Visit Bend Blog

Category: Winter Fun

It’s time to go sledding in Bend, Oregon

March 1st, 2018

A series of storms moving through Bend recently left behind a glorious abundance of powdery white stuff, and there’s more on the way.

What better way to celebrate than by grabbing your saucer sled and rediscovering your inner child on a snowy slope?

Sledding in Drake Park is a quintessential Bend experience.

Here’s how to make the most of your sledding adventure when you’re in Bend.

 

Pack your sled, pick a hill

While plenty of Bend retailers and sporting goods stores sell sleds of all kinds, they get tougher to find late in the season or after a big snowstorm. If you already have one in your garage, make room for it in the car before your drive to Bend.

There are plenty of fabulous public parks in Bend with hills that are ideal for snowy swooping. When the snow piles up in town, any sloped surface at one of Bend Parks and Recreation’s more than 70 parks can be fair game for sledding.

Bend’s crown jewel, Drake Park, spans 13 acres with several easy slopes that transform into popular sledding hills when the white stuff is plentiful. Hollinshead Park also has several nice sledding spots dotted around its 16.5 acre space. In the northeast part of town, try Al Moody Park, which also boasts some awesome playground equipment in case the kiddies need a change of scenery.

If snow isn’t blanketing the ground in town, drive 20 minutes up Century Drive to Wanoga Sno-Park. Besides its snowmobile area and fabulous dog-friendly trails for snowshoeing and Nordic skiing, Wanoga offers an expansive sledding area with a huge warming hut (complete with woodstove and picnic tables) at the base. Don’t forget to buy a sno-park permit, which you can grab at the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava and Oregon in Downtown Bend.

 

Skip the sled and make it easy

Looking for a sledding experience that doesn’t require you to have your own sled? Check out Mt. Bachelor’s Snowblast Tubing Park. Located between the Mountain Gateway building and the bottom of Red Chair, the tubing park is an 800-foot ride complete with lanes, rollers, and surface lifts that pull you and your tube up the hill quickly and comfortably.

Hoodoo’s Autobahn sledding hill is open for business!

Prices vary depending on the date range, your age, and whether you’re looking for a full day or just a couple hours, but expect to pay anywhere from $20-45 (not too shabby, considering the price includes your tube and as many rides as you can handle without having to hoof it to the top lugging a heavy sled). They’re open Friday through Sunday, plus holidays and winter or spring break.

Another great option for leave-the-hassle-to-someone-else sledding is the Autobahn Tubing Park at Hoodoo Ski Area. After Hoodoo got more than 30 inches of fresh snow in the last week, they’re reopening the park this Saturday, March 3, 2018. Groomers expect to have 6-8 lanes open for tubing Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tubes are provided free with an Autobahn ticket, and no other tubes are allowed in the park. For more information, visit the Autobahn page.

 

Be a responsible sledder

A well-made, vintage sled like this one will reduce your risk of busted sleds (and unnecessary garbage in the landfill).

When you were little, responsible sledding meant wearing your hat and gloves (and maybe a helmet if you had one of those moms).

While warmth and safety are important, so is tending to Bend’s beautiful outdoor spaces. If you’re up at Wanoga Sno-Park and your saucer sled busts in two, please, please do not try to stuff it in the overflowing dumpster in the parking lot. It’s littering, plain and simple. The sled graveyard up there is an expensive endeavor for the Forest Service to deal with, so please follow Leave No Trace practices by packing out your own garbage.

Better yet, purchase a sturdy, well-made sled meant to last for generations (old school Radio Flyer, anyone?) Then you won’t have to worry about burdening Bend’s landfills.

For more tips on preserving Bend’s culture, community, and landscape, check out the tips on our Visit Like a Local page.

 

 

Bend vs. beach: 10 reasons to do spring break in Central Oregon

February 22nd, 2018

Scheduling your family’s spring break plans can be a daunting task, and families in the Pacific Northwest often waffle between east versus west. In other words, mountains or coast?

Ice skating can be part of your family’s spring break in Bend.

Here are 10 reasons you should pick Bend for spring break 2018.

 

The whole fan-damily can ski or board at Mt. Bachelor.

Escape the rain

Growing up in Oregon, I had one pair of grandparents on the Oregon Coast and one pair in Central Oregon. I loved visiting them all, but I’ll admit that most of my beach memories are clouded with rain. Clear, sun-kissed days were a rarity on the coast, but they’re standard fare in Bend. My Central Oregon childhood memories are shades of sunshine & snow, or sunshine & desert heat. That can be a blessed relief this time of year if you hail from an area where rain is a springtime staple.

 

Kids ski free at Mt. Bachelor

Anyone with kiddos knows it’s tough to find fun, inexpensive entertainment for the whole family. That’s why Mt. Bachelor’s longstanding Kids Ski Free program is a lifesaver for families. With no blackout dates, it’s a great way to save cash while exposing the whole fam to endless caches of fresh powder. Read up on the rules and plan ahead for spring break fun.

 

No sand in your shoes

Have you ever found yourself still vacuuming sand out of your backseat a month after you visited the coast? There are lots of great things about snow in Bend, but one of the best is that it melts instead of turning your floor mats into sanding blocks.

Bend is a foodie paradise!

Foodie paradise

Bend gets written up a lot for having a killer culinary scene, which is unusual for a landlocked city of 91,000. But with oodles of award winning chefs calling Bend home (not to mention specialty options ranging from gluten-free to vegan dining) your palate will be pleased if your spring break plans bring you to this high desert culinary oasis.

 

No need to make tough choices

To ski or to golf? To snowshoe or to mountain bike? These are difficult decisions to be sure, but you’re not forced to make them in Bend. Marmot recently touted Bend as one of seven places in America that have mastered the art of three sports in one day, so pack your snowboard and your trail running shoes. There’s a good chance you’ll need both.

