Visit Bend Blog

Category: Holiday

What’s happening in Bend, Oregon for Thanksgiving 2017?

November 21st, 2017

If your Thanksgiving fantasies involve a delicious mix of skiing and mountain biking, blended up with some of the best shopping and dining around, you’re in for a treat during your Bend Thanksgiving vacation.

Wondering what’s happening Thanksgiving week in Bend? Gobs of stuff! Here’s what’s in store for everyone who plans to be in Bend, Oregon for Thanksgiving 2017.

 

Gobble up some good grub

First things first. Let’s talk about where you want to have your main meal on November 23 this year.

How about some pumpkin cheesecake at Pine Tavern?

For some, the thought of preparing your own feast in the kitchen of your Bend vacation rental has the homey sorta vibe you’re craving. If that’s the case, go here to scope out a variety of vacation homes and condos with ovens waiting to welcome that big, juicy bird.

If you’d rather leave the cooking to someone else, you have plenty of options to pick from. Check out this list for a roundup of restaurants ready to make your holiday meal extra special. The Thanksgiving buffet at McMenamins Old St. Francis is one of the most popular offerings in town, with mealtimes offered from noon to 6 p.m. Reservations are required, and the roundup of food will include fresh-carved turkey, fireside port cranberry relish, roasted pork loin with Edgefield cider jus, poached salmon, tortellini salad, garlic green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey gravy, along with a wide array of fresh fruit, salads, and desserts.

Other hotspots include 10 Below, Awbrey Glen Golf Club Restaurant, Black Butte Ranch, Brasada Ranch, Currents at the Riverhouse, Pronghorn Resort, Pine Tavern, Tetherow, Jackalope Grill, Sunriver Resort, Suttle Lake Lodge, Phoenix Restaurant, and oodles more. Be sure to check the list for a complete roundup of options!

Not in the mood to eat in a restaurant, but still don’t want to do the cooking? Not a problem! 10 Below, Bowtie Catering, Bistro 28, Tate & Tate, and Country Catering all offer meals for pickup (though depending on when you read this post, it may be too late to book for Turkey Day 2017). But now’s a good time to book for Christmas, or to start thinking ahead to next Thanksgiving.

 

Burn off those Turkey Day calories

Feeling guilty about that sixth helping of mashed potatoes? Never fear, Central Oregon has a variety of Thanksgiving-themed runs and walks to help burn off those extra calories.

Run off those Turkey Day calories in one of the running events held around Central Oregon.

The I Like Pie Thanksgiving day walk/run kicks off at 9 a.m. in Bend. There will be a timed 5k and 10k run, along with an untimed 5k, 10k, and 1-mile run. The race starts and finishes on Powerhouse Drive adjacent to the Century Plaza of the Old Mill District.

If you feel like trying something new, head a few miles north to Redmond where they’re holding their own Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot. This is an inaugural 5k and 10k event that will cruise along the Radlands trail in Redmond, offering views of Smith Rock. Participants can enter to win lift tickets for Hoodoo Resort.

The day after Thanksgiving, the annual Turkey Trot is taking place at 10 a.m. in Sunriver. This is an annual 5k fun run/walk with proceeds supporting the Neighborhood Impact program. Costumes are encouraged, with a prize for the most decked-out individuals.

To learn more about these races or other running events in Bend, check out our Event Calendar.

 

Who’s ready to ski?

Ski and snowboard fans got two early chances to carve some turns at Mt. Bachelor when they opened the weekend of September 23 and again the weekend of November 18.

Who’s ready to carve some turns?

Weather permitting, the plan is for the mountain to open again on Friday, November 24, and to stay open for the duration of the season.

Make sure you check the online condition reports and follow Mt. Bachelor’s Facebook page for up-to-the-minute info about hours of operation.

 

Shop ‘til you drop

For those who favor indoorsy pursuits over outdoorsy ones (or for those who simply love a good bargain), don’t miss the Black Friday shopping deals around town.

There are plenty of places to shop ’til you drop in Bend for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

Bend’s Old Mill District features stores like Victoria’s Secret, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, Zumiez, Hello Sunshine, and more. Check out their Black Friday Specials page for info on who’s opening at 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 7 a.m., and other more sane hours.

Fans of outlet shopping will want to check out the Bend Factory Stores for big bargains. Shops include spots like the Coach Factory Outlet, Nike Outlet, Eddie Bauer, Columbia Outlet, and much more.

For deals at places like Best Buy and Cost Plus World Market, head north to the Cascade Village Shopping Center. And if big-box stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s, and T.J.Maxx are on your agenda, be sure to hit the Bend River Promenade in the middle of town. While you’re on the north end of town, pop into Pomegranate Home & Garden, a locally-owned shop in a historic farm house, for some really unique gifts.

To help you spread things out a bit, many shops in Downtown Bend are participating in Small Business Saturday Passport Event. Check out their page for details about shops and specials, including deals at great local boutiques like Hot Box Betty, Local Joe, and Clementine Urban Mercantile. You’ll also have a chance to win prizes valued at up to $2,000.

 

Christmas already?

Before we’ve even stashed the Thanksgiving leftovers, a lot of us are gearing up for the next major holiday. If you want to get a jump on Christmas, check out the Old Mill District’s Holiday Happenings page for a roundup of what’s going down. Santa will arrive via helicopter around 10:15 a.m. on Friday, November 24, to begin his tour of duty at Santaland. There will also be oodles of other Christmassy offerings like free carriage rides, carolers, kids’ activities, and more. Go here to see what’s in the lineup.

Get ready to watch Santa arrive by helicopter in the Old Mill District.

Downtown Bend is another festive place to be, with bright strings of lights and decorations adorning streets and shops. The annual Christmas Tree Lighting is slated for December 1 this year, so don’t miss that if you’re planning to stick around. The live tree is located at the top of Drake Park near Mirror Pond Plaza, and guests get to sing carols and watch Santa light the tree. Festivities get underway at 6 p.m., but you’d be smart to arrive at least half an hour before that to find a spot.

Hang around one more day for the annual Bend Christmas Parade kicking off at noon on Saturday, December 2 in Downtown Bend.

 

Only in Bend

Yes, I acknowledge there are Black Friday sales and Christmas tree lightings happening in most towns around America this time of year. While I encourage you to enjoy those activities, here are a few only-in-Bend things to add to your holiday agenda:

How about a moonlight snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours?

  • Snowshoe with Wanderlust Tours. Let the naturalist guides at Wanderlust lead you into the wilderness to traipse through pristine fields of pillowy snow. Tours include all gear and transportation, not to mention snacks and warm drinks. They offer daytime or starlight outings, and kids are welcome, too.
  • Visit the High Desert Museum. Bend’s popular High Desert Museum offers fascinating exhibits, cool animals, and tons of opportunities to learn more about the culture and history of the high desert. Check out their website to learn more about the schedule of special events and exhibits at the museum.
  • Special programs at the Tower Theatre. Even if they weren’t having any shows at all, Bend’s historic Tower Theatre would be worth checking out just for the beauty of it. But during Thanksgiving week, you’ll have the chance to see the popular holiday film Christmas Vacation on the big screen. The show starts at 7 p.m. on November 24, and you can get tickets here. You can also catch special performances of The Nutcracker and A Charlie Brown Christmas later in the week, so check the schedule for times and ticket info.

 

What’s happening in Bend, Oregon for Thanksgiving 2016?

November 22nd, 2016

Oh, reader . . . you’re in for a real treat!

