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A Newcomer’s Guide to Bend, Oregon | 18 Things New Bendites Need to Know

  |  Central Oregon, Neighborhood Insight

With majestic mountains nearby, an overwhelming collection of craft breweries, a sparkling river running through town, beautiful homes, and a friendly, laid-back community of residents, Bend is a desirable city in the heart of Oregon. Many people are recognizing the draw of this underrated town, which has increased in popularity (and population!) over the last few decades.

If you are one of the lucky new residents of Bend, there are a few things you might want to know about upon your arrival to this outdoorsy, craft beer-loving town. Bend is a special and unique city with a number of incredible (and sometimes quirky!) features.


The Bend Basics:
  • Estimated Population (2016): 91,122
  • County: Deschutes County (Bend is the county seat)
  • Land Mass: 33.27 Square Miles
  • Elevation: 3,623 Feet
  • Rainfall: 11.38 Inches Annually
  • Snowfall: 23 Inches Annually
  • Average Annual High Temperature: 59.6°F
  • Average Annual Temperature: 46.5°F
  • Average Annual Low Temperature: 33.4°F


1. The people are extra friendly in Bend. Take time to say hello.

Bend, Oregon

You’ll immediately notice an overwhelming spirit of friendliness in this inviting town. Bendites are often seen chatting with neighbors on the sidewalk or starting a conversation with a stranger in the grocery store line. Make a point to participate in this exchange — it’s a quality we love about the community here! Friendliness, a wave or a simple smile can go a long way in helping Bend remain an inviting and positive place to be for both residents and visitors.


2. There are so many things to do outdoors.

Things To Do Outdoors in Bend, Oregon

This entire list could focus on this one point. There is an endless amount of things to do outside in Bend — including skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snow tubing, rafting, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, climbing, hunting, trail running and more. The Deschutes River Trail provides nearly uninterrupted access to the breathtaking waterway weaving through the community. During the winter, locals and tourists alike head to Mount Bachelor just 20 miles west of Bend for some of the best skiing, snowboarding and tubing in the region. Whether it’s sunny or snowing, Bend residents sure know how to remain active and fully enjoy the unparalleled beauty of Central Oregon.


3. Bend has an exceptional coffee scene.

Megaphone Coffee Co. Bend, Oregon Coffee Roasters Shop House

Photo Courtesy of Megaphone Coffee Co.

One of the most important things to do after moving to a new city is establishing your local go-to coffee shop. Thankfully, you have plenty of coffee shops and roasters to choose from in Bend. Local favorites include Megaphone Coffee Co., Thump Coffee, Companion Coffeehouse, Backporch Coffee Roasters, and many more.


4. Waterfalls are in our backyard.

Tumalo Falls Bend, Oregon

Oregon and Washington residents are lucky to have plenty of breathtaking waterfalls just a short drive (or hike!) away. One of the area’s most iconic waterfalls is Tumalo Falls, situated just southwest of Bend. This stunning natural phenomenon is considered the tallest waterfall in the area, and there are nine waterfalls dotting the creek beyond the infamous Tumalo Falls. Take the Tumalo Creek Trail to Tumalo Falls, then continue for about 3 miles to encounter several other sparkling waterfalls of all shapes and sizes. Once you reach the intersection with Swampy Lake Trail, you can turn left and head towards the trailhead via Bridge Creek to make a loop! This waterfall adventure in the heart of Central Oregon should not be missed.


5. Craft beer is kind of Bend’s thing.

Deschutes Brewery Portland, OR

Photo Courtesy of Deschutes Brewery

This is one of the first things you’ll notice upon arriving in Bend. There is a surprising number of breweries in Bend and Central Oregon, including the famous Deschutes Brewery, which is the eighth-largest craft brewery in the nation. Bend has the highest microbrewery per capita in Oregon and has even been called Beer City USA. There are over 22 breweries in Bend and an estimated 91,122 residents, which means there is one brewery for every 4,142 humans. That’s a lot of beer!

One of the best ways to sample some of these local beers is by embarking on the Bend Ale Trail, the largest beer trail in the west. Simply acquire a passport and receive stamps at each of the breweries along the way. No purchase is necessary at each of the stops, but it’s a great opportunity to sample a variety of Bend beers.


6. Get involved with the arts culture.

The Workhouse Bend, Oregon

Photo Courtesy of The Workhouse

Bend is known as a crafty and art-loving town, exemplified in places like The Workhouse. The Warehouse creates a space for artists to work, and operates as a place of exchange between artists and their community. They also have a retail gallery, on-site studios, event space, and educational programming for Bend and Central Oregon.

The local music scene is thriving in Bend as well. See a concert or show at The Tower Theatre and various intimate venues scattered throughout town. 


7. Deer are like squirrels here.

Bend, Oregon

You may be moving from a place where deer are more of a novelty — and something you’d pull over the car for and photograph. But in Bend, deer are much more common and something Bendites are accustomed to seeing on a regular basis. Our pristine location surrounded by nature means Bend is filled with beautiful trees, plants and various wildlife — including deer. However, this does mean that you must use caution while driving in areas with a heavy deer population — particularly at night!


8. The farmers’ market season is short in Bend, so take advantage of it during the summer.

Bend Farmers' Market

You’ll quickly find that locally grown produce is a bit harder to find in Bend. Central Oregon’s high desert climate means farmers must work a little harder to reap a harvest, as they struggle through sandy soil. Plus, the high elevation and relatively short growing season means crops can suffer from cold and frost.

