Bend, Oregon is one of the most beautiful towns in Central Oregon. It's surrounded by high desert, mountains, lakes, and more. While there are plenty of great restaurants, museums, and bars, there are also lot's of things you can do that will cost you absolutely nothing.
Hang Out In Drake Park
Located along the banks of the Deschutes river, Drake park is a great place to hang out anytime during the summer. There are plenty of spots for just relaxing in the sun (or shade if that's your preference), trees for tying up a slack line, and picnic tables for having a relaxing meal with family or friends.
If the weather is really hot, you can wade out in the river to cool off. Or if that's not your scene you can just stroll along the path that follows the river through the park. You can even cross the river on a wooden bridge that is great for staring down at the cool clear water as it slowly passes below.
Spring Fest, Summer Fest, & Bite of Bend
Central Oregon winters can be pretty intense. The sun rises late and sets early. And it's not uncommon for the temperature to drop WELL below freezing. So when the warmer weather comes around EVERYONE in Bend wants to be outside enjoying it.
For this reason there is something going on outside almost every weekend. While some events do require purchasing a ticket, many of them are free. Spring Fest, held in April, Bite of Bend held in late June, and Summer fest held in July are totally free.
There are live bands, entertainment and more. Of course you'll have to pay for any food or drinks, but admission costs nothing and you can spend all day roaming around if you like. It's a great way to spend a summer day.
Oregonians love their farmer's markets and Bend is certainly no exception. Starting in late May the downtown farmer's market gets started. Many times there will be free bands playing in front of Crow's Feet Commons right next to Drake Park.
You can sample lots of different foods for no charge. Some of the vendors you'll find are Lone Pine Coffee, Bonta Gelato, Justy's Jellies, and Sparrow Bakery. Not everyone offers free samples, but you can always buy something for a bargain at the market anyway.
Hike Up Pilot Butte
Right smack dab in the middle of Bend is a big hill called Pilot Butte. Every year it's where the annual 4th of July fireworks show takes place. But it's also a great place to get some exercise. It's a 1.8 mile round trip, but be prepared because it's pretty steep.
You can walk, run, bike, or if you're feeling particularly lazy, drive your car to the top. Once there you'll have a spectacular panoramic view of the entire area including the Three Sisters mountains and Broken top. It's worth every drop of sweat!
If you're in the Bend area and are on a bit of a budget, any of these things are a great way to spend the day.