 

A sled dog ride probably won’t happen for you at the beach, but it could happen in Bend!

Sled dog rides on the beach?

Yeah, that’s not a thing. But if a once-in-a-lifetime sled dog adventure is on your bucket list, you can make it happen in Bend.

 

Sunrises look better with snow-capped peaks

When it comes to snapping sunrises and sunsets, nothing beats Bend’s bounty of rugged eye candy. The glittering Cascade Mountains are the perfect backdrop for family photos and duck-face selfies, so get ready to bust out the good camera. For ideas on where to snag quintessential Bend images ranging from waterfalls to mountains, check out this post.

Sunsets and sunrises are always better with mountains in them.


 

Want a break from the outdoors?

If you’ve had your fill of wallowing in snowy fields, there’s plenty of fun indoorsy stuff to do in Bend. Hit the High Desert Museum and soak up tons of natural history and cool critters. Visit the Mountain Air Trampoline Park to get the wiggles out. Enjoy arcade games, bumper cars, and a family game of bowling at Sun Mountain Fun Center. Solve a mystery together with the clock ticking at Bend Escape Room. For more ideas, check out this post.

The best of après ski

From an umbrella bar with a removable roof at Mt. Bachelor to the post-ski bashes held at Crow’s Feet Commons, Bend’s après ski scene is on point. There’s even an entire Bend Ale Trail for you to tackle. Which brings me to my final point…

Apres ski at Crow’s Feet Commons.

 

The Bend Ale Trail

There’s a reason Bend’s craft beer scene is has been written about in publications ranging from the Washington Post to USA Today. Yes, we make great beer, but do you know why? One reason is the abundance of pure water, courtesy of Central Oregon snowmelt. Check out this awesome video from Wanderlust Tours to learn more.

Pack the 10 essentials for your Bend winter adventure

January 25th, 2018

Avid outdoor adventurers know the phrase “ten essentials.” Some even have a list tattooed on their foreheads.

But for more casual explorers, a few reminders can be helpful. Yes, we know we should pack that mini-flashlight for our ski picnic, but where the @#$% did we put the darn thing?

Your phone is a handy tool, but make sure you have something else to rely on for navigation and illumination.

Find it. And find all the rest of the stuff on this list before you set out, since even a short snowshoe outing can turn dangerous if you’re not prepared.

We covered summertime essentials in this blog post, but here’s what you need to gather before setting out for your winter adventures in Bend.

Navigation

There’s nothing wrong with an old school compass, and in fact, it has advantages over using your phone (which is more prone to battery depletion in cold temps). A paper map or guidebook is smart, too. If you’re determined to rely on your phone, make sure to pack a battery backup or portable charger.

Sun protection

I know this sounds weird in the winter months, but Bend boasts bountiful sunshine even in subzero temps. Not only that, but Bend’s high altitude (along with the albedo effect of spending prolonged time on a bright white surface like snow) can lead to a nasty sunburn. Even if it’s chilly or overcast, pack sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and a good pair of sunglasses in case conditions change.

Be sure you’re well-layered before heading into the wilderness this time of year.

Insulation

Layers, layers, layers. That’s the name of the game in Central Oregon’s rapidly changing conditions. This time of year, wool and some well-made water-resistant layers are crucial. Stuff an extra pair of socks and gloves in your pack in case yours get wet.

Illumination

Know what I’ve seen over and over again in articles about winter explorers needing rescue? They counted on cell phones as flashlights. Not a good gamble, especially if you’re sapping the battery for directions or Instagram selfies. Carrying a small headlamp can make a return trip in the dark hands-free (allowing you to use that compass and map you’re toting). If a headlamp isn’t your thing, you can buy a small, powerful flashlight for next to nothing these days. Do it, and make sure your batteries are good before setting out.

First aid supplies

You never know when injuries can strike, so nab a small, packable first aid kit. You’ll find some great options at outdoor equipment retailers like REI. In the wintertime, it’s helpful to have one that has a space blanket in it, too in case you need extra protection from the cold and wind.

Fire

Ever been stuck at a campsite with a lighter that won’t work? It’s a lot worse when it’s snowing sideways. Pack smart and include waterproof matches and a lighter. You also need some firestarter, which doesn’t mean filling your backpack with kindling. Some folks swear by dipping cotton balls in wax to make cheap and easy firestarters, or stuff an empty toilet paper roll with dryer lint as an alternative to newspaper. Fire can be a lifesaver in cold conditions, so don’t shortchange yourself on this one.

Make sure you’re carrying tools to repair all your winter recreation gear before setting out on an adventure.

Repair kit/tools

No, you don’t need a chainsaw on your Nordic skiing adventure. But you do need a good multipurpose tool like a Leatherman or pocketknife. Also think ahead to any sports-specific repair items you might need for your gear.

Nutrition

The rule of thumb is to carry at least 200 calories per person for every hour you will be out. High-carb energy bars like Bend-based Picky Bars are perfect! Steer clear of the sort of energy bars that turn into teeth-breaking ice bricks in cold conditions.

Hydration

Here’s where a well-insulated beverage container like Hydro Flask is essential to keep hot liquids warm and cold ones from freezing. Pack at least 1 liter of water per person for short outings and 2.5 liters for longer ones. Keep in mind that if you run out, you’ll need to melt snow for water (which is why that firestarter thing is so critical).

Packing a tent may not be practical if you’re setting out for a half-mile snowshoe, but it’s wise to have some form of shelter if there’s a chance your day trip could become an overnighter.

