6 things to do in Bend without the snow

December 30, 2013

By Dusty Trails


It’s a sad day when you wake up early in the morning ready for an epic day of skiing Mt. Bachelor only to find that the lifts are frozen over from yesterday’s storm. Or worse, dodging rocks on Cliffhanger once the mountain is actually open. So the snow gods aren’t being very nice to us lately. But luckily there are many other adventures to be had in Bend over the holidays, even without that white powdery stuff from the heavens.


1. Shop ‘til you drop. Didn’t get everything on your list this Christmas? Getting out of the house and perusing the shops at the Old Mill and in Downtown Bend is always a fun option. We’ve got all the popular stores like REI, Banana Republic, Gap, and Victoria’s Secret, as well as factory outlet stores for Nike, Columbia, Eddie Bauer and many others. But we also have dozens of killer local shops downtown and all over the place that are sure to suit your fancy. Try Silverado for unique, casual jewelry, Ranch Records for new CDs and vintage vinyl, and Made in Oregon for Pendleton blankets, wine, fruit & nut baskets and other things that our state is known for. Grab some coffee at Strictly Organic, Looney Bean or Thump, and refuel with a bite at Pizza Mondo, Jackson’s Corner or 5 Fusion!


2. See a movie. This is an option virtually everywhere you go. Bend has Regal Cinemas at the Old Mill that shows all the popular holiday blockbusters, like “Saving Mr. Banks,” “American Hustle,” and “Anchorman 2.” But we also have a more unique movie viewing experience to offer. Tin Pan Theater is a local independent movie theater downtown that shows indie films and documentaries in an intimate setting with beer and wine on tap. At McMenamin’s Old St. Francis School Hotel, you can watch that movie you missed when it first came out, but at less than half the price, and with comfy chairs and yummy food and beverage options available from the pub.


3. Hit the trails. The thing about having no snow is that the weather in Bend is sunny and gorgeous, making for some awesome hiking. Try Tumalo Falls, the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, or Dylan and Benham Falls for some fresh crisp winter air without need for snowshoes. Just be prepared for some mud and ice on the trails. Some fun snowshoe excursions include Vista Butte and Tam MacArthur Rim. If you don’t own snowshoes, they’re available for rent at many different locations in Bend.


4. Go ice skating. Even though there isn’t snow, we’ve still got ice. So try out your skating legs at the ice rinks at Seventh Mountain Resort and Sunriver Resort. Followed by some yummy hot chocolate of course. If you have your own skates, it’s a little-known secret that the pond below Seventh Mountain Resort has been cleared for ice skating in a natural setting. But make sure the ice is at least four inches thick before you try it!


5. Take a tour of Beer Town USA. What better way to keep warm than to sip some of the finest microbrews in the country? Bend has 14 breweries and counting–that’s more breweries per capita than any other city in Oregon. You can join a guided tour of the breweries on the Bend Brew Bus Tour, or embark on your own brewery crawl with the Bend Ale Trail Map.


6. Wander through the High Desert Museum. It’s the number one attraction in Bend on TripAdvisor, and for good reason. The otters are always a hit, but don’t forget about the bobcat, lynx, and birds of prey to cater to your “wild” side. Then take a walk through time with the Spirit of the West exhibit and the 1904 Miller Family Ranch and Sawmill. The museum has fun activities and a special “Science Party” for the kids and tours, occasional live music, and “Natural History Pubs” for the adults.


Of course, we have faith that our snow dances will be fruitful and Bend will have the white winter we’re accustomed to. But in the meantime, there’s no need to keep your holiday spirit cooped up in front of the TV! Get out and enjoy. And share some of your own favorite snowless pursuits.