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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.

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!

6 things you think you need to pack (but really don’t!) for your Bend vacation

July 26th, 2016

I’m currently on a family vacation in Mexico, and as you might imagine, there was a whirlwind of packing chaos in the days before the trip. Should I squish sunscreen into TSA-approved 3oz bottles, or just buy it when I get there? Do I need something fancy to wear, or will a simple sundress suffice?

While I don’t yet know the answers to those questions, I do know what you should pack for a Bend vacation. In fact, I blogged a whole packing list a couple years ago.

You definitely need sunscreen when you're out playing in the high desert sunshine, but it's better to buy it in Bend.

You definitely need sunscreen when you’re out playing in the high desert sunshine, but it’s better to buy it in Bend.

But the flip side of that is equally important. What are the things you shouldn’t bother packing? The stuff that’ll only take up space you should be saving for all those souvenirs you’ll bring back?

Here are six things that made my do-not-pack list.

 

Sunscreen

Let me be clear that I’m not saying you shouldn’t wear sunscreen. You definitely should, even in the dead of winter. Bend’s altitude and high desert climate make you extra susceptible to sunburn, so be sure to grease up whether you’re lounging by the pool or hitting the slopes at Mt. Bachelor.

But there are tons of places to load up on SPF once you arrive in Bend, so there’s no sense risking a ruptured bottle in your duffle bag or a frustratingly crammed TSA-approved baggie in your carry-on luggage.

Consider it an opportunity for you to scope out Bend’s shopping scene while supporting the local economy. Try a great locally-made product like T’s Tonics SPF 30 Sunscreen or the variety of sun care products from Angelina’s (which has a shop in Downtown Bend). Both companies’ goodies are made with all-natural, organic ingredients and will leave your skin feeling oh-so-nice.

 

Fancy-schmancy clothes

I love throwing on a cute sundress and strappy sandals for a summertime date night, but you know what? It’s not necessary. Walk into any Bend restaurant—even the fanciest ones—and I guarantee at least half the people will be wearing shorts or jeans.

Even the top restaurants in Bend are uber-casual.

Even the top restaurants in Bend are uber-casual.

All that to say that if you like to be dressy, rock on with your fancy-pants self. But if you’re wondering whether you need to cram in a pair of khakis or a little-black-dress for that dinner at 900 Wall or Zydeco or Jackalope Grill or Ariana or one of countless other amazing restaurants in Bend, the answer is “not unless you want to!”

 

Beer growler

This sounds counterintuitive, since I most definitely encourage you to fill a growler while you’re out swilling beer on the Bend Ale Trail.

Leave your growler at home and buy an extra special one when you're in Bend.

Leave your growler at home and buy an extra special one when you’re in Bend.

It’s mostly that I know how cool it is to have a souvenir growler from someplace I’ve visited and want to remember fondly. So many local breweries have super-unique growlers (Deschutes Brewery and Crux Fermentation Project spring to mind). You can also splurge on a deluxe growler from Hydro Flask or DrinkTanks to ensure your brew stays icy cold and fresh. That means you can take some home, along with your sudsy memories.

 

Snacks

I’ll admit I’m guilty of cramming my purse and carry-on with snacks when I travel. Like I honestly think there won’t be food where I’m going?!

With so many tasty eats to be had in Bend, there's no reason to pack your own snacks.

With so many tasty eats to be had in Bend, there’s no reason to pack your own snacks.

While little kids and low blood sugar certainly warrant a snack or two tucked away in a bag, don’t make the mistake of bringing so many crackers and cookies and mixed nuts from home that you neglect to get out there and sample Bend’s local cuisine.

Happy hour is an especially good time to get out there and sample little bites on a budget, so go here, and here to learn who has some of the best happy hour options in Bend.

 

Games

By all means, bring gadgets to keep the kids occupied on the road trip, or toss in a pack of playing cards to enjoy around the campfire.

But make sure you encourage the little darlings to set down the iPad and spend time looking out the window at the amazing natural beauty en route to Bend. Ditto that for the grownups in the group. There’s so much to do in Bend’s great outdoors that you won’t want to spend even a minute holed up in your hotel room playing Cards Against Humanity. I promise.

It's okay to bring games or work to tend to during your vacation, but don't forget to enjoy the scenery, too!

It’s okay to bring games or work to tend to during your vacation, but don’t forget to enjoy the scenery, too!

Work

If you clicked through on my link above about what you should bring on your Bend vacation, you’ll notice I encouraged you to bring your laptop, sketch pad, musical instrument, or camera. There’s something about Bend that fosters great creativity, and as an author who spent part of her honeymoon working on a book with a tight deadline, believe me—I’m the last person in the world to tell you not to bring work on your vacation.

But do it in moderation. If you’ve promised your boss you’ll do a little work on vacation, consider the amount you think you’ll do and cut it in half. Seriously. Don’t shortchange your Bend vacation by spending too much time keeping up on work email. It’ll still be there when you get back, but your time in Bend is precious and short. Use it wisely.

6 ways to love the planet this Earth Day (and every day!) in Bend

April 15th, 2015

Earth Day is April 22 this year, and while I’m not in the habit of throwing a black-tie cocktail party to celebrate, there are a few ways I plan to mark the occasion in 2015.

In case you’d care to join me, here are 6 great ways to celebrate the earth when you’re in Bend.

 

 

Prowl thrift stores and consignment shops

I love supporting Bend retailers selling new goods from handbags to household décor, but there’s something about thrift stores that makes my thrifty green heart feel giddy. It’s recycling at its best, and a great way to save a few bucks.

Bend has a nice abundance of thrift stores ranging from Goodwill and the Humane Society Thrift Store on the south end of town, to the Opportunity Foundation Thrift Store in northeast Bend. You can see a pretty good roundup here and find treasures in every single one.

Rescue Modern Consignment is one of dozens of Bend shops packed with fabulous secondhand goodies.

Rescue Modern Consignment is one of dozens of Bend shops packed with fabulous secondhand goodies.

If you prefer to restrict your secondhand shopping to treasures that have already been whittled down by professionals, consignment shops can come in handy.  My personal fave is Rescue Modern Consignment located in Downtown Bend just a couple blocks from the Bend Visitor Center. They have a huge array of clothing, shoes, and accessories, and clearance racks that can’t be beat.

