Bend Area Breweries: Where to Go and What to Get

It used to be our little secret: That along with the countless recreational opportunities in Bend and Central Oregon, there was a burgeoning craft beer scene. That trying to decide which brewpub to hit after a day skiing at Mt. Bachelor was a two chairlift ride discussion. There were options. And lots of good beer.

Then word got out. Publication after publication when writing about the amazing skiing started including lines about Deschutes Brewery or Bend Brewing Co. Then beer publications sent dutiful writers here to see what all the fuss was about. Then travel magazines and newspapers dedicated entire stories to Oregon’s true “Beervana.” (Sorry Portland.)

It’s not a secret anymore.

Patio seating at 10 Barrel Brewing Company located in Bend, Oregon.

But that’s ok. Because the increasing popularity of craft beer meant more and more breweries and brewpubs in our little slice of Heaven.

Today, there’s nearly 30 breweries making beer here – from Prineville to Sisters, Redmond to Sunriver. They’re all different, but in some ways connected. A brewer who learned the craft at one place is now the head brewer at another. A line cook at one pub is now, after years of developing his own palate, the head chef across town.

Everyone here has a favorite, but we tend to visit them all. If you have a chance, you should too – grab a Bend Ale Trail passport and set out on your journey. But if you have to choose, here’s a pretty good start of where to go and what to have. But please – just please – do NOT walk into these places and order a Bud Light. The locals will mock you and most of them don’t even carry it. Cheers!

Deschutes Brewery – Bend

This is the brewery that started it all for Central Oregon in 1988. Today, you can find Deschutes beers in more than 25 states and across the world. The pub downtown is one of the most popular spots in town every night of the year. Like the brewery, the pub itself has nearly doubled in size in recent years, meaning there’s usually a shorter wait for a table. But don’t let the wait deter you. Just head into the bar, choose one of the dozen or so beers currently on tap (Local tip: Bachelor Bitter on Cask is a must-have if you can only have one beer.) Mirror Pond is one of the flagship brews and I’ve heard some locals use Black Butte Porter to brush their teeth – it’s that good.  The food blurs the line between pub grub and fine dining. The beef used in their burgers comes from cows fed spent grain from the brewing process, making them some of the tastiest burgers anywhere.

Worthy Brewing – Brend

One of the newest breweries to the game, Worthy has quickly garnered a name for itself as one of the most popular (thanks, in no small part, to the amazing Hopservatory.) It’s expansive east Bend location off Highway 20 (Greenwood Ave.) sets it apart from the others, as do the variety of beers. The Easy Day Kolsch might be the official beer of floating the Deschutes River in the summer. Food wise, you’ll find mac and cheese at just about every pub in town – but few can match Worthy’s gouda and Sriracha creation.

Cascade Lakes Brewing Co. in Bend
Cascade Lakes Brewing Co. in Bend

Cascade Lakes Brewery – Bend

Born in Redmond, Cascade Lakes is one of Central Oregon’s Old Guard of breweries. The popular bend Lodge is on the road from Mt. Bachelor and a locals go-to apres ski spot before heading into downtown. Perennial brews there include the easy drinking Blonde Bombshell and the nutty 20″ Brown. On the menu, how about some wild boar and kobe beef meatloaf or their classic Cascade Turkey Melt?

10 Barrel Brewing Co. – Two locations in Bend

With its huge outdoor patio and fire pit on Galveston Avenue, 10 Barrel‘s original West Side pub is a perfect spot to grab a beer al fresco. Its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years with solid brews like Sinister Black and OG Wheat IPA and the simple-yet-perfectly-named canned creation “Pub Beer.” Maybe the only thing better than the beer is the food. The pizzas are Top 5 in Central Oregon hands down. Too long a wait at the West Side spot? Head over to the brewery’s new, larger East Side location.

sunriver brewery in bend
Sunriver Brewery, Galveston Pub

Sunriver Brewing Co. – Bend and Sunriver

Initially started just south of Bend in the resort community from which it took the name, Sunriver Brewery‘s flagship pub is worth the drive from Bend and worth going to every day if you’re staying in Sunriver or Sunriver Resort. The Fuzztail Hefe is a nice introduction to Central Oregon craft beer while the Vicious Mosquito IPA packs a little more of a punch. Parents, bring the kids because the brewery has a large and fun play area with a huge chalkboard and lots of toys. Don’t want to make the drive to Sunriver? A new Sunriver Brewery Galveston Pub opened in Bend in Spring 2016.

