The 15 best things to do in Bend, Oregon this summer - Visit Bend (2022)

From May through September, folks flock to Bend for all the hiking, biking, swimming, and soul-soothing nature they can fit into a long weekend. Squeezing the best Bend adventures into limited time takes planning and prioritizing, but it’s do-able during the long days of summer.

Here are 15 of the best don’t-miss Bend activities and attractions to make the most of your Bend summer vacation.

Float the river

Nothing says “Bend” like bobbing in an inner tube on the sparkling Deschutes River with your toes in the water and birdsong on the breeze. You can knock out a quick float in a couple hours, especially if you go earlier in the day or late afternoon to dodge crowds at the gear rental line. Check out this blog post for everything you need to know about where to start, what gear you’ll need, and how to maximize your relaxing river float in Bend.

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Floating the Deschutes is a must-do for maximum summer pleasure.

Groove to live music

Bend’s beauty attracts some of the world’s top musical talent, and past performers include Dave Matthews Band, Brandi Carlile, Willie Nelson, Alabama Shakes, and so many more. Whether you groove in the grass by the river at Hayden Homes Amphitheater or enjoy an intimate evening in the pines for the Clear Summer Nights concert series, schedule some live music into your schedule. You’ll even find free, family-friendly shows at in Drake Park.

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Bend’s longstanding concert series, Munch and Music, is free and fun for families.

Go for a hike

In surveys of Bend visitors, hiking is hands-down the top ranked activity. Choose from hard-earned lake views at the top of a mountain, or leisurely strolls on a paved path along the river. You’ll find dog-friendly hikes where Fido can frolic off leash, or acres of scenic desert where pups aren’t allowed at all. Get started finding the perfect hike for you and your family at this link. Since some spots require a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit, read up on the rules before lacing your boots.

(Video) The PERFECT Summer Trip to Bend Oregon! Top Things to Do (Food, Hikes, Beer, + More)

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Hiking makes for epic Bend adventures, but don’t forget some spots (like Green Lakes, shown here) will require a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit.

Try whitewater rafting

Want a taste of adrenaline and the skill of a trained guide guaranteeing your family heaps of splashy memories? Try whitewater rafting with Sun Country Tours and prepare for the ultimate summer treat. They supply all gear, transportation,and guidance, while you supply the paddle power and all the heart-pounding laughter you can squeeze into a half-day outing.

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Make memories while whitewater rafting the Big Eddy with Sun Country Tours.

Let Wanderlust show you the way

Some Bend adventures are best with professionals guiding the way, and that’s extra true of the naturalist guides from Wanderlust Tours. From lava cave adventures to moonlight canoe outings, they’ll take you to spots you might not find on your own, then dazzle you with info on the natural history and geology of an area. Since all the driving, planning, snacks, and gear will be left in their capable hands, you’ll be free to enjoy your once-in-a-lifetime Bend adventure.

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Warm July temps make for perfect kayaking weather on the Cascade Lakes with Wanderlust Tours.

Dine outside

Bend’s culinary scene rivals what you’ll find in big cities, but with one massive perk: Outdoor dining with views to make your mouth water. Choose from riverfront dining or spots on a cozy patio filled with fire pits. From Mediterranean to Asian fusion to Italian to plain ol’ Pacific NW cuisine, you’ll fill your belly with good food while feasting your eyes on more of Bend’s epic beauty.

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Dining outdoors is the ultimate summer pleasure in Bend.

(Video) Best things to do in Bend - SUMMER edition!

Stroll the Old Mill District

Not many shopping spots boast the beauty and history you’ll find in Bend’s Old Mill District. Watch cheerful paddlers bob past on the Deschutes River as you pause for a glass of wine at one of the Old Mill’s award-winning restaurants. Shop quaint boutiques and well-known chain stores or rent a surrey and pedal around scoping out signage sharing history of the area. When the lights go down, catch a movie or duck into a bar for a nightcap.

