Winter Weekend – 48 Hours of Winter Fun

It’s a triple play when it comes to the perfect two-day winter stay in Central Oregon – starting and ending with three distinct experiences.


Based out of Sisters, after a pleasant night’s stay at FivePine Lodge, head to one of the town’s renowned bakeries to start the day. If you’re staying at Black Butte Ranch, brew up a cup and lay out some pastries in your vacation rental. After that, head to Hoodoo Ski Area to ski, ride or do a little innertubing down these Cascade slopes.

After a morning full of downhill runs, head back to Sisters for a late lunch or refreshments at the Three Creeks Brewing Company. If you haven’t been able to find time to see the latest movie, head next door to the Sisters Movie House, built inside a big red barn. If the slopes have gotten the best of you, there’s always the Shibui Spa at FivePine Lodge, just a two-minute walk from the theater and brew pub.

Day two is exploration day. It begins in Sisters with a relaxed cross-country ski tour on the Peterson Ridge trail system, a hike around nearby Suttle Lake or an amble along the Metolius River and into Camp Sherman. Try lunch at The Lodge at Suttle Lake.

Back in town, it’s time to troll the art galleries or hit the winter series of the Sisters Folk Festival, where you can find big acts in an intimate setting.

A family ice skating at Seventh Mountain Resort


If you’re launching from Bend, and staying at DoubleTree, Riverhouse on the Deschutes or the Hilton Garden Inn, try McKay Cottage or Sparrow Bakery before heading up for a day of alpine skiing.

Those wanting to be a bit closer to Mt. Bachelor will find a haven at Seventh Mountain Resort, five miles from downtown on the way to the ski area.

Legs a bit weary and ready to head back from the slopes, stop by The Row at Tetherow for apres ski or head right to town for a brew and a burger at either 10 Barrel Brewing Company or Cascade Lakes Brewing Co. Lodge.

Come evening, Bend has dozens of wonderful dining options such as the venerable Pine Tavern near Mirror Pond in the heart of the city.

After dinner, downtown has several music clubs, regular big-time music acts at the Tower Theatre, wine bars and places to simply sit back and relax after a long day on the mountain.

Or, an alternative itinerary for Bend would be to start off the day heading up Century Drive for cross-country skiing at one of the designated Sno-Parks, sledding at Wanoga Sno-Park or dog sledding with Trail of Dreams at Mt. Bachelor.

Back in town, explore the shopping downtown or in the Old Mill District. The dinner fare in town runs from Middle Eastern, to Far Eastern to Pacific Northwest and Western. In any case there are top-notch restaurants for every whim.

The Village at Sunriver Shopping


A third two-day excursion starts in Sunriver, with its wide variety of accommodations from lodge rooms and condos to rental homes. In winter, Sunriver is like being in a classic European alpine mountain community – small enough to walk everywhere yet replete with a central shopping and restaurant village.

The drive to Mt. Bachelor from Sunriver is short. When your legs can’t take any more on the mountain, head back to Sunriver Resort, where there’s Sage Springs Spa to minister aches and pains, Sunriver Brewing Company for conviviality and several excellent dining choices at the Lodge and in The Village at Sunriver.

Day two in Sunriver starts with a leisurely breakfast at Sintra before heading up to Edison Butte for a cross-country ski tour. By the way, dogs are welcome at Edison Butte.
Ending the tour with a picnic lunch on the snow is a fitting finale to two wonderful Central Oregon days.

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.

Sound like the setting of a movie? It’s actually a scene from my family’s idyllic weekend in Sunriver. Because of the accessible outdoor activities and pristine setting, Sunriver remains a favorite getaway spot for my family of five.

Interior view vacation home in Sunriver, Oregon

While we usually stay at the resort, this time we went for a more relaxed trip and booked a house through Discover Sunriver Vacation Rentals. There are many lodging options to choose from, but since our three kids wanted to bring friends and spread out, we picked a four-bedroom house complete with a large kitchen, hot tub and killer views.

Renting a house is great for cooking in. I stopped at The Village at Sunriver and bought our groceries at Sunriver Country Store. I love this IGA grocer for its fresh produce and healthy choices (a big variety of gluten-free goods too).

Sunriver Country Store Near Bend Oregon

The house was stocked with a handful of bikes for all ages and sizes. Upon arrival,we quickly unloaded and claimed bikes and helmets before heading out to the local paths. My family and I rode through the village, out behind the lodge, across golf course bridges, and past the airport, marina and stables all within under an hour.

The paths are flat and well paved, making it an easy trek for all abilities. After lunch and a hot tub soak, the kids stretched out in the living room to play board games while my husband and I were free to lounge and unwind from a busy week.

Feeling too lazy to cook dinner for the group that night, I ordered delivery from Blondie’s Pizza. The pizza and salads were tasty. I also appreciated that there wasn’t a delivery charge for their speedy service.

The next morning, my husband made a swift trip into the village and brought back some coffee. It might have been cheating to go out for lattes, but we couldn’t resist.

Sunriver Brewing Company in Sunriver, Oregon

Our second day was just as pleasurable with more bike rides and time in the village for window-shopping and a casual dinner at the Sunriver Brewing Company. The kids loved their natural, Angus beef burgers. My husband and I ordered refreshing summer salads loaded with berries, followed by tacos with blackened cod. The selection of local draft beers was impressive, a draw for any beer aficionado. After dinner we strolled into Goodies for ice cream cones and a to-go bag of yummy caramel corn.

meier sunriver 4

Our last day in Sunriver ended with a scenic trail ride courtesy of Sunriver Stables. My two girls and I opted for the thirty-minute “Bald Eagle Loop,” which took us along the Deschutes River and out across the Sunriver Meadows. The staff was very welcoming as they helped us choose equally affable horses. My only complaint was that photos aren’t allowed on the ride. The views were so stunning that I would have liked to capture them with my camera. We will definitely plan for a longer ride on our next visit.

I can’t wait to go back.

Sunriver Family Adventure

Sunriver Resort Lodge Entrance in Sunriver, Oregon

In the winter my son is always asking, “Dad, can we go skiing?” Well, that’s a little hard to do, I tell him, considering we live in San Francisco now, not Colorado.

