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5 reasons Daylight Savings Time signals the perfect season to visit Bend

March 15th, 2018

The arrival of Daylight Savings Time generates widespread grumbling each March when we’re forced to sacrifice an hour of sleep in our quest to spring forward.

Hey, I’m grouchy, too.

Longer days make evening hikes possible after DST sets in.

But there are a few reasons I also embrace the big DST each spring when it comes to spending time in beautiful Bend, Oregon.


Longer days = more hiking!

At the start of March, sunset was happening around 5:50 p.m., which pretty much nixed your chances of squeezing in an evening hike after a long day on the slopes at Mt. Bachelor (or a day of work, for those of us who live here).

But the sun is now holding out until about 7:10 p.m. and sunset’s getting later each day. By the end of March, that big orange ball will be sticking with us until 7:30 or later, so it’s a great excuse to fit in an evening hike or casual spring stroll along the Deschutes River.


Spring skiing at Mt. Bachelor

The arrival of Daylight Savings and springtime ushers in one of Mt. Bachelor’s favorite attractions—spring skiing!

Springtime brings bluebird days at Mt. Bachelor (not to mention killer deals on passes).

Mt. Bachelor boasts one of the latest-running seasons in the world, and it launches in earnest around the time we nudge our clocks forward.

This weekend (March 16-18) kicks off with the Subaru WinterFest featuring live music, cool demos, and tons of cool parties (including an ‘80s dance party guaranteed to rock your neon-banded socks).

They also offer spring pass deals that will let you ride up to 58 days in April and May. Go here for info on Springtacular deals.


A little birdie told me…

Grab your illustrated birdwatching guide and start looking!

From the plaintive cooing of mourning doves in search of mates, to the ducks’ enthusiastic (ahem) dating along the Deschutes River, all the birds in Bend get twitterpated this time of year.

If feathered friends are your thing, the Old Mill District makes it easy for you to fit a bit of birdwatching between shopping and your dinner reservation.

Stop by the Ticket Mill to pick up a free birdwatching guide and a pair of rental binoculars (also free!) Consult the schedule to find out about seasonal Nature Walks and Bird Walks with local experts who can help you identify all the little birdies you’re seeing.


Bring back the patio dining

Now’s the time when Bend’s restaurants and breweries start dusting off the patio furniture and ushering customers outdoors on days the sun shines brighter.

Warm weather brings more options for outdoor dining in Bend.

It’s early still for many of the top river view dining spots in town, though it’s worth having the list in your back pocket so you can make a beeline for them on spring days when the temps lift into the 60s and 70s.

If you’re itching to get outside and can’t stand to wait, check out this roundup of spots to dine outdoors even when the weather’s chilly.


Easier access to sunrise and sunset

The most popular posts on Visit Bend’s Facebook page are sunrise and sunset photos, and for good reason. Bend boasts some of the most stunning sun-related eye candy in the world, particularly when you get that golden glow against the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains.

Daylight Savings Time brings easier access to sunsets and sunrises.

Sunrises are currently happening after 7:15 a.m., making them slightly more accessible than they were a couple weeks ago around 6:30 a.m. And if sunsets are more your jam, they’re getting later and later as the month goes on (giving us the aforementioned extra daylight for evening hikes).

If you’re hoping to snap a quintessential Bend photo of sunrise, sunset, or some other unique Central Oregon landmark, check out this blog post for tips.

And to pinpoint the precise time of each day’s sunrise and sunset, check out the roundup on this page.





Why it’s a great time to be a girl in Bend

March 8th, 2018

Today is International Women’s Day, and I’m waiting for someone to appear in my office with a tiara and a glass of wine.

Even if that doesn’t happen, I still feel pretty darn good about being a woman in Bend. That’s the case every day, but especially the third month of the year. That’s because Bend Women’s March is a month-long celebration of the ways women are shaping the community through arts and culture, business, and outdoor adventure.

Running + writing + sisterhood = winning combination.

It kicked off with the annual Muse Conference March 1-4, but there are still tons of fabulous events happening the whole month. Here are some of the highlights of Bend Women’s March.


