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Epic Things To Do In Bend, Oregon | 1-Week Itinerary

Downtown Bend, Oregon

Bend, Oregon really captivated Jake and I. It is a bit larger of a city than we tend to resonate with, but it had a very relaxed feel as though you were in a small mountain ski town. Well, I guess it kind of is a “ski town”, but we are used to ski towns where the chairlift is only a 5-minute walk away. There are tons of outdoor activities to keep you busy in Bend which is a huge plus in our book! Therefore, we made a guide for some epic things to do in Bend, Oregon in a 1-week itinerary. 

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Float The Deschutes River in Bend

Floating The Deschutes River with is one of the most epic things to do in Bend, Oregon
Floating The Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon

A must-do activity on the guide of epic things to do in Bend, Oregon 1-Week Itinerary is to float the Deschutes River. This was one of the most fun activities we did while we were in Bend. 

And you will definitely not be the only one out there, because it is one of the most popular activities in Bend during the summer. Especially when the weather is nice, there will be loads of people floating down the river for a nice cool-off. 

There are two different ways you can successfully float the river. One option being, bring your own float and carpool your vehicles to the start (River Bend Park) and finish (Drake Park). Or you can rent from Tumalo Creek Rentals which provides you with a tube and shuttle. 

The float is rather mellow, but there is one rapids section. If you prefer to skip the rapid section, you can walk around the rapid and put your float back in right after the rapid section. 

Self-Guided Brewery Tour in Bend

Emily holding a beer at Silver Moon Brewing which was one of our favorite breweries on our self-guided brewery tour in Bend
Silver Moon Brewing

Going on a self-guided brewery tour was one of my favorite things to do in Bend, OR. Bend has a LARGE array of microbreweries to choose from. 

When we visited Bend, we devoted a whole day to brewery hopping around to a few different breweries. We rented a tandem bike from Wheel Fun Bike Rental in the Old Mill District.

Then we created a little brewery tour to 5 different breweries that were within a few miles from each other. We had so much fun doing this activity, we highly suggest adding this fun activity to a Bend, Oregon Epic 1-Week Itinerary if you enjoy craft beer! Our Bend Self-Guided Brewery Tour Itinerary can help you choose the best breweries. 

We also visited a few different breweries on different days and still barely scratched the surface. So you could easily create your own brewery tour with endless combinations.

From our personal experience, some of our favorites were Silver Moon Brewing Company, Bend Brewing Company and Boss Rambler Beer Club. These 3 breweries had a great selection of our favorite kinds of beer (tropical/citrusy IPAs) and awesome outdoor spaces to enjoy your beers with fresh air. But each brewery also had a good selection of other types of beers. We highly suggest adding these 3 to your Bend, Oregon 1-week Itinerary while you are here!

And if you don’t want to go on a self-guided brewery tour, then, book a tour guide to show you around to the many different breweries in Bend.

Hike To Tumalo Falls

Tumalo Falls which is one of the top things to do in Bend, Oregon
Tumalo Falls in Bend, Oregon

Tumalo Falls is one of the most epic things to do in Bend, Oregon. The longer part of the journey is the road out to the falls, because you can basically see the falls right from the parking lot. But if you want to get a little exercise, there are also two different viewpoints and a “secret” path to get behind the falls. 

The “secret” path is pretty easy to find between the lower falls viewpoint and the upper falls viewpoint as it is moderately trafficked out. But definitely be extra cautious if you take the path behind the waterfall as it can be super slippery and these falls are definitely flowing strong.

If you want to get a little more exercise since you drove out this way, there is a short hike up to two other falls. The hike is called double falls which is 2 miles with 321 ft elevation. The path is well maintained and you continue along the dirt path past the upper Tumalo Falls viewpoint. 

Spend The Day At Newberry National Volcanic Monument 

Paulina Peak at Newberry National Volcanic Monument which is an epic thing to do in Bend, Oregon
Newberry National Volcanic Monument

If you are in Bend, Oregon for a week, you should definitely check out Newberry National Volcanic Monument. You could either spend a full day here adventuring to a few different activities or choose some of your top picks and spend ½ the day. But two must-see activities are Paulina Peak and Paulina Falls.

