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40 Bend experiences for 2019 holiday gift giving


Experiences, not gifts. That’s become the mantra for many American households, and I’m totally on board.

A moonlight snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours is an experience your loved ones will never forget.

While there are tons of tangible Bend presents you can gift anyone on your list, here are 40 experience-based gifts that won’t add to household clutter.

  1. An experience with Wanderlust Tours. Give the gift of adventure with an outing from Wanderlust Tours. Offerings include snowshoe outings, cave tours, canoeing adventures, and more. A naturalist guide will provide all the gear and transportation, plus oodles of cool education about Bend’s ecology and geography.
  2. A gift certificate for a hotel stay in Bend. From luxury resorts to budget-friendly motels to cozy bed and breakfasts, you’ll find tons of great lodging options in Bend. Check out our Bend lodging page for ideas, and nab a gift certificate for the traveler on your list.
  3. Tickets to an event at The Tower Theatre. Got a loved one who digs live performances in a cool, artsy venue? Check the schedule at Bend’s historic Tower Theatre and snap up some fab seats at an upcoming event. If you’re not sure whether to choose tickets for a musical performance, a film, or a theater event, just opt for a Tower Theatre gift card and let the recipient do the choosing.
  4. A donation to Pledge for the Wild. Making a charitable contribution in someone’s name is a great way to support a cause that’s near and dear to their heart. When you donate to Pledge Wild by texting WILD4BEND to 44-321, your funds go to support the Deschutes Trails Coalition’s efforts to maintain Bend’s wild places. Oh, and while supplies last, your $15 Pledge Wild donation gets you a copy of the gorgeous coffee table book Ineffable when you swing by the Bend Visitor Center to claim it.
  5. Give some giddyup. From horseback riding lessons to a carriage ride around Downtown Bend, you can offer your favorite pardner some equine action with a gift certificate for one of Central Oregon’s horsey outfitters.

    A gift certificate for horseback riding lessons makes a great gift.

  6. Something for the art lover in your family. The Workhouse is an awesome meld between art gallery, artist community, retail space, and educational facility, so there’s guaranteed to be something there for art lovers in your family. A gift certificate will let them pick between classes, goodies, or whatever else fuels their creative soul.
  7. Get out and play at Sun Mountain Fun Center. My kiddos (ages 14 and 18) love the go-karts and bumper cars when the weather’s warmer, but you can keep it super cheap and just stuff a $5 Sun Mountain Fun Center gift card in each kid’s stocking. That’ll earn everyone a few video games and an entertaining diversion if you need something indoorsy for an hour or so.
  8. Give the gift of suds. Got a loved one who’s a beer fan? Every single brewery that’s part of the Bend Ale Trail offers gift certificates in any amount, so pick your fave and gift your favorite beer fanatic with a pint or twelve.
  9. The promise of summer fun with Sun Country Tours. Plan ahead for a summertime whitewater rafting adventure with the whole family by giving someone a Sun Country Tours gift card.
  10. Kayaks and float tubes and canoes, oh my! Speaking of summertime fun, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe rents all manner of watercraft, float tubes, and even standup paddleboards. Let your loved one know you’re thinking ahead to warm summer days on the Deschutes by snagging a gift card.
  11. Old Mill gift cards and Downtown Dollars. Can’t decide what your loved one needs, but you want to make sure you’re supporting local Bend businesses? Grab a fistful of gift cards and gift certificates for the Old Mill District or Downtown Bend. You can buy them in all kinds of increments, and they’re good at nearly any store, restaurant, gallery, or theater in that shopping district. Stocking stuffer, anyone?

    Old Mill District gift cards spend just like cash and make great stocking stuffers.

