15 Things To Do in Central Oregon

Central Oregon is a diverse and thriving region that offers a unique blend of urban amenities and natural beauty. It is home to three main cities: Bend, Redmond, and Prineville, as well as a number of smaller communities: La Pine, Sisters, and Madras. The region is known for its high quality of life, strong economy, and endless recreation opportunities in all directions.

The Top 15 Things to do in Central Oregon

1. High Desert Museum: A world-class museum that offers visitors a glimpse into the natural and cultural history of the high desert region. The museum features exhibits on the region's wildlife, geology, and human history, as well as live animal displays and demonstrations.

2. Smith Rock State Park: A world-renowned rock climbing destination, Smith Rock State Park offers breathtaking views of the towering rock formations, the Crooked River, and the surrounding high desert landscape. Visitors can hike the trails, climb the rocks, or simply enjoy the scenery.

3. Painted Hills: One of the three units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, the Painted Hills are a wonderland of color and texture. The hills are composed of layers of volcanic ash and clay that have been eroded by wind and water to create a unique and colorful landscape.

4. Lava Lands Visitors Center: Located at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, the Lava Lands Visitors Center offers visitors a chance to learn about the geologic history of the region and explore the unique landscape of lava flows and cinder cones.

5. Sparks Lake: A popular destination for kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing, Sparks Lake is a picturesque alpine lake nestled in the Cascade Mountains. Surrounded by towering peaks and lush forests, the lake offers stunning views and serene tranquility.

6. Mt Bachelor Ski Area: A premier ski resort located in the Cascade Mountains, Mt Bachelor offers world-class skiing and snowboarding on a variety of runs for all levels of experience. In the summer, the resort offers hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities.

7. Trail to Benham Falls: A scenic hiking trail that follows the Deschutes River to the beautiful Benham Falls. The trail offers stunning views of the river and the surrounding forest, and is a popular destination for hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing.

8. Deschutes River Trail: A 12-mile trail that follows the Deschutes River through the stunning Central Oregon landscape. The trail offers a variety of terrain, from rocky cliffs to peaceful meadows, and is a popular destination for hiking, biking, and fishing.

9. Newberry National Volcanic Monument: A unique landscape of volcanic activity, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument offers visitors a chance to explore the volcanic history of the region. The monument includes lava flows, cinder cones, and other geological features.

10. Tumalo Falls: A stunning 97-foot waterfall located just outside of Bend, Tumalo Falls is a popular destination for hiking, picnicking, and enjoying the beauty of the Central Oregon landscape.

11. Lava River Cave: A unique natural wonder, the Lava River Cave is a 5,000-foot lava tube that offers visitors a chance to explore the underground world of the Central Oregon landscape.

12. Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint: A popular destination for hiking, biking, and sightseeing, Pilot Butte is a prominent landmark in the Bend area. The summit offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including the Cascade Mountains and the high desert.

13. Old Mill District: A bustling shopping and dining destination, the Old Mill District is located along the Deschutes River in Bend. The district features a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, as well as stunning views of the river and the surrounding mountains.

14. Hosmer Lake: A serene alpine lake located in the Cascade Mountains, Hosmer Lake offers visitors a chance to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Central Oregon wilderness. The lake is a popular destination for fishing, kayaking, and paddle boarding.

15. Drake Park: Located in the heart of Bend, is one of the city's most popular and well-loved public spaces. This stunning park, located along the banks of the Deschutes River and is an oasis in the middle of the bustling city. The park is known for its lush green lawns, towering trees, and stunning river views. This  makes Drake Park the perfect place to relax and unwind.

The Central Oregon Economy

Central Oregon's economy is driven by a diverse mix of industries, including healthcare, tourism, technology, and manufacturing. Bend, the largest city in the region, is home to a number of technology startups and major employers such as St. Charles Health System and Les Schwab Tire Centers. Redmond is known for its aerospace industry, with companies like Facebook and Apple investing in the region. Prineville is home to a growing data center industry, with companies like Facebook and Apple building some of the largest data centers in the world in the region.