There is a $5 fee to get into the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Although there are a few passes that work for this area, such as the Northwest Forest Annual Pass or an Interagency Annual Pass

Paulina Peak:

Paulina Peak in Newberry National Volcanic Monument which is one of the epic things to do in Bend, Oregon

You can do Paulina Peak two different ways, drive up to the top or make it a day hike. Obviously driving up to the peak is the easier route, but if you have time to kill and want some good exercise you can hike up to the top. 

If you choose to drive up to the peak, do note the road is usually only open from early July to late October. You can check online with the Deschutes National Forest Service to see if it is open and accessible to vehicle traffic. There is a limit to vehicles less than 23 feet long and it is inaccessible to horse and bike traffic. 

The hike up to the top of Paulina Peak is 6.1 miles with 1607 ft elevation change. You can park down at the Paulina Lakeshore Trailhead. Then, you will have to cross the street to get onto Crater Rim Trail. Follow this trail until the top where it splits. When you reach the T in the trail, go to the left to reach the summit of Paulina Peak. 

The summit stands 7984 ft and is the highest point in the Newberry Volcano. 

At the top, you will get a stunning view below of Paulina Lake, East Lake, the Newberry Volcano, and the Big Obsidian Flow. In the distance, you can also get a good view of the Cascades, Fort Rock Basin, and central Oregon. 

Paulina Falls:

Paulina Falls in Newberry National Volcanic Monument which is one of the epic things to do in Bend, Oregon

Paulina Falls is a pretty easy hike that should not be missed if you are in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. There is some elevation change, but the distance is short, so it is worth the journey. The hike to Paulina Falls is .5 miles with 108 ft elevation change. 

You can find the trail right off the parking lot. Don’t be fooled into following the straight atv trail.  The actual trail is to the right and switchbacks down a dirt path in the woods. The trail is well maintained, and easy to follow once you are on it. It will come to an abrupt stop when you reach the creek. The National Forest Service asks for no foot traffic past that point.  But it’s a perfect vantage point for photos.

Lava River Cave:

Another fun activity to do in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument is to visit the Lava River Cave. Entering the cave offers a unique experience of the longest uncollapsed lava tube in Oregon. It is a self-guided 1 mile-long lava tube that can be accessed by foot. 

Don’t forget to bring along a headlamp so you can see inside the dark cave. 

Also, be aware of white-nose syndrome, which is a disease that spreads between bat populations via parts of their skin that aren’t covered in fur. They ask that you don’t wear any clothing & shoes that have been in a previous cave. As far as researchers know, this disease isn’t harmful to humans.

If you don’t want to explore the cave by yourself, you can book a guided lava tube cave tour in Bend.

Big Obsidian Flow:

Big Obsidian Flow In Newberry National Volcanic Monument

If you want to see the largest Obsidian Flow in the country, you won’t want to miss the Big Obsidian Flow hike on the guide of epic things to do in Bend, Oregon. This flow formed 1300 years ago and is the result of rapid cooling from lava. 

Obsidian is dark in color, glass-like, and was used as arrowheads back in the day. (Or you may know it as the mythical “dragon glass” they used to fight the White Walkers in Game of Thrones).  The hike brings you up into the flow and is truly an interesting sight to see. Do be respectful of the area, and stay on the designated path. 

Get Out On Paulina Lake:

Paulina Lake can be a great place to cool off during the hot summer months. There isn’t an abundance of beach access for the lake, but you can use the day use area which has access to picnic tables, the boat launch, and the Paulina Lakeshore trail. 

If you have an inflatable kayak, paddleboard, boat, etc, it’s a stunning lake to explore. But do note there is a speed limit minimum of 10mph on Paulina Lake. Check out some of our favorite portable kayaks that are perfect for travel. 

