Want quality coffee, beer, and food without the hipster attitude, check out Bend, Oregon. With flowing rivers, a world-class trail system, and more craft beer than you can shake a stick at Bend is a great place for a long summer weekend. This Central Oregon gem straddles the high desert and the wetter Northwestern coastal forest ecosystems making for a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Originally settled as a logging town, Bend has embraced its modern identity and has more Kombucha brewers than sawmills.
The first whiteys to explore Bend were the Nathaniel Wyeth party of fur trappers coming up from the Columbia Gorge. In 1900, Alexander Drake, a midwestern capitalist and trout fisherman, founded the Pilot Butte development company and planted the seeds of a town. The area was initially known as Farewell Bend since it is one of the last major bends in the Deschutes river before heading into the high desert. The name Farewell Bend was shortened to Bend by some lazy US Postal workers in Washington D.C. who thought the name was too long. Don’t plan on being lazy this weekend in Bend we’ve got some great weekend plans for you.
Start off your weekend wandering downtown Bend and the Drake Park/Mirror Pond area. For dinner try the McMenamins’ renovation of the Old St. Francis School. With a movie theatre, soaking pool, hotel, 2 bars, a pub, and a restaurant you may never have to leave. This being an Oregon establishment you can expect a heavy dose of locally sourced food and beverages. Other popular pubs in the downtown area are of course the Deschutes Brewery and 10 Barrel Brewing, which is now owned by Anheuser-Busch if those things are important to you.
For Saturday morning, you are going to want to start your day at Sparrow Bakery. This might be the best bakery west of the Mississippi. They are famous for the Ocean roll or their breakfast “Sand-oh” is always amazing. Whatever you get it will be delicious.
No matter how big you went last night, this morning you are getting in the water. If there is a water activity that you can’t do on the Deschutes river, it hasn’t been invented yet. Kayak, raft, Stand up paddle board, inner tube, fish, or surf the Deschutes. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly, you can surf the Deschutes river. Big wave surf icon Gerry Lopez even calls Bend, Oregon home. Book a raft or kayak trip on the Deschutes through Inn of the Seventh Mountain or grab a stand-up paddle board from Stand up and Paddle Bend. If fishing is your game, here is a list of 50 places to go within 90 minutes drive of Bend. From Class V waterfalls to a zen like fly fishing spot, the Deschutes river will have the right activity for you.
At lunch get a bowl of Pho Ga at Pho Viet. You’re probably saying it wrong but it still tastes delicious and there is a reason that people in south-east Asia eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For more traditional fare check out Jackson’s Corner. They offer brick oven pizzas and fresh local cuisine in a relaxed kid-friendly setting. If your weekend plans keep you out of town grab something to go from Mother’s Cafe and juice bar or the deli case at Newport Market.
If you’d rather not get too dirty in Bend, the old mill district offers a number of live music shows throughout the summer. It may be a little ways out of town, but The High Desert Museum offers a truly amazing display of Bend’s unique ecosystem and history. Apparently it’s the number one rated “thing to do” in Bend on Trip Advisor.
Peruvian breakfast for dinner and a Java Sour Cocktail, yes please! Their menu might be considered fused fusion, however you classify it, Spork is worth stopping by for dinner. This started out as a food cart and was so successful they went ahead and turned it into a restaurant.
Have a hearty breakfast at Chow. The walls are covered in local art and the tables, of course, are covered in local food. With a garden on the property, Chow has definitely embraced the “farm to table” movement. Pick from an array of egg dishes, with local eggs, or their delectable buttermilk pancakes. If you don’t have enough caffeine in your system yet, stop by Backporch Coffee Roasters. Oregon has the most breweries and coffee roasters per capita of any state and Backporch is one of the finest.
Your activity today is to hit the trails. Bend has a world class trail system and a long list of pro athletes call Bend home for just this reason. If you are travelling on foot check out the trails around Sparks Lake just past Mt. Bachelor or walk up the North Fork trail by Tumalo Falls. Dip your toe into mountain biking at Phil’s trail-head named after local mountain bike icon Phil Meglasson. For the more ambitious mountain biker a great loop is to start from Tumalo Falls and head up the North Fork, connect to The Metolius-Windigo trail through Happy Valley, and descend down Flagline/South Fork trails home. Wherever you decide to go, use the Bend Trails app for iOS and Android to help you find your way. Make sure to pay homage to the flying chicken either on the road or the trail.
Getting to Bend via plane is best done by either a direct flight to neighboring Redmond, 17 miles away or catch a flight to Portland. It is about a three-hour drive from PDX to Bend depending on the route you take.
For places to stay the Old St. Francis School has rooms and tons of amenities. The Lara House offers a pleasant bed and breakfast experience. The Double Tree Inn will provide a traditional hotel experience. Inn of the Seventh Mtn has a wide range of condos for a more substantial abode.
Enjoy your stay in Bend and pay heed to the Local stickers that tout “Be nice, you’re in Bend!”