Independence Day conjures memories of fireworks, barbecues and basking in the sunshine. This year, the fourth of July falls very conveniently on the weekend and practically begs for a full on commitment to fun!

Chances are you’ve already figured out your Bend fireworks HQ, found the best backyard view of Pilot Butte, and made plans with your favorite people. We are here to help make your before and after plan as you extend your Bend 4th of July holiday for as long as possible.

Friday July 3

First Friday Art Walk with Sisters Quilts

First up on the list is the First Friday Art Walk on July 3rd. Actually, we should back that up just a bit to suggest a happy hour meetup with friends and family. There are seven Old Mill District restaurants featuring happy hour specials. Some begin as early as 3pm and others continue throughout the evening. May we suggest a progressive sampling of your favorite beverages and bites just to get the evening started? After that you can peruse the galleries and meet the artists at working studios.

You’ll also want to make time to wander through the locations hosting the Around the Walk Quilt Block, a self guided walking tour of quilts on display in the Old Mill District July 3-19. Shops and restaurants in the Old Mill District are showcasing quilts made by talented Central Oregon Quilters in honor of the annual Sisters Quilt Show happening on July 11.

Those in need of popcorn and action will be stoked that Terminator Genisys will be playing on the big screen at Regal Cinemas throughout the weekend. Another featured offering is the three night simulcast of Fare Thee Well. Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Grateful Dead with the four remaining original members — Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir — as they reunite at Soldier Field in Chicago. The four original members will be joined by Trey Anastasio (Phish and Trey Anastasio Band), Jeff Chimenti (RatDog, The Dead and Furthur) and multiple Grammy winner Bruce Hornsby. Tickets are now available at the Fathom Events website.

Saturday July 4th

Spark your Heart, Bend Pet Parade, Pilot Butte Fireworks

Spark Your Heart 5K Walk or Run

Benefiting St. Charles adult cardiac rehab and wellness programs and children’s cardiovascular programs, the Spark Your Heart 5k raises awareness and funds to fight one of our region’s leading killers — heart disease. The day starts with the Children’s Heart Fund Dash for kids 8 and younger, continues with a 5K race that attracts hundreds each year and ends with a 1K for cardiac rehab patients. There’s still time to register for this fun run with a purpose here.

Bend Pet Parade

The continuation of  a beloved town tradition includes the adorable  Bend Pet Parade, now a designated Oregon Heritage Tradition. Llamas, chickens, dogs and hogs have been known to make the trek downtown with their human companions. The parade begins at 10am sharp and is followed by the Old Fashioned 4th of July festival in Drake Park.

Old Mill District shoppers take note, our stores our open until 6pm on Independence Day with regular hours resuming on Sunday.

Watch the Fireworks in Bend

Don’t miss the biggest fireworks show in Bend starting around 10 pm from the top of Pilot Butte. You can see the spectacular display from just about anywhere in town where you have a view of Pilot Butte.

Sunday July 5th

Bird Walk & Summer Sunday Concerts

The Sunriver Nature Center offers their weekly Bird Walk along the Deschutes River on from 7:30-8:30am. Along the way, families will have the chance to see such species as red-winged black birds, Belted Kingfisher, Cedar Waxwings, or even Bald Eagles. The stretch of river through the Old Mill District is a prime spot for birding in Central Oregon.

Go for a float, pack a picnic, and listen to live music in Bend at the BMC Free Summer Sunday concert from 2:30pm to 4:30pm. Known for their energy-fueled and compelling live shows, Cloverdayle will be featured on stage.

A family favorite, the Summer Sunday Concerts offer bouncy houses, food and beverage vendors and extra space for dancing in the grass.

Monday July 6th

Bonus Day

There are way too many activities in Bend — hiking, bike rides, the Deschutes River, and kid-friendly adventures — to cram into one holiday weekend! Extend your trip and make a date to see Sheryl Crow performing Monday at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.  Bring a blanket, grab a bottle of Naked Winery vino and sing along to your favorite songs and some new ones too.

Better yet, get a reservation at the Hampton or Hilton Garden Inn and make the commute home a cinch.

What is on your 4th of July docket? Share your plans, tips and pics with us on social media by using the #HowToBend and #BendLove hashtags. We’ll repost our favorites.

Happy fourth, everyone!