Newberry Natural Waterslides:

Another fun way to cool off in the summer is to hit the Newberry Natural Waterslides. You can park near the McKay Crossing Campground off NF-9736 and get onto the Pete Skene Ogden Trail #3956.  It’s about a 1 ½ mile hike to the natural waterslides. The hiking path will follow along the creek on a dirt path. 

You can follow the Google Maps GPS (in walking mode) to find the exact location of the natural waterslides if you’re unfamiliar with the area. 

Once you reach the falls, you can have a blast sliding down the natural water slides. It does take a little exercise to walk back up if you want to slide down multiple times. Walking up the slide or on the sides can be slick, so it’s probably best to get out of the creek and walk back up the dirt path.

Some people have complained about large groups and tours rolling through for a cool off on the slides, but they usually move on pretty quick. 

Paulina Hot Springs: 

Lastly, if you are looking for a fun place to soak near Newberry National Volcanic Monument then the Paulina Hot Springs are a great spot. The hike to the hot springs is 2.8mi with 131 ft elevation change. 

The hike starts at the Paulina Lake Hot Springs Trailhead and follows along the lakeshore. Toward the end of the trail you will approach 4 different pools along the lake edge. These pools have 4 different temperatures to choose from. Depending on the time of day and demand, it can be hard to snag one for yourself as they are small and only fit 1-2 people. 

The temperatures tend to range from lukewarm to 115 degrees. But luckily there is a lake nearby, where you can either cool off in the water or bring some cooler water into the pool to cool it off. 

As always, please be respectful of the area, and leave no trace. 

Northern Section at Newberry Volcanic:

In the the northern section of the park, you can explore the Molten Lands Trail right through the lava rocks or drive to the top of Lava Butte. A cinder cone with amazing views of lava flows and the volcanic peaks in the surrounding area. Including the Sisters Mountains, Broken Top, Mt Bachelor, and loads of other cinder cones that dot the landscape. Atop the lava butte sits one of the most active fire lookouts in the northwest.

McMenamins – Old St. Francis School

Mcmenamins Soaking Pool

This 1936 Catholic School has been transformed into a unique hotel with several pubs, a brewery, a movie theater, soaking pools, and more. Honestly, it is hard to really describe this place, you just need to experience it for yourself. 

McMenamins is kind of a Pacific Northwest gem. Their collection of businesses across Oregon and Washington offers eclectic lodging, dining, and entertainment that you won’t find anywhere else. 

The Old St. Francis School specifically pays homage to the history of the building, with loads of historic photos, memorabilia, and student artwork that turns the property into a sort of living museum. Wandering the dark, narrow hallways transports you back to another time. You could probably visit this place 50 times and still find new little easter eggs hidden around the property. 

The old classrooms have been turned into hotel rooms that provide guests with a one-of-a-kind stay. And the movie theater, soaking pool, and pubs are open to the public. It costs $10 per person for a 1-hour soak. And movie tickets are super affordable too. 

Stop by one of the many bars on the property for drinks. The fireside lounge is perfect for grabbing a beer before heading for a soak. O’Kanes is an awesome cigar and whisky lounge, sitting inside by the wood stove surrounded by rich wood and stained glass windows. Or outside on the patio by the fire pits. 

Plus, there’s something kind of rebellious about smoking a cigar or drinking whiskey on the grounds of a former catholic school. And there’s even a secret bar in a broom closet of the Art House. But that one you’ll just have to find for yourself while admiring the extensive collection of concert posters adorning the walls.

Broken Top Hike

Photo by Jack Sloop on Unsplash

So this hike was high on our list of Epic things to do in Bend, Oregon, 1-week itinerary but unfortunately we were a little early in the season and the road was closed. You can still do this hike from the lower parking lot but it is 14 mi with 2880 ft elevation change. And getting prepared for a 14mi hike does take some mental preparation, so we just weren’t ready to send it 14 miles when we were expecting a 5 mile hike. 

But if you are either visiting Bend, Oregon later in the season or ready to take on a 14 miles hike, I think you should definitely add this hike to your Bend, Oregon Epic 1-Week itinerary. 

