Current International Covid-19 Travel Requirements Here
By Andrea Drever

Content and Editorial Director


Seems everyone who visits Bend, or even hears about Bend, or even thinks about thinking about Bend, ends up moving there. So what exactly is the magnetic draw of this Central Oregon town? I was hell-bent on finding out. So, I spent three days in Bend, and this is what I discovered.

First of all, anyone can visit. But to live in Bend, you must meet three crucial criteria: 

  1. You must be gorgeous. 
  2. You must have a dog that is at least as, though preferably more, comely than you.  
  3. You must be genuinely kindhearted, warm and welcoming at all times.  

If you meet these criteria, start packing your Subaru. However, if you’re not attractive or amiable enough to consider taking up residency, here are some things worth knowing as you plan your visit.  

Bend Big Picture: An Overview
Bend is pretty much in the middle of Oregon. It’s 139 miles from the Pacific Ocean, so a beach town it is not. But it more than makes up for the lack of beaches with its stunning mountainous landscape and plethora of outdoor activities, from hiking and kayaking to skiing and snowboarding. Though the Pacific Northwest is known for its rainy, overcast weather, Bend averages 300 sunny days a year, with weather being the nicest in June, July and August. It’s a small town, population 94,000, located on the picturesque Deschutes River. And perhaps most important, it’s filled with some of the most welcoming (and yes, most attractive) people you could ever hope to meet. 

Bend Booking:  Which Airport
Bend Municipal Airport is not where you want to land. Instead, book your flight to Redmond (RDM), which is about 17 miles from Downtown Bend. Direct flights from most big cities aren’t available, so you’ll probably be connecting to a smaller regional plane with tiny overhead bins, so pack accordingly. (I traveled with a soft, carry-on suitcase with a small stuff-filled bag inside that. Once I was on board, I quickly removed the small bag so I could squish my carry-on bag in the overhead bin.) Renting a car is highly advisable, as transportation from the airport to town is hard to come by, and because there’s so much nature worth driving to in the Bend area. If you don’t have a car, call no-nonsense Randy, owner of Taxis of Bend, at (541) 390-6781. He drove me several times, and I appreciated his reasonable rates and deep knowledge of the area.

 

Self-Cleansing Water Bottle

 

BEND BITES: WHERE TO EAT 

Original Pine Tavern Restaurant & Bar

I got out of a taxi in the heart of Downtown Bend, lugging my unwieldy, mushy suitcase with no wheels (forehead slap), and saw this welcoming-looking pub. I had a vague sense that a river was nearby, so I waddled in and asked if there were any seats with a water view. “Right this way!” They led me through the cozy pub to the outside tables that were, like magic, next to the lovely Deschutes River. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. This quaint place has been around since 1936. The delicious sirloin tip appetizer I ordered was around for a considerably shorter period of time. Try to go on Wednesday, between 2pm and 6pm, so you can catch the lively Farmers Market which is just outside.

967 NW Brooks St.
Bend, Oregon 97701
(541) 382-5581
Pine Tavern

The Podski Food Cart Lot

Chicken tikka tacos, pad thai, pork belly sandwiches, blue vanilla shave ice, a disco ball-adorned trash pit? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes, at this charming little cluster of food trucks in the heart of Bend. You can sip on a cold local brew and even get your hair done at Salon de Podski. And there’s a nice, clean portable lavatory on the premises.

536 NW Arizona Ave.
Bend, OR 97701 
The Podski

Outdoor food court with food trucks and picnic bench

Jackson’s Corner Westside

They have two locations, but locals tend to favor the one on the Westside, with its cheerful yellow house and convivial picnic table setting. It’s a great spot for brunch, and their huevos rancheros (you can substitute the chorizo for avocado) is not to be missed.

845 NW Delaware Ave.  
Bend, Oregon 97703 
(541) 647-2198 
Jackson’s Corner 

900 Wall

Located in an elegant, two-story brick building, circa 1920, this restaurant in the heart of Downtown Bend offers seasonally inspired modern American cuisine. When my friends and I visited, we found the waitstaff to be particularly knowledgeable and attentive. The duck confit (with farro, pistachios, mint, tarragon, parsley, carrot, goat cheese puree and sherry vinegar) was a group favorite. 

