10 Fun Things to Do in Bend Oregon + RV Living Tips

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Bend, Oregon, is one of those places you can’t help but fall in love with. This high-desert city in Central Oregon is a fantastic vacation destination for just about anyone. Known for its wide selection of breweries and outdoor activities, there are plenty of things to do in Bend, Oregon.

When you arrive in Bend, you’ll immediately notice the popular RV and van life vibe, which always makes us feel right at home. Don’t be surprised if you see purpose-built adventure rigs all over town from off-grid adventure vans to expedition vehicles and everything in between.

Joe and I have spent quite a bit of time here, and these are some of our favorite things to do in Bend, along with a few tips for fellow campers and RVers.

Things to Do in Bend Oregon

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1. Stay Caffeinated at Thump Coffee

Thump Coffee Bend Oregon

Start your morning with a cup of carefully roasted and precisely brewed coffee at Thump Genuine Coffee. The Ethiopia Washed ranks very high on Joe’s favorite coffee list.

For those of you who prefer to brew your own coffee, you can find freshly roasted beans for sale at any Thump location in town as well as many of the local markets including Market of Choice and Newport Ave Market.

2. Feast on Delicious Thai Food at Wild Rose

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Wild Rose Thai is arguably one of the most popular restaurants in Bend, Oregon. Expect a wait at this Northern Thai restaurant during peak dining hours. Our favorite dishes include Grandfather’s Tom Kha, Kabocha Curry (pictured above) and Kar Nar Moo Krob.

After our trip to Thailand, we fell in love with Thai cuisine, and it’s nice to be able to find some of those flavors we loved without flying halfway around the world.

Tip: if you’re traveling solo, lunch is a great option with smaller portions where you can try more than one dish.

Wild Rose also has a sister restaurant in Bend called Sen Thai Hot Pot and Noodle House. We stopped in for lunch and had a wonderful meal. Things to order at Sen Thai include Poh Pia Sode Tod, Ba-Mee Moo Dang and Guay Teow Mun Goong.

3. Beer Hop In Bend

Deschutes Brewery Tasting Room

With the growing number of breweries in Bend, you can find just about any style of beer or non-alcoholic brew to satisfy your taste buds.

Deschutes Brewery is the most well-known and established spot in town. Did you really visit Bend if you didn’t try a Deschutes beer?

Crux Fermentation Project is another popular brewery in Bend with a large tasting room and outdoor area. Joe likes their Gimme Mo Not Just Another IPA. The expansive outdoor space with picnic tables and fire pits makes it a great spot to relax.

GoodLife Brewing is one of our local favorites. The award-winning Descender IPA is a must-try for all you IPA drinkers out there. Their lawn is usually less crowded, offering a perfect spot for a laid-back summer afternoon.

10 Barrel Brewing is a more recent discovery for us. Although the brewery has been around for a while, there’s only so much time for brewery exploration each visit. The Cucumber Crush from their series of sour beers is especially refreshing on a warm summer day.

4. Visit the Blockbuster in Bend

Step back in time and visit the last remaining Blockbuster in the world. This iconic store is a nostalgic trip for anyone who remembers the excitement of Friday night movie rentals. Inside, you’ll find shelves stocked with DVDs in alphabetical order. It’s a fun and quirky stop that offers a unique slice of pop culture history. Whether you’re a long-time fan or just curious about this relic of the past, the Bend Blockbuster is definitely worth a visit.

5. Grab a Loaf of Freshly Baked Bread

Great Harvest Bread Company Bend Oregon

Bend has a good selection of bakeries and cafes making freshly baked bread.

Great Harvest Bread Company is known for their freshly milled and baked breads. Our favorites include the honey whole wheat and Dakota.

Jackson’s Corner makes a wide range of traditional sourdough breads. We especially enjoyed the whole grain sourdough.

These bakeries are also well known in Bend serving some delectable baked goods that locals and tourists love. We haven’t sampled these yet, but it’s a good reason to come back to Bend right?

The Sparrow Bakery makes an croissant style pastry covered in cardamon sugar called the Ocean-Roll that customers absolutely love.

Nancy P’s makes a cinnamon roll that our friends had said is an absolute must try. Go early to guarantee your cinnamon roll experience, because we’ve heard they do sell out.