Wilder Running and Writing

A few slots remain available for this weekend’s Wilder Running and Writing event in Bend happening March 9-11.

This workshop is designed to help women find their authentic voice through writing in a way that will come to life on and beyond the page. It also includes coached running by champion runner Lauren Fleshman, along with a deep dive into wild writing with acclaimed teacher Laurie Wagner. There’s even a nutrition talk with bestselling cookbook author Elyse Kopecky.

The event kicks off Friday evening with an optional meet and greet, followed by a full day of programming on Saturday and a half day Sunday. For details and registration, go here.


Art and design and social change (oh my!)

Looking for the ultimate girls’ getaway in Bend?

Girl power with Bend Design.

Scalehouse and Bend Design have teamed up to create an exciting agenda you won’t want to miss. Mark your calendar for March 16-17 and plan on two days packed with exciting speakers, creative arts, and a chance to spark your urge for activism.

The event will feature renowned speakers devoted to creating social, civic, and/or business change. Focus areas include storytelling, visual arts, architecture and design, performing arts, conceptual art, and activism.

To learn more, check out this link.


Cotopaxi Questival

If you hear the words “adventure race” and imagine slogging through an 80-mile course filled with mud and barbed wire, it’s time to recalibrate your mental picture.

Get your team ready for Bend Questival!

The Cotopaxi Questival Bend 2018 is happening March 23-24, and features a series of challenges in categories like fitness, camping, service, and teamwork. Prizes are awarded throughout competition, and it’s open to all ages and genders of teams from 2-6.

In a nutshell, you register your team and then download the app. The day before the event, you’ll be emailed a list of challenges. These can vary, but think “take a picture with your favorite piece of art in the city,” or “donate blood while wearing Dracula teeth.” Fun stuff.

To kick things off, there’s a check-in party where you pick up your race materials, meet other teams, and enjoy local food and music.

For more info or to register, go here.


REI Outdoor Women’s Fest

If outdoorsy fun is your fave, mark your calendar for the Outdoor Women’s Fest happening March 29-31. Sponsored by REI, the event includes three days of dynamic outdoor events and activities ranging from climbing classes at Smith Rock State Park to group hikes to film screenings for several inspiring films.

Perfect your mountain biking technique with the Ladies All Ride clinic.

There are also skiing and mountain biking clinics for those who want to hone their skills or lean something new.

This is another awesome opportunity for a girls’ getaway weekend, so go here to learn more or register.


Other special events

Outside the major headlining events, there are gobs of great activities and celebrations happening throughout Bend Women’s March. From poetry workshops to bouldering, yoga classes to film screenings, there’s something for everyone.

Go here to check out the schedule and find a date and event that floats your boat.




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.

3 romantic dates for soaking, sipping, and supping

February 15th, 2018

Sometimes you crave something beyond the traditional dinner-and-a-movie date. A shared experience that combines relaxation with a touch of intimacy, capped off with drinks and a great meal.

Start off the Hop in the Spa Experience with beer and a pretzel.

Sound hard to find? It’s totally not! Here are three cool date ideas in Bend that combine soaking, sipping, and supping (a hat tip to the Old English verb for dining, not an acronym for standup paddleboarding). Ready? Let’s go!


Hop in the Spa and Tumalo Feed Company

It’s been more than two years since America’s first beer spa took the media by storm, resulting in gobs of buzz over this unique beer experience just 23 miles northwest of Bend.

Blogger Tawna soaking in one of the cedar tubs.

There’s a reason for the hype. A soak at Hop in the Spa in Sisters is one of the most unique couples’ experiences you can book in a beer-centric region like Central Oregon.

You start off in a relaxation room with your sweetie, where you sip craft beer from Deschutes Brewery and nosh a warm, soft pretzel if you’re so inclined. Next, you undress (or wear your bathing suit if you prefer) and slip into a solid cedar tub filled with hops, herbs, minerals, and oodles of other good-smelling things blended by herbalist and naturopathic practitioner Sally Champa.

