Visit Central Oregon logo in the color black.

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.

Other stories

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

  • Adventures Abound Starting at Sunriver Resort
    Adventures Abound Starting at Sunriver Resort

    Sunriver is the type of place that takes your breath away no matter what season it is. During the summer you can hop on a horse for your very own wild wild west experience. The team at Sunriver Stables will make you feel comfortable on your ride, even if you’ve never saddled up before. Whether you’re in a tube or a kayak, floating down the Deschutes River is a relaxing activity that’s fun for the whole family.

  • Casual Family Weekend in Sunriver
    Casual Family Weekend in Sunriver

    Imagine this: you’re riding your bike through a rolling meadow, the Cascade mountain range in the background, and the only sound is from the whir of a prop plane taking off against a crisp blue sky. Up ahead, your children pull carrots from their pockets and present them to a gathering of friendly horses in an adjacent pasture.

  • Central Oregon Winter Adventures
    Central Oregon Winter Adventures

    When the snow flies, Central Oregon shines. All you have to do is choose your adventure. Mt. Bachelor - The model of a complete snowsports resort, Mt. Bachelor offers 360-degree lift-served groomed skiing and riding from its volcanic summit.

  • Lava Lands Visitor Center a Central Oregon Geologic Gem
    Lava Lands Visitor Center a Central Oregon Geologic Gem

    In the late 1960s NASA looked for a place to send astronauts who were training for a mission that would change the world. But before the mission could happen, NASA needed a place to mimic what they believed those astronauts would find on the surface of the moon. Because, after all, nobody had been there before so nobody really knew what the surface of the moon was like.

  • Winter Isn’t Only About Snow in Central Oregon
    Winter Isn’t Only About Snow in Central Oregon

    It’s true that when winter rolls around in Central Oregon, most people’s minds veer toward things to do in the snow. With Mt. Bachelor, Hoodoo, sno-parks and more, there’s plenty of options for folks to get out and play.

  • Get Your “Ah-Ha” Beer Moment at Sunriver Brewing Company
    Get Your “Ah-Ha” Beer Moment at Sunriver Brewing Company

    Central Oregon can claim more breweries than quite a few states. We’re not exaggerating. Our region has 30+ breweries. That shows how much we care about craft beer but, it can make it tough to choose where to taste local brews, we get it!

  • Sammies and Sandos: Central Oregon’s Best Sandwiches
    Sammies and Sandos: Central Oregon’s Best Sandwiches

    Sometimes after a day full of adventure, all that you crave is a simple, yet delicious, stick-to-your-ribs sandwich. (And a beer, obviously.)

  • Central Oregon Hiking Trails
    Central Oregon Hiking Trails

    Head east on Highway 20 (Greenwood Avenue) to the Pilot Butte State Park. The parking area and trailhead are just east of the butte. Walk on either the nature trail or the paved road. The road is also for vehicle traffic, weather permitting. It is a wonderful viewpoint for the entire Bend area. This hiking trail is one of the most popular in Central Oregon.

  • Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: Pull Off For a Central Oregon Adventure
    Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: Pull Off For a Central Oregon Adventure

    The Cascade Lakes Scenic byway is one of the prettiest drives in the U.S. But it might be the most recreationally rich road you’ll ever drive too. From Bend southwest to the Highway 58 junction, the Oregon Route 372 cuts through 66 miles unique volcanic formations and geological beauty that offers everything that makes Central Oregon an outdoor lover’s paradise.

  • Camp Abbot’s Important Role During World War II
    Camp Abbot’s Important Role During World War II

    Sunriver is one of the region’s oldest and most beloved destination resorts. Since the late 1960s, Oregon families have made memories here, riding bikes to the general store, learning to golf on the courses and swimming in the river and the resort’s pools.