So, I of course had to find out for myself what all the hubbub was about. Luckily, I got invited to go to stay at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes hotel (right on the river) and decided to make a weekend out of it. My friend came along and we decided to eat, drink and explore as much as we could in one short weekend.
Bend is a breathtaking small-town on the Deschutes River in Oregon. Surrounding the small city you’ll find the Cascade Mountains, hiking trails, an extinct volcano, and ski resorts! It’s an outdoor lover’s paradise and is perfect for a relaxing getaway!
Below I’ve got everything you need to know for your weekend in Bend and some of my favorite things we did while we were there!
Coming from Boise, the drive to Bend is about 5 hours 20 mins through some desolate areas, which isn’t too bad if you have company. If you are one of my Idaho people reading this, just know that there are NO gas stations after you get to Burns, Oregon so be sure to fill up there. See other road trip options from Boise here.
Most people fly into Redmond, Oregon and drive about 20 minutes to get to Bend. You can also fly into Portland and then drive for about 3 hours.
If you are looking for something modern and downtown, then try out the Wall Street Suites. My friends raved about them and they have full kitchens and are dog friendly. They aren’t your traditional hotel, but the suites come highly recommended. Check current prices here.
This is a great option if you’re like me and love staying where the locals live.
WHAT TO DO DURING A WEEKEND TRIP TO BEND
Bend is the perfect outdoorsy person’s Adventureland. There’s so much to do like hiking, biking, golfing, drinking, and floating. Here are some of the main things I would recommend doing (some of these are must-dos from my friends)!
1 – Float the Deschutes River
This was probably the number one thing people told me to do during my visit to Bend and guess what, I regretfully didn’t do it. I wish we had the time! When I make it back you better believe I’ll be floating the Deschutes. People have said it’s so fun sitting in the Mill District and watching the floaters go on past, but if you want instructions on how to actually float the river during your trip, check out this guide.
Okay, so Bend is FULL of amazing breweries. I’ve listed the best ones below in my list of places to eat and drink, but I think this is a great way to see the different spots and learn about the area’s brewery history! Why not try the Bend Ale Trail while you’re at it.
4 – Go hiking or mountain biking
I don’t even know why I’m adding mountain biking to my list because I hate mountain biking, but there are tons of trails and great paths to do this in Bend. If you’re into hiking, like me, there’s also a ton of great hikes. If you want something easy and fast, see number 5. Or, this half-day hiking tour also looks awesome.
5 – Hike up the Pilot Butte
This is a great walk for dogs or just you walking up for the view. You can also drive up (we missed the parking lot at the bottom and drove up), but the views were breathtaking! I highly recommend stopping here just to get a full-circle view of Bend. It’s especially amazing on a clear day when there aren’t any forest fires.
I’m not a big “shopper” when I go out of town, but everyone recommended shopping in downtown Bend so I thought, okay why not? My friend and I ended up killing time and went downtown to stroll through the shops. Surprisingly there are a lot of adorable little spots and we spent a few hours just wandering the streets and hopping into the little shops all over town. Don’t miss the Old Mill District, a cute little area by the river with shops and restaurants. You can also sit outside and watch the floaters coming down the Deschutes River in the summer!
7 – Walk around River Bend Park or Drake Park and Mirror Bond
River Bend Park is a 13.1-acre park located on the Deschutes River and near the Old Mill District and Drake Park is a 13-acre park located near town and is a central hub for many events held in town. Both of these are great parks to walk along the water and enjoy some pretty scenery!
8 – Go skiing at the Mount Bachelor
If you’re here in the winter, most people go skiing at Mt. Bachelor because of its proximity! You’ll be able to see the mountain when you’re in town. There are also a lot of winter activities to do in Bend, like cross country skiing and snowshoeing!
9 – Go to the Lava River Cave (lava tubes), hike Smith Rock, visit Tumalo Falls
There are so many adventures to be had in Bend and nearby! Visit the Lava River Caves, a mile-long lava tube, and part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. This cave was one of the first lava tubes discovered in Oregon. Another fun outing is a visit to Smith Rock State Park offering great hiking and camping options. Lastly, visit Tumalo Falls in the Deschutes National Forest. This is a popular spot with beautiful views of this 97-foot waterfall on Tumalo Creek.
10. Take the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway
Interested in taking the sights of the area in by car? Go on this breathtaking Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway where you’ll pass through central Oregon and get views of the stunning Cascade Mountains and Mt. Bachelor. You’ll also pass by the Deschutes River, numerous lakes, and breathtaking hiking trails leading up to the famous Deschutes National Forest. Here are more things to see along the byway.
11. Visit the High Desert Museum
If you want a break from outdoor adventures and want to visit more of a tourist attraction, the High Desert Museum is for you. Inside you’ll learn about the high desert’s culture and history through artifacts, animals, and engaging programs. You’ll also get a close-up of native wildlife like river otters, badgers, owls, and hawks along with learning the history of the Native American culture and history of the area.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK IN BEND
Oh my! There are so many places to eat and drink in Bend. We didn’t get to hit up all of these over just one weekend, but I’ve listed a lot of the ones I was recommended by very trustworthy sources as well.
Thump – I loved their coffee and it’s a quick spot to grab and takeaway downtown.
Sparrow Bakery – This place was adorable, but had a line! Make sure to try the Ocean Roll and Cardamom Latte. They also have other wonderful breakfast options.
Jackson’s Corner – A super popular spot in a cute little neighborhood. You order at the counter and they have a lot of outdoor seating. Once again, this had a line, but we go there just in time and they have just about anything you could want on their menu!
Mother’s Healthy Cafe – This is a cute juice and healthy restaurant with a bunch of great breakfast and lunch options.
Wild Rose – My friend knows the owner and swears this place is awesome. I also loved the decor inside!
Pine Tavern – Go here for the best prime rib and scones.
Mcmenamins Old St. Francis School– This is actually an old schoolhouse that’s been transformed into a hotel and bar/restaurant. Each room has a different theme and it’s a great place to grab a drink or dinner.
Ariana – This restaurant is inside a cute little cottage on Galveston Ave. It’s a seasonal fine-dining spot with beautiful fish, pasta, and salads. I recommend getting a reservation as they are quite popular.
Bangers & Brews – Want something a bit more casual with great beers on tap and a huge variety of bratwurst and toppings? Look no further than this spot. Plus, they make their chimichurri in-house and it’s super popular.
Breweries & Other Places to Drink:
Bend Brewing – I personally loved this spot and we went right upon getting into town it’s right on the river with a great lawn and ppl brought their dogs! Great food too.
Crux Brewing – This brewery is a bit farther out, but amazing in my opinion. There is a huge lawn with a ton of food trucks and games and I loved it.
Portello Wine Cafe – Wino’s unite! My friend who doesn’t like beer told me this was her go-to wine spot!
I hope you get a chance to make it to Bend and when you do, I hope you get to eat your way and adventure your way through this cute town! I cannot wait to go back again and this time cross even more off my Bend Bucket List!
Welcome to the Traveling Spud! I’m Katie, a 30 something from Idaho who quit her marketing job in San Francisco, California to travel the world for a year. After a trip around the world, my heart chose Idaho. I'm addicted to outdoor adventures, photography, and inspiring others to get out of their comfort zones and cross experiences off of their bucket lists. Let's explore together! Read more here.