Whatever you decide to do when you come to Bend, Oregon or if you already live here and are deciding what to do for the day, begin by making a bucket list. When you live in Bend or visit Bend, you need a bucket list of things to do. Since there are so many things to do in Bend, Oregon and you can’t do them all..start by checking them off your bucket list and enjoy the ride!
If you are visiting, you will have to come back as your bucket list entices you. If you want to experience a variety of things to do in Bend, Oregon, come in different seasons. Bend is not just a summer and winter destination, spring and fall months are beautiful and not to be missed.
We are BendOregon365 and we are here to help you enjoy each day you are here!
Bend, Oregon is a unique little city. It definitely caters to the outdoor enthusiast. Formerly a logging town, Bend is now a tourist destination.
Mt. Bachelor is a 20 minute drive to the west and between Mt. Bachelor and Bend are miles of forested trails for hiking, mountain biking, trail running, and cross country skiing. Just beyond Mt. Bachelor along the Cascade Lakes Highway are dozens of high mountain lakes where you can hike or backpack into on well-maintained trails. (The highway past Mt. Bachelor usually opens back up in June when the snow melts). There are also a number of larger lakes nearby with access by vehicle for camping and motorized watercraft opportunities such as water skiing, wake boarding, jet skiing, and house boating.
There are a number of free-flowing rivers that offer world-class fly fishing opportunities. Bend has a number of top-notch fishing and fly fishing guides and outfitters. Go HERE for more information.
With the river running through the center of town and into the Old Mill District, there are many recreational opportunities on the water. Don’t have your own equipment? No worries, there are plenty of shops that rent kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, and floaties. If you float the river, there’s even a shuttle that will take you from Drake Park back to Farewell Bend Park (where you typically start your float – for a small fee).
Mountain biking usually tops the list due to Bend’s fantastic trail system, which caters to all ability levels – and you can’t beat the scenery!
Other things to do in Bend, Oregon include hiking, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, skiing, snowboarding, nordic skiing, road biking, rock climbing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, white water rafting, and more. For any of these activities, you can choose a guided adventure or “DIY- ng” (do it yourself, no guide). Local shops will provide you with rental equipment, trail maps, and other items you might need for your DIY adventure.
You can rent a “unique bike” from Wheel Fun Rentals and ride on the paved bike paths through the Old Mill District; rent the Cycle Pub where you pedal around town on a pedal-powered bar while you enjoy your favorite beverage and snacks (although, pedaling and drinking beer at the same time can be a bit of a challenge..).
Take a guided van tour of Bend’s Round-a-bout Art; hang out on a sandy beach by a river or lake; walk around downtown during the First Friday Art/Wine Walk; take a stroll through the Old Mill District and have a picnic along the river; rent a “floatie” and float the Deschutes River through town; play golf on one of our many beautiful golf courses; or take a 1-mile hike up to the top of Pilot Butte for a great view of the city.
A local favorite is to anchor a “floatie”, kayak, paddle board, or raft in the river and listen to big name concerts at Les Schwab Amphitheater.
NOTE: Last summer my daughter and I set out to listen to Jack Johnson on our floaties in the river. My daughter’s floatie sprung a leak just as we pushed off from shore and headed downstream at a pretty good clip. As I frantically tried to think of what to do, I remembered my sushi package had a large sticker on it to keep the carton closed. Since the leak was just above the water line – by a hair – I layered several pieces of the sticker on the hole. It worked. NOTE TO SELF…always bring sushi.
Second mishap: When we arrived at our destination on the river, I was ready to throw my 20 pound anchor over the side when I started thinking about the physics of the situation. I quickly realized how vulnerable I was sitting on a flimsy floatie holding a 20 pound anchor, which also had sharp pointy edges. Throwing it over the side might not work out to my advantage with the sudden weight change on one side of the floatie. I had to think fast because the current is strong where I wanted to anchor. I had my daughter hold down the other side of my floatie while I dropped the anchor in on the other side. It worked and I remained upright and all food and beverages were saved. I was, however, smart enough to place food and drink items on a separate floatie tied to mine – just in case…
Head up to the Pine Mountain Observatory – just east of town – and view the stars and planets through huge telescopes (you can also camp up there).
During the winter and spring months you can ice skate to music and colorful lights under the stars at Seventh Mountain Resort; on warm summer and fall evenings it’s nice to sit outside at one of the many restaurants that offer outside dining in town or along the river; or if you are visiting and rented a vacation rental home, grab some fresh sushi and a bottle of wine from the chic Newport Market and head back to your rental and enjoy dinner on your patio. Since our warm season lasts about 4 months, us locals take advantage of dining outside whenever possible during that short time period!
Snowshoe up Tumalo Mountain near Mt. Bachelor for a great view, and don’t forget to bring a picnic and something waterproof to sit on! Ski or snowboard at Mt. Bachelor in the morning, mountain bike Horse Ridge or Maston Trails in the afternoon – who says you can’t mountain bike in the winter? Then, head back to town and grab a meal and a pint of locally brewed beer on tap at The Lot (a covered outdoor dining establishment with several food carts, heated seats, and a fireplace).
Drive up to Elk Lake Resort, just past Mt. Bachelor, with your favorite “floatie” or other water craft, picnic items, towels, sunscreen, and money for hand-scooped ice cream or a pint of fresh micro-brew on tap. Elk Lake Resort also has fabulous food with indoor and outdoor dining.
At Elk Lake Resort, listen to live music every Saturday evening in the summer and early fall months. You can also rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards, and even a party barge! Elk Lake has great swimming, beach for the little ones, and swimming docks. There is also a campground and cabin rentals available.