I have been to Bend, Oregon twice now over the last few years and both times I immediately felt like I was at home. Everything about Bend speaks to my soul and the outdoor lover and ‘hipster’ in me. It feels like Portland to me, but smaller and more authentic. It doesn’t have to try hard to be an amazing place, it just is. Here are 7 reasons to visit Bend, Oregon and why I think it is one of the best places in the Pacific Northwest!
#1. It has more breweries per capita then anywhere else in Oregon
For a microbeer loving state like Oregon, that’s a big accomplishment. While you can find a plethora of cool breweries in Portland, Hood River, Salem or Eugene there is nowhere else where you can find so many in one small area. There are TWENTY-TWO breweries in Bend, a city with just 87,000 people. And that is just breweries. If beer is not your thing (I don’t really dig it) there are plenty of other options for you.
You can get your Bend Ale Trail map and passport and get stamps at the various breweries across town. Read more –> Bend Ale Trail
If you don’t like beer you can check out one of my favorite craft ciders in the Pacific Northwest; ATLAS Hard Cider Company. I love the pomegranate and cherry cider best! Other interesting choices include apricot or blackberry cider.
- Location: 550 SW Industrial Way (Suite 190), Bend Oregon 97702
- Hours: Wed-Sat 11-11pm | Sun-Tues 11-7:30pm
If wine is more your thing, check out the Naked Winery tasting room in the Old Mill District. You can sample amazing wines with naughty names such as Booty Call Sweet Blush, Bareback Sweet Wine or Foreplay Chardonnay. The wine is delicious and check out Groupon to see if they have any deals, like this one I used.
- Location: 330 SW Powerhouse Rd #110 Bend, OR 97702
- Hours: Mon-Sat 11am to 8pm | Sun 11am to 6pm
#2. Great Outdoor Rock Climbing
If you want to burn off those beer calories, there’s no better place to be. Bend is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Wether you are a novice or expert rock climber, Smith Rock State Park will have options for everyone. It is located just 45 minutes north of Bend outside of Terrebonne, Oregon. Stop by Redpoint Climbers Supply to get some rental gear or just to grab a cup of some really good coffee.
If you want to take a rock climbing class there are 1 day or multi-day classes offered by Smith Rock Climbing School.
If hiking is more your thing, then Smith Rock has an extensive trail system. Check out Outdoor Project for the best (and free!) hiking guides which includes pictures, reviews and printable maps.
#3. Fantastic Water Sports Destination
From swimming, fishing, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking to whitewater rafting; Bend literally has it all. Except an ocean. But you won’t even miss that 😉
Kayak/Canoe/Standup Paddleboard in Bend
The Deschutes River runs through the Old Mill District and is a great place to try your hand at kayaking or standup paddle boarding. I had not done either before. We went to Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe with the intention of trying stand up paddle boarding. They recommended against it for our first time, since it would be easier to get the hang of it on a body of water that wasn’t moving, like a lake. So we decided to try kayaking. It was actually fairly easy to get the grasp of and was such an enjoyable way to spend a few hours!
- Kayak & Standup Paddleboard rentals: start at $40 for 2 hours
- They offer tours & classes
- Location: 805 SW Industrial Way, Suite 6, Bend OR 97702
After you are done playing on the water I recommend checking out Craft Kitchen & Brewery. You can sit on the patio and relax with some amazing views and enjoy some well priced beer & tapas if you are there for happy hour. The portion sizes were generous and the Southern Style Poutine was divine! Happy hour was between 2-5 I believe. It was $4 beers and $5 tapas.
Class II-III Whitewater Rafting
If whitewater rafting is more your speed, the nearby Deschutes River is where you want to be. We looked into this tour from Sun Country Tours because its tours can depart from Bend or Sunriver, which is where we were staying.
- whitewater rafting tours start at $49 per person
- Sun Country Tours Website
- Multiday Tours can be booked through Ouzel Outfitters
#4. Dog Friendly Town
Central Oregon is one of the most dog friendly areas in the world, as nearly half of the population there owns a dog! There are 8 off-leash dog parks in Bend, including one on the Deschutes River by Old Mill District. I loved watching the dogs jump into the water and retrieve as we kayaked by. While we were on the water, honesty I think most of the standup paddleboards we passed had a dog on it too!
If you are visiting Bend and need a little time away from your pooch, there are quite a few doggie daycares or pet sitters available.
#5. Long Skiing/Snowboarding Season on Mt Bachelor
Central Oregon has much colder winters then Portland, which means they have a pretty good season for winter sports such as snowboarding or skiing. Mt Bachelor is just 30 minutes west of Bend. They recently announced that they are going to have a July 4th Ski due to the good snowpack this year.
If skiing or snowboarding isn’t your thing, you can go tubing, snowshoeing, go for a dogsled ride or take a helicopter tour of snowy Mount Bachelor.
#6. The Dramatic Landscape offers Interesting Hiking Opportunities
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Newberry Volcano is located just south of Bend and is part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. You can visit lava tubes, such as Lava River Cave. Or you could take advantage of another phenomenon of being in a volcanic area: hot springs. East Lake hot springs is remote, so not very busy but still just a 0.3 mile hike in. Or for panoramic views of the area, take a hike up Paulina Peak.
Three Sisters Loop
If you are feeling adventurous and are prepared, take on one of the best multi-day hikes in the Pacific Northwest by tackling the Three Sisters Loop. This is on my bucket list for this summer, but I know that I will need to have at least 5 or 6 days to circumnavigate the nearly 57 mile loop.
#7. Free Oktoberfest Celebration in Downtown
Jake & I were fortunate enough to celebrate Oktoberfest 2016 at the real deal in Munich , Germany. Although that was certainly the most authentic Oktoberfest experience, it wasn’t our first. Our first Oktoberfest celebration was in 2014 in Bend, and in a way it’s what inspired us to go to Germany. Bend Oktoberfest is free to visit, beer is well priced and it is located in walkable and beautiful downtown.
Where to Stay
On my first trip to Bend it was rather spur of the moment, so our options were limited. We stayed at DoubleTree by Hilton Bend in downtown. The location can’t be beat, as it is within walkings distance to multiple breweries, coffeeshops and restaurants. My second trip to Bend I actually stayed at the Sunriver Resort for a Trauma nursing conference.
BUDGET: If you aren’t looking to spend a lot on accomodations, Comfort Inn & Suites Bend may be your best bet. The hotel is recently renovated, has an outdoor pool, free hot breakfast and prices start at just $68.
LUXURY: If you are looking for rustic, yet luxurious then you will want to check out Resort Tetherow. The property has beautiful mountain views, a golf course and a free shuttle to downtown Bend. Prices start at $179 for a deluxe queen bedroom.
UNIQUE & DOWNTOWN: If you are looking for something unique then you can’t beat McMenamins Old St. Francis School. McMenamins properties are well known throughout Washington & Oregon. They buy historic buildings and convert them into quirky and cool restaurants or hotels. This 1930’s Catholic schoolhouse has been converted into a hotel, a pub and a movie theatre. It is located in the heart of downtown, so the location cannot be beat. Just make sure you book early enough or else it will likely be booked out. Prices start at $185/night. To learn more about McMenamins interesting properties you can check out their website.