“Can we please move to Bend?” I asked my husband after we spent five days in Oregon’s summer/winter playground of a city, this past summer. (Unfortunately there is no surfing except for river surfing! so the answer was ‘no’). Bend is spectacular. Not only is it beautiful, but it has something for everyone — river activities, fishing, hiking, breweries, great food, and more, and that’s just in the summer. This town is a winter playground as well!
Located on the Eastern side of the Cascades Mountain Range, Bend is more “high desert” than lush. Pine trees, wildflowers and the winding Deschutes river are key features of this town. Its grown in popularity over the past few years and for good reason. We seriously LOVED our time in Bend and can’t wait to return. If you have a few days to spend in Bend during the summertime, here are some recommendations.
Float on the Deschutes
If you do anything in Bend, you must do this! When the weather is hot, which it often is in mid-summer, the best thing to do is FLOAT! You can park at the Park & Float and take the shuttle to start your float. You can either rent a raft, or you can purchase one at a sporting good store. The rental rafts are much higher quality than what you can buy. There are air-pumps available at the park before launching. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to float down the river with an amazing “white water” section in the Bend Whitewater Park. We had SO MUCH FUN! The city of Bend spent several years renovating an area of the river where floaters formerly had to get out and walk. Today, they have two sections — a “Surfing” area, and a whitewater section. If you want to, you can get out and repeat the whitewater section as many times as you want and its FREE!
TIPS: Technically you can’t bring alcohol on the Deschutes – so be careful. We didn’t know this and had our YETI’s filled with some local brew. Whoopsie 🙂
Also, we didn’t have any but the rocky bottom of the river is rough on the feet. I would recommend some shoes if you have them.
Tumalo Falls Hike
One of our best memories from our seven week roadtrip was standing underneath the roaring Tumalo Falls. You can do either a long hike up to the waterfall — or you can simply drive and park (remember to bring cash to park!) and walk the .5 miles up to the lookout and then hike down to the side of the river and under the falls. This would not be a good hike for really small children.
Just 20 minutes outside of Bend is the resort town of Sunriver. We stopped in on our way to Elk Lake, and loved the Sunriver Brewery and the little downtown shops. There are miles and miles of bike trails and outdoor activities in Sun River. It seemed incredibly family friendly and would be a great option for another place to stay.
Visit a Lake
The Cascades are filled with beautiful clear lakes perfect for fishing, swimming, kayaking and paddleboarding. It was so hot when we were in Bend that we drove an hour to Elk Lake to cool off. It was gorgeous, and the water was the perfect temperature. I would definitely do another lake day the next time we visit the area.
Bike, Walk, Run Down the River
One thing I love about Bend is how beautiful and well kept the sidewalks and trails are. Flowers are everywhere, and there are miles of sidewalks perfect for jogging, walking or biking along the river.
Go to a Brewery – or 30!
Supposedly Bend has more breweries per capita than any other city in the U.S. I believe it! From the massive Deschutes Brewery, to smaller employee owned operations, we really enjoyed trying new beers. Some of our favorites include: Sunriver Brewing Co. (they have a brewery in Bend as well!), and Immersion Brewing. Immersion was great because they had a bunch of kids books so our kids were entertained while we tried beers.
In short, Bend is one of my favorite places. I hope I get to experience it many more times. Have you been to Bend? If so, comment below and let me know some of your favorite places!