The first time we visited Bend, in Summer, 2018, smoke from nearby wildfires blanketed the region through most of our visit. This time, wildfire smoke drove us to Bend when we canceled our Fall travel plans and found ourselves with nowhere to go. Fortunately, the smoke finally cleared, and our friends who live in Bend told us about Crown Villa RV Resort.

Crown Villa RV Resort

I had heard of Crown Villa before, but knew it only as an exceedingly pricey option. Like $90-$100 per night, pricey. (What I like to call “GFY Pricing.” And that doesn’t stand for “Good For You.”)

But our friends told us they offered discounted offseason monthly rates and once I started digging in, I realized they were actually pretty reasonable. In October, we paid $31 per night, while in November, we paid just $23 per night.*

For this:

Campsite at Crown Villa RV Resort in Bend, Oregon

Campsites at Crown Villa RV Resort in Bend, Oregon Campsites at Crown Villa RV Resort in Bend, Oregon

Each enormous site is constructed with these nice pavers, there’s separate parking for your car, a storage shed at the back, and spacious grassy areas on either side.

This was our site – which easily could have accommodated multiple Barney-sized motorhomes:

Campsite at Crown Villa RV Resort in Bend, Oregon

There are huge common lawns between rows of sites which provided plenty of squirrel monitoring opportunities for the doggo:

Thor looking at the lawn behind our campsite

and they even have trash and recycling pickup from your site.

Trash and recycling cans at Crown Villa RV Resort

We got our own trash can, y’all!!!!

Community building at Crown Villa RV Resort

The resort has tennis/pickleball courts, a fenced in dog run, a hot tub/steam room/fitness center (some of which was closed because of Covid), and many other well maintained facilities. But, truth be told, all we care about is space and Crown Villa delivered that better than just about any commercial campground we’ve stayed at.

We ended up staying for seven weeks and just loved it.

Bend

Bend is a really nice town and the local government obviously spends tons of money keeping it that way. Sidewalks, streets, parks, and schools are all well maintained and modern. Residents take pride in their homes and neighborhoods. The overall vibe is warm and welcoming, and the people are refreshingly normal (it’s not a given, trust me.)Bend neighborhood with bright fall colors

We really noticed how cooperative locals were when it came to Covid. As we wandered around one afternoon, I remember thinking “this is what happens when a bunch of people climb into a boat, grab a paddle, and start paddling in the same direction.”

The local government made clear that its intention was to keep things open, but it needed businesses and citizens to do their parts.

Businesses responded by making their expectations clear:

and adjusting their operations to keep their customers and staff healthy…

This restaurant put up plexiglass dividers around its outside tables

And locals did their part by keeping their groups small, putting on masks, and bringing their wallets:

Overall, the incidence of positive cases in Bend – at least when we were there – remained relatively low, and we saw very few “out of business” signs.

What we observed in Bend was noticeably different than what we’ve observed in our current “hometown” of San Diego. Whether the right call or not, the repeated closures of businesses in southern California has resulted in numerous lawsuits, countless closed businesses, blatant rule breaking, and a much clearer sense of “us vs them” between the business community and the government. For example, this rather large sign strung across a restaurant after the government prohibited outdoor dining:

“To-go only until our overlords say it’s safe. Things you CAN do: Take a long flight with 100 strangers shoulder to shoulder, go to a casino, go to the beach and eat, go to the park and eat, go to the mall and eat, go to the plaza down the street and eat, go to a big box store filled with over 100 people, go to the dentist but not a hairstylist, go to another state….”

Or this “trashcan art” displaying the artist’s heartfelt thoughts about the California governor’s decision making:

I’m not here to make judgment calls on any of this. Everyone is doing their best in a bad situation. We just noticed that in Bend, it seemed like government employees, business owners, and customers were all on the same team trying to make things work rather than fighting each other. It felt a lot more cooperative and a lot less antagonistic.

