28 Best Things to Do in Bend, OREGON (Top Place to Live)

Best Things to Do in Bend, OREGON (Full Guide)
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Nestled in the heart of Central Oregon, Bend beckons with its captivating blend of natural beauty, thriving craft beer scene, and endless adventure possibilities.

From hiking the rugged Cascade Mountains to tracing the tranquil path of the Deschutes River, Bend, ranked #96 best place to live in 2021, offers a wealth of activities to entice every traveler. Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast craving world-class rock climbing and mountain biking or a foodie eager to explore the burgeoning culinary and brewing scene, Bend has something special in store.

With its charming downtown, rich cultural heritage, and laidback community vibe, Bend feels like the perfect small town getaway. Having visited Bend over 100 times, experiencing its allure in every season, I've compiled a personal list of the best things to do in this Oregon oasis. Let's uncover the essence of Bend, and the experiences the city has to offer to epicureans.


Best Things to Do in Bend, OREGON


1. The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt (Citywide): Cheapest Activity

The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt - Things to Do in Bend, OREGON

Deals & Tickets:  EXPEDIA

Embark on the ultimate scavenger hunt experience in Bend! 

Whether you're a visitor exploring the city for the first time or a seasoned local looking for new adventures, this citywide hunt is designed to delight and entertain you. You'll receive 25 clues via email, leading you to exciting locations all around Bend. 

Armed with these clues, it's up to you to decipher and uncover each destination. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, you'll get to discover the very best that Bend has to offer. Don't forget to capture your journey with photos of your group along the way. 

After completing the hunt, email your photos to claim your completion certificate and perhaps even win additional prizes! It's an unforgettable way to experience the wonders of Bend, Oregon.


2. Half-Day Lava Tube Cave Tour

Half-Day Lava Tube Cave Tour - Things to Do in Bend, OREGON

Deals & Tickets:  EXPEDIA

Join Wanderlust Tours on a half-day adventure exploring the captivating lava tube caves in Bend, Oregon. 

Our knowledgeable guides will lead you through these underground wonders, pointing out fascinating features along the way. Hop aboard our comfortable vehicle and enjoy the scenic drive to the caves. Once there, you'll be equipped with a high-quality headlamp, a protective helmet, and a local guide to ensure your safety and enhance your experience. 

Discover the geological history behind these magnificent caverns, created by ancient volcanoes, and learn about their important role in the local ecosystem. Immerse yourself in the untouched beauty of these natural caves, devoid of artificial lights or walkways. Afterward, we'll return you to the meeting point in Bend, leaving you with interesting memories.




3. Deschutes River Horse Ride

Deschutes River Horse Ride - Things to Do in Bend, OREGON

Deals & Tickets:  EXPEDIA

If you're looking for a unique and personalized horse riding experience in Bend, Oregon, Wilderness Horse Adventures has got you covered. 

With their private custom horse rides, Wilderness Horse Adventures team ensure that you have the perfect day tailored just for you. Whether you want to embark on this adventure alone or with some companions, they will make sure you have an unforgettable time exploring the beautiful Deschutes River on horseback.



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Best Things to Do in Bend, OREGON with Kids


4. Deschutes River Guided Flatwater Kayaking Tour

Deschutes River Guided Flatwater Kayaking Tour - Things to Do in Bend, OREGON

Deals & Tickets:  EXPEDIA

Join Wanderlust Tours for a spring adventure, and enjoy the beauty of the Deschutes River on a guided flatwater kayaking tour. 

You'll be surrounded by blooming wildflowers, snowy mountains, and abundant wildlife. The knowledgeable guides will show you hidden gems along the river that you might not notice on your own. 

During the 2-hour tour, you'll not only have fun in the sun, but also gain an understanding of the area's hydrology and the importance of water for all living things. Departure times are available from 9:00am to 5:30pm, and the tour includes a professional guide, transportation, and all necessary gear. Don't forget to bring sun protection, layers for variable weather, and any additional gear you may need. This adventure is suitable for all ages, so bring your family and friends along!