In the summer, my daughter’s always asking, “Dad can we go for a bike ride?” I’d love to, I tell her, if she’d get off her phone and stop texting for five minutes.

And all the other times of the year, my wife asks, “Honey, can we just get away?” No, I say, we’re stuck with these crazy kids in this wonderful life.

Sometimes she laughs at that.

But this year, I had an answer for them for our annual family trip.

I tried to keep the destination, Sunriver, Oregon, a surprise, and it was easy to throw them off the scent with my clues for what to pack.

A winter coat, stocking cap, gloves, tennis shoes, shorts, swimsuit, sunglasses, hiking shoes, t-shirts, golf shoes, binoculars, cycling gear and most importantly I joked, a family-sized sense of adventure.

The kids sometimes laugh at that.

All jokes aside, Sunriver has been on my vacation radar for some time after learning about the golf courses there during a golf industry trade show recently. And I remember seeing Crosswater Club on TV when it hosted a Champions Tour event for many years.

crosswater 12th hole


The guys manning the booth pitched the resort as a true four-season destination, but I had my doubts, thinking that spring would likely be the worst time to visit. It’s not too hot, not too cold and probably kind of dead.

Wait, did I say “worst” time?


Anyway, I was sold after looking online and finding an annual event in May where racers alpine ski and cross country ski at nearby Mt. Bachelor, bike down the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, run along the Deschutes River Trail and kayak along the Deschutes River. In the same day. (Learn more about the U.S. Bank Pole Pedal Paddle.)

That got me thinking of our own family “multi-sport” vacation with Sunriver as our home base.

I was surprised to find a direct – and not all that expensive – flight from San Francisco to Redmond, just 30 miles north of Sunriver. We rented a car and made the quick drive – in Central Oregon a traffic jam usually involves a herd of deer and luckily on our drive there were none.

We were staying in Sunriver for a long three-day weekend and knew we weren’t going to want to (or could afford to) eat out every night. So we decided to rent a small house within the resort to take advantage of the kitchen, hot tub and other amenities that would make us feel at home on vacation. (Namely, the foosball table.)

The rental home, offered by Discover Sunriver Vacation Rentals also had bikes in the garage for us to use – and offered us free access to Mavericks, the resort’s health club. (More on that in a bit.)

As soon as we arrived at the resort, we made a bee line for The Village at Sunriver, a little retail center and community hub filled with restaurants, shops, places to get rental gear. We knew this would be a popular place for us during our visit.

Exterior evening view of a building in Sunriver, Oregon

But for now we were in search of a quick lunch and some groceries for our weekend stay.

Finding somewhere to eat that the entire family can agree on should be an Olympic sport – a sport our family wouldn’t come close to medaling in.

And the diverse options in front of us only made things more difficult. So we settled on a family favorite, pizza at Panini’s Pizzera.

(Pro tip: Check out the Village’s website before going. Some of the restaurants offer discounts with special “code words.” In talking to a couple of tourists from Montana, we learned they got 15 percent off their tab at the Village Bar and Grill for saying the words “The Tradition Continues.” )

Stuffed with a basic, but delicious pepperoni and green pepper pizza we ventured over to the Sunriver Country Store for some rations.

Sunriver Country Store Near Bend Oregon

We picked up some staples like peanut butter, coffee, cereal and beer – some highly recommended local craft beer – but the small store was also well stocked with some locally grown veggies, fish and more from the Oregon coast and meats from Central Oregon farmers. It had all the guilty vacation pleasures and pantry necessities of a 7-11 with the upscale offerings of a boutique market. Perfect.

Our headquarters for the weekend was a very short drive away and we were anxious to get in, get unpacked and check out the place.

It was even better than the pictures online. The 1,800-square foot, two-story house had three bedrooms, two and a half baths and a private hot tub in the back which butted the forest Sunriver lies within.

Interior view vacation home in Sunriver, Oregon

The kids found their room (and frowned at the idea of bunk beds), we unpacked a little and sat around the kitchen table to devise a weekend plan. I had the destination and our accommodations planned out, but beyond a round of golf, I wanted to kind of play our activities by hear based on the weather.

And that wasn’t going to be a problem. I was told the forecast for the week was pretty typical for this time of year – highs in the upper 50s, maybe reaching the low 60s. And overnight lows would dip into the 30s – perfect for the late evening hot tubbing we had planned.

We stayed in for dinner on night one. I made some burgers, taking advantage of the gas barbecue grill out on the back patio near the hot tub. The kids were on a mission to get into that hot tub and cleared their plates in record time.

We were up and ready to go before 10 for our first full day in Sunriver. A day we had decided the night before would be spent outside.

Our rental house came with discounted rental bikes at 4 Seasons Recreational Outfitters, but the house itself also came with enough bikes and helmets for all of us. They weren’t top of the line mountain bikes, but they would be perfect for the bike path adventuring we’d be doing that day.

With water bottles and snacks packed into one heavy backpack (carried by dad, of course) we headed out.

The map we found at our rental house showed there are more than 30 miles of paved bike paths that parallel the golf courses, cut through the forest and tunnel beneath the main roads of the resort.

A family riding bikes at Sunriver Resort near Bend, Oregon

We weren’t planning on doing all 33 miles, but the gang was up for being out for a while exploring just about every corner of the resort, which we did in about two hours, including a stop for a short snack and game of “real” putt putt at the 9-hole family-friendly putting course behind the main Sunriver lodge, next to the Meadows Course clubhouse.

I planned on a round of golf at the course the next day so it was nice to get a quick lay of the land and take a peek at the rental clubs I had arranged for myself.

We got back to the house just after lunch and the kids were eager to not do anything for a little while – I had put them through a pretty good workout already.

While they messed around with the foosball table upstairs, my wife and I sat out on the plastic Adirondack chairs on the back porch and had an afternoon beer, a necessity while on vacation with the kids. We marveled at how quiet it was where we were when we had seen so many people and cars making their way through the resort while on our bike ride.  It was by no means “crowded,” but it was nice that sounds from even the limited “hustle and bustle” never made it to our little corner of the woods.

