Say Hello To Tawna Fenske, The Voice Behind @TwisitBend

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Tawna & her dog, Bindi

Tawna & her dog, Bindi

Every Thursday, Say Hello To America will be showcasing the voices behind official Twitter accounts of destinations all across the United States and the city they represent. This week, say hello to Tawna Fenske from @TwisitBend. Tawna has lived in Bend for nearly 16 years, and is a fourth-generation native Oregonian. She has been the PR & Communications Manager for Visit Bend for almost three years.   


1. What time of the year is best to travel to Bend?

Bend is a great travel destination year-round, whether you come here in the winter for snowshoeing and skiing, or you visit in the warmer months for hiking, biking, or kayaking. That said, I’m especially fond of September in Bend. It’s less-crowded than our peak tourism months in July and August, but the weather is still sunny and warm and beautiful. Perfect for enjoying the outdoor playground of the West!

2. How would you describe the people of Bend?

Mirror Pond

Mirror Pond

People always comment about how friendly everyone seems in Bend , whether you’re asking for directions around our historic downtown area, or chatting with strangers over a beer in one of the breweries along the Bend Ale Trail. There’s something about our perpetually-sunny weather that seems to put everyone in a good mood.

3. What is your favorite and least favorite thing about Bend?

I have too many favorites to mention, but I really love how easy it is to have the “perfect day” almost any day of the week. I can get up early on a Saturday morning and take my dog for a walk through one of dozens of scenic area parks en route to a cute little breakfast café where we’ll sit outside on the patio and enjoy breakfast together. Then I can round up the kids for a family float along the Deschutes River , followed by lunch at our favorite family-friendly brewery, Crux Fermentation Project, where the kids can frolic in the grass and the grownups can order a sampler tray and a cheese plate. Then we’re off for a hike up Pilot Butte, which offers gorgeous views of the whole city.

My least favorite thing? That would be the fact that I don’t get to play 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!

4. What is Bend’s most famous landmark or attraction?

Pilot Butte at Night

Pilot Butte at Night

Snow sport enthusiasts probably know us best for Mt. Bachelor , our local ski area, but I actually think Pilot Butte State Park is the most recognizable landmark for most folks. It’s 500-foot extinct volcano right in the center of town (making Bend one of the few U.S. towns with a volcano in the city limits). You can hike to the top, or opt to drive during the warm months when the road isn’t closed for ice. The views from the top are breathtaking, and include the Cascade Mountains to the west, the Oregon Badlands Wilderness to the east, and the whole city of Bend spread out in all directions. It’s an awesome way to get oriented, and it’s a great hike for all ages.

5. Name one “secret” location that a traveler must visit.

I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you.

Tawna's stepkids enjoying Elk Lake

Tawna’s stepkids enjoying Elk Lake

OK, everyone has a favorite among the plethora of gorgeous lakes along the scenic Cascade Lakes Highway . Most people are familiar with the big, easily-accessible ones like Elk Lake or Todd Lake or Sparks Lake, but I’m most fond of some of the little ones you have to hike a bit to find. Blow Lake is a nice one, requiring a one-mile hike from the Six Lakes Trailhead (about a mile south of Elk Lake ). It’s a great spot for fishing or just lounging on a blanket with a good book and a picnic.

6. What is the best/easiest mode of transportation to get around the city?

Bend has been dubbed “Bike Town USA” for its bike friendly nature and oodles of great terrain whether you’re hitting the trails on a mountain bike or touring the Three Sisters Scenic Bikeway on a road bike. You can even rent a cruiser bike and roam along the Bend Ale Trail visiting a dozen local breweries, or get really ambitious and head out with CyclePub, a bike/bar hybrid that holds 14 people. If cycling isn’t your scene, no one will pooh-pooh your choice to drive. One of the great things about Bend is the absence of traffic congestion you see in bigger cities. You can get from point A to almost any point B around Bend in 15 minutes or less.

7. Is there any festival or event in Bend that a traveler should specifically plan a trip around?

My parents joke that they can pick any weekend of the year to visit me in Bend, and there will always be some sort of festival happening. They’re not exaggerating! We have a huge array of them, ranging from Oktoberfest and Fall Festival to Winterfest and Springtacular. The summer months are packed with festivals including Balloons Over Bend and Art in the High Desert , but my favorite is Bend Brewfest every August. It’s an amazing collection of live music, great food, and beer from dozens of breweries around the nation.

8. What are the best family-friendly attractions that Bend has to offer?

Old Mill District

Old Mill District

I wrote a blog post about family-friendly activities in Bend, which includes only a small sampling of ideas.

There are tons of great hikes in and around Bend that are fun for the whole family. My two stepkids (ages 7 and 11) love spending time in the Old Mill District where we can catch a movie followed by a stop at Flatbread Community Oven so they can make their own pizzas. Then we might grab a four-person surry from Wheel Fun Rentals and pedal along the river watching for otters and birds. If it’s a hot day, we’ll pull out our queen-sized air mattress or rent a few float tubes from the Sun Country Tours booth at Riverbend Park and hop in the river to cool off. On summer Sundays, we’ll throw a blanket on the grass at the Les Schwab Amphitheater to catch a free concert and let the kids dance around in front of the stage with all the other kids.

9. What is Bend ‘s signature food that every visitor has to try? Beer tasting samples at Deschutes Brewery in Bend Wanderlust Tours

Does beer count as a food? There’s no question beer has put Bend on the map, with everyone from the New York Times to the Washington Post to the Seattle Times gushing about the Bend Ale Trail. Using your Bend Ale Trail passport or your free smartphone app, you can visit a dozen breweries in and around Bend, collecting passport stamps to earn prizes. Even for non-beer drinkers, it’s fun to take a tour and learn about the local culture and beer-making process (Deschutes Brewery—the fifth largest craft brewery in the nation—has an awesome free tour that’s even family-friendly). You’ll also find a lot of great beer-centric dishes around town, ranging from the Village Baker’s bread made with Black Butte Porter, to Crux’s mac & cheese spiked with their Marzen beer. Yum!

10. If I only had one day to explore Bend , what MUST I see or do?

Besides the aforementioned hike/drive up Pilot Butte, no visit to Bend is complete without a stroll through historic Drake Park. It’s a gorgeous spot along the Deschutes River, with beautiful Mirror Pond reflecting views of the mountains to the west. It’s a short walk from there to explore the fabulous shops around Downtown Bend, with a wealth of cool boutiques, great restaurants, and unique art galleries.

Mirror Pond

Mirror Pond


Bend Visitor Center
750 NW Lava Road, Suite 160 (corner of Oregon Avenue & Lava Road)
Hours: Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm | Saturday 10am to 4pm

Connect with Visit Bend
Website: Visit Bend
Twitter: @TwisitBend
Facebook: Visit Bend, Oregon
Blog: Bend Buzz

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