No, not this blog post (though that’s pretty swell, too). But if you’re reading this post, odds are good you’ve chosen to spend Thanksgiving 2016 in Bend, which is pretty smart of you.

So now that you’re here, what’s happening Thanksgiving week in Bend? Gobs of stuff! Here’s what’s in store for everyone who plans to be in Bend, Oregon for Thanksgiving 2016.

 

Gobble up some good grub

First things first. Let’s talk about where you want to have your main meal on November 24 this year.

For some, the thought of preparing your own feast in the kitchen of your Bend vacation rental has the homey sorta vibe you’re craving. If that’s the case, go here to scope out a variety of vacation homes and condos with ovens waiting to welcome that big, juicy bird.

There are plenty of places to get your pumpkin pie fix in Bend this Thanksgiving.

There are plenty of places to get your pumpkin pie fix in Bend this Thanksgiving.

If you’d rather leave the cooking to someone else, you have plenty of options to pick from. Check out this list for a roundup of restaurants ready to make your holiday meal extra special. The Thanksgiving buffet at McMenamins Old St. Francis is one of the most popular offerings in town, with mealtimes offered from noon to 6 p.m. Reservations are required, and the roundup of food will include fresh-carved turkey, fireside port cranberry relish, roasted pork loin with Edgefield cider jus, poached salmon, tortellini salad, garlic green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey gravy, along with a wide array of fresh fruit, salads, and desserts.

Other hotspots include Jackalope Grill, 10 Below, Brasada Ranch, Black Butte Ranch, Currents at the Riverhouse, Black Bear Diner, Greg’s Grill, and oodles more. Be sure to check the list for a complete roundup of options!

Not in the mood to eat in a restaurant, but still don’t want to do the cooking? Not a problem! Catering experts Tate & Tate, Bistro 28, and Country Catering all offer holiday meals for pickup. Depending on when you read this, you may have missed the cutoff for Turkey Day, but now’s the time to plan ahead for Christmas Dinner.

 

Burn off those Turkey Day calories

Feeling guilty about that sixth helping of mashed potatoes? Never fear, Bend has a variety of Thanksgiving-themed runs and walks to help burn off those extra calories.

Run off those Turkey Day calories in the Thanksgiving Classic or one of the other fun runs happening this year.

Run off those Turkey Day calories in the Thanksgiving Classic or one of the other fun runs happening this year.

The Bend Thanksgiving Classic 10k/5k walk/run and the I Like Pie Thanksgiving day walk/run both kick off at 9 a.m. in different parts of Bend on Thanksgiving morning. The day after Thanksgiving, the Turkey Trot is taking place at 10 a.m. in Sunriver.

To learn more about these races or other running events in Bend, check out our Event Calendar.

 

Who’s ready to ski?

I know plenty of you are waxing your snowboards and tuning your skis in anticipation of Mt. Bachelor’s first day of operations. While things are always subject to change based on the whims of Mother Nature, Mt. Bachelor is currently scheduled to open Friday, November 25—the day after Thanksgiving.

Who's ready to carve some turns?

Who’s ready to carve some turns?

Make sure you check the online condition reports and follow Mt. Bachelor’s Facebook page for up-to-the-minute info about opening day.

And if you want to help usher in the white stuff, make sure you attend 10 Barrel Brewing’s annual Pray for Snow Party at 5 p.m. on November 25 at their brewing facility on NE 18th Street.

 

Shop ‘til you drop

For those who favor indoorsy pursuits over outdoorsy ones (or for those who simply love a good bargain), don’t miss the Black Friday shopping deals around town.

Bend’s Old Mill District features stores like Victoria’s Secret, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, Zumiez, and more. Check out their Black Friday Specials page for info on who’s opening on Thanksgiving day, as well as who’s opening at midnight, 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 5 a.m., and other more sane hours.

There are plenty of places to shop 'til you drop in Bend for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

There are plenty of places to shop ’til you drop in Bend for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

Fans of outlet shopping will want to check out the Bend Factory Stores for big bargains. Shops include spots like the Coach Factory Outlet, Nike Outlet, Eddie Bauer, Columbia Outlet, and much more.

For deals at places like Best Buy and Cost Plus World Market, head north to the Cascade Village Shopping Center. And if big-box stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s, and TJ Maxx are on your agenda, be sure to hit the Bend River Promenade in the middle of town. While you’re on the north end of town, pop into Pomegranate Home & Garden, a locally-owned shop in a historic farm house, for some really unique gifts.

To help you spread things out a bit, many shops in Downtown Bend are participating in Small Business Saturday Passport Event. Check out their page for details about shops and specials, including deals at great local boutiques like Hot Box Betty, Local Joe, and Clementine Urban Mercantile. You’ll also have a chance to win prizes valued at up to $2,000.

 

Christmas already?

Before we’ve even stashed the Thanksgiving leftovers, a lot of us are gearing up for the next major holiday. If you want to get a jump on Christmas, check out the Old Mill District’s Holiday Happenings page for a roundup of what’s going down. Santa will arrive via helicopter around 10 a.m. on Friday, November 25, to begin his tour of duty at Santaland. There will also be oodles of other Christmassy offerings like free carriage rides, carolers, kids’ activities, and more. Go here to see what’s in the lineup.

The lovely Christmas tree in Drake Park near Downtown Bend.

The lovely Christmas tree in Drake Park near Downtown Bend.

Downtown Bend is another festive place to be, with bright strings of lights and decorations adorning streets and shops. One of Bend’s most cherished holiday traditions is the annual Christmas tree lighting on December 2. The live tree is located at the top of Drake Park near Mirror Pond Plaza, and guests get to sing carols and watch Santa light the tree. Festivities get underway at 6 p.m., but you’d be smart to arrive at least half an hour before that to find a spot.

And if you’re sticking around longer, don’t miss the Bend Christmas Parade kicking off at noon on December 3 in Downtown Bend.

 

Only in Bend

Yes, I acknowledge there are Black Friday sales and Christmas tree lightings happening in most towns around America this time of year. While I encourage you to enjoy those activities, here are a few only-in-Bend things to add to your holiday agenda:

Stargazing with Wanderlust Tours.

Stargazing with Wanderlust Tours.

  • Snowshoe with Wanderlust Tours. Let the naturalist guides at Wanderlust lead you into the wilderness to traipse through pristine fields of pillowy snow. Tours include all gear and transportation, not to mention snacks and warm drinks. They offer daytime or starlight outings, and kids are welcome, too.
  • Visit the High Desert Museum. Bend’s popular High Desert Museum offers fascinating exhibits, cool animals, and tons of opportunities to learn more about the culture and history of the high desert. Check out their website to learn more about the schedule of special events and exhibits at the museum.
  • Special programs at the Tower Theatre. Even if they weren’t having any shows at all, Bend’s historic Tower Theatre would be worth checking out just for the beauty of it. But during Thanksgiving week, you’ll have the chance to see the popular holiday film A Christmas Story on the big screen. The show starts at 7 p.m. on November 25, and you can get tickets here. You can also catch a special production of The Nutcracker performed November 27 by students of Academie de Ballet Classique.

Celebrating Independence Day 2016 in Bend? Here’s what you need to know!

June 30th, 2016
The annual Pet Parade is one of Bend's most popular July 4 traditions.

The annual Pet Parade is one of Bend’s most popular July 4 traditions.

There’s a reason Travel + Leisure just named Bend one of America’s best towns for 4th of July.

Actually, there are about a million reasons. From old-fashioned pancake feeds and sack races, to bountiful opportunities to hike, bike, paddle, and explore the great outdoors, Bend has everything you could possibly want for an Independence Day celebration.