6. Fresh Local Produce at the Farmers Market

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Wednesdays in the summer means an abundance of fresh local produce at the Brooks Alley farmers market in Bend, Oregon. In addition to in season fruits and vegetables, you’ll also find artisan breads, pasture raised meats, wild caught fish, local honey, fresh cut flowers and specialty food vendors.

Tip: if you’re not able to make it to the farmer’s market, Central Oregon Locavore is open daily with a great selection of local produce and meats.

7. Relax at One of Many Parks in Bend

Drake Park Bend Oregon

Bend Park & Recreation own a good portion of the land in the city. As a result, there are many wonderful parks to choose from.

Grab a blanket or the lawn chairs and head to Drake Park (pictured above). 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.

Go for hike at Shevlin Park. You may be surprised to find the popular Tumalo Creek Trail such a short distance from Downtown Bend. When you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, enjoy peace and quiet at this tranquil park.

8. Drive Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway

Driving the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway is a must-do experience in Central Oregon, and it comes highly recommended by our friends who live in the area. This 66-mile scenic route is RV friendly and offers breathtaking views. As you journey through the Deschutes National Forest, you’ll pass by alpine lakes, dense forests, and volcanic peaks. With plenty of pull-offs and scenic viewpoints, this drive is an ideal way to take in the natural beauty of Central Oregon.

There are also several RV-friendly campgrounds along the route, such as Elk Lake Campground and Little Lava Lake Campground, making it easy to extend your adventure and enjoy an overnight or two in the camper.

9. Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

South of Bend is the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Check out the Lava Lands Visitor Center to learn more about the lakes, lava flows and trails in this 50,000+ acre region. We were greeted by this double rainbow on the Trail of the Molten Land.

10. Explore Beyond Bend

When you’re in Bend, be sure to check out Sisters and Redmond too. Sisters is a charming town at the base of the Cascade Mountains with a cool, old Western vibe and a vibrant arts scene. It’s also right next to the Three Sisters Wilderness, which is perfect for hiking, biking, and fishing. Just a short drive away, Redmond offers a different kind of adventure with Smith Rock State Park, known for its world-class rock climbing and stunning views. Redmond also has a growing food scene and unique shops that are fun to explore.

On our most recent visit to the area, we discovered Xalisco Latin Cuisine in Redmond and the food was amazing and the great service made the experience all the more special. If you are going to be in town for one of the Overland Expos this year, be sure top by for a meal or three.

Whether you’re on your way to Crater Lake National Park or on your way to Bend, definitely add this to your road trip.

RV Living Tips for Bend, Oregon

For those of you camping in Bend, here are a few tips:

  • Cathy’s Express Eco Laundromat has fast washing machines and good dryers. Credit cards are accepted.
  • There are several Amazon lockers in town including one at the Whole Foods in Bend.
  • Oregon Adventure Trucks is a local adventure rig outfitter and accessories shop that can help you build and modify your adventure vehicle.
  • Bend Battery has a wide selection of batteries and can troubleshoot electrical issues and help with upgrades.
  • Verizon internet speed can vary depending on where you are in the city. We had to use our cell signal booster in a few areas to get usable data. Read our post on RV Internet to learn more about ways to stay connected on the road.
  • To quickly find campgrounds, RV dumps, propane fills, potable water and more RVing/camping resources we use Allstays. Check out our AllStays Review.

Where to Camp in Bend Oregon

In the past we have camped on the street and driveway surfed with friends. Most of the time, we prefer to camp on public land. For tips on finding free camping around Bend, check out our post on how to find dispersed camping on public land.

Having fun exploring in Bend, Oregon!

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5 thoughts on “10 Fun Things to Do in Bend Oregon + RV Living Tips”

  1. You reminded me about that the Blockbuster visit was on my bucket list. I remember when we got a $1k DVD player (new thing when it first came out). We’d cruise the “DVD Section”,waiting for new releases to come out. The entire “section” was just one section of shelving.

    Anyway, there is a documentary celebrating the Last Blockbuster.

    More info here:

  2. I look forward each week to your postings re your experiences. Keep up the wonderful travel log; recommendations for products; RV reviews etc. Since you have had your van, have you experienced parking spaces which are too small for your van length/width? How big of a unit would you say would become problematic in the average parking spots? Do you have a P O Box for snail mail that you care to share? Happy travels!!


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