Given the low test positivity rate, the willingness of businesses and residents to do what they were asked to do, and the resulting availability of what we felt were safe options, we did what we could to support local businesses while also supporting our desire to eat delicious food. While we have not partaken in indoor dining at all since the start of the pandemic, we are more than happy to hit up food trucks, grab to-go meals, and eat outside on well spaced patios – something that was easy to do in Bend.

And that meant we got to eat tacos:

Tacos:

And also tacos:

Bend has several “pods” of food trucks around the city. We really like The Lot, which boasts several trucks parked around a communal picnic area. There’s a roof overhead, but the sides are completely open, and on chilly days, heated benches and overhead heaters keep the space comfortable. There’s also a bar offering sixteen local beers on tap. Most importantly, in the middle of the day, it’s frequented by people who understand the art of social distancing.

The most recognizable food truck at The Lot is a historic, restored double decker bus housing “Fricken Faco.”

And ya know what “Fricken Faco” sells? Yep:

(they also sell fried chicken. Hence, the name.)

Bend also offers numerous excellent breweries, many of which had shifted their operations outside. The back wall at Silver Moon Brewing showcased some pretty incredible artwork:

When not sampling the local wares, we walked all over the place, taking advantage of the beautiful parks and interconnected trail systems in town.

The city is centered around the impressive Deschutes River

The Deschutes River surrounded by parkland in Bend

Which is surrounded by a series of manicured parks and natural trail systems:

A paved trail in a park in Bend

A dirt trail next to the Deschutes River

The Deschutes River

You can basically make your own trail along the river and through the city, depending on how far you want to walk. It’s a wonderful public system, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike, and we made use of it several times to get out and enjoy the Fall sunshine.

Canine tourists love it too:

Thor swimming in the river

One afternoon, we headed up to Pilot Butte State Park. This park, located right in the center of the city, contains a spiral path up to its top:

The spiral path up to Pilot Butte

where visitors can take in panoramic views of Bend

The view from Pilot Butte over Bend

and see all the volcanic mountains out in the distance.
The view from Pilot Butte of volcanic mountains in the distance

Had I written this post four months ago, I could tell you what mountain is what, but now I have no idea, so here’s a nice map thing from the plaza at the top:

Bend also offers several nicely designed dog parks. Some, but not all, are fenced, and most offer water fountains for the dogs. Thor’s favorite was Pine Nursery which is an absolutely enormous park with walking trails, agility equipment, and a massive grassy field full of well behaved dogs and their friendly owners.

A meeting of the local German Shepherd Committee
Pine Nursery park at sunset
We caught a fiery sunset on our way out of the park one evening

Time to Go

Honestly we were enjoying our time so much, we wanted to keep extending our stay. But, eventually, the reason for Crown Villa’s ultra affordable November prices became painfully apparent:

While it wasn’t always this cold, once we got past Halloween, we quickly started noticing huge piles of wood sprouting up outside people’s homes:

and supersized propane tanks being delivered to our more hardy neighbors.

Hell, even the dogs at Pine Nursery started showing up in GIANT fur coats.

We got the message loud and clear. It was time to head south.

________________________________________________________________

Where we stayed:

Crown Villa RV Resort, Bend, Oregon

*Note: Crown Villa was recently bought out by Sun Resorts, and between the time we stayed and now, their old website has disappeared, so it’s possible their pricing and policies may change.

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52 COMMENTS

  1. Every time I see your pics from Bend I am amazed at the beauty!! In a lot of ways it reminds me of northern New England. Glad you got to stay at such a great place. Lol. Lots of tacos! We had burritos and enchiladas tonight. Looks like Mexican food all around!!

