A Winter Weekend in Bend, Oregon
Bend is a small outdoorsy town in Central Oregon. I’ve wanted to visit for awhile, and Thanksgiving weekend seemed like the perfect time for Ben and me to pack up the car and head that way. It took us just under 6 hours to drive to Bend from Seattle.
What to Expect on the Road
Bend is in a fairly remote area. The drive was beautiful, but after we got past the Mt. Hood area commodities became somewhat scarce, so if you need to get gas or stop for takeout be sure to keep your eyes on the map and don’t pass up an opportunity.
If you are coming from Western Washington, you do have to cross over a mountain pass to get to Bend no matter which way you go, so watch the weather. We didn’t have to pull out snow chains on our trip, but we re-routed to a different pass on the way home to avoid using our chains.
Bend has a million wonderful options for outdoor adventures. We chose two hikes that were both less than a 30-minute drive from our hotel in downtown Bend.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
We hiked the Lava Butte Trail at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. In the spring and summer there is a shuttle bus that runs from the monument visitor’s center to a fire lookout, but it is closed during the winter, so hikers can walk up the road to the fire lookout–the scenery is beautiful and definitely worth the climb! It’s 1.5 miles one way, and steep to make the climb but fairly easy because you are walking on nice flat road.
^Checking out the view from the fire lookout deck.
^We had a perfectly clear day for our hike with great views of the Cascade Mountains.
Smith Rock State Park
We didn’t do any skiing or snowshoeing on this trip, but I know those are great winter activities in the area. I researched some of what to do in Bend before our trip, but I found that asking locals for recommendations as we were out and about was the best way to figure out what hikes to do! Everyone we asked was happy to share their favorite hike.
What to Do in Downtown Bend
Downtown Bend was smaller than I pictured, but that made it the perfect size to walk around and pop in tiny local boutiques and restaurants. We did a little bit of Christmas shopping and ate plenty of great food.
- Ju-Bee-Lee: great selection of clothes, home decor, and gifts
- Mother’s: best smoothies
- Joolz: Pacific-Northwest-inspired Mediterranean food
- Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe
- We also liked Spoken Moto Coffee, which is a little bit outside of downtown, but has a food truck pod outside so it’s the perfect spot to grab lunch and coffee . We drove there on our way to Smith Rock, but it would’ve been a 15-minute walk from downtown.
^The Deschutes River
Ben and I have already decided we need to head back to Bend in the summer and bring our dog Kai along, so if you’ve been to Bend let me know what your favorite activities are. Bonus if it’s dog-friendly! There is so much to see and do that (as always…it seems), I’ve already started a list for our next visit 🙂