Central Oregon’s iconic music venue, the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, has started rolling out its star-studded 2017 summer concert line-up and it’s already filled with big-name acts set to rock the region.
The 8,000-capacity venue situated on the banks of the Deschutes River in Bend’s Old Mill District opened in 2002 and almost immediately became a must-stop for high-profile touring artists. In recent years LSA has hosted the likes of Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Death Cab for Cutie, Alabama Shakes, Ringo Starr, Weird Al and many more.
The 2017 line-up includes a diverse mix of returning and first-time acts: (Click the artist to buy tickets.)
Officials with the Les Schwab Amphitheater say they have as many as 10 more shows to announce in the coming weeks so we’ll be sure to keep you posted here and on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.
In addition to the big-name acts coming this summer, LSA is also home to a free weekly concert series on Sunday afternoons in June and July. The free shows happen from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and feature family-friendly music, food vendors, bouncy houses and more. Even well-behaved pets are welcome! It’s truly a perfect way to spend a warm summer afternoon.
Bend’s Immersion Brewing is the state’s first “Brew-it-Yourself” brewery, offering visitors a chance to come up with their own sudsy creation from start to finish. You can even design your own label for the bottles.
There are more than 30 recipes to choose from, including Kolsch, Blonde Ales, American Pale Ales, Imperial Stouts, Holiday Ales, Wheat Ales and several IPAs. A recipe card will walk you through the step-by-step process, but an experienced brewer will also be by your side to talk you through it and offer some help if you need it. The two-hour brewing session nets you about five gallons of beer! Brew sessions range in price from $180 – $220 depending on beer recipe – and it includes the beer, bottles, caps, and labeling.
Once the beer is created, it takes about two weeks for it to ferment. You’ll come back to the pub to carbonate, bottle and label your two cases of 22 oz. beers before taking them home. (Oregon residents who aren’t able to come back to bottle can have the brewery ship them to you. Out of state guests can choose beer created by someone else to take home.)
It’s a great team-building exercise that involves some teamwork while allowing time to enjoy one of the numerous beers on tap at the pub and have a bite to eat from their full menu. The Visit Central Oregon team (that’s us in the video above) experienced it in late October and it was a ton of fun – and really informative. The Immersion brewer who helped us, Josh Cosci, was very patient and chock full of great info throughout the process.
The pub and brewery are located in The Box Factory, a lively collection of shops and restaurants adjacent to the Old Mill District and near Bend’s historic downtown.
There’s a couple of ways to look at the annual winter closure of Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: You can see it as cutting off your recreational access beyond the gate until the snow melts in the spring.
Or – and this viewpoint is recommended – you can see it as as a chance for a new experience in nature and explore some of the most breathtaking backcountry the state of Oregon has to offer.
And there’s no better way to do that than to make plans to visit Elk Lake Resort for your family’s next winter adventure.
Remember – there’s no “road” to Elk Lake in the winter because the department of transportation doesn’t maintain the highway when it snows. Still, there’s several ways to get there and never has the old saying “getting there is half the fun” been more true.
The easiest way is to have one of the resort’s fleet of Suburbans-turned-snowcats pick you up from Dutchman Flat Sno-Park directly across from Mt. Bachelor or Mt. Bachelor’s parking lot on Friday afternoon and bring you back on Sunday. The most peaceful (albeit sweatiest) way is to Nordic ski to the lodge from Dutchman. The most thrilling way is to ride your own snowmobile in on the 11-mile groomed trail from Dutchman Flat. It’s not often in life you’re able to spend the weekend in a spot inaccessible by cars.
Central Oregon Adventures also rents snowmobiles and sets up shop at the Wanoga Sno-Park, located on Cascade Lakes Highway about 15 miles from Bend. You can rent for a couple hours, four hours or all day. The four-hour rental window gives you plenty of time to do some exploring and stop by the Elk Lake Resort lodge for some food.
The historic lodge is a perfect spot to warm up during a day in the backcountry. The menu has locally sourced, Pacific Northwest inspired meals including elk chili, burgers, mac and cheese and more. And, of course, you can cozy up to the fire with a hot cocoa or catch some football with one of the numerous Central Oregon craft brews on tap.
But for most folks, a few hours isn’t long enough at Elk Lake. For the hearty souls looking to spend the weekend in the winter wilderness, the resort offers deluxe homes, rustic cabins or camping cabins to extend your stay. Some of the cabins include full kitchens and are the perfect spot for large groups to hang together for the weekend.
