Originally published in the Winter + Spring 2019 issue.
If Central Oregon isn’t on your vacation list yet, now is the time to add it. From the 360-degree skiing and snowboarding experience at Mt. Bachelor to Bend’s authentic West Coast culture and amazing craft beer, there are so many reasons to plan a visit.
I went in the winter, so while I didn’t get a chance to check out any hiking or mountain bike trails, the trip was full of fun, adventure and so many memorable spots to eat and drink.
Night one was in Sunriver, a 3,300-acre residential and resort community that is known as Mt. Bachelor’s “other” base area. It’s located less than 20 miles from the ski resort and from Bend, so it’s ideal for an overnight or even just a stop at the Sunriver Brewery (honestly, this spot makes the best beer I had the whole trip, and that’s saying something).
For breakfast in Sunriver, Carson’s American Kitchen has everything from hot cinnamon-sugar donut holes to an antioxidant salad. During my meal I read all about the 4.75-mile River Loop trail that takes you on a paved path along the Deschutes River, through Meadows Golf Course and past fields of grazing horses and Sunriver Airport. My running legs started to itch, but it was time to get up to Mt. Bachelor for a day on the slopes.
With 3365-feet of vertical terrain, Mt. Bachelor is a unique mountain. I found it inviting and peaceful — a welcome change from the hustle bustle of Colorado’s high-end ski resorts. Mt. Bachelor has no slopeside lodging or base villages, which creates a noticeably mellow vibe. It’s all about the mountain, and that’s a pretty special experience.
Here is the best way to play: stay in Sunriver or Bend, and spend the day at Mt. Bachelor. Enjoy lunch at Scapalos in the Pine Marten Lodge at mid-mountain, and in the afternoon families or groups of friends may want to enjoy a sled dog ride with Oregon Trail of Dreams from the Lower Sunrise parking area. This was a true highlight for me and a wonderful way to experience some of the miles of National Forest land that surround Mt. Bachelor.
Onto Bend, dinner at Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails and a night at The Oxford was a way to warm up and settle in with style. Sophisticated design, luxury amenities and a downtown location make The Oxford an ideal hotel for a refresh from adventure. I enjoyed a glass of Oregon pinot noir at Zydeco, along with an amazing beef filet with brussels sprouts and au grain potatoes.
The next morning I met my friends who live in Bend before sunrise for an 8-mile run. I don’t know what trails we were on, as I followed them and it was quite dark outside the range of my headlamp, but I thoroughly enjoyed the rolling and wide dirt terrain we were scampering over starting at 5:30 a.m.
Breakfast in Bend was at The Victorian Café, a laid-back eatery that’s known for classic diner dishes and incredibly large bloody marys. I had one, virgin-style, and was most impressed by the buffet of shrimp, cheese, meatball and more on the drink’s skewer.
After another big day at Mt. Bachelor, a brewery tour and tasting at Immersion Brewing hit the spot, followed by some live music at The Pine Shed at Spoken Moto, and dinner at 900 Wall. The new American eatery serves locally sourced cuisine, and a glass of red wine (Oregon pinot, of course) paired perfectly with my pancetta rigatoni entrée.
Leaving felt a bit sad, as there is so much more of Bend I want to experience. I didn’t get a chance to try yoga at Wren & Wild, or spa services at Spa W, or ice skating at The Pavilion — all activities that were recommended. So, it’s easy to say that I’ll be back to Bend, maybe next time for mountain bike season.
Photo by Jeffrey Murray.