  12. Let them choose their own wine. My father gets wine shop gift certificates for every birthday, and never stops loving it. Pick one of Bend’s fabulous wine retailers like Good Drop Wine Shoppe, The Wine Shop and Beer Tasting Bar, Elixir Wine Group, Portello Winecafe, RHC Selections, Bend Wine Cellar, Va Piano Tasting Room, Naked Winery Tasting Room, or newcomer Bledsoe Family Winery and give the oenophile in your family a chance to pick his or her own wine. (Bonus: If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll share!)
  13. The gift of relaxation. From facials to massages to pedicures to wraps, Bend’s day spas offer the full gamut of luxury spa treatments. Know someone who could use a little pampering? Check out our spa page for ideas on where to send your sweetie for a little R&R.
  14. A cycling adventure with Cog Wild. One handy thing about a Cog Wild gift certificate is that the gift recipient can use it almost any time of year. Pick from their array of mountain bike tours during the warmer months, or when there’s snow on the ground, try one of their popular fat bike tours.
  15. Plan a hike. This one doesn’t cost a dime! Scan Visit Bend’s hiking pages or this blog to find a hike that’s right for you and your loved one. Then make your own gift certificate and set a date for adventure. Want a tangible something to go along with it? We sell a variety of awesome hiking guides in the Bend Visitor Center.

    Planning a hike for your loved one is the perfect free gift, with guaranteed memories for all.

  16. An easier option for biking. Got a loved one who’d like to try biking, but with a little less effort? A gift certificate for an electric bike rental or tour should be just the ticket, and you can get one from Bend Electric Bikes, Let it Ride, or Pedego Electric Bikes.
  17. Give the gift of snowplay. At Hoodoo Ski Area they offer gift cards in increments of $50 or $100 that can be used for everything from night skiing to regular ol’ day skiing or their tubing park. While a computer system changeover happening this season at Mt. Bachelor has made gift cards unavailable at the moment, you can still purchase lessons for your gift recipient of choice.
  18. Rev someone’s engine with a snowmobile outing. Know someone who craves a wintertime adrenaline rush? Central Oregon Adventures, Inc. offers two- and four-hour snowmobile tours leaving from Wanoga Sno-Park.
  19. Date night at a Bend restaurant. Who doesn’t love dining out? But it can be tough to justify the expense, so offer your loved one a guilt-free dinner on the town. Bend has an amazing array of restaurants, so snoop around to figure out the gift recipient’s favorite (especially if it’s one they wouldn’t normally splurge on for themselves).
  20. A gift certificate for a sled dog ride. Now THIS is a bucket list item! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take a dogsled ride with Oregon Trail of Dreams at Mt. Bachelor. The company is operated by Rachael Scdoris, the first legally-blind competitor to run the Iditarod, so these folks know what they’re doing. Stick around afterward and help feed and water the dogs.
  21. A NW Forest Pass, State Park Pass, or Sno-Park Pass. These handy permits are a necessary part of recreating in some of our most scenic spots, and they come with the added bonus of helping to maintain these wilderness areas. Choose from day passes, multi-day passes, or annual passes. We sell them all right here in the Bend Visitor Center.
  22. The chance to learn a new skill. Give your loved one a new skill he or she can use for years to come. Bend’s DIY Cave offers a variety of unique classes from welding to jewelry-making to woodworking to painting. Prices are super-reasonable, and there are even options for kids and parents to try together.
  23. A trip with Bend Jeep Tours. Is there someone in your life who’d enjoy the ultimate off-road adventure deep in the Deschutes National Forest? Guests will discover ancient lava flows, waterfalls, and a top-of-the-world view of the majestic Cascade Mountains. Go here to learn more.
  24. An all-terrain adventure with Outriders NW. Similar to the jeep tours above, but in a crazy-cool all-terrain vehicle that lets you explore towering Cascade Mountains, historic volcanic monuments, and the unique high desert environment. Good for families, groups, or individuals. You can learn more here.
  25. Let your family “escape” together. One of my family’s favorite traditions is a post-Christmas visit to Puzzle Effect (formerly Bend Escape Room). It’s a fun, immersive, interactive game experience in which your whole group is locked in a room and given clues to find the way out. You’ll find a similar experience with Escape Room on Wheels except the whole fam will have to puzzle their way out of Ole’ Pappy’s Trapper Cabin.
  26. Make your own art. Bring out someone’s budding inner artist with a gift certificate for Studio Create, a DIY art studio. From canvases to ceramics, your favorite art fanatic will have a blast making a one-of-a-kind creation.
  27. A gift certificate for Vector Volcano. Children of the ‘80s and ‘90s will fall in love with this quirky Downtown arcade packed with vintage video games. Vector Volcano is family-friendly, but they also serve local craft beer. Admission gets you unlimited game play for the time period you pick, with no quarters or tokens required.

