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160 miles SE of Portland, 241 miles SW of Pendleton

Situated on the banks of the Deschutes River, Bend is the largest city east of the Oregon Cascades, and the surrounding area has more resorts than any other region in the state. To understand why a small town on the edge of a vast high desert could attract so many vacationers, just look to the sky. It's blue. And the sun is shining. For the webfoots who spend months under gray skies west of the Cascades, that's a powerful attractant.

However, Bend doesn't end with sunny skies. It is also home to Mount Bachelor, the biggest and best ski area in the Northwest. The pine-covered slopes of several other mountains -- the Three Sisters and Broken Top among them -- provide a breathtaking backdrop for the city, and out amid the forests on the flanks of those mountains are lakes and trout streams that attract hikers, mountain bikers, anglers, and paddlers. A lively downtown filled with interesting shops, art galleries, excellent restaurants, and attractive Drake Park (which is named for the city's founder, A. M. Drake, and not for the ducks that are the park's major attraction) complements the outdoor offerings of the area.

Over the past decade, Bend has been one of the fastest-growing cities in Oregon, and it has attracted lots of well-heeled new residents. Many Oregonians complain that Bend now feels more like a California town than an Oregon community, and, what with the pricey restaurants and fancy art galleries, it's hard to argue this point. Still, all the new upscale amenities make this a very pleasant town in which to spend a vacation.