I will note you can backpack Broken Top Trail, so if backpacking is your jam, I would highly consider backpacking to the summit. This way you can actually enjoy the area and maybe split it into two day hikes instead of jamming this long hike into one day. 

Backpacking Permits

If backpacking is of interest, check out to snag a backpacking permit. Don’t forget to pack the backpacking essentials. 

But if you are short on time, or backpacking isn’t for you then this hike will still be 100% worth it (and we haven’t even done this hike, but I just know it’s one of those places that will totally captivate you simply from pictures). Especially because the peaks at the top are multi-colored and without a doubt offer some epic mountain views. 

There are also different options when you reach close to the top. You can either just reach the glacier, enjoy a snack and hike back down. Or you can climb to the summit of Broken Hand. 

Explore Downtown Bend

One of the epic things to in Bend, Oregon is take a walk downtown
Downtown Bend, Oregon

Of course, one of the epic things to do in Bend, Oregon is to explore downtown. Plus, shopping in Bend is always sales tax-free. There are tons of shops, restaurants, breweries, events, etc. Bend has a very cute downtown area with buildings over 100 years old. 

Also, if you happen to visit Bend on a Wednesday during summer, you will find a farmers market. There is a mix of organic produce, flowers, baked goods, nuts, etc. The Bend Farmer’s Market starts in early May to mid October, rain or shine, every Wednesday from 2pm-6pm. The Farmer’s Market is found Downtown Brooks Alley, between Franklin Ave and Minnesota Ave. 

And whether you are looking for a fancy sit down dinner, cozy cafe or just some pub food to get you through the day, Bend has tons of great options to choose from. 

As mentioned above the two breweries we visited downtown were Bend Brewing Company and Worthy Brewing Beers & Burgers. Both had great beer selections and great pub food options. But the list simply doesn’t stop there, there are TONS of great food options to choose from in Bend, Oregon

If you are looking for a cute coffee shop to grab a cup of coffee or maybe get some remote work done, consider stopping at Looney Bean of Bend, Bellatazza, Bend Mountain Coffee or Thump Coffee

They also have a handful of events that happen throughout the year, so be sure to check the calendar when you are visiting to see if it lines up with a fun event in town. 

Deschutes River Trail

Drake Park along the Deschutes River Trail

This paved trail is one of the best ways to enjoy nature right within town. Walk or bike along the 
Deschutes River enjoying views of the town, the mountains, and more. 

Cross the bridge near SW Colorado Ave to watch surfers and kayakers at the Bend Whitewater Park. 

One of our other favorite spots along the Deschutes River Trail is Drake Park. It’s got amazing green space, plenty of river frontage, and live music every Thursday in the summer. Plus, it’s only a short walk to downtown.

Old Mill District

Old Mill District

This hip shopping destination is the site of two former lumber mills that were integral to Bend’s logging industry. When timber was floated down the river and processed here. But now it’s been revamped into a trendy outdoor mall, with tons of popular stores, tasty restaurants, and more.

Catch A Concert At Hayden Homes Amphitheater

Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, Oregon
Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, Oregon (now called Hayden Homes Amphitheater)

Another epic thing to do in Bend, Oregon is catch a concert at the Hayden Homes Amphitheater. Catch a nice sunset with one of your favorite artists at this outdoor music venue.

Or on those warmer nights, you might even be able to snag part of a concert from the Deschutes River. But do make sure it doesn’t get too dark before departing, so you can safely disembark from the river. 

Unfortunately, during our visit to Bend, we couldn’t find an artist that fit into our schedule. But check out their event line up to see if there is a concert you would enjoy while you are there!

There are usually a variety of food trucks and local craft beer options to choose from. 

White Water Rafting

If you want to experience some thrill while visiting Bend, you might find White Water Rafting one of the most epic things to do in Bend, Oregon. 

Sun Country Tours offers 2 different day trips: Big Eddy Thriller and Raft n’ Brews. Big Eddy Thriller is a short ½ day trip that is for ages 6+ and beginner level. The trip starts on the Upper Deschutes River, and reaches rapids up to class III. Otherwise, the trip is rather mellow and is only around 2 hours long including transportation. 

