Bend and the broader Central Oregon region are unlike anywhere in the state. Nowhere else in Oregon, after all, can you hike to alpine lakes, ride bikes through the sprawling high desert, and celebrate with creative cuisines and award-winning craft beers—all in one day. Couple that with a sunny climate and plenty of Bend, Oregon, tourist attractions, and it’s easy to see why this region resonates so broadly.
But there’s more to it than natural beauty and cold beer. So we’ve put together a guide that looks at cool things to do in Bend, Oregon—and why you should consider a trip to our beautiful region soon. A few highlights include:
Keep reading to learn more about visiting Bend and making the most of your time in Central Oregon.
Central Oregon is a Great Location
Central Oregon’s location is part of what makes the region so special. To wit:
Perfect climate: We may be biased, but we’re a fan of the area’s climate—where warm summer afternoons give way to cool evenings, bluebird skies are common all year long, and snow creates the ideal conditions for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter pursuits for up to six months.
Diverse landscapes: You’ll find alpine forests, a dry high desert, many miles of ancient lava flows, cinnamon-hued rock formations, and soaring mountains in Central Oregon. And that’s to say nothing of the Deschutes River, which flows through the heart of Bend, Sunriver, and other communities across the region. So no matter your favorite landscapes, you’ll find plenty to love across Central Oregon.
Cool Things to Do for Everyone
Why is Bend, Oregon, so popular? We can’t begin to list every last reason here, but it helps that you’ll find no shortage of things to do in Central Oregon. Here are a few highlights:
Family-friendly fun: Plenty of restaurants welcome kids of all ages, museums educate the young and the young at heart, and world-class recreation opportunities cater to the whole family. Learn more about family-friendly activities in Central Oregon.
Year-round outdoor recreation: Whenever you visit, you’ll enjoy several vacations’ worth of outdoor adventures. In winter, that means skiing and snowboarding on our powdery slopes—and snowshoeing through our bucolic forests. Spring brings mountain biking, rock climbing, and chasing waterfalls, while summer offers plenty of opportunities for floating, paddling, and camping. By fall, colorful foliage provides the perfect backdrop for late-season hikes, mountain bike trips, and fishing.
Indoor activities: We get it: Not everyone is an outdoor enthusiast. So while the rest of your group hits the trail, sleep in and savor our indoor adventures—like relaxing day spas, shopping at locally owned boutiques, and more.
The Popular Bend Food Scene
Bend has long been known for its quaffable craft beers and close proximity to nature. But in recent years, the city’s culinary scene has taken off—buoyed by a wide range of offerings to fit every budget and palate. Here’s a quick overview:
Food cart pods: Dozens of food carts cover once-empty lots around Bend and Central Oregon, many of which pair their globetrotting menus with on-site fire pits, outdoor seating, and taprooms that pour local beer, wine, and cider.
Fine dining: Several fine-dining establishments promise exquisite cuisine and a special night out—and are usually led by established chefs who bring creativity, thoughtfulness, and a detail-oriented attitude to every plate.
Locally sourced ingredients: Whether you’re kicking back at a food cart pod, grabbing a quick meal at our casual eateries, or treating yourself to an upscale night out, you may notice that your dishes are crafted with local ingredients that deliver a taste of Central Oregon; that might mean meat grown and produced by local ranchers, regional produce, fresh craft beer, and more.
Excited to learn more? Start planning your foodie-focused trip with our guide to dining in Central Oregon.
The Countless Breweries Near Bend
Bend boasts the most breweries per capita in the United States—with roughly two-dozen inside city limits alone. Here’s the scoop on what makes our craft beer scene so special, along with a few popular breweries near Bend, Oregon:
Deep roots: The first modern-day craft brewery in Central Oregon was Deschutes Brewery, which opened in a converted law office in downtown Bend in 1988. Dozens of breweries have followed in the years since, making craft beer as essential to our local culture as sunny skies and outdoor adventure.
Wide variety: No matter your favorite style of beer, you’ll find them in Central Oregon. Fans of hop-forward IPAs gravitate toward Crux Fermentation Project, wild ales and sour beers take center stage at the likes of The Ale Apothecary and Spider City Brewing, and European-inspired recipes dominate the menu at Monkless Belgian Ales.
Local craft beer: Bend might get most of the craft beer love, but you’ll find local breweries in communities all over Central Oregon. Highlights include Wild Ride Brewing in Redmond and Prineville, Sunriver Brewing Company in Sunriver, and Three Creeks Brewing Company in Sisters.
For more, learn about breweries near Bend.
Tourist Attractions and Historic Landmarks
You’ll find engaging attractions and historic landmarks throughout our region. Here are a few highlight when visiting Bend, Oregon:
Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: Between late spring and early fall, the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway takes drivers out of Bend and into the heart of the Cascade Range—offering easy access to some of the region’s top hiking trails, campgrounds, alpine lakes, and scenic viewpoints.
Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint: That mountain-esque peak you see from around Bend is Pilot Butte—an extinct cinder cone that hosts a seasonal road and year-round hiking trail to the summit, where 360-degree views of the Central Oregon landscape await.
Drake Park: Sitting alongside the Deschutes River near downtown Bend, Drake Park is something of an outdoor living room for locals and visitors alike. There you’ll find public art, walking trails, plenty of trees (which turn vibrant shades of orange, red, and yellow every autumn), and room to stretch out with a picnic.
Farewell Bend Park: Just south of the Old Mill District shopping center, Farewell Bend Park hugs the Deschutes River and makes a popular put-in point for paddlers all summer long. The park also connects to riverside walking trails in case you’d like to stretch your legs.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument: Central Oregon was shaped by thousands of years of volcanic history—much of which is on display, in some form or another, across the sprawling Newberry National Volcanic Monument. The fun includes underground lava tubes, campgrounds and water recreation within the Newberry Caldera, easy walking trails through rocky lava flows, and more.
Mt. Bachelor: As the sixth-largest ski resort in North America, Mt. Bachelor boasts some of the region’s best skiing and snowboarding opportunities in winter—along with chair lift rides and mountain biking in summer.
Local communities: Sometimes, the best way to experience our region is to immerse yourself in local communities—like the Old West-inspired city of Sisters, the charming downtown core in Redmond, and the family destination of Sunriver.
If you’re still not convinced, check out this list of 20 reasons to love Bend for more great ideas.
More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.
Top Things to Do in Central Oregon
With four seasons of outdoor adventure, spacious shopping centers, innovative entrepreneurs, creative craft beverage producers, and countless family attractions, the hardest thing about staying busy in Central Oregon isn’t finding things to do—it’s figuring out how to fit it all into one trip.
Central Oregon: Fun Facts & Places to See
Central Oregon is a picturesque treasure of small-town charm, the great outdoors, world-famous cuisine, scenic communities, and a robust historic past. With all that and more, it can be a tad overwhelming to take it in. We’re all for bite-sized facts that are memorable, interesting, and capture a place’s essence (and we’re full of ‘em here), so we compiled our favorites to make your next adventure off the beaten path fun and exciting.
Visit Sisters, Oregon for Western Adventure
Take a small town with a slow pace of life and overlay an ever-expanding creative culture and a long-standing outdoor recreation tradition, and you have Sisters. In the shadow of the snowcapped Three Sisters, the town’s artistic vibe is a blend of art galleries, music with the famed – Sisters Folk Festival every September and crafts, the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show is world-famous.