Choosing Bend as a family vacation destination is an inspired choice. At once both a mountain town and a modern, hip city, Bend has brought families flocking to its Central Oregon location for years.
There are plenty of fun things to do with kids in Bend Oregon like outdoor activities to keep families busy on their vacation; there are also unique shops, history to explore and days trips that are all fun and exciting.
Bend is a charming, friendly town that welcomes families with open arms. Bend is small town enough so that shopkeepers might remember you by name, but large enough that the selection and quality of activities are world-class.
Bend is rapidly growing in popularity among family vacationers, so book your trip to Bend and find out why.
The sweetness, friendliness, and excitement of this beautiful little town will capture your heart and make you wish your vacation would never end!
Family Outdoor Activities in Bend Oregon
The heart and soul of Bend is the beautiful outdoors. The high desert location of Bend puts it in the unique position of being a four-season vacation destination.
- Deschutes River
- From skiing and snowboarding in the winter to warm days spent rafting on the Deschutes River in the summer, Bend provides endless outdoor activities for families to enjoy.
- Mt. Bachelor
- Families must flock to Mt. Bachelor to enjoy world-class skiing and snowboarding. Mt. Bachelor is considered one of the biggest and best ski resorts in the Northwest. A dormant volcano, Mt. Bachelor also provides tubing, dog sledding and lots of bunny hills for the littlest members of the family.
In the summer, Bend offers even more outdoor activities. Many mountain hikes are accessible and easily marked.
- Pilot Butte State Park
- An easy hike to attempt if you are a family with little ones is the Pilot Butte State Park, which has an easy, gently sloped 480 feet butte to approach on a wide, paved road. The views at the top belie the effort it takes to get up there!
- Tumalo Falls
- For waterfall lovers, another easy and short hike is Tumalo Falls, where the top of the waterfall is easily accessible and guaranteed to stun the whole family.
- Tumalo Mountain
- If you want to attempt more strenuous hikes on your family trip, then try Tumalo Mountain, which is a steep climb of over 1,000 feet. Your family may be huffing and puffing, but at the end, your family will be rewarded with views that seem to reach all around the state.
Many of these hikes are also accessible by biking, cross-country skiing and horseback riding as well, so you can choose what way best suits your family.
If your Bend vacation falls during the summer, then it would be remiss not to spend some time on the beautiful, wild, Deschutes River! Swim it, raft it, or just have a family picnic next to it. On a family trip, the Bend outdoors offers something for every family!
Bend Arts and Culture
On a family vacation, the words art and culture can often be met with dissatisfaction from the younger members of the family. In Bend, however, the arts and culture are often presented in such a way that they are enjoyable to even the hardest to please family members.
- Art in the High Desert
- If you and your family are art lovers, then plan your Bend vacation around Art in the High Desert, an annual Ben art festival. If you would like to expose your family to art, then choosing to attend a festival is often a good idea. Art in the High Desert has music, food, performers, and of course, art. Some of the best artists in the country make it to this August event.
- Central Oregon Symphony
- The Central Oregon Symphony is a performing art group that the adult members of a family will love to attend a performance of, while the children might enjoy the Cascades Theatrical Company, which produces performances that are often comedic and always exceptional.
- Tower Theater
- For a fun, easy night out, then catch a movie or live performance at the Tower Theater, a local Bend landmark that you can see from all over downtown Bend.
Bend Museums and History
Another fun family things to do in Bend is spending a day of your trip exploring the local history. It is a great way to introduce you and your family to the region. Knowing the history of Bend makes you better appreciate the activities you then go out and enjoy with your family.
- Deschutes Historical Museum
- Start your Bend history exploration at the Deschutes County Historical Society at the Reid School Building. Pick up a free Heritage Walk Guide, which directs through local walking tours that you and your family can do at your own pace and your own style.
Must-see stops for your family to make are the G.P. Putnam House, the home of the famous publisher; the Power Dam and the Liberty Theater.
- High Desert Museum
- Do not neglect to learn about the outdoors! The High Desert Museum, just outside Bend, is home to more than 100 rescued wildlife species outside, and inside is an exhibit called Spirit of the West which will introduce you to the history of the region in an exceptional way. Kids will rave about the High Desert Museum!
Day Trips with Kids from Bend Oregon
Bend has enough to keep your family busy for the whole length of your stay. But while you are on your Bend vacation, the entire scope of Central Oregon is yours to explore.
Make sure to head back to your comfortable Bend family lodging at night time, however, do not hesitate to hit the road during the day.
- Sisters is a famous nearby town to visit, located just 25 beautiful miles northwest of Bend. Sisters is known for its Old West style downtown, complete with wooden sidewalks. Sisters is guaranteed to be a hit with the little members of the family. There are many family friendly restaurants and shops in which to find that perfect souvenir.
- Cascades Lake Scenic Byway
- Another popular day trip for the family is the Cascades Lake Scenic Byway, which is often called Highway in the Sky.
This is a driving loop considered one of the ten most important byways in the United States. This drive can be done in an afternoon, but it would be a shame to waste such beautiful scenery on a quick jaunt.
Take the time to park at the overlooks, or pack a picnic for your family to enjoy. This loop takes you past Mt. Bachelor and several alpine lakes and is guaranteed to keep your camera snapping.
Kid Friendly Restaurants in Bend Oregon
Eating out can be one of the family things that are difficult to do! Kids are often tired and restless, and when you add hunger to the mix, things can melt down fast. In a town like Bend, however, kid friendly is the name of the game.
- McKay Cottage
- Many restaurants are kid and family friendly, and will provide fun, as well as food!
The McKay Cottage, located on the shores of the Deschutes River has river-side picnic tables where the family can eat, and the kids can run around and play.
Peanut butter and jelly is a menu staple!
- Flatbread Community Oven
- Another restaurant to try on your trip is Flatbread Community Oven, where kids can make their own pizza and then watch as it is tucked into a pizza oven.
Family trips can often get craziest around lunchtime.
- Westside Bakery and Café
- For lunch that might save your sanity, then take your family to the Westside Bakery and Café, where there is a toy train zipping around the room and Mickey Mouse on the walls.
Keeping kids entertained can be the hardest part of a family vacation; however, finding fun family things to do in Bend Oregon that please all members of the family is never hard to do.
Find out why so many families return again and again for a relaxing, exciting Bend vacation!