7 strange souvenirs to take home from Bend, Oregon
Mugs. Fridge magnets. A T-shirt from your favorite brewery. We’ve all brought home at least one of these vacation souvenirs, but sometimes, you want something…different.
On a recent trip to New York, I commemorated the visit with a small wrist tattoo to add to my collection of inked body parts. It got me thinking about unique Bend gifts, and how you can score Bend souvenirs in a variety of unique ways.
Is it a mitten or a koozie?
The answer to that question is YES! The Moozie is a crocheted mitten that doubles as a koozie for your drink, and they’re awesome for fall sporting events. They’re handmade with love in Bend, and available in a variety of colors
While we sell them here in the Bend Visitor Center, you may have to ask the front desk staff to retrieve one for you, since they’re more of a fall/winter item. But don’t despair if you’re looking for a quirky summertime koozie. We also sell koozies designed to look like little sleeping bags. Perfect for your next camping trip!
Grab Rover some rock star bling
If you’ve perused Bendy Dog in Downtown Bend, you already know the shop is a cornucopia of awesome products for dog lovers.
But you may have missed the uber-blingy collars made in Bend and displayed in the front window.
Bend-based Heritage Brand designs each collar to be the ultimate in pooch couture. They’re crafted with premium leather and sparkly bits like zircon crystals, turquoise stones, and handmade conchos. They come in both 1 ¼ inch sizes and 1 inch for a more petite pooch.
Each collar is made by hand, and while the price tags ranging from $119 to $159 might be daunting, they’re a super unique gift I can pretty much guarantee no one back home will have.
Treat yo’self (and Fido, too!)
Plan a Bend tattoo
Tattoos are permanent, so this is not a souvenir to get on a whim. But if you’re a tattoo enthusiast looking to add to your ink collection or a newbie who’s put much thought into your decision, you’ll find an abundance of Bend tattoo shops with the skill to bring your vision to life.
Mountains, trees, even the Bend logo are popular Bend-themed tattoo ideas, or opt for something totally unique that will always remind you of your time in the outdoor playground of the West.
I’m personally a big fan of Monolith Tattoo, where they’ve inked body parts for me and several of my closest pals. Do keep in mind that lots of local shops and artists can book up months in advance, so make reservations if you’re serious about getting some ink.
Not sure about the whole permanent-body-art thing? A little road rash from a mountain biking spill or a trail scar from that hiking mishap with a Ponderosa branch might just suffice for marking your skin with a special sort of Bend brand.
Stuff a rock in your bag
It might sound weird, but rockhounding enthusiasts know the joy of bringing home a special artifact like jasper, obsidian, or a thunderegg (Oregon’s state rock) as a Bend souvenir.
Before you set out hunting, stop by the Bend Visitor Center to buy a rockhounding map. It’s created through a partnership between the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce, and it comes complete with GPS coordinates and details on where you can and can’t hunt for treasures.
While there are many public lands open to rockhounding, those looking for a more personal experience might enjoy Richardson’s Rock Ranch in Madras, which offers guests 4,000 acres to scavenge (and plenty of thundereggs to be found!)
Glass Butte is another great site to find obsidian in jaw-dropping varieties including black, rainbow, pumpkin, mahogany, midnight lace, gold sheen, silver sheen, fire, and double-flow.
Word of warning: If you’re flying home, be careful about tucking large rocks in your carry-on. I once purchased a conch shell on my honeymoon in Belize, only to have it confiscated by TSA because it could be used as a weapon.
Add some spice to your life
The Savory Spice Shop in Bend’s Old Mill District boasts shelves brimming with unique seasonings and spices, and many of them make easy-to-pack gifts to take home.
If you’re looking for a truly special gift, look no further than their Sasquatch Gift Set. The set includes the Mt. Hood Toasted Onion Rub, the Oregon Trail Juniper Berry Blend, and two spices that are exclusive to Bend—the Deschutes River Forager Blend and the Newberry Cinder Cone Seasoning Salt.
The Deschutes River Forager seasoning combines several types of mushrooms found in Central Oregon, along with a hint of pepper and chilis for a little kick. Try it on roasted root veggies or in a chipotle turkey burger.
The Newberry Cinder Cone Seasoning Salt is a unique blend of sumac, chia seeds, and herbs like rosemary and thyme. Test it out on your haul from the Bend Farmers Market while whipping up dinner in your Bend vacation rental, then take some home to give your taste buds a trip down memory lane each time you recreate that special meal.
Score some unique jewelry
Jewelry always makes a fun vacation memento, and it doesn’t have to be crazy-expensive to become your most special treasure.
Cycling fans will dig the unique bracelets crafted by Bike Spoke Bracelet. Made from 15-gauge steel bike spokes, these wrist adornments are handcrafted with beads, semi-precious stones, or simple metals.
Beer fans will dig the hop-themed earrings and pendants crafted by Hopped up Jewelry, or check out the one-of-a-kind creations from Sterling Echoes, which feature designs inspired by lacy-looking beer foam.
Oregon’s state gem is the sunstone, and there’s no better place to find inspiring jewelry than the Sunstone Store.
Craving an extra dose of sparkle with a Bend theme? Saxons Fine Jewelry makes a stunning Bend pendant crusted in oodles of tiny diamonds.
Lather up with beer
Boneyard Beer soap made by LeCol’s is an amazing, fragrant, wonderfully lathery bath bar made with beer from Bend’s own Boneyard Brewing. The hops and amino acids soften and soothe irritated skin, while the polyphenols have antibacterial properties.
The result is a beautifully moisturizing soap guaranteed to be a hit with beer lovers and non-beer lovers alike. My personal fave is the Dirty Girl, mostly because I like telling everyone I showered with a dirty girl, though I also adore the Chocolate Espresso Stout. Note: Even though it smells delicious, don’t taste it. Not that I’ve tried this. Or gotten a mouthful of suds.