By late afternoon, we were eager to continue our Sunriver adventure and I was surprised to hear the kids actually suggest we ride our bikes to dinner instead of drive. So that’s what we did, taking our bikes to the Village where we’d do a little shopping for trinkets and a souvenir for our dog sitter back home.

Remembering the little code word discount deal, we agreed to do dinner at the Village Bar and Grill, where I had the fish and chips (delicious) my wife had a wild mushroom risotto (apparently decadent) and the kids had chicken strips and a burger. Pretty standard fare for our family in a fun and cozy joint filled with other tourists like us.

Luckily, we weren’t too full to ride our bikes back home where we’d watch a DVD on the big screen TV and call it a night. We had big plans for the next day.

Those plans included a trip to Mt. Bachelor, the popular ski resort about a half hour away and, for me, a round of golf while the wife and kids hit up the indoor pool at the SHARC.

A shuttle service made getting to the ski area a breeze. It dropped us off right next to the rental shop where we got fitted and geared up for our morning. We paid full price for our tickets, but there are a bunch of great deals for multi-day tickets that include free lift tickets for kids 12 and under.

Mt Bachelor in Central Oregon

It was a picture perfect day. Bright blue skies contrasting with the vibrant white snow seemed almost too good to be true. It was early May, but there was still ample snow on the mountain – definitely enough on the groomers for our limited abilities.

As we rode up the chairlift for the first time, I asked my son if this what he had in mind when he kept bugging me about going skiing. He just nodded, taking in the scenery.

Several runs and two hot cocoa stops later, I bid the family adieu and grabbed the shuttle back to the resort for my round of golf. I couldn’t tweet that fact fast enough to my buddies stuck at work back home.

I ran back to the house, changed clothes and scooted over to the Meadows course where my rental clubs were already on a cart waiting for me when I arrived. (Top of the line Nike rental clubs – not the grab bag of ancient sticks you might find at your local muni.)

The pro shop joined me up with three other guys who were having a similar vacation with their families and on the first tee we laughed at the idea that we’d later be paying for leaving the kids alone with our wives for four hours of golf.

Meadows golf course in Sunriver, Oregon

The Meadows Course was challenging, but fair. And I could see, from the back tee boxes (which I only visited) why it’s hosted several NCAA events, including the Men’s and Women’s NCAA National Championships.

I played a pretty good round considering it was my first time out for the year, and I really enjoyed the guys I was grouped with. The day couldn’t have been much better for me and I could only hope the kids were making things tolerable for my wife.

By the time I had a post-round beer with the fellas and got back to the house, the kids were in the hot tub and my wife was sitting on the back deck reading the local visitors guide.

She asked me if I wanted a beer and set down the magazine, open to an ad for the Sage Springs Club and Spa.

Subtle. (And point taken.)

Kah-Nee-Ta spa, resort, Warm Springs

My wife was on her phone when she came back with my beer – finishing up reservations for a manicure and massage the next morning.

The kids and I piddled around the house that morning and had some laughs during an early morning hot tub session where we planned an afternoon hike once mom got back.

We drove a couple miles north from Sunriver to Lava Lands, the interpretive hub of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. We did both the short walk through the Trail of Molten Land, which was otherworldly compared to the forest that surrounds the lava rock, and the longer walk up the road to the top of Lava Butte to take in a panoramic view of Central Oregon. The binoculars I told them to pack proved useful up there to help the kids see a hawk we spotted on the hike.

It was the perfect end to our short Sunriver Spring Break. We headed back to our house to relax for a while, make one more family dinner, one final hot tub and good night’s sleep before our  5 a.m. flight home.

A successful spring break that offered everything my family could ever want in a vacation…A vacation my wife and I joked that provided us some truly exhilarating unwinding.

Once we got home, everyone now had the same question.

“When can we go back?”

Winter Weekend – Getaway to Sunriver

When my wife suggested a winter weekend getaway to Sunriver, Oregon my immediate thought was, “Why? The world-class golf courses will be covered with snow.”

By the time the long weekend was over, I thought, “Wow. Thank goodness the world-class golf courses were covered with snow.”

I knew of Sunriver as a golf Mecca after seeing its courses, Crosswater, Meadows and Woodlands constantly mentioned in the national golf magazines I read. But I’m not an avid reader of any cross country skiing publications. Who is, right?

Sunriver Resort Lodge with snow on the ground in Central Oregon

So when we first came up with the idea for our mid-December retreat with kids in tow, I was a bit skeptical of the fun that could be had at what I only knew as the perfect place to hit the links. None of us are expert skiers and it takes roughly five minutes outside in the winter for my kids to complain about the cold. But we were gung ho about the idea of a true winter vacation and spending some time together in the snow.  And I’ll admit: Once I got on board with the idea, I got a little Clark W. Griswold about it – and my family would benefit from my over-the-top planning. They always did. (Or so I always thought.)

We scheduled our direct flight from San Francisco so we’d arrive early in the day, which would give us an extra half day of fun. After arriving at Roberts Field in Redmond and securing our rental SUV, we headed south on Highway 97 for about a half hour, passing Bend, commenting that it seemed much bigger than we thought it was and vowing we’d swing back up for some “big city” life at some point in the weekend. But for now – it was onward ho to Sunriver!

It’s been a dry winter throughout much of the west, and as some of the trip planning was taking place, I got a little nervous the promised “winter wonderland” would be nothing but a cold, gray, snowless trip to a fancy lodge in Oregon.

Luckily, Mother Nature was just as excited about the weekend as I was and granted our wish with some fresh snow — a LOT of fresh snow — on the nearby ski area, Mt. Bachelor, and, more importantly for us, several inches fell in Sunriver.

For our short trip we opted to stay at Sunriver Resort in a large Lodge Village guest room adjacent to the Main Lodge, Great Hall and overlooking Meadows Golf Course. (But for our longer return trip next summer with some friends and their kids, we’ll likely rent one of the plush homes at the resort offered by one of the many Vacation Rental Management companies.)

Sunriver Resort River Lodge Near Bend Oregon

With two kids who had survived the morning sharing a Ziploc bag of goldfish crackers and airline-sized glass of apple juice we headed straight for sustenance at The Village at Sunriver on the suggestion of our concierge at the lodge.

