Today the beating heart of outdoorsy pursuits in the Pacific Northwest, the city of Bend started life as a slow-paced sawmill town in the early 1800s. Nestled amidst the raw nature of Oregon’s Deschutes River Valley, where wide desert plateaus meet the mighty snow-tipped peaks of the Cascade Mountains, visitors enjoy truly dramatic scenery and easy access to hiking, biking, rafting, fishing, camping and winter sports hot spots in the hills. What’s more Bend has established itself as one of the biggest destinations on the American ale trail. Accordingly the town is home to a myriad of local microbreweries and hosts a number of annual events to celebrate this heritage, from the state’s official Beer Week to the town’s own Oregon-style Oktoberfest. With a pleasant high-desert climate, you can expect mild evenings, dry days and lots of sun, with plenty of cultural attractions, welcoming cafés and a laid-back country atmosphere to match.

Wobbly legs and breweries to boot on the Bend Ale Trail

With more brewing houses per person than any city in the state it is little wonder that Bend is hailed as the beer capital of Oregon. The Bend Ale Trail encompasses all of the town’s 11 microbreweries and visitors are invited to follow the map from place to place collecting stamps for their “drinking passport” as they go (that is, if they remember!). It’s not all about imbibing though, and many of the sites on the trail offer tours and hands-on workshops to show visitors the intricacies of their art.

Check out three of the best breweries on the Ale Trail:

Some beer-illiant ways to make your way around the Bend Ale Trail:

Get schooled in Bend hospitality at the McMenamins – Old St. Francis School

Once a Catholic school house, McMenamins has transformed the Old St. Francis School into a destination hotel right in the heart of downtown Bend. It has cool luxuries like a brewery, a bakery, a movie theater and a soaking pool, but maintains its historic ambiance with its hotel rooms in converted classrooms. If you like your lodging quirky, cool and one of a kind, this is the place for you.

See what guests have to say about the Old St. Francis School:

Mt. Bachelor is America’s 6th largest ski resort

Extensive and breath-taking are two fitting adjectives to describe the Mt. Bachelor resort that’s just east of Bend. This huge ski field of just under 4000 acres has a great cross-section of beginner to intermediate slopes, making it at once family friendly and cutting-edge. More recently Mt Bachelor has been the training ground for some of America’s Olympic athletes; a true testimony to its world-class offering of winter sports.

See what visitors have to say about Mt. Bachelor:

Making the most of Bend’s fresh powder:

Soaring peaks, stunning scenery and total solitude in the Deschutes National Forest

Where snowshoeing and skiing dominate in the colder months, hiking and biking, fishing and camping come into their own during the summer in Bend. The nearby Deschutes National Forest (where all these are possible) is one of the most beautiful protected park areas in the region, encompassing swathes of the great Ochoco Forest and the deep fir-clad valleys around Sisters: A truly magnificent place to go into the wild.

See what visitors have to say about the Deschutes National Forest:

Outdoorsy types right this way…

900 Wall is home to one of America’s best chefs

The culinary offering at 900 Wall is a creative mix of American and European cooking styles. The resident chef, Cliff Eslinger, has been the recipient of numerous “Best Chef” awards from recognized industry magazines and strives to use seasonal, locally sourced produce in all of his creations. Other pluses are the great décor, welcoming atmosphere and highly rated happy hour!

Creative culinary skill throughout Bend:

Location and luxury at the Riverhouse

Photo via their official FB page.

Photo via their official FB page.

The Riverhouse hotel boasts a prime location on the banks of the Deschutes River, making it a great place from which to explore Bend’s vast outdoors. The nearby golf course is one of the highest rated in the region, while skiers and hikers will enjoy quick access to the hills. In true Oregon style, the hotel is also home to a craft brewery and serves home brewed ales at the on-site pub.

Treat yourself to a luxurious stay at one of America’s best hotels, The Oxford Hotel Bend

Voted as one of the top 25 hotels in the U.S. for 2013, the Oxford Hotel oozes charm with its boutique, eco-lodge decor and unrivaled dedication to sustainable hospitality. From the non-smoking ethos to the organic materials used throughout the building, the hotel is a haven for the many eco-conscious visitors who frequent the town in search of natural beauty.

These guests loved their stay at the Oxford Hotel:

See Bend on the map:

Richard Francis

Richard Francis

Rich is a young travel writer, TEFL teacher and world traveler extraordinaire. Originally from Britain, he holds a first-class degree in English literature.