Tasty steak and scallops at Tumalo Feed Company.

The hubby and I sat in separate tubs facing each other so we could talk, and even got to pick the music to accompany our soak. Couples have the room to themselves for ultimate relaxation and privacy, though you could easily enjoy it with a friend. Sipping a hoppy IPA while immersed in a warm bath filled with bobbing handfuls of hops goes down in my book as one of the coolest beer experiences I’ve had, and there’s a unique vibe that’s equal parts “luxury day spa” and “funky-cool Old West.”

Pro tip: Towel off well afterward, and wear underthings that won’t stain if there’s some hop residue left on your skin (sexy, right?)

Don’t forget the skillet cookie!

Now that you’re nice and relaxed, it’s time for dinner. Since you’re headed back to your Bend hotel and already feeling the old-timey Western vibe, stop off at Tumalo Feed Company for some down home cookin’. The building dates back to the early 1900s, and Tumalo Feed Company has been operating since 1991. It’s under new ownership since December 2017, but the menu is still the same homey fare fans have been enjoying for years.

Steaks are especially good here, and don’t forget to add their homemade onion rings for $1 more. Their tap list is solid, and gives you a chance to sample more local craft beer (Boneyard’s RPM is a safe bet for any fan of hoppy suds).

Don’t forget to save room for the skillet chocolate chip cookie, which takes 20 minutes to bake, so plan ahead. With your belly full, head back to Bend and dream of warm water and cold beer.


Float Central and a mellow meal at Currents

I’ve been dimly aware of Float Central for a couple years now, but it wasn’t until I set out to write this blog post that I tried it myself.

Float your cares away at Float Central (but ditch the bathing suit!)

Holy cow, you guys, can I just say this was one of the coolest things I’ve done in Bend?

For those who don’t know, floating is a wellness technique that involves slipping into a tank filled with about 11-inches of water saturated with Epsom salts. The buoyancy of the salt water keeps you afloat in water that’s heated to skin temperature, so you basically lose track of where your body ends and the water begins.

We started our experience with a glass of kefir water (on tap in the lobby) before moving to the float rooms. We got a detailed explanation about what’s involved, including our options for closing the tank door versus keeping it open, and the different options for earplugs if we wanted them. Then we retired to our separate rooms to shower and slip into our private float tanks.

(Sidenote: I will confess that my preconceived—and misguided—notions about floating led me to fear I’d be dunking myself in water filled some previous floater’s skin gunk. That couldn’t be further from reality. The entire volume of water within the tank is filtered and passed through a UV system after each use and treated with an environmentally friendly hydrogen peroxide solution. There’s a lot of other stuff on their website that put my mind at ease, plus stepping inside their super-tidy, calming space gives you a firsthand look at how tidy they keep things. No shoes allowed beyond the lobby, for starters, and showers are mandatory. In other words, germaphobes can rest easy).

Following your float, you can chill for a while in the meditation room at Float Central.

While my husband is one of those people who relaxes easily and zonks into deep sleep or meditative states, I soooooo don’t. I’m not good at shutting off my brain, so I wasn’t sure I could do a full 90 minutes in the tank.

Surprisingly, I did manage to zone out. I didn’t fall fast asleep the way my other half did, but there was something unbelievably relaxing about having no sounds, no sights, and no work required to keep my body afloat. Taking away those stressors left my mind to meander to greener pastures, like what I wanted for dinner and whether I’d somehow slipped through the cosmos and was floating in outer space.

It was way cool.

Speaking of dinner, you’ll want to plan ahead for the meal that follows your floating experience. Float Central provides everything you need to shower off afterward, but trust me when I say you won’t want to wreck your blissed-out buzz by revving a hair dryer or heading to some noisy bar.

Tasty food with a river view at Currents.

We opted for Currents at the Riverhouse, where we knew we could cozy up in the oversized chairs at one of their casual river-view tables. A glass of red wine was the perfect way to keep my mellow state going, and Currents has a wine list that includes several Oregon Pinot Noirs (the Elizabeth Chambers was especially awesome).

