Fun with Foam: Sun Country Tours Kicks Off Raft n’ Brew Whitewater Event

Rafting the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon

While we don’t condone rafting AND drinking beer, we can surely get behind rafting THEN drinking beer – two of the best parts about living in beautiful Central Oregon. Throw in a good cause and you’ve got one hell of a way to spend the afternoon.

Sun Country Tours is joining forces with Central Oregon breweries this summer for its popular Raft n’ Brew whitewater trips. The special edition Big Eddy Thriller ride happens every Wednesday at 4:30 through August 24th. The event includes a complimentary beer tasting after the whitewater adventure.

The goal is to highlight the scenic and wild Deschutes River, Central Oregon’s craft brewery scene and to give back to local non-profits. Half of all the proceeds from each Raft n’ Brew go to local charities such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation and the Habitat for Humanity.

Tickets for Raft n’ Brew are $59 each, and guests must be 21 or older.

2016 Raft n’ Brew Schedule:

June 28…GoodLife Brewing benefiting the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation
July 5 Worthy Brewing benefiting Tour des Chutes
July 12 Sunriver Brewing Co. benefiting the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council
July 19 Boneyard Beer
July 26 Three Creeks Brewing
August 2 Bend Brewing Co. benefiting Oregon Adaptive Sports
August 9 Cascade Lakes Brewing benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Bend
August 16 Crux Fermentation Project…benefiting Deschutes River Conservancy
August 23 Deschutes Brewery…benefiting Bend Area Habitat for Humanity
August 30 Cascade Lakes Brewing benefiting the KIDS Center

sun country brew tour

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

Fresh Hops on the Pond

October 14th
Bend Brewing Company Lawn
Downtown Bend
Fresh Hops on the Pond FB Page

Bend Brewing Co.
The lawn at Bend Brewing Co.

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.

Central Oregon Dining Scene is a Foodie’s Paradise

In Central Oregon, there’s one thing we’re sure of, our food is just as good as our craft beer. Here on the High Desert, a night out can be as fancy, or family friendly as you like.

Our award winning chefs plate with precision, delivering big city taste in a small town setting. At 900 Wall, the intimate bar setting is perfect for relaxing with a glass of wine and some great company. Just a couple feet away, chefs prepare some of the finest food Central Oregon has to offer.

 

Interior view of dining area at 900 Wall in downtown Bend, Oregon

Just down the road at Drake, you can get a decadent, upscale lunch, or bring your friends and family back for dinner — when chefs create a modern take on classic dishes with locally sourced ingredients. (Or, check out Drake owner Ted Swigert’s Washington Dining & Cocktails in Bend’s ever-growing Northwest Crossing district.)

If you’re looking for something more casual, our breweries are the place to find appetizers that complement our local craft beer. And when the weather is warm and you’re ready for to dine Al Fresco, you’ll have plenty of options to enjoy incredible food and incredible views in Bend’s Old Mill District and the Village at Sunriver.

New Digs Spruce Up Hotel & Pubs at McMenamins Old St. Francis School

mcmenamins summer resized

More than 80 years ago, the newly-constructed St. Francis School in downtown Bend became a beacon of traditional parochial education for the growing town’s Catholic community.

Times change.

Today, the old campus is one of Bend’s most beloved spots to grab a beer, catch a movie, see live music, eat dinner, spend the night and enjoy a relaxing soak.

McMenamins is known for taking iconic buildings and repurposing them into beautiful lodging and dining properties. The PNW group renovated and reopened the landmark as the McMenamins Old St. Francis School in November 2004. But all the charm and history of the Catholic school remains intact.

According to the hotel, “McMenamins honors the property’s former life by featuring extensive artwork that pays homage to the history of the school and the surrounding community. Photos, memorabilia, artists’ renderings and students’ artwork adorn the walls, making the hotel a unique gallery of sorts.”

The lodging options at the Bend campus expanded to 60 guestrooms in 2016 with the opening of two additional buildings – the Art House and Ed House.

The 24-room Art House features hand-painted scenes from McMenamins locations, lore and beyond. Guestrooms feature televisions, telephones, internet access and private bathrooms with showers. As with all Old St. Francis School lodging, overnight guests can also enjoy complimentary use of the soaking pool. (Take a walk and you’ll discover secret hallways, secret rooms and a secret bar.)

The Old St. Francis School campus is truly an all-everything lodging property – conveniently located at the edge of Bend’s thriving downtown featuring dozens restaurants and shops. Here’s some more info on the unique amenities at the hotel.

mcmenamins-theater
The McMenamins Movie Theater

The Theater

Tucked away in the former parish hall of the old Catholic school is a place much more comfortable to sit than a hard wooden pew. The Old St. Francis School Theater, with seating for up to 120, offers visitors the chance to settle into an overstuffed chair or sofa and watch a recent release, cult classic or sporting event while enjoying a slice of pizza and a handcrafted McMenamins ale.

The Old St. Francis Theater offers pizza, snacks and, of course, popcorn. The full-service bar offers a wide variety of liquid refreshments to quench your thirst – including McMenamins own ales, wines, cider and spirits. So sit back, relax on our cozy couches and chairs and take in all that the big screen has to offer in this unique movie theater in Bend.

Soaking tub at McMenamins in Bend, Oregon

Soaking Pool

The Old St. Francis School soaking pool is a sparkling gem – semi-enclosed in shimmering turquoise tile work, one is reminded of tropical locales, even while the central Oregon snow or rain falls in through the open ceiling! Admire the luminous stained glass window by David Schlicker and the tiles that were handcrafted, fired and painted by Justyn Livingston and installed by Boyer Tiles into a beautiful mural depicting St. Francis and others harvesting grapes.

