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Soaring mountains, rushing rivers, and a quaint downtown featuring a multitude of local craft breweries make Bend, Oregon a marvelous destination! The natural playground is highlighted by an interesting history – and visitors are spoiled for choice of exciting and fun things to do in Bend, Oregon.
When we planned a weekend in Bend, OR, we wanted to pack our trip with the top attractions and experiences. We sought out the best places to visit in Bend – and discovered a few lesser-known Bend tourist attractions, too.
What is Bend, Oregon Known For?
When searching for things to do around Bend it becomes abundantly clear what the city is known for: the great outdoors and some of Oregon’s best craft beer.
Bend, Oregon Outdoor Activities
There is no doubt that the top activities in Bend are outdoor adventures. Bend basks in about 300 days of sunshine a year and is drenched in outstanding natural beauty. From skiing to rock climbing to floating down the river, outdoor enthusiasts (and those who just like to take in epic views) can partake in an array of outdoor adventures in Bend, OR.
Craft Breweries in Bend, Oregon
Just as astounding as the nature is the incredible number of craft breweries in Bend, OR. The beer town proudly proclaims 22 craft brewers and ranks as one of the highest Brewery-per-Capita cities in the USA. Visitors can find their way to the breweries on the popular Ale Trail: Bend, OR (which we discuss in detail later).
24 THINGS TO DO IN BEND, OREGON
Our list of the best things to do in Bend, Oregon features top attractions and activities so that you can plan your trip to Bend, Oregon with ease. To really help you plan your time in the city, we wrap it all up in a Bend Weekend Itinerary – plus we offer tips on how to get there, where to stay in Bend and a few essential packing tips as well!
#1 Explore Downtown Bend on Foot
The small, historic center of Bend is a fabulous place to explore. Fashionable shops and local eateries occupy the well-preserved buildings along Bond and Wall streets, enticing visitors to slow down to savor the charm of small town Bend.
Simply wandering is one of the best things to do in Downtown Bend, Oregon, but travelers who want to take their exploration up a notch can opt to go on a city scavenger hunt.
Pro Tip: Looking for free things to do in Bend, Oregon? We recommend going on your own historical walking tour!
#2 Relax at Drake Park and Mirror Pond
Without a doubt, one of the top things to do in Bend is to kick back and relax at Drake Park. The city-center park fronts the picturesque Mirror Pond, which was created in the early 1900s when the Deschutes River was dammed.
The park hosts top Bend events throughout the year – and is a lovely locale for a leisurely stroll along the water or for a picnic lunch.
Pro Tip: The biggest event of the year at Drake Park is the annual Old Fashioned July 4th Festival, which includes a parade and fireworks.
#3 Drink a Pint of Craft Beer on the Ale Trail Bend
As we already mentioned, one of the top Bend, Oregon things to do is hoist a pint of beer at a local brewery. Visiting the breweries – which are practically tourist attractions in Bend, Oregon – is a fun way to spend an afternoon in the city.
Beer aficionados can obtain an official Bend Ale Trail map from any of the city’s brewers – but we want to highlight a few of our favorite Bend breweries to visit.
Bend Brewing Company, Bend, OR
Hands down, one of the best things to do in Bend, OR is to drink a beer at Bend Brewing Company. The brewery is located in the heart of Old Town Bend along the Deschutes River – and the spacious lawn provides plenty of room to spread out while sipping your beer. We recommend trying the signature Tropic Pines IPA!
Deschutes Bend Public House
The original brewhouse of Deschutes Brewery, the Bend Public House provides the perfect opportunity to try the brewery’s best beers straight from the source. Plus, they offer a range of small-batch beers brewed just for on-site consumption.
Crux Fermentation Project
Innovative and forward-thinking, Crux Fermentation Project is a true find (as in, it can be truly difficult to find, but is well-worth the effort!). Housed in a former transmission shop in Bend’s industrial district, Crux produces delicious brews, which are served up alongside phenomenal views.
