Bend: Unrivaled natural beauty abounds

If there’s a more picturesque, beautiful place than Central Oregon, we haven’t found it. When you live here, every glance out a window is sublime.
The Cascade Mountains soar to the west of Bend, their peaks covered with snow for much of the year. They are the ever-present backdrop that sets off a sky so blue it sometimes hurts to look at until the peaks erupt in reds and golds as the sun sinks behind them in the evening.
Coming down from the peaks, vast stretches of natural forest hint at Bend’s history as a timber town. Today trails slip between the evergreens and are frequented by bikers, hikers, runners and campers more often than chainsaws.
Scattered throughout Central Oregon’s forests and peaks are frigid mountain lakes filled by annual snowmelt. Crystal clear water reflects the surroundings so well it’s easy to lose track of which way is up.
Descending into Bend, the Deschutes River provides a central landmark. Parks line the river and Mirror Pond downtown. Some deciduous trees appear, and their leaves add a splash of color in the fall.
Bend features two volcano remnants, too. Awbrey Butte on the west side and Pilot Butte on the east. The latter is a state scenic viewpoint and an easy evening walk to the top where the vista stretches for hundreds of miles.
And finally drive east out of town into the high desert and the stray lava field. Despite the lack of rain, life still thrives there, providing a rugged backdrop for recreation and escape from the rush of the daily grind.

Bend is for Golf

Bend is one of America’s best-kept golf secrets. Few communities can boast one course among Golf Digest’s Top 100 Public Course in America. Central Oregon has three! Crosswater at Sunriver, Tetherow and the Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn each has earned national accolades.
The region’s 30 courses offer stunning vistas, manicured fairways, and challenges for players of any skill-level and budget. Some of the courses are even open year-round, weather depending, so you’re never too long from another 18.
Courses run the gamut in price and amenities. Juniper Golf Club in Redmond won’t break the bank with greens fees and is well suited for a casual round. Meanwhile, new resort courses come with resort prices and all of the extras one expects for that price. The region also has a handful of private clubs for players who want to take things to the next level.
In between are courses that feature spectacular views and exceptional layouts at a variety of price points. From high desert tracks, where lava rocks and sagebrush await just of the fairway, to mountain meadows with tree-lined fairways, each course is memorable.
The mountains are on display at Lost Tracks, the red sand traps of Aspen Lakes provide striking visual contrast to ancient pines, and Crooked River Ranch tempts players to shoot close to the edge of the Crooked River Gorge, if only to better take in the amazing view.
And once you’ve played them all, other great courses awaits within a short drive. Golfers willing to take a weekend trip will find five more Top-100 courses in Oregon. Only California and Hawaii have more than Oregon’s eight.

Bend Festivals

In Bend, there’s always a public celebration coming up, a chance to get out and socialize with friends and neighbors. This is a festival town, no matter what time of year.
The result is an unrivaled sense of community. Bend has grown over the years from sleepy timber town to a bustling city of 80,000 residents plus tourists. Over time, though the city grew by leaps and bounds, we never strayed from that small town feel. Residents are close-knit and you always seem to run into someone you know any time you walk downtown.
That sense of community spills over with the many events and festivals held in the city.
Each of the seasons has its own festival. Venerable Winterfest and Summer Feshave been around for many years. Newer Spring and Fall festivals have joined them as beloved traditions.
Bridging the gap between summer and fall, the Bend Brewfest, despite its adult beverages, is an all-ages event at which many local brewers showcase their latest alchemy.
Bend also hosts farmers markets throughout the summer and fall harvest season. Despite its high desert climate, Central Oregon farmers and ranchers thrive. Locally sourced food is a delight after spending time mingling with friends at the market.
Crowds gather for more than shopping and festivals, too. A summer Munch and Music series is followed by Munch and Movies in the fall.  Indeed, during the warm part of the year, outdoor concerts occur so often, it’s hard to catch all the great shows. Recently, The Old Mill got in on the action with it’s Alive after 5 series of concerts and each concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater has its own festival feel.
And not-to-be-missed is the July 4th Pet Parade downtown followed by fireworks launched from atop Pilot Butte that night.
Bend might have built its reputation on the great outdoors, but the events in town are what continue to make it a vibrant place to live or visit on regular basis.

