From extinct volcanoes and ice caves to river tubing and downhill skiing, central Oregon is packed with fun for the whole family. Here are a few of our favorite ways to stay busy winter, spring, summer and fall.
Mt. Bachelor is the center of the action each winter in Bend. More than 15% of is terrain is focused on beginner and novice skiers, making it a great place for family skiing adventure. Skiers and snowboarders enjoy 101 trails on over 4,000 skiable acres. Mt. Bachelor enjoys a 6th place position among the 10 largest ski areas in North America. The mountain also offers a variety of children’s programming, from a state-licensed daycare center to on-snow junior ski instruction.
For the adventurous family, Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center is home to the longest groomed Nordic season in North America, opening in November and often staying open through May or June.
For the non-skiers, look no further than Wanoga Sno-Park, home to the best sledding hill in Central Oregon. Wanoga also offers fat tire bike trails, 180 miles of snowmobile trails, and while skiing isn’t permitted on Wanoga, Skijoring is. What’s skijoring? It’s the lost art of skiing with your dog! Fun for the whole family.
There’s more fun for families in the winter at Cascade Indoor Sport where trampoline-ing, pickleball, and go-carting is available in their indoor facility.
Springtime in Bend is fun because it’s unpredictable. You might get sunshine, you might get snow, but either way there’s fun to be had. Up on the mountain, you can enjoy winter activities all spring long. Mt. Bachelor’s season runs through the end of May, and sometimes the mountain’s Nordic trails stay open well into June.
For the sunny days, we recommend hitting the trails. The Deschutes River Trail is a stunning loop that follows the Deschutes River through Bend with a view of some of the most arresting scenery in Central Oregon. Mountain biking is another popular springtime activity and if you don’t have a car rack big enough for everyone’s ride, you can visit one of the many bike shops to demo or rent trail bikes. Try Pine Mountain Rentals or Sunnyside Sports.
Out of town, the High Desert Museum is fun for all ages, and with indoor and outdoor exhibits, it’s a great springtime family activity in Bend. This engaging museum features exhibits on the arts, culture, lifestyle, ecology, and wildlife of the North American High Desert. Visitors can tour a recreation of an 1860s high desert town, interact with wildlife, and learn about native history before settlers from the east arrived in the 19th century.
Summer is for floating the river, for hikes, for bikes, and a whole lot more. Floating the Deschutes River in inner tubes is a popular thing to do for families in Bend Oregon. Choose from a short ride close to downtown, or choose the Ride the River shuttle pass and experience a full float from Riverbend to Drake Park, Along the way, enjoy some of Central Oregon’s most dramatic scenery while your pack of tubers enjoys a refreshing ride along the river from the outer reaches of Bend right into downtown’s Old Mill District.
For the adventurous family, try rafting the river with Sun Country Tours. Choose between full day trips, half-day adventures, and a two-day glamping trip that takes you down the Deschutes in style.
Beyond the river, there’s lots of engaging family-friendly attractions in Bend Oregon. Try Petersen Rock Garden, a 4-acre rock garden with eccentric statues, models, and sculptures made of rocks. From miniature castles and churches, to a seven-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty, all made of local stones. If you’ve still got an appetite for rocks, Bend has a number of great natural landmarks that are popular tourist attractions for families. Try Lava River Cave, a lava tube cave in Central Oregon’s Newbury National Volcanic Monument. This mile-long lava tube is open from May – September and is a one-of-a-kind self-guided tour of a cave formed by lava flow. Bring a flashlight, or rent one from the Lava Lands Visitor center, where you can also buy day passes.
No trip to Bend, Oregon is complete without catching a concert at the Hayden Homes Amphitheater. This gorgeous outdoor venue on the banks of the Deschutes River attracts popular bands like The Beach Boys, Dave Matthews Band, Phish, and other world class acts.
There are plenty of things to do in Bend, Oregon each fall. Especially family fun! Sun Mountain Fun Center has everything a kid could imagine. From mini-golf and go-karting to bowling and arcades. There’s also fun for the adults too, including a rotating selection of Bend beers on tap! In the great outdoors, there’s also plenty of fun to be had, including volcanoes to be explored. Pilot Butte is one of Bend’s most visible landmarks. This 480 foot extinct cinder-cone volcano offers stunning views over central Oregon on an easy 2 mile hike. Paulina Peak is another popular volcanic hike. This extinct volcano rises 1,300 feet through ponderosa pines and offers spectacular views of Newberry Crater, an active volcano 20 miles south of Bend, Oregon. The High Cascade Lakes are another family favorite. Elk Lake is a kid-friendly fresh water lake that offers a selection of paddleboard and boat rentals and a lodge that sells snacks and lunch.
Fall is also full of festivals in Bend, Oregon. Fall Festival and Oktoberfest are popular fall attractions that offer plenty of action for parents and kids alike. Kids can enjoy bounce houses, face painting, games, crafts and more!