The 25 Best Towns of 2017
- Population: 90,000
- Median home value: $271,000
- Median household income: $53,000
- Council says: “There are a ton of great craft breweries. It’s one of the country’s better scenes.” —Ron Jeffries
Bend is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country for a reason. It has a whitewater park right in town. Nearby Mount Bachelor has expanded its downhill bike park—and got a new lift last winter, which opened up 600 acres. And 150 miles of trails have been built in the Deschutes National Forest in the past decade.
Not enough? Smith Rock State Park and its hundreds of climbing routes are just 30 miles north (though 20,000-square-foot Bend Rock Gym is closer), and the trail running is so good that ultramarathoners train here.
“There are so many things to do that, if one thing isn’t working, you don’t have to drive hours to do another,” says Lauren Fleshman, a former professional runner who founded energy-fuel company Picky Bars with her husband, triathlete Jesse Thomas, and Stephanie Bruce.
Bend now has close to 80 outdoor-related businesses, ranging from the established brand Hydro Flask to startup Cairn. (Oregon State University–Cascades will soon offer a degree in gear design and marketing.) There’s a booming tech industry, an exploding food-cart scene, and a growing number of concerts—this year’s include Paul Simon and Ween. In short, Bend is the kind of place where you can do the nine-to-five job thing—and actually earn a living—then do the five-to-nine fun thing, no problem. —Tim Neville