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SUPs cruise by the Old Mill District on a sunny afternoon.

Hit historic downtown Bend

Dotted with historic brick buildings and locally-owned shops brimming with souvenirs, Bend’s downtown core has a small-town vibe buzzing with local charm. That’s especially true in summer when the Bend Farmer’s Market brings a bounty of fresh produce and other locally-made goods. Grab a dish of gelato or a hot cup of coffee and stroll on into Drake Park, the 13-acre riverfront jewel of Bend’s park system.

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Enjoy the bounty of the Bend Farmers Market.

Get your lava fix

Bend’s very volcanic history gives us tons of unique landscapes to explore while you’re here. Set out to see the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which features an ancient shield volcano the size of Rhode Island. Next, venture out into the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, or keep it simple with a trek up Pilot Butte for epic views of Bend and beyond. If you like leaving planning to someone else, let Wanderlust Tours treat you to a lava cave tour or a volcano tour, or scope out Lava River Cave on your own.

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(Video) Top 10 Things to do in Bend Oregon [INSIDE & OUT!]

Get a glimpse of Central Oregon’s lava-filled landscapes with a hike in Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Go chasing waterfalls

From the towering splendor of Tumalo Falls to the bright turquoise glimmer of Wizard Falls, Central Oregon has no shortage of waterfalls for you to chase. Check out this post for ideas and inspiration, and don’t forget to follow Leave No Trace practices when you head out exploring.

Hit the bike trails

From road cycling to mountain biking to endless miles of gravel bike trails, Bend’s bike scene offers any sort of cycling terrain you might dream of. Set out on your own, or leave planning, gear, and transport to the expert guides at CogWild Bicycle Tours. For a four-wheeled family adventure, rent a bike surrey from Wheel Fun Adventures and pedal the paved path by the river through the Old Mill District.

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Whether you’re on a quest for epic mountain bike trails or looking to try gravel cycling, you’ll fill your bike quota in Bend this summer.

Scope out the ski hill

Summertime brings next-level adventure to Bend’s most popular mountain, making Mt. Bachelor so much more than a ski hill. Head up for summer adventures like zip lining, scenic chairlift rides, dogsled outings in a wheeled cart, sunset dinners, disc golf, or their downhill bike park.

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Ride the summertime zip line at Mt. Bachelor, then cap it off with a sunset dinner at 7,800 feet.

(Video) Things to do in Bend Oregon!

Get festive

Festival season hits full swing during Bend’s summer months, so plan your adventure around one of the city’s most epic attractions. Scan the Event Calendar to find dates for attractions like Balloons Over Bend, Bend Summer Festival, and Bend’s big Independence Day celebrations. While you’re at it, peruse for events happening all year long and schedule a Bend vacation for one of our chillier months.

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Balloons Over Bend is one of Central Oregon’s most treasured summertime traditions.

Head for the High Desert Museum

There’s a reason the High Desert Museum tops Trip Advisor’s list of Bend’s best attractions. From natural history to wildlife exhibits, this longtime Central Oregon destination gives the ultimate taste of what makes our high desert oasis so special. Don’t miss popular animal shows like raptor flyovers and otter feeding time, and save room for lunch in their courtyard cafe.

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Summertime’s the perfect time to leisurely enjoy the outdoor exhibits at the High Desert Museum.

Swill suds on the Bend Ale Trail

Bend’s ultimate trail of suds got a complete revamp in 2021, expanding the program to include seven separate territories and spanning into Redmond, Sisters, and Prineville. Not only that, but each territory in the Bend Ale Trail pairs with activities and attractions unique to that area. Collect prizes for each territory as you sip your way through porters, pilsners, and IPAs. Not a beer fan? Try some Drinkable Diversions, including cideries, distilleries, wine tasting rooms, and kombucha brewers. There’s something for everyone—even your designated driver.

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Be sure to snag an outside table when you hit the Bend Ale Trail at the peak of summer.

