Author Archives: Ted Taylor

Ted Taylor

About Ted Taylor

Ted Taylor manages COVA's digital content, media relations, PR and social media. He's an award-winning reporter and editor who has worked in newspaper and televisions newsrooms in Nebraska, Colorado, Arkansas and Oregon. A former assistant golf professional, Ted still loves to sneak in a quick 9, but you're more likely these days to find him on the mountain bike trails when he's not spending time with his family. He's called Bend home for 15 years.

Bend Area Beauty: Central Oregon’s 6 Spots To Feel All The Feels

No Name Lake at the base of Broken Top/Adam McKibben

Central Oregon is known for its unrelenting beauty – from the snow-capped peaks of our Cascade Mountains to the fields of sagebrush that dot the High Desert landscape. In every direction a view that can fill you with emotion, whether you’re ready for it or not. But there are a few spots that afford such a view it can put you in a special place. Here are our 6 favorite spots to feel all the feels.

Tumalo Falls/Christian Heeb

1. Tumalo Falls

The power of a massive waterfall never fails to impress. From a distance, the cascading water is silent and beautiful. As you get closer to the spot where the creek plummets, the energy of the water increases and the sound swells. Tumalo Falls is just minutes from downtown Bend, but as you’re standing there – either from the top looking down to the creek below or from the bottom reviling in the 100-foot-wall of water – you’re transfixed and seemingly a world away.

Clint Melsha

2. Smith Rock State Park

Quite simply, this is one of the most awe-inspiring spots you’ll ever visit. Smith Rock is a spot painters come to paint. Photographers flock to photograph. Climbers clamor to climb. The rock walls can feel ominous on a dark, cloudy day or cathedral-like as the sun rises; illuminating them on a clear day. No matter the weather, the Smith Rock experience can be religious.

3. Sparks Lake

You’re sitting at work, it’s 4:59 and in just 60 seconds you’re free. Sure, it’s a Tuesday night in August, but in just 40 minutes you go from cubicle to canoe, paddling the placid waters of Sparks Lake. After the relaxing row, you drift back to shore, looking back at the sun setting behind the mountains setting off a kaleidoscope of changing colors. It’s a reality for locals and a dream come true for visitors.

4. Drake Park

Drake Park is the crown jewel of downtown Bend. Take a walk on the path along Mirror Pond. Toss a Frisbee in the grass amongst the trees. Take in a free summer concert with hundreds of your new closest friends. It’s a smile-inducing spot Central Oregon’s hold near and dear.

5. The Top of Pilot Butte

There’s a certain majesty in the sense of feeling tiny. A sense of feeling your true place in this world. A sense of being a small part of something much bigger and beautiful. That feeling rushes through your body when you’re standing at the top of Pilot Butte in Bend. Is it Central Oregon’s tallest peak? Not by a long shot. It’s an easy hike up the trail or on the road – something locals do after dinner on a Wednesday or on Sunday morning before a day of yard work. But the views from the top might just be Central Oregon’s prettiest.

Big Eddy Thriller

6. The Big Eddy

It starts as a peaceful float, where you can chat with new friends on the raft. You’re relaxed, if not a bit nervous about what’s to come in just a few minutes. As the water currents speed up, so too does your heartbeat. That huge smile on your face straightens a bit as your guide tells you to paddle. And before you know it, you’re in the churning whitewater of the Big Eddy – Central Oregon’s most famous and fun thrill ride. The smile is back, the ride ends as quickly as it begins and you’re left wondering when you’ll get to do it again.

Floating the Deschutes River in Bend: Tips, Tricks and Tacos (Yes, Seriously)

Floating the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon

The wild and scenic Deschutes River is Central Oregon’s water playground for all. From the slow meandering stretches near Sunriver to the rapids of Big Eddy, the river is perfect for kayaking, canoeing, fishing and swimming.

But no place along the river is it more popular than the stretch in Bend between the Bill Healy Bridge and iconic Mirror Pond. Come summer, the waterway is filled with river floaters and stand up paddlers enjoying the slow currents and festive vibe. And about halfway through that stretch you’ll find surfers and kayakers doing tricks at the whitewater park.

