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24 Hours in Bend

You're passing through Bend for a day and it's the middle of winter—what do you do?


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Those who live in Bend have a pretty good grasp on what to do and when to do it. But when friends or family come to town for a brief stop, locals want to make sure their peeps have the best time possible in their limited stay. The same can be said for the many people who pass through here for the season at Mt. Bachelor, or are maybe just living the van life and coming through for some Central Oregon adventures.

If it's snowing, a stroll through beautiful downtown Bend might be in order. - NATE WYETH/VISIT BEND
  • Nate Wyeth/Visit Bend
  • If it's snowing, a stroll through beautiful downtown Bend might be in order.

In honor of the Winter Insider issue, we wanted to know: if you're passing through in the middle of winter, what do you do? We surveyed Joshua Savage, author of the 2019 book, "100 Things to Do In Bend, Oregon, Before You Die," to get his take on some prime winter spots. This is 24 Hours in Bend—Winter Insider edition.

Food & Drink

Bend Ale Trail
No matter the time of year, Bend's breweries are always open. Visitors can stop at Visit Bend and grab a free passport for the Bend Ale Trail and get the passport stamped at 10 of the 18 breweries listed on the trail to complete. In November, it earns participants a trophy!

Fire Pits & Food Trucks
Enjoying some delicious food and brews by the fire is never a bad idea. - COURTESY OF ON TAP
  • Courtesy of On Tap
  • Enjoying some delicious food and brews by the fire is never a bad idea.

Make no mistake, food truck lots stay open on the coldest days of winter. Places like On Tap and The Bite in Tumalo have heated indoor seating and large fire pits outside. The Lot cranks up the outdoor heaters and heated benches to keep everyone warm.

Outdoor Activities

Smith Rock
Hiking is more limited in winter, but Smith Rock State Park may be even better this time of year. Fewer crowds, less heat, and spectacular vistas make the Misery Ridge Trail not so miserable. Shorter and easier options like the Rim Trail also offer the chance to walk along the Crooked River and attempt to spot the local wildlife. Camping is available year-round.

Mt. Bachelor

Mt. Bachelor is a place like no other come winter. - ADAM MCKIBBEN/VISIT BEND
  • Adam McKibben/Visit Bend
  • Mt. Bachelor is a place like no other come winter.
Mt. Bachelor is one of the reasons skiers come to Bend in winter. For beginners, it's a chance to learn the difference between downhill and Nordic, and to find out if snowboarding is as gnarly as it looks. Those who aren't skiers or snowboarders can try tubing, snowshoeing or even dog sledding!

Wanoga Sno Park
Wanoga offers a huge, steep hill right near the parking lot that screams, "Slide down me!" Feel like Chevy Chase in "Christmas Vacation" as people of all ages yell with nervous glee sledding down the hill at full speed.

Places for a Quick Hang

McMenamins Hot Pools
What better way to spend a cold winter day than in a hot pool? At McMenamins, a beautifully crafted Turkish-style hot pool has stained glass windows depicting the sun, the moon and St. Francis' compassion for animals. The shimmering turquoise tiles give the pool an opulent air and the fountain's water spouting lions and open ceiling will have soakers truly feeling like royalty.

High Desert Museum
At the High Desert Museum, the story of Central Oregon's climate is told through art, Native American history, science, wildlife and more. With between nine and 12 rotating exhibits, the museum constantly changes and provides new, innovative ways to educate the public.

For more insight into great things to do in Central Oregon, visitors and locals can join the @100ThingsToDoInBend Facebook group.

"100 Things to Do In Bend, Oregon Before You Die" book reading
Sat., Nov. 23. 6pm
Barnes & Noble
2690 NE Highway, 20, Bend
No cover

About The Author

Isaac Biehl

Isaac is living proof that "Iowa Nice" is actually a thing. A journalism graduate from Iowa State University, he regularly writes about music, the outdoors and the arts/culture scene. Isaac loves the Trail Blazers, backpacking and a good IPA. He plans to one day win Survivor. Your move, Jeff Probst...

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