Bend vs. beach: Why you should spring break in Bend, Oregon



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Bend vs. beach: Why you should spring break in Bend, Oregon

We all face big crossroads that can alter the course of our lives: Should I chase my college dreams or stay in my small town? Do I marry my sweetheart or pursue that mysterious stranger? Should I spend spring break in Bend or at the beach?

Maybe that last one won’t change your life, but you know what? It might.

Bend has a way of stirring your soul and opening your eyes to the power of fresh air, majestic mountains, and the sort of small-town friendly charm that leaves you thinking, “maybe I like my fellow humans after all.” 

For Pacific Northwest families weighing the choice between mountains or coast, let me share why you should pick Bend for spring break.

Escape the rain

Growing up in Oregon, I had one pair of grandparents on the Oregon Coast and one pair in Central Oregon. I loved visiting them all, but I’ll admit that most of my beach memories are clouded with rain. Clear, sun-kissed days were a rarity on the coast, but they’re standard fare in Bend. My Central Oregon childhood memories are shades of sunshine & snow, or sunshine & desert heat. That can be a blessed relief this time of year if you hail from an area where rain is a springtime staple. Whether you’re a family that hikes or one that bonds over shopping, isn’t it nicer without wind gusts turning your umbrella inside out?

Family skiing at Mt. Bachelor Ski area in Bend, Oregon.
The whole family can ski or board at Mt. Bachelor.

Shop ’till you drop (with no sales tax)

Not only will you save some money by not shelling out for sales tax when you visit Bend (or anywhere else in Oregon), but this time of the year, retailers are unloading winter gear at discounted prices for you to take advantage of. Whether you’re looking to get some new outdoor toys at REI in the Old Mill District, or finding a unique keepsake at one of the local shops downtown, Bend’s shopping scene is sure to keep you (and your wallet) happy.

No sand in your shoes

Have you ever found yourself still vacuuming sand out of your backseat a month after you visited the coast? There are lots of great things about snow in Bend, but one of the best is that it melts instead of turning your floor mats into sanding blocks.

Spork tacos in Bend, OR
Bend is a foodie paradise!

Savor the flavors

Tons of travel blogs and magazines have been buzzing for years over Bend’s killer culinary scene, which is unusual for a landlocked city of nearly 110,000 people. But with oodles of award winning chefs calling Bend home (not to mention specialty options ranging from gluten-free to vegan dining) Bend restaurants promise to please your palate if your spring break plans bring you to this high desert culinary oasis.

No need to make tough choices

To ski or to golf? To snowshoe or to mountain bike? These are difficult decisions to be sure, but you’re not forced to make them in Bend. We’re one of the few cities in America to master the art of three sports in one day, so pack your snowboard and your trail running shoes. There’s a good chance you’ll need both.

Dog Sledding at Mt. Bachelor in Bend, Oregon.
A sled dog ride probably won’t happen for you at the beach, but it could happen in Bend!

Sled dog rides on the beach?

Yeah, that’s not a thing. But if a once-in-a-lifetime sled dog adventure is on your bucket list, you can make it happen in Bend.

Mountain View and sunrise from Bend, Oregon.
Sunsets and sunrises are always better with mountains in them.

Travel with a conscience

Here in Bend, we recognize the treasure trove of natural wonders around us. To make sure they’re here for future generations, we created the Bend Sustainability Fund to care for the places taking care of us. In a nutshell, we take a portion of room tax dollars (that room tax you pay at every hotel, AirBnB, or Bend vacation rental) and we put it toward projects like trail enhancements, river preservation work, and more. In other words, when you vacation in Bend, you’re doing your part to leave this magical place better than you found it.

Sunrises look better with snow-capped peaks

When it comes to snapping sunrises and sunsets, nothing beats Bend’s bounty of rugged eye candy. The glittering Cascade Mountains make the perfect backdrop for family photos and duck-face selfies, so get ready to bust out the good camera.

Bring Rover along for the ride

I’m not saying the beach isn’t dog friendly (though I’m still cleaning sand from my backseat after our trip to the coast last fall). But Bend makes a point to be over-the-top welcoming to your four-legged friends. Between our bounty of off-leash dog parks and trails, to our pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, and food carts with heated patios, your pup can feel welcome for your whole Bend adventure.

Want a break from the outdoors?

If you’ve had your fill of wallowing in snowy fields, there’s plenty of fun indoorsy stuff to do in Bend. Hit the High Desert Museum and soak up tons of natural history and cool critters. Visit Mountain Air Trampoline Park or Trampoline Zone to get the wiggles out, or satisfy your need for speed in a go-kart at K1 Speed. Enjoy arcade games, bumper cars, and a family game of bowling at Sun Mountain Fun Center. Solve a mystery together with the clock ticking at Puzzle Effect Escape Room. For more ideas, check out this post.

The best of après ski

From an umbrella bar with a removable roof at Mt. Bachelor to the post-ski bashes held at The Commons, Bend’s après ski scene is on point. There’s even an entire Bend Ale Trail for you to tackle. Which brings me to my final point…

Bend Ale Trail Passport
Grab your Bend Ale Trail Passport from the Bend Visitor Center and start your trek!

The Bend Ale Trail

There’s a reason Bend’s craft beer scene gets written about in publications ranging from the Washington Post to USA Today. Yes, we make great beer, but do you know why? One reason is the abundance of pure water, courtesy of Central Oregon snowmelt. Spend a few hours on the legendary Bend Ale Trail and you’ll taste the difference.