For those who prefer used sporting goods or previously-loved home furnishings, check out the Gear Peddler or Déjà Vu Consignment Furniture. I’ll let you guess which one has the sporting goods and which features home furnishings.

If you have goodies of your own you’re looking to recycle, check with the individual stores and ask about their consignment programs.

 

 

Shop for upcycled products

Sara Bella Upcycled makes tons of great products from castoff plastic bags.

Sara Bella Upcycled makes tons of great products from castoff plastic bags.

In case you’re not familiar with the term, upcycling is the practice of taking used items or waste products and turning them into something new.

There are a number of creative Bend companies practicing upcycling, and two of my favorites are Sara Bella Upcycled and Spoke Bracelet.

Sara Bella takes plastic bags and banners and turns them into totes, zip pouches, fashion wear, and more. At last count, her products have kept more than 31,000 bags out of the landfill. You can shop online for Sara Bella products, or even have her custom make something using your own banner or bag. You can also visit her shop in the Bend’s Makers District or pick up some of her cute wallets at the Bend Visitor Center.

How about some bling made from old bike parts by Spoke-Bracelet?

How about some bling made from old bike parts by Spoke-Bracelet?

Speaking of the Bend Visitor Center, that’s also a great place to find Spoke-Bracelet jewelry for that bike fanatic in your life. As you can probably guess from the name, Spoke-Bracelet makes beautiful bracelets from used bicycle spokes. We have a terrific selection in the Visitor Center, or you can shop online or scope out the selections in a variety of Bend shops. Like Sara Bella, they also offer custom work, so get in touch if there’s a special something you’d like to have made for you.

 

 

Bid bye-by to plastic water bottles

With so many amazing reusable water bottles on the market these days, there’s really no excuse for cluttering up landfills with disposable ones.

From Hydro Flask to DrinkTanks to Cosco Cups, tons of Bend companies make reusable beverage vessels.

From Hydro Flask to DrinkTanks to Cupsco, tons of Bend companies make reusable beverage vessels.

You’ll pretty much never catch me without my trusty 21-ounce water bottle from Bend-based Hydro Flask. I’m sipping from mine while I type, and it’s still swirling with ice cubes I put in there at noon yesterday. My husband is fond of the flip-top 18-ouncer for his morning coffee, which he swears keeps it hot until late afternoon.

When you’re looking for something a little burlier to fill with Bend craft beer, cider, or kombucha, DrinkTanks makes a terrific 64-ounce growler, or you can pre-order the party-sized 128-ouncer.

And rather than using your growler or mini-keg to fill paper cups that will end up cluttering the landfill, substitute stainless steel cups that feature the Bend logo. They’re made by Cupsco and sold in the Bend Visitor Center.

 

 

 

Leave only footprints, take only photographs

Wrappers from this picnic were packed out after this hike on Black Butte. Promise.

Wrappers from this picnic were packed out after this hike on Black Butte. Promise.

It goes without saying that leaving trash behind along Bend’s hiking trails and recreation areas is a big huge no-no even when it’s not Earth Day. If you pack in those picnic fixins’, make sure you also pack out the empty containers. If Fido does his business behind a bush, use your compostable doggie doo bags to remove his malodorous calling card.

And hey, if you spot someone else’s trash along the trail, earn yourself a few good karma points by picking it up and packing it out.

 

 

 

Don’t toss it, mend it!

Once upon a time, an unraveling hemline was the signal I needed to pack up my favorite skirt and haul it off to Goodwill. No more!

Allison at Utilitu Sewing & Design can hem up those yoga pants so you don't have to toss them. (photo courtesy of Krystal Collins).

Allison at Utilitu Sewing & Design can hem up those yoga pants so you don’t have to toss them. (photo courtesy of Krystal Collins).

Since I discovered Utilitu Sewing & Design, I’ve had jeans patched, sweaters repaired, and skirt hemlines altered to a more fashionable length. Though Allison of Utilitu is committed to keeping local clients happy with speedy turnaround times, she’s also open to helping out Bend visitors as her schedule allows (particularly if you’re in town for a longer stay). Drop her a line if you bust a zipper or need a patch on your favorite pair of hiking pants.

And while this isn’t necessarily a travel-friendly suggestion, have you ever tried dyeing old garments to make them look new again? Seriously, my closet is filled with skirts, sweaters, t-shirts, and even undies that became brand new to me again with a little hot water and a packet of Rit Dye.

 

 

 

Check out Bend’s Earth Day Parade April 25

The annual parade is one of many don't miss events celebrating Earth Day in Bend.

The annual parade is one of many don’t miss events celebrating Earth Day in Bend.

In case all that environmentally-friendly shopping, sipping, hiking, and mending isn’t enough for you, don’t miss Bend’s annual Earth Day Fair and Parade in Downtown Bend. Sponsored by the Central Oregon Environmental Center, the event goes from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features live music, local food, family-friendly activities, and more.

The parade kicks off at 10:30 on Louisiana Avenue by McMenamins and proceeds through Downtown Bend. Folks wanting to participate should come dressed as your favorite species (though parade rules prohibit written words, motorized vehicles, and live pets).

Want to kick things off a little earlier in true BikeTown USA fashion? There’s a community bike ride leaving Juniper Swim & Fitness Center at 9 a.m. and cycling to the parade site. Check out details here.

The big day will also include drumming and art workshops as well as a variety of other activities. Keep an eye on the Environmental Center’s event page for more details.

Five Christmas gifts you should buy me (and, uh, everyone else you love) BONUS: Win a $50 gift card from Oregon Body & Bath!

December 18th, 2014

Admittedly, there’s a chance I’m not on your holiday gift-buying list.

It’s okay, I’m not hurt. Much.

But I do think there are a number of items on my Christmas list that would make cool gifts for all the people you love more than me. To prove I’m not bitter, here are five awesome holiday gifts you can find for your loved ones right here in Bend.

 

Hydro Flask – the best water bottle you'll ever own. Seriously.

Hydro Flask – the best water bottle you’ll ever own. Seriously.

A Hydro Flask

I probably sound like a broken record, because I know I’ve mentioned this Bend-made product on the blog before. If you’ve never had a Hydro Flask, you might be raising an eyebrow and thinking “why would I pay that much for a freakin’ water bottle?”