Steering the kids away from local sweet shop Goody’s (but promising a return trip) we found Hot Lava Baking and Coffee, a cute little shop with a locally interesting name – bonus points for us parents who got to explain to the tykes some of the region’s unique “geologically tumultuous”  history.  My wife and I got some parents gas: delicious locally roasted coffee while the kids shared a hot Panini and cocoa.

After a relaxing half hour getting our Oregon bearings beneath us, we were ready to really start our adventure – and we didn’t have to go very far to do so with the Village Ice Rink just a short walk away.

It doesn’t take much prodding to get two pre-teen kids who have never ice skated into rental skates when they know there’s a more than 50/50 chance they’ll get to see mom and dad fall on their keister more than once.

Sunriver Resort Near Bend Oregon

As far as true winter family experiences go, it didn’t get much more Norman Rockwell than this: A light snow, giggling children and a smiling wife making their way around a crowded community ice rink decorated with colorful holiday lights. Even after the planning, I could have called it good, gone back to the lodge, grabbed a beer, turned on some football and called the weekend a success. But we were just a couple hours into our extended holiday break.

We were just getting started.

With the bruises to a minimum and our egos intact, we headed back to the lodge to unpack, change clothes and relax a little bit in front of the fireplace.

While we could have stayed hunkered in our room and remained perfectly happy, we rallied and headed out for another walk to the Village for some dinner. Snow had been falling all day, but the roads crews were on it and our path to the Village was plowed enough for an easy trip.

We really hadn’t paid much attention to the restaurants in the Village when we stopped for lunch, so we were actually a little overwhelmed with the diversity of choices in front us now, even hungrier than before after a jam-packed day.

Never shy, I talked up a couple of people walking to the skating rink to get a bead on the best place for a quick, hearty bite. The answer from more than a few:  the Sunriver Brewing Company.

A relatively new player in Central Oregon’s burgeoning craft beer scene, Sunriver Brewing Company offers absolutely everything a parent could want in a restaurant: Delicious beer, wide-ranging menu filled with local favorites AND a dedicated children’s play area.  Let that sink in. A BREWERY WITH A PLAY AREA.

Sunriver Resort Near Bend Oregon
Child play area at Sunriver Brewing Company, courtesy SBC.

(Oh, the grilled steelhead and pulled pork sandwich were really good too.)

After our early dinner, the wife and kids strolled around the shops, bought a couple of Sunriver souvenirs, and, of course, hit up the aforementioned Goody’s ice cream and candy shop where the kids shared, of all things in December, a hot fudge sundae before heading back to the lodge for the night.

Back at the lodge, my wife and I sunk into an overstuffed chair and sighed. And this was only day one!

We got an early start on our Saturday, and there was a buzz in the main lodge dining area filled with families just like mine ready for their own Sunriver adventure to start. Kids saying “c’mon Dad!” and dads saying “let me get some coffee first.”

I talked with a couple of brave souls organizing large groups taking the shuttle up to ski or snowboard at Mt. Bachelor. I wished them luck in their effort of herding ski-booted cats, telling them we were staying a little closer to home base and keeping our skiing experience a little less…vertical.

Mt Bachelor in Central Oregon

So where are the Nordic trails in Sunriver? The answer when there’s this much snow? EVERYWHERE!

After procuring our gear and getting a short, but sweet lesson in cross country skiing from the fine folks at Sunriver Sports, we simply skied (or, shuffled..whatever) back to our lodge along what, in the spring and summer, is a paved biking/walking trail, grabbed our backpacks and headed out on to the fairways of the Meadows Golf Course.

While I was definitely living in the moment – another wonderful family moment – I couldn’t help but think about warmer times and piping a drive right down the middle, leaving me a short little wedge into the green.  (A true fantasy since I rarely ever saw the middle of the fairway and I’d probably need more like a 4-iron to get home.)

We explored the area for a couple of hours, stopping somewhere along the way take in the snow-covered scenery of Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters in the distance and eat the simple bagel sandwiches my wife had made for us with some stuff she grabbed last night from the Sunriver Country Store.

Sunriver Country Store Near Bend Oregon

It felt like we were a world away – we certainly were from our busy lives filled with work and school back home – but we weren’t ever too far from the lodge, civilization, warmth. There are certainly more options to get farther into the backcountry and the gang at Sunriver Sports, 4 Seasons Recreational Outfitters and others can point you in the right, albeit backcountry direction.

The kids were troopers – trying yet another sport they’d never thought of trying and seemingly having a blast. The only thing breaking the silence of the Central Oregon outdoors was the sound of our skis and our kids laughing behind us. (We left them in the dust…but made sure they remained within sight, lest they be attacked by Bigfoot…which we may or may not have told them lived the area.)

Cold, a little wet and a lot tuckered out, we finished  up our ski jaunt shortly after lunch – plenty of time to return our stuff, walk back to the lodge, shower, change and take a break before our next adventure: Hitting the town in Bend.

We didn’t plan to include Bend in our trip – and we actually didn’t need to considering  Sunriver had much more of everything we wanted than we had anticipated.  Still, we had heard so many good things about Bend that we had to check it out – and figured we’d put our SUV to use in the snow and take advantage of one of the numerous restaurants just 15 miles north of where we were staying.

We went to the more “upscale” part of Bend, the Old Mill District, home to shops like Gap, Zumiez, American Eagle and more. The kids and my wife did some window shopping while I ran into REI to get a new watch strap after breaking mine ice skating the day before.

Oh, I didn’t mention falling?

While the wife and I hoped to try out another locally recommended restaurant, we conceded to the kids and agreed to some burgers and bottomless fries at Red Robin and dessert at Ben and Jerry’s. (What is with these kids and ice cream in winter!? )

While the snowfall certainly made for the perfect weekend we had planned, I was comforted knowing had it been more spring-like, we would have had just as much fun.

The kids noticed a brochure for The High Desert Museum in the lobby of the lodge.  Checking out some of the area’s natural habitat and history would have been a great way to spend a couple of hours.

The Sunriver Nature Center and Oregon Observatory is even closer and features live raptors and a nature trail. With tennis courts, and fitness clubs, spas, playgrounds and more – it’s as though the resort was designed strictly for families. Like a Disney park without the ridiculous admission prices, long lines and giant cartoon animals.