If you’re lucky enough to spend Independence Day 2016  in Bend, here’s what you need to know!

 

Q: Where can I watch Fourth of July fireworks in Bend?

A: Each year, fireworks are launched from the top of Pilot Butte at 10 p.m. If you have any friends who live in an elevated area of northeast Bend, try to procure an invitation to their Independence Day barbecue. Bring beer.

Fireworks burst above Pilot Butte.

Fireworks burst above Pilot Butte.

If that’s not an option, you can see fireworks from just about any spot in town with a view of Pilot Butte. City parks are popular viewing spots, so check the Parks & Rec site to find one near you. Al Moody Park (near the base of Pilot Butte) is a locals’ favorite, but you’ll want to get there early with a blanket or chairs.

 

 

Q: What special events are happening for July 4?

A: Bend’s old-fashioned 4th of July celebration is like something out of a Normal Rockwell painting. Watermelon-eating contests, dunk tanks, scavenger hunts, and sack races will keep you hopping (so to speak) all day long.

The annual Pet Parade is the best show in town!

The annual Pet Parade is the best show in town!

Things kick off early with the annual Pancake Breakfast in Drake Park sponsored by the Bend Sunrise Lion’s Club. This all-American meal is served from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and proceeds support local charities.

Once you’ve stuffed your face with hotcakes and bacon, stroll into Downtown Bend for the annual Pet Parade. It’s Bend’s largest parade, with 8,000 spectators and participants, and it’s been happening since the 1930s. Starting at 10 a.m., the parade winds its way through downtown with a kooky array of humans, canines, and farm animals, many of whom will be attired in bizarre costumes.

If you or your kids want to march in the parade, the lineup and decorating party takes place at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot between Bond and Wall across from the Deschutes Public Library. Temps will likely be in the 80s this year, so keep your kids’ and pets’ comfort in mind when planning costumes.

If you just want to watch, you can park your chair pretty much anywhere in Downtown Bend. Streets will be closed from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and parking can be tough to find, so get there nice and early.

The route for the 2016 4th of July parade.

The route for the 2016 4th of July parade.

After the parade, head over to Drake Park for the aforementioned Old Fashioned July 4 Festival. From 11-4, enjoy games, live music, a variety of food booths, kids’ activities, and more than 130 artisan booths.

Craving a more intimate celebration? Brasada Ranch (just 16 miles northeast of Bend ) is hosting a variety of Independence Day events including a traditional county fair and old-fashioned barbecue. You can enjoy great food, live music, lawn games, and panoramic views of three (yes, THREE) firework shows across the region. Go here for pricing and event schedule.

Need more ideas? Check out Visit Bend’s event calendar or previous posts on the Bend Buzz Blog for oodles of options!

 

 

Q: Uh-oh…Tumalo State Park is full. Where can I camp?

A: Independence Day is typically one of the busiest times of the year in Bend, and 2016 will be especially crazy with the holiday falling on a Saturday. A good starting point is Visit Bend’s complete roundup of campgrounds and RV parks. While we can’t guarantee availability on a busy holiday weekend, these might be worth trying if you strike out elsewhere:

Finding a campsite for Independence Day can be tough, but you've got a few options.

Finding a campsite for Independence Day can be tough, but you’ve got a few options.

 

Q: What about hotels?

A: Bend has tons of amazing hotels, but the odds of you scoring a last-minute room for 4th of July weekend are about the same as the odds it will snow that day.

Luckily, there are a number of neighboring towns that may (emphasis on may) have rooms available. Try Redmond (20 minutes away), Sisters (25-30 minutes away), Sunriver (25-30 minutes away), La Pine (45 minutes away), or Prineville (45 minutes away).

 

Q: Where can I play in the Deschutes River?

A: We have a whole web page devoted to this! Find out about canoeing, kayaking, standup paddling, and river float trips in Bend. To get the inside scoop on floating on the Deschutes River the way the locals do it, check out this blog post.

There are tons of options for hiking around Central Oregon this time of year.

There are tons of options for hiking around Central Oregon this time of year.

Q: What hikes are open?

A: This page from the Forest Service offers up-to-the-minute trail conditions and closure info. You can also refer to Visit Bend’s hiking page for ideas about where to go. Cascade Hiking Adventures is another terrific resource for hiking ideas.

 

Q: What things are open on July 4?

A: Mt. Bachelor will launch their official summer operations on July 4 this year. That’s a great opportunity to head up there for scenic lift rides, lunch at Pine Marten Lodge, disc golf, and downhill mountain biking off the Sunshine Accelerator Lift. The sunset dinners and sled dog rides will open the following week on July 8, 2016.

Downhill mountain biking season is kicking off July 4 at Mt. Bachelor.

Downhill mountain biking season is kicking off July 4 at Mt. Bachelor.

Though the High Desert Museum is closed on Independence Day, be sure to stop by on a different day during your trip. The newly-renovated otter exhibit opened recently, so it’s a good chance to get a look at these playful creatures in their brand new habitat. You should also check their schedule and time your visit for one of their stellar Raptors of the High Desert shows.

Lava Lands Visitor Center is Open July 4. The Deschutes Historical Museum is not only open, but offers free admission and free ice cream cups while supplies last on July 4.

And of course, the Bend Visitor Center will be open on Independence Day from 9-5 for all your visitor information needs (and to redeem Bend Ale Trail atlases, of course!)

Q: We enjoy the Bend Buzz blog so much that we’d like to buy you a beer. What kind do you like?

A: Why thank you! I’ll take anything from around the Bend Ale Trail, but my personal faves are Hop Venom from Boneyard Brewing, Off Leash from Crux Fermentation Project, Pinedrops from Deschutes Brewery, Ching Ching from Bend Brewing Company, and pretty much any sour they happen to be serving up at 10 Barrel.

How to celebrate Mother’s Day 2016 in Bend, Oregon

May 5th, 2016

Whether you’re a mom to humans, a mom to four-legged creatures, or a childfree visitor looking for a way to celebrate your own mother, Bend makes a pretty fab place to spend Mother’s Day.

In 2016, the big day falls on Sunday, May 8, and there are a number of ways you can commemorate the holiday in Bend. Here are a few of my faves.

 

Mother’s day brunch, coming up!

If you asked my step-kids to name their favorite places in Central Oregon, I’m positive Brasada Ranch would make the list. Though the kids won’t be with us for Mother’s Day this year, I’m still seizing the opportunity to head out there for Brasada Ranch’s annual Mother’s Day Brunch, complete with seasonal, farm-fresh cuisine, lawn games, and more. The event is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and I recommend getting there early so you can enjoy the whole day out there.

Brasada Ranch makes a beautiful setting for Mother's Day brunch.

Brasada Ranch makes a beautiful setting for Mother’s Day brunch.

If you’d prefer to stay right in the Bend city limits, McMenamins Saint Francis School also hosts an annual Mother’s Day brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a menu that includes French toast, biscuits with sausage gravy, specialty salads, fresh fruit, eggs, maple-glazed ham with Hammerhead sauce, and a selection of desserts.

Other Central Oregon hotspots offering Mother’s Day Brunch include Sunriver Resort, Pronghorn Resort, Tetherow Resort, and Faith, Hope and Charity Vineyards. Be sure to call for reservations, since these events are quite popular and tend to sell out.

 

Not in the mood for brunch?

It’s true Mother’s Day brunch is kind of a thing, and I’m positive any of the brunches I mentioned above will be a big win for the mom in your life.