Bend Brewing Co. – Bend

Known as “The BBC” by the locals since it opened 20 years ago, Bend Brewing Co. is the Central Oregon version of your local watering hole. Small and narrow, the pub is located in downtown Bend and has great views of Mirror Pond from the patio. Ask for a High Desert Hefe or a Big Eddy Bitter and you can’t go wrong. Food wise, the fish and chips are among the best in the region and the wings might actually be tops in Central Oregon.

Three Creeks Brewing Co. – Sisters

Three Creeks is in Sisters on the campus of the FivePine Lodge. Home to local favorites Stonefly Rye and Knotty Blonde, Three Creeks might have the best menu of the bunch with dishes like the Knotty Schnitzel and the Chicken Bacon Tater pita taco thing that I can attest Will. Fill. You. Up.

Wild Ride Brewing. – Redmond

Wild Ride Brewing is a production brewery and Tap Room located in the heart of downtown Redmond. Food options are available from the food cart community located in the parking lot just off our patio outside of the family-friendly Tap Room, which offers indoor and outdoor seating. Try the 3 Sisters American Red Ale. This beautiful beer has a sunset red appearance and can be both bitter and sweet, as the select hops represent the northwest in every way possible.

Crux Fermentation Project – Bend

Situated smack dab in the middle of Bend, Crux is the go-to spot for sunset brews thanks, in part, to its Sundowner Hour special: Discounted beer and food a half hour before and after the sun goes down over the Cascades – for which you will have the best view around. Co-founded by one of the brewers who helped launch Deschutes, Crux’s favorites include On the Fence Northwest Pale Ale and Outcast IPA. Food wise, the pub gets super creative with a panini machine, soups and salads. On Mondays the kitchen is closed, but you can grab some amazing tacos or brats from the food carts outside. When it’s nice, play some cornhole or other lawn games on the giant field next to the pub.

Craft Kitchen & Brew

Craft is where you go to get tasty beer with a side of southern BBQ. Located in an up-and-coming area in Northeast Bend, Craft’s food menu is the stuff of comfort food dreams. Try the fried chicken sandwich with a side of house mac-n-cheese. Top it off with the Old Mill Lager, a nod to our former mill town roots and the brewery’s first location. It’s a light-bodied American Lager with a slightly sweet finish and refreshingly clean palate.

McMenamins Old St. Francis School – Bend

You’ll find McMenamins all over the Pacific Northwest. The family restores old hotels/schools/insane asylums and turns them into new pubs/theaters/hotels. Bend’s St. Francis School was just that – a Catholic school in the heart of downtown. Today it’s a campus of three pubs, a movie theater, Turkish soaking pool, rental homes and classrooms-turned-hotel rooms. Beer wise, Hammerhead Stout and the fruity Ruby are the go-tos for locals and visitors alike. And you can’t go wrong asking for a “Rubinator” – a Terminator Stout/Ruby mix like a black and tan. As for the menu, some have said McMenamin’s Captain Neon burger and famous Cajun tots would be part of their last meal.

Silver Moon Brewing – Bend

A recent Silver Moon radio commercial ends with the tag line “Same Great Beers, Same $#%-tty Location.” They’re right about both. But the cool outdoor patio and beers at Silver Moon are worth google mapping the pub, especially the Voodoo Dog ISR and Snake Bite Porter. It’s also one of the prime spots for live music in Bend. On the menu, spice things up with the jalapeno slaw on the slow roasted pulled pork or make a meal out of the Crater Nachos with ground beef.