FAQs

How do I spend a day in Bend Oregon? ›

My itinerary for a perfect day in Bend, Oregon
  1. 6:30 a.m. Visit the dog park. ...
  2. 7:30 a.m. Breakfast at Jackson's Corner. ...
  3. 9:30 a.m. A family hike. ...
  4. 11 a.m. Shopping, sightseeing, and lunch in the Old Mill District. ...
  5. 1:30 a.m. Outdoor adventures with Wanderlust Tours. ...
  6. 5:30 p.m. Time to hit the Bend Ale Trail!
26 Mar 2015

What is there to do in Bend on a hot day? ›

7 Ways to Stay Cool This Summer
  1. Hit the Lakes. Dozens of lakes are scattered across Central Oregon, and are popular hangouts on hot summer days. ...
  2. Relax Poolside at Sunriver SHARC. ...
  3. Float the River. ...
  4. Go Rafting. ...
  5. Find a Waterfall. ...
  6. Jump off the cliffs at Steelhead Falls. ...
  7. Catch a Wave.
15 Aug 2017

Is Bend or worth visiting? ›

Bend is a darling little mountain town nestled at the base of the Cascades, along the Deschutes River in Central Oregon. And with its many rivers, mountains, hiking trails, lakes, and clear, crisp, high desert climate, it is the ideal home for adventure-lovers.

What is the best month to visit Bend Oregon? ›

In other words, September and October are pretty much the perfect time to plan a Bend vacation. Crowds are smaller, prices are lower, and the weather is still pretty mild.

How do I spend a weekend in Bend Oregon? ›

  1. 1 – Float the Deschutes River. ...
  2. 2 – Kayak a lake in the Cascade range. ...
  3. 3 – Go on a Brewery Tour. ...
  4. 4 – Go hiking or mountain biking. ...
  5. 5 – Hike up the Pilot Butte. ...
  6. 6 – Go shopping downtown or in the Mill District. ...
  7. 7 – Walk around River Bend Park or Drake Park and Mirror Bond. ...
  8. 8 – Go skiing at the Mount Bachelor.
14 Feb 2022

Where should I start floating in Bend Oregon? ›

The easiest and most popular route is to put on at Riverbend Park with a take out at Drake Park. Give yourself about an hour to enjoy this lazy sun-drenched meandering float along the Deschutes. For a shorter float, you can also take out at McKay Park.

Does Bend have a lot of homeless? ›

City of Bend & Deschutes County Emergency Homelessness Task Force (Complete) There are nearly 1,000 people who are experiencing houselessness in Central Oregon on any given night.

Which part of Bend is best to stay? ›

Sisters is our top pick. This area is a little more off the beaten path, so you'll be able to enjoy loads of peaceful, natural spaces. It's a great place to see more of the authentic Bend.

Does Bend have a homeless problem? ›

In the two previous counts, homelessness increased 12% and 13%. Homelessness overall has increased 40% since 2015, according to the city of Bend.

How much money do you need to live in Bend Oregon? ›

Summary about cost of living in Bend, OR, United States: Family of four estimated monthly costs are 4,396$ without rent. A single person estimated monthly costs are 1,213$ without rent. Bend is 10.44% less expensive than New York (without rent).

What does bend or have to offer? ›

Bend has you covered whether you're seeking world-class river activities, hikes through ancient lava flows and summiting mountain peaks, or biking through scenic mountain forests. Trail runners will love the pristine beauty of Bend's Urban Trail System.

What is so special about Bend Oregon? ›

Bend is a high desert city, and one of the best places to explore that arid ecosystem is the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. The expansive area includes stunning lava rock formations, old-growth juniper trees and good views of the Three Sisters and buttes to the east.

What is the hottest month in Bend Oregon? ›

The hottest month of the year in Bend is July, with an average high of 81°F and low of 50°F. The cold season lasts for 3.6 months, from November 13 to March 2, with an average daily high temperature below 48°F. The coldest month of the year in Bend is December, with an average low of 25°F and high of 40°F.

