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A Girlfriend’s Guide to Bend, Oregon

Your Guide to the Perfect Girl’s Getaway in Bend

Right in the middle of Oregon is an ever increasingly popular travel destination called Bend. Located at the center of Central Oregon, with more sunshine than Portland, nature right outside the door, and amazing craft beer and coffee; Bend is an extremely unique spot that draws outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world. Not only does Bend boast some of the coolest hiking spots, phenomenal mountain biking trails, epic skiing, amazing breweries, challenging rapids, and world-class rock climbing—the whole place is an ecological anomaly with its rugged high desert beauty surrounded by breathtaking volcanos. If you haven’t already had Bend on your list of places to visit, I strongly recommend adding it ASAP. I promise you won’t regret it! 

As a rad lady local to Bend, I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 favorites for you. 

Top 5 Hikes in Bend 

  1. Tumalo Falls: Tumalo Falls is a perfect hike for any skill level, with a well-defined path, and a gorgeous picturesque waterfall reward at the end.
  2. Paulina Falls: Paulina falls boasts two beautiful waterfalls accessible by a paved foot out and back trail that anyone can do.
  3. Lava Butte: Lava butte is an extremely easy walk on the Trail of Molten Land and the Trail of the Whispering Pines, a fully accessible 5.5-mile sun lava paved path.
  4. Smith Rock: Smith rock grants amazing views of deep river canyons and rock climbing. Easy trail access with clearly marked paths and friendly park rangers make this a family-friendly space.
  5. Tumalo Mountain: Tumalo mountain is a fairly steep climb but on a very clearly marked trail with amazing views of the cascade mountain range making it well worth the effort.
Drake via Yelp

Top 5 Restaurants in Bend

  1. Chow: Chow is known for locally sourced American cuisine served at an artful & comfortable eatery with a full bar & patio.
  2. Drake: Drake is a bright eatery serving innovative American comfort fare & cocktails in hip, brasserie-like surrounds.
  3. Jackalope Romantic whit-tablecloth New American restaurant with steaks, cocktails and outdoor seating. Jackalope Grill is cozy, inviting and refined with an engaging staff.
  4. Spork: Spork is a vibrant restaurant featuring Mexican eats, Asian fusion plates & craft cocktails in a stylish venue.
  5. Wild Rose Northern Thai: Wild Rose is a hidden gem that is a family-run outfit offering regional specialties from Northern Thailand in a lively, warm atmosphere.

Top 5 Bars in Bend

  1. Dogwood: Dogwood is a cozy, woodsy-chic choice for inventive craft cocktails & New American small plates, plus DJ nights.
  2. Velvet: Velvet is a funky haunt serving cocktails & New American bites in a rustic-chic interior with an intimate vibe. Plus they have board games, and live music occasionally.
  3. Blacksmith: The Blacksmith is a trendy steakhouse in a converted 1923 former smithy with brick walls, leather booths & glowing bar.
  4. Stihl Whiskey Bar: This quaint little spot downtown, serving over 400 of your favorite whiskeys, the knowledgeable bartenders and waiters can help you narrow down your selection even if you’re a whiskey beginner. 
  5. River Pig Saloon: River Pig’s atmosphere hearkens back to a time when loggers logged and flannel wasn’t a fashion, with inspired cocktails, hand-crafted pub fare and local draft beers.
bend, oregon
via yelp

Top 5 Places to stay in Bend

  1. Pronghorn Resort: Pronghorn is perfect for golfers and nature lovers. It has its own course and the accommodations offer sweeping views of the Cascades and luxury amenities. If you are looking for an all-in-one place to stay, you won’t be disappointed. Think spa, restaurant, and recreation.
  2. Oxford Hotel: Located in downtown Bend, this hip spot provides modern accommodations with instant access to all the historic downtown area has to offer. Expect luxury combined with comfort and the peace of mind that comes with staying in a hotel that is eco-conscious and eco-chic. Make sure to grab a bite and drink in the Oxford’s bar/restaurant 10Below. It serves up urban-organic fare fit for a foodie.
  3. McMenamins Old St. Frances School: Transformed from a 1936 Catholic schoolhouse into a small campus for beer and grub lovers, McMenamins, Old St. Frances School is the perfect place to experience what it’s like to be a local. With an onsite pub, firepits, a Turkish bathhouse, and funky suites, you’ll have everything you need for the perfect local experience.
  4. Wall Street Suites: Just blocks from downtown Bend, Wall Street Suites is an upscale motel with luxury suites that come with fully furnished kitchens. If you have a dog, this is the place to book with. It’s pet-friendly!
  5. Tetherow: This spot has everything you need for your stay whether you are looking for a hotel or a vacation rental for the whole family. Luxury accommodations combined with next-level dining and access to some of the best golf in the area make for the perfect base camp for your Bend adventures.
bend, oregon

