Staff Picks Blog

The BestNews and tips

Check in here all year long for tips and news from our staff on what’s new, what’s going on and what’s happening in Bend, Central Oregon and our Best Western Premier. There’s so much to do and learn, we don’t want you to miss a thing.

couple mountain biking in the woods

Ride with Abandon on Bend's Trails

This summer, don’t you want to breathe the crisp air, feel the wind through your hair, and the freedom of the winding road? Hit the trails and scenic byways to see Bend and Central Oregon from a new perspective—and hit that trifecta on the back of a bike!

With more than 300 miles of trails, like black diamonds in Phil’s Trail Complex and six of Oregon’s most beautiful scenic bikeways, such as family-friendly rides on the Metolius River Loops, there’s a little something for everyone. If going solo isn’t your thing, jump on a tour. Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours offers everything from Farm to Table tours, to Winter Fat Bike Tours and Multi-Day excursions. Or, go with The Paulina Plunge, the Downhill Waterfall Mountain Bike Tour. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, make your way back to the hotel and enjoy a relaxing meal at our very own ZPizza Tap Room, featuring pizza and craft brews on a huge outdoor patio overlooking the area.

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dog sledding

A Snowy Spring Break Central Oregon Style

If you’re prepping and planning for an adventurous outdoor way to spend spring break, look no further than Bend’s abundant options like Mt. Bachelor’s sled dog excursions.

A sled dog ride might not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning your spring break getaway, but if you ask us, it’s an option that should be high on the list. With a professional musher as your guide and plenty of blankets to keep you warm and snug, the team will take you over the snow and past Central Oregon sights including the Three Sisters, Broken Top and, of course, Mt. Bachelor. Orientation time is scheduled before your ride and you can stick around after to join in the care, watering, and feeding of the adorable sled dogs for a full experience. If the standard one hour ride isn’t enough for you, take it all the way with the Marathon Trip — a full 26-mile ride to Elk Lake, lunch, and plenty of snow included!

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couple holding skis

Valentine's Day the Adventurous Way

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and when it comes to this couples’ day, there’s no better way to spend it together than with Bend as your backdrop.

Bend, named one of America’s most romantic towns, has the best of both worlds—adventure to bring you closer, and fine dining to fuel the romantic feels. Start the day cruising the trails on the exceptional 40 km of track at the Virginia Meissner Nordic Sno-Park. With trails for everyone from beginners to experienced skiers, your backcountry ski excursion ensures stunning views of the area and quality time with your special someone. With your appetite worked up, head out on the town for a romantic dinner at one of downtown Bend’s best eateries. Try Chow’s special Valentine’s Day menu or savor Italian flavors at Pastini Pastaria.

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sunset over paulina peak near bend oregon

America's Land of Fire and Ice

Some people hop around the world to reach exotic islands of fire and ice, but there’s no need to purchase an expensive plane ticket when the Pacific Northwest has all the makings for a vacation of volcanoes, hot springs, and snow right here.

Stretch your legs with a hike up Paulina Peak—the tallest mountain in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument area—for panoramic views of lakes, lava flows, cinder cones, basalt columns, a caldera, and a volcano the size of Rhode Island. With winter’s coat of snow, the area is nothing short of spectacular geologic features and geothermal activity. Consider routing your hike toward Paulina Lake, where you can soak your bones in one of five fairly primitive, relatively un-trafficked hot pot dugouts on the shore of the lake. The remote location means that you’ll probably have the place to yourself—so you can sit back, soak, and enjoy your surroundings.

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couple drinking coffee at market

Savor Holiday Spirit Bend Style

Set the holiday season off to the right start with Bend’s annual events. Fill your heart with holiday cheer and the glow of the season at Bend’s annual Tree Lighting ceremony. 

While you countdown to the lighting of the Community Tree—complete with more than 5,000 lights—take pictures with Santa, play games, eat cookies, sip cocoa, and take in some classic fireside storytelling. Then, keep the spirit flowing with the Bend Christmas Parade—this year’s theme: Best Christmas Ever—which, is capped off with Santa and his reindeer. But Bend is known for another kind of annual Christmas parade: the Tumalo Creek Holiday Lights Paddle Parade. Each year, dedicated kayakers and canoers deck their vessels out with festive lights and decorations and paddle around the Deschutes River for a few hours. Stick around after the parade for warm drinks, good company, and a kickstart to your holiday shopping!

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friends at table with beer

Beer City's Best Festival

Above all else, Bend is known for its beer, and there’s no better way to celebrate the suds than at the Bend Ale Festival and Ale Run.