5. Chocolate Tour Including Wine Hot Chocolate and Samples

Chocolate Tour Including Wine Hot Chocolate and Samples - Things to Do in Bend, OREGON

Deals & Tickets:  EXPEDIA

If you're a chocolate fan, you'll love the Chocolate Tour Including Wine Hot Chocolate and Samples offered by Adventure Tours Bend. 

You'll get a behind the scenes look at how this local award-winning chocolate maker creates their delicious tablets. Discover how different beans from around the world contribute to the flavors of these chocolates and see the process in action. 

The highlight of the tour is getting to mold your own chocolate bar to take home. To top it off, you'll get to enjoy some wine or hot chocolate while sampling their various treats. And if you want to bring some chocolate bars home, special wholesale pricing has been arranged for you.


Best Free Things to Do in Bend, OREGON

Best things to do Bend Oregon

6. Explore the Old Mill District

We can’t talk about the best things to do in Bend without mentioning the historic Old Mill District located downtown. The area was once home to two lumber mills that were crucial to the local economy until the 20th century.

When the mills ceased operations, the vacant industrial lots were a blight on the neighborhood. Years later, the area was revitalized and transformed into a lively mixed-use district full of small shops, restaurants, art galleries and cafes.

Walk the Deschutes River Trail - Best Things to Do in Bend, OREGON

7. Walk the Deschutes River Trail

Exploring the Deschutes River Trail in Bend's Old Mill District ranks among the top activities in the area. The aptly-named path runs alongside the Deschutes River, offering sweeping vistas as it meanders through the city. Encounter fellow pedestrians, cyclists, and runners, all embracing the fading sunlight.

Consider picking up a coffee from Sister’s and embarking on a leisurely one-mile walk from the Old Mill District to Drake Park. This tranquil journey takes approximately 25 minutes one-way, making it an ideal morning activity.



Floating Deschutes River in Bend Oregon

8. Float the Deschutes River

If you walk around town for a while, you will quickly realize that half the town is floating downstream. The reason? This is easy to do while visiting Bend because renting a float tube is a quick and hassle-free experience.

Just rent float tubes at Tumalo Creek, and the rest is a breeze. Surprisingly, it’s not very expensive either ($24/person).

Best things to do Bend Oregon

Park and Prepare

Start your river float experience by parking at the "Park & Float" located at 1000 SW Bradbury. Connect with the friendly staff to reserve your floatie or make reservations online in advance. They'll provide a quick safety demo to ensure you're ready to hit the water.

Float the Scenic Deschutes River

Board the shuttle that will drop you off at the starting point, then sit back and enjoy the 1.5-hour float down the Deschutes River. Take in the stunning scenery as you drift through the heart of Bend, ending at the beautiful Drake Park.

Hassle-Free Return

When you reach the end of your float, a shuttle will be waiting to pick you up and take you back to the "Park & Float" location.

An invigorating Experience

Floating the Deschutes River is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Bend. It allows you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region while enjoying a leisurely and carefree journey down the river.



Viaggio Wine Bar bend oregon - Best Things to Do in Bend, OREGON

9. Wine Tasting at Viaggio Wine Bar

Viaggio Wine Bar in Bend is a must-visit spot for any wine enthusiast. This welcoming establishment, which also doubles as a shop, was founded in 2022 by Benjamin Richardson, an accomplished Sommelier known for his unparalleled knowledge of wine.

Richardson's expertise is undeniable, with a career that includes training under Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey, awarded Sommelier of the Year in 2015 by Wine Enthusiast, and managing the wine program at a prestigious three-star Michelin restaurant.

Prior to establishing Viaggio, Richardson served as the Estate Director at Faila Wines in St. Helena, California, before deciding to settle down in Bend. His dedication to family and passion for wine shine through in every aspect of Viaggio.

At Viaggio, guests can explore an expertly curated selection of wines, with Richardson's menu ensuring a memorable experience with every glass. Additionally, patrons can indulge in delightful light bites crafted from seasonal produce sourced from local farmers market, adding a unique and fresh touch to the menu.

For those seeking to "expand their wine knowledge" and unwind in a charming setting, a visit to Viaggio Wine Bar is a must. It's one of the top bars Bend has to offer.

