From Mt. Bachelor to the Last Blockbuster to the “Hoppin’” Beer Scene, These Are the Ultimate Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Bend
Bend is one of Oregon’s most popular resort areas, and it’s easy to see why: located on the Deschutes River, tucked into the Cascade Range, in the shadow of Mt. Bachelor, it is a beautiful area with countless opportunities for year-round outdoor recreation. Thanks to these attractive features, Bend has exploded in popularity over recent years, drawing in young people, retirees, and self-employed/WFH workers. Today, it is compared to popular destinations like Aspen in Colorado, or Lake Tahoe in California.
So if you’re planning a visit to Bend, you’re certainly not alone. It’s an excellent destination in itself, and it’s also a great place to stop for a day or two to rest on a longer trip.
Either way, we’re breaking down the absolute can’t-miss things to do in Bend. Whether you’ve been in Bend for a while or you’re just passing through, we hope you find something fun to do on this list!
Adventures are always more fun when you share them with the people closest to you. Consider treating someone in your crew to a convenient GiftYa gift card to one of the participating locations on this list – or pop over and check out our full catalog, which contains thousands of local Bend, OR businesses and national chains alike.
The elevator pitch? GiftYa ditches the plastic to keep things simple and, even better, keep things green. You can customize and send a GiftYa in just a few taps, or schedule one in advance so you never forget an important occasion again. Plus, GiftYa is great for your gift recipient. They can access their gift from the GiftYa app or hook their balance up to one of the credit cards they carry with them everyday anyway so that they can keep racking up points on their card’s rewards program.
And now without further ado, our favorite things to do in Bend!
We’re gonna have to go ahead and hit skip on TLC’s 90s bop – in Central Oregon, chasing waterfalls is kind of the move. Known for its proximity to the Cascade Mountains and Deschutes River, Bend has perfect conditions for those beautiful natural formations that result when water takes a spill over some rocks.
But Bend’s outdoor attractions don’t stop at waterfalls – there are plenty of parks, trails, and rivers to enjoy, too. We recommend sticking these ones at the top of your list.
🌊 Tumalo Falls is a 97-foot waterfall located West of Bend on Skyliners Road. This popular spot is easy to access, with the falls visible just a few minutes walk from the trailhead. Visitors can picnic in the day-use area or access hiking and biking trails.
🏔 Mt. Bachelor is America’s 6th-largest ski resort and one of the most popular things to do in Bend. There are activities for all ages and ability levels all year long.
🎭 Drake Park is Bend’s unofficial downtown gathering place, home to countless outdoor events throughout the year. Hop on a trail at one of the trailheads, peer into lovely Mirror Pond, or check out some public art.
🌋 Lava Lands is a monument to the violent geologic history of the area. It’s also the place NASA sent astronauts to train in the 1960s because they thought its terrain might resemble the moon.
🧗♀️ Smith Rock State Park is full of deep river canyons, known as the birthplace of U.S. Sport Rock Climbing. There are thousands of climbs in the park, plus hiking and biking trails where you can routinely spot wildlife like river otters, golden eagles, and mule deer.
🐠 The Deschutes River runs through Bend, offering plenty of stunning views and opportunities for recreation around town. Cow Meadow is a particularly good spot for summer fishing.
🚘 Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway is your chance to take a mini road trip through the beautiful Central Oregon scenery. The 66 mile historic highway winds through mountain peaks, over 14 lakefront vistas, and offers plenty of opportunities to pull off and explore.
211 NE Revere Ave | Bend | bendblockbuster.com
Blockbuster Corporate may have gone the direction of Limited Too and Toys ‘R Us when they filed for bankruptcy in 2010, but the brand’s franchise locations didn’t disappear overnight. As of March 2019, only one location remains. And that’s right, it’s the one in Bend.
Ken and Debbie Tisher originally opened their own video store in 1991 before deciding to become a Blockbuster franchise location in 2000. Today, the small business owners continue to keep the beloved brand alive through stubborn determination, a little luck, and plenty of nostalgia.
Visitors can rent movies just like they could back in the day to keep them entertained during their stay in Bend, but there are also plenty of souvenirs for sale too. Most of the products for sale are made by local Bend businesses, and all proceeds go directly back into keeping the business open for others to enjoy.
So if you wouldn’t mind a quick trip down memory lane, head over to NE Revere Avenue and help support the Last Blockbuster on Earth.
“A MUST see place to stop by if you grew up in the 90s. As we were driving up I was already starting to feel the feels of memory lane. You walk in and it's all there like it never left!” - Yelp Review
Between its crystal-clear mountain water and fertile volcanic soil, Central Oregon is the perfect place for growing hops. Bend is home to dozens of breweries and brewpubs, so if you want a taste of the food and drink scene, you should definitely make sure one of these spots is on your list.