Telescope at Oregon Observatory in Sunriver

With our weekend sadly coming to a close, we went on a family walk close to the lodge taking in the holiday scene as even more snow fell. We lived in Salt Lake City in our younger years, so we’re quite familiar with snow, but my wife and I both commented on how it just seemed different here.

The snow had a purpose– at least for us. The falling snow was like a curtain coming down on an epic family adventure.

We left Sunriver around mid-morning on Sunday to get back to the airport in time for our flight back home.

On the drive to the airport the kids were as quiet as they’d ever been in the car. Too quiet.  So I yelled back to them, “yo, what’s happening back there.”

“Nothing” my 10-year-old responded. “Just thinking about the weekend.”

I completely understood why.

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.

No matter what time of year it is, you can shop tax-free in the Village at Sunriver. Here you’ll be able to stock up on gifts for loved ones back home or maybe pick up a few things for a new hobby inspired by your stay.

When you hit the links in Sunriver, you have the opportunity to play Crosswater, a Golf Digest Top 100 course.

Near Sunriver, the Lava Lands Visitor Center offers a fascinating look at how Central Oregon’s rugged landscape was shaped. Did you know before NASA sent man to the moon, they tested astronaut suits here?! They needed to mimic the surface they thought the crew would encounter on the moon and Lava Lands provided the place!

Just a little further down the road, the High Desert Museum is a Central Oregon gem. Kids and adults alike fall in love with the experience of being up close and personal with some of the animals that call the High Desert home.

In and around Sunriver, there’s so much to discover… you might just find out something new about yourself and your family when you stay here.

Tetherow Golf Couples Retreat

Tetherow Golf Club - Hole #17

Arrive: Friday @ 3:15 p.m.


Four nights at Tetherow Lodges


Saturday: 11 a.m. @ Tetherow Golf Club

Sunday: *36 holes* 9 a.m. @ Black Butte Glaze Meadow & 2 p.m. @ Black Butte Big Meadow

Monday: 12 p.m. @ Pronghorn Nicklaus Course


Friday: Happy hour @ The Row, Dinner @ 900 Wall, downtown Bend

Saturday: Breakfast @ The Row, lunch on course, Dinner @ Mt. Bachelor ski area’s Pine Marten Lodge

Sunday: Breakfast @ Sisters Bakery,  Lunch @ Robert’s Pub (Big Meadow Golf Course,) Dinner @ Tetherow Grill

Monday: Late Breakfast @ Starbucks, Dinner @ 10 Barrel Brewing Co. Bend

Departure: Thursday morning @ 5:15 a.m.

Four nights, four golf courses – the perfect couples retreat.

This perfect couples golf itinerary uses a true legendary course as your base camp for three days of golf interrupted only by fine food, drink and laughs.

Tetherow Resort is just seven miles from the middle of Bend about a half mile off the Cascade Lakes Scenic byway, but by the time you check in to your room at the lodge you’ll feel a world away.

The brand new lodges opened 2015, putting the finishing touches on what’s become one of the most popular golf destinations in the world. That’s right – world.



Golf magazine named Tetherow the “No. 1 new course you can play,” when it opened in the summer of 2008, and it’s become a fixture on “best of” lists in nearly every golf publication.

After the short drive from the Redmond Airport to Bend, drinks at The Row – Tetherow’s own pub and grill – are the perfect way to get over that rough hour and a half flight before venturing into town for dinner.

Downtown, 900 Wall is the restaurant of choice, a local’s favorite for a diverse selection of modern American with just enough of an Italian and French vibe to call the joint “global.” (For desert, go French with the powdered sugar beignets with raspberry and chocolate sauces and vanilla mousse.)

Interior view of dining area at 900 Wall in downtown Bend, Oregon


On Saturday morning, the day starts with breakfast at The Row – maybe the optimistically named “Hole in One Breakfast?” before a few swings at the expansive practice area. The cool morning Central Oregon is known for quickly gives way to warm sunshine as you meet your forecaddie for the day.

Tetherow is the one of only a couple Central Oregon course that offers such a service – and truth be told, it’s the only one that needs it. They’re walking, talking yardage books that know the course – and after just a couple of swings, your game – inside and out.

View of golf course at Tetherow in Bend, Oregon

Tetherow is as challenging – but fair – as it is unique. It’s a true links test with wide rolling fairways and knobs and knolls and lava rock that send your ball wayward as often as they send it exactly where you want it to go.

Any round here is memorable – and sharing the day with your close friends only adds to the memories. And as is the case in Central Oregon, sometimes the amazing golf is just the beginning.

After your round, it’s just a 20 minute drive up the road to Mt. Bachelor, the region’s largest ski area. While the active volcano is still mostly covered with remnants of winter’s snow, the ski season has given way to scenic chairlift rides and sunset dinners in the clouds at 7,000 feet.

Mt. Bachelor, Summer Recreation


You wake up Sunday preparing for a true golfer’s dream – 36 holes at Black Butte Ranch, just 36 miles northwest of Bend. Along the way, a quick breakfast stop at Sisters Bakery offers a necessary introduction to an Oregon favorite – Marionberry scones.

At Black Butte you’re treated to perhaps the region’s best kept secret – both of them. The Glaze and Meadows courses offer two distinct rounds of golf in a true mountain setting.

Like with many of the courses in Central Oregon, the most unique feature of these courses in the mountain views. Standing in the shadows of Aspen trees and Ponderosa pines, the only thing you’ll regret about playing Black Butte Ranch in the summer is that you’re missing out on the spectacular fall colors.

View of greens at Black Butte Ranch Big Meadow Course near Sisters, Oregon

The two rounds bookmark a delightful lunch and a mid-round beer at Robert’s Pub inside the Meadows course clubhouse before heading back to Tetherow.

Tonight you’ll stay in for dinner at the Tetherow Grill, sticking with the Oregon red wine you had the first night, but being a little more adventurous at dinner, choosing the bison and prosciutto meat balls.


The morning starts with a beautiful trail walk along the nearby Deschutes River as it winds its way over lava rocks and submerged logs left over from the region’s more industrial past. There’s plenty of time to grab a coffee and muffin from Starbucks (a little reminder of life back in the city) before heading out for more golf.