Visiting Bend things to do

10. Enjoy the Ale Trail of Bend

When visiting Bend, exploring its plethora of craft breweries is a must. With over 30 breweries nestled in the city, discovering a new one each time can be quite the adventure. To fully immerse yourself in Bend's dynamic brew culture, consider embarking on the Bend Ale Trail.

  1. Get a passport in Bend Ale Trail app.
  2. Hop from one participating brewery to the next. At each stop, collect a stamp. Once you've accumulated enough stamps, you qualify for a prize at the Visitor Center.

Participating in the Bend Ale Trail adds an extra layer of enjoyment to your brewery visits. But, if you prefer a more casual approach to exploring Bend's beer scene, keep reading.



Explore the High Desert Museum - Best Things to Do in Bend, OREGON

11. Explore the High Desert Museum

Let's acknowledge a common perception: museums can sometimes be perceived as dull or uninteresting. However, the High Desert Museum breaks that stereotype entirely. It stands out as one of the most engaging museums I've encountered. For families in Bend, it's undoubtedly one of the top attractions.

Established in 1982, this expansive museum covers 135 acres, offering both indoor and outdoor interactive experiences. Its primary focus is on showcasing the cultural heritage of Oregon's high desert. Exhibits delve into the challenges faced by Native Americans and pioneers along the Oregon Trail.

One highlight is the diverse wildlife exhibits, featuring creatures like Gila monsters, porcupines, otters, and gray foxes.

Admission may seem steep at $20 per adult, but the enriching experience justifies the cost. The High Desert Museum truly earns its reputation as one of Bend's premier attractions. Make sure it's on your itinerary!

Hayden Homes Amphitheater

12. Attend a Concert at Hayden Homes Amphitheater

The roster of talented musicians gracing Bend's summer concert lineup is nothing short of impressive. Each year brings a new wave of performances that captivate audiences, drawing music lovers from near and far. Situated just a stone’s throw from the river, Hayden Homes Amphitheater is an unmistakable landmark in the vibrant cityscape.

The melodies emanating from the amphitheater permeate the town, creating an atmosphere of anticipation and excitement. There's something magical about spending an evening surrounded by friends, libations, and the electrifying energy of live music. From unforgettable performances by artists like Bon Iver to the latest up-and-coming sensations, the memories created here linger long after the final encore.

However, with its popularity as one of Bend's premier attractions, securing tickets in advance is highly recommended, especially for sought-after artists. Don't miss your chance to be part of the magic at Hayden Homes Amphitheater.



things to do Downtown Bend Oregon

13. Discover Downtown Bend

Bend boasts two distinct “downtown” areas: the Old Mill District and the official Downtown. While we've delved into the Old Mill District previously, downtown is equally delightful! This area is dotted with fantastic restaurants, quaint boutique shops, and exceptional breweries.

If you find yourself in Bend during the summer months, be sure to venture downtown on the first Friday of the month for the Downtown Bend First Friday Art Walk. Here, local artists showcase their talents alongside live music, art exhibits, wine tastings, and delectable food offerings. This event ranks among the top free attractions in Bend, making it a must-see during your visit.

San Simón Bend

14. Grab More Cocktails in Bend's Bars

Dogwood Cocktail Cabin stands out as a top destination for handcrafted cocktails. This innovative establishment offers a diverse selection of enticing drinks, categorized by your preferred spirit. Whiskey enthusiasts shouldn't miss the chance to savor the Juan Connery—trust me on this one. Note: Dogwood Cocktail Cabin has temporarily relocated but anticipates reopening this summer (stay tuned for updates).

Similarly, San Simón garners acclaim as one of Bend's premier bars. Drawing crowds throughout the evening, it's an ideal spot to unwind with friends or a date. Prepare to be impressed by their expertly mixed and boldly imaginative cocktails.



McMenamins Old St. Francis School

15. McMenamins Old St. Francis School

McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Bend, Oregon, holds a special place in the hearts of many Oregonians. The McMenamin brothers, Brian and Mike, are renowned throughout the state for their dedication to preserving historic buildings. Originating from Portland, they have spent the past forty years rescuing and repurposing structures on the brink of demolition.

Their commitment to historical accuracy is evident in their meticulous restoration process, often involving the expertise of historians. The transformation of the Old St. Francis School, originally built in 1936 as a Catholic schoolhouse, showcases their passion for preserving the past while breathing new life into architectural gems.

