Why you should visit Bend, Oregon, immediately

If you were to design your dream town in your head, would it have the following amenities: an endless network of hiking and biking trails, a ski mountain, a brewery on every corner, rivers for fishing and paddling (even river surfing) and free outdoor music venues?

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If so, it turns out your dream town is Bend, Oregon. You should visit immediately, and here’s what you should do when you’re there.

Ride bikes

What to do in Bend, Oregon
Try the endless trails. Photo: Courtesy of Pixabay
Because of its extensive network of flowy, perfectly maintained trails, Bend is a mountain bike mecca. The town was ahead of the trail-building curve, and trails have been in the works since the ’80s.

There are a ton of places you can ride to right from town. Check out Phil’s Trailhead to the southwest, which has endless loops of trails that wind through ponderosa forests. You could pedal all day and not ride the same stretch of trail twice.

Drink beer

What to do in Bend, Oregon
End an excellent summer day with some brewskies. Photo: Courtesy of Deschutes
Drink a lot of beer. It all started in the ’80s with Bend’s first brewery, Deschutes, whose Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter have now become ubiquitous. You can still visit Deschutes’ original brewpub and try some of the beers they’re working on.

From there, check out some of the smaller breweries, like Crux, which has a yard full of lawn games, or 10 Barrel Brewing Co., which is owned by twin brothers who just might go on a run with you afterward.

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Also, you can fill up your growler at one of the Growler Guys gas stations in town. They each have 30-plus beers on tap.

Play non-stuffy golf

What to do in Bend, Oregon
Visit Tetherow, which you can navigate by skateboard. Photo: Courtesy of Tetherow
Maybe you think of golf as your grandpa’s game or the kind of activity politicians and corporate-climbers do to curry favor. Tetherow is trying to change that.

They put on events like family golf tournaments and women’s wine night, let you play music in your cart and rent GolfBoards, motorized skateboards with a rack for your bag (a stand-in for golf carts).

Their bar, The Row, has become a popular happy-hour spot for golfers and also for skiers making their way down from the mountain in the winter. My recommendation is to try the Scotch eggs.

Standup paddleboard

What to do in Bend, Oregon
Paddleboard in Riverbend Park. Photo: Courtesy of Pete Alport/Visit Bend/CCOP
Between the mellow flows of the Deschutes River, which runs right through town, and the pristine Cascade Lakes, there’s a ton of beautiful paddling to be had.

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Camp at Elk Lake and paddle the channels and marshes of Hosmer Lake.

Listen to music

What to do in Bend, Oregon
Go to concerts in the park. Photo: Courtesy of Old Mill
Rumor has it that it’s because surf legend Gerry Lopez lives in town, but Bend gets surprisingly big-name bands to play at the outdoor Les Schwab Amphitheater.

The Venue is part of the Old Mill District, a converted former lumber mill. The Old Mill also hosts events like the Fermentation Celebration and Bend Brewfest.


What to do in Bend, Oregon
Bend, Oregon, has snow-capped Mount Bachelor and the Three Sisters — three volcanic peaks in the Cascade Volcanic Arc — in its horizon. Photo: Courtesy of Travis Burke
Get there: Bend is a three-hour drive from Portland, or you can fly into Redmond, which is 20 minutes away.

Stay there: Tetherow has a 50-room hotel, which is a good place to base yourself, especially if you want to bike and golf.

If you’re camping, Tumalo State Park is right on the river and has tent and RV sites. Farther out of town, there are plenty of places to camp near the Cascade Lakes.

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