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The best things to do in Bend for January


A new year brings fresh starts, fresh ideas, and a whole ‘lotta fresh powder to the slopes at Mt. Bachelor.

It all makes January one heck of a great time to visit Bend, Oregon.

Wondering what’s fun to see, do, eat, and explore during the first month of each year in Bend? Here’s the scoop!

Aerial view of the Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon.

Enjoy the shops, restaurants, and river trail in the Old Mill District.

A bargain hunter’s bliss

Peak season in Bend spans May through the end of September, with spikes of excitement around spring and winter breaks.

But come January, everyone’s maxed out from holiday spending while still desperately craving a vacation reset. Relax. Bend’s got just the thing.

January’s when shops slash prices to get rid of excess holiday inventory and make way for new spring stuff. Hit some of Bend’s best shopping zones to score great deals this time of year.

Hotels are in the same boat with Christmas break crowds long gone and spring breakers still a couple months out. If you’re looking for bargains on Bend hotels and vacation rentals, January’s one of the best months to find killer deals.

Because it’s one of our slowest times of year, pay close attention to stores’ operating hours and which days restaurants are open. Double check what you see online, as small mom-and-pop shops may not remember to update web info when seizing the January slowdown for vacations of their own.

But some extra legwork is a small price to pay for…well, a smaller price to pay.

4,300 skiable acres at Mt. Bachelor are a quick 22-mile drive from downtown Bend.

4,300 skiable acres at Mt. Bachelor are a quick 22-mile drive from downtown Bend.

All that snow all to myself?

By the time January comes, Mt. Bachelor’s had time to fine-tune systems and accumulate lots of lovely, deep snow. The best part of all?

You’ve got the slopes to yourselves.

Holiday lift lines and Christmas cookie-hyped kids head back where they came from, giving way to some of the best conditions you’ll find all season at North America’s sixth largest ski resort. That leaves 4,300 acres of lift-accessible terrain for you and a handful of others smart enough to jump on January’s bargain prices and fab conditions. 

Now’s the perfect time to tuck the kiddos in Mt. Bachelor’s daycare center before heading out for a day of adults-only skiing. Better yet, get those young’uns into lessons through the Ski or Ride in 5 program or take advantage of Mt. Bachelor’s Kids Ski Free program.

There’s also nordic skiing, terrain parks, sled dog rides, and oh yeah––some of the best bloody marys anywhere. If you’re doing Dry January, I swear I won’t tell if you sip just one. 

A woman and her dog hike Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon.

Catch the sunrise from the trail at Pilot Butte State Park in the center of Bend.

How about hiking?

If all that snow at Mt. Bachelor has you thinking our hiking trails are snowed-under for the season, think again.

That’s the beauty of the 22 miles (and a whole ‘lotta elevation gain!) separating Bend from Mt. Bachelor. After a morning on the slopes, head for the Oregon Badlands Wilderness and enjoy thousands of acres of magical desert landscape that tend to be blissfully snow-free.

Got your heart set on popular spots like Tumalo Falls or Newberry National Volcanic Monument? Even with snow gates shut for the season, you can still reach them with snowshoes on your feet and a little extra time in your schedule. 

You can also book a snowmobile tour to see spots like Newberry or trails off the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway in ways you can’t do two on two feet.

Want to stick closer to town? Pilot Butte makes a lovely winter hike, especially with something like YakTrax for extra traction on your feet. You’ll seldom see a more epic sunset or sunrise than you’ll spot from the top of this dormant volcano. Just remember a headlamp if you’re hoofing it down in the dark.

Check out this blog post for more ideas on inspiring winter hikes. You’ll also find a few in this roundup of short but sweet hikes that are especially great for winter (think Shevlin Park, Deschutes River Trail, Pine Nursery, Cline Falls, and Riley Ranch Nature Reserve).

One thing to keep in mind when you’re playing outside in January: Winter range closures on Forest Service land and seasonal wildlife closures on BLM land. These closures protect furry and feathery friends like deer, prairie falcons, golden eagles, and other nesting birds. Those links I just shared have everything you need to know about where it’s fine to roam and where you should steer clear this time of year.

And if you’re bummed over missing those critters, may I suggest a visit to the High Desert Museum?

A group on a forest bathing experience with R’oming Yoga in Shevlin Park. (Image courtesy: R’oming Yoga | Image credit: Stacie Muller)

A group on a forest bathing experience with R’oming Yoga in Shevlin Park. (Image courtesy: R’oming Yoga | Image credit: Stacie Muller)

Score some sweet self-care

If your New Year’s resolution involves self-care of any kind, schedule some in Bend this month.

Do a forest bath with R’oming Yoga and discover peace of mind like you’ve never felt before. True story: Following my first forest bath, my FitBit (which normally greets me each morning by telling me I slept terribly) had a solid week of informing me I’m the champion of all sleepers. Coincidence? Doubtful.

Embrace the ultimate meditation with a visit to Easy Float. You’ll spend over an hour suspended in saltwater with all your senses switched off. Talk about an immersive experience!

Book a blissful facial at one of Bend’s luxurious day spas, or get in touch with your spiritual side by taking a workshop at a Bend wellness center like Blissful Heart or Bend Community Healing

Snow covered Tower Theatre in Bend, Oregon.

Catch a show at the Tower Theatre in downtown Bend, Oregon.

The time to rock is now

You’re likely aware that Hayden Homes Amphitheater keeps concert crowds rockin’ from May through late October. But winter’s when Bend’s indoor venues get to shine.

Find a concert to enjoy at Bend’s historic Tower Theatre, which brings in an impressive mix of well-known artists, indie performers, and niche musicians you won’t often see at larger venues. One of my favorite Bend concert memories was seeing Shawn Mullins from front row seats, though it’s a tossup between that and row two at the Wailin’ Jennys a few years later.

Snap up tickets to Jazz at the Oxford, and kick off your swanky evening with cocktails and dinner at Roam. I highly recommend the Blood Moon made with sun ranch vodka, créme de cassis, lillet blanc, earl grey tea, blackberry, coriander, lemon, and soda water.

For more epic ways to get your groove on this time of year, scan our Event Calendar for live music in January.

Get quirky 

January’s natural slowdown brings out the best kind of creativity from Bend hotspots hungry for your business.

A glimpse at our Event Calendar reveals a quirky array of activities ranging from adult dodgeball to magic shows to trivia nights to comedy shows held at local watering holes. I’ll neither confirm nor deny nearly peeing myself with laughter at Craft Kitchen & Brewery’s comedy night a few weeks back.

Take a look at what’s happening, then vow to kick off your year by trying something different from your normal Bend adventures. 

Welcome to the new year, friends!


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