From IPAs to APAs, Ambers to Stouts, Bend is all about the hops and malts. In honor of this beloved beverage, the city celebrates each fall with the Bend Ale Festival and Run. Start with a half-marathon or 10K and sprint across the finish line, conveniently located at the heart of the festival. If incentives encourage you, the festival is free for all runners. Once there, taste, sip and savor 40 different beers from 20 different breweries like Cascade Lakes Brewing, Deschutes Brewery, and Caboost Kombucha. If the festival just gets you going to try every brew the city has to offer, take on the Bend Ale Trail and attempt to collect a stamp from each of the city’s breweries. And, as they say, All Hail Bend Ale!

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kids in halloween costumes

Bend's Best Halloween Bash

October is the month for fully embracing what fall has to offer—candy corn, pumpkin carving, and hayrides—and all of that points to what the month is really about: releasing your inhibitions and channeling your inner alter-ego.

Bend brings the bash when it comes to monster mashing. From a creepy burlesque soiree to Boneyard Beer Pub’s Halloween Bash and costume contest, and Deschutes Brewery’s annual Halloween Warehouse Party, where there’s no shortage of festivities to live out your alter-ego life. But the freaky fun really takes off when Halloween heads downtown. At the Halloween in Downtown Bend bash, businesses pass out candy to the trick-or-treating kids, bigger kids and adults can try their hand at the Mystery Tour Scavenger Hunt, all ages can put their put-put skills to the test with Pumpkin Golf, and so much more. It’s a full day of fall fun for the whole family!

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woman relaxing in hammock crater lake oregon

Explore Bend's Nearby Natural Wonders

Ticking off all the national parks and landmarks in our great United States is a mission for many, and Bend is in the center of some of Oregon’s best stops.

Spend a day away from the urban bustle and soak up Bend’s natural surroundings at spots like the iconic Crater Lake National Park—home to the deepest lake in the country, which formed from a volcano collapsing in on itself. For two days—both of which happen to be in September this year—the road around the rim of the lake is closed to vehicles, making September a prime time to take your bicycle out for a spin around the 24-mile rim. Another nearby outdoor destination worth the trip is Smith Rock State Park, where you can take a horse ride, test your balance on a slackline, or climb one of the park’s nearly 2000 routes; it is considered the birthplace of sport climbing, after all.

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cups of coffee

A Sip of Bend's Other Brewed Drink

While Bend’s focus may stay primarily on the hoppy sort of brew, there’s another equally important caffeinated sort found in the city’s local coffee roasters.

Portland is just a few hours drive from Bend, but the Beaver State isn’t limited to one great coffee capital. With all the other brews going on in Bend, it makes sense that coffee would fit right in. For starters, there’s Lone Pine Coffee Roasters—a small batch roaster that serves up fresh cups of joe from their brick and mortar—as well as other local businesses around the Bend area. Pick up some beans or grinds at places like Midtown Market, The Pantry, and Bad Wolf Bakery. Or, stop by Lone Pine’s storefront early in the day for an extra special pick-me-up (they serve ocean rolls)! Be on the lookout for Lone Pine’s new location—coming just in time for their 10th anniversary this year.

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dog wearing sunglasses

An Old Fashioned Festival for Freedom

Since 1932, Bend residents have donned their dogs and farm pets in festive costumes to celebrate the year’s most patriotic holiday, Fourth of July.

The Pet Parade, a Bend staple, and the city’s largest parade are how locals have kicked off Independence Day for nearly 90 years. But the parade of pets of all shapes and colors decked out in their best stars and stripes is just the beginning. The rest of the day is saved for the annual Old Fashioned Festival. From a pancake breakfast in the park to live music, a pie eating contest, classic games like a 3-legged race and local favorites like the Fish Fling and Flush-a-Duck, it’s a day all for reveling in our freedom. After the festivities, find your spot at a local park for prime viewing of the fireworks from the top of Pilot Butte!

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bagel sandwich

Bend's Bagel and Burger Summertime Staple

Burgers, beer and bands are highlights of summertime living, and Bend has a spot that satisfies all those best bits of the season.

Summer living is all about adventuring through the outdoors during the day so that you can kick back at night with a delicious dinner and a cool drink, set to background music to keep the excitement going into the evening. Rockin’ Dave’s Bistro has been a Bend staple with their bagel sandwiches, but now it’s upping the ante with their newest next-door addition—The Backstage Lounge. Though famous for their boiled bagels (think flavors like cranberry orange, poppy seed, and bacon cheddar, as well as the classics), Dave’s serves up burgers, breakfast, vegan cuisine and more alongside a cocktail menu of Iced Chai Chais and Ginger Peach Bubblies. Add to that the pre-show, fun-filled atmosphere and the regular special dinners, buffets and monthly themes (this month is Baja Mex) and you’re guaranteed to be ready to hit the trails the next day!

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mount bachelor oregon

A Vertical View of Bend's Elevations

With winter behind us and summer fast approaching, it’s time to trade in the snowy slopes for backcountry boots.