    • There are lots of similarities before Bend and certain towns in New England. I didn’t take good pics of the central shopping area, but it definitely has a certain New England “feel.” It was especially noticeable because we were there during the Fall, and the colors were very pretty. It’s a fun city with lots to see and do nearby, including Crater Lake just about 90 minutes away. It’s a good spot to add to your list. And it’s always a good time for Mexican food!! 🙂

    • You would absolutely love it, Terri! It’s the perfect region to explore in a smaller set up. Tons of national forests and beautiful campsites right there.

  2. Love off season pricing! Those sites are amazing, it must be a pretty large park. Some day we will get back to that area of the country but not this year. We scored a 30 day site in Terlingua, TX starting March 18th. Should be just in time for wildflower season in Big Bend!
    Bend – Big Bend, kinda the same but different…lol

    • Oh nice! Big Bend remains high on our list. I’m sure you will love it, and from what I understand, it’s enormous, so having a full month will come in handy. Can’t wait to see your photos – especially with all the flowers. Should be gorgeous!

  3. We lived in Sisters before we began full-timing and now have a place in Tucson. But on return trips we also stayed at Crown Villa. At that time the rumor was it was being sold for condo development, so we are glad it is still there. Sisters KOA is also quite nice. We’ve considered having a summer home in the area again. Tempted once again, especially over those amazing looking tacos! Did you discover Yumm Bowls at Cafe Yumm? They are addictive! Another activity we loved in the area was exploring all the old logging roads in our Jeep. Central Oregon is awesome!

    • Agreed – Central Oregon is fantastic! Somehow, even though we were in Bend for seven weeks, we never headed up to Sisters. I’ve heard great things about it, but it remains on our list. This whole period of time has been weird with so much stuff being closed, but I’m sure we’ll be back again at some point and hopefully check these places out. Speaking of which, we did not visit Cafe Yumm, but I just looked at their website and it seems like there are a bunch in Oregon, so we’ll keep an eye out for it next time we head up that way. Thanks for the tip! As for Crown Villa, I’m cautiously optimistic it will remain the same. We’ve stayed at other Sun properties and they’ve always been nice. I just hope they keep the offseason rates.

    • That’s exactly how we felt. It ticks a ton of boxes, but we are total cold weather wimps these days. Anything south of 60 degrees and we start whining. 🙂

  4. Great introduction to Bend. Thanks! We have driven near Bend, but never stayed. We have now put this area on our watch list. Once again, thank you for helping us make future plans of great places to visit. Stay safe out there! Jim

    • Thanks, Jim! There are a ton of national forest campgrounds and BLM spots up there that you would love. The town of Sisters is supposed to be artsy and eclectic, Bend is full of awesome breweries and great restaurants, Newberry Volcanic Monument is just outside town, and about 90 minutes south is stunning Crater Lake. It’s a route made in LIB heaven!

  5. Looks like a wonderful place, will have to check it out sometime. It’s also home to the last remaining Blockbuster Video. And no, I have no idea why this tidbit of information is occupying brain cells.

    • Haha! You know, you are not the only person who mentioned that to us, so you are not alone in having that random information floating around your brain! It’s amazing how quickly that whole industry sprang up and then promptly disappeared. As the great Ferris Bueller said (in a movie we all rented from Blockbuster), “Life comes at you fast. If you don’t look around once in a while, you could miss it.’ 🙂

  6. We loved Bend and Crown Villa when we stayed there. Bend just has such a cool vibe to it. Amazing city. We missed the park in the middle though with the drive to the top. Next time!

    • Yes! I remember you mentioning Crown Villa. It definitely lives up to the hype. Such a great park in a truly nice city. Pilot Butte is absolutely worth the visit. It was nice to be able to take in the whole city and get our bearings, and the views of the surrounding mountains are beautiful.

  7. We have been through but have never stopped ion Bend. Have heard a lot of good things about it. As far as the business go, I prefer the let them stay open and let people use their common sense.

  8. Bend looks like a beautiful place and what a deal you got at Crown Villa RV Resort! We too normally balk at those pricey resorts, but you really lucked out. Those sites look amazing. I love all of the trails and parks–what a great way to check out a new place. And the TACOS! We hope to get up to the Northwest one day and appreciate all the good info.