This is no ordinary water bottle. Through some magical form of engineering I’m convinced involves fairies, this thing will keep ice water at the right temperature for 24 hours or more. It does the same for hot beverages, according to my husband who uses one for his coffee each morning.

Since our household already has a flip-top 18-ounce one for hot drinks ($24 in the Bend Visitor Center) and the screw-top 21-ouncer I keep in my purse to help me stay hydrated ($28), I’d kinda like either the 40-ounce one for longer hikes ($36), or the 64-ounce growler for beer runs ($58). They come in tons of different colors, and I’ll go ahead and let you pick which one to give me. I like surprises.

 

A Bamboo robe from Oregon Body & Bath

The Bamboo Dreams nightie I already own, paired with the robe I really want for Christmas.

The Bamboo Dreams nightie I already own, paired with the robe I really want for Christmas.

I discovered Yala Bamboo Dreams sleepwear a few months ago when I wandered into Oregon Body & Bath on a sweltering summer afternoon. I saw a rack of simple, lovely nighties crafted from bamboo, and I read the tag that described them as breathable, temperature-regulating, moisture wicking, and antimicrobial. Sold!

What I’ve discovered in the five months since then is that Bamboo Dreams sleepwear is the softest, comfiest, most luxurious sleepwear I’ve ever owned, putting my stash of Victoria’s Secret to shame. They’re perfect for summer or winter, since they’re breathable, beautiful, and make you feel sexy to boot. How many garments do that?

Oregon Body & Bath is the only place in Bend that carries Yala Bamboo Dreams Sleepwear, so that’s where you need to go to buy my gift (not to mention some great stocking stuffers like made-in-Bend soaps and lotions). Since I already own the Cleo Gown nightie, I’d love to own one of their shorty robes. There are two styles to choose from—one with longer sleeves and a detachable tie, and one with shorter, blousier sleeves and an attached tie. I think I’m partial to the one with longer sleeves, but I’ll be delighted with either one you want to buy for me. What do you think, blue? No, maybe the deep purple. Wait, the peachy-pink is pretty, too. Or maybe the black one?

No matter, they can have any size or color at the shop within two days, so go ahead and peruse. Oh, and they offer free gift wrapping to make life easier for you. I’d like the gold ribbon on the leopard print paper, please.

BONUS: Oregon Body & Bath is giving away a $50 gift card to one lucky blog reader. Just comment on this blog post sharing what YOU hope to see in your stocking this year. We’ll draw a winner on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at noon!

 

Something sparkly and pretty

Lovely Hangr earrings made from recycled skateboards. Find 'em at Rescue Moderne Consignment.

Lovely Hangr earrings made from recycled skateboards. Find ’em at Rescue Moderne Consignment.

At the risk of perpetuating stereotypes, let me go ahead and put this out there: I am a girl, and I like sparkly things. I’m not saying I need ten-carat diamond earrings in my stocking, but a meaningful piece of jewelry is one of my favorite things to get for Christmas.

Assuming there’s someone in your life who feels the same, you’re in luck when it comes to finding awesome jewelry made right here in Bend. The Feather’s Edge in Downtown Bend carries a beautiful array of jewelry made by Bend artist McKenzie Mendel. Her necklaces, earrings, and rings are handmade with hammered sterling silver and a thin layer of high-carat gold on the surface, lending each piece a unique, mixed-metal feel. Prices range from about $65-$85, and The Feather’s Edge is the only shop in Bend where you can find it.

A few blocks away, Clutch: A Handbag Boutique is the only local shop carrying EML Sparklies made by Bend artist Erin Latham. Her super-unique creations use semi-precious stones and make awesome statement pieces for a woman looking for a one-of-a-kind bling. Prices range from $3 for adorable hair pins to $45 for necklaces and some of the more intricate earrings.

So many sparkly pretties made by McKenzie Mendel and sold at The Feather's Edge.

So many sparkly pretties made by McKenzie Mendel and sold at The Feather’s Edge.

You’ll find tons of great locally made jewelry at Rescue Moderne Consignment. My personal fave is Hangr, an array of jewelry made from recycled skateboards. As an added bonus, this is one of the best consignment shops in town, so stay awhile and browse for gently-used designer clothes and shoes.

If your tastes trend toward higher-end jewelry, hit Karen Bandy Design, John Paul Designs, or Douglas Fine Jewelry Design in Downtown Bend, or head for the Old Mill District to check out Saxons Fine Jewelers.

Speaking of the Old Mill District, you’ll encounter the Old Ironworks Art District as you head that way from Downtown. Stop and shop for a while, browsing unique jewelry from Stuarts of Bend (touted as “Bend’s least normal jewelry) and an array of other designers with pieces at The Workhouse.

Once you’re in the Old Mill District, head for Nashelle, one of Bend’s best-known creators of unique jewelry. Their designs have been featured in oodles of splashy fashion magazines, and their personalized charm necklaces make one of the most unique gifts you can give. Even better? Their Shop for a Cause program gives you a chance to support some pretty awesome charities with your purchases.

 

Experiences, not things

There’s been a trend in gift-giving in recent years prompting people to give “experiences,” rather than things. I’m a big fan of this movement, mostly because I don’t need more clutter in my house.

Blogger Tawna (center) enjoying a Segway tour from The Bend Tour Company.

Blogger Tawna (center) enjoying a Segway tour from The Bend Tour Company.

Luckily, there’s no shortage of awesome experiences to be had in Bend. Give a gift certificate for Wanderlust Tours and let your loved one choose from caving, snowshoeing, canoeing, and tons more terrific ways to explore the Central Oregon outdoors.

For several years running, my hubby has gotten me a voucher for the two of us to enjoy a cooking class together from The Well Traveled Fork. It’s a fabulous bonding experience, not to mention a great way to pick up new culinary skills and recipes. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, they also offer a variety of tours, plus their new Mountain Menu (an easy way to get fresh, locally-made food to take with you on your winter outing).

The Bend Tour Company is another terrific company offering a variety of unique tours, ranging from the Art Safari (a chance to see Bend’s art scene up close and personal) to Segway tours. If cruising around Bend on an electric bike sounds like a fun way to see the town, consider a gift certificate for Let It Ride.

To peruse a more extensive lineup of local tour offerings ranging from fly fishing to mountain biking, go here.

