What is Bend, Oregon Known For?
Bend oftentimes feels like a special place, and the reason isn’t surprising. We’re a city built on the legacy of pioneers, explorers, risk takers and of course, lovers of all things craft beer. In fact, some of the places that make Bend truly unique, like our historic parks, call back to that storied past, providing guests seemingly endless options for things to do and explore, from summer to winter. To get started, here are some landmarks that really make Bend feel like Bend.
The Old Mill District
This is where it all began. Many towns in the West were founded for a specific industry, and Bend is no different. Back in 1916, two lumber mills opened up on the banks of the Deschutes River, providing people a reason to settle in the area. The two mills produced lumber and labor for decades, until one closed in 1950, and the other shut down in 1983, due to rampant deforestation and the decline of the local logging industry. The Old Mill represents the history of how Bend switched gears from a logging town to a tourist destination. Once an industrial zone, the modern Old Mill District provides shopping, nightlife, entertainment, amazing dining, live music, wine tasting, picturesque photo opportunities and so much more.
Named after Oregon pioneer and Bend founder Alexander M. Drake, Drake Park is an approximately 13 acre park that was founded back in 1921. While the park has undergone a series of upgrades, the most recent being completed in the summer of 2023, Drake Park still has the same charm it did back in the day. Guests love to stop by the park and walk along the Deschutes River, stop for a picnic, lounge in a hammock, try out some slacklining and more. Right next to Downtown Bend, Drake Park is the perfect place to walk off a brunch, or to rest after a shopping spree.
Another historic landmark, Pilot Butte got its name in 1851 from Thomas Clark, the leader of the first party of European settlers to camp on the future site of Bend. Pilot Butte is a lava dome created from an extinct volcano that rises about 500 feet over the surrounding area, providing incredible views. Guests can hike or drive to the summit to enjoy views that stretch as far as the distant California Mt. Shasta on a particularly clear day. Pilot Butte makes Bend one of only six cities in the entire United States that has a volcano within city limits.
The Deschutes River
Arguably one of Bend’s most popular summertime attractions, the Deschutes River played a key role in the development of the city. Those two original lumber mills that now make up the Old Mill District were founded on the Deschutes River, near a bend in the river. This is actually how the city got the name of Bend. The Deschutes River is the lifeblood of the community, in that it supported our early logging roots and now supports our tourism industry. Aside from providing tranquil views, the Deschutes River offers floating, rafting, fishing and swimming to the entire community.
Farewell Bend Park
This 22 acre park beckons to Bend’s past, specifically, our old name. Remember how Bend was named after a bend in the river? That specific bend used to be called the “Farewell Bend” and funny enough, that was actually the unofficial name of the town until the Post Office Department in Washington D.C. decided the name was too long, and shortened it to Bend. Now, Farewell Bend Park is a popular destination for nature walks and hiking, fishing, floating the river and just enjoying the views. Conveniently, Farewell Bend Park is located within walking distance of the Old Mill District.
Without a doubt, Mt. Bachelor is the most popular winter attraction in Bend. The name comes from the fact that visually, the peak of Mt. Bachelor seems to stand apart from the peaks of the nearby Three Sisters Mountains. In 1941, a small ski area opened up on the mountain, and by 1958, that ski hill had transformed into a ski resort, thanks to the efforts of the Bend Skyliners Mountaineering Club. Now, Mt. Bachelor Resort is a very popular skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and dog sledding destination with over 4,300 lift-accessible acres, 101 unique runs, several terrain parks and 12 different ski lifts. In the summer months, the resort offers mountain biking, sunset chairlift dinners and a massive zipline.
With landmarks like these, it’s no wonder Bend grew to be the destination it is today. Where else can guests find a craft beer city like this that is so surrounded by rich history, beautiful landscapes, modern amenities and outdoor adventure everywhere you look? Be sure to check out lodging options in Bend before they fill up.