Nina snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor
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Bend in Winter: 21 Coolest Things to Do!

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Are you ready to explore the winter wonderland that is Bend, Oregon? As the snowflakes begin to dance and the chilly air nips at your nose, Bend transforms into a magical playground, just waiting for you to discover its hidden treasures.

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking for that adrenaline rush or someone who prefers cozying up with hot cocoa by the fire, Bend has something special for you this winter.

So grab your mittens, and let’s dive into the endless fun that awaits in Bend’s snowy embrace. From snowshoeing under starlit skies to sipping locally brewed craft beers after a day on the slopes as a Bend local, this is the only list of things to do in Bend in winter you’ll need!

Bend in Winter—Best Activities!

1. Skiing and Snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor

Winter in Bend, Oregon is synonymous with adventure, and there’s no better way to kick off the snowy season than hitting the slopes at Mt. Bachelor. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie on the snow, this is the ultimate winter playground.

Nina snowboarding down a wide piste on Mount Bachelor.
Nina and I tearing up Mt. Bachelor

Mt. Bachelor offers world-class skiing and snowboarding on its expansive terrain, with powdery runs and exhilarating slopes to suit all skill levels. Imagine the thrill of carving down the mountain, surrounded by snow-covered pines and the crisp mountain air. You can bring your own gear or rent everything you need right on the mountain.

TIP: Check the weather conditions before heading out and make sure your ride is capable (chains, snowtires, 4wd, etc). If it looks like a no go then you can always take the bus from the Bend Park and Ride.

2. Snowshoeing in the Deschutes National Forest

If you’re looking for a more tranquil way to embrace winter’s charm, snowshoeing in the Deschutes National Forest is the answer. It’s like stepping into a winter wonderland.

Strap on your snowshoes, and head out to explore the forest’s hidden corners. The hush of the snow underfoot, the scent of pine in the air, and the chance to see local wildlife make this an unforgettable experience. Don’t worry; it’s easy to learn, and rentals are readily available in Bend.

Nina besides a wooden cabin in a snowy landscape in Swampy Lake, Deschutes National Forest.
Nina and I snowshoeing Swampy Lakes near Bend
  1. Tumalo Falls Trail: The Tumalo Falls trail is a favorite among snowshoers, offering a moderate trek with spectacular views of the frozen waterfall.
  2. Edison Sno-Park: Located south of Bend, the Edison Sno-Park features a variety of trails suitable for snowshoeing. The picturesque surroundings and diverse landscapes make it a rewarding destination.
  3. Swampy Lakes Sno-Park: Along the Cascade Lakes Highway, Swampy Lakes Sno-Park offers a mix of groomed and ungroomed trails that are excellent for snowshoeing. There’s a warming cabin at the end of the trail!
  4. Virginia Meissner Sno-Park: Just west of Bend, this sno-park boasts well-maintained trails that are perfect for snowshoers. The Virginia Meissner Nordic Ski Club maintains these trails for a quality winter experience.

Here are all the snowshoeing trails in Deschutes National Forest to try out.

TIP: Head to Gear Fix to rent snowshoes for only $15 for the day.

PS – Nina’s first time EVER snowshoeing was at Swampy Lakes, so if you’re a newbie like her, it’s a good place to start.

3. Ice Skating at The Pavilion

There’s something magical about gliding on ice under a starry winter sky, and The Pavilion in Bend is the place to make that magic happen. This community ice rink is perfect for skaters of all ages and skill levels.

A young girl taking private skate lessons at the Pavilion in Bend.
Photo Credit Bend Parks and Rec

Lace up your skates and enjoy the crisp air while circling the rink. The Pavilion often hosts special events and themed skate nights, adding a touch of festivity to your experience.

TIP: Check their schedule for themed skate nights, like ’80s retro or disco!

4. Cross-Country Skiing on the Trails

Cross-country skiing is like a brisk walk through a winter postcard. Bend offers a variety of Nordic skiing opportunities with trails suited for everyone, from beginners to experts.

Man in a yellow jacket cross-country skiing in the mountain snow in Oregon.
Cross-country skiing in Oregon

Strap on your skis and push off from one of the trails in the stunning Deschutes National Forest!

