Day Trip South: Crater Lake National Park
We didnt do Crater Lake as a day trip, but rather stayed in the Crater Lake NPS area for about 4-5 days. Had we realized how close it was to Bend, we would have definitely taken it as a day trip.
Youll want to drive the rim road and see as much as you can from the view points here, but the undeniable fun part is hiking down to the water and getting in! If youre brave enough, you might even decide to jump from the ledge like Dan did
Fun facts about Crater Lake:
- Its the nations deepest lake at 1943 ft.
- Its anywhere from 4.5 to 6 miles across. Its huge! And I think thats what surprised me most when we got there.
- The caldera was formed only 7700 years ago. Thats pretty recent in volcano years.
- There are trout and salmon in the lake, introduced in the 40s. You can fish here without a license and there are no limits.
- To ensure no species are introduced in the lake, you cannot bring goggles, life vests, etc.
Paddle The Deschutes River
The Deschutes River winds right beside Bend and there are several adventures to be had. There are hiking trails along the river, you can go river tubing and you can rent a canoe to go paddling. For tubing, hop on the Ride the River shuttle which takes you to the Park & Float with stops at Riverbend Park and Drake Park. You can rent kayaks, canoes, stand up paddle boards and river tubes.
The Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic & Recreation Center
Fun for the whole family at SHARC in Sunriver.
I wasnt surprised to see SHARC in the top spot on both kids lists. Its fun if you like swimming, wrote the nine-year-old, while the 13-year-old noted, Great water slides. In case youre unfamiliar with it, SHARC is a mecca of cool water and warm sunshine open to the public year-round, even if you arent staying at the Sunriver Resort. SHARC features more than 2.5 acres of grass, indoor and outdoor recreation pools, a hot tub, two water slides, a lazy river, and a tubing hill. The outdoor pool sports a veritable water playground of kid-friendly goodies, while the lazy river makes an excellent spot for folks seeking a more laidback experience. Its a great little day trip from Bend, since its a short 25-minute drive .
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Sledding In Hollinshead Park:
There are definitely hills all over the City of Bend that are great for sledding. However, the hill at Hollinshead Park cant be beat. Its short enough that your kids wont mind walking up it 50 times but incredibly steep so they fly down it at borderline frightening speed. There are no trees to worry about and plenty of flat, runoff space at the bottom to help them gradually slow down. Sledding at Hollinshead Park is a blast and will bring out the inner child in you!
Attend A Special Event Around Town
Bend is a lively little town with special events and activities happening frequently throughout the year. The Downtown Bend First Friday Art Walk is a popular event that takes place on the First Friday of every month year-round. You can wander around the cute downtown shops and art galleries while sampling their complimentary beverages and snacks.
Pole Pedal Paddle is a large, multi-sport event that includes downhill skiing, Nordic skiing, cycling, running, and kayaking. Benefits go to the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation . Even if you dont participate, its a blast to watch! The date changes every year but usually takes place in the spring.
If you happen to visit Bend during the month of August youll definitely want to check out the Bend Brewfest! Its a lively event that offers you the chance to sample beers from the local breweries around town all in one convenient space. Youll meet a ton of new friends and have a blast sampling beer in the sunshine. The date changes every year so be sure to check their website.
For a list of all of the events going on around Bend, check out the massive events calendar on the tourism boards website!
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Take In The Views From Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint
Far and away, one of the unique things to do in Bend, Oregon is to drive to the summit of an extinct volcano, Pilot Butte, that sits just 2 miles from downtown Bend .
The cinder cone rises 480 feet, delivering exceptional 360-degree views of the surrounding mountainous terrain. To most impressive view is to the west, where the snowcapped Cascade Mountains are in clear view.
Pro Tip: If you make the hike up, use this Pilot Butte informational park brochure!
Fun And Adventurous Things To Do In Bend Oregon
Bend has often been dubbed the Outdoor playground of the West and with good reason! With spectacular hiking trails, old growth ponderosa pines, and lava tubes standing in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains snow capped peaks this little slice of heaven is a must visit on any trip to Oregon. We enjoyed an amazing tour of hiking, biking and sampling its microbreweries while taking in the incredible scenery. These are some of the best things to do in Bend, Oregon to make the most of your stay. Golfing, fishing, hiking, biking, rafting, skiing and snowboarding, Bend has it all!
