Visit Bend Blog

Category: Holidays

What to know for winter break 2017 in Bend!

December 21st, 2017

Bend is one of the most amazing places on earth to spend winter break, no matter which holiday you’re celebrating these last couple weeks of December. Heck, you don’t even need to celebrate a holiday—there are festivities galore for people from all walks of life.

Scoping out visitbend.com is a great place to start if you’re looking for things to do, and don’t forget to consult our Event Calendar for special happenings around the holidays.

For those planning to be in Bend for December’s final days, here’s what you need to know!

10Below is one of several Bend restaurants open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

What’s to eat?

First things first: Food! The holidays are all about the grub for many of us, and you won’t go hungry in Bend.

Lots of Bend vacation rentals come with fully equipped kitchens that allow you to prepare the main meal in style. You’ll find a handy list of grocery stores on our website if you need to stock up on ingredients.

If you’re planning to eat out on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, check out this list of restaurants open for the holidays. You’ll find plenty of options to pick from! Reservations are recommended at many of them, since spaces can fill fast.

 

Oh, holy night

Like to commemorate the holiday with a visit to a church, synagogue, or other place of worship? Go here to find listings for holy places representing a variety of denominations and faiths.

 

Beyond the ho ho ho

Christmas isn’t the only game in town this time of year, and several local businesses are acknowledging Winter Solstice and other noteworthy holidays.

Celebrate Solstice with a twirl on the ice at The Pavilion.

On Dec. 21, The Brown Owl is hosting A Festivus for the Rest of Us (inspired by the Seinfeld-created holiday). They’re teaming up with Monkless Belgian Ales to throw a Festivus extravaganza featuring meatloaf, a Festivus pole, airing of grievances, feats of strength, and Monkless Brewing’s new “Friars Festivus” Belgian Quad.

Also on Dec. 21, Wren and Wild is hosting a Winter Solstice and Mala Gathering Party from 7-9 p.m. For $40, participants will enjoy a special evening of celebration, mantras, ceremony, and making a mala necklace or bracelet (a strand of beads traditionally used for counting during meditations). Chai tea and snacks will be provided.

On Dec. 22, The Pavilion ice rink is holding a Winter Solstice Celebration. The whole family can enjoy a joyful evening of ice skating, treats, and twinkling lights. There’s even a special performance by the Bend Ice Figure Skating Club. Cost is $6 a person, including skate rental, when you bring a canned food donation to benefit NeighborImpact’s Food Bank.

 

Road closures and openings

It’s old news that the gate to the Cascade Lakes Highway and the road up Pilot Butte both closed to vehicles in October, but there are a couple more recent closures you should be aware of.

Tumalo Falls is a great place to be, even when snow requires a little extra hiking to get there.

The gate to Tumalo Falls (Forest Road 4603) closed Dec. 20 to vehicles. If you had your heart set on seeing the falls, you can still hike or snowshoe to it. Just avoid parking on the road so you don’t block traffic for residents beyond the hairpin turn at the gate

An unusual closure worth noting is Santiam Pass from MP 55-81 (that section near Detroit/Idanha). A tragic tanker truck crash on Dec. 15 near milepost 63 damaged the road so severely that it remains closed as of this writing (Dec. 21). If that’s the path you’d normally take from the valley to Bend, consult ODOT’s TripCheck site for updates on road conditions and alternate routes.

 

Get some giddyup!

Got a horse fanatic in your party? There’s an interesting abundance of horse-themed events happening this year, you’ll want to mark at least one of these on your calendar.

The Old Mill District is offering free carriage rides (courtesy of Cowboy Carriage) Dec. 23 and 24, so it’s a great excuse to get your last-minute shopping done down there.

Carriage rides in the Old Mill District are a fond tradition in Bend.

If you’re venturing a bit farther afield, Black Butte Ranch also has horse-drawn carriage rides Dec. 23-24 and again Dec. 26-Jan. 1. The cost is $12 a person, and you’ll find more info here.

Another fun horsey option is Santa on the Ranch Day Camp at Rhinestone Ranch on Dec. 23 for kids 4 and up. $65 gets your kiddos some horseback riding, hay rides, Christmas crafts, and a visit with Santa (including photo!) It’s a great chance for mom and dad to get some shopping done while the young’uns get their horse fix.

32 Bend experiences for 2017 holiday gift giving

December 14th, 2017

In recent years, gift giving trends have swung from gifting “objects” to gifting “experiences,” which is pretty awesome in my book. Giftwrapping is easier, not to mention there’s less uncertainty about whether a gift is wanted or where the recipient will store more stuff.

A snowshoe outing is one of several adventures your loved one can schedule with a gift certificate from Wanderlust Tours.

Luckily, Bend is packed full of amazing experiences that fit perfectly under a Christmas tree. Here are 32 fabulous experience-themed gifts for 2017.

  • An adventure with Wanderlust Tours. Let your recipient choose his or her own adventure with 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.
  • A gift certificate for a hotel stay in Bend. Whether your loved one favors luxury resorts, budget-friendly motels, cozy bed and breakfasts, upscale hotels, or vacation homes for rent, you’ll find tons of options to pick from in Bend. Check out our Bend lodging page for ideas!
  • Get out and play at Sun Mountain Fun Center. My kiddos (ages 12 and 16) 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.
  • The promise of summer fun with Sun Country Tours. Plan ahead for a summertime whitewater rafting adventure with the whole family, or let your loved one use the Sun Country Tours gift card to rent float tubes or a standup paddleboard when the weather turns warm.
  • Old Mill gift certificates 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 certificates for the Old Mill District or Downtown Bend. You can buy them in $10 or $25 increments, and they’re good at nearly any store, restaurant, gallery, or theater in that shopping district. Can you say stocking stuffer?

    Portello Winecafé in Northwest Crossing is one of a plethora of wine shops in Bend that offer gift certificates.

  • Let them choose their own wine. This is something I gift to my father for every birthday, and he 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, Bend Wine Cellar, SIP Wine Bar, Portello Winecafe, RHC Selections, Bend Wine Cellar, Va Piano Tasting Room, or Naked Winery Tasting Room, 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!)
  • 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.
  • Who wants to fly an airplane? For my stepson’s 14th birthday, we bought a discovery flight from Professional Air. For just $69, the kid got a mini lesson on takeoff, landing, and controlling the aircraft. Then he got to fly the plane. Let me repeat that. MY 14-YEAR-OLD-STEPSON FLEW AN AIRPLANE BEFORE HE COULD LEGALLY DRIVE A CAR. Suffice it to say, this ended up being one of the highlights of his young life so far.

