Life in the Perpetual Sunshine: Five Must-Do’s in Bend Oregon
Here’s the first thing to know about Bend—it’s an embarrassment of riches. A seasonal town built around doing things—whether biking the vast Phil’s Trail complex, skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor, fishing the Deschutes, visiting the numerous lakes along the Cascade Lakes Highway, or taking advantage of the nearly absurd number of public parks and trails right in Bend.
It’s also a town packed with non-stop events, from Brew Fests to Winterfests. Sunshine is the default weather setting in Bend, and at last count there were 22 breweries to quench your thirst. It’s amazing anyone gets anything done in this town. Not surprisingly, this is also the nation’s sixth fastest-growing city. It’s boom time here in Bend and once you visit, chances are you’ll catch yourself trying to figure out the logistics of moving here… even if just in passing. Round out your active outdoorsy day with some of our favorites below. Bonus—everything is super kid-friendly.
Spoken Moto is a gem; it’s a restored space in a soon-to-be-developed industrial zone between Bend’s downtown and Old Mill districts. It’s part motorcycle shop, part retail space, and depending on the time of day, a coffee shop packed with #vanlifers and the self-employed, or a pub serving up beers, live music and events (including trivia night). My personal favorite is Saturday and Sunday brunch with live music and Scoutpost, one of the trio of food trucks in the associated lot. Scoutpost serves up incredible waffles and donut holes along with an ever-changing menu of hearty servings of eggs on a homemade English muffin, scrambled up in a hash, or served in more exotic situation. Head inside Spoken Moto to get your coffee and Bloody Mary fixes while you eat. It’s an easy place to meet up with a big crew without the extreme waits common around town.
310 SW Industrial Way, Bend, OR
Bend Whitewater Park
The new Bend Whitewater Park is a great example of the Bend Parks & Recreation on steroids. Opened in 2016, the Whitewater Park really hit its stride this past summer. Located under the Colorado Avenue Bridge by McKay and Miller’s Landing Parks, the Whitewater Park is a total scene in the summers. With river floaters ricocheting down the “safe passage” route and surfers lined up to session the wave in the whitewater channel, there is no shortage of action sport potential. There are kayakers and SUPers, toddlers splashing around the shallow beach, dogs, picnics… it’s madness and it’s awesome. Check out the hot surf action on the Bend Bulletin webcam for a preview. The wave is surfable year-round, but obviously way more chill (literally) in the winter.
166 SW Shevlin Hixon Drive, Bend, OR 97702
Broken Top Bottle Shop
Bend can get a little busy, but this is a great place to get away from the busyness and settle in like a local. Broken Top Bottle Shop is tucked away at the base of the Awbrey Butte neighborhood on the Westside of Bend. It isn’t a brewery, but a brew hub with plenty of beer on tap and 400-plus beers by the bottle. The space includes bar seating, table service and casual seating in the adjacent event space. BTBS hosts local musicians, fundraisers, outdoor adventure talks, avalanche clinics and the like. The menu is an all-inclusive blend of carnivorous BBQ, vegan and vegetarian offerings and intentional gluten-free offerings. The house-smoked BBQ tempeh sandwich and house-smoked babyback ribs co-exist as two popular choices. The sesame salmon sushi salad is also a hit in my book.
1740 NW Pence Lane, Bend, OR
Century Center Music Venue
Century Center is an outdoor summer music venue on Bend’s Westside. The venue is basically a courtyard tucked behind a series of storefronts, anchored by GoodLife Brewing and Volcanic Theatre Pub (another great year-round all ages venue). Due to its neighborhood location, the shows usually start early (7ish) and end early, and it’s kid friendly—check, check and check. I’d guess the venue doesn’t hold more than a couple hundred people, so snatch up those tickets when they go on sale. The booking is all over the place, from the likes of Everclear to lots of reggae and, my introduction to the venue this past summer, Band Of Horses.
70 SW Century Drive, Bend, OR
Rockridge Skatepark is another new feather in the Bend Parks & Rec cap, opened in 2017 on the Northeast side of town, unassumingly tucked into the suburbs. The flowing 11,000 square-foot concrete park was built by Evergreen Skateparks with a “lunar landscape” theme, which seems like another way of describing flowing bowls and smooth transitions with lots of rolling features. Either way, it’s proven to be fun for all ability levels. The skatepark is just one feature in this huge Rockridge Park that also includes a bike skills park and a bunch of winding paved and dirt trails that are perfect for kid biking.
20885 Egypt Drive, Bend, OR