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Slopes or spa? Find your wintertime balance in Bend, Oregon

When we visited Bend, Oregon from Seattle a few months back, the temps were soaring and snowfall was a distant dream. Now ski and snowshoe enthusiasts are rejoicing as we ease into this colder, darker season where Mother Nature shows off a whole other side of her magnificent Northwest beauty.

Whether you decide to spend the bulk of your waking hours in Bend adventuring around Mt. Bachelor — or exploring the destination's quaint downtown scene and local businesses, like we did this latest trip — we've gathered plenty of ideas for your next Oregonian escape.

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For a different spin on accommodations, try Campfire Hotel, a 100-room boutique hotel motor lodge, or Element Bend, whose "Studio Commons" showcase an unusual concept that melds a hotel room with a home rental. Groups can enjoy a flexible shared living area and a fully-equipped kitchen prime for preparing homemade meals, later retreating to four private guest rooms when alone time is needed. The best news? The units are dog-friendly, so your furry friend can tag along on your trip, too.

Travelers with dogs will also appreciate that local pet stores sell seasonally-appropriate lighted accessories, like glow-in-the-dark balls and illuminated collars. Bend also happens to be home to one of the coolest, off-leash dog parks around — Overturf Butte Reservoir.

To further help you maintain balance while on the road, Element by Westin has launched a creative collaboration with Lettuce Grow, a veg-forward leader of hydroponic, indoor gardening. This means guests get direct access to free, farm-fresh herbs and leafy greens while away from home. (This offer also stands at Element Tampa Midtown and Element Atlanta Buckhead, if you happen to have your sights on either of those eastern cities.)

A whole host of indoor activities help those stay active who're craving non-snow-centric fun, and spas around town cater to those with pampering in mind. Beer enthusiasts will want to take advantage of the Bend Ale Trail, mixing and matching beverages at 30 breweries located in seven territories. Make it into a game by gathering passport stamps to earn prizes; keepsake passports are available at the Bend Visitor Center for $5, or you can download it for free on your phone.

At mealtime, we enjoyed starting the day at The Sparrow Bakery; think lox bagel creations plus bacon breakfast sandwiches with poached egg, avocado and arugula aioli. Lunch or dinner at El Sancho means tasty tacos and spicy margaritas. Those wanting a variety to choose from will love wandering the options at The Grove Market Hall. In Bend, a whole host of city parks and trails allow you to wander the Great Outdoors, perhaps with a warming coffee treat in hand.

To further jazz up your visit, check out seasonal events listed on the Visit Bend website, ranging from tree lightings to wintertime celebrations. And if planning ahead to next spring and summer, be sure to peruse the concert lineup at Hayden Homes Amphitheater. We guarantee it'll be one of the most low-stress music-going experiences you've ever enjoyed!

Corinne Whiting is a freelance writer for Seattle Refined. Follow her work and adventures here.


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