We ordered several dishes to share, including a baby kale and quinoa salad, prosciutto-wrapped dates, and the confit turkey leg with sweet and spicy ginger plum sauce (surprisingly huge, but sectioned so it’s easy to eat).

If you’d rather preserve your mellow post-float vibe by skipping the restaurant scene altogether, call ahead to one of Bend’s amazing sushi restaurants and order takeout to bring back to your Bend hotel.

If you’re staying in a vacation rental with a kitchen, you’ll find a well-stocked Safeway just a few steps from Float Central. Grab a couple lobster tails or steak, a bottle of wine, and some sides from their deli, and you’re all set for a dreamy, blissed-out, romantic dinner in the privacy of your room.


McMenamins for soaking and a fireside dinner

Want your soak-sip-sup experience to happen all in one location with the bonus of adding sleep in the same spot? A stay at McMenamins Old St. Francis School is a great option.

Escape to another world in the soaking pool at McMenamins.

McMenamins 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.

Start by hitting the bar for a plastic cup of beer (glass isn’t allowed in the pool area).

Gather ’round the fire pits at O’Kanes following your soak, and don’t miss the Cajun tots.

Raspberry-infused Ruby is refreshingly light option that often appeals to folks who don’t love beer. Spend a relaxing hour or so soaking your bones, sipping your brew, and letting your worries slip away.

After you’re showered and dressed, head to one of McMenamins fabulous bars for dinner. There are several options, but the fireside area outside O’Kanes is a great choice for maintaining your chilled-out vibe. Nabbing a spot by one of the fire pits will keep you toasty even when it’s cold out, and an order of their famous Cajun tots will keep the fire going in your belly.

For dinner, order their Hammerhead Cheesesteak featuring chopped ribeye steak with yellow onions, mama lils peppers, and Hammerhead ale fondue sauce on a hoagie roll.

And another beer, of course.

Ready to head back to your room? If you’re staying in the Art House or Ed House, make sure to poke around for secret rooms and corridors. I won’t tell you the location of the secret Broom Closet Bar, but if you find it while wandering around, it makes a great spot for a nightcap.




4 romantic gestures to make in Bend

February 8th, 2018

Bend is brimming with romance. There are a zillion spots to get engaged, to plan a wedding or honeymoon, to enjoy a romantic date, or to discover meals with aphrodisiac ingredients.

(Incidentally, this is what happens when a tourism bureau hires a USA Today bestselling romantic comedy as their blogger, but I digress).

Romantic opportunities are everywhere in Bend, and here are four ways you can make a special romantic gesture in Bend, Oregon.

Central Oregon is dotted with dozens of glorious, cascading waterfalls that are as beautiful as they are inspiring. Want to make a special gesture with your loved one?


Make a waterfall wish

Hike to the waterfall of your choice. Along the trail, pick up a pair of small sticks that catch your eye. When you reach a safe spot at the top of the falls, hold hands with your sweetie and make a wish together, then toss in your sticks and watch them bob and float before tumbling over the edge.

Make your wish from the viewpoint at the top of Tumalo Falls. (Photo by Rich Bacon)

(Let’s not dwell on what it means for the wish if someone’s stick gets snagged on a rock, mmkay?)

Need ideas for finding waterfalls near Bend? Check out this blog post. Waterfalls with easy access points to viewpoints from the top include Tumalo Falls and Salt Creek Falls, but you can find ways to make it work from nearly all of them.

It goes without saying that you should stay on marked trails, refrain from littering, and also avoid maiming or killing yourself in your quest for this romantic gesture.


The snowy heart

How many times have you seen a beach montage in a romantic movie where the swoony lovers draw a heart in the sand with their initials inside?

One of many couples to get engaged during the Bonfire on the Snow outing with Wanderlust Tours.

There’s a more creative way to do it in Bend.

Head for higher elevations near Mt. Bachelor, where fields of snow abound at surrounding Sno-Parks. Snowshoe or Nordic ski to a warming hut for a romantic picnic, and conclude by using a stick or ski pole to carve your initial-filled heart in a blanket of snow. Bonus points if you flop down together and make side-by-side snow angels.