900 NW Wall St. 
Bend, Oregon 97701 
(541) 323-6295 
900 Wall

San Simón

“Sophisticated Debauchery.” That’s how they describe themselves, and it turns out to be quite accurate. There’s a lively outdoor area in the alley where you can nosh on small plates, like scallops in red sauce, charcuterie and the best marinated olives I’ve ever tasted. The cocktail list is great, allowing you to imbibe in everything from “The Last Blockbuster” tequila-based concoction to a lavender-ginger “Calm the F*&k Down” mocktail. Be sure to check out the stylish bar, and when you use the facilities, be certain to ogle the ceiling.  

845 Tin Pan Alley 
Bend, Oregon 97701   
(541) 323-0235  
San Simón 

Street sign for San Simon restaurant. Booth at San Simon with plastic flowers in the background

Sunny Yoga Kitchen

Super popular with locals, this happy little spot is located in the charming NorthWest Crossing neighborhood, about a mile from Downtown Bend. It’s actually a bit of a hybrid. It’s a petite yoga studio and a small kitchen with indoor and outdoor seating. They serve organic, sustainable and truly inspired meals and snacks. You can feel the enthusiasm and heart in every bite. And no, it’s not vegan. They have everything from a kale-based bowl to Burmese pork on rice. Consider popping by on a Saturday afternoon, between 10am and 2pm, when the NorthWest Crossing Farmers Market is in full swing.  

2748 NW Crossing Dr., #120 
Bend, Oregon 97701 
(541) 678-3139 
Sunny Yoga Kitchen

BEND BUYING: WHERE TO SHOP 

FigLeaf Plant Shop

You would think someone traveling by plane with just the aforementioned squishy carry-on bag would have no interest in a plant shop. But the offerings in this welcoming little establishment in Brooks Alley in Downtown Bend were so irresistible, no one in my group exited empty-handed. I bought the most astonishing fine-mist plant sprayer that I plan to use to hydrate myself on hikes. One of my friends purchased a gorgeous necklace and earrings and a stylish straw purse. And one, who drove to Bend, opted for a hefty but beautiful unglazed pot. Be sure to say hello to lovely and welcoming Janessa Reynolds, who owns this sweet little shop. 
 
930 NW Brooks Street 
Bend, Oregon 97703 
(541) 639-5721 
FigLeaf Plant Shop 

Plants inside FigLeaf Plant Shop. FigLeaf logo on shop window

 

Outside In

This great little shop in the heart of Downtown Bend has a drool-worthy collection of clothing, shoes, outerwear and light gear to “take you from peaks to pavement without skipping a beat.” It’s owned and operated by local mom and outdoor woman, Angela Salido, and is a favorite with locals for a lot of reasons. They host workshops, fundraise for local organizations and have the most wonderful collection of men’s and women’s stuff you could hope for. Many of their offerings are sustainable, like the pair of insanely cute shorts I bought that are made from recycled water bottles. Yes, they were $59. And no, I do not regret buying them. They. Are. Adorable! 

845 NW Wall Street
Bend, Oregon 97701 
(541) 317-3569 
Outside In  

REVOLVR Menswear

On the same block as Outside In, this shop has an incredible selection of stylish men’s garb, from raw denim to sleek blazers. They also carry what is clearly a carefully curated line of accessories, including watches and eyewear, and a gorgeous selection of shoes. Trust me, your significant other wants you shopping here.

945 NW Wall Street
Bend, Oregon 97703 
(541) 647-2627 
REVOLVR 

Pomegranate Home & Garden

This charming place bills itself as “slightly off the beaten path and full of good finds.” Its unusual setting alone is a great reason to visit. Located in a historic homestead site, the shop is housed in three structures: the farmhouse, the ice house and the little cottage. Inside, you’ll find a lovely collection of treasures, including vintage hotel silver and bar accessories and cute stuff for kids. For a bargain, check out their half-off shelves.  

120 NE Bend River Mall Ave. 
Bend, Oregon 97703 
(541) 383-3713
Pomegranate Home & Garden 

The Workhouse

This collective is in one of Bend’s oldest remaining industrial buildings, the machine shop of the former Bend Iron Works. You’ll find handmade goods from more than 60 local artisans, and their selection is “curated to feed your body, heart, soul and home.” Locally crafted goods range from honey and soap to clothing and accessories, as well as home decor and fine art. They’re located across the patio from the lovely Sparrow Bakery in the Old Iron Works Arts District. 