What you do during your time at Elk Lake is up to you. Rent a snowmobile from the resort and head out into the powder. Take a hike with some snowshoes. Or venture out on the nordic skis you rented for the weekend from Mt. Bachelor. (The resort does not have ski rentals, so be prepared.)
Or, if you want to stay snuggled up inside your cabin all weekend, that’s perfectly fine too.
So find a way to get to Elk Lake this winter and get away from it all.
Deschutes Brewery is Bend’s first and largest brewery – and it’s one of the first stops for beer-loving visitors looking to get a behind-the-scenes look at a pioneer in the industry. (An industry that’s thriving here in Central Oregon, by the way. We’re now home to roughly 30 brewpubs and the famed Bend Ale Trail.)
Tours of the ever-growing brewing facility have gained in popularity in recent years. So much so that Deschutes has announced it’s expanding the tours to help accommodate more visitors each day. Beginning December 1st, four tours a day will be offered every hour on the hour between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. (The taps in the tasting room will be open from noon to 7 p.m.)
Additionally, not only will you get a couple of complimentary samples of Deschutes’ delicious brews, but you now have the opportunity to purchase full drafts, half pints, snifters and non-alcoholic beverages on site and enjoy them until early evening.
A new food truck will be stationed outside the brewery to help quell any hunger pangs you might get during the tour. Lighter, pre-packaged snacks will also be available for sale inside.
The tours take about 45 minutes and cost $5 per person. They include two beer samples during the tour to, as Deschutes puts it, “provide a more immersive experience that combines the unique sights, sounds and fragrant smells of the brewery with a taste of the freshest end products.”
During the tour, you’ll truly see it all – from hops to bottle tops – including a cool look at the history of Deschutes’ iconic Jubelale label art.
The tasting room also features a huge selection of Deschutes Brewery swag like hats, beanies, sweatshirts, t-shirts, pint glasses and so much more. You can also buy beer to go, making sure your vacation rental fridge is fully stocked during your Central Oregon vacation.
One of the best ways to soak up a community is by getting to know the locals. One of the best ways to soak up Central Oregon’s amazing craft beer scene is knowing the best time for cheap beer and discounted food.
Our local newspaper recently printed some info on which breweries did what for locals. But they left out a couple of our favorite pubs and I figured most locals already know which nights are local’s night.
So here’s your visitors guide to the Local’s Nights at some of Central Oregon’s best breweries.
Deschutes Brewery, the place where the craft beer scene started in Central Oregon kicks off the week of local’s nights with a great deal on burgers and beers ($3.50 imperial pints (that’s 20 OUNCES!!!) And I’ll be honest, I was born and raised in Nebraska but haven’t had many burgers better than the beer-fed beef they serve at Deschutes. (The cows that make the beef are fed with spent grain left over from Deschutes’ brewing process.)
For starters, don’t tell people you’re going to “The Bend Brewing Company.” Instead, let them know you’re heading to the “BBC” so you at least sound like a local. BBC is the place to go on Tuesdays for $2.75 pints and half price appetizers from 4-6 p.m. Another local tip: BBC has some of the best buffalo wings in all of Central Oregon.
At Silver Moon, a pub burger and the beer of the night is $10.
And at Crux Fermentation Project, every night feels like Local’s Night with their Sundowner Hour. A half hour before and a half hour after sunset the pub offers beer and food specials. You can find the exact time of sunset each night on their website. (There’s more on fun Happy Hour specials in Bend’s Old Mill here in this video.)
Sometimes after a day full of adventure, all that you crave is a simple, yet delicious, stick-to-your-ribs sandwich. (And a beer, obviously.)
Whether you call it a “sammie,” “sando,” or “sammich,” there’s an amazing sandwich waiting for you at the end of the trail in Central Oregon. Heck, even if you’re one of those weirdos who consider a hot dog a sandwich, we have you covered. For the purposes of this story, we’re not including burgers in the “sandwich” category, but rest assured there are TONS of great burgers here. (Don’t see your favorite listed? Tell us where to find the best sandwich in Central Oregon in the comments!)
In the iconic downtown Bend breezeway, the Beach Hut Deli offers a great selection of hot and cold sandwiches in a “chill” setting perfect for catching a game on TV or just people watching on Mirror Pond Plaza. Try the Surfin’ Bird with turkey, avocado, bacon, cream cheese, mayo, mustard, pickles, tomato, red onions, lettuce, Greek peppers and cheese.
