You know how when you’re stressed and overwhelmed, and people tell you to go to your happy place? Bend is my happy place. When Alex and I first started planning this trip, we knew we both wanted to be spending 2 to 4 days at a time in each city — Bend was the exception. Life in Orange County was as beautiful as it was hectic, and we both found ourselves needing an “OC detox”. Thankfully, three weeks in Bend was just what the doctor ordered. Here is a little glimpse at some of our favorite parts of downtown. We’ll have separate posts about our favorite nature areas, because let’s be honest, the lakes, rivers, and mountains were our favorite things about Bend!
Not only is this city the home of Deschutes Brewery headquarters (shout out to Black Butte Porter fans), but the whole town is bursting at the seams with delicious breweries. 10 Barrel, located just a few minutes from downtown, was my favorite place to bring friends who came to visit us during our stay. I’ll be honest and admit that a huge part of that reason was their bacon-jalapeno mac & cheese as well as their S1NISTOR Black Ale. Typing that last sentence just made me drool a little. Each brewery had its own personality, both in décor and brews, so we never felt bored or like we’d already seen all there was to see. Crux was another really fun place to grab a drink and watch the sunset. There were usually live bands playing in their outdoors grassy areas under twinkling lights. It was great seeing people of all walks of life, from new parents with wiggly toddlers to retired friends, all coming together and sharing the communal-style tables.
2. Deschutes River
The beautiful Deschutes River runs right through the heart of downtown, and there are many trails along the way that cater to bikers, runners, and walkers. Both sides of the river are lined with lush trees and gorgeous homes. Some areas, such as Drake Park, are open to the public for swimming, paddle boarding, and inner tubing.
This is the most diverse collection of shops I have ever seen in a small downtown. Although a huge part of Bend’s DNA is sports and breweries, it’s easy to find stores that go beyond that. Look past the big Patagonia store and bike shops, and you’ll find stylish home décor, the funky “Wabi Sabi” Japanese store, art galleries, and stylish boutiques, such as Faveur.
4. Art Alleys
Have you ever walked through a downtown and sped up your pace as you passed an alley? Me too. If you’re a woman, you’re probably familiar with running through self-defense scenarios in your head and trying to remember how to use your car keys as a weapon. Bend has the friendliest alleys, and I mean that in every way. The city has taken the time to install beautiful art pieces as well as twinkling lights to many of the alleys. Grab a scoop of gelato or a chai to-go and spend some time admiring this free art show.
The people of Bend sure know how to celebrate! There’s always a festival of some sort going on or coming up. During our stay, the Little Woody Barrel Aged Brew and Whiskey Festival was happening downtown. For a small fee, we were given taster glasses and 8 wooden coins that functioned as the currency. In order for breweries to be a part of the festival, they needed to have at least one barrel aged beer to offer, hence the name. The fun part was that those beers were especially crafted in small batches for this event, meaning that the only people who were ever going to taste it was us, the attendees. My favorites were the whiskey-barrel aged ciders, they tasted like autumn. Move aside pumpkin-spice, there’s a new cool kid in town.
6. Local Businesses
There’s some serious local business love going on in Bend! Every week there are farmer’s markets, both downtown and in other parts of the city, selling local produce, baked goods, jams, cookies, and all that is good in the world. I bought some cherry tomatoes for a salad, and they were the juiciest and sweetest tomatoes I have ever tasted. I kept saying “these taste like candy”, while passing them around to my friends and husband to make sure my taste buds weren’t hallucinating. The downtown businesses also participate in something called “First Friday Art Walk”, where place paintings and photography by local artists all over their walls for people to enjoy with a complementary glass of wine and appetizers. We met some really nice business owners during the walk, and the free wine was a great way to start the weekend.
7. Tin Pan Theater
I don’t know how my husband found this place, but I’m so glad he did. Tucked away in an alley is a really small theater that plays mostly indie films and documentaries. Alex used to do alpine climbing before he got married, and when he heard that Tin Pan was playing Meru, he was really excited about us seeing it together. Be warned that if you want to watch a movie here, you better come early and wait outside until the doors open (usually 30 minutes before a showing). The inside of the theater only holds about 30 people, so it’s really cozy. You can get a beer or cider for the show along with a champagne bucket filled with popcorn, making it a really unique experience. We highly recommend it!
