30 Best Fun Things to Do in Bend, Oregon


10 min read
Looking towards green grass with a snow-capped mountain at the back under a clear sky
Bend is an ideal starting point for adventures, with attractions like Mount Bachelor

The city of Bend manages to feel both comfortable and rugged at the same time, with its modern-yet-historic charm making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the West.

Bend is situated at the edge of the high desert, just where it runs into old-growth forests and towering volcanic peaks. This makes Bend an ideal starting point for the adventures that each of these features invites, and a zeal for the outdoors is pervasive among the city's residents.

If this sounds like a place you'd like to visit, read on for 30 fun things to do in Bend, Oregon!

  • 30 Bend things to do

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30 Best Things to Do in Bend, Oregon

Bend Things to Do Map

A map of Bend. Use the map to explore all the things to do.

Grab a craft beer at Bend Brewing Company

Bend is a city that loves craft beer and has the highest number of breweries per capita in the state of Oregon.

One of the oldest and best of these is Bend Brewing Company. Its beautiful setting along the Deschutes River is a great place to order pints or flights from its expansive tap list.

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Looking at a blue lake surrounded by hills with lush green trees under a blue sky
Explore stunning lakes in your drive along Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway

Take a drive along Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway

The Cascade mountain range extends from Northern California all the way through Oregon, Washington, and across the border into Canada.

Perhaps the most impressive section, though, is along the sixty-six-mile drive through central Oregon. It offers spectacular views of the surrounding 10,000-foot peaks, with pull-off access to alpine lakes that will beg you to stop the car and go exploring.

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© Irina274 via Depositphotos
A river with several surfers on it against a riverbank with green bushes & trees
Bend Whitewater Park is one of the top attractions due to river sports like surfing

Enjoy river sports at Bend Whitewater Park

Surfing is one of the top Bend attractions despite being over one hundred miles inland from the Pacific Ocean.

At Bend Whitewater Park, surfers and kayakers can ride the standing wave that's been engineered in the Deschutes River, where it cuts through town. For a more relaxed option, another section of the river is devoted to tubing and floating.

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Looking towards a shallow water body with green reflection surrounded by alpine trees
Deschutes National Forest covers 1.6 million acres of old-growth forests & more

Take a hike in Deschutes National Forest

Bend sits in Oregon's high desert but is almost completely surrounded by national forests. The closest is Deschutes National Forest, covering a sprawling 1.6 million acres to its west and south.

Its old-growth forests, lava fields, and glacier-fed lakes are popular destinations for hikers, campers, and nature enthusiasts in Bend.

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Become a "Bendite" in Downtown Bend

When the city at the "Bend" of the Deschutes River was incorporated in 1904, it consisted of a bank, a post office, an inn, and about 300 residents.

Today, Downtown Bend is the thriving cultural hub of Central Oregon. It's packed with breweries, bookstores, and boutiques, and building ordinances ensure that it stays true to its small-town, old west roots.

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One of the fun things to do in Bend, Oregon is to take a break in Drake Park
Taking a break in Drake Park is one of the fun things to do in Bend, Oregon

Take a break in Drake Park

This park is central to Bend, both in geographical terms and in its commitment to outdoor enjoyment. It backs up to the downtown shops, letting people take a nature break among its towering Ponderosa pines.

It covers about thirteen acres, with much of it open space and walking paths along the shoreline of Mirror Pond.

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A reflective pond along a bank with green trees and a house under a blue sky
Mirror Pond is one of the fun places to go when you visit Drake Park in Bend, Oregon

Go paddling or fishing in Mirror Pond

Created by Bend Hydro Dam, Mirror Pond is the standout feature of Drake Park, and heading here is one of the top things to do in Bend, Oregon. It's great for a lazy trip on a paddleboat or for trying to snag some Rainbow Trout from its deeps.

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Learn about the region at the High Desert Museum

The High Desert Museum on the south side of Bend is an incredible project that promotes the preservation of regional wildlife and the acknowledgment of the indigenous land it sits on.

Its outdoor habitats include rescued otters, raptors, and other high-desert creatures, while its indoor exhibits largely educate about the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, who were the historical stewards of the plateau.

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Looking at black volcanic rocks with some vegetation and a lava butte at the far back
Newberry National Volcanic Monument offers amazing views of volcanic buttes

Feel small in Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Found in the massive Deschutes National Forest, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument is a mind-bending tribute to the region's fiery past. Lava fields, alpine lakes, volcanic buttes, and the Newberry Caldera can all be seen from its highest point, Paulina Peak.

