Central Oregon’s growth has been accompanied by an increasing number of choices when it comes to dining out, enjoying a beverage, listening to music, attending a play or learning from a museum. Some of these cultural improvements have been measured. Historical and natural history museums have been around Bend and Prineville for a while, but have gradually expanded and improved both in facilities and content. The region’s established music festivals are prospering as visitors and new residents bring urban tastes compatible with classical, jazz, pops and world music programs. More and more big name musical acts are being booked into Bend venues. And community theater groups are finding new talent to go along with new audiences.
The restaurant scene is more volatile, as new dining establishments vie with traditional eating houses for a profitable slice of the pie. In recent years there has been an explosion of new dining rooms, new themes and new types of cuisine in Bend and other Central Oregon citiesl. Plus there is plenty of good solid grub available from traditional and new sources.
Bend and surrounding towns have emerged as a thriving center of craft brewing activity. The Oregon Brewers’ Guild counted 23 breweries in Bend and 31 in Central Oregon as of Dec. 16, 2014. Deschutes Brewery was first and is biggest, while others are focusing on specialty brews in smaller volumes. The annual Bend Brewfest leads a procession of beer-themed festivals throughout the year. Bend’s many brew choices help bring visitors to the area, with Visit Bend’s Ale Trail and the entrepreneurial Cycle Pub among the attractions.
And then there is shopping. Present growth and predicted future rates have supported decisions by national retailers to put Bend and Redmond on their maps. Financial problems at the corporate level have caused some to withdraw, but other national names have appeared on the scene. Shopping venues have created two retail tiers in Central Oregon—major department, discount, home improvement and specialty chains at one level, and boutique shops, galleries, decorators and artisans on another. Both appear to be prospering.