But for visitors, just how to join in all the action can be kind of confusing.

To help you navigate all the fun, the Bend Parks and Rec District has created this cool virtual tool. It’ll take you from the put in at Riverbend Park to the whitewater park. Click on the orange icons there for more info.

Here’s some more useful information before you head out:

  • Choose a sturdy flotation device.
  • Floaters should park at Riverbend Park or in the public lots on Columbia St. (There should be some signage to follow.) Do not park in private business parking areas or you’ll get towed.
  • Utilize the shuttle! It’s available from June 22 – Sept. 4, 2017 (tentative dates), the shuttle will pick you up at Drake Park and drop you off at Riverbend Park. The cost is $3 per person per day. More info at www.cascadeseasttransit.com
  • Leave the beer at home. It’s illegal to have alcohol on the river and Bend Police are out in force.
  • Leave no trace. It’s cool if you want to carry a cooler of water or soda, but please be sure to take out all the plastic bottles or cans you are using during the float. Don’t toss an empty sunscreen bottle into the water. Don’t discard a broken flip flop on the beach.
  • State law requires that each boat or paddleboard carry one Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board, and children age 12 and under are required to wear life jackets. Boaters and paddleboarders are also required to carry a whistle.
Crux Fermentation Project

Crux Fermentation Project, Bend

After an amazing day on the river, the first thing you’re probably going to want to do is grab something to eat. If you’re wanting to hit up downtown, which is a short walk from the take out at Drake Park, there are tons of options. Hit up happy hour at 900 Wall, head out back to O’Kanes at McMenamins Old St. Francis School or make the pilgrimage to Deschutes Brewery – the spot that started Central Oregon’s craft beer revolution.

If you’re getting a ride back to the Old Mill District, you’ve got options there too. We’ve found, through extensive research, that a trip to Crux Fermentation Project for a Crux Pils and three El Sancho tacos (I opt for one chicken, one pork and one beef) is the perfect end to a perfect day on the river.

Central Oregon Vacation Rentals Offer an Affordable Home Away from Home

HomeSpun Vacation Rentals/Bend

There’s something quick, easy and consistent when choosing a hotel or destination resort for your vacation lodging.

But there’s something quirky, fun, interesting, spacious, well-appointed, private and luxurious about choosing a vacation rental home instead.

Central Oregon has more than 3,000 amazing vacation rental options, from cozy cottages near downtown to townhomes in the woods to expansive homes along the banks of the Deschutes River. They all provide a lodging opportunity that really lets you feel like a local as soon as you pull into the driveway.

Why choose a vacation rental home?

  1. More Privacy
  2. Less expensive for small groups
  3. You can save money by cooking at home
  4. Most are pet-friendly
  5. There’s often laundry on site

Granted, staying in a vacation rental isn’t the best option for every trip, especially if you’re only going to be in one spot for a couple of days. But if you’re planning a longer trip, say 3 days or more, you’ll likely get a lot of  bang for your buck in a rental home.

For example, if two couples looking for a place to stay close to downtown, the river, shopping, and tons of dining, they could split the cost of a nice 2-bedroom rental home for five days in late June for about $70/person/night. Or, go a little more upscale and rent a house (with a hot tub) on one of Central Oregon’s 30 golf courses for $109/night.That’s considerably cheaper than some rates for hotels during peak season here.

Vacation rental home in Sunriver, Oregon

Bennington Properties/Sunriver

Some rental homes amenities include hot tubs and BBQ grills in addition to cruiser or mountain bikes to check out the sights and sounds around Bend, Sunriver and beyond. Many of the homes are situated within well-established neighborhoods, lending themselves to a “local’s vibe.”

What else makes vacation rental homes so great? Here are a few highlights:

Bennington Properties in Sunriver might be the most dog-friendly vacation rental company on the planet! Not only do they offer an off-leash play area at the management offices, but there’s a complementary dog wash there too so you can clean up the pup after a day of adventuring. Stock up on provisions at Country Market in The Village at Sunriver or grab a bite and brew at Sunriver Brewery.

