear, transportation, snacks, and the services of a super-knowledgeable naturalist guide.

Fat biking is a great way to savor Bend’s winter wonderland without skis.

Prefer to go it on your own? Take a twirl on the ice rink at the Pavilion, or rent some Nordic gear to head out on the groomed trails at Virginia Meissner SnoPark.

If biking’s your jam and you’re thinking two-wheeled adventure isn’t an option mid-winter in a mountain town, think again! Rent a fat bike or book a guided fat bike tour with Cog Wild and cruise snow-packed trails in style with your scarf flying in the breeze behind you. If you’d prefer bare dirt to snow, the Maston trails are often snow-free in winter months (though it’s always smart to check trail conditions first).


While your family’s enjoying Mt. Bachelor’s Kids Ski Free special…

Round up the non-skiers in your party and plan some family-friendly fun of your own.

Family fun at the Pavillion!

Start with an outing to the High Desert Museum where you can check out cool Native American art, a plethora of kid-friendly natural history exhibits, and animals ranging from porcupines to otters to a bobcat.

Time to burn off some energy? The whole family can get the wiggles out at the Mountain Air Trampoline Park or the brand new Trampoline Zone. Book ahead, as the periods during school breaks can fill up fast.

Time to refuel? Let the little ones assemble their own pizzas at Flatbread Neopolitan Pizzaria and watch while the pies bake up in the big wood-fired ovens. Grownups will appreciate the array of scrumptious salads, pizzas, calzones, and adult beverages. Cap it off with a factory tour at Goody’s Chocolates (accompanied by sweet treats, of course).

Want a unique watery experience that’s fun for all ages? Check out the soaking pool at McMenamins at Old St. Francis School. Semi-enclosed in shimmering turquoise tilework and filled with soft, buoyant saline water, the tub has an open ceiling that lets you watch the stars or feel the snow falling softly around you. Ahhhh…bliss.

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