Immersion Brewing – Bend

Immersion is Bend’s first and only “brew-it-yourself” pub and craft brewery. You can go there and create your own brew – wait three weeks and come back for five gallons of your personal creation (or they can ship it to you in Oregon.) Or, you can just pop in for some of their fantastic beers and grub. Featured dishes include Poke Marinated Ahi, Short Rib with edamame avocado succotash, and an antibiotic-free Duroc pork Porterhouse with spent beer grain spätzle and brussels sprouts, the restaurant is as central to the brewery experience as the beer.

Drink a brew from our 10-barrel brewing system. Try a Big Chilla, a Belgian-style NW Pale Ale; Little Fawn, a Saison; Bender, a Belgian-style NW IPA; or an IRA (Immersion Red Ale), a red ale. Choose from a craft cocktail menu and a selection of wines.

Grab a Pint & Catch a Game Central Oregon Style

Yes, Central Oregon is known as an outdoor adventure paradise where hiking, mountain biking and skiing are a way of life and the reason many people visit. But sometimes your team’s got a big game. And all you really want to do – even on your vacation – is find a great spot to watch it with a few more diehard fans.

Don’t worry. There are several great gameday locations – more than simple “sports bars” –  to belly up to the bar, grab a local beer, some great food and do nothing but watch football, playoff baseball, soccer the NBA and veg out while probably eating meat.

Bend’s truest sports bar is Sidelines, in the heart of downtown. This is THE local’s place to go to catch games all day every day. They have a million TVs and tons of beers. And there’s a pretty darn good breakfast for those early East Coast Saturday games and the 10 a.m. NFL starts on Sunday. (Remember, you’re on the West Coast.)

McMenamins Old St. Francis School, Bend
McMenamins Old St. Francis School

For really big games (and most Duck/Beaver games) you’ll want to head to McMenamins Old St. Francis School in downtown Bend. The theater screen becomes a really Big Screen TV for the games with plenty of couch seating available along with great food and beer. The famous cajun tots are a must. It’s the next best thing to watching it at home except you can’t flip the channels between plays (but you do have someone waiting on you!)

Currents Restaurant
Currents/Riverhouse on the Deschutes

If you’re after a diverse beer selection to go with your game, the newly-redesigned Currents Restaurant at Riverhouse on the Deschutes is the perfect place to spend a couple hours. The bar features rotating brews from just about every Central Oregon brewery, giving you a chance to essentially do the Ale Trail without leaving your seat. It’s your Seattle Seahawks gameday headquarters with some great food and drink deals as well.

Immersion Brewing offers discounted beers and a great all-day happy hour menu on gamedays – and if you have a big group and want to do something different while watching the game, you can brew your own beer!

In Downtown Bend, the Beach Hut Deli might be the best place to watch a game that nobody’s heard of yet. Several big screen TVs are always showing games – and some of the booths have their own TVs! You can find TONS of sandwich options, gameday specials, a spacious patio, fire pit an amazing beer tap lineup.

beach-hut-deli

If your team stinks but you just can’t miss the game anyway, you might need some awesome views to take your mind off the outcome. The Row, a pub at Tetherow Resort, has a couple of big screens in addition to amazing scenery out the huge windows overlooking the golf course. (A golf course ranked No. 63 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 Public Courses.)

tetherow-bar_hpg_1
The Row at Tetherow Resort

Just about all of the brewpubs are good places to catch a game, especially Cascade Lakes Brewing Co. and Bend Brewing Co. The brewhaus at Sunriver Brewing Co. (both at the Sunriver and Bend locations) is another great option. And get this, there’s a children’s play area at the Sunriver pub.

COVA (21 of 26)
Photo by Talia Galvin

And one of my favorite spots is kind of underrated when it comes to cool sports-watching venues: Deschutes Brewery in Downtown Bend. There’s a big screen TV on both corners of the bar (just beyond the edges of that photo above) and a few more scattered around the restaurant. And, of course, the beer and the food are as good as it gets.

Larger Pours, Longer Hours – Deschutes Brewery Tours Expand

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. The brewery now offers four tours a day 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.