DiamondStone Guest Lodges in Central Oregon

At Diamondstone Guest Lodges in La Pine, you can stay way off the beaten path.

This rural resort has a wide variety of lodging including a bed & breakfast, a Log Cabin and more, including an upstairs “Treetop Lounge” that can host events. The bed & breakfast has a 3.5-acre meadow for small outdoor weddings. The resort is also home to a 3-day summer music and arts festival known as “The Newberry Event.”

DiamondStone also hosts MOTOFANTASY Motorcycle Rentals.  Experienced riders can choose from over a dozen unique bikes to ride for a day or a week.

Cold Springs Resort

Tucked beneath a canopy of Ponderosa and Tamarack and only steps from the spring-fed Metolius River in Camp Sherman the cabins at Cold Springs Resort offer the perfect family retreat. Hiking, biking, and world-class fly-fishing opportunities abound and all are within walking distance. Bring the kids, the dog and let yourself and your family unwind.

Cold Springs Resort was originally a dairy and the springs were used to keep the fresh milk cool before distribution.

Elk Lake sailboats in Central Oregon

Elk Lake Resort

Elk Lake Resort, on the Cascade Lake Scenic Byway, offers rustic or upscale cabins just steps away from one of the region’s most popular recreation spots. Grill on the deck or head on down to the lodge before renting a canoe for the afternoon. There’s often live music at the resort as well.

Vacation rental home at Tetherow in Central Oregon

Tetherow Vacation Home

Looking for destination resort amenities, but vacation rental lodging? Sunriver Resort, Tetherow, Black Butte Ranch and Pronghorn all offer vacation rental options. Tetherow has the region’s first vacation rental neighborhood called “Cairn,” which includes 4 and 5 bedroom homes along the award-winning golf course.

*These are just a couple of examples and rates will vary, but they are actual examples, from one of Central Oregon’s more popular vacation rental companies. 

Central Oregon’s 5 Fantastic Free Summer Concert Series

Live music is often the first thing visitors ask about when they get to Central Oregon. And come summer, there’s certainly no shortage of great opportunities to sit (or dance) outside in the sun and listen to some great tunes.

Here’s our Top 5 Free Summer Concert Series’

Sunriver Resort’s Backyard Concert Series

Backyard Concert Series – Sunriver Resort

May 26-28 | June 29 | July 1 | July 2-Sept 4 | Thurs, Fri, Sat

Bring the family, pull up a blanket and enjoy live music at The Backyard at Sunriver Resort from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. A different live band will be featured each concert day. Delicious food and local brews, wine and cocktails will be offered during each concert.

Music on the Green, Redmond

Music on the Green – Redmond’s Sam Johnson Park

The region’s longest running free music series happens from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Redmond’s Sam Johnson Park every other Wednesday beginning in late June. The event combines free music with a block party atmosphere to offer a powerful mix of community and family fun.

Music on the Green continues to celebrate the finest Redmond has to offer, spotlighting some of the region’s best and brightest musical talents from genres like country, folk, bluegrass, and cover tunes from the ‘50s through today.

Bend Memorial Clinic’s Free Summer Sundays

BMC Free Summer Sundays – Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater

Bend Memorial Clinic’s Free Summer Sunday Concerts start June 4 and continue through mid-July on select Sundays. Come on down to the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend’s Old Mill and enjoy a beautiful afternoon of great music and healthy family fun. Delish food vendors, bouncy houses and other activities will be onsite.

Well behaved pets (and their owners) are welcomed.  Concerts run from 2:30-4:30 pm, and feature local and nationally touring artists who typically require a ticket to see. Bring your dancing feet!

Munch & Music – Bend’s Drake Park

For 26 years, Bend’s iconic Drake Park has been the place to be on Thursday nights in the summer.

Munch & Music is a hugely popular, family-friendly event featuring local and nationally-acclaimed live bands. The food court is sure to have something for everyone. With one of the largest gatherings of all you favorite local food vendors – come hungry!

The Deschutes Brewery Libation Station will be available with beer, wine and an occasional cocktail from week to week. This year the concerts will have a walk-around beer policy. You cannot bring your own alcoholic beverages into the events, but you can roam the area freely with your brew.

