Sunriver is an alluring, family-friendly resort town tucked away in central Oregon. Sunriver vacation rentals put you in the heart of prime outdoor spaces that offer tons of fun activities, from hiking and fishing to spending warm, sunny days by the pool. Once the site of a U.S. Army camp known as Camp Abbott, Sunriver is now home to championship golf courses, public waterways, a thriving arts scene, nature trails, and wildlife. Not sure what to see and do in this exciting city? Check out this list of the top 15 activities in Sunriver.
1. Meet the Locals in the Village
Take a friendly first step in the Village at Sunriver, the welcoming local hub where residents and visitors eat, shop, mingle, and play. Pick up fishing gear, sports accessories, or clothing, or explore the best of local cuisine at popular restaurants, such as Marcello’s Cucina Italiana and South Bend Bistro. The Village also offers access to providers of local recreation: Peruse fly fishing tours or moped rentals for future fun.
2. See Local Wildlife Up Close and Personal
Deepen your appreciation for the natural sciences and nature at the Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory. There are exhibits and fun interactive educational programs to see and participate in. The adjacent Sam Osgood Nature Trail winds through local wetlands that are home to raptors. Self-guided tours are encouraged.
3. Take the Paulina Plunge
Named after an Indigenous American Northern Paiute war chief, Paulina Plunge is a multi-activity tour consisting of mountain biking and waterfall exploration. Participants bike to six waterfalls and descend two natural waterfall slides in the Paulina Mountains. Along the way, tour guides share stories and legends attributed to the famous but obscure war chief who gave the mountains her name. The activities are safe for kids who are least four, and there are trail-a-bike tandems for kids four to eight years old who don’t ride.
4. Kayak the Local Waterways
The Sunriver Marina at the Sunriver Resort is open to the general public, and you can rent single or double kayaks even if you reside in nearby vacation rentals. The resort marina also rents canoes and stand up paddleboards for family fun on the stunning Deschutes River. Pick up supplies and gear at the Marina Shop.
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5. Gallop Through the Central Oregon Countryside
Sunriver Stables is your source for guided horseback trail rides through the postcard-perfect scenes of Sunriver and Central Oregon. The stable offers guides for all experience levels, or you can take lessons, learn the basics of saddling and grooming, or treat your younger kids to supervised pony rides.
6. Frolic in the SHARC Water Wonderland
The Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic and Recreation Center (SHARC) is an aquatics event venue open to the public daily for general use and rental. There are pools, water slides, and a lazy river. Trounce competition during spring/summer disc golf tournaments, or zip down snowy hills during winter tubing season.
7. Change Your Reality at SunriverVR
Slay the brain-eating undead at SunriverVR, a local virtual reality fun house. Each room in the fun house has its own theme, and themes change periodically. Past themes entail hunting dinosaurs, helming a starship, defending a castle, and shooting down enemy drones. VR View allows bystanders to watch and follow your game in real time.
8. Backpack the Fall River Trail
Transport yourself to an otherworldly wilderness along the Fall River Trail, one of three small trailheads flanking Country Road 42 within the Deschutes National Forest area. It is a there-and-back loop, so you can hike it in less than a day’s time. Underground springs feed the reflective river as it meanders through campgrounds shaded by Ponderosa pines. The river and its banks are home to whitefish, trout, and very busy beavers.
9. Taste the Local Flavors at Sunriver Country Store
If you’re planning a special family meal night at home, stock up on fresh, local ingredients at Sunriver Country Market, a hub where residents and visitors rub elbows. Hit up the deli counter for cured meats, seafood, or special cuts, or browse organic fruits and produces. There is an in-store cafe, a specialty cheese counter, and aisles of gourmet foods, frozen goods, and assorted groceries.
10. Trek Down Into a Lava Tube
The Lava River Cave is a mile-long lava tube open for self-guided exploration. Commencing at the Lava Lands Visitor Center, an entire tour takes roughly 90 minutes and includes a series of staircases and boardwalks that lead you ever deeper into the earth. The cave is pitch black and full of bats, which adds to the fun. Kids are welcome, and flashlights or glowsticks are a must. Dress warmly.
11. Hike to Benham Falls
Benham Falls is a rock star of a backtrail, accessible year-round and welcoming to leashed dogs. The trail to the falls is wide, fairly flat, and about half mile. Expect to cross a small bridge and hike most of the way along the riverbank. Flora, fauna, wildlife, and an elevation of 78 feet make for spectacular sightseeing and photo ops.
12. Bike Around Sunriver With Bikes From Sunriver Resort Bike Barn
Sunriver contains approximately 40 miles of paved and flat trails ideal for biking tours. Trails flank the Deschutes River, swerve through the Deschutes National Forest, and even twist through nearby Bend. The Benham Falls Loop and the mountainous Lava Lakes trails are local favorites. To snag some sweet wheels, visit the Sunriver Resort Bike Barn. They have hundreds of bikes available for rental.
13. Take a Field Trip to the High Desert Museum
The High Desert Museum treats kids to live animal interactions within indoor and outdoor play areas. There are also collections and exhibits to discover. The museum, a popular school year destination, introduces visitors to the natural and cultural history of the West’s High Desert.
14. Go Rafting Down the Deschutes River
Triumph over the rapids of the Deschutes River with Sun Country Tours’ Big Eddy Thriller, an unofficial Sunriver rite of passage. The Big Eddy Thriller is a three-mile journey boasting Class III rapids. Sun Country Tours also offers kid-friendly rafting tours and river tube rentals. A seasoned expert conducts each tour to ensure safety.
15. Hunt for One-of-a-Kind Tchotchkes
Find the handcrafted, artisanal items of your dreams at Second Tern, a mom-and-pop thrift shop whose inventory encompasses nearly everything, from housewares and jewelry to entertainment, appliances, clothing, and sporting goods. All proceeds support the Sunriver Nature Center and the Oregon Observatory.
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