To book a tour online, visit https://www.deschutesbrewery.com/brewery-tour/

Bend’s Oktoberfest Kicks Off Central Oregon Fall

oktoberfest 3

Experience a little Bavaria in Bend with the annual Oktoberfest celebration downtown September 21th & 22nd.

It’s two days of beer, brats and probably more men than necessary wearing ill-fitting Lederhosen, but hey, it’s only once a year, right?

The event is a fundraiser for the Downtown Bend Business Association and one of the more popular festivals of the year. It’s like a mini beer fest with brews and ciders offered from Deschutes, Crux Fermentation Project, Sunriver Brewing Co., Three Creeks, Bend Brewing Co. and others. The event is free, but you have to buy a special Oktoberfest mug to try any of the 18 brews. Special edition ceramic steins are also for sale in addition to a VERY limited edition Silipint.

Along with the beer (have we mentioned the beer?) the festivities include a yodeling competition, live music and the hugely popular wiener dog races.

Bend Oktoberfest wiener dogs

You’ll also enjoy plenty of Oompah music while the kids play on the bouncy houses in the children’s play area; there’s a Hammerschlagen competition as part of the Oktoberfest games and a tricycle race that features some local professional cyclists.

oktoberfest 2

It all happens on Oregon Avenue in downtown Bend starting at 5 p.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday. Both days it runs until 10 p.m. (Please note: Friday night is 21+ only while on Saturday, minors are allowed until 5 p.m.)

For more information and a schedule of events, visit the Oktoberfest website!

Eat Like a Local: Our Favorite Spots to Dine in Central Oregon

When you roll into a new place for vacation, one of the first things you want to do is find a great, local place to grab a bite to eat. You didn’t drive up from the Bay Area to pop into an Applebees, right? Central Oregon is chock full of amazing local restaurants sure to fit into every culinary category.

Here are some of our favorite spots – we’d say “secret spots” but they’re pretty popular places and, well, nothing in Central Oregon is a secret anymore.

PizzaPizza Mondo in downtown Bend is hands-down the locals’ favorite place to get a slice or whole pie. In fact, the tiny little pizza joint has been named Bend’s Favorite Pizza by readers of the local Source Weekly newspaper every year since it opened in 1996. I mean, c’mon. A lot of pizza shops have come and gone since then – yet “Mondo” remains at the top. And for good reason. Local tip: There’s a basket of brownies at the counter where you pay. Buy one.

 

SeafoodThe Pine Tavern has been a staple of downtown Bend since 1936 for one simple reason: It’s just a great place to get classic American comfort food. And for many locals it’s the go-to spot for some delectable seafood entrees, including baked salmon stuffed with Dungeness crab, bay shrimp, brie and cream cheese. Local’s tip: Don’t fill up on the sourdough scones that come before dinner. Save them and take them home for a perfect late night snack.

Burgers – Nearly all of Central Oregon’s brewpubs have amazing burgers on the menu, but if you really want to dine like a local, go a little under the radar and check out Hardy’s Hot Wings, Hamburgers and Ice Cream. No frills or bells or whistles, just a wide variety of tasty hamburgers and the most Buffalo-esque wings in town. (Ask about the hot-wing challenge.)

Dessert900 Wall in downtown Bend is known for great food and an amazing Happy Hour, but it’s most popular dishes might just be found on the dessert menu. My wife and I sometimes will plan a date night just for the powdered sugar beignets. They come with a bittersweet chocolate sauce, raspberry sauce, and vanilla mouse for dipping.

Italian – Bend’s had its fair share of Italian restaurants open and close over the years, but one has stood the test of time: Marcello’s Cucina Italiana in Sunriver. A staple of classic Italian fare with a PNW twist, Marcello’s has been filling bellies since 1980. You’ll find all the classics like lasagna, chicken parm and spaghetti, but also a few surprises like salmon-n-chips, pork osso bucco, penne arrabiata. Local tip: Stop in on a Wednesday for $10 all you can eat spaghetti – including a side salad or cup of soup & homemade bread.