Picnic in the Park, Prineville

Picnic in the Park – Prineville’s Pioneer Park

Picnic in the Park is an amazing opportunity for people in our wonderful community and those traveling from neighboring areas to spend some time mid-week to unwind in beautiful Pioneer Park listening to a wide variety of music. This is a place for families, friends, neighbors and strangers to gather and enjoy being outside and relaxing while being entertained by high-quality musicians. Thursday nights from 6 to 8 beginning in July.

Central Oregon Vacation Tip: Leave Your Cycling Gear, Rent Some Here

Riding the Ochocos in Prineville/Travis Holman

While planning a vacation to Hawaii a few years ago, I did some research on renting a road bike for my stay. Figuring cycling was a big deal there, I thought I’d have plenty of shops and plenty of bikes to choose from. Nope. The selection was thin at best and I ended up with a rickety ride that put a damper on my trip.

Well, cycling is a HUGE deal in Central Oregon. That’s why Bend area bike shops carry huge fleets of top of the line bikes to rent. So leave your gear at home and visit, feeling confident you’re going to get in a great ride during your stay. Prices will vary depending on the type of bike you want and the length of time you want it – typically, the longer you keep it, the cheaper it gets.

Helmets and bike locks are usually included as well. (You can also visit and know you won’t have to ride alone. Most of the shop have weekly group rides that are perfect for visitors.) And be sure to ask about kids’ specific bikes, Burley trailers, tandems and other riding options for you and your family.

Here’s a few of the options available to you at some of the various rental shops in town. Just click on the links to see more about their fleets of amazing bikes.

Needs some ideas on trails? Click here.

The Hub Cyclery – Downtown Bend
Mountain Bikes: Felt
Cruiser Bikes: Civia

Hutch’s Bicycles – Bend and Redmond
Mountain Bikes: Specialized, Giant and Liv (Women’s)
Road Bikes: Specialized

Pine Mountain Sports – Bend
Mountain Bikes: Santa Cruz, Trek

Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours and Shuttles
Mountain Bikes: Santa Cruz

4 Seasons Recreational Outfitters – Sunriver
Mountain Bikes: Santa Cruz, Marin, Orbea, GT and Diamondback
They also carry cruiser and ellipticgo rentals.

Good Bike Co. – Prineville
Mountain Bikes: Trek, Surly
Road/Gravel Bikes: Cannondale, Surly
Cruisers: Electra Townies

Blazin Saddles – Sisters
Mountain Bikes: BMC, Devinci, Felt, Giant
Road Bikes: BMC

Blazin Saddles in Sisters

Sunriver Sports – Sunriver
Mountain Bikes: Trek, Specialized
Road Bikes:

Village Bike & Ski – Sunriver
Mountain Bikes: Trek, Cannondale
Road Bikes: Trek, Cannondale

MWS Sports – Bend
Mountain Bikes: Intense, KHS

My 11 Favorite Central Oregon Golf Courses

Central Oregon has quickly made a name for itself as a bucket list destination for true golfers from around the world. With 30 courses within 45 minutes of each other and three in Golf Digest’s Top 100, you can’t ask for much more. Throw in a zillion outdoor activities, nearly 30 breweries and perfect weather and, well, it’s a golf vacation paradise.

As a former assistant golf professional here in Central Oregon, I’ve had the chance to play just about every course here. Here are my 11 favorite tracks.

Widgi Creek Golf Club in Bend, Oregon

Widgi Creek in Bend

Widgi Creek Golf Club – Bend

I’m a bit biased as I spent the better part of five years playing this course nearly every day. But that’s the thing – it’s the kind of course that’s fun every single time you play. Tucked within the Deschutes National Forest, Widgi is tight and the Par 5s are long. Each set of tees helps create a different golf course of sorts. From the tips, none of the Par 5s are reachable in two and the Par 3s are BRUTAL. Move up just one tee and everything changes. I love it. (Named the Local’s Favorite Course more than 10 times.)