Today, the Old St. Francis School serves as a multifaceted destination, offering accommodations in converted classrooms, a pub, brewery, movie theater, cigar bar, and speakeasy all under one roof. With such diverse offerings, there truly is something for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you're unwinding on the cozy outdoor patio or gathered around one of the inviting fire pits on a summer evening, a visit to the Old St. Francis School promises an unforgettable experience. It's no wonder that spending time here ranks among the top things to do in Bend.

McMenamins Old St. Francis School

16. Enjoy Bend's Lively Art Scene

Explore Bend's Vibrant Art Scene
Bend boasts a thriving community of talented artists eager to showcase their work. The Downtown Bend First Friday Art Walk gallery tour is an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the local art scene.

With Bend's rich artistic offerings, experiencing exceptional art is effortless. You can enjoy unique artwork without going out of your way, thanks to the Art in Public Places exhibits scattered throughout the city. These exhibits aim to provide culturally enriching visual experiences for residents and visitors alike. It's just another reason to appreciate Bend's vibrant culture!



When is the Best Time to Visit Bend, Oregon ?

After experiencing Bend in all four seasons, it's evident that the prime times to visit are during spring and summer. Bend stands out as a destination where each season brings its own allure.

Summer emerges as a standout period for exploring Bend, particularly for hiking enthusiasts. While temperatures may soar during midday, the presence of refreshing rivers and inviting breweries ensures relief and relaxation.

Spring mirrors summer's appeal, offering mild temperatures throughout the day with cool evenings. The landscape bursts with vibrant wildflowers, adding a colorful contrast to the lush forests.

Autumn unveils a scenic spectacle with its breathtaking fall colors.

As an added bonus, the thinner crowds create a more tranquil atmosphere, complemented by generous doses of sunshine, albeit with a hint of chilliness requiring a jacket.

Winter caters to snow sport aficionados, making Bend a haven for cross-country skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts, especially at Mount Bachelor. However, securing season passes well in advance is crucial, as they tend to sell out rapidly.

In summary, while Bend entices visitors year-round, spring and summer shine as optimal times for exploration, with each season offering its own distinct charms.

Best things to do Bend Oregon

More Activities for Longer Stays in Bend, OREGON

best things to do Bend Oregon

17. Drive the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway

One of the highlights of visiting Bend is the easy access to the stunning natural landscapes of Central Oregon. A must-do activity is driving along the Cascade Lakes Highway Scenic Byway.

Beginning in downtown Bend, this picturesque route spans 66 miles, winding through breathtaking scenery. Along the way, there are numerous opportunities to pause and take in the sights. Renowned for its beauty, this drive is often hailed as one of the most scenic in the United States.

Allow 3 to 5 hours to complete the entire journey, factoring in stops. The road is typically open from June through October, although closures due to snowfall can occur, usually beyond Mt. Bachelor.



18. Join a Wanderlust Tour

Explore Bend with Wanderlust Tours, a leading tour guide since 1993. Discover a variety of half-day excursions, from canoeing to brewery tours and cave explorations. Prices typically start at $80 per person, with custom tour options also offered. Visit their website for more details: wanderlusttours.com

Sisters Oregon

19. Visit Sisters, Oregon

Sisters, Oregon is a quaint little town with plenty to see, you can’t afford to miss it during your visit to Bend. One of my favorite coffee shops is Sister’s Coffee and we have been known to go out of our way for their breakfast sandwiches – so good.

Take advantage of the biking trail by renting a bike and exploring the old town on two wheels, make sure to swing by Three Creeks Craft Brewing for delicious brews.

metolius river fly fishing bend oregon

20. Learn to fly fish

Did you know that Fly Fisher Magazine rated Bend as one of the top 10 fly-fishing towns in America? Stay humble, Bend. The Deschutes River alone offers 252 miles of water to fish in. We see fishermen and fisherwomen peppered throughout the river every time we visit, regardless of the season. Why not learn from the best?