If you don’t mind driving a little bit out of downtown, here are some other parts around Bend we really enjoyed:
1. Alpacas in Crescent Moon Ranch
Crescent Moon Ranch isn’t technically in Bend, it’s in Terrebonne, but if you’re on your way to check out Smith Rock and you have kids or an animal-loving wife with you might as well stop by. You can buy a bag of Alpaca food for a few bucks and hand feed them! The males in the back of the barn are the friendliest!
2. Old Mill District
The Old Mill District is the place to shop at if you’re looking name brand for stores. It’s located in what used to be an actual mill, so the historical aspect of it seemed appealing to my mall-fearing husband. The Deschutes River runs right alongside it, and you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and inner tubes that will float you all the way to Drake Park near downtown. Once you get there, a city shuttle will drive you back to your rental place. Also, if you happen to be in town while they’re doing concerts at the venue right across the river, you can make a reservation at one of the many restaurants and eat outdoors while hearing the show from a distance.
3. Lava River Caves
I can now say that I have been inside a lava tube. What a wonderfully random place to visit! You’ll see a lot of sharp volcanic rock surrounding the cave area, but the inside is very smooth and easy to walk on. Bring a light sweater and flashlights and you’re set to go. If you want, you can also rent a giant flashlight at the info center in the parking lot. You get to hike a mile in and a mile out, easy peasy. My favorite thing was seeing families come in with toddlers wearing light up shoes (so they wouldn’t lose their child), and other parents who would carry a flashlight and turn them off it the kids were wandering too far ahead (that way the kids had to stop walking because they couldn’t see). So clever.
4. The High Desert Museum
If you’re curious about the history of the area, stop by the High Desert Museum. I’ll be honest and tell you that the reason I went was because I wanted to see the river otters! Unfortunately, that exhibit was closed for renovation. There are still other animals, such as owls, snakes, eagles, lizards, and fish to check out.
Have you been to Bend and know of a fun area we missed? Please tell us! We plan on going back, and would love new suggestions. Also, if you like what we post, please subscribe with your e-mail address so you’ll be contacted as soon as something new is up! Thanks for reading 🙂
Until next time,
Downtown Bend smells like fresh mountain air and good coffee. No joke! If you’re walking through the artsy blocks of this city you’re bound to run into more coffee shops than you imagined you’d find. If you’re not a coffee drinker, stick around. We’re also covering a delicious tea shop.
Crow’s Feet Common-
This coffee shop is so picturesque! It’s nestled in a wooded area right in front of the river and walking distance to Mirror Pond. There are seating areas that face the city as well as others that face the water. Once you walk in, you’ll be transported to a bike lover’s dream — someone had a lot of fun designing this place. Biking memorabilia fill the walls, and there’s even a ski-lift chair installed for your sipping enjoyment. It’s a common sight to see bikers coming in from a long day’s ride and sipping on beer. You heard that right, they serve beer here. I could see my husband living in this shop if we stayed any longer. If you’re walking through, come in and see all the paintings made from coffee and beer; they’re beautifully done. Also, stop by next door at Crow’s Feet Common bike shop for all your two-wheeled needs.
If you like baked desserts with your warm drink, La Magie has got it all. A friend and I were craving a girly treat, and this place did not let us down. When you first walk in, you’ll run straight into the delicious display of pastries. I remember barely making eye contact with the worker helping us because I couldn’t stop staring at the goodies in front of me. Get. In. My. Belly. I got a chocolate-something that had flecks of gold glitter on top. Yum! The lounge is a unique blend of woodsy and feminine that stayed true to Bend’s style. We absolutely loved how there were fresh-cut flowers and silky couches right next to a wooden wall. From what I hear, this is also an excellent breakfast/brunch place.
Townshend’s Tea House-
If coffee isn’t your thing, you might be spending a lot of time at Townshend’s. I spent many afternoons here editing photos and sipping on Black Tea Peppermint Lattes. The menu separates teas by leaves to make your search easier. I have never seen so many types of Chai before! Try out their Pumpkin Chai as a latte, it’s really good. If the descriptions on the menu aren’t enough to help you decide, you can go to their tea wall and smell the small glass containers in the cubbies. Their tea-connoisseurs are really friendly and approachable. There were a few times when I told them I wanted to try something new and after asking me a few questions to learn about my preferences they found the perfect match! Looking for a different drink? They also serve bubble tea and their very own kombuchas!
