Bend Life

Bend skyline overlooking Old Mill District

Some thirty years ago, Bend was a sleepy little mill town in the high desert of Central Oregon. So what’s fueled its remarkable transformation since then?

In a sentence, stunningly beautiful scenery and completely awesome outdoor recreation. From hiking, snowboarding, mountain biking, golf and even spelunking to world-class fly-fishing and rock-climbing, the Bend area literally has it all. Heck, there’s even a human-made whitewater kayaking and river-surfing course in the middle of town. Having more micro-breweries per capita than anywhere else in the country doesn’t hurt either. Neither does having 300 plus days of sunshine per year.

Peer past this impressive surface though, and there’s even more going on to put Bend over the top. When describing Bend’s vibe, the word “laid-back” comes to mind, but this is not a city of people who just kick back and laze around.

Maybe it’s the mountain air, but Bend is more than anything else a community of people who are active, vibrant, and deeply appreciative of where they are. It’s a cliché, but it’s true: people in Bend work hard and they play hard.

Culturally, it borrows some of the best features of Portland, with music and culinary scenes rivaling those of much larger cities. In particular, the Old Mill District is home to amazing restaurants, and with extensive shopping and an old-time movie theater, it’s a hot spot for tourists and adventurers drawn to Bend from all over the world. The nearby Les Schwab Ampitheater features world-famous musical acts with superb acoustics and views of the Deschutes River.

One thing needs to be admitted: Bend’s public transportation is not up to snuff. But it more than makes up for it with supremely walkable and bikable neighborhoods. The Deschutes features over 12 miles of both paved and unpaved trail, and for those drawn to the water, there are long stretches of intertube-friendly river, perfect for a hot summer day. There’s a lot here for canine companions to enjoy too: In 2012, Bend was rated the country’s “Dog Friendliest City.”

Naturally, Bend has a ton of jobs in the outdoors industry, but the medical and tourism industries are also booming. With the recent opening of OSU Cascades, a satellite campus of Oregon State University, higher education is also a growing presence.

And if you’re a beer brewer—or a kombucha brewer for that matter—needless to say, your skills could be in high demand. Don’t just believe the hype though. Come get a sense for yourself of what the Bend vibe is all about.

(Looking for a more detailed picture? Check out our article on Why People Across the Country are Moving to Bend, Oregon.)

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