30 Things to Do with Kids in Bend, Oregon

Bend, Oregon is one of my favorite family destinations, due to sunny skies, warm summer weather, and sheer number of outdoor options, from hot-air balloon excursions to biking trails. Families can go cheap (finding free or low-cost options, such as lake days or skate parks, free family concerts or skywatching experiences). Or pay extra for Bend-area tours and camps, such as horse-riding or rock-climbing camps, giving parents time together.

Fun Stuff to do with Kids in Bend

  1. Learn homesteading skills on a 1904 ranch, enjoy an eagle’s-eye view, hang out with a monster (gila monster, at least), and burrow in an outdoor play area at the High Desert Museum. This is one of my favorite museums in the Pacific Northwest, and head here first to better understand the region’s fascinating history with hands-on exhibits.

    30 Things to Do with Kids in Bend: High Desert Museum

    30 Things to Do with Kids in Bend: #1 High Desert Museum

  2. Float the Deschutes River, using the great instructions in the link, plus your float of choice and a free kids’ life jacket rental.
  3. Meet a well-known local: Smith Rock, at Smith Rock State Park. Hike, climb, fish or watch for deer, falcons and otters, or even spend the night (I love camping here).
  4. Spelunk at the Lava River Cave; don’t forget warm clothing, headlamps for everyone in your party, solid hiking boots and water.

    30 Things to Do with Kids in Bend: Lava Caves

    30 Things to Do with Kids in Bend: #4 Lava Caves

  5. Ride down a lazy river, splash in a zero-entry baby pool or play in the sand at SunRiver’s SHARC complex. But get there early — poolside seats go fast, and shadecan be hard to come by.

    At the SHARC

    Things to Do with Kids in Bend: #5 At the SHARC

  6. Go rolling skating at Cascade Indoor Sports (kids 4 and under free!).
  7. Let the kids climb the rocks (versus the walls) with a 4-day Kids Camp with Chockstone Climbing Guides.
  8. Spy nebulae in Central Oregon’s clear night skies or stare at the sun at Oregon Observatory at Sunriver or the Pine Mountain Observatory.
  9. Laze away an afternoon (pack a picnic!) at a local greenspace such as Columbia Park (which boasts a pirate ship!).
  10. Cycle along Bend’s beautiful paths next to the Deschutes River, renting from outfitters like Let It Ride Electric Bikes, or Wheel Fun Rentals, which offer trailers, trail-a-bikes/tag-a-longs or kid-sized bikes. Life Cycle Bikes includes delivery of adult or kid bikes to your hotel.
  11. Giddyup among the sage and pines with a horse-riding lesson or tour from Flyspur Ranch, Diane’s Riding Place or Sunriver Stables.

    30 Things to Do with Kids in Bend: Horseriding

    30 Things to Do with Kids in Bend: #11 Horseriding at Sunriver Stables.

  12. Balance a stand-up paddleboard on Elk Lake or kayak the Deschutes with a rental (or class) from Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe, which also offers kids’ camps in Bend.
  13. Visit a 1916 schoolroom at Des Chutes Historical Museum.
  14. Snap gorgeous family pictures at the top of Newberry National Volcanic Monument’s nearly 8000-foot Paulina Peak, which offers awesome vistas of Oregon.
  15. Stop into Lava Lands Visitor Center and learn about the region’s super-heated history (younger kids may not find it as enjoyable).

    30 Things to Do with Kids in Bend: Lava Lands Visitor Center

    30 Things to Do with Kids in Bend: #15 Lava Lands Visitor Center

  16. Heft your inflatable raft into one of Central Oregon’s fresh waters, such as Sparks Lake, Mirror Pond or Hosmer Lake.
  17. Ollie at Ponderosa Park’s 8000-square-foot skate park.
  18. Play putt-putt golf and billiards or crash bumper cars at Sun Mountain Fun Center.
  19. Meet local wildlife at Sunriver Nature Center, go on one of the center’s moonlight hikes or sign the kids up for one of the center’s camps (they’re great!).

    30 Things to do in Bend with Kids: Sunriver Nature Center

    30 Things to do in Bend with Kids: #19 Sunriver Nature Center

  20. Hike a trail and encounter a (cooled) lava cone at Pilot Butte State Park.
  21. Don’t cry over rainy days in Bend; take the kids to Bouncing Off The Wall for a family fun night.
  22. Ride the rapids or float serenely on a multi-day river adventure with Ouzel Outfitters River Trips (kids must be over 50 lbs) or Sun Country Tours.
  23. Sample the sweet side of nostalgia at Powell’s Sweet Shop, which stocks hundreds (yes, hundreds) ofcandyriffic options, including gums, bars, sodas and even wax lips.

    30 Things to Do with Kids in Bend: Powell's Sweet Shop

    30 Things to Do with Kids in Bend: #23 Powell’s Sweet Shop

  24. Become a Junior Ranger at Tumalo State Park, then go for a hike, slide on the playground or sleep in a yurt.
  25. Bowl a strike at Lava Lanes Bowling Center in Redmond, about 23 minutes north of Bend.
  26. Fly into the sky with Big Sky Balloon Company (kids ages 8 and up only).
  27. Make a splash at the indoor children’s pool at Juniper Swim & Fitness Center.
  28. Catch a cheap movie and a slice of pie at McMenamin’s Old St. Francis School, a quaint school converted to a quaint hotel/brewery/theater. If you don’t care about atmosphere, watch a $1 flick at Regal Cinemas during the summertime.
  29. Enjoy a free summer concert in Bend at the Les Schwab Memorial Center or Alive After 5.
  30. Slip into the sweet little nook and pick up a great new picture book at Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe or Sunriver Books and Music.

    30 Things to Do with Kids in Bend, Oregon: #30 Browse Books

    30 Things to Do with Kids in Bend, Oregon: #30 Browse Books at Sunriver Books and Music

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