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Weekend Itinerary: The Go-To Guide to Bend, Oregon

Known for its high desert climate and approximately 300 days of sunshine per year; endless running, hiking, and mountain biking trails; and a burgeoning craft beer and restaurant scene, Bend, Oregon is making its mark as a must-visit destination. Poised at an elevation of 3,623 feet and located about three hours south of Portland, it’s the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. Here’s how to spend your time there this summer. 

The main lobby at Sunriver Resort. Photo courtesy of Sunriver Resort.

Where to Stay

Situated about 18 miles from downtown Bend, Sunriver Resort is a bona fide oasis with a cozy lodge vibe. It boasts 245 rooms and suites; a selection of vacation homes; four championship golf courses; and a spa and fitness center. Opened in 1968, the lauded property also features pickleball courts, 45 miles of paved paths, and eight eateries, including Lodge Kitchen with cuisine artfully prepared by Executive Chef Josh Hedrick.

A golf course surrounding Sunriver Resort. Photo courtesy of Sunriver Resort.

At Campfire Hotel, you can pretend like you’re roughing it, but with all of the modern conveniences and a location close to downtown Bend. Recently refreshed rooms have a retro vibe with vintage-inspired Bluetooth radios and coffee from local purveyor Backporch Coffee Roasters for morning pour-overs. If the musical mood strikes, grab a guitar at the front desk (the hotel stocks Dean and Breedlove guitars and an assortment of musical instruments for guest use), or lounge by an outdoor saltwater pool. 

Unwind after dark around the 10-foot outdoor fire pit at Campfire Hotel. Photo by Cameron Moon.
The rustic modern lobby at Campfire Hotel. Photo by Lane Pearson.

Where to Eat

The brainchild of Chef Jonny Becklund and his wife, Irene (the restaurant’s namesake), Dear Irene is fashioned with exposed brick walls, golden-yellow upholstered bar stools, brass shelving, and mixed media artwork by Mexican artist Jose Cacho. Standout menu selections include Oregon Dungeness crab arancini with arborio rice, parmesan, chives, and Calabrian chili lemon aioli, as well as short ribs topped with green peppercorn sauce. The cocktail options span the Cafe con Maiz with coffee liqueur, cold brew, tequila, mezcal, chocolate bitters, and roasted corn husk to the gin-infused Pinkies Up with crème de mure, cocchi rosa, sparkling wine, lemon, and cardamom bitters. 

The bar area at Dear Irene. Photo by Steve Tague.
The sophisticated scene at Dear Irene. Photo by Steve Tague.

A local staple for breakfast and fresh baked goods, The Sparrow Bakery offers chicken Waldorf sandwiches with apple and tarragon served on a hand-rolled croissant; steel-cut oats with dried cherries and pecans; and handmade French-inspired confections that include poppyseed baguettes, frosted cookies, and berry tarts.

What to Do

Arguably one of the city’s gems, be sure to allot at least a few hours to peruse the High Desert Museum with its extensive collection of rotating and permanent exhibits. Highlights include the newly launched Sensing Sasquatch, an exploration from the perspectives of five Indigenous artists, and the indoor-outdoor Autzen Otter Exhibit with three resident river otters. 

Inside the High Desert Museum. Photo Courtesy of Cody Roux Media.
A pair of river otters at the High Desert Museum. Photo Courtesy of Cody Roux Media.

Replete with a nostalgic vignette designed to mimic a living room from the 1990s with a rotary phone, beanbag, and bookcase lined with countless VHS tapes, the sole remaining Blockbuster is a movie-lover’s dream. Look out for an array of movie snacks (think Red Vines, Sour Patch Kids, and Milk Duds); a display case showcasing a vest worn by Russell Crowe in Les Miserables; and row upon row of shelves containing more than 21,000 DVDs from classics to new releases. This time capsule-like destination is proving the past is well and alive.

Go back in time at the last remaining Blockbuster location. Photo by Jennie Nunn.

Housed in a historic mill-turned-outdoor emporium, the Old Mill District boasts 40 shops that range from independent specialty boutiques to chain stores like Lululemon and Anthropologie. There’s also an array of art galleries and dining options.

For canoeing and kayaking, cave and volcano exploring, and hiking along Paulina Lake in the Deschutes National Forest, book a private or guided excursion with Wanderlust Tours. In the winter, embark on a snowshoeing adventure at nearby Virginia Meissner Sno-Park and Mt. Bachelor or reserve an overnight snow camping experience. 

Paulina Lake at sunset with Wanderlust Tours. Photo courtesy of Wanderlust Tours. 

For more travel ideas, check out Visit Central Oregon.

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