Brewpub – Now this one gets a bit tricky. Ask five locals their favorite brewpub and you’re more than likely going to get five different answers. Some love Crux Fermentation Project and their huge, grassy yard that feels more like a neighborhood party than a restaurant. Some are old school Deschutes Brewery fans who’ll tell you about the good ole days when the joint was way smaller (but the beer was just as good.) Bend Brewing Co. has staked its claim as being the locals favorite for years while newcomers Sunriver Brewing Co. now boasts popular hangouts in both Sunriver and Bend. My favorite? I’m always partial to Deschutes Brewery where I can belly up to the bar for a burger and a pint of the pub-only Bachelor Bitter. It doesn’t get any more local than that.

Sparrow Bakery’s famous “Ocean Roll.”

Breakfast – Everyone knows the best breakfasts come from the smallest, most quaint spots in town. That’s true to form in Central Oregon where Sparrow Bakery stands out. The original Scott Street location is a tiny little brick building in the Old Iron Works Art District while the newer Northwest Crossing spot is a bit larger, more modern pastry oasis. Ask anyone in town and they’ll say Sparrow’s “Ocean Roll” is among the best pastries anywhere. If you’re looking for something a little more “stick to your ribs,” check out McKay Cottage in Bend. The breakfast landmark has amazing pancakes, eggs benedict and much more in a quaint riverside location.

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’s 7 Best (and maybe not-so-well-known) Family-Friendly Dining Options

Back in the day, finding a “family-friendly” restaurant meant looking for something involving animatronic characters or a dollar menu where “happiness” came in a box.

But in Bend and Central Oregon, you’ll find a huge selection of true family-friendly restaurants that are as appealing to mom and dad as they are to the kids. In fact, just about every spot welcomes your little ones and has a kids’ menu with food you won’t feel bad for feeding your children. And as the dad to a teenager and two kids under 4, it’s nice to walk into a restaurant without getting the stink eye from the host or other patrons.

Here are a few of my family’s favorite spots to eat.

Crux Fermentation Project in Bend, Oregon
Crux Fermentation Project

Crux Fermentation Project

Grab a beer from the patio bar, find a spot in the grass and let the kids run free. With its gigantic green space, lawn games and diverse selection of local food carts, Crux is arguably the best family-friendly dining option in the region. The brewpub is home to some of Central Oregon’s most popular beers and is known for its amazing Sundowner Hour (food/drink specials a half hour before and after the sun sets.) Added bonus: There’s often live music outside as well, giving the kids something to really wiggle to.

Paddle board group on Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon
Can’t beat the views from Red Robin in Bend.

Red Robin

Located along the Deschutes River in Bend’s Old Mill District, Red Robin is kind of the go-to spot for families looking for good food, a fun environment and a great view. Sure, it’s a chain but even on vacation, it’s sometimes nice to eat somewhere familiar. Bonus points for unlimited broccoli. Heck, tell them it’s someone’s birthday and you’ll get a free cupcake out of the deal.

La Rosa

One of our favorite Mexican restaurants, La Rosa’s Northwest Crossing location has a kids menu that features all the traditional favorites like tacos, enchiladas, etc. along with some “American” standards like chicken nuggets. And the refried beans that come with the complimentary chips and salsa is always a big hit for parents of wee babies. The location is also just a short walk down the street from Compass Park. The park features a playground, pavilion with picnic tables and green space that each summer hosts outdoor movies.

Sunriver Brewing Co. – Sunriver Pub

Sunriver Brewing Co. Sunriver Pub

Great food, great beer and A CHILDRENS’ PLAY AREA. That’s right. Just inside the door, there’s a small kids’ play area stocked with toys, books and a giant chalkboard. For parents on vacation, Sunriver Brewing Co. might just be the new Happiest Place on Earth. There’s also a nice, big patio for dining outside in the sun – perfect for people watching during the busy summer season in the Village at Sunriver.