Not up for trekking out on your own? Book a romantic moonlight snowshoe adventure with Wanderlust Tours. They’ve had tons of couples get engaged over the years during their Bonfire on the Snow tours, which tells you all you need to know about how awesomely romantic this experience can be.


Add some ink

I’ll preface this by saying I never, EVER recommend getting a loved one’s name or likeness permanently inked on your body.

That said, getting a tattoo while on vacation in Bend is one of the most unique souvenirs you can get, and there are plenty of ways for couples to experience it together.

Blogger Tawna got this ink in New Zealand in honor of her stepkids (Violet and Cedar) while her husband got his own family-centric ink as special way to commemorate the vacation.

Subtle “couples tattoos” like matching infinity symbols, EKG heartbeats, or musical notes representing your favorite song are popular. There are endless complementary designs like the moon for one partner and a sun for the other (or peanut butter and jelly, or electron and proton symbols, or…well, you get the idea).

It’s not mandatory to be matchy-matchy, either. My husband and I got inked together in New Zealand, and though the tattoos have nothing to do with one another, they’re a perpetual reminder of our dream vacation together. I’ve also seen artsy couples who get tattoos featuring each other’s handwriting, photos, or sketches. The possibilities are endless, and there are tons of great Bend tattoo studios (I can personally vouch for Monolith).

Keep in mind that many artists book up months in advance, so reservations are mandatory, as is chatting with the artist in advance to explain what you’re envisioning.


Do a couple’s quest

It’s super-common for Bend visitors to arrive toting must-see lists that include major Central Oregon landmarks like Smith Rock State Park and Tumalo Falls.

How many places can you find to smooch in Bend?

But why not take it to the next level with a romantic bucket list you create together?

Pledge to smooch atop Pilot Butte at Sunset. Make a date to stargaze together from the Hopservatory at Worthy Brewing. Book a couples’ massage appointment at one of Bend’s fabulous day spas. Vow to write lists of ten things you love most about each other, and read them to one another while sipping your favorite beer beside a cozy fire pit along the Bend Ale Trail.

The possibilities are endless, and you’ll have as much fun coming up with your bucket list as you will checking the items off one by one.


3 ways to do a Bend family vacay when life throws a curveball

February 1st, 2018

Everything’s ready. You’ve packed the kids’ bags, your Bend hotel reservations are set, and you’ve planned the perfect family weekend in Bend.

Then it happens. Something unexpected threatens to derail your perfect family vacation.

A cave tour with Wanderlust is an awesome way to spend a rainy day.

Been there, done that, forgot to pack the t-shirt. Fortunately, you can still pull off an awesome family vacay when life throws you for a loop. Here are three uh-oh scenarios for families (and some fun workarounds for each!)


It’s raining

Rainy days aren’t common here in the mountainous high desert, but they do happen. Fortunately, a drizzly day in Bend isn’t a dream-killer the way it might be with, say, a beach getaway.

First, check the Mt. Bachelor conditions report. What looks like rain in Bend (3,600 feet in elevation) might be perfect, fluffy snowflakes at Mt. Bachelor (elevation 5,700 to 9,065 feet). You could score a perfect day of powder skiing after all.

If skiing isn’t on the agenda, there are plenty of other options for staying dry while having fun. Escape the wet stuff by going underground with a cave adventure from Wanderlust Tours. Your naturalist guide will provide all the gear and transportation, not to mention a top-notch education on Central Oregon’s unique lava tubes.

Need help getting the wiggles out? Hit Mountain Air Trampoline Park for an hour or two of bouncy fun. The main court has 26 trampolines, plus a jumping and tumbling runway and a giant airbag that’s fun to pounce on from above. For more ideas on indoorsy fun in Bend, check out this blog post.

Okay, but what if you’re really, really itching to play outside? Don’t let the rain stop you. The high desert’s rare rainstorms don’t tend to last long, and they’re actually quite remarkable to experience. The scent of wet juniper and sage is an olfactory explosion everyone should savor at least once, and puddle jumping can be a giggle-worthy game for the kids. Just make sure you stay off mountain bike trails when conditions are muddy, or you’ll risk wrecking the trails for other users.


