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Bend, Oregon: Why is This Mountain Town So Fun?

Every year I declare a winner for best travel destination I visited over the past 12 months, and today I proclaim this past year’s winner to be: Bend, Oregon! Read on to learn why.

(If you’re curious previous winners include: Folly Beach, SC, Curaçao, Quebec City, and the surprise charmer, Pittsburgh, PA!)

Famous Ocean Roll at The Sparrow Bakery in Bend, Oregon.
Famous Ocean Roll at The Sparrow Bakery in Bend, Oregon.

Getting to Bend, OR from Portland

Bend, Oregon is located three hours east of Portland, OR, but don’t be daunted by the trip: it’s a stunningly gorgeous if you want to rent a car, and if you’d prefer public transport, the Amtrak train is very affordable. There are also several flights available.

A tree-lined shopping street in Bend, Oregon.
A tree-lined shopping street in Bend, Oregon.

Why is Bend, Oregon Fun?

So why do so many people love visiting Bend? First, it is the perfect-sized town (at 93,000 people, not too small to be boring, but not to big to be stressful), idyllically positioned along the Deschutes River, nested between a set of breathtaking mountains and lakes along the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway — chock-full of stores and eateries.

Fish sculpture outside the Bend, Oregon library.
Fish sculpture outside the Bend, Oregon library.

Restaurants in Bend, OR

You could stay in Bend for a month and still not run out of places to eat, or breweries to sample! The range of prices and cuisine types also varies wonderfully. My foodie favorite was Sparrow Cafe and Bakery.

The Sparrow Bakery in Bend, Oregon.
The Sparrow Bakery in Bend, Oregon.

Sparrow Bakery in Bend

The line to get our baked goods and breakfast sandwiches was long, but seats on the patio (pictured above) opened up quickly. I went back multiple times, and my chocolate-chip-cookie-loving self was not disappointed by the Sparrow version, pictured in its crispy glory below.

A Sparrow chocolate chip cookie in Bend, OR.
A Sparrow chocolate chip cookie in Bend, OR.

Cool Car Culture in Bend, OR

The region around Bend, Oregon is also known for people with epically cool cars. You’ll see car camping configurations (see the photo below), and repair shops with more character than the hottest TV show.

Car camping is big around Bend, OR.
Car camping is big around Bend, OR.
Cactus and car parts decorate a Bend, OR auto repair shop.
Cactus and car parts decorate a Bend, OR auto repair shop.
Cool car culture is strong in Bend, OR!
Cool car culture is strong in Bend, OR!
Can you identify this car part?
Can you identify this car part?

Bend, Oregon Hotels

I loved the Bend, OR hotel we stayed in! (Note: The following is an affiliate link that provides a small commission at no extra cost to you.) The Campfire Hotel, pictured below, is the perfect mix of unique flavor, community feel (it’s got lovely public campfires, a pool, and a general store), and delightful kitsch — all while being comfortable and clean.

Campfire Hotel in Bend, Oregon.
Campfire Hotel in Bend, Oregon.

Campfire Hotel, Bend, Oregon

Do note that the Campfire hotel isn’t located directly in the center of town — it’s a little bit of a walk (or drive) — but it’s easy enough, and that removed location provides a calmer feel… though if you visit around July 4 as I did, there’s a fireworks stall right across the street!

Fireworks stands abounded in Bend since July 4 was coming.
Fireworks stands abounded in Bend since July 4 was coming.

Bend, Oregon

Looking for a friendly town with great food and social scene just a few hours from Portland, OR? Check out Bend, Oregon, including its wonderful river park and nearby mountains and lakes!

Thanks, Bend, Oregon!

So what about you? If you’ve visited Bend, OR, how was it for you? If you haven’t been yet, does it seem like a spot you’d like to see? Do share!

One of many colorful Bend, Oregon stores.
One of many colorful Bend, Oregon stores.

 

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