Pizza Mondo in Bend
Pizza Mondo in Bend

Pizza Mondo

When my middle daughter was just starting to eat real food, Pizza Mondo was of the first places I took her when mom left us alone for the day. (Dad of the year, right?) It’s a tiny little pizza joint in Downtown Bend that also happens to make the city’s best pie. That’s according to the locals who have voted it “Bend’s Best Pizza” every year since it opened in 1996. Pro tip: There’s a basket of brownies next to the cash register. Don’t even think about leaving without one.

Deschutes Brewery

This one might be surprising to some, but Deschutes Brewery’s Public House in Downtown Bend is actually one of the most family-friendly spots in the area. The kids’ menu features some super tasty options beyond the traditional hamburger or chicken strips. For mom and dad, the dining here straddles the line between pub food and fine dining. And the beer, of course, is legendary at Bend’s first brewpub. The pub’s expansion a few years ago really opened up the restaurant and now there’s tons of seating so a table with a couple of high chairs won’t cramp the style of the tables next to you.

goody's chocolates, bend oregon
Goddy’s Chocolates & Ice Cream

Goody’s 

Ok, so it’s not a “restaurant” in any way, shape or form. Nope, Goody’s is just home to Central Oregon’s best chocolates, candies and ice cream and it’s a must-visit for anyone vacationing here. Check out the original shop in Sunriver, the Downtown Bend location or take a tour of an actual chocolate factory. Your sweet tooth – and your kids – will thank you.

Segways Give Futuristic Twist to Bend History Tours

segway tours with bend tour company
Bend Tour Co.

There’s a lot of really interesting history to Bend, Oregon and, as it turns out, the best way to experience it might just be on a futuristic device.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical of hopping aboard a Segway before I visited The Bend Tour Company recently. I’d seen them gliding around town, but I was certain that I’d find a way to crash the ride and injure myself. (More on that in a minute.)

But one of the first things owner Bret Graham explains is that it’s impossible to tip over a Segway – either forward or backward. A quick introduction to the devices inside his store in Bend’s new Box Factory retail space revealed it was a lot like snowboarding – shifting your weight from your toes to your heels. And after an initial nervous lap around his indoor beginner course, it was actually easier than I thought it would be.

Neighborhood tour on Segways in downtown Bend, Oregon

We made a short lap around the parking lot to make sure we knew what we were doing and we were off – a perfect adventure on an 80-degree day in May.

Bret offers several different tour options each day, including an Arts Tour, Brew Taps Tour and two and a half hour Summer Sunset Tour that includes the history and attractions on his traditional tours, but with stops at various brewpubs for samples (or a pint) and some food. That tour wraps up at the Crux Fermentation Project where the view of the sun setting behind the Cascades is absolutely spectacular. (Looking for a little more adrenaline rush during your vacation? Check out the heli-tours offered through BTC.)

Crux Fermentation Project
Crux Fermentation Project, Ben

His classic tour is an hour and a half history lesson on Bend as you roll through the Old Mill District, along the Deschutes River and through some of Bend’s original neighborhoods. He talks of Bend’s logging background and tells the story behind “Whisky Flats.” We stopped in front of Bend’s “2nd Most Haunted Place” and learned about a particularly interesting steel pole on the bank of the river.

The tour itself is an educational experience even for long-time locals like myself. I learned about a street in town that features homes with 17 different architectural designs, I saw Bend’s “greenest” home and I saw the spot of Bend’s very first brewery. (Hint: It’s NOT Deschutes Brewery.)

The Deschutes River runs through Bend’s Old Mill District

Speaking of breweries, we did make our way to Boneyard Brewing for a quick sample before calling our abbreviated tour a success. Well, mostly a success. One of the riders on our tour proved true what Bret told us during our orientation: it’s impossible to tip them over, and it’s nearly impossible to crash.  (He – and the Segway – are fine.)

Let it Ride Bike Tours in Downtown Bend Oregon

As we rolled back into the shop – literally – I was already planning ahead.  My brother, an avid cyclist who lives in Nebraska has said he wants to explore Bend on two wheels – but he didn’t say it had to be by bike.

