Surrounded by scenic rivers, towering mountains, and dense forests, the city of Bend, Oregon is both a picturesque showstopper and prominent hub for outdoor activities. From exciting mountain biking rides down Mt. Bachelor to leisurely kayaking trips on the Deschutes River, this welcoming city offers plenty of attractions for travelers of all ages. If you’re ready to explore town, look forward to incredible museums, cozy breweries, and theaters. Book a stay at one of many Bend Oregon vacation rentals so you can enjoy the flow of central Oregon life.
1. Float the Deschutes River
Experience a Bend rite of passage with a lazy float trip down the Deschutes River. Rent spacious river tubes from Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe and launch at Farewell Bend Park. Float down through beautiful the Old Mill District and end at Drake Park, where you can take the Bend Area Transit shuttle back to your car.
2. Hike Pilot Butte
Enjoy a challenging hike just minutes from local vacation rentals on Pilot Butte. This cinder cone volcano rises 500 feet above the city, and at the top, you’re rewarded with panoramic views of the city and the nearby mountains. Choose from two different routes; if you’re hiking with kids, benches along the way create convenient resting spots.
3. Ski Mt. Bachelor
When the snow falls, join the locals at the Mt. Bachelor ski area, one of Bend’s most popular winter attractions. With seven lifts, a huge variety of terrain, and 3,365 feet of vertical, it’s a paradise for skiers and snowboarders. Rent gear onsite, or book a lesson to brush up your skills.
4. Go Mountain Biking
If you’re visiting Bend in the warmer months, head to Mt. Bachelor for some of the best mountain biking in the area. Ride the lift to the top, and enjoy over 13 miles of downhill trails for all abilities. The Mt. Bachelor Bike Park rents bikes and safety gear, so you can ride with confidence.
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5. Visit the High Desert Museum
See how Bend residents have survived throughout the centuries at the High Desert Museum. The museum hosts a variety of fantastic replicas, including a Northern Paiute shelter, a fur trapper’s camp, an Oregon Trail wagon, and a settler’s cabin. Don’t miss the Miller Family Ranch, a working replica of a 1904 homestead where actors interact with your family.
6. Explore the Lava River Cave
Pack your warm layers and sturdy shoes for a trip through the Lava River Cave. As you descend through this ancient lava tube, check out the wild rock formations and try to spot the resident bats. Be sure to bring a light, and plan to spend at least one hour navigating the mile-long cave.
7. Take an Ultralight Flight
See Bend from above aboard an Ultralight aircraft trip with Airborne Outback Adventures. These tiny, open-air vehicles offer unimpeded views and a rush of adrenaline. Choose from a variety of fly-over destinations, including the city of Bend, Mt. Bachelor, and Newberry Crater National Monument, or work with the pilot to create your own adventure.
8. Go Whitewater Rafting
Paddle over heart-stopping rapids on a whitewater rafting trip with Ouzel Outfitters. Fly through Class III rapids on the Deschutes River, stopping to jump off rocks and swim in the river. For an easier family outing, try the Class II rapids on the McKenzie River.
9. Tour the Bend Ale Trail
Get into Central Oregon’s craft beer culture on the Bend Ale Trail. Start with a tour of Deschutes Brewery, and move on to more than 15 other stops on the trail. If you plan to hit more than one, rely on the Bend Brew Bus to provide safe transportation and a selection of snacks.
10. Paddle Board on Soda Creek
Paddle through a brilliant green valley in the shadow of forested, snow-capped mountains at Soda Creek. Kids and adults love navigating this beautiful stream, which twists and turns dramatically. Rent paddle boards from Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe and launch anywhere along the shallow stream; Soda Creek Campground is a convenient spot.
11. Explore Downtown on an Electric Bike
Get into the Bend electric-biking tradition with a rental from Pedego Electric Bikes. These fun bikes add a little oomph to your pedaling, so you can zoom around downtown and by the riverfront. If you want to see the city from a local’s perspective, head to Bend Electric Bikes, where the friendly staff offers tours of downtown, breweries, and art installations.
12. Catch a Concert at The Old Stone
Built inside a historic church, The Old Stone is one of Bend’s favorite spots for live music. Stop by to hear some of the city’s most popular local or touring musicians as they play in front of beautiful stained glass windows. The venue also hosts plays and films, many of which are family friendly.
13. Explore Public Art
Bend has a fantastic and unusual public art scene; grab a coffee from Lone Pine Coffee Roasters and head out for a stroll around the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection. Each piece is mounted outside, in alleys and on the walls of parking garages. Another great option is the Roundabout Art Route walking tour, which takes you past 20 different installations in unexpected places. Pick up a map anywhere in town or download it from the Visit Bend website.
14. Take a Snowshoe Bonfire Tour
Make the most of Bend’s spectacular winter weather with a snowshoe and bonfire tour with Wanderlust. As dark falls, your guide leads you on a starlit walk through the snow in a silent forest. The walk ends at an amphitheater carved out of the snow, where you can sip hot chocolate around the bonfire as the guides provide engaging commentary about the local area from a naturalist’s perspective.
15. Go Retro at the Arcade
Step back in time at the Vector Volcano Classic Arcade, which is packed with vintage games from the 80s and 90s. Admission allows you unlimited play of the pinball and arcade games, so you can stay for an hour or a full day. As you play, sip on a local craft beer from the bar.
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