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What To Pack For Bend Oregon
Most of our tips for what to do in Bend, OR include spending time outside so you will want to make sure you are prepared for the elements. Whether you travel with a backpack or a suitcase, we have a few packing tips to ensure you will have what you need for your Bend trip!
Refillable Water Bottle
With the high elevation it is easy to get dehydrated especially when adventuring! Make sure you travel responsibly and bring a refillable water bottle for your trip! We like using Kleen Kanteen water bottles but think these collapsible water bottles are ideal for travelers.
Many of the things to do around Bend, OR are on the water. If you are participating in any water activities in Bend, be sure to pack a waterproof pouch for your phone and keys.
Walking, hiking and exploring are a few of the best activities to do in Bend, Oregon so dont forget to pack a good pair of walking shoes! I think the best travel shoes are lightweight and versatile, which is why I packed my New Balance shoes on our trip to Bend.
We Want To Know: What would you add to our list of Things To Do in Bend, OR? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
Getting To Bend Oregon
Bend is located in Central Oregon, about 160 miles from the city of Portland. The closest airport is Redmond Municipal Airport which is served by four air carriers Alaska Air, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United/United Express. It offers daily direct flights to/from Denver, LA, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle. The airport is about 17 miles outside of Bend, in the nearby city of Redmond.
There are no direct trains or buses although you can piece together a public transit trip fairly easily on Amtrak.
If you plan on driving to Bend from one of the larger cities nearby, be sure to check the road conditions prior to setting off. Youll need to cross a mountain pass and you may be required to carry chains if its been snowing or if there is a threat of snow.
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Visit Smith Rock State Park
Rock climbers from all over the US flock to Smith Rock State Park to have a go at the thousands of climbs in the park. The park covers 650 acres and the sheer rock faces are carved from welded tuff and basalt, perfect for climbing. Here youll find dynamic routes that are ideal for sport climbing, traditional climbing, multi-pitch climbing, and bouldering.
If climbing isnt your sport of choice, there are also plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails. The park has a walk-in area for tent camping on a first come, first served basis if youd like to spend a night in the park.
Head To The Top For Spectacular Views
Not too far from the restaurants and shopping is Pilot Butte Scenic Viewpoint, with 360-degree views of the Cascade Mountains. You can drive to the top, but why not hike! The Pilot Butte Nature Trail is a 1.8 mile out and back that takes you 452 ft up to the top. Its a dirt trail, but many people also walk the road.
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Monahans Sandhills State Park
The route we took to Big Bend was not direct. First, we first stopped six hours west of Austin to try sand sledding in Monahans Sand Hills State Park. Because, sand sledding. A friend recommended it, but I couldnt quite believe this was a thing. Would it work?
Admission to Monahans is a whopping $4 per person age 13 and up free for kids 12 and under. And plastic sled rentals are only $2 per two hours, or you can bring your own. The week of Thanksgiving, we had the park almost entirely to ourselves. We rented five sleds, which came with wax to make the plastic discs slide faster. The kids took off, running over sand dune after sand dune, in search of the perfect sledding hill.
Although this photo might suggest otherwise, the sleds really did work! My kids had a blast hiking up sand dunes and making tracks down by sliding down at full speed. It was amazing experience. I was glad we had made the detour to check it out.
Sand sledding, in shorts. Photo by Jake Gollub.
Lava River Cave Bend Oregon
Hidden amongst large ponderosa pines, sagebrush, and snowbush you will find the entrance to the Lava River Cave. A natural cave formed over 80,000 years ago, the cave is the longest continuous lave tube in Oregon at a staggering 5,211 feet. Here you will descend 126 steps down to the start of the cave. Ice stalactites suspend from the ceiling even in summer, giving it an otherworldly feel. If you are looking for fun things to do in Bend, Oregon with kids, this is a great place to explore.
The lava tube continues to change in texture, size, and temperature the farther inside you venture, so grab your lantern and jacket and explore the natural wonder.
