It’s no secret why Washington residents love to vacation in Central Oregon…you’re (almost) guaranteed to have nice weather! The Bend/Sunriver area boasts over 300 days of sunshine per year (yep, even in the winter) and is brimming with activities for families. Mt. Bachelor and the winding Deschutes River provide an inspiring backdrop to your outdoorsy excursions.
Seventh Mountain Resort
A sprawling property, offering year-round activities, this resort is ideal for families. With just about every room configuration you could desire (from studios to 3 bedroom condos to luxury townhomes for multiple families), most rooms have kitchens and have been recently updated. Little ones will love the kiddie pool with fountain, sprawling lawns for running around or playing games, and visiting the horse stables. The winter ice rink turns into a perfect tricycle-riding zone during the summer months. Older kids can take advantage of day camp adventures, horse riding, and river-float trips offered on property. The resort is located between downtown Bend and Mt. Bachelor. PS: You can often find privately-owned units available for rent online at www.vrbo.com .
Sunriver is loved by many for its 35 miles of bike-riding & walking trails. You can hit the paved trail system in Sunriver and stay clear of cars for your whole ride – perfect with the little ones in tow. This unique community is home to privately owned condos and houses (many available for rent) as well as Sunriver Resort with its variety of guest rooms, suites and cabins. If the “parentals” plan to indulge in some spa, golf, or ski time, children ages 3-10 will be blissfully entertained at Fort Funnigan, their kids program offering 1/2 day, full day, or dinnertime activities. The Village center offers shopping and dining options.
Bend has become quite a big town so if you don’t find yourself enjoying the great outdoors (seriously?), there are lots of places you can check out that will remind you of home…a bouncy place , indoor fun center, and story times at the public library. Specific to summertime, don’t miss a chance to boogie down at Munch and Music in July and August outdoors at Drake Park.
Hit The Slopes
Mt. Bachelor offers lots of options for ski lessons and childcare. The Otter Mountain Childcare center (at the West Village Lodge near the main parking lot) cares for children from ages 6 weeks to 12 years. Activities include crafts, circle time, and add-ons available for snow playtime. A wide range of ski lessons are available from private to group lessons. Signature Start introduces the littler ones (ages 3.5 – 5) to snow activities for half the day and indoor activities the other half. Little Rippers is perfect those who are raring to hit the slopes – rentals included too! Don’t forget the sunscreen though – remember all that sunshine we mentioned in the beginning?
Just a short drive from either Bend or Sunriver is The High Desert Museum where you’ll find indoor and outdoor exhibits including animal viewing (think bats, otters, birds of prey, and other high desert critters), interpretive trails and occasional story times.
From Bend, head about 24 miles up the Cascade Lakes Highway to find numerous lakes to explore. Todd Lake is an easy and mostly level hike. About a half mile from the parking area, you can access this small but gorgeous mountain lake where you’ll find picnic tables and plenty of room to explore (or even hike all the way around on a small trail adjacent to the water). Older kids will love exploring the trails and caves at Lava Lands Visitor Center at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument just off Hwy 97 outside of Bend.
Much more than a public pool, Juniper Swim Center is a complete water playground! For just a few bucks per person you have access to pools, slides and tons of fun. (A great option if you’re staying somewhere without a pool!) In the summer, the outdoor pools are open including padded areas with little slides and splash fountains for toddlers. Older kids can hit the larger waterslide or go for a swim in one of the big pools. The indoor area (open in the winter) has a regular pool plus an extra-warm 2.5 foot deep kiddie pool with one small slide. Bring a picnic and plan to hit the snack shack for ice cream. Private family changing rooms are a nice feature with their own toilet, sink, shower & sitting area. PS: The pool is located at Juniper Park which also has walking trails and a playground with swings.
Flatbread Community Oven
Kiddos will get a kick out of making their own flatbread pizzas and watching them bake in the wood-fired oven. Parents will love the tasty menu and wine selections. Located in the beautiful Old Mill District, an outdoor mall with all the familiar stores we have at home plus movies, ice cream, and restaurants set along the river.
The most popular are Deschutes Brewery (go at an off-peak time if you can-it’s wildly popular and the wait time can be long) and McMenamins (located in an old school house) which is also open for breakfast and has a courtyard for outdoor dining. Cascade Lakes Brewing Company is a little off the beaten path but a lot closer to the Seventh Mountain Resort. The boisterous setting drowns out any kid noise and there’s some patio seating as well.
Downtown Bend has a new must-stop sweet shop! Powell’s Sweet Shoppe evokes nostalgia in the parents and excitement in the kiddos with its huge assortment of old-fashioned candies, current faves, and gelato. Both Sunriver and Bend are also home to Goody’s which has quality chocolates & candies, and award-winning ice cream.
-Angie J. Ballas