Emergency shelter

This one’s tougher in wintertime, since you’re a lot more likely to freeze to death if you’re not prepared. A couple garbage bags might suffice in warmer months to insulate you from the ground, but they’re not so effective on frozen ground. An insulating pad is a must-have if there’s a chance you’ll be sitting or sleeping on snow. A space blanket (maybe the one in your first-aid kit?) or a bright plastic tarp is also a must, and keep in mind that you’ll need a shovel to dig a snow cave. If there’s even a remote chance that could happen, buy a small, packable one. Better safe than sorry!

P.S. While this isn’t technically one of the 10 essentials, make sure you have a good, sturdy pack to carry all your stuff. Trudging through snow is tough enough, but doing it with an ill-fitting or broken backpack can seriously wreck your day (not to mention your back).

5 reasons less snow makes this a great winter to visit Bend

January 18th, 2018

Scenes from last year’s snowpocalypse in Bend.

This morning we woke to the news that Mt. Bachelor had six inches of new powder overnight, and it’s still snowing. Storms will keep blowing through the Pacific Northwest over the next week, bringing much-needed snow to Oregon’s ski areas.

Okay, so all that aside, it’s tough to miss the fact that winter of 2017-2018 has turned out much drier than anyone expected. After the crazy, snow-filled season Bend had last year, it’s been a shock for many of us. But even for a ski town like Bend, there are lots of upsides to having a lighter-than-normal snow year. Here are five of them.

 

Getting here got a whole lot easier

Last winter’s snowpocalypse was responsible for crushing a lot of Bend visitors’ vacation dreams. Flights were canceled and snow-packed roads forced many families to think twice about making the drive to Bend.

That hasn’t been an issue this year.

We couldn’t find parking last year, but had lots of spots to chill our beer.

The mountain passes have been blissfully clear, making for easy drives to Bend. Flights have been more reliable, too, with fewer weather-related delays and cancellations.

 

Where did all these parking spots come from?

When you get massive dumps of snow in short periods of time, you run out of places to put it. That’s what happened last year, and as the season progressed, we ran out of spots to stash those massive mounds of white stuff. Parking lots got smaller, and parking spaces shrank as curbside pileups grew.

This year it’s a whole lot easier to find a spot for your car in the Old Mill District and Downtown Bend. Ditto that for sidewalks and walkways, which haven’t required shopkeepers to work double overtime shoveling huge piles of powder. That means it’s easier than ever to access your favorite Bend restaurant or retail shop.

 

So much to do on dry land!

Bend has long been touted as one of those multi-sport destinations where you can ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon. Marmot recently included Bend in their roundup of 7 places in America that have mastered the art of 3 sports in one day, and that’s been especially true this winter.

A mountain bike outing with Cog Wild is a great way to get some non-snowy recreation this time of year.

Mountain bike trails are blessedly snow-free (though if you encounter muddy trails, please don’t ride on them or you’ll wreck them for future users). There’s been great riding at Matson and Horse Ridge lately, and you can always check https://bendtrails.org/ for great info on trail conditions.

This time of year, there are countless areas to hike and climb without slipping on ice or snow. Heck, I’ve seen people out surfing in the Bend Whitewater Park (brrr!)

But for those folks journeying to Bend for skiing and snowboarding, you’ll find plenty more to do. Which leads me to my next point…

 

The slopes are still fab at Mt. Bachelor

Thanks to Mt. Bachelor’s higher elevation, the mountain has seen a lot more snow this year than its lower-elevation competitors. That makes all the difference in the world when it comes to lean snow years like this one.

Bluebird skies are common at Mt. Bachelor in less stormy seasons.

That said, there’s no question Mt. Bachelor has seen less snow this season than they did last year. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Storm-free skies bring an abundance of clear, bluebird days for skiing and boarding. The decrease in storms also means Mt. Bachelor can run the Summit lift more often, carrying winter enthusiasts all the way to the 9,000-foot peak of the mountain. That didn’t happen as often last year.

Another upside of having more dry, sunny days is that groomers can get out across more runs. The result? A veritable paradise for those who like to cruise the corduroy.

A low-snow year is a great time to try ice skating in Bend!

Oh, and since more Bend residents are opting to stay home and wait for powder days, visitors have the run of Mt. Bachelor’s slopes lately. There’s ample parking, and lift lines have been nice and short.

 

So much more to a winter vacation

Whether you’re a skier or not, you’ve gotta love how many other winter activities abound in Bend. With milder temperatures this year and fewer cancellations due to deep snow, you have access to Bend’s full range of winter fun.

Go ice skating at The Pavilion. Try a snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours. Book a sled dog ride with Oregon Trail of Dreams.

Once you’ve had your fill of chilly activities, take advantage of clear skies and mild temps by walking between breweries on the Bend Ale Trail (no snowshoes required!) or strolling the grounds at the High Desert Museum without fretting about how many layers you’ll need to wear to get a glimpse of the otters.

The possibilities are endless, and it’s a great season for enjoying the best winter has to offer in Bend.

 

6 reasons winter’s great in Bend (even if you don’t ski!)

November 9th, 2017

It happens every autumn. I’ll post to Visit Bend’s Facebook page about snow falling in Bend, or an accumulation of inches at Mt. Bachelor and folks will respond one of two ways:

Wooooohooooo!!! Awesome!

Or, alternately:

Ugh. I’m not ready for winter.

Here’s where I confess I sometimes fall in the second camp. I love Bend summers, and since I’m not a skier, I occasionally find I’m less-than-thrilled about winter’s arrival.

The fire pits at Worthy Brewing are a popular spot to get toasty by a fire.

But then I take a step back and remind myself of all the awesome reasons that Bend winters ROCK—even for non-skiers. Here are six of them.