And for anyone 21+, you can add a fun brewery stop at the end with Sun Country Tours on their Patio for craft beer from a local brewery. This trip is only offered on Wednesday afternoons in July and August. So be sure to snag your spot if you’re interested.

If these two tours sound too short, they offer full-day and multi-day trips on the Lower Deschutes, McKenzie River or Umpqua River.

Day Trip To Mount Bachelor Ski Resort

Visit Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort as one of the epic things to do in Bend, Oregon
Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort

While in Bend, you might as well check out the nearest ski resort. There is tons to do at Mount Bachelor Ski Resort. 

Obviously, the most popular thing to do at Mount Bachelor Ski Resort in winter is SKI!

During the summer they have a bike park with 13 different trails. There are trails ranging from easy for beginners to extreme for the experts. If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one up on the mountain. They also rent all the protective equipment as well, such as helmets, pads, shoes, etc. 

Other activities you can partake in is a chairlift ride to the top. Get a bird’s eye view of the resort over the rugged mountains by chair. Or go on a zip-lining adventure with some beautiful surrounding views. 

Another fun thing to do in Bend, Oregon is disc golf on their 18-hole course. The course starts with hole #1 at the top of the mountain and ends with 18 toward the bottom of the mountain. 

If you plan to spend the whole day on Mt. Bachelor or looking for a bite to eat, stop into the Pine Marten Lodge. The lodge is located mid-mountain and has a variety of options to choose from. They offer unique experiences such as sunset dinners or brews with a view. You can also stop in The Clearing Rock Bar and Scapolo’s Bistro for a unique mountain restaurant experience. 

Tumalo Peak

Tumalo Peak

A hike near Mount Bachelor is Tumalo Peak. If visiting in summer, we highly suggest hiking this moderately difficult hike. When you reach the Summit of Tumalo Peak it offers incredible views of Mt Bachelor, Broken Top Mountain, and The Three Sisters. The trail is 4.1 miles with 1400ft of elevation. But the payoff at the end is spectacular.

Food Truck Court

Podski Food Truck Court

Bend has a really active food-truck scene, so be sure to stop by a food truck court for some delicious affordable eats. Our favorite food truck spot is called Podski, there’s a bar for drinks, and a bunch of different cuisine options. 

Or some other great food truck courts are attached to breweries, like the ones at Crux Fermentation Project and Silver Moon Brewing. Honestly, the list keeps going.

If you want to be shown around to some of the best food trucks in Bend, then consider booking a tour.

Ideal Bend, Oregon 1-Week Itinerary

Day 1

  • Spend the day visiting Newberry National Volcanic Monument
  • McMenamin’s Old St. Francis School

Day 2

  • Explore Downtown Bend
  • Deschutes River Trail
  • Catch a concert at the Hayden Homes Amphitheater
  • Old Mill District

Day 3

  • Hike Tumalo Falls
  • Self-Guided Brewery Tour in Bend

Day 4

  • Brunch at a cafe in Bend
  • Float The Deschutes River

Day 5

  • Hike Broken Top
  • Visit A Food Truck Court

Day 6

  • Spend the day at Mount Bachelor Ski Resort
  • Hike Tumalo Peak

Day 7

  • Sadly, head back home or continue on epic adventures in Oregon

Accommodation For A 1-Week Itinerary In Bend, Oregon

Campsite outside Bend, Oregon on National Forest Land

Camping Options Near Bend, Oregon:

If you are looking for free primitive campsites there are great options in the Deschutes National Forest right outside Bend, Oregon. We stayed just South of the city which is just about a 20 minute drive into town. There aren’t a ton of campsites out there, but we had no problem finding spots in the middle of summer. 

There is also National Forest land West of the city if you head toward Mt. Bachelor Ski Area. Please be respectful of these National Forest areas and Leave No Trace (or what we like to say ‘Erase A Trace’ by picking up leftover trash). 