    A Discovery Flight is a great gift for anyone who’s dreamed of piloting a plane.

  • The chance to jump off a bridge. Continuing our daredevil theme, my stepson got to enjoy the tallest commercial bungee jump in North America on his 15th He declared his leap from the historic Crooked River Bridge one of the coolest things he’s ever done. Buy gift cards for the daredevil in your life through Central Oregon Bungee Adventures.
  • A biking 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.
  • Bachelor gift certificates. You can buy Mt. Bachelor gift cards in any amount over $5, which gives your favorite snow bunny the freedom to choose from gear, lessons, lift tickets, and more. They can be purchased online, over the phone, or in person in the Gravity Sports Shop.
  • 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. They also rent snowmobiles, and will drop you at the location of your choice.
  • Date night at a Bend restaurant. This is one of my favorite gifts to get. I love dining out, but it can be tough to justify the expense sometimes. Bend has an amazing array of restaurants to pick from, so snoop around to figure out the gift recipient’s favorite (or better yet, choose something special you know the person wouldn’t splurge on otherwise).

    How about a gift certificate for a sled dog tour? #BucketList

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    The hiking enthusiast in your life will appreciate that NW Forest Pass you tucked in her stocking.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Wine and painting. You’ve seen the trend, and it’s available in Bend from a couple different companies. Participants swill vino while learning to paint a cool scene. No experience is necessary, and both Art & Wine Oh My and Splash Wine Paint Create offer gift certificates.
  • Tickets to an event at The Tower Theatre. Got a loved one who loves 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 your loved one do the choosing.
  • 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.

    Let your loved one enjoy some aerial yoga at Wren and Wild.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Passes to Mountain Air Trampoline Park. Mountain Air Trampoline Park is the primo spot in Bend to get the wiggles out (both for kids and grownups!) They have 26 trampolines surrounded on two sides by angled trampoline walls. There’s also a super-long jumping and tumbling runway, dodgeball, basketball, and a giant airbag that’s fun to leap onto from above.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    How about a gift card for the golf fanatic in your life?

  • Let your family “escape” together. Another great indoorsy Bend activity, Bend Escape Room and Red Button Escapes are fun, immersive, interactive game experiences for the whole family. Your group is locked in a room and given the clues to escape. There are a variety of themes and challenges, and the whole experience makes for a fun team building or family activity for 2-6 people.
  • A chance to try aerial yoga. Got a yogini in your family who’s looking to take things to the next level? Get him or her a gift certificate for Wren and Wild. Aerial yoga is a strengthening practice using sturdy silks suspended from the ceiling. They offer private classes, group workshops, and even special sessions like mother/daughter aerial yoga.
  • A flight with Airborne Outback Adventures. Here’s another high-octane outing for the adrenaline junkies on your list. Airborne Outback Adventures offers scenic flights and aerial tours using powered hang gliders, ultralite trikes, and more. It’s the ultimate way to see sights like Smith Rock State Park and the Cascade Peaks.
  • 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.

5 last-minute gift ideas you should buy me (or someone you love more!) in Bend

December 22nd, 2016

A couple weeks ago I shared 25 Bend experiences that make great holiday gifts. While I’m a big advocate for giving experiences instead of things, there are times you want something tangible to put under the tree

All I want for Christmas is a mug that keeps my tea warm while I ski.

I get it. With that in mind, here are five things you can totally stuff in my stocking (or the stocking of anyone who loves both you and Bend) this holiday season.

 

A new Hydro Flask mug

I already have a Hydro Flask that I carry with me everywhere for ultra-chilly ice water all the time. I also sip my morning tea from a Silipint cup that feels squishy and happy in my hand.

But sometimes when I’m sitting in the frigid cold at a kid’s soccer match or baseball game, I want something with extra power to keep my beverage piping hot for a long stretch of time.

That’s what sparked my desire for a 20-ounce travel mug from Hydro Flask (though the lightweights among you will be happy to know it comes in 12-ounce and 16-ounce varieties). My husband has one I’ve coveted for years, and he swears it keeps his coffee hot all day long.

It comes in lots of colors, so I’ll go ahead and let you choose which one to give me. You’re welcome.

 

Something tasty from Navidi’s

Yesterday I visited my go-to stop for gourmet olive oils, scrumptious balsamic vinegars, flavored salts, tasty pastas, and more. Do you know what I forgot as I stocked up on gifts at Navidi’s?

So many salts and seasonings to choose from at Navidi’s!

Something for me!

Let’s fix that. Their small three-ounce bottles of olive oil and balsamic make perfect stocking stuffers, and it’s fun to mix and match the flavors (I’m currently smitten with the blood orange olive oil blended with fig balsamic).

You can also indulge my popcorn habit by grabbing me a jar of flavored gourmet salt. I’ve been enjoying black truffle, curry, and alderwood smoked salt, so how about we try something new?

 

Adorable Bend-esque items from Clementine

You’ll find these adorable hats and t-shirts for men and women at Clementine in Downtown Bend.

I might have become a little obsessed with Clementine Urban Mercantile since they opened just over a year ago in Downtown Bend. I’ve found everything from cozy sweaters to cute workout gear to adorable novelty items like bumper stickers, bracelets, perfume, socks, books, mugs, handbags, and more.

In other words, they’ve got a lot of fun stuff, and you can’t go wrong with a gift certificate.

But if you’re looking for a tangible item to wrap, check out their “Mountains Please” t-shirts and caps adorned with a simple little mountain silhouette. Shirts come in men’s and women’s sizes from small to XXL.

I’ll take a medium, please.

 

Rub-a-dub-dub!

What is it about soap that makes such a great stocking stuffer? It smells nice, it’s inexpensive, and it has the added benefit of helping that dirty person in your life get clean.

Ooodles of awesome soap that’s made in Bend!

I have two favorite picks on this front. There’s Boneyard Beer soap made by LeCol’s. It’s made in Bend with Bend beer that has hops and amino acids to soften and soothe irritated skin, while the polyphenols in beer offer antibacterial properties.

I also adore Lava Love soaps that are made from natural volcanic ingredients, including bentonite clay, zeolite, and activated charcoal. The ingredients come from Oregon volcanoes, and promise to restore your body to its natural balance, leaving your skin clean, soft, and kissable.