Delicious Dining in Bend

Delicious Dining in Bend

People in Bend play hard, and they work up big appetites on the slopes, trails and links. It’s no surprise, then, that the high desert town is home to a growing restaurant scene that rivals much bigger cities. Dining in Bend has never been as good.

Hungry locals and a steady flow of tourists have attracted skilled chefs to Bend—the head chef at 5 Fusion in downtown Bend was recently nominated for the coveted James Beard Award—and the city overflows with dining options. In fact, Bend now boasts more restaurants per capita than any other city in Oregon.

Many of Bend’s restaurants have caught the eye of national foodies. Spork, a restaurant that started life as a food truck, recently was featured in The New York Times. Meanwhile, Huffington Post named Bend the third-most restaurant-crazed city in the country.

Downtown might be the center of the action in Bend, but quality dining has spilled out into the neighborhoods. Walk or drive down any main street and it won’t be far to find another great place to eat. Better yet, wander off the beaten path and find upstart gems and old-school institutions.

Some of the best dining options include: Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails’ fine dining with a Southern twist, Trattoria Sbandati’s authentic Italian cuisine, and the Brickhouse’s steaks. Each was a winner in The Source Weekly’s 2013 Best of Central Oregon.

Of course it’s not all gourmet. Sometimes you just want something delicious without all the pomp. Bend institutions like Pizza Mondo, Pilot Butte Drive-In and Taco Stand aren’t fancy, but the tables are always full. That last spot is a hole-in-the-wall secret favored by locals for lunch. If you prefer a craft brew with your meal, brewpubs abound.

It’s a good thing there is so many ways to play in Central Oregon. With all of the great food, we need to burn a lot of calories. Whether you want romantic dining over candlelight or a snack watching sports on a big screen, Bend has you covered.

Beer Drinkers Paradise in Bend

A beer-drinker’s paradise
Bend is Ground Zero for the craft-brewing boom that exploded from the hops-covered hills of the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, the scene has only grown more epic—two-dozen breweries now operate in Central Oregon in addition to our wineries, cider companies and distillers.
It all started in 1988 when Deschutes Brewery opened the first brewpub in downtown Bend. Despite growing into a craft-beer behemoth that ranks among the largest brewing companies in the country, the downtown Bend eatery remains popular with locals and visitors returning from a day on the slopes, rock climbing or hiking in the Deschutes National Forest.
Other venerable institutions like Cascade Lakes Brewing and Bend Brewing Company have been crafting beer since the mid-1990s.
The industry really took off after the turn of the century, with several new breweries popping up per year. Crux Fermentation Project, one of the newest, is a particular favorite with locals.
Oregon is known for big, in-your-face IPAs, and fans won’t be disappointed at Bend’s breweries. Boneyard Beer makes such a great version, the RPM IPA, that brewers literally can’t keep up with the demand. Beer drinkers shouldn’t limit themselves to one style, though. Local breweries offer flavors to suit every thirst, and brewers are always experimenting. Most offer seasonal beers that highlight their latest inventions.
If you don’t know where to get started and don’t want to worry about driving, Bend’s Cycle Pub is available. Riders pedal a bar on wheels around town on a guided tour, ensuring that some of those calories are burned off.
And for those who prefer something other than beer, Bend offers other alcoholic refreshments. Atlas Cider Company and Red Tank Cider Company are two new arrivals. A number of wineries also have tasting rooms in town, and Bendistillery has been making award-winning vodka and gin (flavored with local juniper berries) for more than a decade. Oregon Spirit Distillers puts out its own fine vodkas and gin, and a particularly smooth bourbon—the perfect alternative to a beer on a frosty high desert evening.