Discover the Best Parks and Playgrounds In and Near Bend

Central Oregon is beloved for its outdoor playgrounds for kids of all ages. The fun ranges from slides, swings, and play structures at public city parks to large state parks that host miles of hiking trails, rock-climbing, mountain biking, and other fun adventures. No matter where you and the family wind up, you’re sure to find plenty of natural beauty and an abundance of recreational opportunities.

We couldn’t begin to list every last park in Central Oregon, but these are a few local favorites:

Ready for a joyous day outdoors? Here are some of the best parks in Bend, Oregon (and beyond).

Drake Park: A Must-Visit Iconic Spot in Bend

Crystal-clear creeks, old-growth forests of ponderosa pine, lemon-scented sagebrush, and grassy meadows are hallmarks of Central Oregon’s high-desert landscapes—and Shevlin Park, near the western edge of Bend, offers the idyllic opportunity to enjoy the region’s pastoral scenery.

The park hosts several miles of trails, mostly along (and around) bubbling Tumalo Creek. These paths entice hikers and mountain bikers in summer—and snowshoers and cross-country skiers in winter. Many of the paths connect at various points throughout the dog-friendly park, making it easy for hikers and riders to choose loops that suit their time and skill levels.

Family hiking at Shevlin Park in Bend, Oregon

Smith Rock State Park: A Climber’s Paradise near Bend

Family hiking at Smith Rock State Park near Redmond, Oregon

A visit to Smith Rock State Park is one of the top things to do in Central Oregon, and for good reason: The park’s volcanic formations, along with the Crooked River snaking through it all, provide the perfect backdrop for a variety of memorable outings. Best of all, it’s just a short drive from Redmond and Bend.

Soak in the views (and cotton-candy sunsets) from viewpoints near the parking areas, enjoy an easy horseback ride, follow several miles of hiking trails to wide-open vistas, go for low-key mountain bike rides through Smith Rock’s high-desert terrain, and even try your hand at some of the best rock-climbing in Central Oregon. Several thousand climbs—and more than 1,000 bolted routes—dot the park’s cliffsides and rock faces. Dogs are allowed to join your adventures at Smith Rock, but please note they must be leashed at all times to protect the park’s wildlife—including deer, beavers, river otters, and birds.

Shevlin Park: An Oasis for Hikers and Nature Enthusiasts

Crystal-clear creeks, old-growth forests of ponderosa pine, lemon-scented sagebrush, and grassy meadows are hallmarks of Central Oregon’s high-desert landscapes—and Shevlin Park, near the western edge of Bend, offers the idyllic opportunity to enjoy the region’s pastoral scenery.

The park hosts several miles of trails, mostly along (and around) bubbling Tumalo Creek. These paths entice hikers and mountain bikers in summer—and snowshoers and cross-country skiers in winter. Many of the paths connect at various points throughout the dog-friendly park, making it easy for hikers and riders to choose loops that suit their time and skill levels.

Family hiking at Shevlin Park in Bend, Oregon

Pilot Butte State Park: Panoramic Views Awaiting

Watching the sunset at Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint in Bend, Oregon

Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint was established in 1928, making it one of Oregon’s oldest state parks. When the extinct cinder cone was made a state park, it sat at the outskirts of Bend, which at the time was a small logging community.

The views have changed dramatically in the decades since its formation—but Pilot Butte’s allure remains as strong as ever. A roughly 2-mile (round-trip) nature trail circles the butte while gaining about 450 feet along the way. From Pilot Butte’s wide-open summit, 360-degree views include roughly a dozen Cascade Range peaks (including the Three Sisters, Mount Bachelor, and Broken Top), the city of Bend below, and high-desert terrain to the east. Pets are welcome on the trail but should be leashed at all times.

Between mid-April and mid-November, drivers can head to the summit via a  paved road—an especially popular choice in late spring and summer, when the butte’s summit becomes one of Bend’s best spots to watch the sunset.

Tumalo State Park: Where the Water and Trails Meet

Just 15 minutes north of Bend, Tumalo State Park sits at a curve in the Deschutes River and offers a wide range of activities for day-trippers and overnight guests alike—making it one of the best parks in Bend, Oregon.

Ponderosa pine, sagebrush, and juniper trees provide the perfect backdrop for the park’s many offerings—like fishing for rainbow trout in the Deschutes River, paddling kayaks and stand-up paddleboards along the waterway, splashing in shallow stretches of river on warm summer days, savoring a shady picnic, and hiking a portion of the broader Deschutes River Trail.

Tumalo State Park also offers year-round camping—with seven yurts and more than 75 tent and RV sites (some of which are accessible to campers with disabilities); amenities include flush toilets, hot showers, on-site firewood sales, and a popular playground.

Adventure Awaits at Bend’s Waterfront Parks

The Deschutes River runs through the heart of Bend, so it’s no surprise several parks have been established along its banks to provide locals and visitors alike with year-round enjoyment.