We sell both options in the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava Ave. and Oregon Ave. in Downtown Bend.

 

A wilderness tour and photo tutorial with Extreme Oregon

Get a guided hike and learn to take photos like this one when you book a tour with Extreme Oregon.

This probably should have made my roundup of 25 Bend experiences that make great holiday gifts, but I didn’t learn until just now that photographer James Parsons of Extreme Oregon fame got licensed to lead wilderness tours.

He’s combining that with photo workshops to make this a fab experience whether you’re a budding photographer or someone who just wants an experienced guide to show you some of the best hiking trails.

Your Extreme Oregon gift certificate comes with these adorable (and edible!) handmade goodies. Perfect for gifting!

Here’s the part that makes this a really awesome gift right now: This freakin’ adorable gift certificate that comes with a couple handmade cookies in a nifty little gift bag that makes it perfect for tucking in a stocking.

The other cool thing is that these Bend photography tours are totally customizable. For instance, let’s say my photographer husband wanted some tips on shooting waterfalls at sunset, while I wanted to tag along for hiking tips and a chance to learn more about “Leave No Trace” principles on the trail. No problem! Same deal whether you want to see mountains or lakes or rivers or some other scenic locale in any season.

Go here for more info on guided tours with Extreme Oregon.

 

5 ways to guarantee a white Christmas in Bend, Oregon

December 8th, 2016

This marks my 42nd Christmas on planet earth, and more than half of those have been in Bend. About half of those have been an actual white Christmas, which gives us decent odds of having some fluff on the ground December 25, 2016.

But what can you do to guarantee it?

Blogger Tawna (left) and her sister-out-law, Tamara, during their annual Christmas adventure at Mt. Bachelor's Snowblast Tubing Park.

Blogger Tawna (left) and her sister-out-law, Tamara, during their annual Christmas adventure at Mt. Bachelor’s Snowblast Tubing Park.

While plenty of folks swear performing a little snow dance will make the white stuff fall, it’s seldom helped my step kids when they’re desperate for a snow day from school. But here are 5 tried-and-true ways to ensure you experience a real white Christmas in Bend this year.

 

Make plans at Mt. Bachelor

If you’re spending Christmas in Bend and want to see snow on the big day, you can make sure of it with a 20-minute drive to Mt. Bachelor. Yep, the mountain is open on Christmas Day.

Even if you’re not into skiing or snowboarding, there’s plenty to do up there. My own family has a tradition of hitting the Snowblast Tubing Park after all the presents are opened and everyone’s bundled up in Christmas sweaters and mittens.

You’ll also find opportunities for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and even sled dog rides (though make sure you have reservations for those, since they book early during the holidays).

A Christmas Day twirl around the ice rink at The Pavilion in Bend will give your family the white Christmas you're craving.

A Christmas Day twirl around the ice rink at The Pavilion in Bend will give your family the white Christmas you’re craving.

For more info on conditions reports, hours of operation, and lift ticket specials, go here.

 

Take a twirl around the ice

A real white Christmas doesn’t technically require snow at all. Just a big sheet of glistening white ice, and you’ll find that at The Pavilion.

Central Oregon’s first and only NHL-sized 200’ x 85’ ice sheet is open for business on Christmas Day 2016. Besides the pristine sheet of pretty white ice, you’ll find a 30,000-square-foot roof and translucent panels that protect the rink from wind and sun exposure while still giving it an open air feel.

The Pavilion also has outdoor fire pits, a spectator area, skate rental, changing rooms, full-service concessions, and even an elevated viewing/warming room with free wi-fi.

For info on the holiday schedule, go here.

 

Did someone say whitewater?

If your definition of white Christmas extends to snow in its liquid form, why not take a Christmas Day stroll to see some of Central Oregon’s most scenic whitewater?

A Christmas visit to Tumalo Falls will guarantee you see a little whitewater.

A Christmas visit to Tumalo Falls will guarantee you see a little whitewater.

The easiest option is to station yourself near the Bend Whitewater Park to see if any insane brave kayakers decided to celebrate the season with a bit of frostbite. Even if no one’s in the water, it’s a lovely sight to see, and good inspiration for planning your next summer vacation in Bend.

Depending on snow levels December 25, you’re also likely to find a waterfall or two to give you a whitewater fix. Seeing Tumalo Falls this time of year will likely require snowshoes, but what a payoff when you get there!

You might also get a gander at some of the lower-elevation waterfalls like Steelhead Falls and Benham Falls.

For a good roundup of waterfalls in Central Oregon, check out this blog post.

 

Tune up that sled

If Mother Nature complies, we’ll have oodles of glorious powder coating Downtown Bend on Christmas morning. If that’s the case, spots like Drake Park and Hollinshead Park have lovely little sledding spots where you’ll be able to hop in your saucer sled and fly like a maniac.

But even if there’s no Christmas Day snowstorm in Bend-proper, you won’t have to journey far to find a perfect snow-covered sledding hill. Less than twenty minutes from Bend (just few miles before you hit Mt. Bachelor) is Wanoga Sno-Park. In addition to offering 180-miles of groomed snowmobile trails and some pretty awesome warming huts, they have dog-friendly snowshoeing and Nordic skiing trails.

A family sledding excursion is one of the best ways to enjoy a white Christmas.

A family sledding excursion is one of the best ways to enjoy a white Christmas.

But it’s the sledding hill that draws families this time of year, so make sure you packed your Flexible Flyer or saucer sled.

Pro Tip: If your sled happens to break, please, for the love of all that’s holy (not to mention your love of Bend’s pristine outdoor spaces) pack it out with you and dispose of it properly back in town. The sled graveyard that piles up during holiday breaks is time-consuming and expensive to clean up, so please do your part to pack out what you pack in.

For more sledding ideas in Bend, go here.

 

Develop dandruff

What? I didn’t say these were all good ideas.

Also, googling “How to develop dandruff” yields exactly zero helpful tips on contracting this condition, but a lot of handy hints for curing it. You’re welcome.

But seriously, no matter how you manage to do it, have a lovely white Christmas in Bend.

 

 

25 Bend experiences that make great 2016 holiday gifts (plus a chance to win a Brew-It-Yourself experience worth over $200)

December 1st, 2016
A snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours can be a treat for the whole family.

A snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours can be a treat for the whole family.

There’s a trend in gift giving favoring “experiences, not things.” Studies have shown it’s more rewarding, plus the recipient isn’t faced with the daunting post-holiday task of figuring out where the @#$%  to put everything.

