AOK Guide to Bend, Oregon

guide to bend oregon

I took a little travel break over the summer but jumped back in head first this fall! I went to NYFW with my girls a few weeks back and then C and I headed to Oregon for a much needed entire week long vacation. Normally when we travel, it's for a long weekend so we cram as much as possible into those few days. We pick out restaurants and make reservations, set an itinerary, wake up early and go go gooooo. This time, though, we didn't really plan a single thing. It was kind of nice! On top of that I didn't have service a lot of the time so I was forced to put my phone down and live in the moment.

I've been to Oregon multiple times throughout the years because my aunt and uncle and two of my cousins and their families all live in Bend, Oregon. We stayed with my family throughout the whole trip and we just kinda winged it! There were a few places that I'd been before that I wanted to go back to but besides that, we slept in, took our time exploring and relied on my family's local recommendations. It was a great time and I seriously love the Pacific Northwest so much - it's a place I could be happy living in (and I don't say that about many destinations). Bend is a super fun town but the entire state of Oregon is absolutely gorgeous - every corner of it has something different to explore and it would take weeks to see it all!

BTW.... Sorry in advance about the lack of quality travel / food photos......I wasn't really in full on blogger mode since we were visiting family.

visiting bend, oregon
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Travel Tips

Getting There: We flew in to Portland and rented a car because 1) we used Southwest points and 2) we knew we would be driving all over the state for different activities. It was about a 3 hour drive to Bend from PDX. However, you can fly into Redmond, Oregon which is a quick drive from Bend. Southwest doesn't fly to Redmond but several other major airlines do.

Time of Year: There really isn't a bad time to visit Bend..... there are summer activities, winter activities, and the weather is gorgeous in the spring and fall. Bend has more days of sunshine in a year than any other city in the state! Late September (when we went this trip) was perfect - it's warm during the day (70s) but cool at night and all the leaves are changing colors! 

Rent a Car: Definitely rent a car. Although Bend is a relatively small town and is easy to Uber across, most of the outdoor activities are a bit of a drive.

oregon in the fall
Chambray Shirt | Cami | Jeans | Similar Leopard Flats | Sunnies

Favorite Eats
Sparrow Bakery: The yummiest place with the cutest courtyard patio! We had lunch here and loved every bite + the tasty lattes. I got the Monte Cristo and chowed down. They have a "french cafe" style to the menu with sandwiches, soups and baked goods. They're known for the Ocean Roll which is croissant dough rolled in cardamom and vanilla sugar....OHMYYUM.

The McKay Cottage: The CUTEST breakfast and lunch spot in a 100 year old bungalow! They have a huge outdoor seating area and provide blankets for the customers to cozy up in - basic white girls rejoice! There are several fire pit tables that you can eat at, too. They serve scones with most of their entrees which I loved. Highly recommend the McKay Cottage Potatoes!

Victorian Cafe: The best Bloody Mary in Bend...or so I'm told (I'm not a bloody kind of girl). Another tasty breakfast/lunch/brunch spot that is known for their eggs benedicts (and bloodies, duh).

Bad Wolf Bakery & Bistro: A must for brunch! They serve AMAZING coffee and have great baked goods (still dreaming of the Hummingbird Muffin). I got the Shipwreck which is a giant hash brown stuffed with scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, cheese and goodness. C got the buttermilk biscuit sandwich and it was his favorite meal of the trip!

Pacific Pizza & Brew: You quickly learn that most restaurants in Bend are followed by, "and brew." Nothing wrong with that! We ate here with the entire fam for dinner after cheering on my little cousins in their volleyball games. It's a solid choice for a pizza craving! We got the Hawaiian (always my top choice) and the Bacon & Fig (sooooo good). They have a huge beer list, too! Their garlic fries were fantastic, as well, but beware, they are STRONG and will keep the Vamps away if you catch my drift haha.

Looney Bean Coffee: We stopped here for an afternoon pick-me-up after a long hike. I ordered an iced pumpkin pie chai latte and it was the tastiest pumpkin coffee drink I've ever had (and I've had a lot). Literally like Thanksgiving in a cup! I don't even want to know how many calories I consumed.

sparrow bakery, bend or
The Monte Cristo at Sparrow Bakery

mckay cottage, bend or
On the Patio at The McKay Cottage

mckay cottage, bend, or
McKay Cottage Potatoes 

sparrow bakery bend or
Sparrow Bakery Lavender Honey Latte

Where to Drink
Bend has more micro-breweries per capita than any other city in the U.S.! So....that being said....we drank a LOT of beer! I'm sure there are great places in town for cocktails but when in Rome, do as the Romans do, ya know?! We visited:

Deschutes Brewery: I like the Black Butte Porter. Their wings + pretzel and beer dip is also amazing!

Crux Fermentation Project: I got the Trackstand and it was the best beer I've ever drank. It was so light and fruity, almost like a beer cocktail! Such a cute place to hang out - great outdoor area and kid friendly!

Goodlife: - I got the Blackberry Porter, YUM! Who knew berries and beer paired so well?

Bend Brewing Company: I had a Peach Saison but I heard their sours are award winning! They have an amaaaazing outdoor space right on the water.

Cascade Lakes Brewing: I got the Salted Caramel Porter and the Blonde Bombshell. It's rumored that Drew Bledsoe hangs out here on occasion!