TIP: Virginia Meissner Sno-Park is a fantastic spot to base your cross-country skiing adventure.

5. Winter Hiking in Shevlin Park

If you’re not a skier, fear not; there’s plenty of winter magic to be found while hiking in Shevlin Park. The frozen Deschutes River and snow-draped pines create a serene setting for a winter hike.

Layer up and hit the trails. With snow crunching under your boots and the sound of the river nearby, it’s a peaceful escape into nature. Keep your eyes peeled for winter wildlife, and don’t forget your camera!

A snowy scene at the Covered Bridge in Tumalo Creek, Shevlin Park.
Winter paradise at Shevlin Park

It’s an easy 4.5-mile trail along Tumalo Creek with cool canyon views sprinkled in snow!

TIP: Sunset hikes offer some of the most stunning views, so time your trek accordingly.

6. Sleigh Rides in Sunriver

When winter blankets the region in snow, it’s time to experience the magic of a horse-drawn sleigh ride in Sunriver. Cozy up under warm blankets as you glide through snow-covered meadows and forests, listening to the delightful jingle of sleigh bells and the rhythmic clip-clop of the horses’ hooves. It’s like stepping into a winter fairy tale.

Get your reservation in since the window is only from mid-December to January 1st!

TIP: Afterwards, grab some hot cocoa or spiced cider for an extra touch of warmth and coziness.

7. Snowmobiling in the Cascades

For adrenaline junkies, snowmobiling in the Cascade Mountains is a thrilling winter adventure. Zoom across the snow-covered backcountry, taking in the breathtaking vistas, deep powder, and the exhilaration of the plenty of open spaces there are to adventure on!

Don’t have your own snow hog? No worries! Rentals and guided tours are readily available, catering to all experience levels at Wanoga Sno-Park from mid-November to mid-April.

Man ripping a snowmobile through a winter landscape.
The best time of year for snowmobiling!

Head on over, and they’ll take you through the magical white landscape to a cool secret spot or let you rent and ride away to discover your own adventure. More info here.

TIP: Dress in warm, moisture-wicking layers to stay comfortable, and remember to respect wildlife and natural habitats while exploring.

8. Head to The Theater

Tin Pan Theater, that is! Tin Pan Theater is a delightful and intimate movie-watching experience, making it an ideal winter activity in Bend. This locally-owned gem captures the essence of a bygone era, providing moviegoers with a unique and cozy atmosphere to enjoy a diverse range of films.

The theater’s vintage charm, complete with dimmed lighting and retro décor, creates a welcoming ambiance that’s perfect for winter evenings.

The entry to Tin Pan Theatre in Bend.
Check out this unique theater!

Check the Tin Pan Theater’s schedule for its eclectic mix of films, which often includes classics, independent releases, and thought-provoking documentaries.

TIP: The Tin Pan Theater’s schedule can fill up quickly, so consider reserving your tickets in advance to secure your spot. However, if showtimes are full don’t fret there are still plenty of other unique spots to watch a movie or show. Check out Bend’s Iconic Tower Theater or the McMenamins movie theater.

9. Visit Local Wineries for Tastings

Winter is a fantastic time to explore the local wineries in the Bend area. Savor delicious wines in cozy tasting rooms and enjoy the warm and inviting atmosphere. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just starting your journey into the world of wine, the wineries offer an opportunity to taste the region’s finest.

Where to go?

  • Va Piano Vineyards: Their welcoming tasting room, complete with a cozy fireplace, provides a warm and inviting atmosphere. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample their rich red wines, which are perfect for sipping during the colder months.
  • The Wine Shop and Beer Tasting Bar: This hidden gem in Bend combines the best of both worlds, offering a unique selection of wines and craft beers.
  • Maragas Winery: A short drive from Bend, Maragas Winery is known for its stunning vineyard, surrounded by snow-capped peaks. They offer wine tastings in a charming setting, and their reds are especially popular during the winter season.
  • Faith, Hope and Charity Vineyards: This picturesque vineyard not only provides excellent wines but also stunning views of the Central Oregon landscape. Their tasting room and outdoor patio are perfect for savoring the season’s beauty while enjoying your favorite wine.