Tetherow Golf Club in Bend

Tetherow in Bend

Tetherow (Golf Digest No. 54) – Bend

A Scottish links layout in the heart of the High Desert, Tetherow is a feast for the eyes and a beast on your scorecard. But because you can play this course low to the ground, it’s actually a favorite among high handicappers and women who can get around it in decent shape thanks, in part, to very helpful forecaddies. (And on a Golfboard, just getting around Tetherow is half the fun.) After your round, The Row is one of the best spots in Central Oregon for beers, wings and other tasty dishes.

View of greens with Black Butte in the distance at Glaze Meadow Golf Course near Sisters, Oregon

Courtesy Mike Houska

Glaze Meadow, Black Butte Ranch – Near Sisters

Glaze Meadow is one of two courses at BBR (Big Meadow being the other) and choosing a favorite between the two is purely a matter of personal preference. Glaze is tucked way back into the resort, but it’s worth the winding drive to get there. A recent redesign earned it high praise from golf publications and players who appreciate the “new” classic look and feel. The new turtleback greens can be tricky – but if you play smartly from the tee and leave yourself in good positions to attack the pin, you’ll be just fine.

Pronghorn Golf near Bend, Oregon

The Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn

The Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn (Golf Digest No. 33) – Bend

By far one of the most immaculate golf courses you’ll ever play. Pristine fairways lead to the finest putting surfaces in all of Central Oregon. Beyond the green grass of the fairways and greens, the course is cut through unique lava rock outcroppings amid an ancient Juniper forest so it’s a scenic track for sure. The Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn features rare back to back Par 5s on the back 9 – both are picturesque and neither yield many birdies.

5th fairway at Quail Run in LaPine, Oregon

Quail Run, La Pine

Quail Run – La Pine

Maybe the most underrated golf course in all of Central Oregon. Quail Run is WAY off the beaten path in La Pine (south of Sunriver), so it doesn’t get a ton of play. That means you get a course that’s quiet and always in great condition. There’s nothing fancy about Quail Run. It’s just a really good golf course with some fun holes and at just $55 during peak season, it’s a huge bargain as well.

Crosswater Club, 9th Hole

Crosswater Club (Golf Digest No. 51) – Sunriver

Crosswater is hands down the most famous course in the region and for good reason. It’s hosted a Champions Tour major championship, several NCAA National Championships, the PGA Professional National Championship (four times) and was the site of a Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf match between John Daly and Fred Couples back in 1999. Crazy wide fairways are welcoming off the tee, but the course comes back to bite you with tough approach shots to shallow greens and hazards on nearly every hole. All told, Sunriver Resort has 63 holes including a fantastic short course called Caldera Links.

Juniper Golf Club – Redmond

A sneaky good course located just down the street from the regional airport in Redmond, Juniper Golf Club should be on your must-play list when visiting. Consider it “Pronghorn Light” in that it resembles the Nicklaus gem a great deal, but is packaged in a more laid-back muni-course vibe. In fact, it is the only municipally-run course in the region. Juniper was host of the 2007 and 2010 Oregon Open and a repeat US Amateur qualifier site for six consecutive years, 2006-2011.

16th hole at Lost Tracks Golf Club in Bend

Lost Tracks, 16th Hole

Lost Tracks Golf Club

Full disclosure: I also worked for a short time at this south Bend golf course so it’ll always have a special place in my golfing heart. Beyond the superb conditioning, Lost Tracks is known for the fact just about every Par 4 and 5 is a dogleg.  Also of note: the vintage railroad dining car that serves as a bridge to the island green on No. 16. Bring an extra bag tag to add to the hundreds that folks have left behind.

Broken Top Club Golf Course Sunset

Broken Top Club – Bend

Broken Top is a private club in the heart of Bend – in fact, you can see Tetherow from some of the fairways on the front 9. It’s a fun course that winds its way through the houses of one of Bend’s most upscale neighborhood. Expect a few holes with severely elevated tee boxes and lots of doglegs. You’ll get perfect putting surfaces and amazing views of the Cascades.

Bend Golf & Country Club

Bend Golf and Country Club – Bend

Bend’s oldest golf course opened in 1925. The private club has tiny greens, tight fairways and an undeniable charm. It’s absolutely one of my favorite tracks because it feels like a throwback golf course. Subtle elevation changes throughout create an interesting routing.

