Things to do Outdoors in Bend, Oregon
Erinn Maher Shaw
Road Trip Travel
From the sagebrush of the high desert to the magnificent forests at the base of the Cascade Range — no matter where your adventures take you, you'll find a lifetime's worth of exploration and adventure in Central Oregon.
Bend, Oregon is one of the most incredible adventure fueled outdoor destinations in America — offering a plethora of activities for the athletic kind. From mountain biking to skiing, snowboarding and hiking, there is something for every kind of nature lover out there. I recommend planning one activity per day as the distances are long and taking proper gear is necessary.
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Where to stay
The Oxford Hotel - Bend
An eco-minded boutique hotel that operates on renewable energy to celebrate the nature-loving attitude of the Bend, OR.
McMenamins Old St. Francis School
A Catholic school turned welcoming hotel and local hangout, with a pub, brewery, movie theater and saltwater pool.
Perfectly situated between Deschutes National Forest and the Old Mill District for the best of both worlds with a Top 100 golf course with a view of the forest.
Unlock perks by contacting Erinn to book your trip.
Day 1: Mountain Biking at Phil's Trail
When in Bend, divide your days per activity. Spend the first day biking Phil’s Trail — a classic XC mountain biking trail created by Phil Meglasson and others in the ‘80s. One can complete this 6.1 mile trail in about four hours as it has average difficulty. Bring a picnic with you to stop at a scenic spot for a snack.
Day 2: Skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor
Mt. Bachelor is a world-class ski and snowboarding destination open from November through May 29th. It is the Pacific Northwest’s premier mountain destination — offering 4,300 skiable acres, 3,365 feet of vertical drop and 121 unique runs. The full-day lift tickets start at $65 and are often cheaper for spring skiing.
Day 3: Hiking Tumalo Falls or Cascade Lakes
The 97 ft. tall Tumalo Falls is among the most popular outdoor destinations anywhere in central Oregon and it’s easy to see why. Just 35 minutes west of Bend, the waterfall tumbles over a basalt cliff, just a short walk from the day-use area’s parking lot.
The impressive cascade sits surrounded by a verdant pine forest — making for an easy photo op — but hiking trails ascend beyond the waterfall and along Tumalo Creek, offering views of other waterfalls away from the crowds. Try to hike Tumalo Falls on a weekday for a quieter experience (and easier parking). If that’s not possible, try to visit by 9 am.
You won’t find a higher concentration of mountain views and scenic lakes anywhere in Central Oregon than along the 66-mile Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. Usually, open between June and October, the highway passes some of the region’s most notable peaks — including Mt. Bachelor, which hosts chairlift rides, a mountain bike park, ziplining and other activities each summer. There are dozens of crystal-clear lakes, including Sparks Lake which is accessible via a gravel road and noted for its striking view of South Sister.
After a fun-filled day on the lake or river of your choice, head back into Bend to relax and take a well-deserved scenic break at Mirror Pond and Drake Park before heading out for happy hour and dinner and drinks at one (or two) of Bend’s finest hot spots.
Places to eat & drink in Bend, Oregon
Victorian Cafe: The “best breakfast" in all of Oregon. Get the eggs benedict!
Worthy Brewery: Great food, beer and stargazing at this local brewery.
Boneyard Brewery: The “best” IPA in town!
Deschutes Brewery: The original Oregon brewery is worth a visit!
Bos Taurus: Steak to die for in Bend, Oregon.
Ariana: The most romantic restaurant in town serving inventive modern American cuisine.
Jackalope Grill: The outdoor patio here is as if a secret portal into farm-to-table Oregon cuisine.
Va Piano Vineyards Tasting Room: Walla Walla wine tasting to try out the local wines.
Crater Lake Distillery: Local hand-crafted spirits.
Oregon Spirits Distillery: Sip a whiskey and catch a concert at this unique property.
Chow: Sustainable restaurant serving delicious local wine. Try the candied bacon and bloody marys too!
Zydeco Kitchen: Cuisine with a southern twist. Try the shrimp and grits!
Stihl Whiskey Bar: The most extended list of whiskey in town.
The Dogwood Kitchen: Best craft cocktails in town (closed during the off-season).
900 Wall: Stop by this American eatery for a happenin’ happy hour.
Need to Know
Almost everything in Oregon is a day trip in itself, and if you need some planning assistance, Wanderlust Tours offers half-day naturalist-guided tours and trips throughout the year in the Bend area. They have been specializing in outdoor tours, activities and things to do in Central Oregon since 1993.
When it comes to getting to Bend, Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM) is the way to go. As the fourth largest commercial airport in Oregon, air service is provided by Alaska, Allegiant, Aha!, American, Avelo, Delta and United Airlines. These carriers offer approximately 28 direct flights to Burbank, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.
If you're a lover of the mountains and looking for more ways to explore the Pacific Northwest, be sure to check out my Bavarian Escapade to Leavenworth, Washington.
Erinn Maher Shaw
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