It’s been a weird year, friends. Between a global pandemic and an election cycle that left us feeling like chewed-up gummy bears on a boot sole, we could all use some joy as we head into holiday season.
Lucky for us, Bend has joy to spare. While the 2020 holiday season won’t look like those in past years, here are five ways to get your holiday groove on in Bend.
Food, glorious food!
Bend’s culinary culture has been buzzworthy for years, and in pre-pandemic times, I fielded several inquiries a week from travel journalists hungry to write about Bend restaurants.
Our foodie scene has gotten a wee bit wonkier in the Covid era, but one thing has stayed the same – amazing food!
The current freeze in Oregon means dine-in restaurant meals are temporarily off the table, but you’ll still get everything you’re craving via takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery. The best part? No need to put on pants to cozy up with mouthwatering middle-eastern meatballs from Joolz, the scrumptious shepherd’s pie from Boxwood Kitchen, the tummy-pleasing tagliatelle from Trattoria Sbandati, or a to-die-for turkey, bacon, & spinach bowl from Rockin’ Daves. Check our dining page for details on takeout and curbside pickup options in Bend.
While you still need pants (not to mention a mask) to retrieve the food, you can get around that by having food delivered (and….uh…maybe grabbing a robe when the delivery guy appears?)
Jackalope Grill boasts their own delivery service that’ll bring piping hot osso bucco and crispy duck breast with cherry sauce right to your for an extra five bucks. Ditto that for plenty of locally-owned pizza joints like Pizza Mondo (their gluten-free crust is THE BEST). Many Bend restaurants use delivery services like locally-owned Bend Takeout, as well as Uber Eats, Door Dash, GrubHub, and more.
Check this page to learn the best ways to get some tasty Bend chow in your belly, stat.
How about the holiday meal?
Lots of us are shifting our holiday plans this year to help keep loved ones, friends, and random strangers safe. Your reward? You don’t have to cook if you don’t want to.
Tons of Bend restaurants offer Thanksgiving dinners that are already assembled and ready to heat in quantities to meet your family’s size and desire for leftovers. Go here to scope out the list, and prepare to start salivating. Keep in mind that many require advanced reservations or have limited quantities available.
That’s good to keep in mind as Christmas approaches, too. Plan ahead and leave the meal prep to someone else. That’ll leave you more time to get outside and explore!
Shop local, support Bend families
Small, locally-owned businesses have had it rough though the pandemic, so now’s the perfect time to spread holiday cheer by supporting them with your holiday shopping.
Gift certificates give your loved one something to look forward to, whether it’s a cave adventure from Wanderlust Tours or a massage at one of Bend’s luxurious day spas. Those restaurants I mentioned earlier could sure use the cash infusion your gift card purchases give them, so make a list of your favorite Bend dining spots and grab gift cards as stocking stuffers. For more ideas on experience-based gifts, check out this blog post from 2019 (I promise to do a new one in the coming weeks!)
Prefer to give tangible goods? Instead of tapping that “buy now” button on Amazon, click over to the website of your favorite small business in Bend. Score kitchen goodies from Ginger’s Kitchenware or a pile of great reads from Dudley’s Bookshop.
Vanilla Urban Threads has an epic online storefront and curbside pickup for Bend shoppers. The skincare fan in your life will be delighted to know AOS (Angelina Organic Skincare) is not only based in Bend, but currently offering free gift wrapping and $3.99 home delivery.
Downtown Bend currently offers a Shop Small 2020 passport that lets users enter to win prizes by shopping in person or online from a variety of awesome Bend retailers and restaurants in our historic downtown district.
Central Oregon Locavore’s annual Holiday Gift Faire has long been a great spot to grab locally-made foods, crafts, beauty items, and more. They’re taking it online this year, which means I just scored Christmas gifts for my mother, sister-in-law, and literary agent with 20 minutes of browsing in my pajamas.
For more ideas on holiday shopping in Bend, go here.
Plan for fun
“What is there to do in Bend?” is one of the most common questions we field at Visit Bend, and normally it’s a cinch to answer with a link to VisitBend.com. There, you can peruse everything from art galleries to video arcades, hiking trails to historic sites. But what about pandemic times?
I won’t spell out all the rules and regulations for local attractions because that’s a surefire way to ensure they change the instant I hit “publish.” What I can say is that planning ahead has gotten uber-important in 2020.
Hoping to ski at Mt. Bachelor once they open to the public Dec. 11 or for passholders Dec. 7? Rock on with your powder lovin’ self and be sure to reserve your parking pass, since that’s key to scoring a day on the mountain. Keep in mind things will look different this year with everything from food service to restroom access, so read up on protocol and plan on using your vehicle as a base of operations.
Got the High Desert Museum on your list of spots to visit? Check their website for details on how the current freeze impacts operations, then plan ahead to fit them into a future trip or enjoy their virtual offerings.
One of the best things you can do to simplify planning for your future self is to use our Plan a Trip feature to earmark all the things you want to see, do, eat, drink, and experience in Bend. You can share it with friends and loved ones to get the fantasies flowing as you plan for all the fun Bend experiences yet to come.
The fresh air is free
Outdoor pursuits are Bend’s biggest draw for folks from all walks of life. With snow piling up in the mountains, now’s a great time to plan your socially distanced snowshoe adventure. You can rent gear from a local outfitter, or leave the driving, planning, and gear to the trained naturalist guides at Wanderlust Tours.
If you’re not feeling that ambitious, just head for your nearest Sno-park for a family snowball fight or a day of sledding. Don’t forget to grab your parking pass from one of our fabulous outdoor retailers or online from the DMV.
Bring your own fat bike to try cycling on snow-covered trails, or rent one from an awesome outdoor gear shop. The folks at Cog Wild not only rent fat bikes, but offer guided tours as well.
Prefer to stick to dry trails? Check out this roundup of inspiring winter hikes, or keep it simple with a stroll around one of 80+ parks around Bend. Bend Park & Rec has done a bang-up job broadening walking paths to make it easier to keep six feet of space between you and other park users, but it’s still smart to have a mask handy for those times it’s not possible to keep your distance.
Above all? Have fun and stay safe out there, folks! It’s been a rough year, and we could all use some Bend-based joy right now.
Looking for more info about COVID protocol in Bend or around the state? The Visit Bend team works tirelessly to keep our coronavirus page up to date, so check it out to get the inside scoop on travel restrictions, business closures, and other important info.