View of lake, greens and Cascades in Sisters, Oregon

Aspen Lakes, SIsters

Aspen Lakes – Sisters

Arguably Central Oregon’s most scenic golf courses as its situated in the shadows of the majestic Cascades. Aspen Lakes is known for its red cinder bunkers and challenging design with water coming into play on half the holes.

History on Display: 4 Can’t Miss Museums in Central Oregon

Central Oregon has a rich and interesting history dating back, oh, a few thousand years (see: Lava Lands). But beyond the geological beauty abound (see also: Smith Rock) there’s a great bit of human history that pre-dates settlers along the Oregon Trail. We’re lucky to have a handful of exceptional museums with carefully curated artifacts to help tell the story of Central Oregon.

Here are 4 museums you can’t miss during your Central Oregon visit.

Erickson Aircraft Collection

Erickson Aircraft Collection

The Erickson Aircraft Collection in Madras proudly displays a vintage aircraft collection started by Jack Erickson in 1983. The collection features over twenty rare aircraft, most of which are still in flying condition. The newly named Collection will feature rare aircraft that are still in flying condition such as the P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang, Ki43 Hayabusa, F4U Corsair, SBD Dauntless, Grumman Duck and B-17 Flying Fortress.

Des Chutes Historical Museum

The Deschutes Historical Museum features exhibits that allow you to explore Deschutes County prehistory; area Native American tribal history; early exploration and fur trapping; homesteading the High Desert; logging and Forest Service history; and life throughout Deschutes County over the years. The museum also hosts an annual Haunted History Tour in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

Hawk in flight during show at High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon

High Desert Museum

Whether you’re three or 93, there’s something for everyone at the High Desert Museum.

See birds of prey, the porcupine exhibit, a bobcat and more. Check out our collection of desert dwellers in the Desertarium. Visit with living history characters at the 1904 Miller Family Ranch. Explore High Desert history and culture in our permanent exhibits. Enjoy watching the river otters in their newly renovated Autzen Otter Exhibit. The Museum is set on 135 beautiful wooded acres just south of Bend. It’s no wonder the Museum is ranked the #1 thing to do in Bend by TripAdvisor.

Museum at Warm Springs

Visitors to The Museum at Warm Springs will experience firsthand the sounds of ancient songs and languages, the mastery of traditional craftsmen and the sights of rich and colorful cultures that make up the Confederated Tribes of The Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon.

The three Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation – Warm Springs, Wasco and Northern Paiute, created this museum to sustain their cultures and preserve their traditions for their children and visitors.  The museum is a vital part of the Warm Springs tribal community.  Once you are done indoors you can stroll the 1/4 mile Twanat Interpretive Trail to learn about the plants, animals, fish and geology.

6 Rainy Day Options for Families and Kids in Central Oregon

Ok, we’ll admit it. Sometimes it rains here. But you shouldn’t let a few raindrops ruin a perfectly good vacation. Instead, head indoors for an hour or two while the short-lived shower passes through.

Here are our 6 favorite things to do with when the weather turns south (or you just want to wear out the kids.)

Mountain Air Trampoline Park

Mountain Air Trampoline Park‘s main court has 26 trampolines and is surrounded on 2 sides by angled trampoline walls. It includes a super-long jumping and tumbling runway.  The main court also contains multiple raised and padded features to add to the excitement. In addition to the main court, there’s two basketball lanes to pull off high-flying dunks, an extreme dodgeball court and toddler zone for the little ones.

Bouncing off the Wall

Set the kids free in Bend’s original indoor playpen. Bouncing off the Wall features 11,000-square feet of space, several gigantic bouncy houses, a snack bar and free wi-fi. Check the calendar for special events.

Bend Escape Room

Bend Escape Room is a fun, challenging, immersive, and interactive game experience taking place every day. While it looks like an ordinary room, it’s actually a puzzle. During your adventure, you will find yourself flexing your brain and looking in its nooks and crannies that you’ve never noticed.  Find the hidden object, figure out the clues and solve the puzzles to earn your freedom. You have a limited amount of time, so be quick!

