2021 is looking up! There’s going to be more to do and see in Bend than ever before, and that’s great news for newcomers who are scheduling their favorite activities. But one question we get asked a lot is, “What is the one thing that I absolutely need to put on my list for my first year in Bend?”
Well, it’s hard to narrow it down, but we sure have some ideas! If you’re relocating to Bend this year, or have recently arrived, make sure to check off at least some of these iconic adventures.
1. Go Night Skiing
Even if you aren’t a fan of the slopes, you should at least make time to arrange for a session of night skiing (even if you just go up to enjoy the sights). Areas like Hoodoo specialize in night skiing events where their runs are beautifully lit up with light and groups come to eat snacks, stay warm, and explore a side of the slopes that’s hard to experience at any other times.
2. Make a Trip to Crater Lake
You can make it to Crater Lake and back again in a day trip, but if you want to give this natural wonder of the world a little more time, there are plenty of surrounding activities and sights to check out, including lots of hikes, lodges to stay at, and many outdoor activities.
3. Kayak Tour
Check out kayak tours for the surrounding Cascade lakes and see what availability is like. Book early for the summer months, and you’ll experience a day trip unlike anything you’ve ever tried before. The stunning views of the mountains are amazing, and you’ll pick up some kayaking skills you can use on the Deschutes river if you want to make it a hobby!
4. Try the Smith Rock Hike
Smith Rock is world-famous as a spot for climbers or bouldering, but you don’t need a harness to enjoy it: The beautiful spot is a fairly quick drive away from Bend, has excellent camping grounds, and a variety of hiking trails that anyone can take to the summit to check out the brilliant vistas of Central Oregon.
5. Explore the Ale Trail
Bend now has so many home-grown breweries to try, it can be a little overwhelming to newcomers. The Ale Trail is the perfect solution to this and continues to expand each year with new pubs to visit. You can fill out your Ale Trail checklist any way you’d like, making sure that you hit the specific brands you’d like, or the stops with the very best food, etc. You can enter raffles when you finish, but the real prize is the journey itself.
6. Take a Walk Through Drake Park in the Fall
The trees in Drake Park are perfectly chosen to turn vibrant golds and yellows in the fall. Contrasted with the placid stretch of the Deschutes River that runs through the park, it creates an incredible scene that’s easy to explore and close to some of the best food and drinks in downtown Bend. Competition for the best Instagram spots can be fierce on sunny days, but it’s certainly worth it.
7. Head Over to Oktoberfest
2021 will see a variety of events return to Bend as the world becomes (a little) more normal. That opens the door for a lot of potential amphitheater concerts and seasonal festivals, but one of the most reliable will be Oktoberfest, which is also a great introduction to downtown Bend events as a whole! Blocks and blocks of the city center are closed off for food, beer, bands, performances, wiener dog races, and a variety of products/merch for sale. It only lasts a couple of days, but it’s worth every moment!