Now, if we can only figure out how to do a wheelie.

Zwickelmania – Weird Name, Delicious Central Oregon Craft Beer Event

deschutes brewery tour 1
Deschutes Brewery

There’s never a bad day to visit one of Central Oregon’s roughly 30 breweries and try a sample or two – but there’s also one really awesome day to do just that: Zwickelmania!

The annual odd-sounding, one-day event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25th. Breweries across the state will open their doors for tours and tastings all day. It’s a great time to go behind the scenes with some of the biggest and most influential breweries in the entire country. (Deschutes Brewery is the 7th largest craft brewery in the U.S.)

You can meet brewers, ask them their secrets, taste new creations or old standards. It’s a chance to expand your beer horizons and learn a little about the industry in the process.

Most of the Central Oregon breweries plan to participate with tours and other special events. (Info below provided by oregoncraftbeer.org.)

Deschutes Brewery
Join us at our production facility on Simpson Ave. for open-house tours of the largest independent craft brewery in the Northwest all afternoon. Brewers will be on hand to answer your questions in the brew house, and guides will be available to explain the operation of the production facility. Enjoy four free samples of beer along our self-guided tour!
901 SW Simpson Ave
Bend OR 97702
Bend Brewing Co.
Brewery Open House. Meet the brewers and sample a selection of rare beers.
1019 NW Brooks St.
Bend OR 97701
Craft Kitchen & Brewery
We will be releasing our Double Barrel Aged Stout and Stone Fruit Lambic.
803 SW Industrial Way
Bend OR 97702
Crux Fermentation Project
Intimate behind-the-scenes brewery tours (from 11AM to 6PM) where you can chat it up with brewers as they sneak you tastings of some of our rare [BANISHED] beers straight from the barrel. And, of course, as tradition would have it, we’ll be offering tastings of other brews direct from the zwickel. It doesn’t stop there— our chef and his crew are busy preparing a special Zwickelmania menu highlighted by our Pork Parfait, Smoke-Aroni, and Rooster’s Kick-Ass Beef Jerky.
50 SW Division St.
Bend, OR 97702
Sunriver Brewing Co. (At their new Bend pub)
Celebrating the grand opening of our new Bend pub on Galveston Avenue with the launch of a new year round brew – Rippin Northwest Ale, a meat and cheese pairing from our neighbors at Primal Cuts Meat Market and a outdoor party with a heated tent and music. Special brews to be tapped include Resin Nation Double IPA, Imperial Cocoa Cow Milk Stout, Bog Frog Wheat IPA and Motorhead Black Barleywine.
1005 NW Galveston Ave.
Bend, OR 97702
Immersion Brewing
Meet the Brewer, Brewery Tours, Tastes off the Zwickel, food specials
550 SW Industrial Way #185
Bend, OR 97702
Worthy Brewing
Open house brewery tours, beer release with free small bite pairing, lots of samples
495 NE Bellevue Dr
Bend OR 97701
Three Creeks Brewing (Sisters)
Pre-Zwickelmania breakfast 9:00-11:30 AM @ our Sisters Production Facility featuring tours, free samples from the zwickel, breakfast beers and continental breakfast
265 E Barclay Dr.
Sisters OR 97759
Cascade Lakes Brewery
Free 6 oz beer of our winter seasonal, CLBC gift bags (while supplies last) and live music from 2-5pm
1441 SW Chandler Ave. #100
Bend OR 97702
Silver Moon Brewery
Free samples, Free tours, giveaways
24 NW Greenwood Ave
Bend OR 97701
McMenamins Old St. Francis School
We’ll be offering a special beer made for Zwicklemania with a coffee element, offering snacks & giving brewery tours!
700 NW Bond St.
Bend OR 97701

According to Oregoncraftbeer.com, more than 42,500 people toured 120 breweries statewide last year and even more are expected to attend in 2017.

Central Oregon has become Nirvana for craft beer lovers. With nearly 30 breweries scattered throughout the region, you’re destined to find a brew that hits the spot after a warm summer day on the high lakes or an epic day in the powder on the ski slopes. You can read about our favorite beers here and learn more about Deschutes Brewery’s barrel-aged beers here.

