BEND IT LIKE ORE­GON

If you’re into the out­door life, this small US town will take your breath away

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - DESTINATION USA - ROB MCFAR­LAND

On pa­per, Bend sounds al­most too good to be true. Lo­cated in the high desert near Ore­gon’s spec­tac­u­lar Cas­cades moun­tain range, it re­ceives 300 days of sun­shine a year and has ac­cess to some of the best out­door ter­rain in the US. Whether you want to hike, bike, raft, ride, golf, climb, kayak or ski, you can do it here. And prob­a­bly with an Olympian. Many have made Bend their home for pre­cisely that rea­son.

A friendly, close-knit com­mu­nity of 91,000 peo­ple, it’s home to 26 brew­eries, four winer­ies and a din­ing scene that ri­vals many ma­jor US cities.

Throw in a vi­brant arts scene, a packed sched­ule of sum­mer fes­ti­vals plus tax-free shop­ping, and it’s easy to see why it’s one of Amer­ica’s fastest grow­ing towns. Con­vinced? Good. Here’s what you need to know.

OUT ‘N’ ABOUT

If you’re into out­door ad­ven­ture, it’s hard to think of an­other place in the US that of­fers more op­tions. Moun­tain bik­ers are par­tic­u­larly well catered for with 480km of trails that range from tame to ter­ri­fy­ing.

A good place to start is Phil’s Trail­head in Deschutes Na­tional For­est, which pro­vides ac­cess to dozens of well-main­tained tracks and is just 7km from town. Whether you’re af­ter a gen­tle half-day cruise or a hard­core three-day chal­lenge, lo­cal ex­perts Cog Wild can or­gan­ise bikes, guides and trans­fers.

Hik­ers are sim­i­larly spoiled for choice with op­tions rang­ing from a gen­tle stroll along the banks of the Deschutes River to tack­ling part of the 1200km Ore­gon Desert Trail, which starts 32km east in the Bad­lands Wilder­ness.

If you pre­fer your ex­plo­rations to be petrol-pow­ered, Outrid­ers North­west of­fers guided ATV tours of the Deschutes and Wil­lamette na­tional forests. It’s a great way to see the re­gion’s ge­o­log­i­cal di­ver­sity, which in­cludes stun­ning snow-capped moun­tains, sweep­ing high desert plains and rem­nants of an­cient lava flows.

How­ever you de­cide to spend your day, there’s no bet­ter way to cool off than with a re­lax­ing float on the Deschutes River. In sum­mer, this wa­ter­way through the cen­tre of town be­comes a colour­ful blur of in­ner tubes, kayaks and pad­dle­boards. Rent your ves­sel of choice from Tu­malo Creek and spend a lazy af­ter­noon ex­plor­ing un­der your own steam or with a lo­cal guide.

COGWILD.COM; OUTRIDERSNW.COM; TUMALOCREEK.COM

GOURMET GRUB

Per­haps it’s the num­ber of ways to ex­pend calo­ries or maybe it’s the town’s pro­lif­er­a­tion of hun­gry Olympians but ei­ther way, Bend’s din­ing scene is un­ex­pect­edly di­verse.

If you’re look­ing to splurge, Ari­ana uses lo­cal pro­duce to cre­ate a fresh take on re­gional Mediter­ranean fare and serves it up in a cute-as-a-but­ton bun­ga­low. Zy­deco Kitchen does a sim­i­lar thing with Ca­jun and Cre­ole flavours so you can ex­pect south­ern favourites such as shrimp an­douille and craw­fish jam­bal­aya.

Ever wo­ken up with a crav­ing for West African peanut curry?

Should this hap­pen in Bend, you’re in luck. Spork’s glo­be­trot­ting menu fea­tures dishes from Africa, Asia and South Amer­ica, not to men­tion a killer range of cock­tails (try the Mex­i­cali Honky Tonk).