50 SE Scott St., #6  
Bend, Oregon 97702  
(541) 241-2754 
The Workhouse 

Hopscotch Kids

“Your one-stop kiddo shop,” Hopscotch Kids is in a spiffy little house on lively Galveston Avenue. Owner Bridget Swetland and her team search far and wide for unique boutique items you won’t find at Target or other chain stores. You and your kids will discover a magical selection of toys, books, arts and crafts, clothes, shoes and more.  

1303 NW Galveston Avenue 
Bend, Oregon 97703 
(541) 213-2245 
Hopscotch Kids 

BEND BOUNTY: FARMERS MARKETS 

NorthWest Crossing Farmers Market

Saturdays, 10am–2pm 
This popular market has block after block of seasonal produce, locally raised meats, fresh eggs and cheese, handmade items, beautiful flowers, tasty morsels and more. The market is located on NW Crossing Drive (the two blocks east of Mt. Washington Drive). Their website offers directions. Despite the crowds, parking in the bucolic NorthWest Crossing neighborhood tends to be fairly easy. 
Northwest Crossing Farmers Market

Bend Farmers Market

Wednesdays, 2pm–6pm 
This market runs “rain or shine, smoke or hail” from May through mid-October. It’s in lively Brooks Alley, which is in the heart of Downtown Bend, the Deschutes River. Fantastic area, with great people (and dog) watching.  
Bend Farmers Market 

Baskets of exotic mushrooms at a farmers market

BEND BEDS: WHERE TO SLEEP 

McMenamins Old St. Francis School

This is one fantastically funky establishment. Located in Downtown Bend, this 1936 Catholic schoolhouse was transformed into a hotel, complete with classrooms turned lodging rooms, a pub, brewery, movie theater, live music venue and a stunning turquoise-tiled soaking pool that practically begs you to take a bath (swimsuits required). If you visit McMenamins, don’t miss the secret Broom Closet bar. There are 60 guestrooms, all with their own bathrooms, and some with patios and kitchenettes. From $135. 

700 NW Bond Street
Bend, Oregon 97703 
(541) 382-5174  
McMenamins Old St. Francis School 

McMenamins Soaking Pool, with blue turquoise tile and elaborate fountains

Mill Inn

This charming 10-room bed and breakfast is a short stroll from Downtown Bend. The lavish breakfast includes everything from baked goods to bacon and Belgian waffles. Check in is self-service with a key-code that's emailed to you in advance. Only six of the rooms have private bathrooms, so be sure and ask about that. From $95.  

642 NW Colorado Ave. 
Bend, Oregon 97701 
(541) 389-9198 
Mill Inn 

Oxford Hotel Bend

The name hints at sophistication, and this all-suite hotel definitely delivers on that. Located in the heart of Downtown Bend, this elegant establishment has 59 luxurious suites equipped with full-service kitchens, high-speed Wi-Fi, plush bathrobes and comfortable beds, among many other upscale offerings. From $438. 

10 NW Minnesota Avenue
Bend, Oregon 97703 
(541) 382-8436 
Oxford Hotel Bend

Blockbuster Airbnb

Pack some popcorn, because the world’s last Blockbuster video store is in Bend and you can, at least theoretically, spend the night in it. The store manager has decked the place out with a fold-out sofa, a beanbag chair, snacks, a TV set and (thank goodness) a VHS player. Renters have access to the store’s full selection of movies. If you can’t snag an overnight stay (seems what you want at Blockbuster is always rented out, right?), you can visit the still-operating store during the day for your ‘90s fix. $4 a night, on the infinitesimally small chance you can get a reservation.  

Open 11am–6pm daily 
211 NE Revere Avenue 
Bend, Oregon 97701  
(541) 385-9111 
Blockbuster Store 
Blockbuster Airbnb 

LOGE Bend

LOGE has five locations in the Western U.S., and the premise behind them is pretty sweet. Basically, they find forgotten motels near their favorite towns and trails and bring them back to life. They are very outdoor-focused, and offer hotel rooms (many with hammocks in them in addition to beds), hostel bunks and campsites. “Inspired by the surf, climbing and camping culture of the ‘70s and the relaxed energy of a road trip with friends, LOGE inspires people to get out and explore together.” The Bend location is a 20-minute drive to Mt. Bachelor and a 15-minute bike ride to the breweries downtown. From $110. 