 

Find fun ways to stay warm

We’re accustomed to chilly weather in Bend, so we have oodles of creative ways to get warm.

If snuggling by a fireplace is your idea of fun, you’ll find dozens of fire pits scattered all over town, including an awesome collection of them around the Old Mill District. At Crux Fermentation Project, you can cozy up by the fire and enjoy a belly-warming pint and a Grilled Cheesy sandwich. Check out this blog post for more ideas on where to find fire pits around Bend.

If soaking your bones sounds like a good way to beat the chill, McMenamins Old St. Francis School boasts a beautiful tile soaking pool surrounded by shimmering turquoise tile, luminous stained glass, breathtaking murals, and an open-air ceiling that lets you check out the night sky. You’ll also find that plenty of Bend hotels and vacation homes have on-site hot tubs.

A little of this in your coffee will warm your belly for sure.

To warm yourself from the inside out, pick up some spiced rum from Oregon Spirit Distillers to mix with hot cider, or try blending Bendistillery’s Hazelnut Espresso Vodka with some warm cocoa and a dollop of whipped cream.

For more clever ways to stay warm in Bend, check out this blog post.

 

Get great deals on lodging and activities

For budget-conscious travelers, Bend’s chillier months are the best time to score a screamin’ deal on Bend lodging. Shoulder season in particular (October through early-December, and January through April) is when you’ll find Bend hotels and vacation homes at rock bottom prices.

And don’t forget to check our Deals and Discounts page for special packages that can include things like extra nights or free lift tickets.

 

Rediscover the thrill of snow days

Remember when you were a kid and you spent winter evenings glued to the TV, watching for news that school was cancelled the next day? Few things were more thrilling than a snow day, and you can recapture that magic in Bend.

Making a snowman — or a snow woman — is a fun way to make the most of winter in Bend.

Grab your toboggan and hit the sledding hill. Gather the family for a snowball fight at one of Bend’s nearby Sno-Parks. Get creative by building snowmen together or flopping on your back to make a snow angel.

Take a twirl around the ice at The Pavillion, Central Oregon’s only full NHL-sized ice sheet. It’s fully-covered and protected on the sides by translucent panels to reduce wind and sun exposure while maintaining an open air feel

After your cold-weather playtime, reward yourself with a hot cup of cocoa (or a grownup alternative like coffee from one of Bend’s awesome coffeehouses or tea shops).

 

Adrenaline rush optional

I’ve heard more than one ski skeptic explain an aversion to winter recreation as disinterest in daredevilry. But there are tons of winter sports that require no adrenaline rush at all.

If skiing holds some appeal but you’d like to keep things mellow, check out the Nordic trails near Bend for a slower-paced version of skiing. Try your hand at snowshoeing, which is really just hiking with tennis racquets strapped to your feet (er, more or less).

Visit the Snowblast Tubing Park at Mt. Bachelor to enjoy the fun of sledding without the need to lug your tube back up the hill. Bachelor also offers sled dog rides through Oregon Trail of Dreams.

 

Have someone hold your hand

If snowshoeing piques your interest but you’re nervous about traipsing out into the wilderness alone, a guided outing is a great option.

Book a snowshoe adventure with Wanderlust Tours and leave the gear, the planning, the driving, and the decision-making to someone else. Best of all, their naturalist guides will give you some awesome insights about our forests, the creatures in them, local history, and more.

Enjoy a Bonfire on the Snow experience (or a number of other snowshoeing adventures) with Wanderlust Tours.

Not so sure about snow? Wanderlust also does cave tours all year long!

 

But if you do want to learn to ski or snowboard…

If “I’m not a skier” is your perpetual reason for digging your heels in about a winter vacation, how about changing that?

Mt. Bachelor’s Ski or Ride in 5℠ is an award-winning lesson program designed for those “never-evers” who have not had previous experiences trying to learn to ski or snowboard.

It’s a five-lesson program with instruction by one of Mt. Bachelor’s hand-picked instructors based on their communication skills and overall success rate of coaching beginners. Included with each lesson is a ski or snowboard rental and daily lift ticket.

It’s a great—and surprisingly inexpensive—way to find out if you might be a skier or boarder after all.

 

6 things to get your hands on as winter comes to Bend

October 19th, 2017

There’s snow in the mountains, frost on the grass, and predictions of a harsh winter slated to hit Bend for the 2017-2018 season.

Good gloves and shoes are a must-have for any winter vacation in Bend.

In other words, it’s time to put away the kayak and start preparing for snowball fights, bluebird ski days, and slippery sidewalks. Here are 6 things you should start rounding up right now.

 

A good pair of gloves

Make that ten pairs of gloves, if you’re like me and have the tendency to misplace a pair or two. Or six.

Even if you’re not scatterbrained, it’s a good idea to have multiple pairs of gloves for other reasons. Days filled with snowshoeing, sledding, and snowball battles require thick, waterproof gloves or mittens that can protect your hands from the elements.

But when you’re just walking from your car to a restaurant or strolling Downtown Bend or the Old Mill District for a bit of shopping, it’s handier to have a thinner pair of driving gloves. Bonus points for the kind with the specially-designed fingertips that allow you to use a touchscreen phone (which makes for handy picture-taking in chilly conditions).

And I’ll be honest—I keep a stash of cheap, stretchy Dollar Store gloves in my purse at all times for unexpected glove-mergencies or to loan to pals or offspring who forget theirs.

 

A vessel to keep your beverages warm

I have three million Silipint cups and matching beverage lids, and this is how I drink my on-the-go tea about ninety percent of the time. They’re inexpensive, unbreakable, and keep my beverages at just the right temperature.

Keep your hot drinks hot (even in freezing temps!) with a reusable Hydro Flask.