It’s a trend I’ve happily embraced, and my step-kids have loved the thrill of opening a gift announcing a surprise bungee jump or an unexpected family vacation.

With that in mind, here are 25 unique Bend experiences that make great holiday gifts. Don’t forget to read all the way to the end for a chance to win #25 for your very own!

  • A gift certificate for Wanderlust Tours. Let your recipient choose his or her own adventure with 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.
  • A gift certificate for a hotel stay in Bend. Whether your loved one favors luxury resorts, budget-friendly motels, cozy bed and breakfasts, upscale hotels, or vacation homes for rent, you’ll find tons of options to pick from in Bend. Check out our Bend lodging page for ideas!
  • A gift certificate for Sun Mountain Fun Center. My step-kids (ages 11 and 15) love the go-karts and bumper cars, 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 a break from outdoor play.

    Fun on the Go-Karts at Sun Mountain Fun Center.

    Fun on the Go-Karts at Sun Mountain Fun Center.

  • A gift certificate for Sun Country Tours. Plan ahead for a summertime whitewater rafting adventure with the whole family, or let your loved one use the Sun Country Tours gift card to rent float tubes or a standup paddleboard when the weather turns warm.
  • Old Mill gift certificates 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 certificates for the Old Mill District or Downtown Bend. You can buy them in $10 or $25 increments, and they’re good at nearly any store, restaurant, gallery, or theater in that shopping district. Can you say stocking stuffer?
  • A gift certificate for a spa treatment. 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.

    Mmmm....massage. Makes a great gift!

    Mmmm….massage. Makes a great gift!

  • A gift certificate to fly an airplane. For my stepson’s 14th birthday, we bought a discovery flight from Professional Air. For just $69, the kid got a mini lesson on takeoff, landing, and controlling the aircraft. Then he got to fly the plane. Let me repeat that. MY 14-YEAR-OLD-STEPSON FLEW AN AIRPLANE BEFORE HE COULD LEGALLY DRIVE A CAR. Suffice it to say, this ended up being one of the highlights of his young life so far.
  • A gift certificate to Central Oregon Bungee Adventures. Continuing our daredevil theme, my stepson got to enjoy the tallest commercial bungee jump in North America on his 15th He declared his leap from the historic Crooked River Bridge one of the coolest things he’s ever done. Buy gift cards for the daredevil in your life through Central Oregon Bungee Adventures.
  • A gift certificate 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.

    A Discovery Flight is a great gift for anyone who's dreamed of piloting a plane.

    A Discovery Flight is a great gift for anyone who’s dreamed of piloting a plane.

  • Bachelor gift certificates. You can buy Mt. Bachelor gift cards in any amount over $5, which gives your favorite snow bunny the freedom to choose from gear, lessons, lift tickets, and more. They can be purchased online, over the phone, or in person in the Gravity Sports Shop.
  • A gift certificate for a restaurant. This is one of my favorite gifts to get. I love dining out, but it can be tough to justify the expense sometimes. Bend has an amazing array of restaurants to pick from, so snoop around to figure out the gift recipient’s favorite (or better yet, choose something special you know the person wouldn’t splurge on otherwise).
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Sled dog rides are great even in the summer when there's no snow on the ground.

    Sled dog rides are great even in the summer when there’s no snow on the ground.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tickets to an event at The Tower Theatre. Got a loved one who loves 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 your loved one do the choosing.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    The otters are always a highlight at the High Desert Museum.

    The otters are always a highlight at the High Desert Museum.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Passes to Mountain Air Trampoline Park. This one’s so new that I haven’t had a chance to visit yet (though we did promise my stepdaughter a belated-birthday stop at Mountain Air Trampoline Park). This brand new indoor attraction features a main court with 26 trampolines surrounded on two sides by angled trampoline walls. There’s also a super-long jumping and tumbling runway, plus lots of raised and padded features to add to the excitement. Sounds like a great way for active kiddos to get the wiggles out!
  • 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.
  • A gift certificate for Bend Escape Room. Another great indoorsy Bend activity, Bend Escape Room is a fun, immersive, interactive game experience that’s challenging for the whole family. In a nutshell, your group is locked in a room and given the clues to escape. It makes a fun team building or family activity for 2-6 people.

    The adrenaline junkie in your life will love this experience from Airborne Outback Adventures.

    The adrenaline junkie in your life will love this experience from Airborne Outback Adventures.

  • A flight with Airborne Outback Adventures. Here’s another high-octane outing for the adrenaline junkies on your list. Airborne Outback Adventures offers scenic flights and aerial tours using powered hang gliders, ultralite trikes, and more. It’s the ultimate way to see sights like Smith Rock State Park and the Cascade Peaks.
  • 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.

Does that last item sound like a winner for someone in your family? Here’s your chance to win a brewing workshop worth more than $200! Comment on this post sharing which of the 25 gifts YOU would most want to receive (besides the Brew-It-Yourself session at Immersion Brewing….we already know that if you’re vying for the prize!) We’ll draw one winner on Wednesday, December 16. Good luck, and happy shopping!

5 ways to make your heart happy in Bend this Valentine’s Day

February 10th, 2016

With just a few days to go until Valentine’s Day 2016, I’m seeing hearts everywhere I look. They’re on greeting cards at the store, and scratched in the frost on car windshields.

In this season of hearts and flowers and other schmoopy stuff, here are five things you can do to make your heart happy in Bend.

 

Hit the hiking trail for some cardio love

I’m well aware that cardiac fitness is good for my heart, but hearing the word “exercise” makes me want to crawl under the bed with a bottle of wine and a bag of Cheetos. But if you utter the word “hike,” and I’ll be lacing up my boots faster than you can say “let’s hit the trail, guys!”

Hiking Pilot Butte is an excellent way to get the blood pumping, plus it can be a romantic couples' adventure, too!

Hiking Pilot Butte is an excellent way to get the blood pumping, plus it can be a romantic couples’ adventure, too!

Luckily, there are a gazillion great hikes you can enjoy in and around Bend that will be fab for your cardio health, but won’t feel like exercise at all.

If you want to stick close to town and get killer views of the city while you’re at it, hike Pilot Butte. It’s that 500-foot cinder cone in the center of town, and the incline and distance make it a pretty good workout that doesn’t feel like a workout. Your reward at the top is an amazing 360-degree view of Bend and surrounding areas.

