Bend, Oregon is one of the best small towns to visit in the US, and I don’t say that lightly. If you like river floats, outdoor concerts, gorgeous waterfall hikes, charming, walkable downtowns, and alpaca farms, you need this Bend Oregon Travel Guide for your next vacation. I think Bend has the perfect mix of adventure, nature, wellness, and a delicious, local food scene that honestly rivals big cities like LA. I think Bend would make the best fall vacation with friends or weekend getaway. Read on for my top recommendations on where to eat, adventure, and enjoy all of the amazing things to do in Bend Oregon.
Everywhere we nomad to, I picture Zack and I living there. I even look on Zillow at houses and the neighborhoods that would be closest to my favorite healthy grocery stores. In two years of nomad life, Bend is far and away my favorite place that I could actually see us settling down in. Yes, Z and I have been talking about having kids! For a while, we were unsure if we wanted to have kids or if we were just getting swept up in societal expectations or other people’s timelines. But then on this episode on the Healthier Together Podcast, we got amazing advice from beauty expert Amy Chang on how to have kids and not have it ruin your life. It sounds dramatic, but the fears are real! If you’re in a similar boat, give the episode a listen. I promise it will help with any family planning anxiety!
Anyway, back to Bend.
Bend is a super sunny slice of Oregon that’s totally a year round destination. You can go in the summer to float down the river and hike the beautiful mountains, in the fall to see the beautiful leaves changing, or in the winter for world class skiing. There’s truly something here for everyone.
What’s a healthy travel guide?
I call my itineraries “healthy travel guides” because in every place that I visit, I seek out wellness and relaxation activities, note-worthy restaurants with nourishing foods (for the body AND the soul), and overall things to do that contribute to a happier, healthier life! And if you’re traveling with a partner, these healthy travel guides are guaranteed to make you feel healthier together.
If you have more recommendations on the best restaurants, bars, hotels, and things to do in Bend Oregon, share them in the comments and I’ll add them to this Healthy Bend Oregon Travel Guide! Zack and I can’t wait to go back.
Best food in Bend
Basically every restaurant in this healthy Bend Oregon Travel Guide has a variety of gluten free and vegan options. Here’s where to eat:
- The Pantry: come for the boujis lattes (the pistachio one is heaven) and stay for the healthy breakfast burritos. I also give their pastries an A+.
- Bend Breakfast Burrito: if you’re looking for the perfect pre-hike fuel to grab and go, look no further than this literally named spot. It’s been voted as “the best breakfast burrito in Bend” by locals, so you know I had to try it out. If you’re wondering why, check out my viral vegan freezer burritos.
- Chow: for the best brunch in Bend, head to Chow. Their decor is so artsy and the menu is so inventive with inspired dishes like the honey truffle fried chicken sando to comfort classics like scratch-made biscuits and gravy to healthy delicacies like the kale salmon salad. You’ll find the perfect range of healthy, produce-forward options to finger licking comfort food here.
- Kanona Cafe: this cute bungalow-style superfood cafe and craft coffee shop serves the best smoothies in Bend. Their ingredients are pure, unprocessed, and raw. They also have delicious açai bowls and Hawaiian-style coffee drinks.
- El Sancho: they have the BEST tacos and margaritas that come in seasonal flavors! Their concept is high quality Mexican street food in a really relaxed and fun atmosphere with an outdoor patio.
- Wild Rose Thai: eat lunch or dinner here for amazing, fresh, traditional Thai food served family style! This spot was voted the best Thai restaurant in Bend and is super accommodating for people who are gluten free and vegan. Lunch is first come first serve, no reservations needed, but dinner reservations are highly recommended in advance.
- Active Culture: a natural foods cafe with a few other locations along the Pacific Coast. Their Bend location is the perfect spot for a delicious, healthy salad or grain bowl. And if your tastebuds are craving comfort, the nachos are a must try.
- Spork: head here for a healthy fast, casual dinner that’s super flavorful and perfect for gluten free and vegan foodies. The menu’s loaded with global eats from chilaquiles to dan dan noodles to coconut curry. They even have an awesome kids menu if you’re traveling with little ones.
- Dakine Grindz: Right next door to Kanona Cafe is this authentic Hawaiian shaved ice truck. So if you haven’t had your fill of refreshing smoothies, grab some delicious shaved ice!
- The Ale Apothecary: I’m obsessed with their naturally fermented beers! This is Bend’s only sour brewery, and they make their totally natural, barrel-aged beer using ingredients off the local land from Oregon farms!
Things to do in Bend
- Go hiking: Green Lakes and Broken Hand were my two favorite hikes near Bend, Oregon, and Tumalo Falls is also well worth the effort. In the summer and early fall, you’ll need a day-pass wilderness permit to hike so reserve your spot well ahead of time!
- Summit a mountain: South Sister is known to be one of Oregon’s most incredible hikes. She’s long, she’s tough, but she’s also gorgeous, very doable, and a ton of fun! You’ll also need a permit to hike this trail, which you can find here.
- Explore Smith Rock State Park: it’s gorgeous and well worth the visit. I’d recommend only going for a hike if it’s cooler weather or cloudy, though. The entire park is exposed to the sun and the heat can get extreme. In addition to camping here, you can also go rock climbing, mountain biking, extreme slacklining, and horeback riding here (it’ BYOH though).
- Go lava tubing: You can explore the incredible deep caves and lava tubes in Bend, Oregon either solo or with a tour group! If you’ve never heard of a lava tube, it’s an underground tunnel that’s formed by flowing lava that hardens and creates a tube shape! There’s tons of different tour groups to choose from online.
- Play with alpacas: Crescent Moon Ranch has truly the cutest alpacas I’ve ever seen!! Their website says that they are Oregon’s premier Alpaca destination, and I 100% support this claim. I recommend going at 3:45 p.m. just before they close, and you can stand in the middle of the alpacas as they run into their home for the night!
- Float down the Deschutes River: For some of the most relaxing fun you’ll ever have outdoors, rent some tubes from this local spot and do a river float down the Deschutes. Hot tip: do this on concert nights and float on right outside the outdoor amphitheater to listen to the bands for free!!
- See an outdoor concert: Walk along the Riverwalk from Downtown Bend to the gorgeous, outdoor Hayden Homes Amphitheater (pictured below), which is situated right along the Deschutes River. View their line-up of upcoming concerts here!
The best day trip from Bend
I could honestly stay in Bend forever, but there are just so many amazing activities surrounding Bend that I think it’s worth a short drive. This day trip from Bend is just an hour outside the city and includes the perfect mix of exercise, relaxation, and really good food.
- Drive one hour northwest into the Willamette National Forest to Sahalie Falls and Blue Pool (the trailheads are near each other)!
- Head back south about 40 minutes to Terwilliger Hot Springs to soothe your post hike muscles.
- Now that you’re hungry, make a well-deserved pit-stop on the way home at The Barn in Sisters, Oregon for an amazing array of local food trucks, drinks, and live music! I highly recommend Boone Dog Pizza for farm-to-table style pizza (gluten free crust and vegan options available). They also have food truck for vegan eats, Mexican food, and BBQ, plus an actual scratch kitchen and taproom!
I hope you guys enjoy this healthy Bend Oregon travel guide! Please tag me on Insta (@lizmoody) if you share pictures of your travels, and let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations to add to the list!