For a small town, there’s a re­fresh­ing so­phis­ti­ca­tion to Bend’s din­ing scene. Chefs are pas­sion­ate about us­ing lo­cal sea­sonal pro­duce and will­ingly cater for veg­e­tar­i­ans, ve­g­ans and the gluten in­tol­er­ant (Zy­deco has an en­tire gluten-free menu). Even Bend’s old­est eatery, Pine Tav­ern, which opened in 1936, cham­pi­ons lo­cal in­gre­di­ents. Fea­tur­ing a gi­ant pon­derosa pine in the mid­dle of the din­ing room, this lo­cal in­sti­tu­tion is a sure-fire bet for Amer­i­can clas­sics such as fried chicken and meat loaf with a side serv­ing of glo­ri­ous river views.

Wher­ever you end up for din­ner, be sure to drop into Bonta Gelato for dessert. Only the finest lo­cal in­gre­di­ents go into its hand­made gelato to cre­ate heav­enly com­bi­na­tions such as cran­berry co­gnac and lemon cream with can­died gin­ger. ARIANARESTAURANTBEND.COM; ZYDECOKITCHEN.COM; SPORKBEND.COM; PINETAVERN.COM; BONTAGELATO.COM

LO­CAL TIPPLES

Men­tion craft beer in Ore­gon and most peo­ple will think of Port­land. How­ever, Bend has more brew­eries per capita than any­where else in the state. Clearly, liv­ing in the high desert is thirsty work. The town boasts 26 craft brew­eries and even has its own Ale Trail. Pick up a map and pass­port from the vis­i­tor cen­tre and you can sip your way around town, col­lect­ing stamps and sou­venirs along the way.

If you only visit one brew pub, make it Deschutes, the town’s old­est and most es­tab­lished brew­ery.

With a ro­tat­ing se­lec­tion of 19 beers on tap, it’s a great place to get your beer bear­ings and they also of­fer a free tour that in­cludes com­pli­men­tary sam­ples.

Don’t worry if beer’s not your thing, Bend has plenty of other op­tions. If you like your favourite tip­ple with a dash of in­trigue, try find­ing the se­cret Broom Closet bar (the clue’s in the name) in­side McMe­namins Old St. Fran­cis School Ho­tel.

An­other pop­u­lar spot is the Dog­wood Cock­tail Cabin, which serves up in­ven­tive craft cock­tails in a cosy brick-walled space.

Af­ter a night on the Ale Trail, you’ll be in need of a de­cent cof­fee (which, let’s face it, can be elu­sive in the US). Thank­fully, Bend has your back. Head to Thump or Back­porch and you won’t be dis­ap­pointed. Don’t leave town with­out try­ing one of Spar­row Bak­ery’s ocean rolls. This deca­dent car­damom and vanilla-in­fused pas­try may just make you want to stay. DESCHUTESBREWERY.COM; MCME­NAMINS.COM; THEDOGWOODCOCKTAILCABIN.COM; THUMPCOFFEE.COM; BACKPORCHCOFFEEROASTERS.COM; THESPARROWBAKERY.NET

SWEET SLEEPS

Golf fans should check out Tetherow Lodges, a mod­ern 50-room lux­ury ho­tel over­look­ing a stun­ning 18-hole cham­pi­onship golf course 7km from the town cen­tre. If you’d pre­fer to be down­town, the bou­tique 59-room Ox­ford Ho­tel is in the heart of the ac­tion, of­fer­ing con­tem­po­rary rooms with im­pres­sive en­vi­ron­men­tal cre­den­tials.

TETHEROW.COM; OXFORDHOTELBEND.COM

THE WRITER WAS A GUEST OF UNITED AIR­LINES, BRAND USA AND TRAVEL ORE­GON

PIC­TURES; ROB MCFAR­LAND; SUP­PLIED

SPARKS LAKE Bend is a mecca for out­door types with ev­ery­thing from kayak­ing and moun­tain bike rid­ing to all-ter­rain ve­hi­cle tours.

DESCHUTES NA­TIONAL FOR­EST

OUTRID­ERS

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