The growing season in Bend is about 80 days long, so you should maximize this robust time to stock up on all things fresh and local. The Bend Farmers’ Market runs from May through mid-October. The main downtown market meets at Brooks Alley behind the Tower Theater each Wednesday from 2–6 p.m. The eastside market runs from July 5 through September 27. This new market meets in the Whole Foods east lot every Thursday from 2–6 p.m. Take advantage of these incredible markets throughout the summer and into the fall while fresh, locally grown produce is more abundant!


9. There are a ton of natural food stores.

Trader Joe's Bend, Oregon

While the growing season may be shorter in Bend, there are still plenty of grocery stores to ensure your fridge is consistently stocked with all things fresh, natural and organic. One of our favorite neighborhood stores, Trader Joe’s, is situated up north, in addition to a Natural Grocers. There’s a Whole Foods in East Bend and a Newport Avenue Market in River West. No matter where you live in the area, there’s ample opportunity to shop for natural groceries.


10. Embrace the cold winters.

Winter in Bend, Oregon

Speaking of cold, you’re going to have to get used to it, as Bend can have some pretty chilly winters. You can expect close to 2 feet of annual snowfall in Bend, which of course makes for excellent skiing and snowboarding conditions! The winter can last well past the start of spring, so it’s best to embrace this winter wonderland and all the fun outdoor activities that come with it. Invest in good snow boots, a hefty jacket, and of course, make sure your car is equipped to maneuver these conditions, especially if you’re headed to the slopes or over the pass.

On the other hand, Bend has notoriously picturesque and sunny summers. So the snow-filled days are well worth it once you’re sipping on a light craft beer on a patio with your sunglasses on.


11. Bend is super laid-back.

Bend, Oregon

Unless you’re going to a fancy dinner or a job interview, you can leave your sparkles and heels behind in Bend. This town is super laid-back, as seen in the way residents dress, drive and interact. In general, it’s all about comfort and functionality in Bend — so you can expect to see a lot of jeans, fleece, boots, hats, and other casual attire.


12. People love their dogs here.

Dogs in Bend, Oregon

A few years ago, Go Pet Friendly named Bend one of The Best Cities for Dog-Friendly Vacations. And for good reason! Bend has miles and miles of dog-friendly hikes, eight off-leash dog parks, plenty of lakes and rivers, and several dog-friendly establishments. There are so many things to do with dogs in and around Bend! That’s probably why roughly half of all Bend households own a dog, which is higher than the national average, as 36 percent of American households own dogs.


13. There are tons of great places to eat.

Barrio Bend, Oregon

Photo Courtesy of Barrio

Much like its other qualities, the dining scene in Bend is top-notch. Bend offers a diverse selection of restaurants, serving everything from New American and Greek to Thai and seafood. There are endless options for dining in Bend, but local favorites include Barrio, Ariana, McKay Cottage, Spork, Pine Tavern, Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails, Chow, The Sparrow Bakery, Drake, and 5 Fusion and Sushi Bar.


14. Old Mill District is the place to be.

Old Mill District Bend, Oregon

Photo Courtesy of Pete Alport via the Old Mill District

A large concentration of Bend’s most popular attractions exists in the Old Mill District, a one-stop-shop for shopping, dining and entertainment nestled along the Deschutes River. This area has endless culinary options, a great selection of shops, a riverfront park, coffee shops, a movie theater, breweries and wine bars, an amphitheater, a dog park, art galleries, and much more. The district is a convenient and lively destination for a variety of activities — whether you want to recline with a glass of wine on a patio or take a stroll along the river with your dog!


15. Brush up on your roundabout etiquette.


There is quite an abundance of roundabouts in Bend. In fact, many of them have local artwork displayed in the center, creating both beautiful and useful infrastructure throughout the city. Visit Bend even provides a Roundabout Art Route, which features a collection of over 20 pieces of public art on display throughout the city in these unlikely places

Before your tour, you may want to brush up on standard roundabout etiquette, as Bendites take their traffic circles quite seriously. Bend Magazine put together a helpful tutorial and graphic that will refresh your memory!


16. Stock up on lotion and lip balm — and drink lots of water.


Bend’s dry desert climate means you will have to up your water intake and keep lotion and lip balm on hand at all times! Support local by shopping Bend Soap Co.’s selection of natural goat milk lotion, lip butter, and other moisturizing products that will help you combat Bend’s notoriously dry climate.


17. Speed limits are pretty low in Bend.

Speed Limits in Bend, Oregon

As we’ve mentioned, Bend is a laid-back city. Things are more slower paced here than in larger cities — and that includes the speed limit! In early 2018, speed limits were lowered throughout the city after community feedback and engineering analysis. So be careful and pay attention to speed limit signs as you navigate the roads of Bend.


18. There are plenty of homes to choose from — and lots of new construction options.

Homes for Sale in Bend, Oregon

This home is for sale here.

If you’ve yet to find a home in Bend, we are here to help! There is a wide variety of homes for sale in Bend, ranging in size, style and price point. But one thing’s for certain — there is a large selection of new construction properties in Bend, as the city is experiencing a population boom. Take a look at the many homes in Bend and contact us if we can help make your home search (or your move!) easier.

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About the Author

Courtney Itami

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