By Adam Sawyer
Sure, everybody knows about Bend.
It might just be the most “Oregon” place in Oregon. Between that rugged and alluring landscape, year-round outdoor activities, and dining and lodging options that range from rustic to royal, it’s a deservedly well-known destination. But have you been in the last 5 years? The last year? Heck, the last 6 months? Bend is a town with a never-ending procession of new and inventive things to eat and drink, places to stay and things to do. With that in mind, here’s a sample itinerary to help you experience just some of what might be new to you. Make travel plans at Visit Central Oregon or Visit Bend.
For this adventure, we’ll be approaching from the north on Highway 97, if for no other reason than to stop at Smith Rock. This 30-million-year-old chunk of volcanic tuff is hardly new, but places this impressive get a pass. Pro tip: You can incorporate the Canyon and Rim Rock Trails into a loop that packs in just as much epic scenery with fewer fellow hikers and far less huffing and puffing than the more popular Misery Ridge hike.
Afterward, get checked in at an excellent new lodging option in the area, the SCP Redmond Hotel. The SCP (Soul, Community, Planet) is an environmentally friendly, community-oriented hotel that exudes casual elegance via thoughtful design. The rooftop bar affords a bonkers view of the Cascades to go with craft cocktails and small plates or enjoy plant-forward cuisine at the onsite Terra Kitchen. Plus, they put a tree in the ground for every guest that stays with them.
Day two is adventure day, so grab some grub to-go downstairs at the Provisions Market and make your way south into Bend proper and over to Tumalo Falls. This is one of the premier hikes in Oregon for waterfall lovers, highlighted by the massive 90-foot Tumalo—which can be seen from an easily reached viewpoint if you’re not up for the full hike.
For your midday food and drink, consider the Midtown Yacht Club. With tongue firmly in cheek, the “Yacht Club” is actually more of a picnic-table-and-cold-beer affair with a relaxed vibe and an assortment of food cart options. Afterward, you can walk off some of those calories with a saunter to the top of Pilot Butte. The state park showcases a complete panoramic view of the area replete with Cascade mountains from Diamond Peak to Mt. Hood.
A short drive from Pilot Butte, get checked in at the Campfire Hotel. The newly renovated boutique motor lodge provides stylishly fun and affordable accommodations that are the ideal homebase for area adventures. Rooms come with storage space for outdoor gear and guests can enjoy a seasonally heated pool, year-round hot tub and a fire pit. Don’t forget the s’mores.
For dinner, partake in a true community gathering experience at the Grove. The ultimate mixed-use space combines offices, a food hall and luxury condominiums. The Market Hall is home to culinary offerings that range from Italian and Thai to burgers and seafood. Try your best to avoid the food coma though, because next up is a Starlight or Moonlight Canoe Tour with Wanderlust Tours. This standout experience takes place on the Cascade Lakes and, featuring whatever celestial illumination you happen to have that evening, it’s something special. Plus, there’s hot cocoa and/or craft beer! Do both, live your best life.
On day three we’re keeping it downtown and we’re keeping it classy. Start with breakfast at the Blissful Spoon, a new European bistro and bar. Get a good base layer in your system, because part of being classy means varying forms of artisanal and craft adult beverages. After breakfast, take the South Canyon Reach Loop hike. This outing visits a number of waterfront parks, the Old Mill District and a canyon that at times looks so wild you’d swear it was miles out into the wilderness. It’s quintessential Bend.
How about some post-hike wine tasting? The Domaine Serene Wine Lounge offers curated wine flights and seasonally rotating charcuterie. It’s a place where you’ll want to spend some quality time. Next, add some sass to your class with a visit to the Rapa Nui Tiki Lounge—a place that honors the tiki tradition with aplomb by providing fresh-pressed cocktails that pack a wallop, in the requisite tropical setting. They put their own unique twist on the genre, however, by serving well-executed Asian fusion tapas.
Where does the time go—is it already supper time? Luckily, Boxwood Kitchen is right across the street, with its modern take on the classic supper club. Think elevated comfort food with excellent drink options in a convivial atmosphere. When you’re ready to call it a day, head up the road to the Wall Street Suites. It’s steps from downtown and the perfect home base for Bend-area explorations. And maybe sleep in before hitting the road back home. After all, you did get a little classy last night.
Keeping Bend Sustainable
A new initiative by Visit Bend focuses on the protection, stewardship and creation of sustainable recreational resources for outdoor experiences in and around Bend.
“Anyone who plays here knows our trail systems, rivers and outdoor recreation spaces have seen heavier use lately from locals and visitors,” says Visit Bend CEO Kevney Dugan.
When you stay in Bend, a portion of the lodging tax you pay goes to the Bend Sustainability Fund to help mitigate the impacts of humans on Bend’s wild places.
“This is a huge step toward preserving and protecting the natural resources that not only fuel tourism, but residents’ love of Central Oregon,” explains Serena Gordon, Visit Bend’s sustainability manager. “Whether we live here or visit here, we’re united by a love of Bend’s outdoor spaces.”
The Bend Sustainability Fund is the first program of its kind among U.S. destinations. Learn more about this groundbreaking program at visitbend.com/bend-sustainability-fund.