But if that’s not your scene, consider offering mom something besides the traditional breakfast/lunch hybrid. The Bend Ale Trail is a fabulous place to start if mom’s a fan of craft beer. To make it extra special, pick up a beer-themed gift for her a Hydro Flask or DrinkTanks growler (both of which are sold in the Bend Visitor Center). If bling is more her thing, consider a pair of hop-inspired earrings from Hopped Up Jewelry.

The beer-loving mom on your list needs a DrinkTanks Growler, okay?

The beer-loving mom on your list needs a DrinkTanks Growler, okay?

If Mom is less into food and more into enjoying the great outdoors, try planning a family-friendly hike or an afternoon picnic in one of nearly 80 parks in Bend. I rounded up my favorite parks in this blog post.

Another option for the non-brunch-seeking crowd is the special Mother’s Day prime rib dinner at Currents at the Riverhouse. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because the restaurant attached to Riverhouse on the Deschutes used to be known as Crossings. In recent months, the space got a HUGE overhaul, including a new name, a new chef, and a dining area that looks so dramatically different you won’t recognize it. They’ve only recently re-opened, so call 541-389-8810 to book your spot at the Mother’s Day dinner and check out what’s new.

 

Dog moms unite!

Not all moms have kids who walk upright on two legs. For mothers whose beloved babies wag their tails and snack from the cat box, Downtown Bend’s annual Dog Daze event takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 7 (the day before Mother’s Day).

Your dog wants you to take her SUPing in the morning before the two of you head to Dog Daze in Downtown Bend.

Your dog wants you to take her SUPing in the morning before the two of you head to Dog Daze in Downtown Bend.

Sponsored by Riverside Animal Hospital, the event kicks off in Mirror Pond Plaza with pet-themed booths and animals available for adoption. That’s where you’ll grab your “dog passport,” which will lead you (and your leashed, furry friend!) on a journey to different Downtown Bend businesses to collect paw print stamps. Turn in your passport by 3 p.m. for a chance to win prizes valued at more than $300.

 

Get her some flowers…or a barbecue

If you’re a traditionalist who wants to buy Mom a nice floral arrangement for Mother’s Day, you’ll certainly find those at the Central Oregon Builders Association Home and Garden Show.

But you’ll also find booths featuring everything from grills to birdhouses to RVs, along with a huge array of educational offerings from cooking to gardening.

The event is held out at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond, and features free admission and parking. Stop by May 6 or 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or on May 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

Treat mom to some pampering

You know what mom wants more than anything else, but is afraid to tell you because she doesn’t want to seem pretentious? A spa day.

Your mom wants a massage. Trust me.

Your mom wants a massage. Trust me.

Trust me, it’s true. Even the mom who insists she doesn’t need a massage or a facial would be absolutely ecstatic if you got her a gift certificate for one.

Luckily, Bend has oodles of amazing day spas for you to choose from if you want to snag a gift certificate or two. Check out Visit Bend’s roundup of Bend spas and day spas to pick one that sounds right for the lady in your life.

Oh, and if you want in on the action, consider booking the Couple’s Massage Workshop at Brasada Ranch so you can use your skills on each other for many years to come.

 

Experiences, not things

A few weeks before Christmas, I wrote this blog post about the benefits of giving experiences instead of things. It’s as true for Mother’s Day as it was for Christmas, and I guarantee mom will treasure the memories she makes during that adventure from Wanderlust Tours or the cooking class from Well Traveled Fork.

And if you’d like to plan a single, amazing day to honor the special lady in your life, check out the itinerary in this blog post on planning a perfect day in Bend.

 

4 fun date options for you and your Valentine in 2016

January 28th, 2016

Just 16 days, 9 hours, and 53 minutes until Valentine’s Day. Er, not that I’m counting.

Okay, I’m totally counting. When I’m not here singing the praises of Bend, Oregon, I make my living as an author of romantic comedy, so I kinda live for the schmoopy stuff.

Get romantic under the stars with Wanderlust Tours!

Get romantic under the stars with Wanderlust Tours!

When you mix my love of Bend with my love of…well, love…it’s a recipe for finding some of the coolest romantic dates in Central Oregon. Here are a few to consider as we approach Valentine’s Day 2016.

 

Get smoochy in the snow

The naturalist guides at Wanderlust Tours can tell you plenty of tales about marriage proposals unfolding during canoe trips, snowshoe outings, and even cave tours. Considering how magical a Wanderlust adventure can be, it’s not surprising they get folks feeling the love. Their guides have even married people in the forest on snowshoes!

Who wants to snuggle by a bonfire in the snow?

Who wants to snuggle by a bonfire in the snow?

That’s why their special Romance on the Snow package is the perfect option for lovers looking to add a little extra amour to a standard snowshoe tour. This couples-only outing is offered February 13 and 14, with tours departing at 7 p.m. and returning home by 11 p.m. The $95 price tag includes all transportation and gear, a snowshoe adventure with a naturalist guide, a seat by the crackling bonfire in a glittering amphitheater hand-carved into the snow, hot cocoa with hazelnut espresso vodka, chocolate-covered strawberries, and champagne.

If you want to propose, hey, that’s up to you. If you just want to have fun with your longtime love or that special guy or gal you just started dating, that’s cool, too. Keep in mind that space is limited on the Romance on the Snow tours, so book early to make sure you and your sweetie aren’t left out in the cold.

And if those dates don’t work for you, a Wanderlust Tours gift certificate still makes an excellent Valentine’s gift.

 

Rub each other down

Admittedly I’m still a newlywed (17 months in February!) but one of the coolest romantic experiences of our marriage thus far was the Couples Massage Workshop at Brasada Ranch.

Blogger Tawna and her husband, Craig, enjoy the glorious Couples Massage Workshop at Brasada Ranch.

Blogger Tawna and her husband, Craig, enjoy the glorious Couples Massage Workshop at Brasada Ranch.

This is a special workshop designed by the Brasada Ranch Spa to give couples a special experience and new skills to take home and enjoy for years to come.  It was the highlight of our recent stay at Brasada Ranch, and it unfolded like this…

The hubs and I kicked off the experience by slipping into plush robes and spending a few minutes unwinding in the steam rooms of our respective dressing rooms. Then we met up in the Relaxation Room where we nibbled lavender honey shortbread cookies and sipped tea by the fountain until it was time for the separate one-hour massages we’d booked to get us into the zone.

After that, we joined a massage therapist who chatted with us for a while to determine our interests, goals, and familiarity with massage techniques (zero).  I got to go first, lying facedown on the massage table, tastefully draped, while the therapist showed my husband how to perform a variety of massage strokes on my neck, back, shoulders, and legs.

Gourmet s'mores by the fire at Brasada Ranch? Yes, please!

Gourmet s’mores by the fire at Brasada Ranch? Yes, please!

After 30 minutes or so, we switched spots and I got to learn how a 5’4” female (me) can use leverage and technique to exert the right amount of massage pressure on a 6’1” male (my husband) who prefers a firm massage touch. Since we don’t happen to own our own professional massage table, the therapist gave us tips for replicating our newly-acquired massage skills in our own home.

While you can book the Couples’ Massage Workshop even if you’re not staying at Brasada Ranch, it’s worth a splurge to book a room in one of their Ranch House Suites or luxury cabins. If that’s not in the cards for you, at least stick around for dinner or go straight to dessert with gourmet s’mores you can toast over the open campfires beneath sparkling stars.

 

What’s cookin’, good lookin’?

Over the last five years, the hubby and I have given each other Well Traveled Fork gift certificates for so many special occasions that if a holiday slips past with no fork-adorned slip of paper, one of us asks, “Wait, where’s the cooking class?”

