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Give in to the wanderlust

Satisfying your summer travel-bug in Bend, Oregon

Moses Spencer, Tacoma resident, enjoying the view at No Name Lake on Broken Top Crater Trail in Bend, Oregon. Photo credit: Christina Butcher

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Some of us are always on the hunt for adventure. We crave travel, yearn for exploration, and wile away the hours by staring wistfully into the distance. We've got wanderlust -- a strong desire to travel -- and sometimes there's nothing to be done about it except to give in to our desire and hit the road. This summer, our wanderlust led us to none other than Bend, Oregon, where high desert, pine forests and the Deschutes River converge with delightfully low-key vibes. To help you do the same, we put together a few travel tips so that'll allow your wanderlust spirit to flourish in Bend, Oregon:

First things first: forget about hotel rooms or Airb&b rentals and go camping, instead. Campsites in Deschutes National Forest are only a 30-minute drive from downtown Bend and cost a whopping $10 per night at many locations within the park. Soda Creek Campground, for instance, is nestled along the banks of Soda Creek and Sparks Lake; offers views of Bachelor Peak, South Sister and Broken Top mountains; and includes campfire rings and picnic tables for registered campers.

Camping outside of town will also give you the most direct access to Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, a 66-mile stretch of highway that winds through forested mountains, alpine lakes, and historic lava flow areas of central Oregon. Allot three to five hours for this excursion, which is just enough time to take in the wonders of the byway.

If you're intent on exploring Bend's surrounding forestland but feel a bit squirrelly in cars, ditch your wheels and go hiking. Broken Top Crater Hike is a 5.5-mile-long, moderate hike located in Three Sisters Wilderness -- just outside Bend. You'll need a vehicle with 4x4 capability and high clearance to get to the trailhead, but once you embark on the trail, you'll be rewarded with stunning views of creeks and meadows, as well as pristine trail conditions. Two-and-a-half miles into the hike, you'll come across No Name Lake, a dazzling, turquoise-colored body of water fed by glacial runoff. The brave at heart can jump or walk into the icy water for a truly heart-pumping experience before continuing another half mile to the Broken Top Crater ridge. There, you'll see Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and the Three Sisters peaks in all their glory.

To replenish your body post-hike, head into Bend for a relaxing dip in the soaking pool at McMenamin's Old St. Francis School. This Turkish Bath-style soaking pool is located downtown on Old St. Francis School grounds. The bathhouse is decorated with dramatic, stained glass windows, centerpiece stone fountains -- complete with lions spouting water into the pool -- and floor-to-ceiling murals in Byzantine-style. The decadence of the soaking pool is undeniable, and can be felt when fully submerged in the warm water or when relaxing against the edge of the pool. For only $5 a person, you can enjoy the soaking pool all afternoon. McMenamin's also allows soaking pool patrons to bring hard drinks along with them to the pool area (it is McMenamin's, after all).

Complete your weekend wanderings in Bend by visiting the Bend Farmers Market. This outdoor market is held every Wednesday and Saturday from Memorial Day to October. It's located downtown in Brooks Alley and includes handcrafted goods, produce, baked goods, live music, and art by local vendors. Some of our market highlights included nabbing warm, freshly baked goods from The Village Baker and lavender lemonade from Tumalo Lavender as we ambled down the cobblestone street. Those strapped for cash needn't worry, either, as the market is free to attend. 

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