Sunriver Brewing: I got Paddy's Irish Stout. They had a great patio + I hear their food is great!

goodlife brewing, bend

crux fermentation bend

goodlife blackberry porter

bend brewing co

Where to Shop
Downtown Bend: The cutest area to walk around and pop into different shops and restaurants! We hit up The Bend Store and Cascade Cottons which are both great for souvenirs. I found some great clothes and accessories at Clementine, Ju-Bee-Lee and Hot Box Betty and C appreciated Revolvr and Tactic. Lark Modern Mountain had some serious home inspo and of course Patagonia.....when in Bend! Seriously though, Downtown Bend makes up two streets that stretch for only a few blocks and it is so fun to walk around and pop into any store that strikes your fancy.

The Old Mill: This is more of the chain area (Red Robin, American Eagle, etc) but it is really popular and so cute to walk around! I did find a super cute boutique here called Vanilla Urban Threads that I loved.

downtown bend
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Sights & Activities
Now for the fun stuff! This is more or less why you visit Oregon - the outdoor activities are INSANE and every part of the state offers something different with entirely different views and feels. 

Smith Rock: there are a ton of different hikes to go on of all different lengths and levels but...we chose Misery Ridge. It was 100% worth it but the climb to the top was TOUGH. I think of myself as a relatively in shape person but I was dying and so out of breath! It seriously kicked my butt! That being said, just go into with the right mindset and you'll be fine. They do a ton of rock climbing here which was cool to see. We hiked up Misery Ridge and then down the backside and around the was about 4 miles total and took us a few hours (they have maps at the start). Be careful, though, because the trail is steep and slippery and there are a lot of spots where you could slip and fall off the cliff (seriously). It is not for the faint of heart! We also had a snake slither in front of us. Pretty sure Misery Ridge was where I always died in the Oregon Trail I know why. I realize I'm making it sound awful haha.... it was tough but SO worth it and was probably my favorite thing that we did! It is about a 45 minute drive from Bend.

Crater Lake: 7,000+ years ago a volcano blew and the crater left below collapsed into the mountain. It naturally filled with water + snow melt and eventually became Crater Lake! It's the deepest lake in the U.S. and the water is SO CLEAN and clear because nothing runs in or is still all rain and snow water. It's located at the top of a mountain so it's waaaay up there! The water is seriously so blue, it's magical! It reflects everything perfectly...I can't even explain how beautiful it is! I visited when I was a teenager and had to bring C back. We hiked to Watchman's Peak and then had lunch at the lodge. The hike was uphill but was a wide, smooth path and relatively short and easy....there are several other hikes at various lengths and levels to choose from - one even takes you down to the water! FYI, it does cost $25 to get into the park but you could spend all day exploring. It is about a 2 hour drive from Bend.

Multnomah Falls: We stopped here on our way out of Portland. It's another spot I visited as a teen. It is a super easy detour (right on the highway and only 20 min or so from the airport) and is a quick five minute walk from the parking lot. There are other trails you can hike to the top of the falls but they were closed due to fire damage. It is breathtaking, but there are a LOT of people around.

Lava River Cave: Remember the volcano that created Crater Lake? It also created Lava River Cave! It's a mile long tube created by a river of lava. You take stairs down into the cave (which is 40 degrees and pitch black) and can walk all the way to the end with flashlights. It is so cool (no pun intended) and takes about an hour and a half. There is a ton of other lava stuff right by Lava River Cave like Lava Butte, Lava Lands and the Trail of Molten Lava. It is only about 20 minutes from Bend!

smith rock, oregon
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misery ridge at smith rock
The view from the top of Misery Ridge

hiking smith rock
The top of Smith Rock

The view from Smith Rock

crater lake hike
The view from Watchman's Peak at Crater Lake | Shop This Look Here

crater lake lodge
Crater Lake Lodge

crater lake lunch
Lunch Views of Crater Lake

multnomah falls oregon
Multnomah Falls

sweatshirt dress
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lava river cave, oregon
Lava River Cave

lava river cave
Nearing the end of Lava River Cave

Next Time & Extras
Cascade Lakes Highway: there are tons of gorgeous lakes to visit, hikes to take and places to eat! Would make a great day trip.

Mount Bachelor: I want to come back in the winter and ski/snowboard!

Broken Top: My little cousin Jadyn just hiked Broken Top Mountain and it has a gorgeous turquoise blue lake at the top! I must go for has major Lake Louise vibes.

White Water Rafting on the Deschutes: I did this as a teen, it is a great experience!

Tumalo Falls: Another hike! Supposedly it's really busy when the weather is nice, though.

Oregon Coast: This is a trip in itself but is SO WORTH taking the time to visit! I went as a teen and have such great memories of it...we road tripped all the way from Newport to Astoria. It's like no other coast you've ever seen (unless you've seen the end of Goonies)

hiking smith rock in oregon

Note: If you find yourself in Portland, we recommend eating at Pok Pok (GET THE WINGS) and VooDoo Doughnuts! I'd love to spend more time in Portland another time.

Have you ever been to Oregon? Any activities or places you'd recommend? If you haven't been, you have to go! It's one of my favorite places.

I'm off on another trip next week for some fall fun! I'm going to be in basic white girl heaven. Stay tuned on Instagram and Instagram Stories to see where I'm headed and follow along.

Thanks for reading and happy travels!

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