If you plan on moving to Bend in the spring or summer, there are endless opportunities for outdoor fun…but picnics are a particularly special way to spend a warm afternoon. If you’ve got picnics on the mind, we can suggest several of our favorite spots to eat while enjoying the nature all around us.
Note: Bend’s parks are well-equipped with handy disposal bins, usually located nearby picnic tables and other spots. It’s also a good idea to make use of them – or bring your own biodegradable trash bag along with your other supplies so you can clean up after you eat!
1. Drake Park
Drake Park is the quintessential park experience in downtown Bend. This strip of beautifully cultivated park land (the trees in autumn never get old) hugs close to the Deschutes River in one of its quiet loops. There’s plenty of options for walking, playing on the grassy hills, feeding the ducks, and more. It’s also home to plenty of events and performers if you’d like some entertainment. When you’re finished eating, it’s an easy stroll to experience downtown shops or stop by one of the cafes at the park’s border.
2. Columbia Park
Do your young kids need to run off a little energy? Columbia Park is famous for its giant ship-inspired playground, making it particularly popular for young families. There are also plenty of river views and a large lawn for some light sports after you’ve finished up your picnic.
3. Shevlin Park
Shevlin Park is an enormous park stretching outward from the northwest side of Bend, around 1,000 acres. That makes it perfect for adventures, but don’t worry – there are many cozy picnic tables dotted throughout, especially in the early areas of the park. It’s a great choice if you prefer to eat under towering Ponderosa pines. As a bonus, it’s also a great place to take the family snowshoeing in winter if you’re looking for great outdoor activities in Bend.
4. Riverbend Park
If you’re wondering what to do in Bend for a picnic lunch, Riverbend really needs to be on your list. The location of the famous “bend” in the Deschutes River that gave the city its name, this ambling park is a great spot to enjoy river views and has some of the best picnic spots in Bend, including cabin-style structures for shade and larger family gatherings. Just across the river is dog park with areas for fenced-in running (poo bag dispensers are also available( as well as splashing in the river, while Old Mill shops are just a brief walk away and friendly hiking trails await in the opposite direction – giving you plenty of post-picnic options!
5. Pine Nursery
Pine Nursery Park is ideal for active families that like their picnics with some sports to run off calories after. There are designated spots for basketball, skateboarding, disc golf, softball, pickleball, and even fishing is allowed (there’s also a 14-acre off-leash park for your dogs). The park covers more than 150 acres, so there’s always something else to explore here while you’re living in Bend.
Special Mention: Crux Fermentation
While it’s not technically a park, it is one of the best picnic spots in Bend to bring your kids for an afternoon of fun…while allowing the adults to sample some of the most interesting brews in town. There’s a grass field to play in, plenty of picnic tables (as well as indoor seating), and incredible mountain views. If you’re wondering what to do in Bend, a stop by Crux should be on your list. Crux also has several food carts, including a recent – and delicious – expansion by The Rogue Chef, so your lunch plans are covered, too.