6 Unforgettable Experiences in Bend, OR
Found nestled between the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, Bend reigns true as one of the fastest growing cities in the state and with good reason. The high desert plateau of Central Oregon lends some of the best weather for year-round outdoor activities in the country. Ski Mt. Bachelor in the winter and hike, bike or raft any of the seemingly endless routes and trails catered specifically to those who love to participate outdoor activities. The best part about Bend is that it is truly a city that embraces family travel as most of their activities (with the exception of a few) can be catered to all ages, and that is something we LOVE.
We have compiled some of the best and most unforgettable activities Bend, Oregon has to offer. Some we have tried out ourselves as a family, others we have yet to explore and one or two of our favorites were tested by Mama bear pre-children. Interested? Read through our top 6 list and find the perfect activity for you and your family.
ETA: This was supposed to be a top 10 list but with a toddler who wouldn’t nap plus a slower than molasses computer, 6 was all I could do without losing my mind.
BE FOREWARNED — You might never want to leave
6. Cycle Bend
An Oregonian rite of passage
Bend has some of the best trails for family riders as well as intermediate to expert cyclists alike. The trails offer a perfect marriage of exciting, age appropriate downhill trails along with serine panoramic views of the Cascade mountains and high desert that will take your breath away. Along with tours running next to or near the Deschutes other bike rental companies offer tours through the city, hitting up historic sites as well as pub tours for adults where you can taste some of the best beer in the state!
Photo: Cog Wild Tours
5. Hike Bend
Trails and views for days
There is no shortage of hiking opportunities in Bend. Choose from some of the most gorgeous routes along the Deschutes that are appropriate for kids and toddlers or choose a half day excursions led by a naturalist through Bend and surrounding areas such as Sun River and Sisters. If self guided is more your style check out venture around lakes, through the forest, catch a glimpse of a waterfall or explore caves located all around Bend. Click HERE for a link to Visitbend.org and download their self guided hiking trails and spots to camp located throughout the city.
Wanderlust Tours provide winter and summer excursions from snow shoeing in the Cascades to cave tours in the summer. When we find ourselves back in Bend we are absolutely going to look into some of the many activities Wanderlust provides for tourists and locals. Find more information about their services HERE
As a family we love to hike around the Sisters, Oregon area — specifically trails found within Black Butte Ranch where my parents have a home. Last summer when Griffin was nine months old I found it extremely easy to carry him around in our carrier. I even found the time to use my Mom Hulk strength to lift up fallen trees.
4. Horse back riding
Old West meets Pacific Northwest
Dust off your saddle, put on your boots and embark on a horseback riding adventure of a lifetime. During the summer months horseback riding can be one of the most peaceful ways to see some of the most beautiful parts of Bend, Sisters and Sun River. Move along the perfectly maintained trails and gaze upon seemingly endless miles of high desert natural landscape that is so unique to Central Oregon. I have been horseback riding in Bend and Sisters since I was little and it isn’t hard to find a ranch, that offers horseback riding to young children and adults.
Some of our favorite and best rated spots to ride include:
3. Winter activities on Mt. Bachelor
Skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowshoeing….
I mean, look at this place. Mt. Bachelor from a sightseeing perspective alone is worth visiting. This incredible site attracts year round visitors who enjoy all 4,318 acres of terrain open seasonally for winter sports, summer climbs, lodging and more.
PHOTO: MT BACHELOR
In the winter, specifically this winter Mr. Bachelor is running this incredible special where kids twelve and under can ski FOR FREE as long as an adult purchases a multi-day ticket. If you have kids who aren’t quite ready to hit the slopes yet Mt. Bachelor childcare is a great option and they take children as young as 6 weeks and as old as 30 months.With caregivers with over ten years of childcare experience you can take a lesson with a certified instructor and enjoy a leisurely day on the slopes. If Little Johnny is ready to ski the Gravity School offers lessons for Mighty Mites (4-5), Mighty Riders (5-6), All Mountain Skiers (6-14)and all mountain riders for snowboarders (7-14).
Skiing not your thing? don’t worry. You can adventure through the mountain on show shoes, sled or even just hand out at the lodge and enjoy the winter wonderland around you.
If you come during the summer and skip winter activities all together there are plenty of hiking trails and scenic areas for you to enjoy. Take the 9,065 summit starting at Sunrise Lodge (expert level hikers) or take the Pine Marten Lift and hike from there (7,775 feet) to the summit. Hiking trails are for the adult crowd and if your two year old isn’t an experienced hiker yet feel free to take the scenic chairlift for some great views.
2. White water rafting the Deschutes
Behold! My poorly designed, amateur GIF depicting the Treadaway family’s very own white water rafting experience in 2008. If you look close enough you can see my Mom and the guide fell over while racing through class 3 and 4 rapids. It was mildly terrifying for us (extremely terrifying for her) but it was one of the best and most exciting activities I have done in Bend, Oregon.
If we would have made it in time for the safety video we would have learned that even if you go overboard the water pillows over rocks, so where you might assume you are going to crash and burn, you actually bounce right off safely (right, Mom???). Tipping aside, the scenery through the Deschutes is absolutely stunning (see a pattern here?) and you truly feel right in the thick of nature which is something we could all use a little more of. The experience is one of a kind and I could not suggest this more.
My brother was around the age of 15 here and there was only one other child who was younger than him on this particular tour, so I wouldn’t suggest this activity for little kids until they are over the age of 8 or maybe even 7. Fear not! There are plenty of companies who provide age appropriate tours for kids under the age of 15, you just have to ask!
1. Downtown Bend
Downtown is the place to be all year round. From live music to diverse dining experiences you will not be bored when touring the center of town. Sun River and Sisters also boast new and exciting culinary experiences with a heck of a view to boot.
Feel like you need some live music in your life? Summer months bring entertainment every weekend from pub crawls to live music shows. Enjoy a beer from your new favorite micro brewery, find a seat and listen to jazz, country, pop, rock or your favorite local artist.
Speaking of art, August in Bend holds one of the most highly regarded art festivals in the country. The Art In The High Desert on the banks of the Deschutes is a prime spot for fine arts & crafts and was ranked #12 nationwide out of 600 in 2008!
Check out VISIT BEND and their easy to navigate website for more information about the events happening year round in bend and for more information about hiking, biking, rafting and more. We hope you make it to Bend soon and enjoy all of the activities and adventures we love.
Questions?? Comments?? Please leave them below!!!