Is Bend Oregon good for seniors? ›

What Makes Bend One of the Best Places to Retire in Oregon. Maybe it's the sunshine and fresh mountain air and the area's reputation as an outdoor mecca. Or maybe what makes Bend stand out is its great culinary, shopping, and cultural scenes, or its beautiful contemporary homes.

Is Bend or Portland better? ›

While smaller than Portland, Bend is not too small, so you do get plenty of options. Portland does have more options, but Bend has a similar level of variety. Portland is larger, so it has more breweries, but Bend has the most per capita in the state and the biggest Beer Trail in the west.

How many days should you spend in Big Bend? ›

Plan to spend at least 2 days in Big Bend, although more time is better. This is a fairly large national park with three distinct areas: the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive region, Chisos Basin, and the sights in and around Rio Grande Village.

Does Bend have a zoo? ›

Walking through the main gates at Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend reveals a sanctuary for nature lovers.

Are there bears in Bend Oregon? ›

Central Oregon is home to one species of bear, the black bear.

What is best time of day for a float? ›

Different Times of Day

Some people do much better floating in the early morning, while others have the most profound floats late at night. At certain times of day, you might feel more alert and energized, while other times you leave your float ready to relax and unwind even more.

Can you drink while floating the river in Oregon? ›

Under Oregon boating laws, boaters are allowed to drink alcohol if they otherwise are legal to drink, and they may also have open containers of alcohol on board. However, they are not allowed to be intoxicated while operating a boat — and that includes being one of several paddlers on a raft, according to the law.

Who is the richest person in Bend Oregon? ›

Philip Hampson Knight

According to a list released by Forbes in late 2019, Knight is among the top twenty richest people in the world.

Are there cougars in Bend? ›

(KTVZ) – Law enforcement shot and killed three cougars in residential areas in southwest Bend and north of Sisters over the weekend, determining by their actions that they had become too habituated to people, posed a danger to pets as well and that relocating the animals would not resolve the issues.

What type of people live in Bend? ›

The 5 largest ethnic groups in Bend, OR are White (Non-Hispanic) (85.1%), White (Hispanic) (6.15%), Two+ (Non-Hispanic) (3.06%), Asian (Non-Hispanic) (1.72%), and Two+ (Hispanic) (1.31%). None of the households in Bend, OR reported speaking a non-English language at home as their primary shared language.

Where do you stay when you go to Big Bend? ›

Chisos Mountains Lodge

The lodge offers a variety of rooms and cottages, plus a gift shop, camper store, and dining room. The lodge is open year-round, and is the only lodging available within Big Bend National Park.

Is it better to stay in Bend or Sunriver? ›

If you want to park when you get here, and mainly walk or bike to your destinations after that, then Sunriver is ideal for that, with miles of biking and walking trails. If you want more access to the city (like the Old Mill District in Bend on the river with shops and restaurants), Bend might be a better choice.

Is Bend a safe place? ›

OVERALL RISK : LOW

There's a low risk in Bend, with the city taking the number 6 spot on the Safest Cities in Oregon list. Crime rates are low, but there is a risk in some of the outdoor adventures if you aren't very experienced.

Why is rent so high in Bend Oregon? ›

As Bend's employment base has grown and the pandemic fuels the remote workforce, demand for housing just keeps going up and as you know, when demand goes up and there's a very limited supply…. PRICES GO UP!

Are there wolves in Bend? ›

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A trail camera captured a photo of an adult wolf and five pups on the Fourth of July, prompting the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to designate a new "Area of Known Wolf Activity" in the Upper Deschutes wildlife management unit in Klamath and Deschutes counties, the agency said Wednesday.

Where are the most homeless in Oregon? ›

Clatsop County has the highest number of homeless individuals per capita in rural Oregon.

