Enjoy the great outdoors in Bend Oregon, a charming community that provides fast access to tall forests, towering mountains, and pristine waterways. Add to that the city’s 300+ days of sunshine, and you have the perfect formula for an active family vacation. Start your trip with a leisurely paddle boarding excursion, or get off the grid with a kid-friendly hike into the Willamette National Forest. Vacation rentals in Bend lie just a quick drive from these fun, family-friendly activities.Here are 12 of our favorite things to do in Bend, Oregon.

1. Explore Tumalo Falls

Source: Flickr / icetsarina

Surround yourselves with nature with a visit to Tumalo Falls. Arrive early to get a parking spot, and take the short walk to the falls overlook. If your kids are up for it, continue along the Tumalo Creek trail to discover multiple waterfalls and stunning forest scenery. A variety of other trails leave from the same spot, so you can design a custom route that suits your little ones’ abilities.

2. Go Caving

Source: Flickr / Don Graham

Bring your little ones underground at the Lava River Cave Interpretive Site near Bend. Walk through mind-boggling caves on the well-marked path; the tour is self-guided, so your kids can explore at their own pace. Look for signs of the lava that once flowed through the caves, and test the acoustics of the spectacular Echo Hall. Since the temperature in the cave can be cool, wear warm clothes, and sturdy shoes.

3. Watch a Concert

Source: Flickr / Sara Thompson

Spend an evening watching popular musicians at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. This outdoor venue hosts a regular lineup of performers, so it’s easy to find an event during your trip. Many events are free, so you can take the whole family without breaking the bank. Pack a blanket or camp chairs and set up a spot on the lawn; you’re welcome to bring your own snacks or purchase from onsite vendors.

4. Check Out a Museum

Source: Flickr / Tom Byrne

Learn about the Bend environment at the excellent High Desert Museum. Get close to native animals such as bobcats and otters, and learn how to spot them in the wild. Wander through a historic homestead, immerse yourselves in the local Native American traditions, and learn about Bend’s past from live actors. The museum also hosts a variety of hands-on programs that entertain kids and reinforce the information from each exhibit.

5. Swim and Fish at Tumalo State Park

Source: Flickr / Robert Ashworth

Gain easy access to the Deschutes River at Tumalo State Park. Bring your fishing poles and try your luck at casting, or pack floating toys for a day of fun in the river. For little ones, the playground makes a fun stop. The park offers picnic areas and clean restrooms, making it a great spot for a day trip.

6. Try Paddleboarding

Source: Flickr / vis-a-v.

Try paddleboarding in the safe, calm waters around Bend. Rent gear from one of the city’s many outfitters; personal flotation devices can bring you peace of mind when paddling with small kids and non-swimmers. Launch at Riverbend Park, where the sand-covered beach and shallow water make it easy to get your footing. If your kids are young, it’s a good idea to go upstream first for an easier return trip.

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7. Explore the Old Mill District

Source: Flickr / Amy Meredith

Enjoy shopping, dining, and walking in Bend’s beautiful Old Mill District. Walk to the shops to find souvenirs, and stop for dinner in one of the local restaurants. Afterward, head to the riverfront path to play by the water and watch the kayakers and paddle boarders.

8. Check Out Mt. Bachelor

Source: Flickr / jcookfisher

Get up into the mountains at Mt. Bachelor, a ski resort with year-round activities. In the summer, rent mountain bikes for the whole family and try out the well-developed trail system, or simply enjoy the view on a ride up the chairlift. The hill also offers summer sled dog rides, interpretive talks, and excellent hiking opportunities. In the winter, come for the skiing and snowboarding, or get a thrill on the tubing hill.

9. Take an Art Tour

Source: Flickr / Jinx McCombs

Explore Bend’s rich artistic tradition on the Roundabout Art Route. Stop by the Bend Visitor Center to pick up a map of the route. Then, follow the map to find the city’s exciting outdoor public art pieces. Kids can answer questions about each piece on the map; if you complete at least 10, you can bring it back to the Visitor Center to receive a prize. For parents, the tour is a great way to get active and see the city.

10. Go Snowmobiling

Source: Flickr / Michael (a.k.a. moik) McCullough

If you’re visiting Bend in the winter, explore the wilderness at high speed from the back of a snowmobile. Many local companies provide single-day or multi-day rentals; simply pick up a trail map and head out. Little ones can ride on your machine, while teenagers can operate their own. Pack a picnic for a fun forest meal, or pull in to a local restaurant to warm up.

11. Snowshoe in the Dark

Source: Flickr / Rebecca Siegel

Plan an activity your kids won’t forget with a moonlight or starlight snowshoe tour from Wanderlust Tours. Tour guides lead groups through the wilderness, stopping to point out animal tracks and constellations. Pause to enjoy the night sky, and relish the experience of the silent Cascades region. At the end of the tour, guides provide hot chocolate for a tasty way to keep warm.

12. Get Cultured

Source: Flickr / LiteWriting aka Loreen72

Experience Bend’s thriving arts scene at a Central Oregon Symphony concert. This large group performs regularly in the Bend High School auditorium, so it’s easy to find an event during your vacation. Be on the lookout for the symphony’s children’s concerts, which introduce little ones to the different instruments in an engaging, kid-friendly way. The group also makes its rehearsals open to the public, so you can pop in for a more informal evening.

 
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