Downtown Bend: Quick Guide to Activities, Culture and Food
Located in central Oregon, Bend ranks among the top spots in Oregon for outdoor lovers. However, the city is also one of the most popular for food, brews and independently owned shops. While many come to the area for adventure, others flock to the city’s biggest attraction: downtown Bend. Here a quick guide and what to expect.
Downtown Bend: Guide to Activities, Restaurants and Must-Sees
How to Get to Bend, Oregon
Redmond Municipal Airport offers flights from major airlines in cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix and Salt Lake City, to name a few. The airport is located only 20 minutes from downtown Bend, offering quick access via car, bus and taxi. Those who prefer to drive or travel via rail find downtown less than 500 miles from cities including San Francisco, Seattle and Reno, Nevada.
Once guests arrive, they have several flexible transportation options. Visitors are welcome to rent cars, take the bus, rent bicycles and use ride-sharing programs. In the summer, the city offers free transportation via Ride Bend, a shuttle that connects downtown Bend to other major areas. Other transportation options include Bend Trolley, Uber, Lyft, town cars and tour buses.
Parking in Downtown Bend
Need a place to park? No problem. The downtown parking garage costs $5 for the entire day and is free on weekends. Those who visit for a couple of hours have access to parking on streets and Mirror Pond lots. On the street, enjoy free parking with a two-hour maximum. Or park in Mirror Pond for as little as $1 an hour.
Things to Do and Events
Walkable streets and attractions offer a place to try new activities. Start with a trip to Bend Visitor Center, which has a staff ready to help plan fun activities. At the center, chat with locals, pick up maps and shop for souvenirs.
Visitors can also rent electric bikes, take carriage rides and play Vector Volcano Classic Arcade, home to arcade games and pinball machines from the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to these activities, downtown Bend also hosts dozens of events throughout the year. Attend parades, car shows, marathons, food and drink events, and more.
Find Arts and Entertainment
The downtown area also houses popular venues for arts and culture. BendFilm hosts a film festival every fall where guests see independent and documentary films. Liberty Theater has displayed exhibits and hosted local events for over 100 years. For drama, music, dance and movies, visit Tower Theatre – also known as Bend’s Living Room.
To browse local art, head to Jeffrey Murray, Mary Medrano, Mockingbird and Red Chair. These galleries focus on showcasing Bend artists, their creativity and contributions to the area.
Shop Local Businesses
With one of the most charming downtowns in Oregon, visitors enjoy a friendly atmosphere paired with modernity. The area consists of two one-way streets, Wall and Bond that house over 300 businesses. This layout enables visitors to access hundreds of boutiques selling everything from apparel and fitness to art and salon services.
Additionally, most shops in Bend are locally owned and operated, and contribute to the community. Shoppers will also find niche products and services, catering to interests such as running, fashion, home décor, cycling, nightlife and jewelry.
Want to take a piece of Bend home? Every Friday, admire and meet local artists during First Friday Art Walk. Guests of all ages have a blast finding something that represents Bend.
Where to Eat in Downtown Bend
Local dining ranks among the top things to do on vacation. How else can everyone sample fresh food mixed with culinary expression? And for foodies, downtown Bend delivers with over 70 restaurants. Take a break at a local coffee shop, tour a brewery, order something fresh from a food truck, or enjoy casual and upscale dining with loved ones.
Top spots include Zydeco Kitchen and Cocktails, Drake, J Dub, Spork, and Ariana Restaurant. For good food and local brews, stop by Deschutes Brewery, an iconic brewery in Bend that serves local beers, pub favorites and big smiles.
Read about the top 8 Bend restaurants. Then plan a trip and search Bend vacation rentals.
Main photo: Keri Logan via Flickr