Boneyard Beer Bend
When it comes to fun things to do in Bend, OR, Boneyard Beer fits the bill! The laid-back brewery on the north end of town features more than 20 taps of locally brewed beer – plus a range of cocktails, slushies and made-in-house CBD elixir. Boneyard also serves up some terrific eats – try the Royale with Cheese and you will see what we mean!
Interested in learning more about the Bend Craft Beer movement? Join a local tour guide on a Bend brewery tour and tasting adventure – Get the Details!
Pro Tip: Want to sample a variety of Oregon and PNW brews? Stop into White Water Taphouse where the knowledgeable staff can pour you one of 30 beers on tap along with an impressive bottle and can selection.
#4 Hike to Tamolitch Falls Blue Pool
Hiking to the Blue Pool (formally known as Tamolitch Falls) is one of the best things to do near Bend, Oregon. An astounding natural site, the turquoise pool is fed by the water of an underground river, which seeps up through lava rocks.
The trail to the Blue Pool, rated easy-to-moderate, is a 4.5-mile roundtrip trek that follows the McKenzie River through dense forest and over rocky terrain. Hikers can trek from the cliff’s rim down to the water to take a dip – but the average water temperature is a chilly 37 degrees!
Pro Tip: The McKenzie River Trailhead to the Blue Pool is about a 1.5-hour drive from Bend. MAP. The route passes through the cute town of Sisters, which is a fun stop along the way.
#5 Stand in Awe at Sahalie Falls
Another one of the highly rated things to do around Bend, Oregon is to take in the sight of Sahalie Falls. The 100-foot plunging waterfall is a powerful, mist-producing cascade – and there is no hike required.
Getting to Sahalie Falls is simple; the parking lot is located just off Highway 126 (not far from the McKenzie River Trailhead – MAP) – and it’s just a short walk to the viewing platform.
That said, there is an easy 2.5-mile looping trail that connects Sahalie Falls to a second, smaller waterfall, Koosah Falls.
Pro Tip: Up for a longer hike? The McKenzie River Trail connects Tamolitch Falls Blue Pool, Carmen Reservoir, Koosah Falls and Sahalie Falls for a 10-mile roundtrip trek.
#6 Spend a Day at Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park (MAP) is almost otherworldly – and visiting the park is definitely one of the fun things to do in Bend, Oregon. The High Desert park features deep canyons, towering cliffs and exceptional rock formations.
World-renowned for rock climbing, other activities at Smith Rock State Park are hiking, biking and wildlife watching.
Of the many hiking trails, the steeply inclined Misery Ridge Trail is the most popular and the most challenging. As we were up for a less strenuous hike, we wound our way through the park on the Homestead and River trails. Use this park map to plan your visit to Smith Rock!
Want someone else to lead the way? Join a Central Oregon guided tour from Bend that includes hiking at Smith Rock State Park and visiting the artsy western town of Sisters.
Pro Tip: There is a parking fee at Smith Rock State Park, but day passes can be purchased from the machines in the parking lot for $5.
#7 Stretch Your Legs on the Deschutes River Walk
The Deschutes River Trail extends several miles through Bend along both banks of the Deschutes River. Completing one – or more – sections of the trail is one of the fantastic things to do in Bend, OR.
We accessed the River Walk from Riverbend Park (MAP), where the trail travels south 1.5 miles to a footbridge. The pleasant walk features a wide, flat path and ample photo ops of the surrounding nature.
Pro Tip: The Deschutes River Walk – or Bend River Walk, as it is sometimes called – is one of the great things to do in Bend with kids, too! Along the path, there are playgrounds, interesting informational plaques and a few spots where you can dip your toes in the water.
#8 Take in the Views from Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint
Far and away, one of the unique things to do in Bend, Oregon is to drive (or hike) to the summit of an extinct volcano, Pilot Butte, that sits just 2 miles from downtown Bend (MAP).
The cinder cone rises 480 feet, delivering exceptional 360-degree views of the surrounding high desert terrain. The most impressive view is to the west of Bend, where the snowcapped Cascade Mountains are in clear view.
Pro Tip: If you make the hike up, use this Pilot Butte informational park brochure!