 

Can’t decide? Grab Old Mill Bucks or Downtown Dollars!

DowntownDollarsOldMillBucksWant to let me choose my own gift, but think cash is too impersonal? Hey, thank you! I also applaud your effort to keep the spending local by giving me Downtown Dollars or Old Mill Bucks.

Just as the names imply, those are gift cards that can be used in either Old Mill District or Downtown Bend. They spend the same as cash at restaurants and boutiques in those areas, and you can purchase them right here in the Bend Visitor Center.

I’ll take a few of each, okay?

DON’T FORGET! Comment on this post for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Oregon Body & Bath. Just share what YOU hope to see in your stocking this year. We’ll draw a winner on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at noon!

 

10 things you need to pack for your Bend vacation

October 16th, 2014

It goes without saying that your packing list for any upcoming trip to Bend should include things like clean undies and sturdy walking shoes.

Even on days it's warm enough for shorts for your hike up Pilot Butte, a jacket is a good idea in Bend.

Even on days it’s warm enough for shorts for your hike up Pilot Butte, a jacket is a good idea in Bend.

OK, depending on who you are and what you’re doing here, I suppose the undies are optional.

While I’m not going to remind you to pack your toothbrush, I am going to share 10 things you might not think to bring on your Bend vacation (and tell you why you ought to throw them in your bag).

 

A jacket

This seems obvious during Bend’s chillier months, but plenty of people think they can skip the jacket in the summer or late-fall. Not so—and not even when it’s 90-degrees in the middle of August.

Bend sits at an elevation of 3,600 feet in the mountainous high desert. That means it gets cold here at night. You need the jacket even more in fall or spring when temps can fluctuate from sub-freezing to above 80. No joke, nearly every day last week, I kicked off my workday by running the heater in my car, and ended it with the air conditioning running full blast. Layers are your friend in Bend, so don’t forget those sweaters and puffy vests.

This Otterbox waterproof case has saved my phone's butt on more than one dunk in the Deschutes River while SUPing.

This Otterbox waterproof case has saved my phone’s butt on more than one dunk in the Deschutes River while SUPing.

 

Waterproof pouch

When you journey to Bend, there’s a good chance you’ll play in or near the water. In warmer months, that might mean kayaking or standup paddleboarding on one of the high Cascade lakes. In cooler months, you might find yourself hiking along the Deschutes River or spending a day sliding around on frozen water with a pair of boards strapped to your feet (i.e. skiing at Mt. Bachelor).

Whatever form your aquatic pursuit takes, you need to protect your smartphone. As someone who suffered water mishaps with my first couple iPhones, I can attest to the value of a triple-zippered waterproof pouch that can be worn around the neck. I bought mine at Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe, and it’s saved my phone more than once. If you’re especially prone to iPhone water mishaps (er, me) I recommend double-protection with a waterproof phone case like the ones made by Otterbox or Lifeproof.

 

Pack your phone with links and apps

Speaking of your smartphone, it can be your very best friend on a trip to Bend. Bookmark the link for www.visitbend.com so you’ve got easy access to info about lodging, activities, restaurants, and events.

The Bend Ale Trail app is a handy tool to have on your phone if you plan to explore Bend's craft beer scene.

The Bend Ale Trail app is a handy tool to have on your phone if you plan to explore Bend’s craft beer scene.

If you plan to hit the Bend Ale Trail, be sure to download the free smartphone app that helps you navigate and collect passport stamps to earn prizes. Fond of Facebook? We have an active Facebook community with more than 100,000 followers and 3-4 posts daily about things to see and do in Bend.

 

Lotion and lip balm

Visitors who hail from the rainy side of Oregon seem especially surprised to discover how dry the air is in Bend. Our high desert climate can be hard on your skin if you’re not used to it, so don’t forget to toss some extra lotion and lip balm in your bag.

Forgot your lip balm? We've got a great one for sale at the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava & Oregon.

Forgot your lip balm? We’ve got a great one for sale at the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava & Oregon.

Forgot yours? We sell a pretty nice lip balm in the Bend Visitor Center, or stroll around Downtown Bend to test out lotions and potions in gift shops. Some of our local day spas offer pampering packages specially designed to soothe the effects of our dry desert air, so check out this list if you need extra pampering.

 

Gloves and a hat

Admittedly this is less important in the summer months, but in the fall, spring, or winter, make sure you’ve got a plan to keep your fingers and ears toasty. Even if you aren’t trekking out into the snow, it behooves you to stuff your coat pocket with a pair of cheap stretchy gloves and a thermal cap. That way you can stroll around Drake Park or the Old Mill District without having to cut your adventure short on a chilly day.

 

 

Measurements for that empty spot on your wall

This is one you might not think about, but consider using your Bend vacation as an excuse to outfit your home with a special souvenir.

Whether you peruse the local galleries, or opt to buy art off the wall of a coffee shop like Thump, make sure you save room in your bag for a one-of-a-kind piece masterpiece.

Whether you peruse the local galleries, or opt to buy art off the wall of a coffee shop like Thump, make sure you save room in your bag for a one-of-a-kind piece masterpiece.

My living room is adorned with art I brought back from travels around the world. There are paintings from Morocco, Belize, Jamaica, and Australia lining my walls, and shelves holding sculptures and vases from Venezuela, New Zealand, Italy, Fiji, and more. Art makes one of the best, most meaningful souvenirs you can possibly acquire, and gives you a way to remember your trip each time your eyes land on that special piece.

Bend has a booming art community, with a huge collection of art galleries and a wide array of special events ranging from First Friday Art Walk each month to Art in the High Desert every August. Get out there and find that one-of-a-kind piece that’s right for your home.

Remember to stash a day pack in your luggage!

Remember to stash a day pack in your luggage!

 

A small backpack

This is an easy one for me to forget when I’m stuffing my wheeled suitcase for a weekend trip that won’t involve camping or backpacking. But there’s a good chance you’ll plan at least one small hike or picnic while you’re in Bend, so it’s a good idea to have a small day pack you can stuff with lunch, a camera, and all those jackets and gloves I mentioned earlier.

 

Your pooch

Think you need to find a sitter for Fido when you visit Bend? Think again! Bend was named the nation’s dog-friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine, and for good reason. When you come to Bend, you’ll find tons of dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, and off-leash dog parks, not to mention oodles of great trails where Rover can run free. For all the info you need about pet travel in Bend, go here.

