My grandma once sent me a tour guide of Bend called “Bend, Overall.” I think it’s a lot funnier than it actually is.
We spent the last three days of vacation visiting my aunts and grandma in the microbrewery capital of the world–a fast-growing town nestled in the foothills of Mt. Bachelor about 3 hours from Portlandia. Bend is one of my favorite places to visit, it has (almost) everything on my ‘I could live there’ checklist (which John literally keeps in his wallet to cross check). Coffee shops, trendy organic restaurants, running trails, breathtaking scenery and Whole Foods.
Our trip to Bend was the final hurrah of a travel packed week. By the time we landed in the terrifying micro-commuter plane, it was hard to believe that this was the same trip where we’d gone to the Super Bowl, Napa and Monterey. Our vacation was wildly ambitious with a baby. I’m going to be exhausted for weeks.
A frozen fog settled over Bend Thursday night, after a family dinner at my Grandma’s favorite restaurant, Anthony’s Fish Grotto, but Friday morning was some of the most perfect winter weather Bend has seen this season. It was in the high 50’s, clear and sunny. After stocking up on baby food and dropping off our clothes at a laundry mat, I went for a run on the Deschuttes River trail near the Old Mill. I’m so used to running alone on mindless, empty sidewalks, it was thrilling to run alongside so many other enthusiastic runners also on the trail that morning.
The trip was mostly eating, a little working out, a lot of quality face time (in person, not via iPhone) with my family and just soaking in the last three days before going back to Charleston and a whole bunch of work emails I’m afraid to read.
A play-by-play of our trip to Bend would make you never want visit, or read this blog, so instead I put together a list of 5 things you should do in Bend or 5 reasons you need to visit Bend and have a more exciting time than we did.
5 Things to Do in Bend
- Run: Bend is a hub for distance running. My favorite is the Deschuttes River Trail starting at the Old Mill. It’s extremely easy to find and always has lots of other runners, which helps ease my fear of trail running alone. Paralleling the Deschuttes River, the path is about a 6+ mile round trip with rolling hills and steady terrain. The view is phenomenal, peaceful and invigorating.
- Tour: The Brewey Ale Trail. We didn’t do the trail this trip, I can hardly drink one beer anymore much less a days worth, but I did it a few years ago and it’s a great way to get to know the town, its main craft and have a little (or a lot, depending on your tolerance) of fun. Participants get a map and checklist with all the brewery’s. If you finish the list, you get a cool Silipint Bend beer glass to impress your craft beer friends.
- Eat: Jackson’s Corner for breakfast or the Broken Top Bottle Shop for lunch or dinner. Jackson’s Corner is a cozy cafe-style restaurant near downtown with a solid breakfast menu of fresh, homemade pastries, egg sandwiches and burritos. We’ve been here twice and I wish we had one in Charleston. They have a full wall of drinks, from beer to local Kombucha, and the food is filling and delicious. Broken Top Bottle Shop, a hilly walk from my aunts’ house, is hidden in the outskirts of town. Their full menu has options for vegans, vegetarian’s, and wing lovers (real wings, not tofurky wings) in a bar-style atmosphere. It must be a Bend thing to have a wall full of drinks, they also have one that features every beer except Pliny the Elder.
- Lounge: Lone Pine Coffee Roasters. I pulled a ‘John’ and asked the barista what I should get if I was certainly never coming back. The Lemon Latte. Wait, what? I went for it. And it was basically a melted lemon cookie. Best drink I’ve had in a long time.
- Shop: there are a ton of cute boutiques downtown, but if you’re looking for a real Bend souvenir it has to be Sara Bella. My grandma is her best customer, so when we stopped by we got a little tour of her creative space. Sara upcycles–she makes a large variety of fun, unique bags out of recycled material. They’re great for traveling, the beach or the farmers market. My grandma bought me one to add to my collection.
Bend offers a lot more than our quick weekend trip can showcase. I’ve been cross country skiing from a quaint lodge up on Mt. Bachelor, they have a huge winter fest (that we were actually in town for) and an ice skating rink, there are water sports on the river, from SUPN to Kayaking and more bike shops than John and I could count. We tried. Bend is the perfect place to explore for a week or a weekend for exercise, food and art enthusiasts.
It was also really cold, so we were looking forward to a warm return to the south. Unfortunately the South realized it’s winter and was in the high 40’s when we landed. Which we thought was cold, until we got home to a broken heater and a 43 degree house.