The Ultimate Central Oregon Vacation Planner
The central part of the state, including Bend, Redmond, and the Cascades, has all the outdoor adventure, dining, and craft beer opportunities you’re expecting from Oregon. (And a lot more sunshine!)
Central Oregon is the stuff of our Pacific Northwest Dreams. With the beyond-bucolic river town Bend offering all the urban amenities (craft beverages! open air concerts! local and global culinary gems!); quaint Redmond increasingly blending cowboy and cool; and a wealth of outdoor activities for hikers, bikers, golfers, and more set against the backdrop of the stunning Cascade mountain range, the region is at the top of our return-to-travel bucket list. We’ve curated a 4-step menu of options to help you design your very own Central Oregon getaway.
Take It Outside
Central Oregon offers a perfect mix of nature and culture. Make the most of the region’s sunny and stunning spring and summer with an outdoor concert, a highly instagrammable hike, or golf with a view.
The longstanding Bend summer tradition of open-air concerts at Les Schwab Amphitheater is on track to return in full force this summer with a larger stage and upgrades to the facilities using sustainably upcycled pine. Stellar acts on the roster later this year include Dave Matthews and Luke Bryan.
If you go on a trip and don’t share a selfie taken in a cave with light dramatically streaming through it did it even happen? Skylight Cave offers just that 45 minutes west of Redmond. Time your visit between 8 and 10 am to get just the right light. Or hit Steelhead Falls (pictured), also near Redmond, for a literal double dip: There’s an Instagram-worthy waterfall on a picturesque bend on the Deschutes with pine-studded high desert hills rising up from it, plus a swimming hole with cliff jumping for the brave.
Sweeping panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains abound at Tetherow’s beautiful par-72 course designed by award-winning Scottish born (and longtime Bend resident) David McLay Kidd. Eschew the traditional golf cart and surf the course with a motorized, stand-up GolfBoard. (Bonus: The smaller tires are kinder to the turf.) Pronghorn boasts two 18-hole courses, with the public Jack Nicklaus-designed course offering emerald-green grass contrasting ancient lava formations, junipers, and, yes, those epic mountain views.
Level up Your Lodging
From a purpose-driven boutique hotel to world class golf resorts, there’s lodging to fit any lifestyle.
Sunriver Resort (above) is all about the superlatives: 11 restaurants, 45 miles of paved bike trails, world class golfing, and a state-of-the-art NASA-affiliated observatory for next-level stargazing. (With some 30 telescopes, it’s the largest public observatory in the nation!) Joining the offerings on Memorial Day weekend is the newly expanded 10,000 square-foot indoor-outdoor aquatic center, complete with private cabanas, waterslide, sandlot, multiple spas, a gently flowing eddy, poolside bar, and more offering maximum fun and relaxation.
Redmond’s SCP Hotel is for the socially minded “work from hotel” nomadic set (SCP stands for Soul, Community, Planet). The hotel promotes a socially conscious approach to entrepreneurship. SCP offers sustainably built chic lodging, co-working spaces, and fair-trade, pay-what-you-wish room rates. Plus they have a killer roof deck for responsible imbibing.
With the Cascade Mountains towering in the distance, Black Butte Ranch is situated on the site of a former cattle ranch established over a century ago and is a stunning setting for a serene escape from the city. There’s fly fishing for anglers of all ages, horseback riding, world-class golf, a modern take on a general store, and the Deschutes National Forest right next door.
Drink up the Beverage Renaissance
The legendary craft brewery scene is as effervescent as ever, but there are new non-beer beverages bubbling up. Here’s where to taste the renaissance, from tasting rooms to wine bars.
Willamette powerhouse winery Stoller in the Dundee Hills produces some of the best wines in the region. Now you can taste their offerings at the brand-new tasting room in Bend’s booming Box Factory. Swirl and sniff a Chehalem Pinot Noir or pop a top on a canned Oregon bubbly rosé and bask in the deliciously unpretentious Central Oregon wine scene.
Sleek and smart FERM & fare is the latest wine shop to hit Bend and offers a well-curated selection of local and international wines, with an emphasis on responsible farming. Time your visit with a themed tasting to try a flight, accompanied by top-notch dishes like buttery escargot and burrata with blood orange brûlée.
Longtime Bend craft beer powerhouse Deschutes Brewery has acquired Bend’s upstart Boneyard Brewery (pictured), makers of the cult favorite, citrusy-fresh, and just-hoppy-enough RPM IPA. The partnership will allow Boneyard to increase its canned beer production and distribution. For super fresh pours make a pilgrimage to Boneyard’s pub for seasonal offerings, post up in the beer hall, or get a growler to go.
Taste the region’s terroir in cocktails at the prohibition-themed tasting room at Redmond’s Gompers Distillery, where their signature American gin is infused with locally sourced juniper berries and other Pacific Northwest botanicals.
Dial in Your Dining
From pizza perfection to plant-based goodness, a delicious diversity of global dining options awaits.
The perennially packed Northern Thai restaurant Wild Rose Thai is getting a sister restaurant in late May with the opening of Sen Hot Pot. Taking the first part its name from the Thai word for noodle and its inspiration from the street food carts that anchor neighborhoods throughout Thailand, the restaurant will specialize in noodle soups, fried noodles, and dishes such as the quintessential comfort food Khao Mun Gai, the Thai version of Hainanese chicken rice.
In the Podski building that anchors Bend’s popular food cart lot, Juno Japanese Sushi Garden’s Michi Nakanishi cuts and rolls the city’s best sushi, saucing impeccable fish with flair. Ponder existential questions such as whether a hazy IPA pairs perfectly with ponzu dressed snapper.
Good eats and good deeds come together at Bo’s Falafel, a local favorite that serves plant-forward, abundantly colorful falafel wraps and bowls. Ever community minded, Bo’s supported out-of-work restaurant workers during the worst days of the pandemic. Honor their work deliciously with a bowl of falafel and a side of fries.
When people describe a restaurant as being a temple to a kind of a cuisine, it’s usually a metaphor. Not so at Grace and Hammer (pictured), which is literally located in a former church. Be a pizza purist and order a pie topped in classic Neapolitan style or go wild with a Korean galbi-topped pizza and worship all that is blistered, cheesy, and wood-fired.
Read the 2021 Camping Issue
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