Did you know dogs can fly in Bend? Don't leave Rover at home when you vacation in Central Oregon!

Did you know dogs can fly in Bend? Don’t leave Rover at home when you vacation in Central Oregon!

 

Tire chains

Folks who don’t hail from snow country sometimes forget this one, but it can be vital if you’re journeying over the mountains between October and March. If your vehicle doesn’t have traction tires, get yourself a cheap set of chains at Les Schwab Tire Center. They’ll even show you how to put them on, and if you don’t end up using them, they’ll take them back.

If road reports show chains are suggested or required, don’t forget to grab a tarp or plastic garbage bag so you’ve got a waterproof barrier when you lie down on the ground to chain up. Gloves are important, too, as is a pack of wet wipes so you can scrub off the road dirt after messing with your chains.

 

Your laptop, camera, musical instrument, or sketch pad

Your creativity will soar when you're in Bend.

Your creativity will soar when you’re in Bend.

In my non-Visit Bend life, I’m a romantic comedy author whose deadline schedule isn’t always convenient. That’s how I found myself waking early each morning of my recent honeymoon to crank out scenes in a new novel while my agent demanded frequent progress updates.

I don’t mean for any of this to sound lousy, because on the contrary—it was some of the most productive, creative, inspiring writing I’ve done in a long time. Sitting on a balcony overlooking the ocean while I wrote scenes of love and longing was amazing, which is why I’d tell any creatively-minded individual to bring the tools of his or her trade on a vacation to Bend.

There’s something about being in the great outdoors that’s beautifully inspiring. Haul your sketchpad on a hike in the Three Sisters Wilderness. Tote your camera to the top of Mt. Bachelor. Strum your guitar on a bench in the Old Mill District. If you’re looking for creative inspiration, I can promise you’ll find it in Bend.

 

 

 

Stuff your stocking with a whole ‘lotta goodies made in Bend!

December 19th, 2013

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you I intend to throat-punch the next person who asks me “have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?”

Luckily, there’s a veritable arsenal of amazing holiday gifts for sale just 20 feet from my office. Even luckier for you, it’s open to the public. I’m talking about the incredible retail items available in the retail shop at the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava & Oregon in Downtown Bend.

Are you in Bend? You can stop by Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to browse the gift shop. We’re not open Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, so make sure you visit us before that.

Even better, stop by during our Shoppy Hour Block Party from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. this Friday, December 20 when we’ll be offering oodles of retail items at up to 50% off. Salud Raw Food will have treats and gift cards on hand, and neighboring businesses like Kariella and Studio DeVine will be serving wine and offering killer discounts you won’t want to miss.

And if you can’t visit in person, no worries. You’ll find plenty of this stuff in our online gift shop (though keep in mind, you’re too late to have it shipped in time for Christmas).

Now that we have that out of the way, check out these awesome products you’ll want to snap up as gifts for your friends, family, dog walker, and bikini waxer.

 

Best of Bend Stocking Stuffers

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  1. Bend Local Roast by fundroast: $15
  2. Bend Ale Trail Koozie: $3.50
  3. Bend Logo Silishot: $4.95
  4. Bend Logo Bike Bell: $15
  5. Bend Ale Trail Wood Handle Opener: $10
  6. Via Delia Bottle Opener: $8
  7. Bend Logo Dog Tag/Zipper Pull/Keychain: $3.50
  8. ScoutWallet Elk Lake/Hosmer LakeWallet: $20
  9. TrailRags Deschutes River Trail Bandana Map: $12

 

 

Bend gifts to pamper your mind, body, and soul

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  1. Volcano Vineyards Bend Blend Red: $13
  2. 21 ounce Bend Logo Hydro Flask: $28
  3. Coco’s Haven Gift Pack – lavender, lemongrass and vanilla body oils and either a chocolate or vanilla kiss lip balm: $15
  4. Bend Soap Company Mt. Bachelor Pine Soap: $5
  5. Via Delia Pocket Mirror: $6.50
  6. Bend Logo Vance Family Soy Candle: $9
  7. “Bathe with a Dirty Girl” Beer Soap by LeCol’s Soap Bar:  $5
  8. Douglas Fine Jewelry Bend Logo Sterling Silver Pendant: $60
  9. Bend Logo Lip Balm Tin: $4
  10. Spoke-Bracelet: $35
  11. Bend BlackStrap Sunglasses: $12.99
  12. Dawg Grog Ladies T-shirt: $22

 

Game night goodies (buy all of it for a special package price!)

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Includes:

  1. Two Cupsco Bend Logo Stainless Steel Cups ($20 value)
  2. Your Choice of any 22 ounce beer or cider in stock ($3.85 to $5.99 value)
  3. Bend Ale Trail Metal Bottle Opener ($5 value)
  4. One Deck of Bend Playing Cards by Aaron Trotter ($20 value)

Offered at $35 – over 25% off!

 

 

The “I miss Bend!” package 

local-gifts-blog-8-1numbers copy

  1. Bend Ale Trail Hydro Flask Growler: $55
  2. 2013 Old Mill District Limited Edition Silipints: $10 each or $38 for a set of 4
  3. Bend Logo “Bike TownUSA,” “Bend Ale Trail,” or “Oregon” Trucker Hat: $20
  4. PaulLeightonTumaloFalls Poster: $10
  5. I Love Bend, OR Sticker: $2.50
  6. Ruff Life, Bend, Oregon Sticker: $3
  7. Via Delia Bend Logo Keychain: $6.50

 

 

Seven worthy splurges when you vacation in Bend

August 29th, 2013

Though I live in what’s arguably one of the best vacation spots in the country, I do sometimes venture beyond the Bend city limits.

As I was planning a road trip for late September, it occurred to me I’m spending a lot of time pondering how to make wise use of my money. I fret over which activities are worth a splurge, and which I’d be better off skipping.

You'll never catch me without this in my purse.

You’ll never catch me without this in my purse.

How will I know?

I can’t say for sure when it comes to my vacation spot, but I can give you the inside scoop on my hometown. Here are seven things I think are well worth the splurge when you vacation in Bend.

 

The best water bottle you’ll ever buy—seriously!