Today’s destination is a noon tee time at Pronghorn, just 20 minutes east of Tetherow – and well worth the quick drive.

The Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn is a golfer’s paradise, with unique holes cut through ancient lava outcroppings. The public course provides a minimalist experience with an emphasis on the golf game itself—combining strategy with playability, beautiful transitions and true putting surfaces. Ancient lava rock ridges and outcroppings intertwine with natural landscaping accenting magnificent views of the Cascade Mountains

Dinner tonight is at 10 Barrel Brewing Company, located in a quaint and growing residential-commercial area just short walk from downtown Bend’s iconic Mirror Pond. Locals and visitors alike flock to the outdoor fire pit for brewpub classics like pizza, fish and chips and a rotating selection of craft beers.

Patio seating at 10 Barrel Brewing Company located in Bend, Oregon.
10 Barrel Brewing Co.

Back “home” at Tetherow, there’s still time for another cocktail on the back patio that overlooks the first hole and practice area and beyond to one more Central Oregon sunset.


This is just a sample itinerary for the Central Oregon Golf Trail. We’re more than willing to put together the perfect golf getaway package for you that includes a longer stay, more people and, of course MORE GOLF! Just give our concierge a call at 1-888-280-3336 to create your complimentary custom itinerary!


Central Oregon Getaway for Back to School Bargains

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Tetherow Lodges

I don’t know about you, but I love a good fall shopping trip. It’s an excuse for one last summer escape before daily life gets hectic again. If you’re planning to visit Central Oregon, might I recommend a stay at Tetherow Resort and a weekend of shopping – tax free shopping – in Bend? (Bring the family..leave them at home and make it a girls trip – your call. )

Tetherow is Central Oregon’s newest boutique hotel, offering 50 deluxe rooms that overlook one of the nation’s Top 100 golf courses and a national forest that’s home to mountain biking and running trails. You’re also just a short distance from all the hiking and biking to be had along the Deschutes River Trail.

Old Mill District Shops - Bend, Oregon
Bend’s Old Mill District

Along with outdoor fun and relaxation at Tetherow, save room for a day of shopping in Bend’s Old Mill District. This outdoor mall along the Deschutes River has terrific finds at stores such as Banana Republic, Gap and American Eagle. Make sure to seek out one-of-a-kind treasures at local favorites like Vanilla Urban Threads and Nashelle jewelry too. (Here’s a link to check out the weekly specials at Old Mill shops.)

Once there, have lunch on the patio of Greg’s Grill. Enjoy Pacific Northwest cuisine a s you watch paddleboarders and kayakers float down the river while the sun’s rays highlight the majestic Cascades. It’s truly a serene setting. Afterwards stroll down to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop for a warm weather treat.


After lunch, head a little farther south in Bend to find some great back-to-school deals at the Bend Factory Stores. There’s a Carter’s for the little ones, Eddie Bauer, Izod, Columbia Nike and Van Heusen and much more in the open-air mall. Treat yourself while you’re there to a little decadence at The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

You’ll also find some good deals at the Cascade Village Shopping Center, home to Famous Footwear, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Rue 21, Ross, Best Buy and more.

After a full day of retail therapy and indulgence, head into downtown Bend for some dinner. You can go upscale at 5 Fusion and Sushi Bar, home to two-time James Beard Award finalist Chef Joe Kim – or find a brewpub with award-winning craft beers and amazing food. (You can’t go wrong with Deschutes Brewery or Bend Brewing Company, two local’s favorites.)

Chef Joe Kim, sushi, Bend, Oregon
Chef Joe Kim of 5 Fusion and Sushi Bar

So go on, you deserve it. Get out there and enjoy all the beauty and fun that only Central Oregon can provide. Make your travel reservations now. With all the back-to-school deals going on, it’s the perfect time for a little spree!

tetherow family biking

Great Getaway: Sisters, Oregon


When pulling into Sisters from the West you’re greeted by a main-street cowboy town filled with local shops, western storefronts and lots of charm. But as you reach the far end of that main street (it’s actually U.S. Hwy. 20,) something different emerges. There’s some upscale lodging, a brewpub, movie theater and spa that gives Sisters a whole new attitude. At the heart of that transformation – the Five Pine Lodge, which has quickly become a destination for families looking for something different and for couples looking for a enchanting romantic retreat.  The Five Pine campus is a perfect home base for your Central Oregon summer vacation.

And while yes, you could go your entire visit without leaving the campus – we’d advise against that.

Five Pines Lodge

Day One

You don’t have to go very far away from Sisters to experience everything that is Central Oregon. Day one starts off on a relaxing note at Aspen Lakes Golf Course. Don’t consider golf “relaxing?” Well, then you’ve never experienced Central Oregon golf. At Aspen Lakes, wayward shots are sometimes swallowed by unique red cinder bunkers that will make you forget you’re in a hazard. And from the tee box of many holes, your target will be a majestic, snow-capped mountain in the distance. The views, not your score, is what you’ll remember most about Aspen Lakes.

View of lake, greens and Cascades in Sisters, Oregon

After golf, its back to your cabin at Five Pine where you’ll fight over who gets the soaking tub first – or, better yet, you get romantic and compromise. Relax in your room with a game of chess before meeting up with other guests outside for the nightly beer and wine reception. It’s then just a short walk downtown for some window shopping and dinner.

Five Pine Lodge room interior near Bend, Oregon

Day Two

Today starts with a classic breakfast at the new Cottonwood Cafe. It’s all the fuel you’ll need if you’re heading out on two-wheels not to be bothered by cars on one of Oregon’s most scenic roads. The McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway starts in Sisters and takes cyclists up to a world all its own. For a month or so each spring, the road is only open to cyclists as road crews continue clearing the snow for car travel later in the summer. It’s a challenging 15 mile ride up the road to the Dee Wright Observatory, but the scenery is worth the effort. Beyond the giant snow banks winter left behind is a sea of lava rock creating a moonscape unique to Central Oregon. The road is currently open to cars and cyclists, so be alert regardless your mode of transportation.