#9 Drive Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway
One of the most serene and beautiful Bend things to do is to take a drive on the Cascades Lake Scenic Byway.
The 66-mile scenic byway climbs out of Bend toward Mount Bachelor, then hooks south around the iconic Cascade Mountain peak through the stunning Land of Lakes and impressive lava fields.
In addition to some of the most stunning scenery in Oregon, the lakes and streams offer incredible opportunities for fishing and boating.
Pro Tip: Consider packing a picnic lunch for your Cascade scenic drive and enjoy your meal with a view. Lava Lake has a few picnic tables and a supreme view of Mount Bachelor, South Sister and Broken Top Mountain.
#10 Go See Salt Creek Falls
The thundering Salt Creek Falls is a 268-foot streaming waterfall – and seeing it ranks as one of the top things to do near Bend.
The Salt Creek Waterfall viewing platform is just a short walk from the parking lot ($5 cash fee) and is wheelchair accessible. Adventurous hikers can continue down a steep set of stairs to the bottom of the falls.
Pro Tip: Salt Creek Falls is located right off Highway 58 – and is not too far from the southern end of the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. MAP.
#11 Ski Down Mt Bachelor in Winter
One of the best things to do in Bend, Oregon on a winter vacation (and the spring, for that matter!) is to go snowboarding and skiing at Mount Bachelor.
The Mount Bachelor Ski Resort is one of the largest in America with 4,300 skiable acres and more than 120 unique runs. Both novice and experienced skiers are sure to find a run they can enjoy at the Mt Bachelor Ski Resort.
Pro Tip: Looking for more things to do in Bend in winter? Other Bend winter activities include snowshoeing, sledding, ice skating and even fat tire biking.
#12 Float the Deschutes River in Bend in Summer
When summertime comes around, so does one of the best activities in Bend, Oregon: Floating the Deschutes River.
There is, perhaps, no better way to relax, cool off and enjoy the scenic landscapes than from a tube in the river. Rentals and transportation are available – so all you need is your swimsuit, some sunscreen and your water shoes!
Floating is just one of the many activities to do in Bend, Oregon on the river. Kayaking and stand up paddle boarding are other fun things to do in Bend during the summer.
Pro Tip: Want a more intense river adventure? Check out the Bend Whitewater Park where you can surf the Deschutes River!
#13 Go on an ATV Adventure in the Bend Badlands
Get off the beaten path and behind the wheel of an ATV for an adventure through the Bend Badlands!
There is no question that exploring the Badlands is one of the fun things to do in Bend – and it is even more exciting in an ATV. The guides – who give excellent pre-trip instruction – tailor the tours to each group. Find out more about the thrilling ATV tour.
Pro Tip: An ATV is just one way to see the expansive Oregon Badlands Wilderness. This unique Oregon geological area can also be experienced on foot or by horseback.
#14 Gaze into the Gorge at Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint
Disguised as a rest stop on Route 97 north of Bend, the Peter Skene Ogden Scenic Viewpoint is actually one of the really cool things to do around Bend, OR.
The 300-foot-deep gorge was carved by the Crooked River and is backdropped by the Cascade Mountains, creating a breathtaking scene. The basalt canyon is crossed by three bridges (one of which you can walk onto for fabulous views) and features a few informational plaques.
Pro Tip: During the summer in Oregon, visitors can get an adrenaline rush when the scenic viewpoint transforms into one of the fun Bend attractions: a bungee jumping site.
#15 Eat and Shop in the Bend Old Mill District
The revitalized Old Mill District is a hub of entertainment – and shopping, eating and playing in the Old Mill District are top things to do in Bend, Oregon.
The district is marked by the three rising smokestacks that were part of the riverside lumber mills, which dated to the early 1900s. As the district was undergoing renovations in the 1990s, several original structures were salvaged and developed into a chic outdoor shopping mall.
Visitors will find boutique shops alongside national brands – and heaps of excellent places to eat in the Bend Old Mill District.