 Gary Fish, Deschutes Brewrery Founder,

Curl Up and Get Warm – Central Oregon’s Cozy Romantic Getaways

With the weather making a quick turn toward winter, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about creative ways to get cozy with your significant other.

And there might not be any better way to stop, take a breath and get away from it all than with an easy, romantic getaway where you two can cuddle up next to the fire, have a glass of wine and recharge the batteries for the long winter ahead. Here’s our picks for the best places to get cozy together in Central Oregon.

Pine Ridge Inn – Bend

Located on top of the canyon overlooking the Deschutes River, Pine Ridge Inn offers an escape to tranquil settings right in the heart of Bend. With highly-appointed rooms that include cozy gas fireplaces, it’s a perfect spot for a quick retreat. The lodge offers a few different room options and a special “romance package.” There’s also some great stay and ski packages if you want to add a little adrenaline to your quiet weekend away.

pine ridge wine photo

FivePine Lodge – Sisters

Once you check in at the FivePine Lodge and enjoy a complimentary craft beer or glass of wine, the Romance Cabin (that’s actually what it’s called) is waiting for you. These cabins are super private – out on the back of the property nestled against the Deschutes National Forest. Enjoy some time in the soaking tub next to a stone fireplace before venturing out across campus for dinner at Three Creeks Brewing Co. or into town for classic comfort fare at Cottonwood Cafe.

FivePine1

 Elk Lake Resort

There’s getting away from it all, then there’s getting away from all the people trying to get away from it all. At Elk Lake Resort, you’re bypassing the luxuries of, oh, being able to drive to the front door of the hotel to check in, take a dip in the heated pool and walking to the nearest restaurant for some food.

elk lake cabin winter

BUT, in return you get an extremely up close and personal look at Central Oregon’s beautiful backcountry in a crazy romantic cabin with access to a rustic lodge accessible only by snowmobile, Nordic skis or the very convenient Elk Lake Resort snowcats, which will pick you up at Mt. Bachelor or the Dutchman Flat sno-park parking lot. Once you’re there you can rent a snowmobile for some winter adventure, or just hang out at the lodge or in your cabin. Surprise your wife with a romantic cabin in the woods? You’re set for a while, man.

McMenamins Old St. Francis School – Bend

At McMenamins, you can relax together in a historic old Catholic school turned hotel and movie theater that also houses three separate pubs. Fire pits can be found on a couple of different spots around the campus, including outide the O’Kane’s pub in the back of the building. The rooms are some of the quaintest in Bend, with king suites featuring two separate clawfoot tubs for a unique romantic experience.

okane's fire pit

After a couple of drinks by the fire, hit up a movie on site or take a stroll around downtown and grab a bite at one of the great restaurants on Wall, Bond, Minnesota or Oregon avenues. (While we’re on the fire theme, we’d suggest 900 Wall – not because’s a fireplace, but because it’s one of the warmest, most welcoming spots down there.)

Backcountry Warming Huts

For another backcountry adventure sure to light a fire in your relationship this winter, check out one of the primitive warming huts in the backcountry. The huts include fireplaces that make for a perfect spot to thaw out in after a cold snowshoe excursion from the Virginia Meissner Sno-Park, just a short drive from Bend on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. The huts might be yours alone, or it might be a chance to meet some locals and find out their favorite spots to eat and drink.

Sitting on bench by firepit at Crux Fermentation Project in Bend, Oregon
Crux Fermentation Project

There’s just something about a fire that warms the heart, and luckily finding one to cozy up to in Central Oregon is not hard to do. Many of the lodging opportunities here include rooms with fireplaces including Sunriver Resort, the new Tetherow Lodges and The Riverhouse.

You can see how some breweries are keeping folks toasty in this video of local breweries taking their parties outside. And fireplaces at spots like Deschutes Brewery, Cascade Lakes Brewing Co. help give off a warm, comforting vibe.