Cyclist on the McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway near Bend, Oregon
Cyclist on the McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway – Photo Credit: Aaron Theisen

After the ride you make a bee line to the Shibui Spa just a few steps from your cabin. A dip in the hot tub and a massage is just what the doctor ordered on this stress-free getaway.

Soaking tub at Shibui Spa in Central Oregon

Tonight it’s just a six pack of Central Oregon craft beer and a pizza while you hang out in your room – a much deserved evening of relaxation after a full day of pedaling.

Day Three

As hip and happening as Sisters is these days, it (thankfully) hasn’t shed completely its small-town feel.  That’s never more evident every June during the Sisters Rodeo. Dubbed “The Biggest Little Show in the World,” the rodeo is five days of rip-roarin’ fun that includes professional Xtreme bull riding and several family focused events like the Buckaroo Breakfast on Sunday.  After a late breakfast downtown, you hit up the matinee rodeo performance under the sun at 1 p.m.

Sisters Rodeo

When the dust settles you head back to campus and Three Creeks Brewing Co. – which you’ve had your eye on since you arrived in town. You split an appetizer of spicy cheese and crawfish dip over a couple of pints of Knotty Blonde and Hoodoo Voodoo IPA while you wait for the main course.

3 creeks outside

One final night at your upscale cabin on campus and this Central Oregon vacation is a wrap. You head back West through the main-street cowboy town knowing the best of both worlds is there waiting for your return.

Black Butte Ranch Golf Getaway

Black Butte Golf Getaway Itinerary

Arrive: Thursday afternoon


2-Bedroom Golf Condo on Big Meadow Golf Course


Friday: ** 36 holes ** 7:00 a.m. @ Big Meadow Course & 1:30 p.m. @ Glaze Meadow Course

Saturday: 12 p.m. @ Tetherow Golf Club

Sunday: ** 2:30 @ Pronghorn Resort (Nicklaus Course)


Thursday : Happy Hour at the Aspen Lounge, Dinner @ the Lodge Restaurant

Friday: Light breakfast @ Robert’s Pub in Big Meadow clubhouse, lunch at Glaze Meadow Snack Shop

Saturday: Brunch @ Lodge Espresso Shop, snacks on course @ Tetherow, Dinnner @ Three Creeks Brewing

Saturday: Breakfast @ Golf House, Lunch @ Trailhead Grill (Pronghorn Resort)Dinner @ Baldy’s BBQ (Redmond)

Depart: Sunday morning

Three days, four nights, five rounds of golf – Ranch living, golf style.

There’s “guys golf weekends” and there’s a “guys golf weekend at Black Butte Ranch.”

The former, a couple rounds, a few beers and some laughs. The latter a true golf vacation on the Central Oregon Golf Trail – tee to green paradise just 130 miles from Portland and 30 miles from Bend. Far enough to feel like you’re getting away, but close enough to make time and time again.

The weekend starts when you check in to your aptly named “Golf Condo” overlooking the 18th fairway of the Big Meadow Golf Course, one of two world-class courses within the ranch.

You wait for your other buddies to arrive by chilling out with a local craft brew on the back patio watching a solid mix of duffers and single handicappers make their way up the finishing hole.

After everyone arrives, you take the short walk to the Lodge Restaurant where you order the wild boar Bolognese (you’re on vacation right?) go over the week’s games, collect some cash for the pot and trash talk until dark.

It might be a guy’s weekend, but you call it a night early. A huge day awaits.

Friday you and the boys are on dawn patrol thanks to the concierge at the Central Oregon Visitors Association hooking you up as the first group out. (Their service is a free perk of the Top 100 Package.)

Big Meadow might better be called “Big Views” as you make the turn on this quintessential high mountain course. Playing holes 9 through 15 take a little longer than they should because of the extra time you’ll spend snapping pictures of the Cascades looming over your approach shot.

After your round at Big Meadow you don’t waste any time, grabbing a ranch shuttle over to the Glaze Meadow course where you’ll have a beer and burger at the snack shop there before your 1:30 tee time.

At Glaze, you’re treated with more amazing views and a golf course showing off its recent $3.75 million renovation. It’s tucked within a forest of Ponderosa pines and Aspens, but the generous fairways and subtle greens make it a fair challenge for everyone in your group.

View of greens with Black Butte in the distance at Glaze Meadow Golf Course near Sisters, Oregon
Courtesy Mike Houska

You’re done before happy hour is over back at the Aspen Lodge where you head upstairs for a plate of chili verde nachos and look out over a ranch full of guests winding down for the day.

Tonight you’ll lay low back at the house with a couple of take and bake pizzas from the Lakeside Bistro. When there’s not a cloud in the sky all day, 36 holes can take it out of ya, even if you’re staying hydrated in the mid-70s “heat” alternating between local brews and Gatorade.

On Saturday, you’ll grab some coffee and a quick breakfast – or brunch, considering it’s almost 11 – at the Lodge Espresso Shop on your way into Bend for a round at Tetherow.

Tetherow’s landscape couldn’t be more opposite of Black Butte. Tightly cut fairways merge seamlessly with putting surfaces that the word undulating doesn’t begin to describe. Grassy knolls, rock outcroppings and high desert brush are ready to attract and repel even the slightest wayward drive – except the ones they fortuitously send back to the middle of the fairway.

tetherow 11


A challenging course with a little something on the line: The loser serves as the designated driver while post-golf, the rest of the boys partake in a truly iconic Central Oregon adventure: The Bend Ale Trail.

Along with iconic golf courses and breathtaking mountain views, little ole Bend, Oregon has become home to some (17 and counting) of the best breweries in the world. And many of them happen to be located within roughly 1 square mile of each other.

Your first stop – and first stamp on the Ale Trail Passport – is Cascade Lakes Brewing Company, just down the street from the golf course. You each order something different, passing your pints down the line to share a taste – with “Blonde Bombshell” a clear winner among the group.

Then it’s off to 10 Barrel Brewing Company where you sit outside and split one of their famous brick oven pizzas and grab a six pack of their creatively named “Pub Beer” for the designated drive to try back at the house.