Pro Tip: Entertaining concerts are held throughout the summer at The Les Schwab Amphitheater – and the Old Mill District hosts numerous Bend events, such as Art Walks, Bend Brewfest and Art in the High Desert.
#16 Get Nostalgic at The Last Blockbuster
Friday night movie rentals are a thing of the past…except in Bend! The last surviving Blockbuster in the United States is situated on the north side of the city.
Visitors who want to take a walk down memory lane can step through the doors of what is now known as The Last Blockbuster. It’s one of the nostalgic and cool things to do in Bend, Oregon.
Pro Tip: In addition to the movie rentals, the Bend Blockbuster sells merchandise and displays movie memorabilia.
#17 Discover Pioneer Park and First Street Rapids
The pleasant Pioneer Park might not be one of the top Bend, Oregon tourist attractions, but it provides a peaceful retreat from the busier intercity parks.
The park was one of the first city parks in Bend and it features paved paths, a picnic area and formal rose gardens. From Pioneer Park, visitors can follow the riverside trail north to First Street Rapids Park.
Pro Tip: A longer, 2-mile walk north along the river from Pioneer Park leads to Sawyer Park, which is rated by many as one of the beautiful things to see in Bend, Oregon!
#18 Taste-Test Local Kombucha
When you are ready to take a break from Bend sightseeing, pop into the Humm Kombucha Taproom for a refreshing drink. Whether you are new to the kombucha craze or already fully on board, the Humm Taproom is the perfect place to sample the locally made product in Bend.
Pro Tip: Taproom visitors can order a flight or a pint – and can also grab bottles to go or fill up a growler!
#19 Seek Out Natural Hot Springs
Located on a (literal) hotbed of volcanic activity, seeking out natural hot spring is truly one of the best Bend, OR things to do.
Although there are no natural hot springs in the city of Bend, visitors can find steamy geothermal pools at nearby Paulina Lake, which is just an hour away. In addition to hot springs, visitors can hike to Paulina Falls or take a trek along the otherworldly Big Obsidian Flow Trail.
Other popular – but further – hot springs in the Bend region are McCredie Hot Springs and Terwilliger Hot Springs.
Pro Tip: Forego the natural hot springs and opt instead to soak in the bathhouse at McMenamins Old St. Francis School Hotel.
#20 Feed the Alpacas at Crescent Moon Ranch
Alpaca farms abound in the area around Bend! The dry climate and high elevation are ideal conditions for raising alpacas – and many of the ranches invite visitors to get up close and personal with the fluffy creatures.
In fact, Crescent Moon Ranch (located near Smith Rock State Park) offers guests the opportunity to hand feed the alpacas – which we think is one of the fun things to do in Bend, Oregon with kids.
Entry to the ranch is free! There is a small charge for feed, but it is just a few dollars – and tons of fun!
In addition to mingling with the alpacas, visitors can also wander through the gift shop filled with alpaca wool products.
Pro Tip: The Petersen Rock Garden and Museum is an interesting roadside attraction that sits between Bend and Crescent Moon Ranch. It’s worth a stop to see the unique rock art…and the roaming peacocks.
#21 Visit Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Anyone interested in geology will want to put the Newberry National Volcanic Monument on their Bend, Oregon sightseeing list.
Situated in the Deschutes National Forest south of Bend, the area encompasses 54,000 acres of lava fields, lakes and trails. The Newberry Volcanic Monument is easily accessed from Highway 97 – and is just a half hour drive south from Bend.
One of the top things to do in Bend, Oregon at Newberry is to hike into the Lava River Cave. The lava tube, which was discovered in the late 1800s, extends for 1 mile and can only be visited in the summer season.
Pro Tip: Visitors can learn more about what to see and do in the area at the Lava Lands Visitor Center and the Paulina Visitor Center.
#22 Bike Down a Mountain
One of the fun things to do in Bend, Oregon is to hop on two wheels for a thrilling ride in the mountains. In fact, it is one of the best Bend outdoor activities – the city has been ranked by many as one of the best mountain bike towns in the United States.