The region's economy has seen steady growth in recent years, with population and job growth outpacing the state average. The unemployment rate in Central Oregon is consistently lower than the state average, and the region has a median household income higher than the state average.

Central Oregon Population

Central Oregon's population is also growing rapidly, with Bend being one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. The region's population is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, with a focus on attracting young professionals and families to the area.

As of the 2020 Census, the population of Central Oregon was estimated to be around 215,000, with Bend being the largest city in the region with a population of around 105,000. Redmond, the second-largest city, has a population of around 32,000, while Prineville has a population of around 10,000.

Central Oregon Recreation Opportunities

Central Oregon is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with an abundance of natural beauty and recreation opportunities. The region is home to the Deschutes National Forest, which covers over 1.8 million acres and includes the Three Sisters Wilderness, Mount Bachelor, and the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. The area is also home to the Cascade Lakes, a series of alpine lakes that offer fishing, boating, and swimming opportunities.

Bend is a popular destination for skiing, hiking, and mountain biking, with the nearby Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort and the Deschutes River Trail. The region is also known for its golf courses, with courses like Tetherow and Pronghorn Resort consistently ranked as some of the best in the country.

Central Oregon also has a strong cultural and arts scene, with events like the BendFilm Festival and the Sisters Folk Festival drawing visitors from around the country. The region is also known for its breweries and wineries, with a number of craft breweries and vineyards located in the area.

Everyday we get questions about Central Oregon and the cities within it including Bend, Redmond, Prineville, Sisters, La Pine, and Madras.

Frequently asked questions about Central Oregon:

How do I spend a day in Bend Oregon?

Bend has many options for outdoor activities, shopping, and dining. For a day in Bend, you could start with a walk or bike ride along the Deschutes River Trail, followed by a visit to the High Desert Museum. After that, you could go on a brewery tour, such as the Bend Ale Trail, or visit the Old Mill District for shopping and dining. If you have time, you could also check out Smith Rock State Park, which is a short drive from Bend.

What is Bend Oregon famous for?

Bend is famous for its outdoor recreation opportunities, such as hiking, biking, skiing, and fishing. The city is also known for its craft beer scene, with many breweries and beer festivals. Bend has a vibrant arts community and is home too many galleries and public art installations.

How to have fun in Bend Oregon?

There are many ways to have fun in Bend, such as skiing or snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor, hiking in the nearby mountains, fishing in the Deschutes River, or exploring the city's breweries and restaurants. Bend also has a lively music and arts scene, with many festivals and events throughout the year.

Is it worth going to Bend Oregon?

Yes, Bend is definitely worth a visit. The city has a lot to offer, from outdoor recreation to cultural attractions, and is known for its friendly community and quality of life.

Is Bend or Portland better?

This depends on personal preferences. Bend is a smaller, more outdoorsy city, while Portland is larger and has more cultural attractions. Both cities have their unique charm and are worth a visit.

What is the best month to visit Bend Oregon?

The best time to visit Bend is from May through September, when the weather is sunny and warm, and outdoor activities are abundant. However, winter is also a popular time to visit, as Bend is a popular ski destination.

What's the nicest city in Oregon?

Oregon has many beautiful cities, but Bend is often considered one of the nicest. Other popular cities in Oregon include Portland, Eugene, and Salem.

Is Bend Oregon expensive?

Bend can be expensive, especially when it comes to housing costs. However, the city has a lower cost of living compared to some other West Coast cities.

What are the downsides of living in Bend Oregon?

The main downside of living in Bend is the high cost of housing, which can be difficult for some residents. The city can also be crowded during peak tourist seasons, and traffic can be a challenge during rush hour. Additionally, Bend has limited job opportunities in some industries, so job seekers may have to look outside the city for work.

Conclusion and final thoughts about Central Oregon

Central Oregon is a region that is growing and evolving.  The region has a strong economy, growing population, and endless recreation opportunities. The area's natural beauty and urban amenities make it an ideal destination for families, young professionals, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. People from around the United States are moving to Bend for the quality of life and outdoor recreation opportunities. Bend is know as one of the top "remote working" cities in the world due to how many people work from home. Whether you are looking for a weekend getaway or a place to call home, Central Oregon has something for everyone.

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