    • The Pacific Northwest is full of fabulous scenery, great cities, and interesting sights. We’ve been multiple times now, but only scratched the surface. It’s worth your time and the shoulder season is the perfect time to visit – especially places in central Oregon. We basically had Crater Lake to ourselves, the weather was terrific (up until the end), and, in normal non-Covid times, we could have gone and done something new every day. It should definitely be on your list!

  9. So…..ya liked Bend then? Seriously, what’s not to like, except maybe the colder weather. Crown Villa is definitely the place to go and on our “schedule” for this spring.

    • Hey – when we DON’T like places I’m not shy about letting folks know, so it only seems fair, right?? 🙂 Hopefully, by the time you get up there, things will be returning to a bit of normalcy. One can hope, right??

  10. I blew through Bend for a few days. I was going to say “last fall” but it was actually two years ago. Is 2020 just a big blank spot in everyone’s head. I had to really think where I was “last fall” – yikes. Anywho, love the post and it makes me realize I gotta get back up there (and hopefully my friends’ house with the full hookup RV site is done and I can stay there and save some money! And, yeah, those tacos are so making me miss the west coast.

    • It’s not just you. Time is a really weird concept these days. No one is doing the things they normally do. I think we’re all feeling unmoored – even those of us who have no real moorings to begin with, and that makes everything seem to meld together even more so than usual. I have no doubt, however, that whenever this disaster does end, a couple (free!) days in Bend will be good for your soul.

  11. Oh we so missed our time in Bend this fall. If it had been a normal year we could have got together in Bend and enjoyed some tasty beers 🙂 Did you try the pumpkin beer with the sugar rim at Silver Moon? It is the main reason we stop there every year but they didn’t have it when we went through in 2019.

    • Silver Moon had shifted their operations outside into a food truck kind of set up, but, as a result, they were only offering a couple of their beers. So, sadly, there was no pumpkin beer when we were there. It sounds delicious though! Hopefully, by next year, things will be back to normal and you can grab one (or three) on your way south!

  12. Ohhhh…..all of those gorgeous tacos! Your RV site is primo, the fall foliage spectacular, and your hikes along the river look wonderful, but it’s the tacos I keep going back to, haha!! Dang, now I want tacos and that means I have to dig out the tortilla press. Because the stupid Piggly Wiggly doesn’t carry corn tortillas. Which is just not right.

    Anyway, it looks like you had perfect weather while you were in Bend. Well, before the temps dropped to 14 degrees, which is ridiculous and also the reason that we crossed Bend off of our list as a possible place to live. I don’t know if you know this, but it will stay at approximately 14 degrees there until June. However, the fact that people are well-behaved in Bend gives the city big bonus points in my book. I wish everyone everywhere understood the concept of “we’re all in this together.” We have friends who live there and they love it, for good reason.

    • Yep, that pesky weather is a serious drawback. As I understand it, their summers are damned hot too. But Spring and Fall are chef’s kiss perfection!

      It certainly has been an education this year, seeing the differences in how people behave depending on where they live. Here in San Diego, people are great about keeping their distance and wearing masks – hell, when we first got here, we felt like slackers. But we’d much rather err on the side of caution these days, especially if it means we can all feel a bit more confident when going about our daily lives. I have a feeling when we head out of here, we’re gonna be a lot more concerned about being out and about. Which means the taco situation is going to be downright depressing. 🙁

  13. Those blue skies and lovely outdoor spaces must have been a huge relief after the intense fire season you endured. That RV park looks great! One of the nicest looking commercial parks I’ve ever seen, and obviously a comfy place for an extended stay. Plus, it was obviously necessary to stay long enough to try ALL the tacos. The community cooperation around covid safety made this an even more perfect place to stop and take a well-earned break….. at least until winter snuck up on you. We haven’t previously had Bend on our radar for a visit, but you’ve convinced us it needs to go on our itinerary next time we head west.

