Many of the incredible day trips in Oregon can be made with Bend as a jumping off point. Bend is one of the more underrated cities in the Pacific Northwest, the uppermost corner of the contiguous US. Known for being an outdoorsy town, there are endless day trips from Bend, Oregon that adventurous travelers can take. From breweries that let you look at the stars, to hotels with hammocks in every room, there is something for every outdoor lover.
While there is a small municipal airport near the city of Bend, you will most likely want to fly into a bigger city and rent a car to drive. The Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM) is the small local airport, located in the town of Redmond, a mere ~20 minute drive from Bend.
The next largest airports are located in Eugene, OR and Portland, OR and are about a 3 – 3.5 hour drive to Bend, respectively. If you are driving to Bend in the winter months, be sure to use the website Tripcheck.com to keep an eye on the road conditions so you are prepared.
If you are driving to Bend from around the PNW, the town lies just a few hours from each of the following major cities:
~3 hour drive from Portland, OR
~6 hour drive from Seattle, WA
~5 hour drive from Boise, ID
Looking for more to do on the West Coast? Read our post for Things to Do in Seattle, WA
On your way, make a mini Oregon road trip out of your drive by stopping by a few key sites along the way. Stop by Silver Falls State Park, Rowena Crest Viewpoint, or Latourell Falls on the drive.
Where to stay
McMenamins are a family owned company known in the PNW for their quirky businesses in transformed spaces. From High schools turned into bars and hotels to historic churches turned to theaters, their unique creations are a fun way to experience the pacific northwest. In Bend, the McMenamin Old St. Francis School is located right downtown and is a fun, whimsical place to stay while you are in town.
Complete with a soaking pool, this McMenamin property is perfect for staying in Bend in warm or cold weather. A pub, brewery, and movie theater on the property (plus the McMenamin’s signature secret bar!) will make it hard to get out and explore the city, but trust that it will be worth it.
This incredible property showcases the active lifestyle that many come to Bend to enjoy. With trails, gear rentals, and a short drive to Mount Bachelor, plus a pool, firepit, and hammocks hanging from the ceiling in every room, this unique hotel is a very cool starting point for a weekend in Bend.
At a slightly higher price point, but no less imaginative is the Campfire Hotel. With a kitschy camp theme, you will find fire pits with roasting marshmallows, a pool with orange umbrellas, and 100 campy rooms complete with sleeping-bag-style coverlets and a guitar on the wall. Patios are complete with astroturf, and the bar with rustic libations. As a bonus, this hotel is pet-friendly, so feel free to plan all the outdoor adventures with your pup by your side while in Bend.
Where to eat in Bend
The Sparrow Bakery Northwest
This is a great local coffee shop and bakery to check out for breakfast, but they also serve lunch and dinner. We liked the vibe in the shop and loved the Ocean Rolls, which they are famous for. It’s a croissant with unique flavors including cardamom. Just trust us on this one.
If you are looking for excellent coffee, try this family owned coffee shop. Beans are roasted in house and brewed with care for the best cup of Joe in town.
No list of things to do in Bend would be complete without mentioning Spork. What started as a mobile eatery has become a famous and inspired restaurant in Bend. Known for their global menu drawing from street food influences, Spork is a can’t miss during your weekend in Bend.
Things to do in Bend
The Last Blockbuster
While you are in town, don’t miss the very last Blockbuster on Earth that is still in operation!
Yes, you read that correctly.
There still remains one last Blockbuster, and it happens to be on our list of places to visit in Bend, and it is still open for business. Stop by to reminisce on your childhood, grab some merch, and wander the isles before heading out for some adventure!
Recreating Around Town
Get out on the town and stretch your legs. Bend isn’t known for being outdoorsy for no reason. In fact, there are a ton of places around the city where visitors can get a taste of the great outdoors without having to take a short day trip in Oregon.
Rent a paddleboard or go tubing to cool off in the Deschutes River that cuts right down the middle of downtown Bend. Grab a snack and hit up Drake Park for a picnic along Mirror Pond.
Get your adrenaline pumping at Bend White Water Park. The options are endless.
Now that you have worked up an appetite, its time to check out the incredible variety of local craft beer in Bend. While you couldn’t really go wrong with any brewery, here are a few unique locations worth noting.
Not only is this brewery producing beer with sustainable practices, they also have an observatory! The “Hop-servatory” boasts a full view of surrounding peaks and incredible views of the stars and more.
Crux Fermentation Project
While you can find a craft beer of your liking in any Bend brewery, Crux also has a line of “NOMO” non alcoholic beers. Their tasting room has 24 taps and is family friendly-including furry family. They also have live music and food carts, so it’s an all around good time.
Bend Brewing Company is the second oldest brewery in Bend. In addition to the array of brews, their outdoor yard right along the Deschutes River is such a picturesque location to sit and sip in the summer.
Vector Volcano Arcade Bar
Take an afternoon to travel back to childhood at this fun concept bar complete with vintage arcade games. They have over 40 video and pinball games in rotation at the bar at any given time, so there is always an exciting variety.
Lava Tube Cave Tour
Discover one of many volcanic remnants of Oregon without leaving town by exploring caves left behind by ancient lava flows. Wanderlust Tours offers two hour expeditions in the caves including round trip transportation, gear, and education about the caves. This is the only company offering guided tours of the Bend caves.
Half-Day Trips from Bend
While there is tons to do in the city itself, there are also many destinations to explore that are close to Bend. Here are a few options that could be ½ day trips from Bend, but are worth a full day to explore.
