While it took its sweet time in coming to visit us, it appears that summer has arrived in Bend, Oregon. With our hot, sunny Central Oregon summers, a whole host of new possibilities open up for outdoor activities. Snow has melted in the Cascades, and that means new areas are now open for recreational use. While there is fun to be had year-round in Central Oregon, there’s something special about the long days of summer. What are some Bend, Oregon summer activities that you don’t want to miss out on?
Float the river: Way back when, this wasn’t an option as the lumber mill dominated the Deschutes River waterway. Now, you’ll find all ages – with all kinds of floating devices – playing on the river in the hot summer sun. Most people “put in” upstream of the current Old Mill District and, after a quick detour around the Colorado Street bridge, and “take out” in the iconic Drake Park. Check out the “Park & Float” options and more information on the Visit Bend site.
Visit Drake Park: Home to Mirror Pond, this beautiful, established 13-acre park in the center of town is a favorite place for relaxing or taking a casual stroll. In addition, it sounds like 2021 will see the return of at least a few of the park’s annual events and activities including Munch N Music and Theater in the Park. This park is a peaceful place to enjoy all the best Bend, Oregon has to offer.
Frolick at a high lake: With summer comes the opening of the Cascade Lakes Highway, which gives you access to a number of stunning mountain lakes in the shadow of Mount Bachelor. From the classic resort feel of popular Elk Lake – which offers boat rentals, cabins, camping and dining – to the more natural beauty of Hosmer or Todd Lake, there are many options. You can hike, fish, paddle or just relax by the water’s edge with your people and pets.
Head downhill on Bachelor: If you think Mt. Bachelor is just for winter, think again. The fantastic and thrilling Mt. Bachelor Bike Park keeps adrenalin seekers busy in the summer months, with miles of downhill trails for every ability level. Riders take the chairlift up and take an action-filled ride down the slopes on a bike – or on the Zip Line course. But that’s not the only activity that our mountain resort offers this season….
Head uphill on Bachelor: Not sure about the thrill-seeking on Bachelor? There are calmer ways to enjoy the mountain this summer. Take a scenic chairlift ride up to Pine Marten Lodge to enjoy spectacular birds-eye views from Newberry Crater to Broken Top and from Bend all the way to Smith Rock from the top of Mt. Bachelor. Or, better yet, book a sunset dinner with some loved ones (available Thursday through Sunday nights).
Visit an aquatic center: We are exceedingly lucky in Bend, Oregon to have the fantastic Juniper Swim and Fitness facility, which offers indoor and outdoor pools and water activities, plus a host of fitness classes and resources. Added to the mix this year is the brand-new, state-of-the-art Larkspur Community Center, with a beautiful indoor pool (with a lazy river!) and other fitness and enrichment amenities.
Practice your cast: Surrounded by blue-ribbon waters, Bend Oregon is a haven for fly fishers. One of our most unique amenities in the center of Bend is the Old Mill District Fly Casting Course. The first permanent course of its kind in North America, this 5-hole course is designed for practicing essential casting skills before you try to hook the big one.
Go to the quilt festival: While not technically in Bend proper, the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show is such a unique experience that we had to include it on our list. Quilters come from far and wide to view the fantastic creations lining the streets of historic downtown Sisters each July. More than 500 quilts of all styles are on display, with other events and activities in every nook and cranny of this quaint Western-style village.
Listen to live music: Yes, live music is back in Central Oregon. Our local concert venue, the Les Schwab Amphitheater, is welcoming live acts starting in August with an exceptional lineup that includes Brandi Carslile, John Legend, Dave Matthews Band, Luke Bryan, Foreigner, 311 and many more. Much missed in 2020, we are thrilled to have these artists visit Bend again this year.
Soak in the hot springs: Head up to the picturesque Paulina Lake in Newberry Crater, and bring your hiking gear AND your bathing suit. The Paulina Lake Hot Springs, a non-commercial hot springs, are located at the end of a 1.5 mile stretch of trail. If you want to take the scenic route, you can hike around the lake to get to the springs. You won’t regret the effort, as you are greeted by five geothermal pools just perfect for individual soaking.
Get out there Central Oregon, it’s summertime!