    • Bend is beautiful and offers a lot of the things you guys like; the number of natural features eclipsed only by the number of breweries. I promise, it’s your kind of place! We feel very fortunate to have landed there when we needed a safe place to go. It really was the perfect spot to just “be” for a couple months. We feel the same about San Diego. The blue skies and sunshine have been key as we all try to get to the far side of this tough winter.

  14. The Tacos (and Bend) look amazing … think I’m ready to move! 🙂
    But I only know of one winery … We pass thru Bend on occasion, but have never stopped. Gotta stop next time!

    • I didn’t look into wineries at all up there, but their breweries are terrific. Definitely worth a week or two next time you head through the area. Just make sure it’s warm. I just checked and the highs this week are in the 30’s. Brrrrr….

  15. Love Bend and the Crown Villa RV Resort is the perfect place to stay. We have considered Bend as a future home base…but the idea of me driving in the ice and snow brought us both to our senses! Will just continue our love affair and be friends with benefits!

    • That is exactly how we feel about it! Love it, but it’s been too long for us to want to go back to shoveling snow and scraping ice, much less driving in it. No thank you. Bend falls clearly under the mantle of “Great place to visit, wouldn’t want to live there.” Too bad we can;t just pick up these places and move them elsewhere!

  16. Great post and gorgeous photos – especially the sunset. Shame on us for neglecting Bend. And we have close friends old San Diego friends who have lived there for decades. David Loveall buys old decrepit downtown buildings and converts them into condominiums and sells them for great prices. What a gorgeous park … and, we love tacos, tacos and tacos.

    Gotta get to Bend. Thanks for the talking-to.

    – Carmen

    • You most certainly gotta get to Bend. You would adore it. And if your friend sells condos there, just do yourself a favor and leave your checkbook at home. It’s one of those places that’s just dangerous to visit. Fortunately for us, the weather went to hell while we were there. Otherwise, we were “getting ideas” which could have led to commitments which could have necessitated the purchase of boots and a snow shovel. Shudder.

  17. Bend at one time was on the list of possible place to settle in. But alas it is too cold! Beautiful and manicured as it was with all the surrounding mountains and trails we just have to cross it off.
    Tacos, yum!

    • From reading these comments, it seems like Bend has been on a lot of people’s lists of ‘maybe forever’ locations. Alas, the same things that scared us away have scared many others as well. It really is too bad. It’s kind of a perfect mix of city conveniences with natural features. Ah well, we’ll all just have to visit in the warmer months!

  18. I’ve only ever been to Bend in the winter. It’s great seeing it in autumn. I’m super jealous about the tacos. Not as much social distancing here in AZ. We’re still just doing take out. Sigh.

    • Ugh, sorry to hear that. We all have enough to worry about without others making things unnecessarily difficult. That’s why we’ve just been hanging out in San Diego and trying to find other similarly situated places. At least it should be reasonably warm during the day in AZ, so you can enjoy the outdoors. I really feel bad for people in cold spots where they can’t avoid the indoors and people are not as cooperative. Fingers crossed things will be improving soon.

  19. Your post brought back some wonderful memories of our two stays in Bend. The year we visited in the late spring was a record snow fall so hiking the higher elevations was out. As a matter of fact, Mt Bachelor was open for skiing until July 4th!! So, we made a decision to book another week in August to try to hike higher areas. Well, after the record snow came the record wildfires and smoke. So the mountain hikes were closed for fire and smoke. Oh, well! We did enjoy walking along the river and lunching at the Red Robin sitting outside by the water watching all those paddle boarding, kayaking, and tubing. We had a great visit but the town just didn’t call to us…and they have real winter!! Crown Villa is an awesome park. Of course, we were there for the highest pricest! Haha! There are, however, only a couple sites that have a spot open enough to allow roof top satellite. We secured one of those sites, thank goodness. I sure hope the new owners continue to maintain the same type park. Bend does seem a place Thor would love. River dips every day would be such fun. And all those fur friends!!