Tumalo Falls is another awesome Bend hike (though snowshoes are usually required if you attempt it in the winter months). Ditto that for the Deschutes River Trail, which offers several options for starting points ranging from Farewell Bend Park to Lava Island Falls to the Dillon Falls area (and everything in between). Check out Visit Bend’s hiking page for more detail about those areas.

And if you feel like exploring a bit farther afield, the folks at Cascade Hiking Adventures have a lot of great suggestions for short road trips you can take from a Bend home base to explore some truly magnificent landscapes nearby.

 

 

Drink beer. Seriously.

You’ve probably heard that drinking wine comes with certain health benefits, but did you know you can get some of the same heart-healthy properties from drinking beer? That’s pretty handy here in the land of the Bend Ale Trail!

Beer is great for your heart. No, really.

Beer is great for your heart. No, really.

A recent Italian study shows moderate consumption of beer decreases the risk of heart disease by 31%, which is the same as what you see from the consumption of wine.

So if you’re a beer fan, drink up! While it’s always easy to find tasty brews along the Bend Ale Trail, it’ll be even easier the weekend of Valentine’s Day. That’s when Zwickelmania happens every year. It’s the statewide celebration of craft breweries taking place Saturday, Feb. 13, and you’ll find tons of live music, tasty food, brewery tours, and of course, beer samples. Scope out the 2016 Zwickelmania schedule here.

 

Do good deeds to make your heart feel warm and fuzzy

Ever notice how doing good deeds makes your heart feel all squishy and nice? While you probably don’t want to turn your whole Bend vacation into a charity endeavor, there are lots of little ways you can warm your heart with kindness during your visit to Bend.

You already know Oregon Winterfest is fun, but did you know the event benefits charity? That's one more reason to attend Feb. 12-14, 2016!

You already know Oregon Winterfest is fun, but did you know the event benefits charity? That’s one more reason to attend Feb. 12-14, 2016!

One of my favorite things to do when visiting a new town is prowling consignment shops and thrift stores. If that’s your jam, you’ll find quite a few Bend thrift stores that donate a portion of the proceeds to local charities. Try the Humane Society Thrift Store, Goodwill, or the Teen Challenge Thrift Store. For a complete list, go here.

Many local restaurants have regularly-scheduled charity events where the proceeds are donated to local non-profits. Keep an eye on the calendar at 5 Fusion, where I can pretty much guarantee any meal will leave you swooning. Another spot that routinely hosts charity dinners and events is 10 Barrel, so you can get a two-for-one cardio punch with the aforementioned beer bonus. Sign up for their email list or watch their Facebook page for info on charity events.

You’ll also discover Bend has plenty of big charity events happening year-round. Oregon Winterfest (which takes place this weekend February 12-14) benefits Saving Grace, an organization devoted to preventing and dealing with family violence and sexual assault. The Ghost Tree Invitational in August benefits the Ronald McDonald House, while the annual Gala at the Riverhouse each January has raised more than $2.3 million for local charities over the years. Animal lovers won’t want to miss Brightside Animal Clinic’s annual Spay-ghetti Benefit Dinner in February.

 

Eat your heart out

Eating healthy means different things to different people, but it’s safe to say a vegan and vegetarian dining is considered pretty heart-healthy due to lower levels of cholesterol and saturated fat.

Think burgers are bad for your heart health? Think again? This plant-based version from Next Level Burger is heart-healthy and deeeeelicious!

Think burgers are bad for your heart health? Think again! This plant-based version from Next Level Burger is heart-healthy and deeeeelicious!

Visit this page for a listing of all restaurants in Bend offering vegan or vegetarian cuisine, and check out this blog post for a roundup of 10 amazing vegan dishes you’ll love even if you’re a meat-lover (I promise!)

But if you’re less interested in eating for heart health and more interested in a romantic Valentine’s dinner, plenty of Bend restaurants have special meals planned for Valentine’s Day evening. The one that keeps catching my eye this year is at Pronghorn Resort, where the special event menu includes items like smoked duck confit ravioli, lamb osso bucco, seared diver scallops, and flourless chocolate torte. Go here to scope out their special menu, or here to peruse all your dining options in Bend.

Bend is the city of love!

Bend is the city of love!

 

Make your heart throb with romance

A couple years ago, Livability.com named Bend one of the 10 most romantic cities in America, and it’s no surprise. There’s something about fresh air and abundant sunshine that puts a wiggle in your walk.

Check out this blog post for a fun roundup of great places to kiss in Bend and Central Oregon, this post for 7 reasons Bend’s a great place to get hitched or honeymoon, and this post for a cute collection of stories from couples who got engaged in Bend.

If you’re coming to Bend for Valentine’s weekend and you’re looking for a little extra romance, ask your Bend hotel or vacation rental if they have any romance packages, or check this page to read about any special lodging deals that include perks like chocolate-dipped strawberries or rose petals on the bed.

 

 

 

What’s happening in Bend for Christmas and New Year 2015? Tons of stuff!

December 23rd, 2015

The weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Day are some of the most magical times to be in Bend, and it’s not tough to find ways to spend your time. From skiing to shopping to snowshoeing to scoping out Bend’s fabulous restaurant scene, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

A question we hear often in the Bend Visitor Center is “what’s happening for the holidays?”

The short answer is to point you to our Bend Event Calendar, which is a great spot to scope out what’s going on in Bend during your planned vacation (or to hunt for great events and then plan your vacation around them!)

The Visit Bend TeamBut to help you out, I’ve scouted around for some of the coolest things happening in Bend during the final weeks of 2015. Here’s a roundup:

 

Get yourself some grub

If you’re in Bend on a major holiday, you might be fretful about figuring out which restaurants are open. Never fear! This handy list is your go-to resource for who’s open and how to nab reservations. Places like 10 Below, Black Bear Diner, and McMenamins, and more can be counted on to provide you with a tasty Christmas dinner that you won’t have to clean up afterward.

 

Go glide around the ice

Bend's new ice rink, The Pavilion, opens Dec. 28, 2015.

Bend’s new ice rink, The Pavilion, opens Dec. 28, 2015.

Bend has been abuzz for more than a year about the construction of The Pavillion, our new NHL full-size ice rink. The facility is slated to open Monday, Dec. 28 and features a 30,000-foot protective roof with translucent panels on the sides, lobby and concessions, outdoor plaza and fire pits, a warming/viewing room, changing rooms with lockers, and more.

You can rent your gear there, and it’s super family-friendly. Check out their Facebook page for the latest news and skating schedule.

