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.

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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An Uncommon Approach to Art

Bend is all about breaking the bounds of the status quo and embracing life full-on. When it comes to the city’s art scene, that mentality is no different. While Bend has its museums, there are better ways to admire the local art scene in a hands-on approach. Take a tour of the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection

This array of award-winning public art adorns the downtown area’s parking garages and alleyways—perfectly placed for passersby to peruse and appreciate. Or, stop by the Visitor Center and pick up a map to make a game out of art with the Roundabout Art Route. The city turned its traffic circles into centerpieces for creativity that serve as the treasures of this scavenger hunt. Simply find at least 10 of these sculptures—honored as some of the most innovative pieces of public art in the country—test your knowledge with the trivia questions on the map, and make your way back to the Visitor Center for a well-earned award!

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Ride with Abandon on Bend's Trails and Byways

This fall, don’t you want to breathe the crisp air, feel the wind through your hair and the freedom of the coursing road? Hit the trails and scenic byways, 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 in 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. When you’re worn out, make your way to the Drift Bike Races at Silver Moon Brewing this September for some good old cycling competitions!

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Kick Back with Bend's Best Beats

Here in Bend, we believe the best way to get by is with a cold brew in hand while kicking back to the beats of a live band. With festivals, free shows, and live music fundraisers, August is the month of music.

Show your support for Oregon Adaptive Sports—an organization that provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors—at the Bigstock Music Festival. This year, Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers will headline, joined by other local and world-class musicians, a silent auction, food, drinks and more. For a fun night out, head to Drake Park each Thursday for the Munch & Music Free Concert Series. Bands performing this month include Rising Appalachia, The Itals, and Super Diamond. Celebrate Folk the first week of September at the Sisters Folk Festival. With a stellar lineup—including Justin Townes Earle, The Dustbowl Revival, and Banda Magda—a song academy and a free concert series, it’s sure to be the cherry on top of your summer!

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Catch Constellations, Speeding Comets and Spaceships

Let your imagination take off to new heights at the Worthy Garden Club’s HopservatoryThe WGC formed in 2015 with the intent to inspire with the beauty of our planet and space while encouraging people to preserve it. Set the tone for your voyage through the three-story Hopservatory in the Transporter room—an area inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night and decked out with comets, spaceships, and planets. 

When you reach the deck on the third floor, take a minute to soak in the panoramic view from Mt. Bachelor to Mt. Hood. Follow the tour guides as they use lasers to highlight constellations in the night sky. Then, sneak a peek through the 16-inch telescope to catch a glimpse of some of the night sky’s lights—a moment that will take you deep into the past. Of course, the night sky changes with the seasons, so you can come back again and again and always see something new!

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Take in the Tastes and Tunes of June

Bite of Bend is back for another year of beer, bands, and enough food to keep you going until the next Big Bang. Take in the warm weather as you wind your way through a taste of some of the Northwest’s best vendors. Sample $2 bite-sized bits—from ice cream to burgers and everything in between—as you go. Work off the food at the annual beer run—a 5K with local brew samples along the route and a full beer at the finish. Or, cheer on the under 21 crowd at the Root Beer Run.

When you need a break, listen to the line-up of more than a dozen local bands or watch chefs battle it out in Bend’s very own version of Top Chef. But the fun doesn’t even stop there. When the festival ends, keep savoring the flavors with demonstrations, classes and chef’s dinners at the 6th annual Bite Week!

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Savor Backcountry Brews and the Spring Snow

The summer sun is starting to emerge, melting all that pristine powder that once coated the Cascades. But there’s still time to soak up some of the snow before the warm weather takes over. If you’re looking for something a bit beyond the battered tracks of the typical trekker, Strap on your snowshoes and sneak in one last jaunt through the snow with Wanderlust Tours.

Wanderlust has you covered from the parking lot to mid-trip pints. The 4-hour, professional naturalist guided tour will take you deep into the woods to little-known lookouts with views of the surrounding mountains. While you take in the view at your destination, cool off with a local micro-brew. Underage adventurers are welcome to join the fun with root beer. All you need to bring are warm clothes, sunglasses, and a camera that will capture the moment for years to come!

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The Trail to Bend's Ale

Bend has more breweries per-capita than any other city in Oregon and has been nicknamed “Beer Town USA.” So it’s no wonder the Bend Ale Trail - a walking tour of all of Bend’s 16 breweries - is one of the most popular things visitors want to tackle while in Bend. Pick up your Bend Ale Trail Atlas and Passport at a participating brewery, the Bend Visitor Center or the ticket mill at the Old Mill District and begin the journey. 

With 16 breweries along the route, you don’t have to do them all in one day but acquiring a stamp at each brewery is rewarded with prizes; just make sure you read the rules of the trail before you head out because if you don't follow the rules, you don't get a souvenir. Ten stamps gets you a commemorative Bend Silipint (an unbreakable silicone drinking glass); if you get stamps from all 16 breweries you’ll receive the Silipint and a Bend Ale Trail bottle opener. No purchase is necessary to get a passport stamp.

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