The pool is filled with soft, buoyant water, which makes for a more environmentally friendly soak. You can feel a difference.

mcmenamins okanes fire
The firepit outside McMenamins’ O’Kanes Pub

O’Kanes Pub

Set in the schoolhouse’s former garage, O’Kanes is now adorned with church doors – one of which dates back to before the turn of the 20th century – and natural light flooding the numerous stained glass windows. The rare, historic Povey stained glass windows were salvaged from a former Elks Lodge in Portland. Cigar smoking is allowed.

Outside, the pub’s large patio, festive lighting and inviting fire pits make it a go-to spot for beers and dining year round.

mcmenamins-restaurant-resized

Old St. Francis Pub

Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the pub’s deep booths and original artwork make for a comfortable spot to linger over any meal. Set in the former Catholic school’s main building, our Bend brewpub offers hearty pub fare, handcrafted ales brewed right downstairs in the onsite brewery and seasonal weekly specials. On-site bakers also craft homemade breads, pastries, cookies and desserts, available daily in the pub and at the hotel front desk. The fresh-baked goods are the perfect complement to a cup of McMenamins roasted coffee.

On warm days, guests can sit in the outside courtyard to enjoy their food and drinks al fresco. Or perhaps order some pizza to go for a picnic anywhere.

Pool table at McMenamins in downtown Bend, Oregon

Black Butte Ranch’s “Cool” New Look is a Hit – Lakeside Pool Now Open

With it’s majestic mountain views, two world-class golf courses and multitude of outdoor activities, Black Butte Ranch near Sisters has long been a favorite family vacation destination.

So when the resort opened a new lakeside pool area, bistro and rec center during the summer of 2015, it was just adding to an already spectacular setting.

Black Butte Ranch
Black Butte Ranch lakeside pool

Spectacular indeed. The pool boasts a view unlike any other in Central Oregon – so close to the Cascades that it’s as though you can reach out to touch them while sitting beneath your umbrella sipping a fruity drink.

To read more on the revamped resort, check out this story from The Oregonian.

Black Butte Ranch
Black Butte Ranch lakeside pool bistro

Hopless in Central Oregon: Experience Scenic Cideries and Vino with a View

 

In an area dominated by craft beer, you might be wondering is there anything else on tap? The answer is, ‘Yes’. Central Oregon is home to award winning cideries and wineries and with postcard-worthy views from their tasting rooms – you won’t be disappointed.

Named after the Three Sisters, Faith Hope and Charity Vineyards is just over 30 miles from Bend. It’s hard to complain about the drive though when furry faces from the Alpaca farm nearby greet you right before you turn onto the property.

The tasting room is in a huge white barn. As soon as you get a glass of vino you can either sit and relax on the patio by the pond or go explore the 15-acre vineyard. The views at Faith, Hope and Charity are larger than life, but take a closer look and you’ll find beauty everywhere.

faith hope and charity 1

From the country to Bend’s Old Mill District, craft beverages know no boundaries. Atlas Cider serves up a good time in more ways than one at their taproom. From outdoor games to an indoor arcade and pool table, you’ll want to hang out here for a while.

Not only can you taste their entire line of ciders, Atlas has fridges stocked with ciders from all around the Northwest and beyond. With unique touches just about everywhere you glance, it’s impossible not to want to share this relatively new spot with everyone you know.

atlas cider 2

A winery on the side of a highway might not sound idyllic, but with panoramic views of Smith Rock and the Cascades, that’s exactly what Maragas Winery is.

Doug Maragas uses old world techniques passed down from his family to craft unique wines on his 40-acre plot of land between Redmond and Madras. The vineyard takes advantage of the unique microclimate here to create European varietals along with French American hybrids. Maragas and Faith Hope & Charity make up part of the new Central Oregon Wine Trail.

The toughest choice you’ll have to make out here is whether to enjoy your wine inside the barrel room, outside on the patio or while playing bocce ball in their court.

From craft cider in Bend to relaxed wineries in the country — these hopless options will hit the spot on so many levels.

Maragas Winery in Culver

Beyond the Beer: Bend Craft Spirit Scene Forging Own Path

Central Oregon might be known for Craft Beer, but we’re also known for Craft Spirits.

“You can and people do make an entire vacation out of touring Central Oregon and all we have to offer in the culinary world,” said Alan Dietrich, CEO of Bendistillery.

Bendistillery opened in 1996 and has grown massively ever since. They’re best known for their Crater Lake Vodka but as soon as you visit their tasting room — it’s hard to miss their other claim to fame: an amazing view of the Cascades.

“When you stand on our back patio, you feel like you can really just reach up and touch the Three Sisters, the snow-capped peaks, the foothills and of course as it fades into our fields of Rye, it’s really spectacular,” said Dietrich.

Not only is the view breathtaking, it also offers a lesson of sorts as to why their spirits taste the way they do.

“Vodka is 60% water and without good water you can’t make a good product,” said Dietrich. “We get to actually point to the mountains and say, ‘That’s why the Crater Lake brand of spirits is so much better than anything in the world’, it’s because that water comes through the ground here and starts as snow.”

Bendistillery's Tasting Room

The snow-melt filters through lava rock naturally and so at Bendistillery that’s how they filter their spirits. Each year they sell tens of thousands* of cases of their spirits in 30 states and counting. Every bottle is handcrafted.

“It really offers us a chance to look at and feel every bottle, our quality control is impeccable, we can look at anything,” said Dietrich. “And because we’re a handmade product as well we want to make sure there aren’t any variations outside of what we would expect and during bottling is when we get to do a last check on that.”

The distillery is located on a 24-acre patch of land just north of Bend. In 2011, they began growing everything that goes into their Estate Line.

“That’s something we’re very proud of and it’s really probably the most rooted product in the land because we’re actually growing everything right here on site,” said Dietrich.