 

 

Giddyup in the Old Mill District

Carriage rides are one of many festive traditions happening in the Old Mill District.

Carriage rides are one of many festive traditions happening in the Old Mill District.

Bend’s Old Mill District is a veritable holiday wonderland, with roving carolers and a standing appearance from Old Saint Nick. But even after the jolly fat man has left for the season, the Old Mill still offers one of my favorite holiday perks: free carriage rides from Cowboy Carriage!

Carriage rides are offered from 2-5 p.m. on Dec. 21-23 and again Dec. 27-29. Best of all, they’re totally free (though they do recommend a donation to benefit the Kids Center). It’s hard think of anything more festive than dashing through the snow in a horse-drawn carriage.

 

Gobble up some fresh powder at Mt. Bachelor

As of Wednesday, Mt. Bachelor had gotten more than 136-inches of snow in the first 23 days of the month, for a total of 221-inches of snowfall so far this season. To say it’s an epic snow year would be putting it mildly. To say you should probably brush up on your deep snow safety would be putting it safely.

The Snowblast Tubing Park at Mt. Bachelor.

The Snowblast Tubing Park at Mt. Bachelor.

We get lots of folks asking about the holiday schedule at Mt. Bachelor, and the short answer is HECK YES they’re open on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Do keep in mind that this is one of the busiest times of the year at Mt. Bachelor, and parking can be nutso. Consider riding the shuttle or carpooling.

For detailed reports on Mt. Bachelor conditions, hours of operation, prices, and more, go here.

 

 

Glam up for New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is an excellent time to head out on the Bend Ale Trail in Bend, and it’s worth having McMenamins on your list of stops. Their festivities include oodles of good beer, plus live music from Tubaluba and MOsley WOtta.

You can also opt to ring in the new year at Brasada Ranch where they have celebrations for all ages. There’s a family craft event, a cosmic pool party, and a special New Year’s Eve dinner, followed by a party with live music, dancing, and a champagne toast at midnight.

If you plan to drink, please, please, PLEASE do not drive. You’ll find a handy list of Bend cab companies here.

Feel like ringing in the New Year in a more outdoorsy fashion? Consider competing in Fleet Feet’s Run Into the New Year event kicking off at 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, or book a moonlight snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours.

Brrrr! But if that's your thing, the New Year's Day Polar Plunge in Sunriver should be right up your alley.

Brrrr! But if that’s your thing, the New Year’s Day Polar Plunge in Sunriver should be right up your alley.

For more ideas on how to spend New Year’s Eve in Bend, check our Bend Event Calendar.

 

Get goofy in the freezing cold

File this under “No way in @#$% would I ever try that myself,” but folks of all ages seem to love the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Sunriver Resort on the first day of the year.

Join a bunch of other crazies in taking an icy plunge into The Cove swimming pool at 10 a.m. in the freezing cold. Afterward, you can grab your commemorative logoed mug and warm your bones with cocoa.

 

One last note

The Bend Visitor Center will be closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day.

The Bend Visitor Center will be closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

Since the Visit Bend staff kinda likes to spend time with family, too, the Bend Visitor Center will be closed on the following dates:

  • Thursday, December 24
  • Friday, December 24
  • Thursday, December 31
  • Friday, January 1

Otherwise, the Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday from 9-5, and Saturdays and Sundays from 10-4. Keep those dates and times in mind if you’re redeeming a Bend Ale Trail passport, or go here to learn about redeeming one through the mail.

Give experiences, not things. 13 ways to do holiday gift giving Bend-style!

December 17th, 2015

There’s been a trend these last couple years favoring “experiences, not things” when it comes to holiday gift ideas. Studies have shown it’s much more rewarding, plus the recipient isn’t faced with the daunting post-holiday task of figuring out where the @#$% to put all the new stuff they’ve acquired.

Know someone who'd like a snowshoe adventure as a stocking stuffer?

Know someone who’d like a snowshoe adventure as a stocking stuffer?

It’s a trend I’ve happily embraced. When we started gifting my step-kids things like gift certificates for Sun Mountain Fun Center or the surprise of an impending family vacation to some exotic locale, they seemed a lot more delighted than they are when we giftwrap some new plastic gadget they’re apt to forget in a week. Not only that, but we get to anticipate and enjoy the experience together.

While I urge you to check this blog post if you’re looking for a few tangible gift ideas for your list, here are 13 Bend experiences worth gifting to your loved ones this holiday season:

  1. A gift certificate for Wanderlust Tours. Let your recipient choose his or her own adventure with 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. Whether your loved one favors luxury resorts, budget-friendly motels, cozy bed and breakfasts, upscale hotels, or vacation homes for rent, you’ll find tons of options to pick from in Bend. Check out our Deals and Discounts page for ideas!

    10-year-old Violet at Sun Mountain Fun Center in Bend.

    10-year-old Violet at Sun Mountain Fun Center in Bend.

  3. A gift certificate for Sun Mountain Fun Center. This is a good one if you have kids. My step-kids (ages 10 and 14) love going for the go-karts and bumper cars, 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 a break from outdoor play.
  4. A gift certificate for The Well Traveled Fork. Last year, Visit Bend staffers got to choose their holiday gift from among several gift certificate options, and the Well Traveled Fork was my personal selection. The hubby and I love taking their cooking classes together and coming home with a packet of recipes (not to mention new skills) to try on our own. You can also try one of their fun Bend culinary tours.
  5. It might be too chilly for this right now, but your loved one will thank you for thinking ahead.

    It might be too chilly for this right now, but your loved one will thank you for thinking ahead.

    A gift certificate for Sun Country Tours. Plan ahead for a summertime whitewater rafting adventure with the whole family, or let your loved one use the Sun Country Tours gift card to rent float tubes or a standup paddleboard when the weather turns warm.

  6. A gift certificate for a spa treatment. 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.
  7. A gift certificate to fly an airplane. For my stepson’s 14th birthday, we bought a discovery flight from Professional Air. For just $69, the kid got a mini lesson on takeoff, landing, and controlling the aircraft. Then he got to fly the plane. Let me repeat that. MY 14-YEAR-OLD-STEPSON FLEW AN AIRPLANE BEFORE HE COULD LEGALLY DRIVE A CAR. Suffice it to say, this ended up being one of the highlights of his young life so far.

    Cedar learns to fly an airplane for his 14th birthday. A Discovery Flight from Professional Air makes an awesome gift for anyone who's dreamed of flying.