TIP: Many wineries have special winter events and tastings, so be sure to check their schedules for seasonal offerings and unique wine experiences.

10. Rock Out at Bend Winterfest

Bend Winterfest is a yearly celebration of all things winter, usually in February. It features live music, ice carving, a rail jam, and a variety of delicious food and drinks. It’s a fantastic way to embrace the winter spirit alongside the local community.

Crowds inside a luxury looking event tent at Winterfest in Bend.
Photo Credit: Oregon Winter Fest

What to Expect:

  1. Ice Carving Competitions: Watch talented artists transform blocks of ice into stunning sculptures, showcasing their skill and creativity in a dazzling display of frozen art.
  2. Rail Jam: This exciting snowboarding event features skilled riders showcasing their talents on a specially designed course. It’s an action-packed spectacle that’s both thrilling and entertaining.
  3. Live Music: Winterfest often hosts live music performances featuring local and regional bands, adding to the festive atmosphere. It’s the perfect opportunity to dance and enjoy the music with friends and fellow festival-goers.
  4. Delicious Food and Drinks: The event offers a variety of food and beverage vendors, serving up delectable treats and drinks to keep you warm and satisfied.
  5. Artisan Market: Explore the local artisan market, where you can find unique and handmade goods, making for excellent souvenirs and gifts.

TIP: Check the event schedule for specific activities and plan your visit accordingly to catch your favorite winter attractions. It’s a three-day event!

11. Visit the High Desert Museum

Bend’s High Desert Museum is a year-round gem. In winter, it offers an opportunity to explore interactive exhibits, wildlife encounters, and cultural insights in a warm and welcoming environment.

Cosy and traditional interior of a log cabin at the High Desert Museum in Bend.
Something about winter makes visiting this museum a tad more cozy

As the high desert embraces the winter chill, the museum’s indoor exhibits allow you to escape the cold and dive into the captivating history and ecology of Central Oregon. You’ll discover how the region’s landscapes and wildlife adapt during the winter months, gaining a deeper appreciation for the local ecosystem.

TIP: Keep an eye out for special winter-themed exhibits and events that make your museum visit even more intriguing. Check out which events are happening during your visit here.

12. Dog Sledding Tour

Experience the thrill of a dog sledding adventure in Bend’s winter wonderland. Bundle up and let a team of eager sled dogs take you on a breathtaking ride through the snow-covered forests. Get this on your list for December!

Six huskies pulling a sled along in the snow in Oregon.
Dog sledding in Bend

What to Expect:

  1. Meet the Sled Dogs: Before your journey, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the sled dogs and their experienced mushers. These dogs are true winter athletes, and their enthusiasm is contagious.
  2. Spectacular Scenery: Dog sledding tours take you deep into the snowy wilderness, offering a chance to witness the untouched beauty of Central Oregon’s winter landscapes. The journey often includes panoramic views of snow-covered forests and open expanses.
  3. Interactive Experience: Many tours allow you to participate in the sledding process. You can learn the commands, help harness the dogs, and even take a turn driving the sled, making it a hands-on adventure.
  4. Warm-Up Stops: Depending on the tour, you may have the chance to stop at a cozy camp or cabin for a warm beverage and snacks, adding to the overall experience.

TIP: Listen closely to your musher’s instructions, and don’t forget to thank the incredible dogs for their hard work at the end of your journey. More info and bookings can be done here.

13. Explore Tumalo Falls

Discover the winter wonderland that is Tumalo Falls. A hike or snowshoe adventure to this natural gem is a must during the snowy season. As you make your way through the frosty forest, you’ll find yourself captivated by the frozen cascades of Tumalo Falls, creating a breathtaking and serene landscape that’s truly unique to winter!

Tumalo Falls covered in ice and snow in Oregon.
Tumalo Falls in the winter!

If you’re a local, you know this hike well, like us, but if you haven’t done it in winter, be prepared to actually hike to the falls. Unlike in summer, the close parking lot is not accessible, and you’ll need to complete a 6.5-mile hike round trip to get to the viewpoint of Tumalo Falls.