You make quick sample tray stops at Deschutes Brewery and Bend Brewing Company before hitting the road back home – but not before dinner and stamps at Three Creeks Brewing Company in Sisters. The Knotty Schniztel and “Stonefly Rye” cap what couldn’t have been a more perfect day.

Sunday, another round  at one of the region’s most secluded, yet popular courses. You cobble together a breakfast with leftovers from the brewery and the remaining food from the market before heading out toward Powell Butte.

Pronghorn, a semi-private course designed by Jack Nicklaus. He had quite the canvas to work with, considering the lava rock outcroppings unique to the area. You’ll leave here having been tested and knowing it’s unlikely you’ll ever play putting services as pure.

After your afternoon round, you make a dinner stop at Baldy’s BBQ in Redmond – you all noticed the line outside the Bend location when you drove past it on your Ale Trail journey so you figured this Baldy’s cat knows what’s up with barbecue.

The gang lingers over the bones left behind after some racks of ribs and a huge tray of fried okra with honey mustard. Paying the bill means the vacation is nearly over.

But not yet. Back at the ranch, it’s a perfect night to hang out on the deck and watch some groups obviously on their own guy’s trip chasing daylight on the 18th.

As you pack your bags for your early morning departure, you all vow to return.

And get those seven missing stamps on your Ale Trail Passport.


This is just a sample itinerary from the Central Oregon Golf Trail. We’re more than willing to put together the perfect golf getaway package for you that includes a longer stay, more people and, of course MORE GOLF! Just give our concierge a call to set up your own custom itinerary at 1-888-280-3336.

Pronghorn Resort Perfect Golf Weekend

Pronghorn Golf near Bend, Oregon

Eight guys, four nights, three rounds of golf – And a bachelor party you won’t need to hide from your wife.

Your base camp for this Top 100 Collection itinerary is Pronghorn Resort, home to two of the region’s most highly-acclaimed golf courses including the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, ranked No. 33 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 Greatest Public Courses in 2015/2016.

Located just 15 miles from Bend (and, roughly, the Redmond airport) off the Powell Butte Highway, Pronghorn has the look and feel of a gated Tuscan village.

That village – including the 55,000-square-foot clubhouse, rec center, spa and more – is all yours for the weekend. And your four-bedroom Residence Club unit includes a private patio with a fire pit and barbecue grill. There’s an air of exclusivity throughout the resort, which is nice. And not a bad spot to set up shop for a weekend with the fellas. A few of you will arrive with the help of a complimentary airport shuttle. The rest pile into an Avis rental van that’ll serve to get you around on your Central Oregon golf adventure.

Fairway on The Nicklaus Course near Bend, Oregon

With plenty of daylight left – the sun seems to shine longer here – there’s time for a group lesson, a gift arranged by the soon-to-be groom at the Troon Golf Academy on site. The academy is filled with the high-tech toys folks like Tiger and Rory use to win majors.

For you, it might just provide that one little tip to help you win a couple of skins come Saturday. After an hour or two bashing balls on the practice range – real Nikes, by the way – and having a little impromptu putting contest, you head back to your room before the blisters get too sore to swing. Dinner tonight is on the patio of your rental house with some foodstuffs the guys picked up on their way in from the airport. Some steaks, baked potatoes and some local craft beers highlight the perfect menu to truly kick off what is already starting out as the perfect weekend.

Pronghorn Resort Lodging, golf, near Bend Oregon
Pronghorn Guest Room, photo credit: Greg Pierce

Thursday morning you’re up at the crack of 9 a.m. ready for a great day of golf, Instagramming pictures non-stop to your buddies stuck back home in the office. You’ve got a 10:30 tee time, so there’s time for some breakfast and a bloody Mary or two in the clubhouse at Cascada. The rules of the weekend are simple, $10 straight up skins – no handicaps – tallied at the end of the vacation. Winnings aren’t enough to put anyone out on the street, but enough to wave triumphantly in front of the rest of the guys.

The Nicklaus Course showcases the Golden Bear’s eye for utilizing the natural landscape of a region to accentuate a player-friendly, but challenging design. A quick search on “yelp” and you find words like “magnificent,” “grand,” and “world class.”

After getting cleaned up at the villa, it’s back to the clubhouse for dinner outside (again) at Cascada, this time on the patio overlooking the property. You can’t help but laugh at the menu: Locally grown lamb tacos aren’t exactly everyday fare at the muni courses you’re used to playing with these knuckleheads.

Today, it’s another round at Pronghorn – a course worth playing two days in a row. You’re a little beat from the sun and the fact you “hydrated” all day with adult beverages – but it’s nothing a half hour nap and hot shower won’t cure. Tonight, dinner is in Bend at Deschutes Brewery, the birthplace of Central Oregon’s gigantic craft beer scene.

deschutes pint glass

Saturday morning after coffee in the room, you find a pair of matching socks and your least offensive smelling golf shirt and pile in the van back to Bend. Today you’re playing Tetherow, but not before a breakfast burrito at Longboard Louie’s in town – a good rec from the shuttle driver a couple of days ago.

Tetherow, ranked No. 54 in the Golf Digest Top 100 list, has quickly become Central Oregon’s most sought after golf experience. The unique Scottish-links course was designed by the same guy who did Bandon Dunes. Expect the same natural, rolling terrain here without the gale force winds and 90% chance of rain. This is not target golf – far from it. But if you ask anyone who’s played it they’ll tell you it’s the toughest – but most fun – course they’ve played in a while. Some of that fun has to do with the way you get around the course – on a golfboard. Part skateboard part snowboard, the golf board might be the most fun you have on a golf course ever. Period.

After your round, the best man collects the cards. There’s some adding to do at The Row, Tetherow’s version of a pub and one of the best 19th Holes in all of Central Oregon. (Looking for a side bet to make back your losses? Challenge one of the boys to the ghost chili hot wings.)

Before things get too out of hand, it’s back to the house at Pronghorn to pack up. Early flights for all in the morning so tonight it’s your last chance to say goodbye – to the boys and the single life.

This is just a sample itinerary of the Central Oregon Top 100 Collection. We’re more than willing to put together the perfect golf getaway package for you that includes a longer stay, more people and, of course MORE GOLF! Just give our concierge a call to set up your own custom itinerary at 1-888-280-3336.

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