    Cedar learns to fly an airplane for his 14th birthday. A Discovery Flight from Professional Air makes an awesome gift for anyone who’s dreamed of flying.

  8. A gift certificate with Cog Wild. One handy thing about a Cog Wild gift certificate is that you’re 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.
  9. A gift certificate for a restaurant. This is one of my favorite gifts to get. I love dining out, but it can be tough to justify the expense sometimes. Bend has an amazing array of restaurants to pick from, so snoop around to figure out the gift recipient’s favorite (or better yet, choose something special you know the person wouldn’t splurge on otherwise).
  10. 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.

    A Segway tour from the Bend Tour Company is a fun, unique way to see the city.

    A Segway tour from the Bend Tour Company is a fun, unique way to see the city.

  11. A gift certificate for Vector Volcano. Know someone who loves old school video games from the ‘80s? That person needs a gift card to Vector Volcano! It’s an inexpensive stocking stuffer, with $5 earning you an hour of play or $10 for unlimited all-day play. They even serve beer, so the grownups can have fun reminiscing while the youngsters frolic and discover Pac Man for the first time.
  12. A gift certificate for 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!
  13. A gift certificate for Bend Escape Room. Your newest indoorsy Bend activity, Bend Escape Room is a fun, immersive, interactive game experience that’s challenging for the whole family. In a nutshell, your group is locked in a room and given the clues to escape. It makes a fun team building or family activity for 2-6 people.

5 must-have Bend gifts you didn’t know existed

December 3rd, 2015

Your dad already has enough ties. Your mom may oooh and ahhh over that Starbucks gift card you got her, but deep down, she’s wishing you’d put a bit more thought into her holiday gift. You know, chosen something unique.

At the Bend Visitor Center we not only sell unique gifts, but gifts that offer a tangible reminder of Bend. You can snag one of these products anytime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays, or from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends, so if you’re in Bend for the holidays, consider us your one stop shopping center.

Then consider these five items for the loved ones on your holiday gift list.

 

Soap made from beer or lava

Admittedly a bar of soap isn’t the most unique gift on the planet, but everything changes when the soap is made from something cool like beer or volcanic materials.

Stuff someone's stocking with soap made from beer or volcanic materials.

Stuff someone’s stocking with soap made from beer or volcanic materials.

Boneyard Beer soap made by LeCol’s is an amazing, fragrant, wonderfully lathery bath bar made with beer from Bend’s own Boneyard Brewing. In case you don’t know, beer soap is known to be supremely moisturizing. The hops and amino acids soften and soothe irritated skin, while the the polyphenols have antibacterial properties.

The result is an amazing 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. It smells so delicious you’ll want to bite into it (note: don’t do this. It doesn’t taste nearly as good as it smells. Not that I tried it or anything).

Another unique option on the soap front is Lava Love. These soaps are made from natural volcanic ingredients, including bentonite clay, zeolite, and activated charcoal. The ingredients come from Oregon volcanoes, and promise to restore your body to its natural balance, leaving your skin clean, soft, and kissable.

Is it a mitten? Is it a beer koozie? It's a moozie! And we sell them at the Bend Visitor Center.

Is it a mitten? Is it a beer koozie? It’s a moozie! And we sell them at the Bend Visitor Center.

Last Christmas I gave my sister-in-law a bar of their Black Heart Vegan Volcano soap made with volcanic ash (bentonite, zeolite, pumice). She’s skincare professional in Seattle, and was so smitten with this soap that she immediately went out and bought several more bars of it to take home. We sell three different kinds of Lava Love soap in the Visitor Center, and they also make bath powder, body masks, and more. Stock up and stuff those stockings!

 

A “moozie.” Yep, a mitten koozie.

You know what a mitten is. You’re familiar with the beer koozie. Presenting—the “moozie!” This is a hand-crocheted garment that combines the hand-warming properties of a cozy mitten with the best insulating properties of a beer koozie. Show up with this bad boy on your hand at the next tailgating party and you’ll be a hit with all your pals.

We carry them in several colors in the Bend Visitor Center, including hues representing OSU, U of O, WSU, UW, and several other colleges. Stop by and purchase an in-stock moozie for just $15, or ask about a custom-made moozie in the colors or patterns of your choice.

 

A belt buckle that doubles as a bottle opener

Have you ever found yourself standing around at a party and had a sudden, insatiable need to crack open a cold one using an article of your own clothing?

Get your bottle opener belt buckle in the Bend Visitor Center!

Get your bottle opener belt buckle in the Bend Visitor Center!

Of course you have!

And since they haven’t invented bottle openers made from underwear, you need the next best thing in the form of an official Bend Ale Trail belt buckle with built-in bottle opener.

These heavy-duty accessories come in three finishes (copper, bronze, and silver) and can be purchased in the Bend Visitor Center for just $28. You know you want all three of them.

 

Bracelets and ornaments made from bike parts

Bracelets and ornaments made with recycled bike parts? We've got 'em!

Bracelets and ornaments made with recycled bike parts? We’ve got ’em!

Got a cycling fanatic in your life? He or she will totally dig the unique designs from Bike Spoke Bracelet. Made from 15-gauge steel bike spokes, these bracelets are handcrafted with beads, semi-precious stones, or simple metals. They’re lovely even if you’re not a bike fanatic, but I’m told they make an extra special gift for someone training for an athletic endeavor.

Need a made-from-bike-parts gift for someone who’s not into wearable bling? We also sell groovy Christmas ornaments handcrafted with bike parts. They’re made with recycled bike cogs and feature a cool etched-glass center with the Bend logo. We have several colors to choose from, and they’re priced at $20.

 

The growler to trump all growlers

There are several companies in Bend making high-end, airtight growlers with double-walled construction that keep your drink cold for up to 24 hours.

And while they’re all pretty fabulous, the folks at DrinkTanks have taken the game to a whole new level with the 128-ounce Juggernaut.

Your very own DrinkTank mini-keg. You know you need this!

Your very own DrinkTank mini-keg. You know you need this!

This big daddy has a large, sturdy handle and a clamp-on lid with a double-bail locking system that’s guaranteed to be totally leak-proof. Turn it into your own personal mini-keg by adding the Keg Cap Kit with a hose and CO2 cartridges and you’ll be the life of any party.

We carry the 128-ounce Juggernaut in three colors in the Bend Visitor Center for $115, or you can start smaller with the 64-ounce DrinkTanks growler for $69. You can add the Keg Cap to either model for $45. Trust me, the beer lover in your life will lose her ever lovin’ mind if you stash one of these things under the Christmas tree.