Top 5 Activities for summer fun in Bend

  1. Caving: Lava tubes are one of the most striking geological features unique to Central Oregon and are a blast to explore. Make sure to pack a jacket and flashlight and be prepared for an awesome adventure. 
  2. Natural rock slides (Paulina Plunge): The Paulina Creek Water Slides are a natural delight within the Newberry National Monument, in La Pine, Oregon. A Beautiful setting with water cascading over the rocks and little grassy areas, it’s an absolute blast to slide down the natural slides. It’s about a two-mile hike, but totally family-friendly. There is a company in Bend that takes people to the spot with a guided tour. 
  3. Rock climbing: Known as a “bona fide climbing town” according to National Geographic Adventure magazine, Smith Rock State Park features some of the most cutting edge climbing routes in the world and it’s absolutely worth a visit. There are lots of places in town that do tours and rent equipment. 
  4. Lake day/ camping at one of the high lakes: The Cascade Lakes highway has several gorgeous lakes, some of which have resorts, cabins, and camping options. Reservations can be made online for camping, but a day trip is also a great option. There are several places in town that rent kayaks/paddleboards/floats.
  5. Float the Deschutes River (use the shuttle all day with a $3 wrist band): Running right through Bend is the beautiful Deschutes River. Tubes can be rented and wristbands can be purchased at the Park and Rec office in the Old Mill, where you put in to float. A shuttle at the end of the float takes you back to where you started. It’s super inexpensive and family-friendly. Included on the float trip is a small jaunt down the new rapids park.
bend, oregon

Top 5 Activities for winter in Bend

  1. Skiing/snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor: Mt. Bachelor is now the 6th largest ski resort in North America – with over 4,000 skiable acres, 3,365 feet of vertical drop, and 101 runs to explore, in addition to its Nordic Center for cross-country skiing and snowshoe tours.
  2. Cross country skiing: Mt Bachelor has a beautiful trail systems, great for anything beginner to expert cross country skiers. If you want to avoid the resort, Bend has several really well-done backcountry trails that are delightful to explore. 
  3. Full moon Snowshoeing tour: Wanderlust Tours runs monthly moonlight snowshoe trips for the few nights surrounding each full moon from November to April.
  4. Soak at the Turkish bathhouse: The Old St. Francis School soaking pool is a sparkling gem – semi-enclosed in shimmering turquoise tilework, one is reminded of tropical locales, even while the central Oregon snow or rain falls in through the open ceiling! It’s located at McMenamins Old St. Francis School hotel but is open to non-guests for a $5 per person fee. 
  5. Dog Sled rides: Oregon Trail of Dreams takes visitors on sled dog rides departing from the base of Mt. Bachelor. Standard trips are approximately one hour, and sleds hold four people or 450 lbs.
bend, oregon

Top 5 Brunch spots in Bend

  1. Sparrow Bakery: Located in the Old Iron Works, this bakery provides its customers with beautiful and delicious culinary delights. Choose from classic breakfast sandwiches or favorites like the Chicken-Waldorf and the Lox-Bagel. With two locations in town, you don’t have to go far to dine at this lovely spot.
  2. McKay Cottage: A casual breakfast and lunch spot in Bend, this is the spot to go if you are looking for some fantastic comfort food menu items. Try their Country Biscuits and Gravey and their Stuffed French Toast. Their mouthwatering options are endless.
  3. The Lemon Tree: Located in downtown Bend, this spot offers a unique menu with items like Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Benedict, The Lemon Tree Nasi Goreng, and the Calamari Costa Brava. Here, you have the opportunity to start your day with flavors from around the world.
  4. Victorian Cafe: Beware, people line up to eat at this popular spot. Serving breakfast classics with a creative twist you’ll find favorites like the Classic Eggs Benedict and the Filet Mignon Oscar & Eggs. This award-winning restaurant is a must for visitors to the area.
  5. Riff: Riff has a great modern, bright and happy atmosphere. Offering 30 taps, pouring cold-brewed coffees (hot & cold), teas, craft beers, kombucha, cider and CBD cold brew, not to mention craft coffee cocktails, sets it apart. The Taproom offers a contemporary and refreshing food menu featuring salads, sandwiches, grain bowls and build-your-own cheese and charcuterie boards.
bend, oregon

Top 5 off the beaten path spots in Bend

  1. Bend Ale Trail: Pick up a Bend Ale Trail passport at the Bend Visitor Center and discover all 18 breweries along the world-famous Bend Ale Trail! As you forge your way along the trail, scan the QR code on the Bend Ale Trail map kiosk inside all participating breweries, or use your location to check-in and get a stamp on your passport. Upon completion stop by or send your completed passport to the Bend Visitor Center to receive a souvenir. 
  2. There is almost always some kind of festival, rodeo, fair, or event going on. Check out for the event calendar.
  3. Great live music scene. During the summer the outdoor amphitheater is great!
  4. The High Desert Museum is a great small museum that really gives a ton of information in an interactive, engaging way including local wildlife exhibits. 
  5. There are hundreds of different kinds of tours to take in Bend. Tours include; fishing, snowshoeing, star gazing, bonfire, caving, kayaking/canoeing/paddleboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, dog sleds, snow machine, hiking/backpacking, moonlight/sunrise tours. Bend is also an amazing place to capture breathtaking photos!


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Kelli Davis
Kelli Davis
She Explores Life Co-Managing Editor, newly single mother of two, educator by trade, lover of words, and self discovering junkie on a mission to find a new normal.
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