There’s nothing quite like seeing your child’s face light up during a fun family activity – even if they’re laughing at you down on the ice after a spectacular, unintential and rather painful triple axel.
Ah, the family memories right?
Central Oregon has plenty of opportunities for you to reconnect with your kids while keeping them disconnected from their phones for at least a little while. Here’s some of your best bets for Kid-Friendly Fun in Central Oregon:
Everyone looks a little silly the first time they strap on a pair of ice skates. But it takes just a few timid shuffles along the ice to pick it up enough to have some fun. Enjoy the outdoor covered rinks at The Village at Sunriver and The Pavilion in Bend or the open air rinks at Seventh Mountain Resort and Centennial Park near downtown Redmond. All of the locations have rental skates and charge very nominal fees for use. If there’s snow falling, it might just be the most Normal Rockwell thing you do all winter long.
Nothing elicits shrieks of pure joy like barreling down a snow-covered hill on a thin plastic sled. Throw in your older brother’s poorly designed ramp right where you reach maximum speed and let the fun begin! Wanoga Sno-Park is the go-to spot for sledding in the area. It’s on the road to Mt. Bachelor and features a large hill, warming hut and restroom. There’s even a food truck there serving hot beverages and offering rental sleds.
For a more “drag-racing-on-snow” experience, keep driving up to Mt. Bachelor and experience the Snowblast Tubing Park. You can pay for a two-hour window or all-day pass and let a motorized rope pull you and your innertube to the top of the 800-foot hill. The ride down is faster than you think, and an absolute blast. The Hoodoo Ski Area near Sisters has a tubing hill of its own. How fast is it? Well, it’s called “The Autobahn,” so make of that what you will.
Sometimes the kids just can’t even with the snow and cold. And to be honest, you’d probably like some time to let the gear dry out. Luckily there’s a few places in Central Oregon for kids to have a blast inside. Maybe the best place for family fun indoors also happens to be a spot where you can mix in some hands-on education: The High Desert Museum. The museum features wild animals, interpretive history exhibits and much more. At Sunriver Resort, the kids will have a blast at Fort Funnigan, home to full or half-day camps with plenty of activities for the kids.
Looking to have the kids blow of a little steam? There’s no better place than Bend’s Bouncing off the Wall. The 11,000-square-foot facility is home to several GIGANTIC inflatable interactives and includes a large area for crafts, activities and other indoor play. They can literally bounce themselves to sleep with all the activity. (Seriously, I’ve actually seen a kid sleeping in one of the bouncy houses.)
Ice skating, sledding…sure, you can do those things a lot of places. Sled dog riding? Now that’s another story – a super fun, unique story. Few places give you the chance to be pulled by a team of excited dogs, mushed by a past participant in the Iditarod. Oregon’s Trail of Dreams Sled Dog Rides at Mt. Bachelor is probably the most fun you can have on snow as you are whisked away into the woods.
Sometimes you just want to catch a flick – even on a family vacation. You can find relatively new releases in a unique theater experience at McMenamins Old St. Francis School in downtown Bend. The McMenamins historic campus (dating back to 1936) includes a restaurant, four pubs, ornate Turkish soaking pool, music venue, hotel and theater. It’s one of those “must-sees” when you visit Central Oregon. Drop the kids off at one of the matinees and go have a soak just down the hall. Sounds like a perfect afternoon to me.