A cooking class with the Well Traveled Fork makes a fun way to learn new skills as a couple.

A cooking class with the Well Traveled Fork makes a fun way to learn new skills as a couple.

Experts have said one of the best ways to bond a couple is to learn a new skill together, and I believe it. No matter how many classes we take together with the Well Traveled Fork, we always come out with something new. Maybe it’s a special knife handling technique or a tip for finding the best produce, or maybe it’s just the packet of recipes we go home with and try out again and again to remember how much fun we had.

Though the Couple’s Class scheduled near to Valentine’s Day is already sold out, there are plenty of other options on the 2016 docket. Classes range from Cooking With Bourbon to Easy Weeknight Meals and more. Check out the schedule to choose one that looks fun, then sign up with your sweetie so you have something to look forward to in the coming months.

 

Dinner and a show

Yeah, yeah. It’s kind of a cliché, but there’s a reason the old “dinner and a show” date never gets old for most of us. It’s a perfect blend of good food and dinner conversation, followed by a couple hours of entertainment that’ll give you a shared memory to talk about for months to come.

Bend offers dozens of spots for romantic dining (including Bistro 28, shown here).

Bend offers dozens of spots for romantic dining (including Bistro 28, shown here).

Reservations go fast on Valentine’s Day for a lot of Bend restaurants, so consider dining out the night before or after if your schedule allows it. If it doesn’t, you’ll still find a few slots available at many local dining hot-spots. Culinary options range from creative Northwest cuisine to Asian fusion to Italian to Middle Eastern to seafood to vegan cuisine and more. Scope out our Bend dining page to find something that piques your interest, or peruse the dining and drinking category on this blog for ideas.

As for the “show” component, you can search for musical performances at great venues like The Tower Theater or Silver Moon Brewing. If it’s a movie you’re after, head to the Old Mill District to catch the latest blockbuster, or opt for an indie film at the artsy little Tin Pan Theater. You can also scope out an array of live theater performances at places like Second Street Theater, Volcanic Theater Pub, and Cascades Theater (which has a special one-night-only performance of Venus in Fur on Valentine’s Day).

For more ideas, check out Visit Bend’s Event Calendar and search the date night you have in mind.

Oh, and when you call to make reservations at your Bend hotel or vacation rental, be sure to ask about romance packages or sweetheart specials. Many places have them, and they can range from rose petals on the bed to chocolates and an assortment of local craft beer or wine. Go here to start your Bend lodging search.

 

6 ways to find the holiday spirit in Bend, Oregon

December 10th, 2015
The lovely Christmas tree in Drake Park near Downtown Bend.

The lovely Christmas tree in Drake Park near Downtown Bend.

It’s that time of year again. The convergence of a gazillion holidays ranging from Hanukkah to Christmas to Kwanzaa to a bunch of holidays I probably can’t even spell. The overall effect is a general sense of merriment, and we’re certainly feeling it in Bend.

Want a bonus boost of holiday spirit? Here are six ways to get an extra dose of it in Bend right now!

 

Go trotting through the Old Mill District

Every December, Bend’s Old Mill District transforms itself into a holiday wonderland. You’ll find holiday decorations, roving carolers, and free carriage rides from Cowboy Carriage. You’ll even meet up with jolly Old St. Nick, who’s standing by to hear your kids’ Christmas wishes.

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.

That’s pretty handy, considering how much great shopping you can get done nearby. Go here to scope out the Old Mill’s schedule of holiday events.

Even if you’re not in the mood to shop or sit on the big guy’s lap, it’s a great time to plan a dinner date at one of the Old Mill restaurants. Ask for a spot by the window so you can do some people-watching or scope out the twinkle of holiday lights on the Deschutes River.

 

Walkin’ in a winter wonderland in Downtown Bend

Another spot I love to wander during the holidays is Downtown Bend. It’s especially magical after a snowfall, but even if there’s not a speck of white stuff on the ground, it’s still a spellbinding place to meander around looking at lights and pretty shop displays.

Whether it's snowy or not, grab a cuppa something warm and stroll Downtown Bend.

Whether it’s snowy or not, grab a cuppa something warm and stroll Downtown Bend.

Be sure to grab something warm to sip before you set out for your stroll. I’m a big fan of the chai at Thump Coffee. They make it themselves, and it’s nice and spicy without being too sweet.

Bellatazza has a unique array of flavored syrups to add to your latte or steamed milk, and my personal faves are cardamom and lavender. If you’re a tea fan, the Lady Londonderry black tea at Townshend’s Tea House is blended with hints of strawberry and lemon and rumored to be the favorite of the late Lady Diana.

Now that you have your beverage in hand, get busy sipping, strolling, and shopping, with a detour through scenic Drake Park if the mood strikes you.

 

Scope out the Christmas lights

Unlike some cities, Bend doesn’t have a certain neighborhood where all the residents go crazynuts with Christmas lights. That’s actually a plus, since it gives you the excuse to explore freely and discover your own favorites (plus you’ll escape the congestion you see in places like Portland’s famous Peacock Lane).

The annual Starfest holiday light display at Eagle Crest is worth the drive from Bend.

The annual Starfest holiday light display at Eagle Crest is worth the drive from Bend.

Why not pick a part of town you don’t know well and use your Christmas light quest as an excuse to explore someplace new? Go here for a rundown of Bend neighborhoods.

If you want a sure thing and you don’t mind a bit of a drive, head northwest to Eagle Crest to check out their mile-long famous holiday light display, Starfest. Choose from a freebie self-guided tour, or check their schedule for details on touring the exhibit via horse-drawn carriage.

 

Boost your spirits with local spirits

Merrylegs Gin from Oregon Spirit.

Merrylegs Gin from Oregon Spirit.

If you fancy a splash of something special in your holiday cocoa, now’s a great time to pick up some made-in-Bend spirits. I have several personal faves this time of year. Oregon Spirit Distillers makes a terrific Blackberry Cordial that’s amazing drizzled over ice cream. I’m also quite fond of their Merrylegs Genever Gin mixed up in an orange-cranberry gin and tonic.

Hazelnut Espresso Vodka from Bendistillery.

Hazelnut Espresso Vodka from Bendistillery.

Bendistillery’s Crater Lake Spirits have a starring role in my liquor cabinet, and I always restock this time of year. You’ll never catch me without a bottle of their Pepper Vodka (perfect with pineapple juice!) or their Sweet Ginger Vodka (yummy in lemonade or cocoa!)

Bendistillery’s concoctions also make an awesome gift. My literary agent is getting a bottle of their Hazelnut Espresso Vodka that I know she’ll love mixing into milkshakes, and my sister-in-law is always tickled to see one of their sample packs in her stocking.

Er, should I not be revealing Christmas gifts in a public blog?

 

Tackle that last-minute gift buying

Still scrambling to get those stocking stuffers purchased? The aforementioned Old Mill District and Downtown Bend make great starting points for your shopping quest, or go here for a handy rundown of shopping districts in Bend.

If you’re seeking something super-unique, check out this blog post featuring five Bend gifts you didn’t know existed (and that you can find right here in the Bend Visitor Center).

 

Savor the hush of new-fallen snow

Sure, shopping and slurping are fun holiday activities, but sometimes it’s the more solitary pursuits that really fill you with the holiday spirit. I’m a big fan of a quiet snowshoe outing when fresh snow has fallen and it’s early in the morning before a lot of other people are out exploring.

Blogger Tawna snowshoeing in Shevlin Park with dog, Bindi.

