Aside from being the largest city in Central, Oregon, Bend is know for its microbreweries and for being the “dog-friendliest.” A beer dog-friendly city? Sign us up! After exploring Crater Lake National Park, we were eager to make our way to Bend, Oregon. After spending a week in this quirky high-desert city along the Deschutes River, we fell in love. Now we understand the “Bend Sucks! Don’t move here.” stickers on everyone’s cars. Don’t worry native Oregonians, we won’t be moving to Bend, at least not this year.
With a hectic filming schedule for three months straight, Bend was the perfect place to take a break. Needless to say, Joe was glad to enjoy his morning coffee without a camera in his face. Although we didn’t film, we still want to share some activities because there are so many fun, free and budget-friendly things to do in Bend Oregon.
Things to Do in Bend Oregon
Stay Caffeinated at Thump Coffee
Start the morning with a cup of carefully roasted and precisely brewed coffee at Thump Coffee on Minnesota Ave. If you’re serious about coffee or want to learn more about it, check out the Friday morning cupping at the tasting room on Bond Street. The Ethiopia Washed ranks very high on Joe’s favorite coffee list.
Go on a Walking Tour
Once you’re well caffeinated, go on a guided walking tour of historic downtown Bend. The tour starts at the Bend Visitor Center where you can pick up a complimentary treat for fido. Check the Visit Bend website or call for tour dates and times.
Relax in a Soaking Pool
Continue the walking tour by heading over to McMenamins Old St. Francis School Hotel. Pick up a self guided walking tour guide at the entrance and explore the Catholic schoolhouse turned hotel. On our tour, we discovered the indoor soaking pool, which is open to the public at budget friendly cost of $5 per person.
Attend an Outdoor Event
There are so many festivals and events going on in Bend, you’ll be hard pressed not to find something fun to attend. During our visit we enjoyed live music at Munch and Music as well as night glow at Balloons Over Bend. Both events were free to attend with food and beer available for purchase.
Sample Some Free Beers
Deschutes Brewery offers free tastings and brewery tours seven days a week. Tours can be booked through their website, although we were able to walk-in and get on the waitlist. Each guest can have up to four samples per day. We both enjoyed the Fresh Squeezed IPA made with citra and mosaic hops. Tip: you don’t have to go on a tour to take part in the beer tasting.
Tackle the Bend Ale Trail
Serious about beer? Check out the Bend Ale Trail. Pick up a passport from any one of the 16 participating breweries or grab one when you’re at the Bend Visitor Center. The cool thing is no purchases are necessary to get the stamps. You can claim the prize and trophy without beer ever touching your lips.
Enjoy a Slice of Freshly Baked Bread
Stop in at the Great Harvest Bread Company for a free slice of freshly baked bread from their sample board. They also offer a wide range of sweet treats from scones and cookies to “almost” gluten free bars. The sunflower whole wheat bread was my favorite and the Swedish rye was Joe’s favorite. Tip: loafs of bread go on sale at 50% off every Saturday at 4pm.
Kick Back at Drake Park
Grab a blanket or the lawn chairs and head to Drake Park. The 13-acre park offers lush green grass with well maintained paths along the river and through the park. Plan to stay a while, the sunsets over Mirror Pond are worth sticking around for.
Happy Hour at Crow’s Feet Commons
Rainier beer is $1 a pint during happy hour at Crow’s Feet Commons. If you enjoy PBR like me, you’ll enjoy this beer and the price. Don’t worry, there are plenty of other beers to choose from including a good selection from Bend breweries. There’s free wifi and outdoor seating with plenty of dog bowls.
Help Keep Bend Beautiful
The Oregonians in Bend are proud of their city and it shows. Don’t be surprised to see locals stop in the middle of a sidewalk to pick up trash that didn’t make it into the trash can. Join them in keeping the city beautiful for everyone to enjoy. Volunteer opportunities include the Annual Deschutes River Clean-Up.
Watch the Sunset from Pilot Butte Scenic Viewpoint
Several locals told us to watch the sunsets from Pilot Butte Scenic Viewpoint. Sadly, our time in Bend was cut short by a summer heatwave. It’s on our list of things to do the next time we’re in town.
Travel Around the World in an Overland Vehicle
Ever dream of traveling around the world in an overland expedition vehicle? EarthCruiser Overland Vehicles makes those dreams a reality. For anyone seriously considering an overland vehicle, a visit to EarthCruiser HQ in Bend is a must. Check out our EarthCruiser tour and test drive.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
South of Bend is the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Stop in at the Lava Lands Visitor Center to learn more about the lakes, lava flows and trails in this 50,000+ acre region. We stopped in here on our way to Bend and were greeted by a double rainbow on the Trail of the Molten Land. The cost is $5 or free with the America the Beautiful pass.