19221 SW Century Drive 
Bend, Oregon 97702 
(541) 306-3111 
LOGE Bend 

Campfire Hotel

This hip spot is less than a mile from Downtown Bend and has 100 freshly renovated and vintage camp-inspired guest rooms, a heated pool and plenty of space to store your outdoor gear. The pool bar is stocked with local craft beer, wine and liquor, and there’s a fire pit where you can hang with your crew and meet interesting new folks. Best of all, the friendly staff doubles as Bend adventure experts. From $169. 

721 NE 3rd Street
Bend, Oregon 97701 
(541) 382-1515   
Campfire Hotel

The Suttle Lodge

The owners of the Ace Hotel Portland opened a “Wes Anderson-style forest hotel” about 40 miles outside of Bend, bringing “hip nostalgic minimalism to the forest.” We’re down with that! The resort includes a collection of rustic cabins in the heart of Oregon’s rugged Cascades and is located on a 15-acre property on the shore of pristine Suttle Lake, near Sisters. There's a lodge, lakeside cabins, a cocktail bar, a boathouse, boat rentals (including paddleboards) and a seasonal restaurant called The Boathouse. The Suttle Lodge menu features seasonal comfort food alongside beers from nearby Bend and inventive cocktails inspired by the region. In the warmer months, the adjacent Boathouse offers local beers, wines, and coffees, along with tasty, summer grub. From $103.  

13300 US-20  
Sisters, Oregon 97759 
(541) 638-7001 
The Suttle Lodge 

BEND BEAUTIFUL: WHERE TO OUTDOOR 

Blue stream rushing through a green forest. Rustic stairs on a hiking trail

Drake Park

Drake Park spans 13 breathtaking acres along the Deschutes River in Downtown Bend, and every square inch of it provides a postcard-perfect view. It’s home to Mirror Pond, the scenic section of glassy river that was the inspiration for Deschutes Brewery’s famous Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Grab a cup of coffee or a scoop of gelato in Bend’s historic downtown, then mosey west until you reach the entry point along Franklin Avenue or through Mirror Pond Plaza. 

Deschutes River Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Want to glide along this glorious river? Rent a board for an hour or a day from Stand Up PaddleBoard Bend. They’ll even transport the equipment to the river for you. Never tried the sport? You’re in luck. They have a 90-minute group lesson to get you up to speed. Or more accurately, to get you SUP to speed.  

Lava River Tubes

Lava tubes are one of the most striking geological features unique to Central Oregon.  Lava River Caves, run by the U.S. Forest Service, is the longest continuous lava tube in Oregon, running nearly 7,000 feet. Only 18 miles from Downtown Bend, it’s a great beginner cave the whole family can explore, with reinforcements like railings and concrete steps to guide you along the way. Lantern rentals and maps are available at the visitor center for your self-guided tour. It takes about an hour and a half to tour the whole cave.  

Waterfall in a dense forest

Koosah and Sahalie Falls

Bend sure does make the breathtaking accessible, as evidenced by these falls located along the McKenzie River, which is a beautiful hour’s drive from Downtown Bend. Walk 100 feet from the parking lot and come face-to-face with jaw-dropping, 70-foot-tall Koosah Falls. Walk a little farther along a swimming-pool-blue river and you’ll encounter 100-foot-tall Sahalie Falls. Directions and parking info are here.  

McKenzie River

Just visited Koosah and Sahalie Falls and think you’ve seen it all? But wait, there’s more! In addition to waterfalls, the McKenzie River Trail is where you’ll find old-growth forest, lava fields and twinkling blue pools, all along one verdant path. Highlights include Clear Lake, the ultimate place for kayaking, where a preserved forest can be seen in the depths of the crystal-clear water. There are also a few hot springs along the McKenzie River Trail, one of the best being Terwilliger Hot Springs. You’ll walk for around a quarter of a mile through spectacular forest before arriving at five stunning pools separated by large rocks. The most popular and perhaps most beautiful spot along the trail is the . This incredible cobalt blue pool was created thousands of years ago and changes color with the seasons. During the spring, frothing white water pours into the pool below, while in the summer and fall, the water transforms into its namesake rich, blue color. 

Winter Fun

The mountains around the Bend area get about 30 feet of snow per year, while the city gets less than 30 inches. This magnificent contrast sets the stage for your most amazing winter vacation ever. Bend has two nearby ski resorts with plenty of fresh powder and long runs. Both Mt. Bachelor and Hoodoo Ski Area offer ski, snowboard, and cross-country ski trails. Be sure to buy your lift tickets ahead of time, since COVID-19 regulations require advance reservations in many places.

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