SunriverVR Virtual Reality Arcade

Go indoors and get high-tech with virtual holodeck reality games by the hour at SunriverVR.

SunriverVR is located between the Circle K and Subway in the Sunriver Business Park. With a big open play area, you will have both the space and the time to get into some serious fun – solo or with your family and friends. The experience cannot be properly described – it must be experienced first hand. Young and old alike have a great time.

High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon

The High Desert Museum

The High Desert Museum

Here, there’s history, up close encounters with wildlife, and learning is fun and seriously hands-on! Everyday the education staff shows kids, parents and grandparents alike things they’ve never seen before. When’s the last time you got to hangout with a porcupine while it had a snack? Would you dare touch a slithery snake?!

At the High Desert Museum, it’s all possible. And you won’t believe how much fun you’ll have watching the little ones explore and take it all in! Some of the exhibits like the “By Hand Through Memory” and the “Spirit of the West” are here year round.

It’s a hands-on museum, zoo and time machine all rolled into one.

Sun Mountain Fun Center

Sun Mountain is the locals’ go-to spot for kids birthday parties thanks to its dizzying environment and multitude of activities. Bowling, bumper cars, billiards and an arcade to beat all arcades. Sun Mountain is the perfect place to let a kid be a kid (and where the adults can be kids too.)

10 Things not to Miss in Central Oregon

Time and time again guests come into our Central Oregon Visitor Information Center in Sunriver and say, “We’re here for a few days. What should we do?”

And it’s always the toughest question we get.

With so much to do and see and experience in Central Oregon, it’s difficult to layout the perfect weekend itinerary for folks. But after we ask a few questions of them to get a better idea of what kind of things they like to do, we’re able to send them out the door with a smile and sense of adventure.

Here’s our list of the Top 10 things not to miss in Central Oregon.

Courtesy Elena Pressprich

1. Smith Rock State Park, Terrebonne

One of the 7 Wonders of Oregon, Smith Rock is the birthplace of American sport climbing and a feast for the eyes. Take a hike along the Crooked River and marvel at the spires that rise from the canyon floor or trek up Misery Ridge for expansive views of the High Desert and Monkey Face.

Courtesy Elena Pressprich

2. Tumalo Falls

Just 10 miles from downtown Bend, Tumalo Falls is a majestic, nearly 100-foot waterfall that cascades into the tranquil Tumalo Creek below. Take a hike along the creek and up to the top of the falls for a cool view from above. The trail continues for four miles up Happy Valley; perfect for hikers of any age.

Crux Fermentation Project

Crux Fermentation Project, Bend

3. Grab a Beer

Bend is known for exceptionally clean water – and it’s perfect for making exceptionally good beer. Enjoy a pint at any of our nearly 30 brewpubs across the region or take a tour of Deschutes Brewery, the one that started the movement here. Want to learn to brew your own? Check out Immersion Brewing where you can create your own beer in about two hours.

Broken Top Club Golf Course Sunset

4. Play a Round

Central Oregon is home to nearly 30 golf courses including three in Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses in America and half of Oregon’s Top 10 according to Golfweek. From the forest-lined fairways of Widgi Creek to the Scottish-links berms and knolls of Tetherow, you’ll find a hugely diverse selection of challenges courses to choose from.

Big Eddy Thriller

5. Get Wet

You can’t visit Central Oregon without playing in our wild and scenic Deschutes River. The options are plentiful including a leisurely float through Bend’s Old Mill District, a surf sesh at the Bend whitewater park, a kayak adventure at Sparks Lake or an adrenaline-pumping whitewater thrill ride with Sun County Tours on the Bid Eddy. Bring a swimsuit and have some fun.

No Name Lake at the base of Broken Top/Adam McKibben

6. High Mountain Hikes

Hundreds of miles of tranquil and scenic hiking trails are waiting for you to explore. Go up into the mountains along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway and walk among the giant snow-capped peaks. Take a short hike with the kids around Todd Lake or venture higher up to the peak of majestic Broken Top. Or, closer to Bend and Sunriver, trek along the gently-rolling and beautiful Deschutes River Trail. For whatever adventure you’re looking for, there’s a trail for you.

