Our family recently returned from a family vacation to Bend, Oregon. Bend had never really been on our radar before but we were looking for a “quick getaway” and, having never been, we thought we should give it a try. Bend had not been a place we’d considered much because it seemed that everyone who has ever recommended it to us has older children and/or are rock climbing types. Bend struck us as a town we should visit when our kids were older, but not when they are young. Our children are currently ages 2, 4, 6 and 8 and aren’t exactly old enough to traverse mountain tops or ride the rapids.
We really wanted to get out of town and Bend was within reasonable driving distance. We went for it. At the conclusion of our time there we remarked on how glad we were we had taken the chance on Bend. It was a perfect family getaway for us! We discovered that there was no need for us to worry about not being able to find interesting things to do with young kids. Instead we wished we had more time there to explore more things!
Bend is located a little over 3 hours southeast of Portland, Oregon. The closest airport to Bend is in Redmond, Oregon which is about 15 miles north of Bend. At the time of this post, four airlines offer flights to and from Redmond and six destinations. Whichever way you choose to travel to get there, it’ll be worth your time.
Like we said, our children are small and we set out on our adventure with preconceived notions about what we might find (or not find) to do in Bend. The following list of suggestions is based on activities you can do with young kids. There are a lot of options for young families that we wished we had known about earlier in our parenting/traveling journey. Maybe someone else out there can glean from this list and/or correct their own false impressions about what Bend has to offer for young families.
- There are plenty of hotels and vacation rentals both in Bend and in nearby Sunriver. We stayed at this house in Sunriver which worked well for us. It will not be hard to find a spot to make your own while visiting the area. However, given the geography, you will need your own vehicle to travel about. If you are flying in, rent a car!
- There are hiking trails all over the area and you’ll have no problems finding one to explore as a family. We went on the Old Mill Interpretive Loop Trail and the one for Benham Falls. Here is a list of hikes for kids in Bend and the surrounding areas.
- Take the kids to Lava Butte! You won’t regret it.
- We went to Lava River Cave and enjoyed it. This adventure does require some planning and consideration, but it’s well worth the effort and our kids list this as one of their favorite activities of the trip. Although this cave is not accessible for strollers, you can wear your smaller babies/children quite safely inside the cave.
- Spend some time at Smith Rock State Park. We were pleasantly surprised at how remarkably accessible this is for families. The trails are stroller friendly, so absolutely no one must miss out on the beauty and splendor which is Smith Rock.
- Take a time out for an ice cream cone at Goody’s. Also plan to tour the Goody’s factory in Downtown Bend. Yum.
- Spend some time browsing the shops and relaxing by the Deschutes River in Downtown Bend. (There is a Goody’s located downtown which is there to enjoy if you discover you like it. Just a suggestion.)
- Visit the High Desert Museum. Hands down, this is one of the best museums our family has ever been to. One of Oregon’s finest!
These are just a few suggestions.
We were so glad to find Bend such a great fit for our family. We’re glad that we didn’t put the trip off for another half dozen years or so but that we went for it after all. We’d go again in a heartbeat and would definitely recommend it for others with small kids. There really is something for everyone in Bend.