The other day I received a news alert from The New York Times telling me to put down my phone because doing so might help me live longer.
A sucker for irony, I tapped on the notification and scrolled through the article on my phone. The article details the link between phone usage and rising levels of the body’s stress hormone cortisol, which could have negative effects on our long-term health. It also mentions that “an increasing body of evidence suggests that the time we spend on our smartphones is interfering with our sleep, self-esteem, relationships, memory, attention spans, creativity, productivity and problem-solving and decision-making skills.”
But a lot of us don’t need science to tell us we’re on our phones too much. This fact is obvious when you feel stressed by the constant ping of incoming emails, when your hands start to ache from hours of typing and scrolling, and when you finally look up and find everyone else’s heads are down. Many of us are already making small adjustments to cut down on screen time, but a full-on digital detox might be just the thing you need to break some of these bad habits.
A digital detox might sound intimidating, but in the right setting and with the right itinerary, it’s not only easy but extremely refreshing as well. To help you get started, here’s how to spend 24 hours in Bend, Oregon, without technology:
Wake up at Riverhouse on the Deschutes
Riverhouse on the Deschutes will be your digital detox sponsor! Book the Digital Detox Package to secure a room without a TV and plenty of books and games in its place. When you check in, you can have your phone locked away at the front desk to help avoid any temptation.
When you wake up at Riverhouse, open your back door and step out onto the patio. Between the smell of the juniper and the sound of the rushing river, it’ll be impossible not to feel instantly at peace. The property’s large rooms, cabin-like vibes and central location make this accommodation a perfect launching point for any adventure as well as a tranquil setting if all you want to do is relax.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel
A delicious breakfast is only steps away at the Riverhouse’s restaurant, CURRENTS. Enjoy your meal indoors or, weather permitting, outside right along the Deschutes River.
Now, this is the first event without your phone, so you might find yourself reaching for it every once in a while. Stay strong. Enjoy some face-to-face conversation or, if you’re alone, grab a book or the paper to keep you occupied.
Get outside with a hike at Smith Rock
Since you’re ditching social media and giving your thumbs a break during these 24 hours in Bend, you’ll have plenty of energy to expel elsewhere. And, since you’re in Bend, there’s no better place to do that than outside. You’ll find plenty of options for getting some one-on-one time with Mother Nature. Depending on the time of year, you can ski or snowboard, mountain bike, climb, horseback ride, kayak—you name it. I chose to get a hike in at Smith Rock.
Roughly 30-minutes north of Bend, Smith Rock is a beautiful state park outfitted with tuff and basalt cliffs for climbing and well-groomed hiking trails. It also features the Crooked River that runs through the park to complete this picturesque landscape. There are plenty of trails to choose from (you can view them all on the website here), but I chose the Canyon to Rim route: a 3.4-mile loop that will give you a nice tour of the park along with great views of the climbers.
Get a soak in at McMenamins
Equal parts quirky and historical, McMenamins hotels are a PNW staple and offer unique experiences, even for those not staying there. Formerly a Catholic schoolhouse, the Old St. Francis School was transformed into a hotel with 60 guest rooms in 2004. Available to the public, this downtown Bend property also features a pub, brewery, movie theater, and live music space. But what you’ll be most interested in after your hike is its soaking pool.
Relax your mind and muscles in the warm, buoyant water while enjoying the stained glass and tile work as well as the sun, rain or snow falling in from the semi-open ceiling. Entrance to the pool costs five dollars. You’ll need to present your ID at the front desk and bring your own towel.
Grab lunch at Mother’s
Once you’re done soaking, grab lunch just a short walk away at Mother’s. Fuel up with a healthy, local and most importantly yummy lunch. My recommendation: the “Nuttin’ Honey” smoothie.
Visit Drift Spa
The spa is no place for phones, which means it’s a perfect spot to visit during your digital detox. Visit the brand-new Drift Spa, just steps away from Riverhouse, for a massage. I guarantee you’ll be so relaxed you won’t care about the notifications currently left unread.
Relax and unwind
While technology is meant to make our lives more efficient, it can also be a significant time-suck. By not scrolling through Twitter, editing photos for Instagram, and Googling random questions, you’ll free up time in your day. So, take an hour or two to do something you “just never have time for” at home. Whether that’s reading, journaling, meditating, drawing, or some other activity, a digital detox is an opportunity to finally take some time to yourself.
Sip on local craft beer at Bend Brewing Company
If you really want to fit in during your 24 hours in Bend, you’ll ride your bike to a brewery to drink craft beer outside while talking about upcycling your hiking boots. For now, we’ll focus on the craft beer part. And there’s no better place to start than at Bend Brewing Company itself.
A trailblazer in the Bend beer scene, Bend Brewing Company is the city’s second-oldest brewery. Its downtown brewpub is a wonderful setting for kicking back and tasting beers indoors or outdoors while playing some corn hole near the Deschutes.
Have dinner at Wild Rose
The local-recommended Wild Rose is a great place to get your Thai food fix. Wild Rose serves up Northern Thai food that won’t be accommodating of your Americanized concept of Thai food. This means you won’t be getting pad Thai. If you can get over that (and you really should), you’ll be greatly rewarded with flavorful and truly authentic dishes. If you can handle the heat, I highly suggest the “Sukiyaki.”
Get your sweet-fix at Goody’s
If you’ve been walking around downtown, you’ve probably already smelled the sweet smell of waffle cones pouring out of Goody’s. Handmade with natural, local ingredients, Goody’s is a central Oregon gem that serves up incredible ice cream, chocolates and other, well, goodies. Get an extra scoop because you truly can’t understate how incredible this ice cream is!
The next morning…
By now you should be full, relaxed and digitally detoxed. See, it wasn’t that bad! Just don’t forget your phone when you check out of Riverhouse tomorrow…or do!
Like 24 hours in Bend, Oregon? Check out: A Sustainable 24 Hours in Cancún, Mexico
For more on travel to Bend, Oregon, visit visitbend.com.