Top 8 Things to Do in Sunriver in Summer

Whatever you’re looking for from a fun summer vacation, you’ll find it in Sunriver. Just 20 minutes south of Bend, the bustling community sits surrounded by forests of ponderosa pines and offers a full weekend of enjoyment for travelers of all stripes—complete with world-class golf courses, otherworldly natural scenery, lazy river floats and comfortable overnight stays.

So as you make travel plans, here’s a look at the top eight things to do in Sunriver this summer.

1. Bike Sunriver’s Beautiful Bike Paths

One of the top activities in Sunriver, Oregon, is riding along more than 40 miles of paved bike paths (mostly flat and largely protected from motorized traffic) through meadows and forests, to community landmarks like The Village at Sunriver shopping center and Sunriver Resort Marina. Along the way, nearly two dozen interpretive panels explain the region’s history, flora, fauna and more.

Of particular note is the 12-mile (round-trip) Sun-Lava Path, which heads through a craggy lava flow before arriving at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument’s Lava Lands Visitor Center; there, visitors can learn about the national monument, follow paved walking paths through the heart of the lava flow and summit Lava Butte.

Ready to hit the trail? Check out our guide to biking in Sunriver, Oregon, to get started.

Cycling in Sunriver
Golfing at Sunriver Resort

2. Play the Golf Courses at Sunriver Resort

Golfers of all abilities and skill levels love testing themselves at Sunriver Resort, which hosts four world-class courses.

Crosswater Golf Course, named one of the nation’s 100 top courses by Golf Digest, is beloved for a design that incorporates local scenery (such as woodlands and wetlands) while offering intermittent views of the Deschutes River and Mount Bachelor. Meadows Golf Course, meanwhile, occasionally hugs the winding Sun River while keeping golfers on their toes with sloping fairways and water hazards. Woodlands Golf Course, designed by architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., passes lava flows, water hazards, forests and other natural features over the course of 18 gorgeous holes. And the nine-hole, fast-playing Caldera Links Golf Course caters to families, newer golfers and relaxed players with shorter holes and scenic views of Mount Bachelor.

3. Explore the Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Up for a day trip from Sunriver? Check out the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which hosts alpine lakes, jagged lava flows, volcanic remains and other natural marvels across 54,000 awe-inspiring acres.

A full day trip to some of the monument’s attractions might include a drive to the top of Paulina Peak (where wide-open Cascade peak views await), a hike through history along the Lava Cast Forest Trail, a trek into the 2.2-mile (round-trip) Lava River Cave (though timed reservation tickets are required between early May and mid-September), sightseeing from atop the Lava Butte cinder cone and educational insight at the Lava Lands Visitor Center. However you plan your day, each activity offers a fascinating glimpse at the natural forces that quite literally shaped Central Oregon as we know it today.

Lava Butte in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Paddling the Deschutes River near Sunriver

4. Get on the Water Around Sunriver

The Deschutes River winds its way north at the western edge of Sunriver, offering plenty of opportunities to enjoy a sunny summer day on the water. 

The Marina at Sunriver Resort, for instance, rents canoes, solo and tandem kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, rafts (measuring 10-14 feet long and fitting groups of up to 10) and inner tubes—all including life jackets, paddles and a post-trip shuttle ride. The marina’s recommended float totals about six miles (one-way); it begins at the marina and ends at Benham Butte—where paddlers and floaters can catch a ride back to the resort. Each trip takes 2-3.5 hours, depending on the craft, and showcases pine forests, snow-capped mountain peaks, lava flows and other scenic sites.

For a more thrilling adventure, read about whitewater rafting adventures around Sunriver.

5. Make a Splash in Pools Around Sunriver

Cool off on a warm summer afternoon with a few hours in the myriad pool facilities at Sunriver Resort.

The Cove Aquatic Center enchants resort guests with indoor and outdoor pools, an indoor-outdoor waterslide, lazy river, jetted tubs and other fun features; make a day of it, and relax between pool sessions in a private outdoor cabana. Also open to resort guests is Sage Springs Club and Spa, which comprises a three-lane lap pool for invigorating workouts—and hot tubs for enjoying some well-deserved downtime afterward.