    • It seems like Bend is just a place of weather extremes. My understanding is Summer can get pretty brutally hot too. Add in snow in July, and an ever lengthening fire season, and it can be a pretty tough place to live. Actually, it makes me happy that we had as many nice days as we had. I’m sure it’s beautiful in the snow, though! Crown Villa is great, but you’re right: if you need satellite access, it may be tough. I don’t think about that, but there really are very few sites that aren’t under the trees. Sounds like you guys got lucky on that! Fingers crossed everything stays the same there. If so, we’d love to visit again. Hope you guys are doing well and enjoyed your trip!

  20. Hi Laura! So glad we found your blog. Thanks for sharing. We love Bend. I wish the winters weren’t as cold as they are and that the summers weren’t as hot as they can be. But it still might make the list for a future sticks and bricks one day. We were supposed to explore more around the area last summer but then COvid happened. We do have 2 weeks planned in May at the state park so we are looking forward to that. We have a few more weeks on the Oregon coast then will head inland and explore more of Oregon that we haven’t seen too. We just love the state and for me it always feels like coming home when we come back. That’s a good feeling to have. Those tacos look super yummy so we will definitely have to track down that food truck. Love all of the info you shared about Bend and such nice photos too.

  21. Bend is definitely a great place, and I’m glad you had such a nice, long run of good time there. TBG’s brother & wife have a home in the area, and we were fortunate enough to be able to vacation with them at their place. It was spring, and it was cold/snowy, which made it great for a visit (say home hot tub in the snow like snow monkeys!) but like for you, it will not make the short list of permanent residences. I think if you ever get back that way, you should try some local tacos. I’ve heard they’re pretty darn good!

    • Tacos, you say??? Do tell…. 🙂

      It really is too bad about the weather there. So many of us RVers just love it. It ticks so many boxes in terms of nature and convenience and interesting options to keep people engaged. But, one of the best things about RVing is the ability to avoid terrible weather. It spoils you after a while. Anyway, if you’re gonna visit in the winter, knowing someone with a hot tub is definitely the right way to do it!

  22. We too have stayed at Crown Villa RV Resort. We were there in 2019 before riding Cycle Oregon so we were able to use the hot tub. It is the most deluxe RV park I have ever stayed in! We love Bend.. in the summer that is. I am a CA wimp when it comes to cold weather. Thanks for providing the pictures that show how Bend is handling the pandemic… with respect and a bit of humor. I am a believer that by closing everything in CA where I live, it created such resentment and pitted people against each other. Educate people, trust and expect them to do the right thing and they will!

    • I think you’re exactly right on multiple counts. First, I totally get why anyone from California becomes a wimp about cold weather. We’re not even residents, but this place has destroyed any hope of us ever living in a cold weather locale again. I also agree that taking a more cooperative approach is the right way to deal with these things. I think most people want to do the right thing, but when the message keeps changing, when standards are inconsistent, and when there’s insufficient support from the government to offset these huge losses, it naturally breeds resentment. I think the state government could have accomplished a lot more with a lot less pushback if they’d prioritized education and outreach rather than just shutting stuff down. But, who knows? I bet many studies will be completed and books will be written, dissecting this whole period of time so future leaders can respond more effectively.

  23. I live in Bend. Love all 4 seasons including the winter. I am colder in Portland or Bay area. Bend is high desert and therefore dry. BayArea is moist. Seems less hot & cold in the dry air. We just go in the shadr in the summer . My only problem with winter is when it is windy.

    • I’ll definitely agree with you there. Any dampness in the air makes things feel that much colder. It’s interesting to note how different a temperature can feel depending on various factors. I’ll also throw in some love for the endless “good hair days” I get when we’re in dry places. 🙂

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