97 Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Bend, Oregon 97701, 541-383-5700
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Go Skiing On Mount Bachelor
Mount Bachelor is a stratovolcano that sits in the Cascade Range of Central Oregon. Named Bachelor as it stands apart from the Three Sisters peaks that are located nearby. Mount Bachelor reaches an elevation of 9,068 feet and avid skiers and snowboarders flock to the mountain during the winter season as the weather is generally crisp and clear.
If youre not into those winter sports, there are plenty of other recreational activities to keep you busy. The summit offers an observatory and there are plenty of areas that are open for snowshoeing, snow tubing, dog sledding, and more. Or simply take a scenic chairlift ride to the top to experience the amazing views of the surrounding area!
Buy lift tickets and check out events on the mountain on their website prior to your visit.
Goody’s Chocolate And Ice Cream Factory Tour
After a busy day up the mountain or sightseeing, you will have worked up quite an appetite! Why not reward yourself with a trip to Goody’s Chocolate and Ice Cream Factory. Operating for over thirty years, Goody’s is a Bend institution, and even the locals will tell you that its the best place to go to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Take a factory tour where you will see a working sweet factory, either by guided tour or self-guided tour. With the guided tour you will get to sample some of Goody’s best sellers. Goody’s make over 100 different sweets including gourmet chocolates, toffee, peanut brittle, and, of course, ice cream.
1111 SE Division Street, Bend, Oregon 97702, 541-385-7085
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Things To Do In Bend Oregon
Bend sits quietly in Central Oregon, unbeknownst to many on the East Coast, but let me tell youWow. This up and coming city is paradise for those who love the mountains, the water, hiking, exploring, and the feel of a large city that seems more like a small hometown.
We spent two weeks in this city and it captured the heart of everyone in my family, so curating a list of our favorite things to do in Bend Oregon was a no-brainer. This is a town that should be on your short list of places to visit soon!
Things To Do In Bend With Kids
When it comes to activities in Bend, there is no shortage of things to do. While there are plenty of outdoor adventures to be had, sometimes you just want to stay indoors or do something a little different. Plus, doing something free is always nice on the wallet. I live here in Bend and have raised my kids in Bend. So, I consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to entertaining little ones, if I do say so myself. If you are new to Bend and are looking for things to do in Bend with kids, dont hesitate to reach out! I am more than happy to give you my recommendations and resources. Welcome!
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Outdoor Fun For Kids In Bend
Located within the city limits of Bend, Pilot Butte is a lava dome created from an extinct volcano. In addition to providing panoramic views from the summit, this is a reasonable hike easy enough for kids, while still providing a challenge and an opportunity for exercise and some fresh air. This 1.8-mile out and back trail is commonly used for hiking, trail running, and road biking, and is open to dogs on a leash.
Things To Do In Sunriver Oregon
The resort community of Sunriver sits just 20 minutes south of Bendbut boasts enough fun to make it a destination on its own. Whether youre staying in and around town or want to explore the natural wonders nearby, heres a look at some of our favorite things to do in Sunriver, Oregon.
Hit the links on the golf courses around Sunriver: The communitys Sunriver Resort offers four courses totaling 63 holesall surrounded by some of the most scenic views anywhere in Central Oregon. No less an authority than Golf Digest has called Sunrivers Crosswater Golf Course one of the 100 greatest courses in the United States, for instance. But Sunrivers other courses feature graceful fairways, several water features, holes lined by volcanic lava flows, and moreall for novices and veterans alike.
Take a trip back in time at Lava Lands Visitor Center: Central Oregons explosive landscape was formed by countless volcanic eruptionsand theres no better place to learn about that natural history than at the Lava Lands Visitor Center. The interpretive and educational hub of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument is open May-October and includes a 3-D map of the region, interpretive exhibits, an on-site bookstore, fully accessible hiking paths through lava flows, and more.
Looking for other fun ideas for your next trip to the charming resort community? Plan your visit to Sunriver, Oregon, today.
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Get Nostalgic At The Last Blockbuster
Friday night movie rentals are a thing of the pastexcept in Bend! The last surviving Blockbuster in the United States is situated on the north side of the city.
Visitors who want to take a walk down memory lane can walk through the doors of what is now known as The Last Blockbuster. Its one of the nostalgic and cool things to do in Bend, Oregon.
Pro Tip: In addition to the movie rentals, the Bend Blockbuster sells merchandise and displays movie memorabilia.