Bend: At One with Nature
Bend, Oregon, is one of the names most easily associated with the Pacific Northwest. A quintessential American city, it is a remarkable example of a city that has worked hard to redesign itself as an ecologically sensitive environment for the future. In the 1970s when the timber industry crashed, Bend’s population fell to under 20,000, a far cry from the 80,000 who call it their home some forty years later. However, despite the hard times Bend had something special: its beauty. Even during the difficult years people would come to Bend just to be there, and it was this unique atmospheric an aesthetic ideal that gave the newcomers to the city the drive to protect, restore, and maintain the original features. Named by Entrepreneur Magazine’s Bruce Schoenfeld as one of the most remarkable entrepreneurial cities in the Pacific Northwest region, Bend is also known as one of the most stunningly attractive.
Bend, Oregon, is well known for its hundreds of countryside trails. Surrounded by stunning National Forest land, Bend is known for is trail running, hiking, and biking opportunities that lead locals to describe it as the city “where you go to play“. Being able to escape into the tranquility of the wilderness is without a doubt a pull for many looking to move to the area, but what few outsiders realize is that urban Bend has several captivating trails within the city limits. The Deschutes River Trail, which has both urban and rural sections, is one of the easiest to access. To find this trail just head to First Street, and pick up the First Street Rapids trail head. If in doubt just follow the kayakers, as this section of the trail is a veritable urban playground, allocated as a rapids park, which is a mini urban treasure of its own.
Initially calm, peaceful, and gently flowing the trail offers plenty of opportunities for spotting local wildlife, including the occasional mule deer. The waterways and surfaces are maintained by the Bend Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, meaning that you can guarantee a stress free walk or ride along the trail, with the added bonus of information signs about the flora and fauna. With crisp leaves in Fall, vibrant water plants in the spring and summer, and idyllic picture postcard snowscapes in winter, the Deschutes River Trail is an ideal getaway from the town center office. After its gentle start, the urban oasis offers more challenges for those wishing to go a little further, with well maintained hikes offering the change to clamber and climb over the naturally rocky landscape. This makes it popular with downtown residents at the weekend as an ideal ‘after lunch’ excursion.
A Cute Town
The aesthetics of Bend continue right through the downtown area, and are by no means limited to the trail and waterway areas. Downtown Bend has treelined boulevards, cobbled walkways, an abundance of flowers, and is packed with unique boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. Its Tower Theater, standing proudly over the town since 1940, its distinctive deco moderne style adds a flavor of glamour to the skyline. Formed of two one-way streets, Wall and Bond, the area features a picturesque mirror pond, a Riverfront Neighborhood complete with original mill-worker cottages, and parkland bordered by colonial residences. The effect is one of character, history, and style, making it one of the most charming and pleasant downtown areas within the Pacific Northwest.
Water and the Allure of the Pacific Coast
Water features heavily in the Bend aesthetics, giving the town a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere, and this is something that everyone in the state of Oregon is well aware of. As a coastal state, many towns and cities are fortunate to have dramatic views of the Pacific Coast. The Pacific Coast Scenic Byway is a highly popular drive for residents of Bend who want to explore a little further, tracing the entire coastline and giving visitors and locals the opportunity to witness an ocean that is at times tranquil, at times tempestuous. From the sea looking inwards, the views of Oregon’s cliffs and mountains make for an attractive coastline that has long been popular with cruise liners and smaller boats. Cruise ships usually set off from Alaska and make their way down to take in the unique coastline that Planet Cruises describe as being is one of the most beautiful in the world. Charming seaside towns such as Gold Beach Oregon are easily accessible from Bend, and give visitors the chance to relax on the beach or take boats out into the famous Pacific surf.
Living an Experience
Oregon as a state has much to offer its residents. Its vast, untamed countryside offers the ultimate opportunity to get in touch with nature. The range of landscapes is truly staggering, offering something for everyone regardless of their interests or ability. Although perhaps best known for its dramatic coastline, it is the trails that are the hidden jewels in the Oregon crown, as they offer people the chance to truly escape from urbanity. However, the basic human need to live in settlements means that Oregon is peppered with small and deeply individual towns and cities. Bend is particularly remarkable within this for bringing in the wildly natural flavor of rural Oregon into its downtown district. With sensitively designed homes, tree lined avenues, and a plethora of parks and open spaces, Bend perfectly complements the Oregon experience. With residents, workers, and visitors to the downtown area never being more than a few steps away from a park or trail, they are also able to enjoy the benefits of a truly entrepreneurial town: unique shops, unique restaurants, and a truly unique experience.