But when I need a hot drink at a kids’ soccer game, snowshoe adventure, or other outing that requires prolonged exposure to cold temps (not to mention leak-proof carrying) I turn to my Hydro Flask insulated mug. This bad boy keeps my hot drinks so hot that I’ve occasionally burned my tongue when sipping too fast.

But they’re perfect for cold winter conditions when you really need your drink to stay toasty. We sell them in a wide variety of sizes and colors at the Bend Visitor Center.

 

Your Mt. Bachelor pass

Want to save money on your Mt. Bachelor lift tickets or lessons? Plan ahead and buy in advance.

Their website is chock full of pre-sale info, package deals, and other info you’d never know about if you just showed up at the ticket window and plunked down your credit card.

Now is an especially good idea to scope out the schedule and discover dates for specific promotions that can help you save money.

Save a bundle on Bachelor lift tickets by scouring their website for advanced deals.

You’ll also find a number of bargains on Visit Bend’s “Hot Deals” page, which frequently features package deals that include lodging and lift tickets. Cheapskates unite!

 

Rubber-soled footwear

There is a time and a place for super-cute stilettos with shiny red soles. That time and that place are not Bend, Oregon in the winter.

No matter how diligent Bend retailers and City of Bend personnel are about keeping roads plowed and sidewalks de-iced, there will always be slick patches of ground lurking in the shade to yank your legs right out from under you.

Be smart with your footwear when you’re visiting Bend in the wintertime and invest in a good pair of rubber-soled flats or boots. Can’t find any in your hometown? No problem! You’ll discover lots of great Bend shopping options, and a new pair of winter boots would make a great Bend souvenir.

Don’t let a dead phone battery keep you from getting that perfect shot. Have a plan in place for recharging on the go!

And if you really want to be cautious, grab a set of Yak Trax to give you extra traction on super-icy days.

 

Extra phone charging capability

Raise your hand if you deplete your phone’s battery about fifty times faster when you’re on vacation.

I’m raising mine, which makes it tough to type.

It’s not tough, however, to get your hands on an inexpensive, portable phone charger you can tuck in a purse or backpack during your Bend travels. That’s a great way to ensure you don’t run out of juice right when you want to snap a photo of Tumalo Falls or catch some video of your sweetie swooshing down the slopes at Mt. Bachelor.

For tips on where to shoot some of the quintessential Bend images everyone likes to snag, check out this post.

 

Advance reservations for…well, everything

Plenty of Bend winter days fall into the category of “shoulder season,” which is a slower time of year when you can score some killer deals on lodging and activities.

Want to try a snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours during your Bend vacation? Plan ahead and make reservations so you’re not left out in the cold.

But there are lots of random dates you might not realize can fill up crazy-super-fast during Bend’s chillier seasons. Regions that have year-round school have holiday breaks at unusual times, which means Bend might see a sudden surge in visitors during odd weeks in November or February.

And it goes without saying the days surrounding Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years can book up months (or even years) in advance.

If you’re planning a winter vacation, it pays to make early reservations for things like Bend lodging, guided tours, and even restaurants. That way you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your Bend vacation without scrambling for any of the essentials.

10 things you may be thinking as snow arrives at Mt. Bachelor

September 21st, 2017

Snow fans who keep watch over the Mt. Bachelor webcams rejoiced this week as snow began falling for the first time this season.

For those feeling less thrilled about the return of the white stuff, don’t worry—the current weather forecast shows a string of days in the 70s and 80s next week, so you still have time to fit in a few more days of hiking, biking, paddling, and picnicking outdoors.

Mt. Bachelor posted this image to their Facebook page on Wednesday as snow began to pile up at the resort.

But for those who get giddy at the thought of a winter vacation, here are 10 things that might be going through your head right now.

#1: “I wonder if I should make reservations…”

Yep, you should. Popular winter travel dates can fill up crazystupidfast, so if you want first dibs on the best Bend hotels and vacation rentals, book now.

#2: “I love good food. I wonder who makes the best burgers/wings/sushi/vegan food in Bend?”

You’re in luck! We recently rounded up nearly seven years’ worth of our “best of” drinking and dining posts, and you’ll find them all right here.

Scenes from one of our more popular culinary blog posts featuring Bend’s best bacon.

#3: “How much duct tape is too much on my ski jacket?”

If you have to ask, it’s time for a new one. Lucky for you, lots of Bend retailers are having killer sales right now, so hop out there and do some Bend shopping to restock all your winter gear.

#4: “Where is that @#$% ice scraper?”

I’m right there with ya in needing to dig through my car to ensure I have what I need for winter driving. Now’s a great time to stock up on antifreeze, locate your tire chains, and maybe sign up for a class to help prepare you for driving in icy conditions.

#5: “Do dogs wear shoes?”

Hey, it’s a legit question, especially when it comes to protecting Rover’s paws from the cold. Bend-based Ruffwear makes a wide variety of boots created just for dogs. You’ll find those, along with other awesome options at locally-owned Bend Pet Express. They carry one of my favorite products, Musher’s Secret, which is a dense, barrier wax that forms a breathable bond with your dog’s paws. Bend Pet Express also sells Ultra Paws Durable Dog boots, which are a little less expensive than the Ruffwear ones and meant more for the everyday walker.

Now’s a great time to score killer pre-season deals on passes at Mt. Bachelor.

#6: “I wonder if Mt. Bachelor has any pre-season deals on passes?”

They sure do! Check out their website for all the latest and greatest sales, but now is definitely the time to buy if you want to save some cash and plan ahead for what’s shaping up to be a killer season for snow sports.

#7: “Crap. Have I missed my last opportunity to try standup paddleboarding or go for that hike?