Adventurous Things to Do in Bend

Whether you prefer to hike, run, bike or levitate, Bend has something to offer you. The city center is surrounded by the impressive Cascade Range, healthy forests, volcanic lava flows (Lava Lands Visitor Center), cascading waterfalls, hot springs, caves, rivers, lakes, you name it, Bend has it.

With that said, let’s cover adventurous things to do in Bend.

Newberry National Monument Oregon

21. Visit Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Visiting the Newberry National Monument should be high on your list of interesting things to do in Bend Oregon whether you’re a history buff or not.

It’s the largest volcano in the Cascade Range and the lava flow is ripe for exploration. There’s a plethora of lava tubes and cinder cones that can be viewed up close through hiking. Exploring the Newberry National Monument is a unique experience, that always leaves eager to return.

Things to do in Bend, Oregon

22. Explore Broken Top Trail to No Name Lake

Broken Top Trail leading to No Name Lake stands out as a must-do hike in Bend. Discovered through local recommendations, this trail boasts popularity without losing its charm. During our visit last spring, the trail was bustling with fellow hikers, underscoring its allure.

Picture-perfect vistas of the majestic Cascade Range await along this trail. From the elevated vantage point of No Name Lake, the scenery is simply unmatched. As you ascend, the panoramic views of the Cascade Range unfold, stretching as far as the eye can see.

Ascending to No Name Lake is a challenge due to the elevation gain, yet the experience is undeniably rewarding. Among the numerous trails we've explored, this one consistently stands out as a top contender.



23. Hike the Misery Ridge Trail at Smith Rock State Park

Tackling the Misery Ridge Trail ranks high among the top activities around Bend. Aptly named for its challenging terrain, this trail promises an rough adventure. Even if you're not up for the entire hike, a visit to Smith Rock State Park is a must for its stunning landscape.

Geology takes center stage here, with the iconic Smith Rock formation resembling to Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint, or something out of this world. The landscape appears almost magically, offering boundless opportunities for exploration and breathtaking views of the Cascade Range.

free things to do Bend Oregon

24. Explorinig Lava River Cave

Exploring caves is one of the most distinctive experiences in Bend, and luckily, there are plenty to explore. Among them, Lava River Cave at Newberry National Volcanic Monument stands out as a favorite.

Upon arrival, visitors can rent lanterns for $5 to illuminate their journey through the cave. Alternatively, bringing your own light source is recommended for a more personalized experience.

A short trail from the lantern rental station leads directly into the cave, where visitors descend down 55 well-maintained steps into the darkness below. The temperature inside drops rapidly, settling at a cool 40 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the hike.

Lava River Cave is an ideal destination for families with young children, offering an adventurous experience suitable for all ages. Numerous families often come to explore the cave, which is a very popular attraction for children.

26. Hike Tumalo Falls

Tumalo Falls sits within a lush evergreen forest, amplifying the grandeur of the cascading waters. For a quieter experience, consider venturing to the upper viewpoint, providing a distinctive perspective from above.

The hike covers a brief half-mile ascent and descent, with chances to encounter several smaller waterfalls en route.

27. Catch Sunset at Sparks Lake

Sparks Lake is surrounded by three iconic peaks: South Sister, Broken Top and Bachelor Butte. But be forewarned, the secret it out. This area gets very busy during the weekends (full parking lot) so arrive early if you want some semblance of solitude.

I suggest catching sunset from the Ray Atkeson Memorial Trail to avoid the crowds — it’s one of the most memorable things to do near Bend. Plus, the hike is very little effort and great reward, the views are something else!

The entire trail is a 2.5-mile loop that hugs the lake, but I normally hike to the viewpoint located less than a mile in. I’ve lost count of the number of sunrises and sunsets I caught from this viewpoint, gets me every time!

best things to do Bend OREGON

28. Learn to Snowboard at Mt. Bachelor

Mt. Bachelor is the 6th largest ski resort in the country, so if you’re looking for things to do in Bend Oregon during winter, you need not look further. Every year, like clockwork, adventure enthusiasts flock to this iconic mountain for incredible snow sport opportunities.

Skiing or snowboarding not your thing? You can still take advantage of Mt. Bachelor by joining a guided snowshoeing trail and learning about the diverse landscape of Central Oregon. You can also skip the winter season altogether and visit during the summer months and try you hand at the numerous hiking trails or mountain bike!