Walking into Thump made me want to spend the afternoon there reading books having nothing but coffee and the tasty gelato from the place right across the street. The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in (other than the smell of coffee nirvana) is the collection of wooden rectangles hanging from the ceiling. Thump provides these pieces of woods and markers for costumers to write wishes, and hang them all over the shop. Isn’t that cool? I spied a few that made me laugh — like ones about wishing for their Hogwarts letters – but there were also some really sweet heart-felt ones. The most common wish I saw was “I wish I still lived in Bend”. I’ve never lived there, but I too wish I lived in Bend. Every time I came into Thump there was a long line and barely any seating left. If this doesn’t speak volumes for their coffee I don’t know what does.
The Looney Bean-
This coffee shop used to be a house, which means all the sitting rooms are a little more private than your normal open-floorplan shop. Most people come here for the outdoor seating though. The water-front backyard area is filled with lounging chairs, picnic tables, and even a fun bean-toss game, all directly in front of the river. It’s really beautiful and spacious while still feeling private. Dogs are welcomed in the patio, as long as they’re not mean, otherwise they get thrown into the river. Just kidding about that last part.
Last but not least, a doughnut shop that makes me swoon. What kind of cruel person would I be if I told you all about the best coffee in town without telling you where to get the perfect doughnut to Have with it? Come here early while the doughnuts are still fresh. It’s less than a 10 minute drive from downtown! I got a s’mores and a chai doughnut, and they were both finger-licking good. If you’re gluten-free like my husband, they also have a few overly-priced traditional gf options, so make sure you reeeeeally want it.
Have you been to Bend? What’s your favorite shop that I might have missed? We’re always looking for new suggestions, especially when it comes to food.
Until next time,
Hey there, fellow traveler! We know you. Yes, you! The daydreamer who wants to see the world. In between travel plans, you find yourself living vicariously through travel magazines and an ever growing bucket list. Pulled between your day-to-day responsibilities and dreams of distant voyages you wonder if there will ever be the time, place, and money to do it all. How do we know? We are one in the same.
Recently, the window of opportunity of a lifetime has opened for us, and we are taking full advantage of it. Sounds glamorous, right? “Window of opportunity”. Well, let’s just say that at first I didn’t see it that way. When our apartment rate went up through the roof, Alex and mine’s plans of saving up for a house and still afford traveling started to shrink. The answer seemed simple: work harder, make more money, sacrifice, and in the end it will all pay off. We’ll have a house in Orange County and we’ll finally be free… until we start paying a mortgage. *Breathes into a paper bag* There was a set list of rules in my mind telling me that after being married for almost five years, being done with school, and getting a good job, we were supposed to buy a home and start a family. Waaaaaait a second, where did that list even come from? I still think it’s an amazing list, I have so many hopes bundled up in those few words. The only problem is that we didn’t add our own spice to it. Without even realizing it, we were following a script. We forgot to dream.
Dreaming has always been an important aspect of our relationship. If you could have any job, what would it be? If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go? What would you if you won the lottery? If you could launch any non-profit, what would it do? The point of dreaming isn’t always to set standards and complete them; those are goals. When we dream reality meets fantasy, and our brains finally get the fresh air it needs.
“What kind of life do we want to build together?” is a big question we often ask each other; it’s been a popular one in the past month and a half as we have been cooking up this plan. Our decision to move out of the OC and live on the road was a bittersweet one, made over copious amounts of donuts, tears, and prayers. We love our friends, family, and so many aspects of life in Southern California. Leaving wasn’t a choice made out of the need to escape, we are running towards a new chapter together. One where we do find our “forever home” and start a family. One where work-life balance is a little more achievable. One where for the next few months we taste, see, and experience new places together.
Alex will be having normal work days, but instead of being in an office, he will be working from home or local coffee shops. Tech chique geek by day, mountain biker extraordinaire and beer enthusiast by night. I, on the other hand, quit my dream job for a new dream, and even though I miss my preschoolers and coworkers, I know that later in life I can always pick it back up. For now, we’ll be soaking up every last drop of this road trip season. It’s not forever, just until the next dream comes along.