Don’t worry! Like I mentioned earlier, we’ll have several days next week warming into the low 80s, so you’ll be able to squeeze in a few more days of sunny fun. But beyond that, here’s the cool thing about Bend—while Mt. Bachelor sees an average snowfall of 462 inches, the city of Bend averages less than 24. That means that even in the dead of winter, it’s totally possible to ski powder all morning, then drive 20 minutes down the hill to spend your afternoon golfing, hiking on dry trails, or mountain biking 277 miles of sweeping singletrack.

One of the stunning snowflake images captured by Lookie Loo Portraits.

#8: “Do snowflakes really look like those things I used to cut out of paper in third grade?”

Kinda. We can all thank Lookie Loo Portraits of Bend, Oregon for snagging some of our absolute favorite snowflake close-ups last season, and you can see from the pics that they’re pretty unique. And to address the other thing you’re wondering about whether it’s true no two snowflakes are alike, that’s also true. While it isn’t possible to compare every snowflake that’s ever fallen, the fact that each flake is made up of 10 quintillion water molecules growing at different rates and in different patterns in different temperatures means it’s highly unlikely that any two are identical. There’s your deep thought for the day.

#9: “All right, so I’m seriously considering a Bend winter vacation this year. I wonder what else there is to do there?”

Oh, man. What can’t you do in Bend? The area offers everything from arts and culture to the legendary Bend Ale Trail. You can try a cave adventure with Wanderlust Tours, or try the tallest commercial bungee jump in North America. The possibilities are endless, so start browsing at www.visitbend.com to see what piques your interest. You can also check our Event Calendar to see what’s happening around town on the dates you’d like to visit.

Get ready for a crazy-fun winter in Bend!

#10: “I’d sure like to help Tawna out by shoveling her driveway this winter.”

Why thank you! That’s so very kind. Shall I post a signup sheet on this blog, or would you like to just drop by with your shovel after our first big storm of the season? Let me know and I’ll have the cocoa ready for you.

4 things to do before winter ends in Bend

March 23rd, 2017

This past Monday was the first day of spring.

My fellow Bend residents and I gave a hearty chuckle and went back to scraping frost off our windshields.

It’s true that spring weather takes a bit longer to arrive in Bend than it does in other parts of the state, but it’s also true that winter won’t last forever.

Here are 4 things you should do before the winter of 2017 gives up the ghost.

 

Play like a kid in the snow

Those of us who spend half the year surrounded by the white stuff can get a little grumpy when snow keeps falling into April or even May.

It’s time to squeeze in that last little bit of sledding before winter ends.

But we’re the same dang people who will be dancing in the street next October, shrieking like schoolkids as we try to catch the first winter snowflakes on our tongues.

As we gear up for our summer snow hiatus, now’s the time for one last moment of reveling in it like a teenager whose chemistry final got canceled by a snow day. Plan a sledding adventure for your whole family, or head up to Mt. Bachelor to enjoy their Snowblast Tubing Park.

Drive out to one of the SnoParks and flop down on your back to make a snow angel, or gather your best buds for a snowball fight. You can even build a snowman, complete with a jaunty winter cap and carrot nose.

Now cap the whole thing off with a mug of cocoa around your favorite fire pit. Congratulations! You’ve officially checked winter off your 2017 bucket list.

Take advantage of Mt. Bachelor’s Springtacular deal

You may not know this, but Mt. Bachelor is home to one of the longest spring ski and snowboard seasons in the world. The season runs all the way through Memorial Day Weekend, and savvy travelers and locals know how to make the most of it.

Mt. Bachelor’s Springtacular pass is your ticket to more bluebird days on the slopes.

Last week, Mt. Bachelor announced its annual Springtacular Season Pass, which is your ticket to riding up to 56 days in April and May. At $199 for adults and less for kids and seniors, it’s a screamin’ deal that pays for itself after your third visit.

The lowest price on the Springtacular Pass is only available through Sunday, April 2. Prices go up starting Monday, April 3 (which is the first day the pass becomes valid to use) so hurry up and snatch one now to make the most of the best spring skiing around.

 

Sip those seasonal beers on the Bend Ale Tail

There are certain beers that just taste better when the weather is chilly.

Time is running out to sip some of winter’s best seasonal beers in the setting they’re made for.

There are also certain beers that are only available seasonally, either on draft at your favorite Bend Ale Trail stop, or in cans and bottles.

Right now, your days are numbered for sipping a frothy pint of Luck of the Eastside (an ultra-rich, creamy stout) next to a fire pit at Worthy Brewing.

You’re also running out of time to enjoy Red Chair NWIPA from Deschutes Brewery, either in seasonally-offered bottles, or on nitro at the pub.

Other beers—like [Banished] Tough Love Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout from Crux Fermentation Project—are available year-round, but they just don’t taste the same on a hot summer day as they do when you’re swilling it in the hot tub at your Bend vacation rental while snowflakes flutter around you.

 

Go snowshoeing with Wanderlust Tours

One of my favorite perks of working for Visit Bend is that I’ve had the pleasure of sampling every possible adventure offered by Wanderlust Tours.

Your days are numbered for enjoying the magical experience of Wanderlust’s Bonfire on the Snow tour.

And while I love outings like the year-round Cave Tours, or the warm-weather Canoe and Kayak Tours, there’s something extra magical about their Bonfire on the Snow snowshoe outing.

Participants snowshoe to a magical amphitheater carved into the snow, and sample locally-made goodies next to a bonfire under the stars. The whole thing includes all your gear, transportation, and the services of a super-knowledgeable naturalist snowshoe guide.

As you might imagine, that one isn’t offered in mid-July, so now’s the time to book if you don’t want to wait until next year!