TIP: Remember to check the trail conditions, and if you’re hiking, bring proper footwear for snow and ice. A camera is a must to capture the beauty of the falls. This shows you the route you’ll take.

14. Warm up at a Local Brewery

After a day in the cold, there’s no better way to warm up than at one of Bend’s local breweries. Cozy up with a pint of craft beer, savor hearty pub fare, and soak in the inviting atmosphere. It’s the ideal place to swap stories about your winter adventures.

Customers sat inside Good Life Brewery in Bend, Oregon.
We can’t get enough of Bend’s cozy breweries in the winter. Good Life is one of our go-to’s.

Our personal favorites, particularly during winter in Bend:

  • O’Kanes Whiskey and Cigar Bar at McMenamins – Outdoor but with more than enough firepits to keep you toasty.
  • The Cellar – A cool underground English-style brew pub serving traditional English ales & food.
  • Cascade Lakes Pub on Century – Cozy interior, long bar and massive communal firepit. Can’t go wrong here. (Also beer deals when you show your ski pass!)
  • Silver Moon Brewing – Frequent live music events, awesome artwork vibes, and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating with firepits.
  • The Good Life Brewery – As the name implies, the good life is what this place is all about. A common local hangout after a day on the slopes. Nothing but happy vibes here.
  • Crosscut Winter Hut #5 – Not a brewery but a must-stop bar for winter chalet vibes.

TIP: Don’t forget to ask the friendly brewery staff for their recommendations, and try some of the seasonal brews designed to complement the winter season.

15. Soak in the Natural Hot Springs

What’s more relaxing in winter than soaking in natural hot springs? Whether you choose developed pools or remote, backcountry springs, the experience is pure Central Oregon magic.

The contrast between the warm water and the cold air is both invigorating and soothing and pretty much a MUST when visiting Bend in winter! Here’s where to head…

Nina relaxing in Umpqua Hot Springs at golden hour.
A great place to relax
  1. Belknap Hot Springs: Located about two hours from Bend, Belknap Hot Springs is a lush and picturesque destination. Enjoy a soak in the large pool surrounded by stunning gardens and a river view. The resort also offers lodging options if you want to extend your stay. Definitely the most developed and accessible hot springs on this list.
  2. Paulina Lake Hot Springs: Nestled in the Newberry Crater, these rustic and remote hot springs can be reached via a snowshoe or cross-country skiing adventure during winter. The remote location offers a more private and tranquil experience; however, be aware that these are primitive hot springs.
  3. Umpqua Hot Springs: While it’s a bit of a drive, Umpqua Hot Springs provides a stunning natural setting with pools overlooking the North Umpqua River. The wooden soaking pools offer an unforgettable place to relax in the winter wilderness. However, clothes can be optional, so don’t be surprised to see old man McGee full monty at this one.

TIP: Make sure to check accessibility and regulations for the hot spring you plan to visit and, as always, leave no trace.

16. Tubing at Wanoga Snow Park

Tubing at Wanoga Snow Park is a delightful winter pastime for all ages. Grab a tube, head to the top of the hill, and let gravity do the rest as you race down snow-covered slopes, sharing laughter or some screams with friends and family.

With groomed tubing lanes and a warming hut, it’s the ideal spot for a day of winter fun.

Crowds gathered at Wanoga Snow Park in Bend to participate in winter tubing.
Crowds of tourists tubing at Wanoga Snow Park

You’ll have some good old-fashioned fun swooping down the snow and trudging back up the hills, you’ll forget it’s freezing out!

TIP: Consider bringing a thermos of your favorite hot beverage to enjoy during breaks between runs. Sno-Park Permit required November 1 – April 30.

17. Birdwatching in Winter Landscapes

While it may be tempting to hibernate during winter, the season offers a unique opportunity for birdwatching in Bend’s scenic landscapes. Central Oregon’s winter visitors include a variety of waterfowl and raptors, adding a touch of magic to the snowy landscapes.

A starling perched on a tree branch in the snow.
A starling enjoying the snow…

Grab your binoculars and explore birdwatching hotspots like the Deschutes River Trail or the Sunriver Nature Center to catch a glimpse of these feathered residents.