You’re battling picky eaters or food allergies

Moms and dads with challenging eaters: I feel your pain. Our family currently grapples with a lifelong egg/peanut/shellfish allergy in kid #1, plus a newly-diagnosed lactose intolerance in kid #2.

Let your picky eaters make their own meal at Flatbread.

For those with younger kids, it can be an endless evolution of food preferences and tantrum-inducing meal planning. Your four-year-old who looooooves grilled cheese on Wednesday might think it’s the grossest thing ever by Friday.

Don’t worry, guys—Bend restaurants have your back.

First off, check out these roundups of good gluten-free and vegan dining options if that’s your jam.

Outside those parameters, you’ll find oodles of other Bend restaurants accustomed to handling special dietary needs. Zydeco is particularly great with food allergies (and with tweaking items on their menu to accommodate your needs). Ditto that for Broken Top Bottle Shop, which has most menu items carefully identified by their dietary properties.

Generally speaking, you’ll find staff in most Bend restaurants are friendly and knowledgeable when asked about specific allergens and dietary needs, and servers are happy to check with the chef for detailed info.

Not dealing with allergies, but just need a place with a solid kids’ menu that’s good for finicky eaters? Try Flatbread Neopolitan Pizzeria in the Old Mill District, where kids can assemble their own pizzas and watch them cook up in the big wood-fired oven. The Old Mill also boasts a Red Robin, which can be a godsend when you just need to fill their faces with familiar-sounding food (bonus: killer river views).

Most of the breweries along the Bend Ale Trail also boast impressive kids’ menus, so don’t think you have to miss out on tasting Bend craft beer just because you have the young’uns in tow.


Someone gets hurt

This one sucks. It’s tough enough when your loved ones get injured, but when it happens right before vacation, it can throw a serious kink in the family’s plans.

Even with an injured kiddo, it’s easy to have fun in Bend. An inexpensive cast cover like this one keeps things nice and dry.

First, remember you have options. My stepdaughter’s broken arm a couple summers ago could have put a serious crimp in her dreams of swimming from June to September, but a quick google search led us to some awesome cast covers for swimming. Don’t be afraid to poll other parents on what they’ve done in your situation.

Second, roll with the punches. Maybe you can’t do that twelve-mile family backpacking trip you’d hoped for, but there are tons of shorter hikes to be found. Check out the Deschutes River Trail or Pilot Butte (which also allows you to drive up May through October if mobility is limited). Stop by the Bend Visitor Center and grab a good guide book or ask our friendly front desk staff for tips on great hiking spots to meet your needs.

Plenty of other Central Oregon attractions are easily accessible when mobility or stamina is an issue. Spend the day checking out critters and natural history at the High Desert Museum. They offer wheelchairs for use at no additional charge, plus ramps into outdoor exhibits, wheelchair accessible trails, and benches throughout the grounds for resting.

In the Old Mill District  you can cruise the paved riverfront paths and sidewalks and find tons of easily accessible spots for shopping and dining.

But don’t think you have to give up your dreams of skiing, biking, paddling, rock climbing, or zillions of other sports just because a family member is facing mobility issues or other challenges. Oregon Adaptive Sports offers a huge range of activities, adaptive equipment, and professional instruction to help everyone enjoy Central Oregon’s great outdoors regardless of ability. They have experience working with a huge range of populations, including amputees, visual impairment, Cerebral Palsy, ADD/ADHD, Down Syndrome, PTSD, spinal cord injury, stroke, and much more. Check out their website for info.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


How a Bend vacation can help your healthy resolutions

January 11th, 2018

Is it just me, or is everyone’s Facebook feed filled with friends pledging to get healthier in the new year? For some that involves mass quantities of kale, while others are contemplating spiritual wellness and mental health.

Hiking is a great way to boost your health and fitness goals in the New Year.

However you plan to accomplish it, here are five ways a Bend vacation will help you get healthier in 2018.


