6 Unforgettable Experiences in Bend, Oregon

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

Check out Let It Ride rentals or Cog Wild Bicycle Tours and Shuttles for more information on pricing, tours and rentals offered.

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:

Flyspur Ranch

Stables at Seventh Mountain Resort

Diane’s Riding Place

Black Butte Ranch

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.


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

Sorry Mom….

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!!!

Our little family on a walk in Black Butte Ranch








  1. Most of my outdoor experience has been along the East Coast, Rocky Mountains, and the Alps. Now I’m going to have to add a hiking trip through Oregon to my Bucket List. Don’t know whether to thank you or not 😉

    • Any excuse to travel is a good excuse! I would love to make it to the Alps when the kids are older! I hope you find yourself in Central Oregon soon and enjoy all it has to offer! Thanks for reading, Gabe!

  2. GREAT!

  3. This looks like such a blast! I’m glad you had a good time!

    • Thank you! We always do!

  4. wow. had no Idea Oregon had so much to offer. Sounds pretty close to the activities here in NC, minus the deserts.

  5. That horseback riding pic is EPIC! I’ve never been to Oregon — hopefully soon!

  6. Have never experienced “real” snow and Oregon is a little close, Mt. Bachelor could be a fun trip to make one of these days. Maybe when we visit our friends in Portland although not sure how close Portland is to Bend. Also, your mom is awesome!

  7. Love all the activities you mention Shelley! I’m a big fan of snowboarding, horse riding, rafting, cycling, what else? And beer drinking 🙂 I had to look at the map (I’m from Amsterdam) to check Bend, Oregon and it’s now added to my wishlist to visit!

  8. Wow! You’re definitely an active family and it sounds like you had an awesome time here. What an odd name for a town though – Bend 😉 There are so many cool activities you tried here, I’m having a hard time of choosing which one I’d also opt to do if I found myself in that neck of the woods. That said, I do love a good hike.

  9. I have always heard great things about Bend! I have a friend who lived there for a couple years and am still kicking myself for not visiting

  10. Wow! Oregan looks like the outdoor adventure capital of the world! I love being out side and hiking is my favourite activity, it looks like I have to head to Oregan. Great job, loved the blog.

  11. Hey Shelley,
    Loved the bit where you carried (technically) 😉 the fallen tree. And thankfully your mom made it through the falling overboard in the white water rafting experience. Hopefully I get to visit bend someday soon.

    • Thanks for the kind words Abby!

  12. This is a nice set of recommendations. When I decide to make a West Coast trip, I will consider going to Oregon and Bend 🙂

  13. Firstly, your photography, graphics and blog layout is out of this world, love it. Next up – I freakin love your focus on the outdoor side of travel, this is what I enjoy reading most. After reading this I can’t wait to get to Oregon, I have a few friends there actually. Definitely need to hit up that microbrewery 🙂

    • We just redid the website, so your compliment means a lot, truly! It is so easy to be outdoorsy in a place like Bend where you are surrounded by beautiful, impressive nature. I hope you make it out to Central Oregon soon; there is truly something for everyone.

  14. Panoramic Cascade Mountain Views while staying at the Tetherow Cabin, 30 night minimum fully furnished vacation home in Bend, Oregon.


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