PeaceJoyAustin

Cheap, free, and local-endorsed things to do in beautiful places

Bend

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  • Located in Oregon’s high desert just east of the Cascade Mountains
  • Popular for skiing, golfing, and hiking
  • Positioned along the scenic Deschutes River

Metro Population: 166,000 (#245 in the U.S.)

When To Visit: Year-round

Climate: Warm and sunny in the summer and fall. Cold with rain and snow in the winter, milder weather in spring.

This popular resort town is the largest city in Central Oregon and is conveniently located close to many of Oregon’s most beautiful natural wonders. Named for the bend of the Deschutes River on which the center of the city lies, Bend’s natural beauty is prominent everywhere you look.

Photo: Riverview Park

Where To Go in Bend

Downtown: Bend has a quaint downtown right next to the Deschutes River with cute shops, cafes, and bars.

  • Drake Park: A popular Downtown park that features open space and walking paths along the Deschutes. Free.

Old Mill District: This revitalized section of the city is filled with bars, restaurants, and even the famous Deschutes Brewery.

  • Farewell Bend Park: This pretty park located along the Deschutes River across from beautiful cliffs is a great starting point for a hike along the river. Free.
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Sunset over the Deschutes River in the Old Mill District

Pilot Butte: Hike or drive to the top of this peak on the east side of town for some of the best views of the city. Free.

High Desert Museum: Learn more about the high desert ecosystem and the life it supports at this museum south of town. $15 admission during summer, $12 during winter.

Tumalo Falls: A moderately strenuous 7-mile round trip hike takes you to this stunning waterfall in Tumalo State Park just north of the city. Free.

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The Deschutes River Trail in Bend

 

Bend Cheap Eats

Bend restaurants and fast casual eateries popular with locals where you can get a full meal for under $15. I always highlight some vegan or vegetarian options – cutting down on the amount of meat you eat is by far the #1 way you can reduce your environmental impact and contribute less to animal cruelty.

The Pine Tavern: The city’s iconic restaurant is centered around a giant live ponderosa pine tree. Dinner prices are a bit high, but lunch is more reasonable. 967 NW Brooks Street, Downtown. (541) 382-5581.

10 Barrel Brewing: This popular pizza joint has a nice patio and a huge beer menu. 1135 NW Galveston Street, River West. (541) 678-5228

Jackson’s Corner: An affordable American eatery with a variety of healthy and not-so-healthy options that is especially popular for breakfast and brunch. 845 NW Delaware Avenue, Old Bend. (541) 647-2198

Nearby Side Trips from Bend

Cascade Lakes: The Cascade Lakes Highway begins in Bend and takes you by 14 beautiful lakes which feature scenic mountain views and plenty of opportunities for boating and hiking. Read more.

Smith Rock State Park: This dramatic state park a half-hour north of the city has sharply carved river canyons and rock formations. Read more.

Painted Hills: One of Oregon’s most unique natural wonders, the Painted Hills (2 hours northeast of Bend in John Day Fossil Bends National Monument) are a collection of brightly colored hills you’ll have to see to believe. Read more.

Crater Lake National Park: The deepest lake in the U.S., Crater Lake (2 hours south of Bend) was formed when a volcano exploded and left a giant crater. There are plenty of hikes with great perspectives of the lake and you can even take a boat to its iconic Wizard Island. Read more.

Portland: Known as the hipster capital of America, this city 3 hours northwest is perched on the junction of the mighty Columbia & Willamette Rivers with a panoramic view of Mt. Hood to the East. Stroll through one of its many famous gardens or venture out to see nearby forests & waterfalls. Read more.

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