More forebodingly, the Newberry Volcano itself still sits actively beneath this landscape, with its 1,200 square mile breadth roughly equaling the size of Rhode Island.

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A pedestrian bridge over water with multi-color flags under a partly cloudy sky
Make sure to visit Old Mill District to check out restaurants, shops, and more

Shop in the Old Mill District

Like many towns and cities in the twenty-first century, Bend has had to walk the line between modernizing and maintaining its ties to the past.

The lumber mills have mostly moved away, but the Old Mill District that used to house them remains as a focal point of Bend's new "outdoor chic" evolution. Restaurants, shops, and an REI now fill the space beneath the mill's still-standing smokestacks.

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A narrow river winding through rugged cliffs under an overcast sky
Smith Rock State Park is one of the most popular sites to see around Bend, Oregon

Climb at Smith Rock State Park

Smith Rock State Park in nearby Terrebonne is one of the most popular things to do around Bend, Oregon.

The dubiously named Misery Ridge Trail will take hikers through thinning air to the top of the desert monolith. From here, you can simply enjoy the views or take advantage of over a thousand bolted rock climbing routes.

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Go off-grid in Oregon Badlands Wilderness

If it's open spaces you're after, you'll love Oregon Badlands Wilderness. This public land is seen to by the Bureau of Land Management and allows for free dispersed camping (camping outside of established campgrounds) for up to two weeks.

Its rugged landscape of desert brush and lava rock is riddled with hiking trails, and the isolation would make for a relaxing weekend of stargazing.

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Get 360-degree views at Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint

An old cinder cone called Pilot Butte rises from the Earth just east of downtown Bend, offering a panorama of the surrounding high desert.

All roads and hiking paths lead to the summit, with rewarding views of the Cascade range. The Three Sisters (North, South, and Middle), Broken Top, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson are all visible from here on the many clear days enjoyed in the desert city.

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Climb Tumalo Mountain

In a land of towering, glaciated volcanos, Tumalo Mountain provides a great summit opportunity without technical equipment.

From the trailhead off of Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, you'll hike two miles and ascend from 6,375 feet to 7,755 feet. From the peak, you'll have up-close views of Mt Bachelor (9,068 feet), Broken Top (9,177 feet), and South Sister (10,358 feet).

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Shallow water with some rocks against a waterfall surrounded by cliffs with greenery
Tumalo Falls is a 97-foot waterfall with a viewpoint that is open all seasons

Hike to Tumalo Falls

For an even less intense hike in the region, taking the trail to the thundering ninety-seven-foot Tumalo Falls is one of the top activities to do in Bend, Oregon.

The 6.5-mile out-and-back trail to the falls viewpoint is open all seasons, with the trek or snowshoeing adventure taking approximately three hours.

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A descending snowy slope with several skiers surrounded by snowy alpine trees
Mt. Bachelor is the sixth-largest ski resort in North America

Hit the slopes at Mt. Bachelor

Just outside of Bend, Mt. Bachelor offers world-class slopes with over a hundred unique runs for skiing and snowboarding. It's the sixth-largest ski resort in North America and the only one to have 360 degrees of runs from its nearly 10,000-foot summit.

Snow tubing and cross-country skiing are also popular ways to enjoy the mountain, with special areas for the former and groomed trails for the latter.

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Take a snowshoeing and bonfire tour

Residents of Bend appreciate each of its four distinct seasons, making a pair of snowshoes nearly required equipment for staying active during the cold, snowy winter.

If you're visiting, this guided snowshoeing and bonfire tour is a great introduction, with a much-appreciated fire in the woods to warm you up at the end.

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A tree with a brown sign saying "Fly Fishing Only" against water and bushes
Deschutes River in Bend offers 252 miles of fishable water

Go fly fishing

Bend has been rated one of the top ten fly fishing towns in the United States, with the Deschutes River alone offering 252 miles of fishable water. The bubbling, spring-fed streams, and rivers of the region are full of rainbow and bull trout, making this an angler's dream.

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Go mountain biking

With all of the surrounding peaks, it should come as no surprise that mountain biking is one of the top Bend, Oregon activities.

There are over 900 miles of mountain biking trails in Central Oregon, so you're sure to find something that fits your experience and comfort levels.