For years, friends gushed to me about Bend-made Hydro Flask water bottles. For years, I rolled my eyes and said, “how can a @#$% water bottle be worth $28?” Now that I pack one with me every day, I get it. I can toss in a handful of ice cubes and some water in the morning, and I’ll still have ice water by 10 p.m. Friends who use it for hot beverages report the same thing.

The bottle doesn’t sweat or leak, so I can pack it all day long without gunking up everything in my purse or backpack. The Hydro Flask is double-wall insulated, BPA free, and stainless steel. I’m partial to the 24-ouncer we sell at the Bend Visitor Center for $28, but you can get a smaller 18-ounce size for $25, a 40-ouncer for $36, or a 64-ounce growler for $55. Worth every penny, and the ones we sell here have a cool Bend logo that make it an excellent souvenir.

 

Make memories with music

There's nothing like a concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.

There’s nothing like a concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.

Whether you’re chilling in the grass beside the river at the Les Schwab Amphitheater or catching a show at the historic Tower Theatre, Bend is a great spot to see a concert. It’s an experience you’ll not only enjoy in the moment, but will savor when it’s a memory (as in, “Hey, Honey, remember that time we danced barefoot in the grass while drinking Mirror Pond at the Counting Crows show?”)

Bend gets some incredible musical acts rivaling those in much larger cities. The lineup for the next month at Les Schwab includes MGMT (August 31), Los Lobos & Los Lonely Boys (September 7), and Steve Martin (yes, THAT Steve Martin—October 4). You can buy tickets here. At the Tower, catch Robert Earl Keen (October 1), Suzy Bogguss (October 6), or The Manhattan Transfer (October 29). Tickets are on sale here.

 

See Bend from above

Ever seen Central Oregon from the basket of a hot air balloon?

Ever seen Central Oregon from the basket of a hot air balloon?

There are plenty of ways to tour Bend on foot, by bike, or in a car, but for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, why not get an aerial view? Several companies offer tours and discovery flights departing the Bend airport by helicopter or small plane, including Professional Air and Leading Edge Aviation. There are even options that allow you to co-pilot the plane with help from an instructor. For a super-unique experience, head to the Redmond airport for a tour with Big Sky Balloon Company. They offer scenic balloon flights in a hand-painted balloon. For a list of all the tour operators and options, check out our Aerial Tours page on the Visit Bend website.

 

Nab a great growler

The coolest growler you'll ever fill.

The coolest growler you’ll ever fill.

A recently-passed Bend city law dictates there must be a growler fill station on every block. I might be exaggerating a little, but trust me when I say you’ll want a growler of your own for toting fresh craft beer here or back home. You can pick up a cheap one for $3-$10 at most breweries and growler fill stations, but for one that’s a true work of art and a cool souvenir, check out the one they sell at Deschutes Brewery.

This two-liter vessel sports an artsy metal handle referred to as “the drunken man” and a ceramic top with a rubber seal that keeps beer fresh for up to two-and-a-half weeks. You can order online for $30, but it’s much more fun to grab it when you visit the brewery and fill it up with something cold and delicious. If you crave variety in your beer, don’t worry about taking it to breweries besides Deschutes. I’ve dragged my Deschutes growler into almost every brewery along the Bend Ale Trail, and no one bats an eyelash about filling it with their own brew.

Explore the outdoors with a pro

The Volcano Tour is one of many outings you can enjoy with a naturalist guide from Wanderlust Tours.

The Volcano Tour is one of many outings you can enjoy with a naturalist guide from Wanderlust Tours.

This is always a tough one for me when I travel—do I hike or rent a canoe or explore the caves on my own, or am I better off paying someone to take me? For visitors to Bend, my answer is hands-down book an outing with Wanderlust Tours. Seriously, folks, this will be some of the best money you’ll spend during your Bend vacation. Yes, you can explore the outdoors on your own, and plenty of people do it. But it’s infinitely more rewarding to leave the driving, gear-hauling, navigating, and decision-making to someone who knows exactly how to give you the best outdoor experience possible.

Wanderlust’s naturalist guides are experts in explaining geology and landscape and wildlife and history and flora and fauna and a million other details you’d never get on your own. Their trips range from cave tours ($50 for kids, $55 for grownups) to moonlight canoe trips ($65 a person) to winter outings like snowshoeing ($65 a person). Gear and transportation are included, along with snacks on a lot of those trips. Totally worth it.

 

Indulge your foodie nature

Give your taste buds a treat with one of the Guest Chef dinners at Pronghorn.

Give your taste buds a treat with one of the Guest Chef dinners at Pronghorn.

I blogged previously about places to celebrate special occasions in Bend, and since you can read that post here, I won’t bother reiterating all my favorite splurge-worthy restaurants. For a super-unique dining experience that goes beyond dinner at a great restaurant, consider booking a seat at one of Pronghorn’s Guest Chef Series wine dinners. Each month, Pronghorn brings in a renowned chef to prepare a multi-course meal that showcases the unique talents and regional specialties of that chef. The food is exquisite, the wine pairings delightful, and the setting is gorgeous. For $100 a person, it’s a worthy splurge for foodie travelers.

Depending on the season, you’ll also find similar wine paring dinners at Tetherow and 900 Wall, so check with those restaurants for schedules and information.

For another twist on a memorable dining experience, consider booking a cooking class with The Well Traveled Fork. Upcoming topics range from Wood-Fired Cuisine to Italian Date Night. Prices vary, depending on the class you pick, but generally run anywhere from $50-100 a person. It’s a particularly fun experience for couples, and my better half and I still love fixing some of the dishes we learned to make in the Valentine-themed class we took last year.

 

Get teed off

Beautiful Tetherow golf course!

Beautiful Tetherow golf course!

I’m not a golfer, but considering how many people flock to Bend with their clubs in the trunk, I know this is a popular splurge for area visitors. I asked several of the golfers in our office to name the one course they’d pick for a vacation splurge. “Tetherow is the only links style course in Central Oregon,” explained our Operations Director, Valerie Warren. “The course was designed by award-winning architect David McLay Kidd, who also designed the original, world-famous Bandon Dunes course.”She’s not the only one to think this is a great choice for visiting golfers. Golf magazine named Tetherow the “#1 best new course you can play in the country,” and Golf Digest ranks it among the top 40 U.S. public courses. For non-golfers or those looking for a little post-game snack, the happy hour at Tetherow is outstanding, and their wine list is unbeatable. For prices and tee times, go here.

