Top Ideas for Making Magical Memories This Winter at Sunriver Resort

When you close your eyes and imagine the holiday season, what do you see? Many of us picture festive family dinners, while others think of twinkling light displays and dazzling tree lightings. Yet others reminisce on snowshoe outings through quiet forests or shredding the powdery slopes at their favorite ski resort. Whatever you thought about, chances are good it was rooted in tradition—long-standing, cherished events with family, friends and loved ones, some passed down through generations.

Sunriver Resort understands this better than most—which is why its Traditions at Sunriver Resort program has become a regional mainstay for many years. Each winter, the program spreads holiday cheer and seasonal merriment through everyone’s favorite festivities—including nightly light shows, holiday meals, keepsake ornaments, seasonal spa services, scenic sleigh rides, and more. In all, nearly 40 activities make up the Traditions offerings, with at least a little something for everyone in your crew.

Whatever your traditions, make plans to enjoy them this season at Sunriver Resort—just 20 minutes south of Bend in the heart of the Deschutes National Forest. And if you’re wondering whether you can bring the whole family, the answer is yes; the resort hosts more than 70 pet-friendly accommodations.

So as you make plans for winter, here are three ideas for enjoying magical, once-in-a-lifetime memories at Sunriver Resort.

Fill Up With a Memorable Meal at Sunriver Resort’s Dining Establishments

No matter your traditions, chances are good food is part of that experience. (Even if it’s not, who doesn’t enjoy locally sourced, regionally inspired dishes after a busy day outdoors—or as part of a relaxing day around the resort?) Fortunately, Sunriver has plenty of dining options to keep the whole family full.

The Lodge Kitchen, for instance, serves seasonal takes on classic American fare in a fun, family-friendly environment; breakfast favorites range from a seasonal harvest bowl to biscuits and gravy, while lunch and dinner selections cover pub favorites (including fish-and-chips, mac and cheese, elk meatloaf, and several sandwiches). Meanwhile, The Grille at Crosswater (led by chef Jason Greene) offers a decadent dining experience in a warm, wood-paneled setting—complete with locally sourced soups, salads, and comfort-food classics (including pork tacos and a filling burger).

a group of friends enjoying a dinner and glass of wine together
And if you’re around for the holidays, the resort hosts five thoughtfully crafted meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas day; hungry diners can choose among traditional dinners, a filling brunch (complete with a bloody mary and mimosa bar), and a seasonally inspired dinner buffet that leans heavily on Pacific Northwest-inspired fare. Sunriver also dishes a pair of New Year’s Eve dinners and a New Year’s Day brunch that goes until 1 p.m.—a genuine blessing for those of us who stay up late to ring in the new year. (And since it’s never too early to start planning for next year: The resort also hosts brunch, a fully stocked buffet, and a pair of plated dinners for Thanksgiving, as well.)

We know you can’t wait to dig in, but please keep in mind: Reservations are strongly encouraged at Sunriver Resort’s restaurants and are required for all holiday meals.

Head Outdoors Around Sunriver Resort

a horse-drawn sleigh in the snow at Sunriver Resort

It’s a maxim that’s true everywhere in Central Oregon, but especially around Sunriver: You’re never far from your next favorite outdoor experience. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the resort (or the community of Sunriver) for a dose of natural wonder.

The resort hosts horse-drawn sleigh rides, for instance, in December and January; each open carriage is pulled by a team of Haflinger horses, heads through a snow-covered meadow, and can support up to four adults and two small children. And not far from the resort sits another cherished Central Oregon tradition: ice skating on the covered rink at The Village at Sunriver. Your time on the ice includes skate rentals and a soundtrack that leans heavily on holiday music and upbeat tunes.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the resort’s resident elk, wherever you go; a year-round herd can occasionally be spotted lounging and feeding in the resort’s meadows, as well as around Crosswater and Caldera Springs.

Explore the Winter Wonderland Beyond Sunriver Resort

We know there’s plenty to enjoy around the resort—but, surrounded by the scenic Deschutes National Forest, we’d also encourage you to explore the natural wonder at Sunriver’s doorstep.

There is perhaps no more popular wintertime destination anywhere in Central Oregon than Mt. Bachelor, home to the sixth-largest ski resort in North America (and the largest in the Pacific Northwest). Private van shuttles are available through Sunriver Resort with advance registration, while rides provided by Navigate Oregon begin in January; if you’re driving, Mt. Bachelor can be reached in just 25 minutes via breezy backroads that’ll get you on the slopes (or onto the sled dog ride) in no time. (And if you didn’t bring your gear, equipment rentals and an on-site ski shop have you covered.)

Sunriver has also teamed up with Wanderlust Tours, which since 1993 has connected visitors with Central Oregon’s impressive natural beauty; this winter, the friendly outfitter is offering guided, family-friendly snowshoe tours—with options available for bonfire and starlight tours—in nearby forests. Along the way, a friendly guide will discuss the natural beauty around you, the region’s history, and more.

a couple enjoying a snowshoe under a bright blue sky

Create Your Own Traditions at Sunriver Resort

a family bundled up together on a ride in the snow

The ideas we’ve outlined for spending your holiday season at Sunriver Resort are just that: ideas. Maybe you’ll find out this winter that the whole family loves ice skating—or perhaps you’ll fall in love with the resort’s regionally inspired holiday meals.

But the real magic of winter at Sunriver Resort is that it’s all up to you. The resort’s Traditions program also covers seasonal spa services (including a winter warm-up massage, a winter glow facial, and a recovery soak—perfect for warming up after a busy day outdoors), the chance to cut your own Christmas tree, a scavenger hunt for Takoda the bear (the resort’s mascot), gingerbread-decorating kits, cross-country skiing at nearby Sno-Parks, family photo opportunities, and (if you can believe it) even more fun activities. Whatever you end up doing, whoever you end up doing it with, and wherever you end up going, we hope you find a holiday tradition to cherish for years to come.

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