In beautiful Sunriver, Sunriver Brewing‘s menu is filled with post-adventure favorites, but one of my staples is the Turkey Dip with smoked turkey breast, pepper bacon, tomato, Tillamook white cheddar on a french roll with a side of natural turkey jus. Pair it with a Fuzztail Hefe and your afternoon is golden. (You can get the same sandwich at Sunriver Brewing’s Galveston Pub in Bend too.)
Three Creeks Brewing in Sisters is a perfect rest stop after hiking up Black Butte, fishing at Camp Sherman or mountain biking the Peterson Ridge trails. And for me, there’s not a better sandwich in all of Central Oregon (or anywhere for that matter) than the legendary Chicken Bacon Tater. NBD, just your basic sandwich with grilled chicken breast, thick sliced hickory smoked bacon, fries & chipotle ranch all rolled together in a toasted pita, “Taco Style.” Yes, that’s right: THERE’S FRENCH FRIES IN THE SANDWICH! Pairs nicely with a Knotty Blonde.
The Row at Bend’s Tetherow Resort has a great pub-style menu that includes all your favorites like burgers and wings and a rotating beer menu featuring several local breweries. And while it sounds simple: sourdough bread, smoked ham, and Tillamook cheddar cheese served with daily soup – the grilled cheese is top notch (especially served with the tomato soup that’s usually available.)
Crux Fermentation Project is easily one of Bend’s favorite brewpubs. The pub features three hugely popular food carts outside on the lawn. And while the pub itself has a limited menu, the Banh Mi sandwich has long been a standout dish. It’s porter-hoisin roasted pork belly, cubed ham, fresh cucumber, cilantro, do Chua, and sweet chili aioli. My colleague Kristine implores you to get EXTRA CILANTRO!
You can find a great steak sandwich on just about every menu here these days (most here are made with locally grown beef,) but you probably won’t find a better one than the one at 10 Barrel Brewing‘s West Side pub. Know how I know? Because my wife says so and, well, she’s kind of a steak sandwich expert (or so I’ve been told.)
For an out of this world dining experience, Worthy Brewing is your place thanks to the world’s first “Hopservatory.” Founder Roger Worthington will tell you the Salmon Sando is the best in the universe: grilled Atlantic salmon, Tillamook pepperjack cheese, fresh guacamole, lettuce, tomato, pickled onion, chipotle aioli on ciabatta. (Pro tip from my colleague Kristi: Get it as a lettuce wrap.)
And finally, Brother Jons has two locations in Bend and both have great menus. You can’t go wrong though with the Cuban: Pulled pork, ham, melted swiss, sautéed onions, dill pickles & spicy brown mustard on a grilled hoagie roll. (While you’re waiting, the habernero cheese dip is worth noshing on – it’s a white wine & garlic habanero cheese sauce with house-fried yellow and blue corn tortilla chips.)
We’ve got nothing against pub food, actually, our love for it has been well documented – here…here… and here! But if you’re looking for a dining experience that will take your taste buds on an International vacation while you’re visiting Central Oregon – Bend’s French Market could be right up your alley.
Inspired by the European travels of Executive Chef, Luke Mason and owners, Phil and Judy Lipton who lived abroad in France and Spain, the French Market opened in 2017. Chef Mason encourages guests to order small plates that can be shared and experienced together, but his team also whips up unique entrees that impress along with artisan pizzas topped with seasonal ingredients.
The French Market offers a full-bar, local and regional craft beer and an extensive wine selection. Reservations are recommended, especially on the weekend when it can be tough to get a table.
Central Oregon can claim more breweries than quite a few states. We’re not exaggerating. Our region has 28+ breweries, that’s above and beyond what Hawaii (14 breweries), Oklahoma (20 breweries), and Delaware (19 breweries) have according to statistics from the Brewers Association. That shows how much we care about craft beer but, it can make it tough to choose where to taste local brews, we get it!
Bend takes the cake when it comes to the sheer number of breweries: 22 and counting, but brewpubs in Sunriver and Redmond offer their own unique experience.
“It’s really special actually being the only brewery in the southern part of Deschutes County,” said Sunriver Brewing Company’s Director of Marketing, Ryan Duley. “We do get really involved in this subcommunity within our larger community of Central Oregon. It’s really great to have that tie to people.”
Sunriver Brewing Company has two locations, one — you guessed it — is in Sunriver and the brewery opened its second location in Bend in 2016. “We take a lot of pride in a food and our service just as much as our beer, so to create an overall experience for tourists coming in is a very big deal and something we take seriously,” Duley said.
