The Perfect Escape from Winter's Rains
Admit it. You’re tired of the rain and the gray. Then pile in your car and escape to Bend with its 300 sunny days a year. Whether you’re into snow sports or prefer to play indoors when it’s cold, this Central Oregon getaway has something for everyone.
Skiing Mt. Bachelor
Whether you ski downhill and Cross country, Mt. Bachelor with its sweeping vistas ranging from high desert lava beds to the nearby Three Sisters’ peaks beckons.
Downhillers can choose from seven high-speed quads serving terrain that ranges from black diamond expert to novice-friendly. Spring passes typically go on sale in March and usually cost just a bit more than two full-price day passes. Since Mt. Bachelor remains open into May, this is a great deal and a great reason to plan a couple of springtime Bend getaways.
Nordic skiers can enjoy 56 kilometers of groomed track at Mt. Bachelor or opt for more of an adventure by venturing out on ungroomed forest trails that start at Skyliners and Swampy Lakes Sno-Parks. Contact the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District Office at 541-383-4000 for information.
Non-Skier Snow Play
Non-skiers (or tired skiers who want a change of pace) can also play at Mt. Bachelor:
Ski the Sunrise chair or park in that lower lot below the Sunrise Lodge and you’ll hear dogs barking. A lot of dogs barking. Make that a lot of sled dogs barking and just begging to run. They’ll happily tour you through a snowy winter wonderland as soon as you cozy up in the dog sled, which is driven by a professional musher. These sled dog tours are run by Oregon Trail of Dreams, which is operated and owned by Jerry Scdoris and his daughter Rachael, a world-renowned athlete who became the first legally blind person to complete the 1,049+ mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race across the U.S. state of Alaska.
Free 90-minute naturalist-guided tours for ages 9 and older by U.S. forest service staff are available during weekends and school vacations. Snowshoes are provided. You’ll find the kiosk in West Village parking lot across from the mountain ticket counter.
On weekends, the whole family can shoot down the hill at Mt. Bachelor’s Snowblast Tubing Park located at the base of West Village.
Of course, you can also just stop off at the Wanoga Sno-Park’s sledding hill. You’ll also find picnic tables and a wood-burning fire (bring your own firewood). This is also the only dog-friendly sno-park along the Cascades Lakes Highway, so you can bring your pup(s) with you as well. Finally, you’ll find toilets and loads of parking—just don’t forget to invest in a sno-park permit. You can pick one up at most of the sports stores in town (including REI), as well as Visit Bend.
Remote Marshmallow Roasting
The Virginia Meissner Sno-Park, located 15 miles from Bend on the way to Mt. Bachelor, offers Nordic skiers 40 kilometers of groomed trails ranging from very easy to adrenaline-inducing downhills. The area is even more magical at night. During the next full moon, plan to ski or snowshoe out 1 ½ miles out to the Meissner shelter at night to roast marshmallows over the open fire or inside the cabin over the wood-burning stove. And mark your calendar for next February, when 400 candles in paper bags line the trails that lead to bonfires and waffles at the Meissner Shelter. Just don’t forget your sno-park permit (see above).
Bend built an ice-skating rink in 2015. Called The Pavilion, it's located at 1001 SW Bradbury Drive. The full NHL-sized ice rink is covered by a roof and has translucent side panels, so you still feel your outside but you're protected from the elements.
For a more intimate skate, head to Bend's Seventh Mountain Resort. Skate rentals and skating lessons are available, along with outdoor fire pits to warm you as you sip hot chocolate or toasty adult beverages from the bar which overlooks the rink. Get your disco on during Friday night’s Cosmic Skate, complete with laser lights. By the way, Seventh Mountain Resort has tons of other activities for you and your brood, including two swimming pools, three hot tubs, and an Adventure Center offering ping-pong, air hockey, video games and retail therapy.
Beer, Beer, Beer
If Bend were a beverage, it would most certainly be a beer. That pains me since I’m a wine aficionado, but there’s no getting around this hops-infused truth. So while you’re in town, you might as well immerse yourself in the beer culture starting with the Deschutes Brewery Tour. This free 45-minute guided tour—which includes four beer samples of your choice—books up, so you’ll want to reserve your spot(s).
While you’re there, don’t forget to pick up your passport for the Bend Ale Trail, which you can also collect at a number of the other local breweries as well as on the website or with this free app for your iPhone or Android. Then make sure to get a stamp from every brewery you visit in town. Stamps from 10 breweries will earn you a commemorative Bend Silipint (made locally). Get stamps from all 14 breweries and add a Bend Ale Trail bottle opener to your Silipint. Just stop by or send your completed passport to the Bend Visitor Center (please note Bend Visitor Center hours of operation) to collect. A word of warning—don’t to fill yourself or your passport up in a single day. No matter how tempting.
High Desert Museum
Looking for close, yet safe, encounters with high desert landscape and wild life. This is the place.
Arts & Crafts
With a dozen-and-a-half art galleries in town, gallery-hopping is definitely a local sport. From fiber arts produced by nationally recognized twins Lori and Lisa Lubbesmeyer, glasswork and metal sculpture to modern and classic canvases, you’ll find talent that’s clearly been nurtured by Central Oregon’s high desert. For more information about exhibits pick up a copy of the monthly Cascade Arts and Entertainment magazine.
For those of you who want to exercise your own creativity, The Workhouse offers classes ranging from jewelry-making to beer or coffee painting, along with a collective of more than 60 local artists selling handmade soaps, metal works, home decor, clothing and more. While there, indulge yourself with a stop at the Sparrow Bakery. It’s tiny, but you won’t get a better (or richer) quiche, croissant or pastry anywhere.
Atelier 6000 offers classes in book arts, drawing and design, letterpress and printmaking for everyone ranging from the beginning-level art student to the professional.
If shopping for arts and crafts is more your speed, downtown Bend is full of awesome little shops. Don’t miss the Feather’s Edge Finery, located on Minnesota with merchandise that ranges from handcrafted jewelry and housewares to gifts and infant apparel.
While Bend has a number of small theaters and a large summer amphitheater, the Tower Theater located downtown remains the name of the game during winter months. Great lineups and great acoustics mean that this fully-renovated Art Deco Moderne live performance venue often sells out so think about buying tickets before you get here. Before and/or after, treat yourself to 5 Fusion & Sushi Bar which is right next door. The cocktails and food are equally creative, and Chef Joe Kim—a James Beard Award semi-finalist—is as talented with raw fish as he is with cooked fare.