Six Bend-centric ways you can celebrate my birthday (or, uh…any special occasion on the horizon)

July 26th, 2013
Commemorate a special occasion by having dinner at 7,775 feet at Mt. Bachelor's Pine Marten Lodge.

Commemorate a special occasion by having dinner at 7,775 feet at Mt. Bachelor’s Pine Marten Lodge.

You’ve all been planning for months, right? I mean, the biggest day of the year happens in just a few weeks, so clearly you’re looking for the perfect way to celebrate?

*crickets*

OK, fine. It’s possible the world does not revolve around me and my impending 39th birthday. But since I know my Bend-centric birthday wishes might be shared by others with a fondness for this fair city, allow me to share my list of six cool gifts and experiences your loved one might enjoy for your next special occasion in Bend.

 

Feed me!

You know that cliché about the way to someone’s heart being through the stomach? Totally true. And while I love scouting Bend for cheap lunches and happy hour cocktail deals, I’ll admit I like commemorating special occasions with a dining experience that’s above-and-beyond.

Tasty scallops at Ariana Restaurant.

Tasty scallops at Ariana Restaurant.

One of my favorite splurgy dinner spots is Ariana Restaurant. When an editor for Travel & Leisure magazine visited several months ago and asked me to name two Bend restaurants he should sample, this was one I suggested. The atmosphere is romantically cozy, and the menu is centered around Northwest cuisine and unique twists on classic dishes. I love grabbing a seat on the sunny patio near their herb garden and sipping a glass of wine from their expansive list.

The second restaurant I recommended to the aforementioned editor is Trattoria Sbandati. You can go here to read my full write-up on this magnificent little Italian restaurant, or just trust me when I say the food here is one of those things you’ll remember for years after you’ve lovingly polished off the last forkful of Tagliatelle al Gorgonzola.

If you’re looking for a special dining experience that goes beyond incredible food, consider an evening drive to Mt. Bachelor followed by chairlift ride to their Pine Marten Lodge. You can watch the sun set over the Cascade mountains while enjoying a gourmet meal and a glass of wine. Then take a moonlight chairlift down the mountain while snuggled under a blanket with your loved one. Reservations are mandatory and available Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 5-8 p.m. July 5 through September 1.

For another scenic dinner option right in Bend, make a reservation at Zydeco. Besides amazing food, they have a romantic rooftop patio offering the most incredible sunset views you can imagine. Seating up there is extremely limited, and while you can make your dining reservation way in advance, you need to call back around 3 p.m. the day of your meal to make sure weather will permit rooftop dining. The restaurant is open seven days a week, but rooftop dining is only available Wednesday through Sunday.

 

Take me dancing

Bend is awash in amazing live music this time of year, so it’s easy to commemorate a special occasion with a little toe-tapping. On Thursday evenings through August 15, check out the free Munch & Music concert series in Drake Park. Shows kick off at 5:30 p.m. and are packed with great food, killer scenery, and fun activities for kids.

Good times with the Steve Miller Band at the Les Schwab Amphitheater earlier this summer.

Good times with the Steve Miller Band at the Les Schwab Amphitheater earlier this summer.

On Wednesdays in the Old Mill District, catch the Alive After Five free music series from 5-8:30 p.m. through August 7.  Shows take place on the grass near the shops, which makes it a great opportunity to grab dinner or drinks at one of the fabulous Old Mill District restaurants.

If your special occasion falls on a Sunday, plan an afternoon picnic around the Free Summer Sundays concert series at Les Schwab Amphitheater. This is another family-friendly event that kicks off at 2:30 each Sunday through August 4. Bring a cooler packed with treats and a bottle of wine. Then kick back on your picnic blanket or kick up your heels with the other folks groovin’ near the front of the stage.

If you’re willing to shell out a few bucks for your musical experience, check out the Les Schwab Amphitheater’s lineup of ticketed concerts. Upcoming shows include Michael Franti & Spearhead, MGMT, Los Lobos/Los Lonely Boys, and Steve Martin + Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell.

 

Make me see stars

Every year, the universe holds a meteor shower in honor of my birthday, spanning the period between August 9-14.

Starlight canoeing on the high lakes with Wanderlust tours.

Starlight canoeing on the high lakes with Wanderlust tours.

Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have a birthday meteor shower, Bend is still an awesome place for stargazing.

Wanderlust Tours offers wonderful moonlight canoeing, starlight canoeing, and a fabulous moonshine canoe & beer tour. The tours are available late-June through mid-October, and your $65 fee includes transportation, gear, guides, dessert, a hot drink, and all the breathtaking views you can handle.

If you’re up for a bit of a drive, the Pine Mountain Observatory is located 26 miles southeast of Bend. It’s operated by the University of Oregon physics department, and offers telescopes with apertures of 15, 24, and 32-inches. The facility is open to visitors Friday and Saturday evenings from late May late September. Be sure to go on a clear night, and get there early to snag a seat for the program. Keep in mind the facility is at 6,500 feet, so bring a hat and gloves.

 

Let’s get arty

Paint your own one-of-a-kind pottery at Earth Fire in Downtown Bend.

Paint your own one-of-a-kind pottery at Earth Fire Art in Downtown Bend.

There’s something about art that makes it an extra-special gift or travel souvenir. Bend has oodles of amazing art galleries scattered throughout historic Downtown, the Old Mill District, and beyond. Go here for a great reference guide.

If you’re lucky enough to visit August 23-25, you can catch the incredible Art in the High Desert event on the banks of the Deschutes River in the Old Mill District. It was ranked by as one of the top 15 art shows in the nation, and for good reason. You’ll find tons of amazing paintings, photography, pottery, metal art, and much more. Bring your credit card, and prepare to find a souvenir you’ll treasure for years to come.

Feeling sentimental and a bit creative? Visit Earth Fire Art in Downtown Bend and paint a ceramic masterpiece of your own. Pick out a piece of pottery ranging from mugs to vases to salad bowls, then get to work creating your own unique design.

 

Gorgeous Oregon Sunstone at Douglas Fine Jewelry Design.

Gorgeous Oregon Sunstone at Douglas Fine Jewelry Design.