There are two campgrounds in Bend, OR but they aren’t exactly budget-friendly. The Camp is located just a short walk from downtown. They offer a unique experience, as you can rent a tiny cottage, vintage trailer, or a place to park your own RV or campervan. The price starts around $80+/night.

A little south of town, you will find Crown Villa RV Resort which has plenty of amenities (hot tub, steam room, indoor gym, etc) and a place to park for the night. But as mentioned above, the price starts around $100+/night.

There are also two campgrounds in Newberry National Volcanic Monument that are a bit more budget-friendly, but a longer drive to town. Crater Lake Campground is one option that has 49 campsites that either border the lake or are just a short walk. Paulina Lake Campground is the other option nearby which also has great access to the lake and shoreline trail. 

There is also camping at the Tumalo State Park, which can be a great option if you plan to hike Tumalo Falls. There is a variety of tent sites, full hook up sites, yurts, and group sites. 

If you are looking to rent a campervan or RV for a summer trip to Bend, Oregon, consider using Outdoorsy or RVezy. These two companies are a peer-to-peer marketplace where you can rent a campervan or RV from someone at an affordable price. 

For more information about Outdoorsy & RVezy, check out our review of which rental service is better.

Hotels Near Bend, Oregon:

If camping isn’t your thing, use to find a hotel nearby for a great price! 

Or if you just don’t have a tent or RV to camp, but like the camping vibe, Bend has a rustic camping hotel called Campfire Hotel. This way you get the outdoor camping experience, but get to be in a temperate room, comfy bed and have a bathroom for all your needs. 

It even has fire pits to enjoy outdoors and each room has a very unique vibe. 

And of course, Kayak has tons more hotels to choose from whether you want to be close to downtown, looking for a budget-friendly option or want a luxury stay.

Vacation Rental Homes Near Bend, Oregon:

If you want to feel right at home when exploring Bend, OR, consider renting a vacation home rental from VRBO. We love using their service because it makes it super easy to find the perfect rental that suites your every need!

Whether you are looking for a place with a hot tub, a place downtown, or unique accommodations, VRBO has you covered. 

Other Great Things To Do Near Bend, OR

Drive the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway

Heading southwest of Bend, you will find a 66 mile, seasonal drive to stunning views of the Cascade Mountains and many beautiful alpine lakes.

Also be sure to pick up a recreation pass and a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit, which are needed to enjoy many of the pull offs, and picnic areas along the way. Visit Central Oregon’s Website for some of the best stops.

If you don’t have a car, or want some travel buddies, consider booking a happy hour paddle tour along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.

Day trip to the gorgeous Smith Rock State Park

Smith Rock State Park should definitely make it on the list if you are looking for epic views just a short drive from Bend. 

There are a few great short hikes that offer awesome views within the park. Our favorite hike was just the rim trail at sunset. But we also really enjoyed Misery Ridge and River Trail.

You might even notice more rock climbers than hikers at this State Park. Check out our Ultimate Hikers Guide for Smith Rock State Park 1-Day Itinerary.

Takeaway | Epic Things To Do In Bend, Oregon | 1-Week Itinerary:

Bend, Oregon definitely has a lot to offer. Whether you are looking for rugged outdoor activities, different cuisines, or just a refreshing walk in downtown Bend, there is plenty to do here to keep you busy. We hope this list of epic things to do in Bend, Oregon keeps you busy on this 1-week itinerary. Happy adventuring! 

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The Best Places to Travel for a Mountain Vacation - Wanderu

Monday 23rd of May 2022

[…] WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT: Known for quirky Portland, Oregon has a stunning access point to rugged mountain landscapes: Bend. A cute city packed with breweries, Bend could warrant a trip of its own, but its proximity to the Cascade Mountains lands it a spot on this list. Hiking and mountain biking are a big draw, while warmer months practically beg you to hop on a canoe or kayak and float along the Deschutes River. A special feature near Bend is Lava Butte, where you can walk on molten land and experience all things volcanic; just one of the many epic things to do in Bend. […]