7. Take a Ride

More than 400-miles of epic mountain bike singletrack can be found in Central Oregon, perfect for cyclists of all abilities and so close to town that you can ride to them straight from the shop you rented your bike from. Road cyclists can enjoy a handful of beautiful, well-marked scenic bikeways that showcase sights like McKenzie Pass and Smith Rock State Park.

8. Mt. Bachelor – Year Round Fun at 8,000 Feet

The 5th largest ski area in the U.S. is a year-round destination for fun and amazing views. Snow lovers can enjoy stellar skiing conditions from November through May – among the longest ski seasons in the country. Once the snow melts a little, Mt. Bachelor transforms into a downhill mountain bike Mecca with miles of adrenaline-pumping trails. Summer also means sunset dinners at nearly 9,000 feet – where the meals and views are equally as spectacular.

 

9. Explore a Lava Flow

Located on the north flank of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, what is now Lava Lands was created about 7,000 years ago after a volcanic explosion of Lava Butte. A miles-wide sea of jagged lava rock was left behind creating a unique geological landscape that served as that training ground for moon-bound astronauts.

Porcupine at a museum near Bend, Oregon

10. High Desert Museum

The High Desert Museum has been inspiring families since 1982 and is consistently rated as a top Central Oregon attraction by Trip Advisor. With 135 acres and more than 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, it’s a “must see” for anyone traveling through the area.

Get a close-up of native wildlife, such as an otter, bobcat, porcupine, and badger. Talk with historic characters who share the tales of early Oregon explorers and settlers. Visit an authentic homestead and sawmill from 1904. Experience a close flying encounter with owls, falcons, hawks and even a vulture. Learn about Native American culture and history and delight your children with one of many fun, hands-on programs that bring history and science to life.

Bend, Oregon Area Beer Festivals and Events

bend brewfest

Courtesy Bend Brewfest

So many breweries, so little time to visit them all. Such is the dilemma for visitors who would love to taste all the amazing beer we have to offer but just can’t carve out the time during a long weekend. Luckily, there are PLENTY of local beer festivals and events throughout the year that feature a one-stop-shop for you to try some local craft beer.

Here’s a rundown, compiled by our friends at Bend Lifestyle Magazine.

ZWICKELMANIA

February 25
Various Breweries
Central Oregon
OregonCraftBeer.org

CENTRAL OREGON BEER WEEK

Ten days (10!!!!) of craft beer bliss with tours, tastings and events at breweries throughout the region.
May 19 – 28
Various Breweries
Central Oregon
CentralOregonBeerWeek.com

SMASH FEST

May 20
McMenamins Old St. Francis School
Bend
CentralOregonBeerWeek.com

Mt. Bachelor Brewski Beer Festival

7TH ANNUAL BREWSKI

May 27 – 28
Mount Bachelor Ski Area
Bend
MtBachelor.com

FERMENTATION CELEBRATION

June 8
The Old Mill District
Bend
TheOldMill.com/events/
fermentation-celebration/

BEND BREW FEST

The region’s largest brewfest, Bend Brewfest features nearly 200 beers from dozens of local and regional breweries, live music, great food and tons of fun.
August 10-12
Les Schwab Ampitheater
Bend
BendBrewFest.com

Redmond Brew Fest

Enjoy brews from 50 breweries and cideries in American Legion Park. Festival includes food vendors, great live music and more.
August 18-19
American Legion Park
Redmond
RedmondBrewFest.com

little woody brew festival

Little Woody in Bend

THE LITTLE WOODY

September 1-2
Des Chutes Historical Museum
Bend
TheLittleWoody.com

BEND OKTOBERFEST

September 15-16
Downtown
Bend
BendOktoberfest.com

THE HAYDEN HOMES 
BACON & BREW FESTIVAL

September 8
Silver Moon Brewing
Redmond
VisitRedmondOregon.com

SISTERS FRESH HOP FESTIVAL

September 30
Village Green Park
Sisters
SistersFreshHopFestival.com