 

How to rock your 2015 Memorial Day Weekend in Bend

May 20th, 2015

Every year, Memorial Day Weekend marks the kickoff of peak tourism in Bend. It’s when the Bend Visitor Center switches to being open seven days a week (9-5 weekdays, 10-4 weekends) so visitors can meander by for maps, brochures, and tips.

There’s a lot going on in Bend every Memorial Day Weekend, and 2015 is no exception. Here are seven things you might want to have on your agenda.

 

Shake your groove thing with The Decemberists, Ryan Adams, and Robert Plant

Sunset at the Les Schwab Amphitheater is one of many reasons to attend at least one concert there this Memorial Day Weekend.

Sunset at the Les Schwab Amphitheater is one of many reasons to attend at least one concert there this Memorial Day Weekend.

I’ve been hitting the Les Schwab Amphitheater for Memorial Day Weekend concerts every year since the venue opened, and I’ve gotta admit—2015 has one of the best lineups I’ve ever seen.

On Friday night (May 22) The Decemberists return to Bend to share their unique brand of American folk rock. I’ve seen this awesome Grammy-nominated band there once before, so I know the show is going to be fab (doubly so with the presence of opening act Spoon).

The Saturday night (May 23) show will feature Ryan Adams, another Grammy-nominated musician known for his unique country/rock/folk style and a name that’s easily confused with ‘80s musician Bryan Adams (not the same guy). My husband is actually more excited about opening act Jenny Lewis, so luckily, we get to enjoy both for the price of one ticket. Well, two tickets, unless we decide to rent a gorilla suit and cram both of us inside so we can get in for the price of one, but that just sounds hot and itchy.

Sunday night is a chance to give your liver a break from all those trips to the beer gardens and wine tent at the concert venue. On Monday (May 24) the Les Schwab Amphitheater will welcome the legendary Robert Plant (yes, THAT Robert Plant—former front man for Led Zeppelin, and winner of so many rock awards he’s probably stopped keeping track). If I were a betting woman, I’d say there’s a chance this show could sell out, so go here to get ticket info for this show or any other that piques your interest.

 

Play outside with temps in the upper 60s

OK, I'm not nuts about the possible rain on Friday, but the rest of this forecast looks pretty killer for Memorial Day Weekend.

I’m not nuts about the possible rain on Friday, but the rest of the forecast looks pretty killer for Memorial Day Weekend.

Unless the weatherman is lying, it looks like Bend has ordered up the perfect weather for Memorial Day Weekend 2015. Temps are expected to be in the upper 60s, which makes it perfect for some spring hiking or a round of golf on one of 26 courses scattered around Central Oregon.

Our marketing director and his wife will probably be out mountain biking or trail running, while my hubby and I are gearing up for an afternoon of standup paddleboarding on the Deschutes River.

 

Kick off Central Oregon Beer Week along the Bend Ale Trail

Cheers to Central Oregon Beer Week and the Bend Ale Trail!

Cheers to Central Oregon Beer Week and the Bend Ale Trail!

You can make your way around the Bend Ale Trail pretty much any day of the year, gathering passport stamps and collecting prizes for sipping your way along an impressively diverse group of breweries.

But Memorial Day Weekend also marks the start of Central Oregon Beer Week 2015. The event spans May 22-31 and includes tours, tastings, live music, parties, food specials, beer education, contests, and more. You can view a complete calendar of events here.

 

FishingCraig

Who’s ready for some trout fishing?

Let’s go fishing

Bend is known around the country as a fishing mecca, with Fly Fisherman magazine naming the city one of the top fly fishing towns in the nation. Trout season is already open on the lower Deschutes River, but this weekend it opens on the upper Deschutes as well. Now’s a great time to get out there on your own, or book a fishing excursion with one of the reputable fishing outfitters in Bend.

 

 

 

Hit opening day at the Central Oregon Saturday Market

Kick off the 2015 season of the Central Oregon Saturday Market across the street from the Deschutes Public Library. Browse handcrafted jewelry, artwork, clothing, household goods, and more.

It's opening weekend for the Central Oregon Saturday Market, so you get a bonus day!

It’s opening weekend for the Central Oregon Saturday Market, so you get a bonus day!

Normally, this is a Saturday-only event (as you might’ve guessed from the name) but for Memorial Weekend they’re open both Saturday and Sunday. This is always a great spot to grab gifts to take home to friends and family, so bring an extra shopping bag.

 

Catch a ballgame at the Bend Elks Youth Baseball Tournament

Since 2005, the Bend Elks (our local baseball team) have hosted one of the Northwest’s biggest youth baseball tournaments. Even if you’re not the world’s greatest fan of the sport, it’s hard not to be impressed by the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains and the sheer volume of high school athletes journeying here to play their young hearts out.

If you’re just showing up to watch, you’ll be happy to know there’s no gate fee. Catch a game or two, eat a hot dog, and feel happy knowing proceeds from team entry fees help support youth baseball in Bend. You can find details and game schedules here.

 

Two great bike races for the cycling crowd         

Road cyclists rejoice on Saturday, May 23, in the fast and furious Bend Don’t Break circuit course bike race. A beginner’s clinic that morning gives newbies a chance to prepare, or race hard in the more elite categories. The race is part of the 2015 Oregon Women’s Prestige Series, though there are plenty of men’s categories as well. It’s also part of the Oregon Senior Games this year, so folks in the 50+ category have a chance to vie for a spot in the National Senior Games.

Only at the Sisters Stampede do horses and mountain bikes ride side by side.

Only at the Sisters Stampede do horses and mountain bikes ride side by side.

On Sunday, May 24, head west to Sisters with your mountain bike strapped to your car, and get ready for the Sisters Stampede. This uniquely-Sisters event lets you race your bike on the beautiful Peterson Ridge Trail in Sisters. This is Oregon’s largest cross country mountain bike race, with 23 different race categories, and a party at the finish line. Each racer gets a goody bag filled with cool schwag, and there’s $1000 in cash prizes up for grabs for the top three men and women in the Pro or Cat 1 categories. There’s also a free kids’ race. For event details and registration, go here.

Believe it or not, that’s only a sampling of events happening in and around Bend this weekend. For a complete list, check out the Visit Bend Event Calendar. You can search for cool happenings this weekend or any other weekend you plan to Visit Bend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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