TIP: Layer up, bring a thermos of hot cocoa, and spend some peaceful time watching the skies and identifying the winter birds.

18. Attend a Live Music Event

Bend’s live music scene remains vibrant in the winter. Enjoy live performances by both local and touring bands in cozy venues, from intimate pubs to larger concert halls. Whether you’re a fan of rock, folk, or jazz, there’s something for every music enthusiast.

Crowds of onlookers watching a stage performance at the Munch and Music event in Bend.
Bend is popular for its events!

TIP: Stay up to date with local event listings to find live music schedules and consider purchasing tickets in advance for popular acts. You can check here to see what’s on during your visit.

19. Escape to Mount Hoodoo… for a DEAL

Mount Hoodoo is about an hour outside of Bend but if you’re looking to go skiing or snowboarding without the price tag at Mount Bachelor and with half the visitors… we have a solution for you!

Two cross country skiers in front of Mount Hoodoo in Oregon.
Hoodoo Ski Area

You can head to Mount Hoodoo! You’ll get similar thrills and chills up on the peak here but you won’t have to nuzzle your way through crowds or empty your wallet. It’s a cheaper pass here overall, and if you come on Thursday, it’s even cheaper—Only $29 for a ski ticket!

TIP: If you’re more of a night owl, you’ll also love that Mount Hoodoo is the only central Oregon mountain offering night skiing with over 20 runs to choose from.

20. Free Snowshoeing at Mount Bachelor

Mount Bachelor offers free snowshoeing opportunities that provide a fantastic way to explore the winter wonderland around the mountain. This program, often called “Snowshoe with a Ranger,” is a guided experience led by knowledgeable rangers who share insights about the local environment, ecology, and history.

While that’s great, obviously, the appeal is that this guided snowshoeing experience is free of charge, and all the necessary equipment, including snowshoes, is provided!

A group of people in a line snowshoeing on Mount Bachelor.
A unique winter experience!

TIP: Keep in mind that these tours can be in high demand but are only offered on a first-come-first-served basis. Come between December and March. Tours are around 90 minutes. More info here. (bring a donation to help out!)

21. Head to McMenamins Old St. Francis School

We almost didn’t want to mention this one as it’s a bit of a local gem but right in the center of downtown, and there’s a Turkish-esque bath to relax in! Yes, really! Oh, and it’s a hotel, bar, restaurant, and maybe even a secret speakeasy if you look hard enough. We love this spot!

McMenamins Old St. Francis School

The Old St. Francis School is a historic Catholic school building dating back to 1936, which has been transformed into a vibrant, multifaceted destination by McMenamins, a popular Pacific Northwest chain of brewpubs and hotels.

The preservation of its architectural heritage and transformation into a thriving hub of entertainment and relaxation makes it a standout attraction. Here’s what you’ll find at this spot in Bend:

  • Brewpub and Bar: McMenamins Pub at the Old St. Francis School is famous for its craft beers brewed on-site, along with a variety of wines and cocktails. The pub offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere, making it a perfect place to relax and enjoy a drink with friends or family.
  • Dining: You can savor a delicious meal in one of four of their restaurants, with a diverse menu featuring pub-style fare, classic American dishes, and Pacific Northwest-inspired cuisine.
  • Movie Theater: Old pub-style setting with couches and a full bar & restaurant. What more could you want in a movie theater?
  • Hotel: The Old St. Francis School also operates as a charming hotel with cozy rooms, and guests can enjoy a stay in this historic building!
  • Turkish Style Soaking Pool: We saved the best for last. One of the unique features of the Old St. Francis School is the open-aired, Turkish-esque soaking pool! This is the place to go in Bend in winter!
Nina and I soaking it up at the Turkish Bath at McMenimans. A must in Bend during winter.

TIP: You’ll need to make a reservation to use the tub and definitely bring clothes for after (Yes, there are locker rooms) so you can wander around, grab a bite, or maybe even stumble upon some other cool stuff… it’s $10/pp/hour.

Well that’s all folks. I have been a Bend native for almost 20 years so I hope you really do enjoy the activities that I absolutely love to do when showing guests around this wonderful town!

I hope this helped you plan your trip to Bend in winter!

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