With almost 300 miles of mountain biking trails in the region and heaps of bike shops offering rentals, it is easy for visitors to organize an exciting day of cycling in Bend. Some bike rental companies even offer shuttle services.
The mountain bike trails around Bend range from easy to intense – so there is a trail for cyclists of all skill levels. The most popular mountain bike trails are Phil’s Trail and the Whoops Loop.
Pro Tip: While mountain biking is one of the best Bend summertime activities, it is also one of the things to do in Bend in winter!
#23 Learn about the Region at the High Desert Museum
When sightseeing in Bend, don’t miss one of the top Bend, Oregon attractions: The High Desert Museum.
Rated by many visitors as one of the best things to do in Bend, Oregon, the High Desert Museum offers guests the unique opportunity to experience close encounters with native wildlife. Otters, porcupines and falcons are just a few of the creatures housed at the museum.
The High Desert Museum is situated on 135 acres and features a massive exhibit space. However, the real draw – and the reason many families rate it as one of the best things to do in Bend for families – are the hands-on programs and critter talks.
Pro Tip: The museum is open year-round and tickets can be purchased in-person or in advance online.
#24 See the Astounding Tumalo Falls in Deschutes National Forest
Known for its diverse landscapes and incredible outdoor adventures, Deschutes National Forest is one of the best places to visit in Bend, Oregon – and Tumalo Falls in the Cascade Range is a highlight of the park!
Ranked as one of the most popular things to see in Bend, Oregon, Tumalo Falls is a 97-foot-tall flowing waterfall nestled in an absolutely gorgeous setting.
Although parking can be problematic, it is just a short walk from the parking lot to the Tumalo Falls viewing platform. Hikers can embark on a trek past the viewpoint to more waterfalls upstream. Visiting the area requires a day-use fee or Northwest Forest Pass.
Plus, if you are wondering what to do in Bend, Oregon with your dog, the Tumalo Falls hike is a dog-friendly trail!
Pro Tip: For a much more challenging hike in Deschutes National Forest, consider making the popular (but extremely difficult) climb from Devil’s Lake to the summit of South Sister.
Weekend in Bend, Oregon Itinerary
We have outlined the absolute best things to do in Bend…and now we are going to show you how to fit it into one weekend – one long weekend. Rather than outlining how to spend 2 days in Bend, we are extending the trip to a 3-Day Bend Itinerary.
How you plan your Weekend in Bend Itinerary will depend on where you are coming from and your travel time to get to Bend. In our itinerary for Bend, we begin and end the trip in Eugene, Oregon.
DAY 1 of Your Bend Itinerary
Drive from Eugene to Bend via McKenzie Highway 126; bring a packed lunch and plenty of water. Stop at Tamolitch Falls Blue Pool for a late-morning hike (4 miles) and consider eating an early lunch on the rim of the Blue Pool. Next, make a quick stop at Sahalie Falls (and walk to Koosah Falls, if you’re up for another hike!)
Continue on Hwy 126 – passing through Sisters and perhaps make a short stop depending on your timeline.
Arrive in Bend by mid-afternoon and get checked into your hotel. We recommend staying at the Wall Street Suites.
After getting settled to your accommodations, set off on foot to discover Downtown Bend. Pop into the shops, wander through Drake Park and stroll along Mirror Pond – then delve into the historic Old Bend residential neighborhood.
Circle back to downtown Bend for a beer at the Bend Brewing Company on the outdoor lawn. When it’s time for dinner, tuck into the Deschutes Bend Public House for a satisfying pub grub meal and a fresh pint of Oregon craft beer. Alternatives to pub fare are the ever-popular Wild Rose Northern Thai Eats or the fashionable Zydeco Kitchen and Cocktails.
DAY 2 of Your Weekend in Bend
Get an early start and dive right into one of the best things to do in Bend, Oregon: Nature.
Either go north to Smith Rock State Park or south to the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Regardless, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at a picturesque spot.
If you go north, make time to visit the Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint or go to the Crescent Moon Ranch to feed the alpacas. If you instead went south, consider booking an ATV tour, visiting the High Desert Museum or finding the natural Oregon hot springs.