We mentioned Drake Park above, but the fun also includes Bend Whitewater Park—where water enthusiasts can go paddleboarding, surfing, and kayaking in a man-made whitewater channel in the Deschutes River; Riverbend Park, which hosts open lawn, paved and unpaved waterfront paths, easy river access, and close proximity to an off-leash dog area near the Old Mill District; Farewell Bend Park, a popular launching point for summertime float trips; McKay Park, home to public art, access to the Deschutes River Trail, views of paddlers at Bend Whitewater Park, and more; and Columbia Park, which sits on the west side of the Deschutes River and offers all manner of laid-back fun—including a horseshoe pit, spacious lawn, large playground, riverside paths, and picnic tables. 

Walking trails at Riverbend Park in Bend, Oregon

Indoor Playgrounds: Year-Round Fun in Bend and Redmond

Kids playing at Free Spirit in Bend, Oregon

If you prefer an indoor playground, you’ll find plenty around Bend and Redmond. 

Cascade Indoor Sports boasts that its Big Play Thing is the largest indoor play structure in Central Oregon, with more than 7,000 square feet of climbing activities; the fun includes slides, foam obstacles, tubes, web crawls, and other adventures. Nearby Trampoline Zone & Adventure Park hosts more than 50 trampoline beds (with options for basketball, dodgeball, and other fun games), six interactive climbing walls, a laser maze, a 15-obstacle ninja course, and several pickleball courts.

For more bouncy fun, Mountain Air Trampoline Park showcases numerous trampolines—some with exciting games and challenges—for children and toddlers alike. In the Old Mill District, Free Spirit offers a variety of obstacles, ninja-type challenges, and kid-focused yoga sessions—with activities geared toward children and toddlers. And in Redmond, Little Bug Play Hub encourages children seven and younger to have fun with soft play areas, a wooden play structure, an assortment of toys, and other attractions designed to encourage their growth and development.

Best Playgrounds for Kids in Bend

Central Oregon enjoys sunshine-filled days all year round, which makes regional playgrounds a popular way for families to let out some energy and kids to get in some social time. Bend, in particular, is home to several popular playgrounds.

Columbia Park, for instance, hosts one of the best playgrounds in Bend, Oregon, called the “SS Columbia”; as its name implies, the playground resembles an old ship—complete with climbing structures, slides, and more—and has been nicknamed “Pirate Ship Park” by local families. And Pine Nursery Park, on Bend’s eastside, hosts an active-minded playground with web-like climbing challenges, swings, slides, and some spinning structures. For more ideas, check out the handy map locator from Bend Parks.

Getting inspired to plan your next family vacation? Learn all about lodging in Central Oregon, and start planning your trip today.

Exploring the Parks of Redmond and Sisters, Oregon

You’ll find plenty of playgrounds at communities throughout Central Oregon—with several in the sun-kissed communities of Redmond and Sisters.

Sam Johnson Park is one of the most popular parks in Redmond, Oregon—where an expansive, brightly colored play area includes multiple slides, climbing routes, and other fun challenges (all on a soft surface that cushions the occasional tumble). Just a half-mile away sits American Legion Community Park; this Redmond playground hosts a few swings and several small (faux) rock faces that encourage climbing—inspired by the famous rock-climbing opportunities at Smith Rock nearby. Learn more about Redmond Parks to help inspire your next visit.

In Sisters, Village Green Park has plenty for the whole family—including a play area that includes a twisting slide, a disc swing, climbing structures, and more—all on a well-maintained soft surface. On the north side of Sisters, Cliff Clemens Park features a playground on cushy cedar chips—with multiple plastic slides, swings, and stairs. Find other playgrounds and play areas managed by Sisters Parks.

If you worked up an appetite after all that play time, learn about the best places to eat in Central Oregon

Play structure at Sam Johnson Park in Redmond, Oregon.

Finding Tranquility at Sunriver Playgrounds

Two women hiking on a trail at LaPine State Park.

Sunriver is a beloved family destination for many reasons—including its close proximity to engaging attractions, wide range of available lodgings at Sunriver Resort, and sheer volume of fun playgrounds nearby.

Paulina Park, for instance, resides at the Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic & Recreation Center—and offers a large rock-climbing structure for young children. Fort Rock Park, meanwhile, entices young children with a playground that draws inspiration from Central Oregon’s landscapes with its climbing structures, slides, and monkey bars. LaPine State Park, meanwhile, is about 15 minutes south of Sunriver—and hosts several miles of hiking and biking trails, an off-leash dog park, put-in spots for canoes and kayaks, and a Camper’s Clubhouse—open to the park’s overnight guests—that hosts nature-inspired books, games, and other family activities. See other Sunriver Parks for more ideas on fun for the whole family.

Looking for other types of natural playgrounds? Check out the top Sno-Parks in Central Oregon, where families can go sledding, tubing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in the region’s snowy backcountry.

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