🍺 Cascade Lakes Brewing Co. is considered a brewing pioneer in the region. Operating since 1994, it’s the first and only not-for-profit brewing company in Central Oregon.
🍺 Bend Brewing Co. clocks in at second-oldest in town, a local favorite since 1995. Stop by for its award-winning beer and tasty food in downtown Bend.
🍺 Silver Moon Brewing Co. joined the Bend beer scene for the new millennium, transforming the region’s natural resources into delicious brews. Their “downtown-ish” location dates back even further, to 1957.
If the craft beer scene is your scene, you can also check out the Bend Ale Trail, which includes 30 breweries reaching from Redmond to Prineville to (of course) Bend. You can also check out our guide to the best breweries in Bend for details on the OG brewing companies above and some of the other most popular breweries in town.
20495 Murray Rd | Bend | mountainairbend.com
With so many activities in Bend relying on the weather holding out, it can be helpful to have some indoor attractions on the agenda, just in case. Bend is known for its 300 days of sunshine, but what do you do when that rare raincloud hits the high desert?
👽 Head indoors to Mountain Air Trampoline Park. With dozens of trampolines, games, and activities for little ones all the way up to adults, you can stay active even when you’re inside. Plus, don’t forget to check out cosmic night for an out of this world jumping experience. Send a Mountain Air Trampoline Park gift card with GiftYa.
👾 Beat your high score at Vector Volcano Arcade. With classic arcade games from the 80s and 90s plus pinball to choose from, you’ll enjoy this family-friendly throwback arcade that keeps the spirit of everyone’s favorite 80s after school passtime alive. Local craft beer available for adults.
Text a Rockin’ Dave's Bistro gift card
661 NE Greenwood Ave | Bend | rockindaves.com
On the surface, Rockin’ Dave’s is a sandwich shop. With award-winning bagels boiled fresh daily, scrumptious signature sandwiches, home-style soups, and a wide beverage selection ranging from espresso to beers and wines to ciders, there’s something for everyone on the menu. The Backstage Lounge brings fun themed dinners and live music to the same spot where you enjoy your breakfast each morning.
But the real star of the show is Rockin’ Dave himself. One of the nicest guys in town, he makes a point of greeting patrons with a smile and making sure they feel welcome. Visitors report that walking into the restaurant feels like getting a big hug, and we’d chalk that up to Daves good vibes. A huge Pearl Jam fan, Rockin’ Dave goes out of his way to support local musicians – so if you’re traveling through town on your way to a gig, be sure to chat him up.
“Always really great bagel sandwiches. I got their curry squash carrot soup to go for lunch and it was so good. The waitress even packed it up with bagel chips and utensils which was sweet. They're a great local restaurant!” - Yelp Review
Text a Rockin’ Dave's Bistro gift card
Send a Quail Run Golf Course gift card
16725 Northridge Dr | La Pine | golfquailrun.com
Is your idea of outdoor fun a little more low-key than hurtling down a gravel path on a mountain pick or scaling a sheer cliff face? Not to worry – there are plenty of ways to relax outdoors in Bend, too.
Quail Run Golf Course is a challenging but accessible course set against the beautiful backdrop of Central Oregon’s mountains. It’s suitable for all skill levels, so leave your worries behind and just head to the green for tee time.
“Excellent golf course that is in great shape. The layout of the links makes it easy to play quickly. Correct amounts of sand traps and water hazards but not over challenging. Greens and fairways were nice and not dry. The rough here is deep so keep it in the fairways.” - Yelp Review
Send a Quail Run Golf Course gift card
450 SW Powerhouse Dr | Bend | oldmilldistrict.com
Now before we wrap things up, let’s turn our attention to Bend’s vibrant urban scene, and particularly its crown jewel – the Old Mill District. What was once one of the largest sawmill operations in the world is now home to 55+ local, regional, and national businesses as well as an outdoor amphitheater, an extensive trail system, and plenty of scenic views.
No matter when you’re visiting, be sure to check out Old Mill District’s calendar of events because there’s always something cool going on. From vegan Italian cooking classes to the Bend marathon to the monthly First Friday art walk, you’re sure to find something to do!
“I love this area! Not only are the shops and restaurants cool but you there is a walking trail as well! Beautiful place to spend your day.” - Yelp Review
As you can see, there’s something for everyone in Bend. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or a music buff, a craft beer connoisseur or a 90s baby that’s all grown up, there’s lots of fun to be had. Have a great time, and stop back to visit us on the GiftYa blog soon!