Over the past month I’ve had the opportunity to visit Bend, Oregon several times: once for a dance workshop, and once with friends from out of town to visit my friend Jenn’s new bridal shop (Bliss Northwest Bridal). The time I spent there was no where near enough to see and do all that I would like to in Bend, but I was able to explore some pretty cool places while in the area, even in a short amount of time. Although I visited these stops over the course of several trips, one could easily pack them into a day trip!
Exploring the Lava Fields
One of my favorite discoveries from my first trip was the Lava Fields at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, about 20 minutes south of Bend. The coarse lava rock covers miles of flatland, and is met by thick evergreen forests in the distance, with the snow-topped peaks of Mount Bachelor as a backdrop. The neighboring Lava Butte is a 2-mile hike from its base, but due to time constraints I opted for the much shorter path which winds through the Lava Fields and has various viewpoints and informational plaques along the way. The walking path loop took less than an hour - which was perfect, because the temperature was well below 40 degrees, and I did not wear nearly enough layers! For being such a brief and convenient stop, the Lava Fields were incredibly beautiful, and even otherworldly in a way. A definite must-see if you travel to Bend!
Breakfast in the Snow
After reading a number of highly complimentary online reviews, I decided to try the McKay Cottage Restaurant on the North side of Bend. Upon arrival, my friend and I were told that we had two options: either we could wait 45 minutes for a table inside the century-old cottage, or we could eat outside and be seated immediately. Hungry as we were, we quickly chose the latter. Seated at an outdoor stone table complete with a personal table-fire and warm fuzzy blankets, we enjoyed a delicious meal of biscuits and gravy and breakfast hash with fresh berries. Midway through brunch it began snowing lightly, as children from another table continued to build a snowman on the lawn out of leftover snow from the day before. The meal and atmosphere were well-worth the cold, and if I were to return, I would choose the outdoor seating again without hesitation!
On these brief trips to Bend, I was able to appreciate a number of beautiful views simply by pulling over and spending a few minutes at the roadside viewpoints on the drives there and back. There are a number of these stops on the main roads leading to Bend, and all are surrounded by stunning landscapes. Going north of highway 20, there are a few viewpoints next to open fields where the mountains can be seen in the distance. Driving west on 58, one can park next to the glassy blue Odell Lake, and walk down to the water. These stops are perhaps the easiest ways to enjoy more of the area if you have tight time and budget constraints!