You can’t take a trip to Bend without visiting Smith Rock State Park. It’s only 20 minutes away in Redmond, and the views even from the parking lot are epic. Formed from compressed volcanic ash nearly 30 million years ago, these incredible rocky cliffs are well worth the visit.
While you don’t have to go far for amazing vistas, it’s worth venturing further into the park. Visitors can hike miles of trails along the river and jutting rocks, or explore them by bike or horseback.
We enjoyed watching the rock climbers along the cliff walls. Be sure to bring water and dress in layers appropriate for the weather. This is a desert climate so temperatures may be warmer or colder than expected.
Guests can visit for a day or camp overnight. Parking is only $5 per vehicle, and sleeping in your car overnight is not permitted.
Camping is $8 a night, but no fires are permitted due to the dry climate. Hot showers and restrooms with running water are on site.
Dogs are permitted in the park on a leash, so bring your adventure buddy!
Newberry Volcanic Monument
Located within the Deschutes National Forest, the Newberry Volcanic National Monument is another incredible day trip from Bend, Oregon to see geologic features of the volcanic area. The volcano itself is 12,000 square miles and still geothermally active today.
Parking at the visitor’s center is only $5 per vehicle or free with the America the Beautiful interagency parks pass. A shuttle runs to Lava Butte in the peak summer season where visitors will find an interpretive area.
Hikers will also find miles of trails and many opportunities for wildlife sighting. Mountain biking and road cycling are also available options for viewing the park.
Head Out For A Short Hike To A Waterfall
While there are many volcanic and desert features within the state, most think of waterfalls and lush green scenes when you think of Oregon. Those assumptions are not wrong!
There are a wealth of vibrant trails within a short drive from Bend where adventure seekers can walk for miles and be treated to beautiful cascades.
One of the most well-known waterfalls that visitors drive to Bend, Oregon to see is Tumalo Falls. Parking for this site within the Deschutes National Forest is $5 or free with the use of an interagency pass.
Both the NW Forest Pass and the America the Beautiful Parks Pass are accepted. Tumalo Falls is 97 feet high, so the short walk from the trailhead is worth this impressive view. Stick around to hike down to the valley or along the creek, taking in the abundant greenery.
This is a fun small town themed like an old western town a short drive from Bend. Come for a short day trip to see another part of Oregon and explore the old west village. Start at the Sisters Coffee Company, then set out on the Mural Trail to locate the Greetings from Sisters Oregon sigh as you explore.
Shop around town at Paulina Springs Books, and fully embrace the western theme at Dixie’s and Antler Arts, and grab a handmade quilt from the Stitchin’ Post.
Known as the area’s best skiing in winter, you can also enjoy the trails on the steep slopes by mountain biking in summer.
Slightly Further Day Trips Within Oregon
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
If you are like us and looking to see unique features and collect stamps in your National Parks Passport, then this national monument is a must visit. Within the John Day Fossil Beds are some incredible distinct landmarks that more than make up for the two hour day trip from Bend.
The Painted Hills and Blue Basin (located in the Sheep Rock unit) are not close together, so you will want to either plan for a long day of driving or pick one to visit.
Both are incredible and unique within the US. We learned about the Blue Basin after our trip so we cannot wait to travel back, but the Painted Hills were enough to amaze us and made the drive worthwhile.
That’s right, you don’t have to travel to South Dakota to see badlands, as there are a wilderness full of them just outside of Bend, Oregon! This type of wilderness is really unique to see, so plan a day during your trip to Bend to head out on a short hike to explore.
Take A Day Trip To A Natural Hotspring
Where there are volcanos, there are hot springs, and Bend is no different. Visitors looking to take a day trip from Bend have their pick of luxurious to rustic and natural pools.
2.5 hrs drive from Bend
This is the most developed of the three hot springs near Bend on our list. A day-pass is only $15/hour for private soaking tubs or $10 for a 4-hour session in the outdoor pond. Many visitors choose to stay on site to fully enjoy the relaxation these hot springs have to offer.
Umpqua Hot Springs
2.5 hrs drive from Bend
A much more rustic option, the Umpqua Hot Springs are located a short drive down from the trailhead to Toketee falls.
These hot springs have a day-use fee of $5 which can be paid at the parking area.
The trail begins over a rainbow-painted bridge then turns to the right and climbs steeply uphill. Bring your own water, towels, and proper footwear for the muddy climb.
As these are a natural hot spring, be aware that nudity is possible and be sure to pack out anything you bring with you, including trash.
Cougar Hot Springs
2 hrs drive from Bend
Also known as Terwillinger Hot Springs, these pools are a flat quarter-mile hike in and clothing optional. A day pass is $10, and the springs are first come first serve, up to 50 people at a time.
There are four total pools, with the hot water springing into the top pool and cooling as it cascades down into each subsequent bath.
As with Umpqua, these are a natural spring so bring your own water and towel, and pack out everything you bring including trash. There is a pit toilet but no running water.
While it lies two hours driving distance from town, Crater Lake is one of the best day trips in Oregon that you can take from Bend. This national park hosts the deepest lake in the US, formed by a volcanic explosion.
Mt Mazama erupted over seven thousand years ago, leaving behind the deep crater. Since there are no streams into or out of the lake, it remains extremely pure. This causes the clarity of the water for remarkable depths, affording the characteristic deep blue color of the water.
There is so much to do in Bend, Oregon, you will likely have trouble packing it into one weekend trip.
Bend is a great jumping off point as there are tons of day trips in Oregon you can take from here. It is an idyllic city for the outdoor lover with everything from natural hot springs to ancient lava caves to unique breweries.
Are you planning a trip to Bend? Comment below and let me know what you are looking forward to! If you have already been, let me know what you liked most about Bend, Oregon.
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