Encircled by the Cascades, Bend is a choice location for hiking and playing in some of the country’s highest places. Spend a day the traditional way on trails like the majestic Misery Ridge Loop or Green Lakes Trail, or, try a few new ways to make the most of the mountains. Chairlifts don’t only get you where you need to go in the snow, they’re a top way to see the sights when the ground has dried. At Mt. Bachelor, summer Scenic Chairlift Rides take you from 6,300 feet at the West Village base area to the sweeping heights of 7,775 feet at Pine Marten Lodge. Sights along the way include the Three Sisters peaks, Broken Top and ancient lava flows — all seen from the best vertical vantage. The alpine exploration continues at the top with hikes, dinner, disc golf and more!

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man pouring beer

By Hops or High Water... Or Both

It’s not an understatement to say that Bend revolves around beer. But the city holds the secret to a balanced life as it equally revolves around the beautiful outdoors.

Great things happen when Bend’s two loves—brews and views collide—and it seems that most things around town include one, if not both, of these favored vices. Now, as the snows start to melt and sun’s light lasts longer, it’s time to think about making the switch from winter sports to summer adventures. Local outfitter and guide of great tours, Wanderlust Tours, leads an excursion made for the Northwest’s water and wheat to meet. The Brews and Views Canoe Tour carries you across the Cascade Lakes complete with hops in hand to keep you going. If you want to get a little tipsy (root beers are available for the little ones) while traversing nature’s great expanse, why not do it in a canoe? After all, summer is coming.

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alpine skiing

Send Bend's Snowy Slopes

Somehow spring is already coming back around. We know how it feels to anticipate the sun, but there’s still time to enjoy the snow too!

With a current seasonal snowfall of 177 inches, Mt. Bachelor’s frosting slathered slopes are a prime place to play in the snow before the summer temperatures melt it all away. With over 4,300 acres, 101 runs, 4-mile max runs, and terrain for everyone from beginners to seasoned experts, it’s not hard to see that the area knows snow. If you’re new to the sport it’s worth taking a short two-hour lesson that includes gear rental and a full day lift ticket so you can practice your new skills afterward. And, if cruising powder just isn’t for you, there’s plenty of other fun to be had with snow blast tubing, sled dog rides, snowshoe tours, scenic heli tours and more. However you choose to spend your day, there’s always hot cocoa and fresh food to warm you back up!

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chocolate chip cookies

Bend's Sweet Baked Staples

Every city has its staple cuisine—deep dish in Chicago, BBQ in Memphis, Rocky Mountain oysters in Denver—and Bend is no exception. Only here, it’s a staple on the sweeter side. When the Sparrow Bakery opened its doors in 2006 it had one goal: bake the best food in the best atmosphere. 

Today, it’s unlikely that anyone visiting or living in Bend hasn’t at least heard of the bakery that’s brought the city’s staple taste, the Ocean Roll. With a base of traditional croissant dough, a spread of cardamom, sugar and vanilla, and a bake of golden perfection, it’s not hard to understand how the sweet treat gained its star status. But when it comes to iconic duos (think Harry and Sally, Batman and Robin, Macaroni and Cheese) the Ocean Roll and a French press take the cake. For other baked goods around Bend try La Magie’s Marionberry Turnover, Foxtail Bakeshop’s Lemon Tart and Village Baker’s Big Eddy.

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pioneer town

Where Past Meets Present in the High Desert

If the New Year is all about new experiences, then Central Oregon’s High Desert experience might be exactly what you need. Bend’s High Desert Museum has kept the spirit of the area’s nature and pioneers alive and ready to interact with visitors. 

Connecting the present to the past with native wildlife like bobcats, historic characters and an authentic turn-of-the-century homestead and sawmill is the museum’s mission. With changing exhibits such as By Her Hand: Native American Women, Their Art and the Photographs of Edward S. Curtis, there’s always something new to see. Or, engage with the basics at the permanent exhibits. The Desertartium is filled with lizards, snakes, salamanders and more that call the High Desert home. Journey through the Spirit of the West with a Northern Paiute shelter, Hudson’s Bay Company fort and Oregon Trail wagon. This month, try your hand at gold panning and even have your findings authenticated!

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women near bonfire

Holiday Bonfires and Christmas Boats

When the snow is falling and Christmas lights are glowing there’s not a better way to enjoy the season than in the great outdoors. Bend is the place if you want to spend the holidays backcountry style. Bundle up and take to the Deschutes riverbank for Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe’s annual Holiday Lights Paddle Parade

Participants deck their boats and boards to the definitive holiday standard with lights and seasonal garb. After the parade, head to the after party holiday kick off complete with delicious drinks and celebratory company. Get into the backcountry with Wanderlust Tours’ New Year’s Eve Bonfire on the Snow. Snowshoe into the wilderness for a bonfire in a hand-carved snowpit with dessert and drinks in hand to toast in the New Year. While you count down to midnight listen to your naturalist guide interpret the night sky and nature around you. When you’re ready to warm up make your way to Thump Coffee for their special hot Chai Tea!

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