What is Bend Oregon known for? ›

Bend was incorporated as a city in 1905. Economically, it started as a logging town but is now identified as a gateway for many outdoor sports, including mountain biking, fishing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, white-water rafting, skiing, paragliding, and golf.

Why is Bend Oregon so popular? ›

You name it, Bend has it. There are endless amounts of hiking trails and biking trails. You can go mountain climbing, skiing, fishing, boating, exploring, and more. Bend is located in the high desert region of Oregon but sits near the Deschutes Forest.

Do you need a car in Bend Oregon? ›

Getting to and around Bend doesn't require a car, with a little advanced planning you can get all around town and even up to Mt. Bachelor. Recent additions include ride sharing (Uber and Lyft) and bike share (Bird), as well as a continually developing city public bus system that accesses Mt.

Does Bend have a zoo? ›

Walking through the main gates at Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend reveals a sanctuary for nature lovers.

Are there cougars in Bend? ›

(KTVZ) – Law enforcement shot and killed three cougars in residential areas in southwest Bend and north of Sisters over the weekend, determining by their actions that they had become too habituated to people, posed a danger to pets as well and that relocating the animals would not resolve the issues.

What predators are in Bend Oregon? ›

BEND — That Bend is home to more than 90,000 people may instill a sense of civilized tranquility. Don't be fooled. Healthy populations of cougars, bears, coyotes and a few wolves stalk the area, too. Overhead, birds of prey are capable of swooping on your outdoor cat or small dog and carrying it away.

Are there mountain lions in Bend? ›

Typically, cougar sightings occur in rural subdivisions on the outskirts of the cities. But they have been seen in Bend before, Heath said. In May 2019, a cougar was spotted near the canal close to Fred Meyer in Bend. “Over the years we have had several cougars end up in town,” Heath said.

Do scorpions live in Bend Oregon? ›

To make everyone feel better and relax somewhat (those who are curious and those who are scared to death), the most abundant scorpion found throughout Central Oregon is the harmless northern scorpion, Paruroctonus boreus, a relative of the innocuous mordant scorpion.

What is the cheapest city to live in in Oregon? ›

The 10 Most Affordable Places to Live in Oregon
  • Springfield. Number one for affordability, this city is also highly ranked when it comes to its rivers. ...
  • Dallas. No; not Dallas, Texas. ...
  • Keizer. ...
  • Woodburn. ...
  • Eugene. ...
  • Coos Bay. ...
  • Lebanon. ...
  • Pendleton.
19 Jul 2017

Does Bend Oregon have snakes? ›

At our northerly latitudes in the Northwest, rattlesnakes are usually absent at those colder, lofty zones. Although a century ago rattlers inhabited Bend, they were apparently exterminated within a few decades.

Can you legally sleep in your car in Oregon? ›

(a) Persons may sleep overnight in a vehicle in a parking lot of a religious institution, place of worship, business or public entity that owns or leases property on which a parking lot and occupied structure are located, with permission of the property owner.

Can you sleep in your car on the side of the road in Oregon? ›

Yes. You are permitted to sleep overnight in your vehicle while at an Oregon Rest Area. You just cannot stay beyond 12 hours. It's worth noting that you must be inside your vehicle while sleeping overnight.

Does Bend Oregon have fleas? ›

Fleas are rare in Central Oregon, but we do have ticks. The first step against ticks is prevention.

Are there wolves in Bend? ›

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A trail camera captured a photo of an adult wolf and five pups on the Fourth of July, prompting the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to designate a new "Area of Known Wolf Activity" in the Upper Deschutes wildlife management unit in Klamath and Deschutes counties, the agency said Wednesday.

Are there bears near Bend? ›

In Central Oregon, black bears are typically found west of U.S. Highway 97 in the dense forest. Some have been found east of Bend among the junipers, but it is rare, Heath said. Black bears roaming in the High Desert led to the legend of the Lava Bear, which is the mascot of Bend High School.

What kind of bears are in Bend Oregon? ›

Central Oregon is home to one species of bear, the black bear.

Videos

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