Woo me with Oregon Sunstone

If bling is your thing, why not go for something that commemorates your Bend visit in a special way? Douglas Fine Jewelry Design offers tons of unique pieces made with a variety of materials, but their specialty is Oregon Sunstone. This Oregon state gem ranges from green to champagne to shimmering coppery “schiller” stones, and it makes gorgeous and unique jewelry. Peruse their selection of rings, pendants, earrings, and more, or have them create a custom piece just for you. If you just want a quickie souvenir, the Bend Visitor Center sells a small selection of their sunstone studs and Bend-logo earrings and charms.

 

Let’s be cheap and easy

It’s not necessary to drain your wallet to commemorate a special occasion, and there are plenty of ways to celebrate in Bend without spending a fortune. One of the best birthday meals I’ve ever had was prepared by my gentleman friend two years ago. He sliced up juicy chunks of sausage with hunks of red pepper and onion, mixed in a little Dijon, folded it into tinfoil bundles, and stuck them in our campfire. Go here to find a Bend campground where you can enjoy your own inexpensive and romantic meal under the stars.

Enjoying a scenic (and free!) hike up Black Butte.

Enjoying a scenic (and free!) hike up Black Butte.

My favorite summer treat is an afternoon spent floating the Deschutes River on an air mattress. Bring your own from home, or rent deluxe float tubes from Sun Country Tours or get your river tube rentals from Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe. Then go here for all the details on where to put in and how to float safely.

Another great option is a summer hike on one of the scenic trails surrounding the Bend area. Pick from lakes, rivers, mountains, caves, lava fields, forests, and more. For ideas on hiking around Bend, check out the Visit Bend hiking page or this awesome site from Cascade Hiking Adventures offering hiking suggestions for the area.

 

 

 

The top five made-in-Bend goodies you simply MUST have!

January 11th, 2013

Every time I blink, another Bend entrepreneur is making a splash with some wildly popular new product.      DawgGrogRaw copy

Take Dawg Grog, for instance. It’s a non-alcoholic beer for dogs invented by Boneyard Beer employee Daniel Keaton. This past week, a routine local news story about the product went viral, prompting everyone from CNN to Conan O’Brian to crow about this hot new doggie brew.

My dog, Bindi, has been a Dawg Grog fan from day one, which got me thinking about other made-in-Bend items with a special place in my heart. Allow me to introduce you to my top five favorite products made right here in beautiful Bend, Oregon.

The Silipint and its hot new lid

I discovered the beauty of the squishy Silipint silicone pint glass more than two ago when I earned one as a prize for completing the Bend Ale Trail.

SilipintSince then, I’ve acquired half-a-dozen, and you’ll rarely find me without a Silipint within arm’s reach. My cats knock them off my desk constantly, and instead of cleaning up broken glass, I just laugh as the Silipint bounces across the floor.

For two years, I filled my Silipints with ice water and the occasional craft beer. Then Silipint introduced a lid. For just $2.50 a pop, I get an instant travel mug. Voila! Now I journey to work every day with hot tea in my Silipint, making it the only beverage container I could ever need.

I should note here that several of my co-workers swear by the Hydro Flask as the Bend-made beverage receptacle of choice. Though I have yet to try one myself, I hear they’re fabulous for keeping cold things cold, and hot things hot.

Both Silipints and Hydro Flasks are available in many sizes and colors at the Bend Visitor Center, so stop by today and stock up.headband2

 

The Headwater Collar from Ruffwear

My dog tRuffWearCollarakes full of every outdoor activity Bend has to offer. From swimming to snowshoeing to hiking to rolling in giant mud puddles, Bindi does it all.

And until last summer, she smelled like it.

But that all changed when Bend-based Ruffwear began making the Headwater collar. This waterproof, stinkproof collar is perfect for dogs that frequent the water or live in wet climates. The coated webbing is flexible, but non-absorbent—solving the wet, stinky collar problem! It’s even got a cute reflective pattern that provides visibility in low-light conditions.

Best of all, Bindi looks stylin’. It’s kinda like my silk headband. For the record, neither of us stinks.

Nashelle Jewelry

Bend-made Nashelle jewelry has been featured everywhere from People  magazine to InStyle, and worn by stars ranging from Kourtney Kardashian to Chelsea Handler. There’s a reason for that—the jewelry is freakin’ awesome!

necklaces

The ladies of Visit Bend rockin’ necklaces from Nashelle Jewelry

Nashelle creations have long been available online and in their Bend showroom, but I just learned yesterday there’s a Nashelle retail shop opening in Bend’s Old Mill District later this month. What a great opportunity for everyone to stock up on this fabulous jewelry.

Just save some for me, OK?

Angelina Skincare

When I told two Visit Bend colleagues I was writing about my favorite made-in-Bend items, they nodded knowingly.

Toner“Which Angelina products are you featuring?”

I had to confess that despite every local woman I know gushing about Angelina Skincare products for years, I hadn’t tried any.

My boss shook her head in disgust. “Tomorrow’s Friday. You need to book one of their free Friday facials so you can learn what all the fuss is about.”

The fact that I’m commanded to get facials is one of 2,896 things I love about my job, but I digress.

And I also agree that Angelina’s organic skincare products live up to the hype. I was instantly smitten with the Lavender and Aloe Facial Toner as a natural, gentle alternative to the harsh facial astringent I’ve used since puberty. I also zeroed in on the Skin Doctor Hand Cream after I watched four different strangers file through the shop and purchase it with the declaration that it’s the best hand cream they’ve ever tried.

I’d heard rumors that Angelina’s products had been included in celebrity gift bags at the Academy Awards, and Angelina herself confirmed that to be true. The most popular item among celebrities was the Radience Serum, which repairs damaged skin, fades age spots, and even soothes sunburn.Kama

But perhaps my favorite item of all was the Kama Body Incense. This sensuous powder perfume is scented with exotic Indian lotus petals, sandalwood, frankincense, and other top-secret ingredients Angelina wouldn’t reveal even after I threatened to throw myself on the floor and cry. Regardless of what’s in it, this gorgeous fragrance caused everyone around me to swoon for the rest of the day.

I really need to apologize to the postman for that.

So that’s it for my roundup of my top five favorite made-in-Bend goodies. Please share yours!

 

 

 


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