Blogger Tawna snowshoeing in Shevlin Park with dog, Bindi.

Wanoga Sno-Park is my go-to spot for an outing with my pup, or I’ll head for the opposite side of the highway and snowshoe around the Dutchman Flat area sans pooch. While the Virginia Meisner Sno-Park area can get a little busy during peak hours, it’s fun to trek to one of the warming huts along the way for a romantic winter picnic.

Go here for more ideas on snowshoeing in Bend. If you’re not quite ready to go it alone, the folks at Wanderlust Tours can take you for a guided outing that includes all gear, transportation, and awesome insights about the geology and wildlife of the area.

What’s happening in Bend, Oregon for Thanksgiving 2015?

November 23rd, 2015
Who's ready for opening day at Mt. Bachelor?

Who’s ready for opening day at Mt. Bachelor?

You’re really quite smart, you know that?

No, this isn’t some newfangled inspirational blog post. It’s my way of saying you’re pretty darn clever for planning to spend Turkey Day 2015 in the land of snow-capped mountains and high desert stars.

So now that you’re here, what’s happening Thanksgiving week in Bend? Tons of fun! Here’s what’s in store for everyone who plans to be in Bend, Oregon for Thanksgiving 2015.

 

Gobble up some good grub

First things first. Let’s talk about where you want to have your main meal on November 26 this year.

For some, the thought of preparing your own feast in the kitchen of your Bend vacation rental has the homey sorta vibe you’re craving. If that’s the case, go here to scope out a variety of vacation homes and condos with ovens waiting to welcome that big, juicy bird.

If you’d rather leave the cooking to someone else, you have plenty of options to pick from. Check out this list for a roundup of restaurants ready to make your holiday meal extra special. The Thanksgiving buffet at McMenamins Old St. Francis is one of the most popular offerings in town, with mealtimes offered from noon to 6 p.m. Reservations are required, and the roundup of food will include fresh-carved turkey, fireside port cranberry relish, roasted pork loin with Edgefield cider jus, poached salmon, tortellini salad, garlic green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey gravy, along with a wide array of fresh fruit, salads, and desserts.

The cozy dining room at Greg's Grill is one of many spots in Bend where you can enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner this year.

The cozy dining room at Greg’s Grill is one of many spots in Bend where you can enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Other hotspots include 10 Below, Brasada Ranch, Black Butte Ranch, Crossings at the Riverhouse, Greg’s Grill, and oodles more. Be sure to check the list for a complete roundup of options!

Not in the mood to eat in a restaurant, but still don’t want to do the cooking? Not a problem! Catering experts Tate & Tate, The Well Traveled Fork, and Country Catering all offer holiday meals for pickup. Depending on when you read this, you may have missed the cutoff for Turkey Day, but now’s the time to plan ahead for Christmas Dinner!

 

Burn off those Turkey Day calories

Feeling guilty about that sixth helping of mashed potatoes? Never fear, Bend has a variety of Thanksgiving-themed runs and walks to help burn off those extra calories.

Run off those Turkey Day calories in the Thanksgiving Classic or one of the other fun runs happening this year.

Run off those Turkey Day calories in the Thanksgiving Classic or one of the other fun runs happening this year.

The Bend Thanksgiving Classic 10k/5k walk/run and the I Like Pie Thanksgiving day walk/run both kick off at 9 a.m. in different parts of Bend on Thanksgiving morning. The day after Thanksgiving, the Turkey Trot is taking place at 10 a.m. in Sunriver.

To learn more about each of these races, check out our Event Calendar.

 

Who’s ready to ski at Mt. Bachelor?

I know plenty of you are waxing your snowboards and tuning your skis in anticipation of Mt. Bachelor’s first day of operations. While things are always subject to change based on the whims of Mother Nature, Mt. Bachelor is currently scheduled to open Wednesday, November 25—the day before Thanksgiving.

Who's ready to carve some turns at Mt. Bachelor?

Who’s ready to carve some turns at Mt. Bachelor?

Make sure you check the online condition reports and follow Mt. Bachelor’s Facebook page for up-to-the-minute info about opening day. And oh yeah—pray for snow!

 

Shop ‘til you drop

For those who favor indoorsy pursuits over outdoorsy ones (or for those who simply love a good bargain), don’t miss the Black Friday shopping deals around town.

Bend’s Old Mill District features stores like Victoria’s Secret, Banana Republic, Bath & Body Works, Zumiez, and more. Check out their Black Friday Specials page for info on who’s opening on Thanksgiving day, as well as who’s opening at midnight, 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 5 a.m., and other more sane hours.

There are plenty of places to shop 'til you drop in Bend for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

There are plenty of places to shop ’til you drop in Bend for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

Fans of outlet shopping will want to check out the Bend Factory Stores for big bargains. Shops include spots like the Coach Factory Outlet, Nike Outlet, Eddie Bauer, Columbia Outlet, and much more.

For deals at places like Best Buy and Cost Plus World Market, head north to the Cascade Village Shopping Center. And if big-box stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s, and TJ Maxx are on your agenda, be sure to hit the Bend River Promenade in the middle of town. While you’re on the north end of town, pop into Pomegranate Home & Garden, a locally-owned shop in a historic farm house, for some really unique gifts.

To help you spread things out a bit, many shops in Downtown Bend are participating in Small Business Saturday. Check out their page for details about shops and specials, including deals at great local boutiques like Hot Box Betty, Local Joe, and newcomer Clementine Urban Mercantile.

 

Christmas already?

Before we’ve even stashed the Thanksgiving leftovers, a lot of us are gearing up for the next major holiday. If you’re ready to get a jump on Christmas, check out the Old Mill District’s Holiday Happenings page for a roundup of what’s going down. Santa will arrive via helicopter around 10 a.m. on Friday, November 27, to begin his tour of duty at Santaland. There will also be oodles of other Christmassy offerings like free carriage rides, carolers, kids’ activities, and more. Go here to see what’s in the lineup.

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.

Downtown Bend is another festive place to be, with oodles of lights and decorations adorning streets and shops. One of Bend’s most cherished holiday traditions is the annual Christmas tree lighting on November 28 (the Saturday after Thanksgiving). The live tree is located at the top of Drake Park near Mirror Pond Plaza, and guests get to sing carols and watch Santa light the tree. Festivities get underway at 6 p.m., but you’d be smart to arrive at least half an hour before that to find a spot.

 

Only in Bend

Yes, I acknowledge there are Black Friday sales and Christmas tree lightings happening in most towns around America this time of year. While I encourage you to enjoy those activities, here are a few only-in-Bend things to add to your holiday agenda:

Snowshoeing by starlight is one of those once-in-a-lifetime activities you can enjoy with Wanderlust Tours in Bend.

Snowshoeing by starlight is one of those once-in-a-lifetime activities you can enjoy with Wanderlust Tours in Bend.

  • Snowshoe with Wanderlust Tours. Let the naturalist guides at Wanderlust lead you into the wilderness to traipse through pristine fields of pillowy snow. Tours include all gear and transportation, not to mention snacks and warm drinks. They offer daytime or starlight outings, and kids are welcome, too.
  • Visit the High Desert Museum. Bend’s popular High Desert Museum offers fascinating exhibits, cool animals, and tons of opportunities to learn more about the culture and history of the high desert. Check out their website to learn more about the schedule of special events and exhibits at the museum.
  • Special programs at the Tower Theatre. Even if they weren’t having any shows at all, Bend’s historic Tower Theatre would be worth checking out just for the beauty of it. But during Thanksgiving week, you’ll have the chance to see the popular holiday film Elf on the big screen. The show starts at 7 p.m. on November 28, and you can get tickets here.

