How to Spend 24 Hours in Bend, Oregon

Scenic Bend, Oregon
Scenic Bend, Oregon | © Ian Poellet / WikiCommons
Photo of Katrina Nattress
5 April 2018

When most people travel to Oregon, it’s to visit Portland, but that’s beginning to change. In recent years, Bend has started to gain exponential popularity—and for good reason.

This Central Oregon hub is home to some of the best breweries in the country. In the winter, it’s a snow sports paradise, and in the summer, there are numerous hikes and watersports activities to explore. Pair that with a vibrant downtown scene, and you’ve got yourself a premier travel destination. Here’s how to spend 24 hours in Bend, Oregon.


McKay Cottage Restaurant

Bakery, Restaurant, American, $$$
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Start your day off right with breakfast at a favorite local spot. People have voted the McKay Cottage Restaurant Best Breakfast in Bend every year since 2010. The restaurant sits inside a 1916 converted Craftsman-style bungalow and serves comfort classics with a creative twist. Munch on McKay Cottage potatoes—potatoes, bacon, ham, tomatoes, and green onions scrambled with eggs and topped with cheddar—or savor a delectable item from the bakery. Brunch cocktails and wine are also available. This is a vacation, after all.

High Desert Museum

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High Desert Museum | High Desert Museum

While your breakfast digests, visit the High Desert Museum. The gallery joins regional wildlife and natural resources with art and culture to promote an understanding and appreciation of North America’s high-desert history. Through indoor and outdoor exhibits, wildlife habitats and living history demonstrations, the Bend institution strives to help its visitors discover and educate themselves on the majestic natural and cultural heritage of this special part of the world, including immersive looks into the lives of Native Americans, settlers and fur trappers who struggled to survive the harsh climates of the high desert.


Mt. Bachelor

Natural Feature
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Snow-covered Mt. Bachelor in the winter | Snow-covered Mt. Bachelor in the winter

If you’re visiting Bend in the winter, Mt. Bachelor is a must-see. The ski area is only 22 miles (35.4 kilometers) from downtown, so you’ll be able to get a few runs in before lunch. If you’re not much of a skier but still love the snow, the mountain offers a wide range of activities, including snowshoe tours, snowblast tubing, sled dog rides, and helicopter tours.

Tumalo Falls

In the warmer months, a hike to Tumalo Falls is a great outdoor adventure. The neighboring Deschutes River acts as a tributary to the Columbia River, collecting water from the Cascades. The river winds 252 miles (406 kilometers) and is home to some of the most impressive waterfalls in the state. The nearly 100-foot (30-meter) Tumalo Falls is the most popular waterfall within the Bend city limits and is only a 13.5-mile (21.7-kilometer) drive from downtown. The hike is a seven-mile (11.2-kilometer) loop that’s good for all skill levels and gives a reprieve from the city with some breathtaking views.

Tumalo Falls cascading into the creek below | © Bonnie Moreland / Flickr

Old Mill District

Shopping Mall
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A relaxing afternoon at the Old Mill District | A relaxing afternoon at the Old Mill District

After you’ve had your fill of adventure, come back into town and grab some lunch in the Old Mill District. The outdoor venue boasts dozens of restaurants, including chains and local eateries, along the Deschutes River. Once you’ve satisfied your taste buds, stroll along the riverside path and do some shopping. The district offers 40 shops, ranging from big names to boutiques, so you’re bound to find what you’re looking for, whatever it may be.


Tin Pan Alley Art Collection

Once you’re done shopping, head back to downtown Bend and check out the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection. The gallery is a unique one, as it’s all public art. The ever-growing collection currently features work from Katie Daisy, Jesse Roberts, Mark Rada, Andrew Wachs and Megan McGuinness, and each piece can be viewed on parking garage walls and alleys throughout downtown. Here’s a handy map to help guide your way.

Deschutes Brewery

Pub, American, $$$
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Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter | Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter

After an afternoon of shopping and gawking at public art, treat yourself to dinner and a pint at Deschutes Brewery. The Bend pub opened in 1988, and this was where some of the brewery’s most well-known beers were first brewed (think Black Butte Porter and Jubelale). Though Deschutes is now on the national stage, and has been for quite some time, its menu still focuses on locally sourced ingredients. With 19 taps and an extensive gastropub food menu (including an elk burger), there’s something for every kind of taste bud.


Bend Ale Trail

Now that you have some beer in your belly, why not try more? The Bend Ale Trail is an opportunity to taste some of the best brews Bend has to offer, and there’s a lot. With one brewery for every 4,500 people, the city contains the most breweries per capita in the whole state. You can download the convenient app to guide you as you navigate “the largest beer trail in the west” and collect passport stamps at over a dozen participating pubs and tasting rooms.

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