Best Restaurants in Bend

Bend, Oregon boasts an exciting array of culinary delights that cater to every palate. From cozy breakfast spots to bustling breweries, there's something for everyone in this vibrant food scene. Below, we've curated a list of top dining establishments to help you navigate Bend's gastronomic landscape.

Breakfast Escapades

McKay Cottage Restaurant: Start your day off right with a visit to McKay Cottage Restaurant, a beloved breakfast spot in Bend. Despite the bustling crowds, the wait is well worth it for a taste of their delectable pancakes. Sip on a hot cup of coffee from their self-serve station as you anticipate the culinary delights awaiting you.

Jackson's Corner: Indulge in a morning feast at Jackson's Corner, where quality ingredients and homemade bread steal the show. While the wait may be long, the savory offerings make it worthwhile, especially on a leisurely Sunday morning.

Sparrow Bakery: Treat yourself to Sparrow Bakery's famous Ocean Rolls, a Bend staple crafted from scratch daily. With a tantalizing blend of croissant dough, cardamom, sugar, and vanilla, these pastries are simply irresistible.

Midday Munchies

Spork: Dive into a fusion of Mexican flavors at Spork, where each dish is a culinary adventure. Whether you're craving tacos or enchiladas, this restaurant promises a unique and delicious dining experience that will have you coming back for more.

Evening Delights

Craft Brewery Exploration: Bend's brewery scene offers a plethora of options for a memorable dinner experience. With a diverse selection of breweries to choose from, each visit promises a new culinary adventure paired with exceptional craft beer. Whether you're a fan of hoppy IPAs or rich stouts, Bend's breweries have something to satisfy every palate.

    Best Coffees Shops in Bend, Oregon

    Bend boasts a vibrant coffee culture, with several establishments offering exceptional brews that cater to various tastes. Whether you're a connoisseur or just seeking a cozy spot to unwind, Bend's coffee scene has something for everyone.

    Thump Coffee

    With its distinctive blend infused with spruce tips, Thump Coffee has quickly become a local favorite. Don't miss out on their tantalizing brews, and consider taking home a bag of beans for your own coffee adventures.

    Backporch Coffee

    Offering consistently excellent coffee and warm customer service, Backporch Coffee is a go-to spot for many. With convenient locations on both the eastside and northwest, it's the perfect place to grab a delicious pastry before starting your day.


    Best Hotels in Bend, Oregon

    Bend's Hotel Selection

    Bend offers a diverse range of hotels, catering to various preferences and budgets. While prices have seen an increase in recent years, there are still opportunities to find great deals, especially during the off-season.

    The Oxford Hotel

    Renowned for its luxury and complimentary glasses of wine, The Oxford Hotel is an indulgent choice for a weekend getaway. Treat yourself to a pampering experience amidst the city's charm.

    Riverhouse on the Deschutes

    Nestled along the tranquil Deschutes River, this recently renovated hotel offers a serene escape from the city's hustle and bustle. Enjoy the convenience of being minutes away from downtown while reveling in the natural beauty that surrounds you.

    Tetherow Lodge

    Centrally located and boasting breathtaking views, Tetherow Lodge provides premium accommodations coupled with access to an award-winning golf course. Immerse yourself in luxury while being close to Bend's main attractions.


    Camping Adventures in Bend, Oregon

    Exploring Bend's Natural Beauty

    For outdoor enthusiasts, camping in Bend's national forest presents an opportunity to immerse oneself in nature's splendor. Gather your friends, pitch a tent, and embark on an unforgettable outdoor adventure.

    Top Campsites in Bend

    From serene lakeside spots to secluded forest clearings, Bend offers a plethora of camping options. Here are ten of our favorite campsites, each offering a unique setting and memorable experience.

    Crescent Moon Ranch, Suttle Lodge & Boathouse - Best Things to Do in Bend, OREGON



      Alicia Foster

      Alicia is a trailblazer in luxury travel and all-inclusive resorts. Armed with a master's degree in Tourism Management, she has not only explored the hidden gems of the Caribbean, but has also collaborated with renowned hospitality brands. Her words are a treasure trove of expert advice on selecting the best all-inclusive getaways.