Get up and get moving!

Nearly everyone I know has vowed to incorporate more exercise into their routine. You can hit the gym at home, but when you’re in Bend, your fitness routine comes with mountain views.

Dig out those hiking boots and hit the trails. You’ll find plenty of ideas here, or nab one of the awesome guidebooks we sell in the Bend Visitor Center.

Want to try mountain biking? Cog Wild offers a huge variety of tours, including outings for newbies trying the sport for the first time. Bonus: They hook you up with the necessary gear and shuttle service. Double bonus: They’re savvy about trail conditions and etiquette, so they’ll keep you from committing a major faux pas like trashing a soggy trail and ruining it for others for the season.

There are a zillion other active pursuits you can try in Bend, from skiing to kayaking to pickleball. To get your brain percolating, peruse for ideas.

And speaking of your brain…


Tend your spiritual or mental health

More and more people are focusing on spiritual and mental health as a form of self-care in the New Year. If that’s your jam, you’ll find plenty of possibilities in Bend.

Yoga and meditation take on a whole new dimension in Bend.

Bend Community Healing has offerings that include yoga, acupuncture, meditation classes, and Qigong. They even host special events and workshops that make the perfect weekend getaway for visitors.

Bend Zendo and Bend Zen both offer regularly scheduled sitting meditation (zazen), classes, discussion groups, workshops, and more.

You can also scope out the schedule at Wren and Wild for special events like their upcoming Noah Levine Kind Awareness Meditation Weekend Feb. 9-11.

If you’re looking for something that caters to a different faith or denomination, you’ll find a huge array of churches, synagogues, and other places of worship right here.

Want to improve your relationship or your communication skills in the coming year? Check out the calendar of couples’ workshops and classes here.

For more health-focused events and workshops happening in Bend in the coming year, peruse Visit Bend’s Event Calendar for ideas.


Grab tasty (and healthy!) grub

“Eat healthier” is something I see on nearly every New Year’s resolution list, but not everyone agrees on what that means.

Everything at Next-Level Burger is plant-based, so you can still enjoy a juicy burger even if you’ve sworn off meat in the New Year.

Looking to go vegan in 2018? Here’s a roundup of awesome vegan and vegetarian dishes in Bend that even diehard carnivores will adore.

If you’re curious about gluten-free dining in Bend, we’ve also rounded up some of the best gluten-free dishes worth trying in Bend (even if you aren’t gluten-free!)

And hey, if you’re trying to do the opposite and add more meat to your meals (what? High-protein dining is a thing), check out this post on Bend’s best burgers.


Don’t derail your Dry January plans

If your holidays included a few too many adult beverages, don’t feel bad.

The tasty virgin Blueberry Mojito at Brickhouse will keep you on track with your Dry January plans.

Plenty of folks are on the Dry January bandwagon, and just because you’re visiting the home of the Bend Ale Trail and Drinkable Diversions doesn’t mean you must imbibe.

Bend is home to more than half-a-dozen kombucha brewers, and you’ll find tons of variety on local store shelves and in growler fill stations around town (the one at Food 4 Less is my personal fave).

Check out this blog post featuring a huge array of mocktails and booze-free beverages in Bend and we promise you won’t go thirsty. You might even decide this teetotaling thing is worth extending all year long.

Toting reusable beverage containers is one of many ways to keep Mother Nature healthy and happy.


Keep Mother Nature healthy, too!

If your new healthy initiative extends to the world around, you how about working to keep Mother Nature in great shape this year?

Hook yourself up with reusable water bottles and coffee mugs from Hydro Flask and Drink Tanks to help keep disposable cups out of the landfill.

When you’re packing for a hike, tuck a small trash bag in your pocket. Not only does that make it easier to pack out your own garbage, but you can pick up small bits of litter along the trail, thereby leaving the place nicer than you found it.

For more ideas on how to help Bend stay healthy and beautiful in the coming year, check out our Visit Like a Local page and consider taking The Bend Pledge (which comes with the added bonus of giving you a shot at winning a killer Bend vacation).

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