5 Unforgettable Things to do in Bend over the Holidays

All the fresh powder at Mt. Bachelor is a huge attraction when the family is in town for the holidays. But for those who want a break from the lift lines – or just don’t care for skiing – it’s good to have some alternative activities everyone can enjoy. So here are a handful of things to do with family and friends that are sure to contribute to the holiday spirit.

1) Activities at 7th Mountain Resort
One of the perks of living next to 7th Mountain Resort is having easy access to some great outdoor holiday activities, like skating on the beautiful outdoor ice rink on the property. If you’re feeling adventurous, the trails that lead to the river are spectacular for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. If you have your own skates, the pond at the bottom of the hill often freezes over this time of year. Just make sure the ice is at least four inches thick before you venture out. When it’s time to warm up after your adventure, the resort offers a choice of three outdoor hot tubs.

2) Sledding, tubing, and dog sledding
Grab a sled, saucer, toboggan or inner tube and cruise up to the sledding hill at Wanoga Sno-park. If the snow isn’t too icy, it’s an epic way to spend the day for kids from one to 92. To keep everyone happy and charged up, there’s a warming hut, a fire pit and even a trailer serving hot chocolate and snacks. Be prepared for big crowds on the weekends.

For those who dislike the downside of sledding – trudging back up the hill – Mt. Bachelor’s Tubing Park is the answer. Just sit back in one of their giant tubes and a pulley system will take you back up for ride after ride on their pre-made runs. Genius! Or you can try the less straining but equally exhilarating option of dog sledding with the Oregon Trail of Dreams next to Sunrise Lodge. Stay snug and warm in the comfort of an Iditarod dog sled while the team, along with a professional musher, takes you on an exciting adventure, taking in the sights of Broken Top, Three Sisters and Mt. Bachelor.

3) Traditions at Sunriver Resort
Among multiple other Christmasy treats, a short drive to Sunriver Resort will present you with the largest display of gingerbread houses in the Pacific Northwest. Visitors can also get their jingle on with a real One-Horse Open Sleigh Ride in the snow under warm winter blankets. It doesn’t get much more traditional than that.

4) Shopping downtown
Christmas downtown is one of my favorite parts about Bend. Sparkling lights line the trees of Wall and Bond streets. Snow covers the ground. And everyone is all bundled up in their Patagonia micro-puffs. Get a warm seasonal coffee at Looney Bean or Thump and stroll the streets of your community peeking into boutiques and shops that display some of the most unique and thoughtful gifts you ever imagined. A new piece of jewelry from Silverado for your sister or some old fashioned candy from Powell’s Sweet Shoppe for the kids might do the trick.

5) Giving back
There’s no denying 2012 has been rough on many of us, especially the homeless in Central Oregon. Why not put some gift bags together and hand them out to those less unfortunate on various street corners. Or devote some time to the Bend Community Center or the Salvation Army. By reaching out and helping others, your family will understand the true meaning of “peace on earth, good will toward men.”

Bend has really gone to the dogs. And we’re all wagging our tails.

Bend is paradise for humans and dogs alike.

Central Oregon is not only a great place to live for humans, but for dogs, too. Every year, Dog Fancy magazine names the top “Dog Towns” in the country. And the winner for 2012 was…(drum roll)…Bend, Oregon!

The article sites Bend as “a place where dogs both work and play, ski and swim.” And rightly so. With “ruffly” 27,000 dogs to 80,000 people, the city has definitely warmed up to its canine companions.

First of all, we have countless beautiful places to take your retriever, shepherd, schnauzer, cock-a-poo or All-American mutt for a daily stroll – and almost as many bag dispensers for cleaning up after them.

In the summertime, it’s not uncommon to see dogs floating along on the front of a kayak or paddleboard with the locals, or jumping into the river after a Frisbee at the River Bend Dog Park. The city boasts six other off-leash areas, along with miles of dog-friendly mountain biking trails in the Deschutes National Forest.

In downtown Bend, residents can flaunt their dog at the annual 4th of July Pet Parade. Numerous restaurants, namely breweries, allow—even encourage—dogs on their patio areas. And numerous shops leave a fresh bowl of water outside their doors so Nugget can have a cool drink on a hot day.

Wintertime is just as much fun for dogs. The city’s dog advocacy group, DogPAC, has acquired a snowcat—renamed Sno-Dog—to enhance trail grooming at Wanoga Sno-Park, resulting in a two-mile loop of dog-friendly winter trails next to your own ski and snowshoe tracks.

Area residents and winter visitors can take dog-sled rides at the Oregon Trail of Dreams on Mt. Bachelor and maybe meet local Iditarod musher Rachel Scdoris. Mt. Bachelor Avalanche Rescue Dogs are skilled at locating victims under masses created by snow slides, while the dogs in the High Desert Search Dogs group focus on wilderness and urban tracking and trailing.

It’s easy to see why Dog Fancy has honored Bend as the best place for man’s best friends to have a healthy, active life. And it’s not too shabby for their owners, either.

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