Top Attractions for First Timers

Bend has so much to offer, it can be tough to narrow down what to see and do on a first visit. To help you make the most of your time, here are some of the top attractions and activities we recommend for Bend newcomers:

Outdoor Recreation

One of the main draws of Bend is the abundance of outdoor recreation right outside town. Bend is surrounded by the Deschutes National Forest, which offers boundless opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, trail running, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and more. Some favorite areas include the Phil’s Trail network, Tumalo Falls, the Deschutes River, and Mt. Bachelor. If you want a guided experience, companies like Wanderlust Tours offer excellent hiking, biking, rafting, and kayaking tours. Or you can rent gear and explore on your own from an outfitter like Pine Mountain Sports.

Craft Breweries

Bend is sometimes referred to as the “craft beer capital of Oregon.” With over 30 breweries in town, you’ll be spoiled for choice! Some of the most popular spots include Deschutes Brewery, Crux Fermentation Project, Boneyard Beer, GoodLife Brewing, and 10 Barrel Brewing. Many breweries offer tours and tastings. We recommend hitting up the Ale Trail and sampling brews at a few different locations. Don’t miss trying some of Bend’s famous hazy IPAs!


Bend’s dining scene is on par with its beers. The city offers a wide variety of excellent restaurants featuring locally-sourced ingredients. Top picks for first timers include Zydeco Kitchen, The Lot, Chow, Jackson’s Corner, and 900 Wall. You’ll find everything from downhome Southern cooking to upscale Northwest cuisine. Of course, you can always grab a bite at one of Bend’s brewpubs too. GoodLife Brewing, Crux Fermentation Project, and Worthy Brewing all have tasty pub grub to accompany their beers.


Looking to pick up some mementos from your Bend trip? You’ll find lots of great local shops in the walkable Downtown area. Some favorites include Goody’s Chocolates, Larkspur Women’s Boutique, Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, and Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe. For art, check out Franklin Crossing, Layor Art + Supply, and Mockingbird Gallery. You can also browse works by local artists at the Art in Public Places kiosks scattered around town.

Old Mill District

This historic industrial area along the Deschutes River has been revitalized into one of Bend’s top attractions. The Old Mill District is home to shops, restaurants, museums, a movie theater, Les Schwab Amphitheater, and more. Don’t miss the Museum at the Old Mill, where you can learn about Bend’s fascinating lumber history. Other highlights include Greg’s Grill, Anthony’s Homeport Seafood, and the Tower Theatre.

High Desert Museum

Just south of Bend, this excellent museum focuses on the culture, history, art, wildlife, and geology of the High Desert region. You’ll encounter everything from live raptor presentations to Native American artifacts. The museum is very hands-on and family-friendly. You can easily spend a whole afternoon exploring the indoor/outdoor exhibits and grounds.

Lava River Cave

One of Central Oregon’s most unique attractions is this lava tube cave located south of Bend near Sunriver. Guided tours take you on a steep descent into the chilly underground cave formed by ancient lava flows. Flashlights and warm layers are a must for exploring Lava River Cave. Tours run daily during summer and select days in spring and fall. Advanced reservations are recommended.

Mt. Bachelor

While the ski slopes are the main draw in winter, Mt. Bachelor offers fun activities year-round. In summer, take a scenic ride on the Pine Marten chairlift to the summit, go mountain biking on the trails, hike in the alpine wilderness, or enjoy an outdoor concert. Mt. Bachelor is about 25 minutes from Bend. Shuttles are available if you don’t want to drive.

How to Get Around Bend

Now that you know what to see and do in Bend, let’s discuss the best ways to get around:

Light Rail

Unfortunately, Bend does not have a light rail system or any form of public transportation besides buses. Most visitors get around by car, bike, or foot. If you don’t have your own vehicle, here are some options:

Taxis and Rideshares

You can call local taxi companies like Bend Taxi or Oregon Taxi to arrange rides around town. However, wait times can be long due to limited availability. Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft offer another alternative. But drivers are not always readily available, especially during peak times. Prices also surge when demand is high.

Charter Buses

For hassle-free transportation in Bend, your best bet is reserving a charter bus. Charter buses offer safe, convenient transportation for medium to large groups. At Charter Buses Bend Oregon, we provide charter bus rentals for any size group, whether you need a minibus for a family reunion or a 56-passenger coach for a corporate retreat. Our charter buses come equipped with comfortable seats, climate control, restrooms, TVs, WiFi, and plenty of room for luggage. No need to fight traffic or hunt for parking – your professional driver will handle everything! Charter buses allow you to customize your Bend itinerary. We can shuttle your group directly from the airport to your hotel, then provide transportation to all your desired attractions around town. No waiting around for rideshares or relying on limited public transit. At the end of a long day exploring Bend’s outdoor recreation, craft breweries, and other highlights, everyone can relax on the ride back to your hotel. Then use the charter bus for airport transfers when your trip wraps up.

Ready to Get Started?

We hope this guide gets you excited to visit Bend for the first time! With so much to see and do, you may just have to plan a return trip. When you’re ready to book transportation for your Bend adventure, call Charter Buses Bend Oregon at 971-915-6872. Our team is available 24/7 to help plan the perfect charter bus rental for your group’s needs.