Since I’ve taken the time to create a Free Summertime Activity Guide the past couple of years, a friend on Twitter suggested/asked if I was going to do any for fall and winter as well. I am now! So here is a guide to the free (or nearly free) activities to be found during autumn in Bend.
Keep checking back, as I’ll be updating this over the next few days/weeks, as well.
- Visit a pumpkin patch. Hard as it may be to believe for Central Oregon, we do actually have a few pumpkin patches around where you can pick out your own pumpkin (rather than pick through the box at your local grocery store). I like the Central Oregon Pumpkin Company over in Terrebonne, but there are other options; last year the Bulletin ran a guide and I’ll bet they have one this year, too. Yes, you might spend some extra money on food or hayrides or even a corn maze, but it’s well worth it.
- Head to the Library. Visiting the Deschutes Public Library is a good way to beat the cool weather, and during school days they have plenty of storytimes and activities for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Plus they have a ton of other things going on, like free internet access, classes, art exhibits, and, you know, books.
- The quarterly Friends of the Library Book Sale is taking place Saturday, October 3rd, and there are always great deals to be had.
- Cheap movies at McMenamins. The theater at the Old St. Francis School shows second-run movies for only $3 per person (and $2 on Tuesdays). Plus you can drink beer and order decent pub food (tater tots!) while watching the movie, and many of the seats are nice and comfy couches.
- Beer and wine tastings. Every Thursday Newport Avenue Market has free beer tastings from 3:30 until 6pm, and on Fridays and Saturdays during the same hours they offer free wine tastings. Whole Foods has recently begun offering tastings, as well: beer on Fridays from 4 to 6pm, and wine on Saturdays from noon to 5pm.
- Bicycling/mountain biking. Just because the weather is getting cooler doesn’t mean you can’t ride your bike. Bend is a really bike-friendly town: not only is it nice to ride around the town itself (downtown, "old town," and the westside in particular), but there’s a multitude of choices for trails and bike routes if you have a mountain bike. The Deschutes River Trail ($5 Day Pass), Phil’s Trail (free), and the Swampy Lakes Loop (free) are just a few examples. Want more local biking resources? Visit Bend has a cycling guide, and Trails.com has an interactive map of mountain bike trails.
- Hike Shevlin Park. (A reader submitted this idea—thanks, Elisa!) Take a walk through Shevlin Park this time of year and you’ll be astounded at the cacophony of fall colors you’ll encounter. Check out this blog post from Mike Putnam Photography for a preview.
- Bend Roots Revival. From September 24th through 27th on Bend’s west side—the corner of 14th and Galveston—is a grassroots "celebration of our local performing arts community." Over the four days there will be more than 70(!) local musical acts and workshops spread out across eight performance areas, with Parilla Grill and the Victorian Cafe splitting the hosting duties. The entire event, a project of 106.7 KPOV Bend Community Radio, is completely free to the public, and any donations made are tax deductible.
- Bend Oktoberfest. September 25th and 26th sees the return of the Oktoberfest to downtown Bend, with something new this year: admission is free. (The last few years they charged admission.) What to expect: well, aside from the usual bounty of Oktoberfest beer and German food, there will be live music and dancing, yodeling contests, wiener dog races, activities for kids like puppet shows and face painting, and more.
- Bend Fall Festival. Like the Bend SummerFest, the streets of Downtown Bend are closed to cars on October 3rd and 4th and will be lined with artisans and vendors offering up their wares, along with free music on several stages and a sizable food/beer/wine court area. Other activities befitting the autumn include "Oompah music, German beers, pumpkin contests, and hay rides, as well as live music, restaurants, art, spirits, and children’s activities." Like the other seasonal Fests, admission is free, music and entertainment is free, but the grub and grog will cost you.
- Bend Christmas Parade. Taking place on December 5th, the Parade is still technically in the Fall even as it celebrates Christmas. Like the Pet Parade on July 4th, the Christmas Parade is a downtown favorite, and it won’t cost you a thing: just stay warm and enjoy the Parade!