A Conscious Guide to Bend, Oregon
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Bend, located on the eastern edge of the Cascade Range along the Deschutes River, is Central Oregon's largest city. Originally a logging town, it’s now a quaint destination for tourists from the Pacific Northwest and beyond — it’s especially popular for outdoor sports like snowboarding, mountain biking, and hiking. Catering to this crowd, there are plenty of gear stores (including a Patagonia), local breweries, and hearty restaurants for recharging your energy. While there are few exclusively vegan restaurants in town, I found plant based options available in most establishments. Bend is not a particularly walkable city so you’ll need to consider how you want to get around. As I was part of a large group, we rented a car to share and also used a ride sharing service. For alternative transportation, you can walk certain areas (like downtown), rent bikes, use their limited bus routes or a car service.
The laid-back vibe and high desert climate in Bend made it a welcome respite from New York’s bone-chilling cold. Whether you’re visiting for snow sports at Mount Bachelor in the winter, the Cascade Lakes in summer, or to celebrate the brewing culture any time of year, there’s plenty for everyone to do. I traveled with a group that trekked to the mountain each day for snow sports while I happily stayed in town and scoped out the best places for you to eat, drink, shop, and chill.
643 NW Colorado Ave.
Chef Richard Hull creates vegan comfort food from scratch out of an adorable food cart on the corner of Colorado Avenue and Bond Street. Everything from his catering to cooking classes is free of animal products and as sustainable, organic, and locally sourced as possible. The cart is normally open Tuesday to Saturday 10AM - 3PM, so plan your visit accordingly. Go hungry for dishes like “The Reuby” made with grilled portobello, housemade kraut, and thousand island dressing on marbled rye. Pro tip: Get there before noon to order from the brunch menu that includes griddle cakes piled high with grilled bananas, peanut butter, and blueberry syrup!
2755 Northwest Crossing Dr.
Bend Pizza Kitchen prepares their dough and sauces daily with fresh ingredients that are organic and/or locally sourced when possible. Pizzas are hand-tossed the traditional way and baked in old fashioned slate ovens for a crust that’s the perfect amount of chewy and crispy. Bend Pizza Kitchen has an extensive menu with a whole vegan section — I even easily got a vegan and gluten free pizza that was thoughtfully prepared, rather than a frozen crust afterthought. Order in or carry out like we did for a cozy night at your home away from home.
920 NW Bond St, Suite 108
Bontà gelato is hand-crafted in small batches using slow food techniques and natural ingredients, many of which come from the Oregon countryside. Whenever possible, they source local organic and fair trade ingredients. Owners Jeff and Juli Labhart were inspired by their travels to bring the flavors from other locales into the creamy goodness of their gelato — and my visit inspired me to get two scoops. Bontà whips up several vegan gelato flavors like toasted coconut and chocolate as well as fruity sorbettos like lemon to choose from. It’s also available throughout Bend and greater Oregon on menus and by the pint.
Backporch Coffee Roasters aims to “serve coffee in a way that honors the farmers who grew it.” They do this by sourcing direct trade, micro-lot, and estate coffee for their own shops and for their products available across the Pacific Northwest and online. I recommend stopping into one of their multiple Bend locations for a latte with oat milk.
542 NW Arizona Ave.
61230 S HWY 97
In Oregon, recreational and medical marijuana is legal for adults 21 and up. Tokyo Starfish is an approved dispensary with two locations and a large selection of bud and other cannabis products. I went to the location on Highway 97 and they were super informative and helped me choose some vegan edibles (and ginger beer!) to try. The second location is home to the only "Bud-n-Breakfast" in Bend, a cannabis friendly two bedroom apartment situated above the shop. Check it out here.
910 NW Harriman St. Suite 150
Established in 2006 by local artist Angela Dietrich, Cosa Cura loosely translates to "Things Curated or Hand Picked" in Italian. Pop in for everything from secondhand clothes to local designers to cruelty-free beauty. The store currently represents over 130 independent artists and designers and carries fashion from over 8,000 local consignors that represent their mission of sustainable style, creativity, local support and community service. Cosa Cura donates to local charities through a fund supported by seasonal sales and also gives approximately $80K per year in clothing to local shelters and organizations. The store has an open and earthy feel and shares the space with Wren and Wild, a clean beauty shop and aerial yoga studio. I picked up a gorgeous vintage caftan I plan on wearing all summer.
550 SW Industrial Way, Suite 183
Whether you’re into outdoor sports or just shopping consciously, Gear Fix is a must-visit. This store has a warehouse feel and stocks everything from bikes to snowboards to backpacks to hiking boots. Some of it is new, but they have a huge selection of gently used outdoor gear for bargain and conscious shoppers alike. Gear Fix is also a full service repair shop that can refurbish boot soles, camp stoves, backpacks, sleeping bags, zippers, bikes, and other sporting gear. Stop by on your way to one of the many local breweries in the Old Bend area.
50 SE Scott St. #6
The Workhouse is located in the machine shop of the former Bend Iron Works, one of Bend’s oldest remaining industrial buildings. The gorgeous space facilitates an exchange between artists and their community through their retail gallery, on-site studios, events, and educational programming. The Workhouse promotes the values of grassroots craft culture with high-quality, locally-made, sustainable art with the unique opportunity to visit their studio artists and workshops as you shop. I wandered through the workspaces and picked up a darling letterpress postcard and some locally produced cedar smoked salt.
924 NW Brooks St.
Tucked into a sunny space between downtown and Drake Park, you could almost miss Cowgirl Cash. But definitely make the effort to seek out this western vintage boutique where you’ll find locally and USA made items, as well as vintage and secondhand pieces that reflect the Bend lifestyle. Because they are a buy and sell shop, you’ll also find a curated rotation of unique cowgirl boots, pearl snap shirts, pretty dresses, turquoise jewelry, hats, belt buckles, and more.
700 NW Bond St.
McMenamins Old St. Francis School was transformed from a 1936 Catholic schoolhouse into a hotel. This one-of-a-kind experience includes classrooms turned into hotel rooms, a pub, brewery, a movie theater, event spaces, and a gorgeous soaking pool. Photos, memorabilia, students' artwork pay homage to the property’s former life and history. Even if you don’t stay there, for just $5 you can soak in the warm, semi-enclosed pool surrounded by detailed mosaics and turquoise tilework. After your soak, make sure you wander the premises to discover secret hallways, rooms, and a hidden bar!