 

Celebrating Fourth of July 2015 in Bend? Here’s what you need to know!

June 25th, 2015
The annual Pet Parade is one of Bend's most popular July 4 traditions.

The annual Pet Parade is one of Bend’s most popular July 4 traditions.

Admittedly, I’m biased after living in Bend for nearly 18 years and enjoying childhood summers here through the 70s and 80s. But can I just say there’s no place on earth more magical to spend the fourth of July than Bend, Oregon?

It’s true. From old-fashioned pancake feeds and sack races, to bountiful opportunities to hike, bike, paddle, and explore the great outdoors, Bend has everything you could possibly want for an Independence Day celebration.

And lucky for you, you’ve chosen to spend your holiday here! Pat yourself on the back, then check out this roundup of what’s happening in Bend for Independence Day 2015!

 

Q: Where can I watch Fourth of July fireworks in Bend?

Which side of Pilot Butte will catch on fire this year?

Which side of Pilot Butte will catch on fire this year?

A: Each year, fireworks are launched from the top of Pilot Butte at 10 p.m. If you have any friends who live in an elevated area of northeast Bend, try to procure an invitation to their Independence Day barbecue. Bring beer.

If that’s not an option, you can see fireworks from just about any spot in town with a view of Pilot Butte. City parks are popular viewing spots, so check the Parks & Rec site to find one near you. Al Moody Park (near the base of Pilot Butte) is a locals’ favorite, but you’ll want to get there early with a blanket or chairs.

 

Q: What special events are happening for July 4?

A: Bend’s old-fashioned 4th of July celebration is like something out of a Normal Rockwell painting. Watermelon-eating contests, dunk tanks, scavenger hunts, and sack races will keep you hopping (so to speak) all day long.

Pet-Parade-Map-2015

The route for the 2015 Pet Parade.

Things kick off early with the annual Pancake Breakfast in Drake Park sponsored by the Bend Sunrise Lion’s Club. This all-American meal is served from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and proceeds support local charities.

Once you’ve stuffed your face with hotcakes and bacon, stroll into Downtown Bend for the annual Pet Parade. It’s Bend’s largest parade, with 8,000 spectators and participants, and it’s been happening since the 1930s. Starting at 10 a.m., the parade winds its way through downtown with a kooky array of humans, canines, and farm animals, many of whom will be attired in bizarre costumes. If you or your kids want to march in the parade, the lineup and decorating party takes place at 9 a.m. in the parking lot between Bond and Wall across from the Deschutes Public Library. If you just want to watch, you can park your chair pretty much anywhere in Downtown Bend. Streets will be closed starting at 9:15 a.m. and parking can be tough to find, so get there nice and early.

After the parade, head over to Drake Park for the aforementioned Old Fashioned July 4 Festival. From 11-4, enjoy games, live music, a variety of food booths, kids’ activities, and more than 130 artisan booths.

Craving a more intimate celebration? Brasada Ranch (just 16 miles northeast of Bend ) is hosting a variety of Independence Day events including a traditional county fair and old-fashioned barbecue. You can enjoy great food, live music, lawn games, and panoramic views of three (yes, THREE) firework shows across the region. Go here for pricing and event schedule.

For the fitness-minded among you, the annual Spark Your Heart 5K run/walk will kick off at 8 a.m. in Riverbend Park. Details and registration are here.

Need more ideas? Check out Visit Bend’s event calendar or previous posts on the Bend Buzz Blog for oodles of options!

 

Q: Uh-oh…Tumalo State Park is full. Where can I camp?

A: Independence Day is typically one of the busiest times of the year in Bend, and 2015 will be especially crazy with the holiday falling on a Saturday. A good starting point is Visit Bend’s complete roundup of campgrounds and RV parks. While we can’t guarantee availability on a busy holiday weekend, these might be worth trying if you strike out elsewhere:

An early, spring morning stretch at Chambers Lake near Bend, Oregon

An early, spring morning stretch at Chambers Lake near Bend, Oregon

 

Q: What about hotels?

A: Bend has tons of amazing hotels, but the odds of you scoring a last-minute room for 4th of July weekend are about the same as the odds it will snow that day.

Luckily, there are a number of neighboring towns that may (emphasis on may) have rooms available. Try Redmond (20 minutes away), Sisters (25-30 minutes away), Sunriver (25-30 minutes away), La Pine (45 minutes away), or Prineville (45 minutes away).

 

Q: Where can I play in the Deschutes River?

The Deschutes River is a spectacular spot to enjoy on a hot summer day.

The Deschutes River is a spectacular spot to enjoy on a hot summer day.

A: We have a whole web page devoted to this! Find out about canoeing, kayaking, standup paddling, and river float trips in Bend. To get the inside scoop on floating on the Deschutes River the way the locals do it, check out this blog post.

 

Q: What hikes are open?

A: This page from the Forest Service offers up-to-the-minute trail conditions and closure info. You can also refer to Visit Bend’s hiking page for ideas about where to go. Cascade Hiking Adventures is another terrific resource for hiking ideas.

Q: Are things like the High Desert Museum and Lava Lands Visitor Center open on July 4?

A: Though the High Desert Museum is closed on Independence Day, be sure to stop by on a different day during your trip. They have several brand new exhibits opening, plus a new lineup of critters that includes a raccoon, a mustang, turkey vultures, a peregrine falcon, and even a baby porcupine (called a porcupette, in case you’re wondering!)

Is there anything cuter than the new baby porcupine at the High Desert Museum?

Is there anything cuter than the new baby porcupine at the High Desert Museum?

Lava Lands Visitor Center is Open July 4. The Des Chutes Historical Museum is not only open, but offers free admission and free ice cream cups all day on July 4.

 

Q: We enjoy the Bend Buzz blog so much that we’d like to buy you a beer. What kind do you like?

A: Why thank you! I’ll take anything from around the Bend Ale Trail, but my personal faves are Hop Venom from Boneyard Brewing, Off Leash from Crux Fermentation Project, Ching Ching from Bend Brewing Company, and pretty much any sour they happen to be serving up at 10 Barrel.

What’s happening in Bend for Christmas 2014? Tons!

December 23rd, 2014

Whether you’re a frequent Bend tourist, a dreamer planning your first Bend vacation, or a resident who pops in regularly to remind yourself why it’s so awesome to be here, there’s a web page you really need to bookmark. Ready?

This is the link for the Visit Bend event calendar.

It is hands-down the most comprehensive assembly of what’s going on around Central Oregon – every holiday and Christmas happening you can think of! You can search by date or by the type of activity you’re seeking, and it’s an invaluable resource for anyone seeking fun holiday events and activities.

Don't miss Santa on the Slopes this Thursday at Mt. Bachelor.

Don’t miss Santa on the Slopes this Thursday at Mt. Bachelor.

I perused that handy resource this morning to pick out a sampling of some of the best things happening around Bend this holiday season. Here are a few highlights of things to do:

 

Make it a white Christmas

One of the best things about being in Bend for the holidays is that you’re pretty much guaranteed a white Christmas. True, it may not snow in town (though current weather predictions show a strong chance of snow on Christmas Eve, followed by low temps that would make the snow stick around for the next couple days).

But even if there’s no snow in the city, you just have to drive 20 minutes to Mt. Bachelor to find plenty of the white stuff. There, you’ll discover endless skiing, snowboarding, tubing, Nordic skiing, and sled dog rides. The big guy in red will even be there on Christmas Day for the annual Santa on the Slopes festivities, so make sure you check that out.