8 ways to enjoy bluebird days in Bend this weekend (plus your chance to win a night at Wall Street Suites and $100 for Jackalope Grill!)

February 9th, 2017

It’s no secret we’ve seen some severe weather in the Pacific Northwest this winter. Conditions have run the gamut from ice storms in Portland to flooding in southwest Washington to massive dumps of snow in Central Oregon.

Ready for bluebird skies at Mt. Bachelor this weekend?

It’s the latter that has snow-enthusiasts rejoicing about the winter of 2017, and they’re celebrating even harder as this weekend approaches. February 11 and 12 are predicted to be “bluebird days,” which is a fancy term for the holy trinity of clear blue skies, bright sun, and fresh snow.

Thinking about a last-minute getaway to Bend to enjoy this winter weather phenomenon? Here are 8 ways to spend a bluebird day in Bend.

 

Hit the slopes

If you’re a skiing or snowboarding enthusiast, Mt. Bachelor is already on your agenda. Conditions this season have been epic, with more than 360” of snowfall already, and plenty more to come. Their new Cloudchaser quad lift has added 635 lift-serviced acres to Mt. Bachelor’s existing terrain (not to mention reducing lift lines that were already pretty short).

Snowshoeing is one of dozens of ways to play in the snow in Bend.

Oh, and did you know kids 12 and under ski free with advance purchase of an adult lift ticket for three or more days?

 

Okay, but what if I’m not a skier?

There’s plenty to do at Mt. Bachelor even if you’re not a fan of strapping boards to your feet.

Hit the Snowblast Tubing Park, or schedule a sled dog ride. You can even check out Bachelor’s groomed Nordic trails for a chance to glide on fresh snow under pristine blue skies.

If snowshoeing is your scene, book a guided outing with Wanderlust Tours and leave the driving, gear, snacks, and decision-making to their skilled naturalist guides.

 

Walk the Bend Ale Trail

It’s easy to cruise the Bend Ale Trail responsibly if you book a tour with the Bend Brew Bus and let them shuttle you between your hotel and a handful of breweries.

Fact: Beer tastes better when it’s sunny.

But when skies are clear and weather is mild, why not walk a portion of the legendary beer trail? More than half of the 15 breweries on the trail are within walking distance of each other, and it’s a great way to burn off a few of those beer calories while enjoying a leisurely stroll through Downtown Bend.

 

Recapture the thrill of a snow day

There’s something about the combination of blue skies and fresh snow that brings out the kid in a lot of us. Seize the moment by scheduling a snowball fight or making snow angels in fresh powder.

How long has it been since you made a snow angel?

You can also recapture your youth by taking a twirl on the ice rink at The Pavilion or heading up to one of the Sno-Park to build a snowman.

The possibilities are endless, and I have it on good authority that giggling cures wrinkles.

 

Go for a hike

Clear skies make for perfect hiking conditions, and there are several hikes you can plan this time of year with no snowshoes required.

Stroll along the Deschutes River Trail with the added bonus of giving yourself easy access to post-hike snacks at one of several restaurants in the Old Mill District.

The contrast of bright blue skies and craggy, ancient juniper is stunning in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness this time of year.

Late-winter is my very favorite time of year to visit the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. The craggy volcanic rocks and ancient junipers look stunning against a backdrop of blue sky, and with nearly 30,000 acres to explore, odds are good you’ll have a trail to yourself.

 

Hit the High Desert Museum

I adore the High Desert Museum for all its cool natural history and critters, but I’ll admit I’m a wimp about exploring the outdoor exhibits when the weather is nasty.

But blue skies are a great excuse to wander their expansive grounds checking out the birds of prey and the recently remodeled otter exhibit.

Check their online schedule to make sure you don’t miss any cool presentations or animal demos.

 

Save time for stargazing

Another upside of clear skies is the chance to check out the winter stars in all their twinkly glory. We’ll see a full moon on February 10, which means the whole weekend will be primo time for a moonlight snowshoe adventure.

Get up close and personal with the stars this weekend in Bend.

As a bonus, this month’s full moon (known as the full snow moon) isn’t the only thing you’ll see when you look up at the sky. This weekend’s skies will also bring us a comet and a lunar eclipse, and being in Bend pretty much guarantees you a great viewing platform to take it all in.

 

Hang out under the stars by a fire pit at Wall Street Suites

Few things are as magical on a clear winter evening as cozying up beside a fire pit after a good meal and gazing up at the stars.

What’s that? You don’t have a fire pit handy? Well Wall Street Suites does. They also have some of the coolest luxury suites in Bend, and a fab Downtown setting that makes it easy to walk to the best shops and restaurants. Restaurants like . . . oh, I don’t know . . . Jackalope Grill?

Wanna win a package that includes a one-night stay at Wall Street Suites and $100 to spend at Wall Street Suites?

Leave a comment below and tell me your favorite thing to do on a bluebird day in Bend. Don’t worry if you’ve never been—you can just share which idea above sounds most appealing to you.

We’ll draw a winner at 4 p.m. on Friday, February 10. Good luck!

Baby, it’s cold outside! Here are 8 ways to warm up in Bend.

February 2nd, 2017

It’s a mite bit chilly in Bend right now. That’s not a bad thing, mind you. It’s kinda tough to go skiing and snowshoeing when it’s 80-degrees and sunny.

But after a long day of ice skating and making snow angels, you need to spend time warming up. Here are 8 of my favorite ways to get toasty in Bend.

 

A little of this in your coffee or cocoa will warm your belly for sure.

Grab an adult beverage

I said “get toasty,” not “get toasted,” so moderation is key when it comes to imbibing in Bend.