    High Desert Museum Porcupines

    Who wouldn’t want a gift card that makes it simple to see critters at the High Desert Museum?

  28. A gift certificate to use at the world’s last Blockbuster. Give the gift of nostalgia—not to mention movie rentals—with a gift certificate for the last Blockbuster on earth, which happens to be right here in Bend.
  29. Passes to the High Desert Museum. A favorite among families, the High Desert Museum is chock full of natural history exhibits and the coolest desert-dwelling animals you’ll find anywhere. I could spend hours just watching the otters, and with an annual family membership, your loved ones will be able to do just that! Visit their website to learn more about passes and membership.
  30. Get loopy with Central Oregon Aerial Arts. Got an aspiring circus performer in the family? Gift the family acrobat with a certificate for Central Oregon Aerial Arts. They offer professional aerial silks acrobatics classes with specially-trained instructors and oodles of safety precautions in place.
  31. Float your cares away. “Floating” is a wellness technique that involves slipping into a tank filled with about 11-inches of water saturated with Epsom salts. The buoyancy of the salt water keeps you afloat in water that’s heated to skin temperature, so you basically lose track of where your body ends and the water begins. It’s an incredibly cool experience, so let your loved one try it with a gift certificate for Easy Float.
  32. An adventure with The Bend Tour Company. Not sure if your loved one would prefer to scoot around town on a Segway, pedal the Cycle Pub, or cruise in a bus on the Art Safari tour? Pick up a gift card from The Bend Tour Company and let the recipient make the choice.
  33. Membership to the Deschutes County Historical Society. The history buff in your life will love having a membership that lets him or her scope out the Deschutes Historical Museum as many times as possible over the course of a year. Individual memberships start at just $20 for the year, so visit them online to learn more.
  34. Bounce ‘til you’re tired. Every parent knows the teeth-gritting drama of having an amped-up kid who’s been in the car too long. Help them get the wiggles out with passes to Mountain Air Trampoline Park or Trampoline Zone. Both spots offer tons of bouncy space, tumbling runways, games, and energy-burning fun for all ages.

    Trampoline Zone

    Kids of all ages love getting the wiggles out at Trampoline Zone.

  35. Bowling for the whole family. Bowling is the ultimate family activity for all ages, and Bend is lucky enough to have two great spots for it. Grab a gift certificate for Lava Lanes or Sun Mountain Fun Center and tuck that bad boy in your pal’s favorite bowling shoes.
  36. Get someone teed off. Central Oregon is home to more than two dozen golf courses, including several ranked among Golf Digest’s top courses. Pick one that piques your interest and snag a gift card for the golf fan in your life.
  37. A Brew-It-Yourself session at Immersion Brewing. Got a craft beer fanatic in the family who’d like to try his or her hand at brewing a special batch of suds? Immersion Brewing offers Brew-It-Yourself workshops with a professional brewer. The session includes all ingredients, bottles, caps, custom labels, and approximately five gallons of your very own craft beer.
  38. Something for Rover to dig. The pet lover in your life may already have plenty of dog toys and treats, so why not gift a service like dog walking, pet sitting, or training? Check out our pet page for ideas.
  39. Give the gift of zoom. K1’s indoor cart racing track opened earlier this year in Bend, and has proven itself to be a fun, fabulous family activity. Grab a gift certificate or membership for the speed racer in your life.
  40. Cast a line. Got a fishing enthusiast in the family, or maybe someone who’d like to try it? Gobs of local fishing outfitters and tour guides offer gift certificates to hook (pun intended) your loved one up with the very best gear and guidance.


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