Water feature at The Cove Aquatic Center in Sunriver
Horseback Riding at Sunriver Stables

6. Go Horseback Riding at Sunriver Stables

There are plenty of fun ways to get on the trails when visiting Sunriver, Oregon, but the most magical just might be a horseback ride through Sunriver Stables.

Here’s how it works: Visitors seven and older can sign-up for rides that include 15 minutes of instruction and up to an hour on the trail. Led by the locally owned Sunriver Trail Rides, the beginner-friendly outings head into meadows covered with wildflowers, pass through forests of pine, follow the bubbling Deschutes River and include occasional views of nearby volcanic peaks. Younger riders, meanwhile, can enjoy short pony rides around the stables. For more, get the skinny on horseback riding at Sunriver Resort.

7. Peer Into the Cosmos at Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory

In 2020, Sunriver was honored as a Dark Sky Friendly Development of Distinction by the International Dark Sky Association—a designation reflecting its dark night skies, lack of light pollution, and excellent stargazing opportunities.

Around the community, stargazers routinely gather after sunset at the Oregon Observatory at the Sunriver Nature Center, which hosts 12 to 20 telescopes on a given night—the largest collection of telescopes for public use in the United States. On a clear night, visitors can see stars, planets, nebulae and other cosmic wonders under the watchful eye of astronomers who can identify (and provide background on) those fascinating features. The fun doesn’t stop when the sun rises, either; the observatory is open during the daytime to view sunspots, solar storms and more.

Oregon Observatory at the Sunriver Nature Center
Cabin at Sunriver Resort

8. Get a Good Night’s Sleep at Sunriver Resort

We’ve shared enough activities so far to fill three or four days—so you’ll want a comfortable place to rest and recharge each night. Around town, that almost always means staying at Sunriver Resort.

Befitting its status as the biggest, best-known overnight option in the area, Sunriver Resort offers 245 guestrooms between its Lodge Village and River Lodge properties—not to mention 275 vacation homes, cabins, bungalows, condos and more across three rental communities. These rooms accommodate everyone, from couples on a romantic retreat to groups of 16, and offer amenities that include decor crafted from locally sourced volcanic rock, free or discounted bike and boat rentals and more.

Other stories

More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.

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    Your Guide to Biking in Sunriver, Oregon

    No tour of the best biking in Central Oregon is complete without a stop in Sunriver, Oregon. A city named after the abundance of sunshine and water, Sunriver is a nationally-renowned destination for outdoor adventure. The town is nestled right where the Deschutes National Forest meets the base of the Cascade Mountains, just a few miles south of beautifully stark high desert landscapes. From mountain biking trails near volcanic monuments to paved paths meandering near the river, Sunriver is perfect to explore from the seat of a bike.

  • Whitewater Rafting Adventures Near Sunriver
    Whitewater Rafting Adventures Near Sunriver

    A visit to Sunriver, Oregon calls for getting on the water and soaking up the sunshine. Sunriver is a community based around Sunriver Resort that lives and breathes outdoor recreation. Visitors from all over the world call Sunriver one of their favorite vacation destinations, and much of the reason belongs to the stretch of the Deschutes River that runs through town. When the summer sun is high in the sky, one of the best ways to cool off and get some thrills is to float a whitewater section of the river.

  • The Best Hiking Around Sunriver, Oregon
    The Best Hiking Around Sunriver, Oregon

    Sunriver, Oregon is known for two things that might not come as a surprise: ample sunshine, and plenty of rivers and waterways. Nestled in the Deschutes National Forest at the base of the Cascade Range, Sunriver is a perfect destination for people who want to explore and see the best of the local landscape. The surrounding area is filled with tall pines and forested lands with meadows dotted throughout. The forest often gives way to a dry and volcanic landscape, contrasted by the refreshing rivers, lakes and ponds that can be enjoyed on a hot summer day. Want to get going? Here are five jaw-dropping hikes for you to try in and near Sunriver.