14 Reasons You Should Travel to Bend, OR, ASAP
Bend is one of those Northwest gems tucked into central Oregon that locals will tell you to keep hidden, but even they know it's too late. Despite their best efforts, Bend shines like the treasure it is, turning itself into the not-so-well-kept secret as an already speedily up-and-coming domestic destination. The small-town feel with boundless opportunities for outdoor activities makes cozy Bend a hot spot year round. The fact that it's busting with hip eateries and drinkeries? Well, that doesn't hurt either. These 14 reasons will make a hard case to get there ASAP, before everybody else and their brother does. So here's a curated selection of Bend's Winter best in the form of activities, delicious eats, and beverages that'll warm you and your soul. Oh, and they pretty much all carry over to the Summer version, where Oregon hospitality and gorgeous backdrop views are served up with a side of fresh air, just a little warmer.
The best way to absorb the adorable town of Bend is a good old-fashioned stroll at Drake Park. The well-placed walking path along the river is so picturesque, it's almost laughable. The river leads your eyes to the snow-capped mountains and ducks dot the waters, while locals walk their dogs and you pick your jaw off the ground. Pinch yourself; you're starring in your very own live postcard.
For arguably the best brunch in town, get your chow on at Chow. It offers a handful of specials outside its already amazing regular menu, making meal choices extra difficult. It uses ingredients that match the air: fresh. With an onsite greenhouse, it makes sense, and color us impressed. Stretchy pants encouraged.
Crow's Feet Commons
Fancy sipping your coffee in an indoor ski lift? No problem. Just be aware you may have to wait your turn, because actual children first, after all. Not only that, but they build bikes, tune ski and snowboard equipment, and have a taproom to chase down your coffee. Pretty sure we might just stay here all day.
If a cloudy Winter day is gorgeous, imagine what the sunny Spring and Summer rays would do to this lake deemed "clear" for a reason, one that makes a return Summer visit pretty darn convincing. Located a little over an hour from Bend in the Willamette National Forest, it's definitely on the day-trip list. Stop by for a picnic lunch, hike on the lakeside trail, rent a boat at the resort, or just gaze at endless nature-y greens skirting the lake's edge.
There are loads of waterfalls in Oregon, but Sahalie makes it easy to find yourself in a mossy wonderland of misty waterfall goodness. A quick hour and a bit of a scenic drive brings you to this popular spot nestled in the Willamette National Forest. Sporty Spice you can hike the waterfall loop trail, or feeling-less-ambitious you can park in the lot mere feet from the falls. It's less crowded in the Winter months, and you can (carefully) trek your way down to your own viewpoint via hiking paths.
Because Oregon is chock-full of waterfalls and you'd be silly not to see this in conjunction with Sahalie, given they are next-door neighbors. View Koosah as either part of the waterfall trail hike you've endeavored, or an easy park and walk is an option as well, where you can do as much of the trails along the edge as your heart desires.
Smoothie heaven, basically. For a midmorning or afternoon snack, Dakine Cafe is swirling up some serious superfood smoothies, among other healthy choices. Located right in town, it's a no-brainer for a quick pick-me-up. Oh, and espresso too.
The trifecta of brew-cider-distiller-ies is a glorious one, and in Bend, they all mesh together in flawless harmony. Atlas is a hot spot, where dogs come to chill and the free popcorn flows; its cider is delightful to boot. Grab a tasting flight, play some retro arcade games, and relax by the fire.
If it's Winter in Bend, you might as well strap on some skis, snowshoes, or boots and get out there to enjoy all of the crisp goodness. The Hoodoo Ski area about an hour from Bend has all these activities, and snow, because that's kind of a key component. So go on, channel your inner snow-lover.
Mount Bachelor might be the most obvious resident of Bend, as it stands regally seemingly everywhere you go. So really, it's a can't-miss that you won't miss. How 'bout that scenery though?
The lodge at Sunriver Resort is one of ultimate coziness. Enjoy a coffee or an adult beverage where the windows lead to THIS. It's nature at its finest, people. Seeing the sun illuminating Mount Bachelor as it goes down is a Bend bucket-list item that isn't going to check itself off.
Yes, more sunsets . . . they're that good. The aptly named dusk drinking hour is a big thing at Crux Fermentation Project, a craft brewery complete with dollar-off specials on its namesake brews and the sun tucking behind an impressive mountain backdrop. It's a perfect setting to ponder why it's never been called Sundowner Hour before.
You'll think to yourself, "Damn, that's fancy," as the bartender whirls fire, creating the Spanish Coffee of your dreams. A warm adult beverage such as this comes with a complimentary fire show in this old church school garage, complete with pew seating and an outdoor courtyard sprinkled with fire pits. If there's one thing to learn about Bend, it's that Winter doesn't stop anyone from drinking on outdoor patios. And for that, we're grateful.
Dogwood Cocktail Cabin
Because cabins and cocktails make perfect sense. This spot takes its handcrafted cocktail business seriously. The impressively innovative menu makes it a tough choice, but either way, you'll be cheersin' delicious drinks in the supercozy bar. Or find yourself in one of the cute little nooks for a little privacy. There's no way this isn't a win.