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Eat, drink, and be merry at Munch & Music

Munch & Music at the Drake Park amphitheater brings together food trucks, craft beer, and live music each Thursday during the summer.

The concerts are all free, with a variety of performances from about 5:30 until 9:00 pm. When it's over, downtown Bend is just a hop, skip, and jump away.

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Go on a Whitewater Rafting tour

The rapids of the Deschutes River provide adventure-minded travelers with a memorable whitewater rafting half-day tour.

When you're not negotiating the cascading river, keep your eyes peeled for osprey, bald eagles, and the distinct "stepping stones" of basalt rock formations through the deep canyons.

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Cliffs surrounding a blue lake with a hill in the middle under a partly cloudy sky
Crater Lake National Park is the deepest lake & one of the highest lakes in America

Take a day trip to Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park is consistently ranked as one of the best National Parks of the West Coast. It's simultaneously the deepest lake in America and one of the highest, with the caldera being fed by an average snowfall of forty-three feet per year. The park is about two hours to the south of Bend, making it a feasible day trip.

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Get inspired at BendFilm Festival

The BendFilm Festival is a small but growing celebration of independent movie-making. If you're an amateur or aspiring filmmaker, it's a great way to get exposure for your projects.

If you're a movie enthusiast who appreciates both feature-length and short films, this festival is one of the best places to visit in Bend, Oregon.

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A shop with glass windows and a door with a big yellow sign of "Blockbuster"
Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon is the last Blockbuster on Earth that has remained open

Rent a movie from "The Last Blockbuster"

Before gaining fame from the Netflix documentary (the irony!), the last Blockbuster on Earth had to get creative to remain open.

At one point, they rented the store out as an Airbnb full of movies for just $4, giving new meaning to the term "Blockbuster rental." The store still offers rentals but now survives mostly on merchandise and 90s nostalgia.

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Cowboy up at Sisters Rodeo

While Bend is typically seen as a modern cultural center in the region, the signs of its old west origins are all around.

One such sign is the annual "Biggest Little Show in the World" in the nearby town of Sisters. Stop by during the second week of June for a parade, beauty pageant, and an impressive display of cowboying.

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Take a riverside horse ride

Horses were the main mode of transportation in Bend not that long ago, and today visitors can get a feel for this history on a half-day Deschutes River Horse Ride tour.

No prior horseback riding experience is necessary for this scenic saunter along the river towards Aspen Meadow.

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Visit the Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory

Nearby Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory is a wonderful place to visit, with some of the Bend, OR activities for kids.

They rescue and rehabilitate local animals, have nature trails and a botanical garden to wander through, and an observatory complete with a planetarium. Their passion for both the region's wildlife and its night skies is contagious.

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Looking at black volcanic rocks with some vegetation and a lava butte at the far back
The trail at the lava field at the base of Lava Butte is open year-round for visitors

Learn violent geology at Lava Butte

The eruptions that formed Lava Butte to the south of Bend 7,000 years ago would have been terrifying to behold, with mounds emerging from the Earth in every direction to spew lava and ash at unfortunate onlookers.

The lava field at the base of Lava Butte has an interpretive trail that's open year-round for visitors to visualize the often terrifying geology of the region.

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Play pickleball

Pickleball has quietly taken the world of recreation by storm, being named one of the fastest-growing sports in America since 2020. It's kind of like tennis but merged with ping pong and played on a badminton-sized court.

Bend has fully embraced this emerging sport, with Pickleball Zone and other courts popping up in the town's parks.

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Visit raptors at Eagle Watch

The high desert provides an ideal environment for birds of prey who make their roosts in the tops of Ponderosa pines and utility poles along the highways.

For a closer look at these raptors, Eagle Watch is an annual event in nearby Redmond with golden eagles, great horned owls, and other species whose habitats they work to preserve.

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Conclusion

Bend and its surroundings offer a near-perfect balance between feeling the pulse of society and unplugging entirely.

The rugged individualists who arrived by covered wagon have given way to Millennials in camper vans, but the spirit remains the same.

The 30 Bend activities on this list demonstrate that mindset and the desire for something more in a city than just a place to live and work.

This article was edited by Loredana Elena.

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Written by Andrew Sayles

atsayles WRITER Traveler, teacher, and blogger. I have lived in 5 countries, traveled to 60, and crisscrossed the continental US an unhealthy number of times.


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