If snowshoeing is more your speed, get in touch with the folks at Wanderlust Tours to learn more about their daytime outings, moonlight tours, and their kid-friendly “Family Rumpus” snowshoe trips.

 

OK, but what if I don’t like snow?

An electric bike tour with Let it Ride is a great way to see the sights in Bend.

An electric bike tour with Let it Ride is a great way to see the sights in Bend.

Hey, I get it. While plenty of people flock to Bend in search of a classic winter vacation, there are others who aren’t huge fans of the white stuff.

Here’s the beauty of a winter vacation in Bend: While Mt. Bachelor gets an average of 462 inches of snow each season, the city of Bend averages only 23.8 inches. Credit the marvel of elevation gain for that one, but what it means for you is that it’s possible to appease the snow-loving and snow-hating members of your family with a single trip.

Hiking is a popular pastime all year long in Bend. My favorite wintertime hikes are Pilot Butte (offering killer views of the city) and the Oregon Badlands Wilderness for its rugged beauty and unique volcanic landscapes.

A hike up Pilot Butte should be on your list of must-do activities when you're in Bend.

A hike up Pilot Butte should be on your list of must-do activities when you’re in Bend.

Organized tours are another great way to get to know Bend. The Bend Tour Company has a variety of offerings ranging from Segway tours to guided explorations of Bend’s unique public art collection. Let it Ride Electric Bikes offers another unique way to see the city with the option to pedal or let the motor do the work.

If you’re curious about Bend’s culinary scene, try a tour with The Well Traveled Fork. They offer walking tours around town, or outings like the Farm and Ranch Tour giving you an up-close-and-personal look at farming and ranching in Central Oregon.

I mentioned before that Wanderlust Tours has great snowshoe adventures, but they’ve also got plenty of non-snowy tours offering cave exploration and a chance to check out the Bend Ale Trail or the city’s breweries, distilleries, cideries, and wineries (ask about the Bend Brew Bus or the Local Pour Tour, respectively).

Dining and shopping in the Old Mill District is a great way to spend some time in Bend.

Dining and shopping in the Old Mill District is a great way to spend some time in Bend.

 

Let’s Eat!

Bend has been lauded for its amazing food and the diversity of its culinary scene, so a winter vacation is a great time to sample from Bend’s best restaurants.

Finding holiday grub is important when you don’t feel like cooking on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Go here to find a roundup of which restaurants are open and what they’re serving for the holidays.

Many places require reservations, so make sure you call first to check on availability.

 

Shop ‘til you drop

Whether you’re scrambling for a last-minute gift, or looking to score some deals at post-holiday sales, you’ll find oodles of great shopping in Bend.

In the Old Mill District, Santa will be seeing kids at Santaland until 5 p.m. on Dec. 23, so you’ve still got time to tell the big guy what you want. Even if you miss Santa, you’ve still got time to enjoy a ride from Cowboy Carriage. Check out the Old Mill’s holiday happenings page for schedules and info.

Historic Downtown Bend is another terrific shopping district if you’re looking to score souvenirs or dine in some of Bend’s award-winning restaurants. Be sure to stroll adjacent Drake Park while you’re there, and snap a few photos of one of Bend’s scenic crown jewels.

For more ideas on shopping in Bend, go here.

 

Planning to be in Bend for Fourth of July 2014? Here’s everything you need to know!

June 25th, 2014

‘Tis the season for fireworks, parades, Fourth of July camping trips, and floods of phone calls to Visit Bend from travelers seeking information about all those things.

Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common questions we get this time of year. Since it wouldn’t be very nice if we only gave you the questions, we’ve also taken the time to provide answers. We’re helpful like that.

Q: Where can I watch Fourth of July fireworks in Bend?

Fireworks burst above Pilot Butte.

Fireworks burst above Pilot Butte.

A: Each year, fireworks are launched from the top of Pilot Butte at 10 p.m. If you have any friends who live in an elevated area of northeast Bend, try to procure an invitation to their Independence Day barbecue. Bring beer.

If that’s not an option, you can see fireworks from just about any spot in town with a view of Pilot Butte. City parks are popular viewing spots, so check the Parks & Rec site to find one near you. Get there early with a blanket or chairs, since some of the popular locales can be packed.

 

Q: What special events are happening for July 4?

A: One of the most popular Bend traditions is the annual Pancake Breakfast in Drake Park sponsored by the Bend Sunrise Lion’s Club. This all-American meal is served from 8 a.m. to noon. Cost is $4 for kids and $6 for adults, and proceeds support local charities.

The Pet Parade is a spectacle all by itself!

The Pet Parade is a spectacle all by itself!

My personal favorite event is the annual Pet Parade. It’s Bend’s largest parade, with 8,000 spectators and participants, and it’s been happening since the 1930s. Starting at 10 a.m., the parade winds its way through downtown with a kooky array of humans, canines, and farm animals, many of whom will be attired in bizarre costumes.

parademapIf you or your kids want to march in the parade, the lineup and decorating party takes place at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot between Bond and Wall across from the Deschutes Public Library. If you just want to watch, you can park your chair pretty much anywhere in Downtown Bend. Streets will be closed starting at 9 a.m. and parking can be tough to find, so get there nice and early.

After the parade, head over to Drake Park for the Old Fashioned July 4 Festival. From 11-4, enjoy games, live music, a variety of food booths, kids’ activities, and more than 130 artisan booths.

Craving a more intimate celebration? Brasada Ranch (just 16 miles northeast of Bend ) is holding an Independence Day All American BBQ. You can enjoy great food, live music, lawn games, and panoramic views of three (yes, THREE) firework shows across the region. Dinner is served from 6-8 p.m. and music goes from 7:30-10:30. Cost is $39 for adults and $23 for kids 5-10.

For the fitness-minded among you, the annual Spark Your Heart 5K run/walk will kick off at 8 a.m. in Riverbend Park. Details and registration are here.

 

Q: Uh-oh…Tumalo State Park is full. Where can I camp?

A: Independence Day is typically one of the busiest times of the year in Bend, and 2014 will be especially crazy with the holiday falling on a Friday. A good starting point is Visit Bend’s complete roundup of campgrounds and RV parks. While we can’t guarantee availability on a busy holiday weekend, these might be worth trying if you strike out elsewhere:

There are plenty of places to camp in and around Bend.

There are plenty of places to camp in and around Bend.

 

Q: Where can I play in the Deschutes River?

The view from your river float as you pass through the Old Mill District.

The view from your river float as you pass through the Old Mill District.

A: We have a whole web page devoted to this! Find out about canoeing, kayaking, standup paddling, and river float trips in Bend. To get the inside scoop on floating on the Deschutes River the way the locals do it, check out this blog post.

 

Q: What hikes are open?

A: This page from the Forest Service offers up-to-the-minute trail conditions and closure info. You can also refer to Visit Bend’s hiking page for ideas about where to go. Cascade Hiking Adventures is another terrific resource for hiking ideas.

 

Q: Are things like the High Desert Museum and Lava Lands Visitor Center open on July 4?

A: Though the High Desert Museum is closed on Independence Day, be sure to stop by on a different day during your trip. Lava Lands Visitor Center is Open July 4. The Des Chutes Historical Museum is not only open, but offers free admission all day on July 4.

 

Q: We really like the way you write the Bend Buzz Blog and would like to buy you some fireworks. What would you like?

A: Why thank you! Sparklers and smoke balls, please. I like the green ones.


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