“There’s so many things kind of wrapped up in this experience that is Central Oregon, it’s clean air, lakes, rivers and outdoor activities. It’s almost like there’s a beer for every occasion,” said Sunriver Brewing Company’s Head Brewer, Brett Thomas. “You can have a beer at lunchtime before you start that hike, maybe it’s Fuzztail Hefeweizen. When you’re off the trail later in the evening around the campfire, maybe it’s Vicious Mosquito, something a little more robust.”
If you’re new to craft beer, have no fear! Bartenders can help steer you in the direction of a brew you might enjoy or get a tasting tray. You might be surprised by what beers you like. “I just love getting our beers into the hands of people who haven’t had it before,” Thomas said. “We’re so happy with our beer quality right now, usually people have that “aha” moment with a number of our products and they’re like, ‘Wow, this is the beer I’ve been looking for’.”
A visit to Sisters, Oregon is both a step back in time and a visit to the lap of luxury. Downtown, experience a bit of the old west through vintage storefronts welcoming visitors to a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries. Venture down the road a bit and you’ll find an upscale, modern mini-resort in FivePine Lodge. And right outside the back door of your cozy cabin is a world of adventure waiting for you on the Peterson Ridge Trail System.
FivePine Lodge features eight suites in a beautiful main lodge modeled after a historic forestry station and 36 craftsman-style cabins. The campus also offers a spa, Mexican restaurant, movie house, and Three Creeks Brewing Co. With the personal touch of a bed and breakfast, the privacy of romantic, cozy cabins and all the amenities of a resort, FivePine is the ultimate romantic getaway.
Shibui Spa is on site and offers a variety of packages, including a three-hour “Day of Indulgence” that features a massage, facial and pedicure.
Saddle up a two-wheeled horse during your stay with a mountain bike rental from Blazing Saddles. Sisters’ only bike shop is a full-service, one-stop shop for everything bike. And with demo and rentals from brands like BMC, Giant and Felt, you’re sure to get a great ride to experience our amazing trails.
According to our partners, Bend Trails, the Peterson Ridge Trails in Sisters were originally constructed in 1989 as a mountain bike trail network consisting of a combination of single-track and old forest service roads. In 2008, a major expansion of the network increased the amount of single track to over 20 miles and included signage and trail markers to aid riders in navigation.
The trails are fairly level and mostly free of technical obstacles (although some lines do have rocks and roots to negotiate). The trail network is popular with Sisters’ residents and you can expect to encounter lots of walkers, runners, and dogs on the trails. There are also several Horse trails that interconnect into this system.
Dinner and a Show – Sisters Style
A visit to Sisters wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Three Creeks Brewing on the FivePine Lodge campus. Sisters’ only brewpub is a regional favorite that draws visitors and locals alike thanks to their delicious beers and hearty menu. Their Knotty Blonde and Hoodoo Voodoo IPA are always a good choice, as is the Chicken, Bacon, Tater sandwich featuring a chicken breast, thick cut bacon and fries smothered in a chipotle ranch and wrapped in a warm pita like a taco.
After dinner, walk about 10 steps to the lovely little Sisters Movie House where you can catch a first-run film, grab another beer and settle into the quaint theater for a couple of hours of entertainment.
Looking for some down-home comfort food? The Cottonwood Cafe is a relative newcomer to the Sisters dining scene after a complete transformation from Jen’s Garden – which served upscale French cuisine. The new restaurant has a new look, new menu and new vibe that’s been a hit.
When summer ends, a whole new season of opportunity begins: Autumn in Central Oregon.
The pace slows giving time to reflect and savor mother nature’s big show. During fall on the High Desert, you can stroll through Aspen Tree groves lit up like the last seconds of a fleeting sunset.
Or hike to the top of a mountain for a panoramic view that will make you remember what it feels like to truly be alive.
Around Central Oregon, we cherish the different seasons, because it refocuses our views of and love for the same spectacular spots.
Slip down the Deschutes River during the fall and you’ll have it all to yourself. Hop on a horse and go for a trot through unmanicured forests full of life altering moments of peace and quiet. Or hike to a waterfall like Paulina Falls where the rush of crystal clear water cascading over cliffs will ignite your senses.
The best part about adventuring on crisp fall days is warming up by the fire, craft beer in hand and with 29 breweries and counting spread out across Central Oregon, you won’t have any problem finding the perfect spot to reminisce about your experience.