But it’s true the city’s abundance of distilled spirits makes for some darn fine belly warmers this time of year. One of my personal faves is a shot of Bendistillery’s Crater Lake Pepper Vodka mixed with something tropical like pineapple, passionfruit, or mango juice. The peppery kick will warm you from the inside out, while the tropical flair will make you feel like you’re on a warm sandy beach.

If it’s a hot beverage you’re craving, there’s plenty to pick from. The spiced rum from Oregon Spirit Distillers is scrumptious in a mug of hot apple cider, or try blending Bendistillery’s Hazelnut Espresso Vodka with some warm cocoa and a dollop of whipped cream.

If beer is more your scene, a hearty stout or porter is just the ticket this time of year. The Tough Love Russian imperial stout from Crux Fermentation Project is particularly outstanding, or go for the classic Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery.

Bottoms up!

 

Or try a non-boozy belly warmer

Alcohol isn’t a requirement when you’re aiming to warm yourself from the inside out. Plenty of spots in Bend offer non-boozy belly warmers that are perfect for kids, teetotalers, or anyone else who’s laying off the sauce.

A cozy coffee shop like Thump is a great place to ward off the winter chill.

 

Bend has oodles of terrific coffee shops, which also double as great spots to cozy up and get warm in the steamy, coffee-scented air. I’m a big fan of the intimate vibe found at both Thump and Lone Pine, but you’ll find a full roundup of Bend coffee shops here. Pick one that looks like your special scene!

Tea drinkers will be happy to hear that both the aforementioned Thump and Lone Pine sell Metolius Artisan Tea, which is my absolute favorite. If you spot some, make sure you grab a jar of their Signature Blend made with lavender, blueberries, bachelor’s buttons, Madagascar vanilla bean, chocolate pieces, and three kinds of black tea. So good!

For the kiddos in your life, you’ll find hot cocoa at nearly every coffee shop on the list above. You can also grab Bubble Tea (either warm or cold) at Townshend’s Tea in Downtown Bend.

 

Try some hot yoga

Whether you can execute a perfect Bakasana in your sleep, or you’re only dimly aware that yoga isn’t something you top with granola for breakfast, you’ve probably at least heard of hot yoga.

Bikram Yoga of Bend is one place to warm your bones (and other parts!)

It’s the practice of executing yoga poses in a high-temperature environment (typically 105-degrees) and it’s one way to boost your body temp on a cold winter day.

You’ll find drop-in hot yoga classes at Bikram Yoga Bend, Steve’s Hot Yoga, and Juniper Yoga, all of which offer slightly different pricing and approaches to the practice. Check out their websites and find the spot that looks like your ideal spot to get sweaty.

 

Find a fire pit

If you want to get warm but you’re not ready to head indoors just yet, you’ll find plenty of outdoor fire pits that make the perfect place to toast your toes.

The fire pits at Worthy Brewing are a popular spot to get toasty by a fire.

The abundance of wood-burning pits on the patio outside O’Kanes at McMenamins Old St. Francis make it a popular wintertime hangout for those craving a brew and a pile of hot Cajun tater tots. You’ll also find a cool gas-powered fire feature just outside Jackson’s Corner Eastside, which makes it a great place to nibble a breakfast sandwich.

You’ll find quite a few large fire pits scattered throughout the Old Mill District, with plenty of room to snuggle up and mingle with locals and fellow travelers from all over the world.

For more ideas on where to find fire pits around Bend, check out this blog post.

 

Soak your bones

Plenty of Bend hotels and vacation homes have on-site hot tubs, but there’s another option for visitors staying someplace without one.

The saltwater soaking pool at McMenamins is a great place to soak your bones after a long day of play.

McMenamins Old St. Francis School boasts a beautiful tile soaking pool surrounded by shimmering turquoise tile, luminous stained glass, breathtaking murals, and an open-air ceiling that lets you check out the night sky. It’s filled with soft, buoyant saltwater, which makes for an environmentally friendly soak.

While guests staying at McMenamins have easy access to it, it’s also open to the public for your soaking pleasure. Check the website for fees and hours of operation.

 

Grab some comfort food

Warm yourself from the inside out with a big, heaping bowl full of whatever makes your tummy smile.

If mac and cheese is your comfort food of choice, Blacksmith has a terrific trio featuring a small portion of each of their three varieties (smoked cheddar, bacon, and truffle mac and cheese).

The drool-worthy shrimp and grits at Drake make great comfort food this time of year.

You’ll find tummy-pleasing soups at most Bend restaurants, but my personal fave is the Phở (pronounced “phuh”) at Phở Việt & Café. It’s a hot beef-noodle soup that’s a staple of Vietnamese cuisine and culture, and it’s oh-so-good on a cold winter’s day.

If you’re up at Mt. Bachelor, I have it on good authority that the Nacho Mountain in the Clearing Rock Bar will change your life (or at least improve your day significantly).

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my all-time favorite comfort food in Bend, the Grilled Cheesy at Crux Fermentation Project. It features asiago-cheese crusted panini with mixed ricotta, pepper jack, and white cheddar with diced bacon and spicy pickles on Italian country spent grain bread from DiLusso Bakery. Pair it with a beer sampler tray and prepare for one of the best meals of your life.

For more ideas on comfort food in Bend, check out this post.

 

Do a good deed

Ever notice how doing a good deed makes you feel warm all over?

Visit Bend’s Visit Like a Local page is chock full of ideas that’ll warm more than just your heart. From voluntourism opportunities, to ideas for leaving the hiking trail a little nicer than you found it, you’ll see oodles of tips that will leave you feeling good all over.

 

Watch this video

Can’t make it to Bend right this moment? You can experience that blend of tingly chill and toasty warmth by watching this short video titled, “Warmth.”

 


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