Back in Bend for the afternoon, embark on an intercity adventure. If it is summertime, float the river, otherwise, set off on the Deschutes River Walk. On the other hand, if shopping is more your jam, head straight for the Old Mill District Shopping Mall.
Join the locals at Crux Fermentation Project for a pre-dinner beer – then end your day at the Boneyard Pub with a CBD elixir and a divine Royale with Cheese Burger.
DAY 3 of Your Bend, Oregon Itinerary
Start off your third day in Bend early with a walk through Pioneer Park to get the blood flowing. Check out of your hotel – but before leaving Bend, stop by Pilot Butte for the phenomenal 360-degree views. Make one last city stop at Humm for a kombucha tasting – or grab a bottle for the road.
Leave Bend via the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway – but detour to Tumalo Falls for a peek at the wonderous waterfall. Get an up-close view of Mt. Bachelor and take in the splendid views as you drive south to Oregon Highway 58.
Make the drive back to Eugene on Highway 58 – making stops at Salt Creek Falls and McCredie Hot Springs on the way.
Top Tips for Things To Do Bend, Oregon
Now that you know what to do in Bend, Oregon and how to plan your trip, we have a few more pertinent travel tips!
How To Get To Bend
If you are not already in Oregon or the vicinity, then the best way to get to Bend, Oregon is by flying.
Flights to Bend, OR
The best place to fly into is the Redmond Airport in Bend, Oregon (RDM) with direct flights from San Diego, Vegas, Phoenix, SFO and Denver (amongst others). Alternative airports close to Bend, Oregon are Portland (PDX) and Eugene (EUG).
Rental Car in Bend, OR
Regardless of which airport you use for your flight to Bend, you will need a rental car to get around the city and region. We recommend using a website like Expedia to price out rental car fares – but we offer even more tips in our Renting a Car article.
Driving to Bend, OR
In our Bend Itinerary, we outlined how to get to Bend, Oregon from Eugene. However, if you are driving from Portland, the best route is to take Highway 26 South to Highway 97.
Accommodations in Bend, Oregon
Bend accommodations range from luxury hotels to funky hostels to holiday apartments.
Hotels in Bend, OR
For our trip to Bend, Oregon, we stayed at the Wall Street Suites. Located on Wall Street just north of downtown, the recently renovated Wall Street Suites was a fantastic place to stay in Bend.
The full-size kitchen is perfect for preparing picnic lunches and the room featured local touches, like artwork, chocolates and toiletries. Best of all was the community fire pit, which was incredibly relaxing at the end of our long days exploring. Check availability and rates!
Airbnb: Bend, OR
For longer trips, Airbnb is our go-to resource. If you are looking for holiday apartments in Bend, OR, be sure to read our Guide to Using Airbnb.
What To Pack for Bend, Oregon
Most of our tips for what to do in Bend, OR include spending time outside – so you will want to make sure you are properly packed for all types of Oregon weather. Whether you travel with a backpack or a suitcase, we have a few packing hacks to ensure you will have what you need for your Bend trip!
Refillable Water Bottle
With the high elevation (the altitude of Bend, Oregon is 3,623 feet) it is easy to get dehydrated – especially when out adventuring. Make sure you travel responsibly and bring a refillable water bottle for your trip! We like using Kleen Kanteen water bottles but think these collapsible water bottles are ideal for travelers.
Walking, hiking and exploring are a few of the best activities to do in Bend, Oregon – so don’t forget to pack a good pair of walking shoes! I think the best travel shoes are lightweight and versatile, which is why I packed my New Balance shoes on our trip to Bend.
We Want To Know: What would you add to our list of Things To Do in Bend, OR? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
Exploring other destinations in the Pacific Northwest?
Use our guides to help plan your trip to the Pacific Northwest!
Find out How to Spend 3 Days in Portland (including the Columbia River Gorge), use our Guide to the Oregon Coast and get our tips on the top Things To Do in Florence, Oregon – one of our favorite Pacific coastal towns and home to numerous Great Oregon Hikes!
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