By Kim Fuller Published in the Vail Daily
If central Oregon isn’t on your vacation list yet, now is the time to add it. From the 360-degree skiing and snowboarding experience at Mt. Bachelor to Bend’s authentic West Coast culture and amazing craft beer, there are so many reasons to plan a visit.
I went in the winter, so while I didn’t get a chance to check out any hiking or mountain bike trails, the trip was full of fun, adventure and so many memorable spots to eat and drink.
Night one was in Sunriver, a 3,300-acre residential and resort community that is known as Mt. Bachelor’s “other” base area. It’s located less than 20 miles from the ski resort and from Bend, so it’s ideal for an overnight or even just a short stop at the Sunriver Brewery (honestly, this spot makes best beer I had the whole trip, and that’s saying something).
For breakfast in Sunriver, Carson’s American Kitchen has everything from hot cinnamon-sugar doughnut holes to an antioxidant salad. During my meal, I read all about the 4.75-mile River Loop trail that takes you on a paved path along the Deschutes River, through Meadows Golf Course and past fields of grazing horses and Sunriver Airport. My running legs started to itch, but it was time to get up to Mt. Bachelor for a day on the slopes.
With 3,365 feet of vertical terrain, Mt. Bachelor is a unique mountain. I found it inviting and peaceful — a welcome change from the hustle bustle of Colorado’s high-end ski resorts. Mt. Bachelor has no slope-side lodging or base villages, which creates a noticeably mellow vibe. It’s all about the mountain, and that’s a pretty special experience.
Here is the best way to play: stay in Sunriver or Bend, and spend the day at Mt. Bachelor. Enjoy lunch at Scapalos in the Pine Marten Lodge at midmountain, and in the afternoon families or groups of friends may want to enjoy a dog-sled ride with Oregon Trail of Dreams from the Lower Sunrise parking area. This was a true highlight for me, and a wonderful way to experience some of the miles of National Forest land that surround Mt. Bachelor.
On to Bend, dinner at Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails and a night at The Oxford was a way to warm up and settle in with style. Sophisticated design, luxury amenities and a downtown location make The Oxford an ideal hotel for a refresh from adventure. I enjoyed a glass of Oregon pinot noir at Zydeco, along with an amazing beef filet with Brussels sprouts and au grain potatoes.
The next morning I met my friends who live in Bend before sunrise for an 8 mile run. I don’t know what trails we were on, as I followed them and it was quite dark outside the range of my headlamp, but I thoroughly enjoyed the rolling and wide dirt terrain we were scampering over starting at 5:30 a.m.
Breakfast in Bend was at The Victorian Cafe, a laid-back eatery that’s known for classic diner dishes and an incredibly large bloody mary. I had one, virgin-style, and was most impressed by the buffet of shrimp, cheese, meatball and more on the drink’s skewer.
After another big day at Mt. Bachelor, a brewery tour and tasting at Immersion Brewing hit the spot, followed by some live music at The Pine Shed at Spoken Moto, and dinner at 900 Wall. The new American eatery serves locally-sourced cuisine, and a glass of red wine (Oregon pinot, of course) paired perfectly with my pancetta rigatoni entree.
Leaving felt a bit sad, as there is so much more of Bend I want to experience. I didn’t get a chance to try yoga at Wren & Wild, or spa services at Spa W or ice-skating at The Pavilion — all activities that were recommended. So, it’s easy to say that I’ll be back to Bend, either for another ski trip or during the summer for another great recreation highlight in the area: mountain biking.
Kim Fuller is a writer and editor based in Vail. Read more at kimfullerink.com.