For many, Central Oregon is synonymous with spring break, summer vacation, holiday outings, and family gatherings. And it’s no wonder: The region is home to a variety of kid-friendly activities (indoors and out) that range from educational museums to speedy go-kart tracks. And that’s to say nothing of the region’s many parks, several of which host fun-filled playgrounds where your little ones can play to their hearts’ content.
So no matter what kind of memory you want to make on your next family outing, here’s a roundup of kid-friendly activities in Central Oregon.
Kid-Friendly Activities in Bend and Sunriver
Bend and Sunriver are among the region’s most popular destinations with families, and it’s easy to see why. Family-friendly fun abounds all over the place, with plenty of options—indoors and outdoors—for making the most of your time in the area. Here are just a few favorite kid-friendly activities in Bend and Sunriver.
Educational opportunities: This list would be incomplete without the award-winning High Desert Museum, which sits just a 10-minute drive from Bend and Sunriver; the indoor-outdoor attraction offers interactive exhibits on the region’s wildlife, runs numerous educational programs, and hosts a wide range of native wildlife—from lizards and rattlesnakes to owls and eagles. (If you have your travels planned, skip the line and purchase tickets to the High Desert Museum now.) A short drive away, the Lava Lands Visitor Center includes a 3-D topographic map showing off all the area’s volcanoes, shows short films on what’s happening under the surface, and hosts a few paved, mostly flat walking trails that head into the heart of an otherworldly lava flow. And in Sunriver, the Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory offers hands-on activities and hosts wildlife displays (including snakes, lizards, hawks, and owls) during the day; when the sun sets, the on-site observatory brings together nine to 20 telescopes (the largest collection of telescopes for public use in the United States) to gaze at stars, planets, moons, and other celestial wonders.
Food and fun: Several restaurants and activity centers around Bend take pride in offering fun for the whole family. For the Mario Kart fans among us, K1 Speed offers high-speed thrills through its fleet of zero-emissions go-karts; away from the course, the on-site café serves classic snacks (for the kids) and locally brewed beer and cider (for the rest of the family). Lifty’s takes full advantage of its surroundings by featuring a rooftop deck (with wide-open mountain views), a sand volleyball court, table tennis, cornhole, and other fun games.
Outdoor recreation: If you’re staying in Sunriver, it won’t be long before your little ones beg to check out Sunriver SHARC Aquatics & Recreation—more commonly known locally as simply “the SHARC”; the outstanding aquatic recreation facility is home to indoor and outdoor pools, a lazy river, waterslides, and splash and play areas for toddler and young children. In winter, the ice skating rink at Sunriver is a popular tradition—and sno-parks and snowy hillsides become popular destinations to go sledding in Central Oregon.
Indoor play areas: We may have the market cornered on outdoor fun, but Bend has plenty of exciting indoor opportunities when kids want to jump around. Mountain Air is an indoor trampoline park with 26 trampolines—surrounded on two sides by angled trampoline walls for an added thrill; Free Spirit features a climbing wall, a ninja-style obstacle course, a twisting red slide, and other fun activities for babies, toddlers, and young kids; and the Trampoline Zone indoor recreation park boasts more than 50 trampoline beds, six climbing walls, a laser maze, and other engaging activities.
Public parks: Around Central Oregon, our neighborhood parks offer plenty of diversions. The new Alpenglow Community Park, for instance, offers a splash pad, dog park, playground, and more. Juniper Park, meanwhile, offers a variety of unique play options (including activities with sound and tactile play elements), climbing structures, horseshoe pits, and tennis courts. Learn more about Bend’s exciting parks from the Bend Parks & Recreation District.
Kid-Friendly Activities in Sisters and Redmond
The communities of Sunriver and Redmond sit surrounded by all kinds of natural beauty—so enjoy some year-round with these family-friendly activities, from skiing the slopes at Hoodoo Ski Area to going underground at the Redmond Caves.
Sahalie and Koosah Falls: At the western edge of Central Oregon sits the majestic McKenzie River—home to Sahalie and Koosah Falls. Just steps from the parking lot, the thundering Sahalie Falls plunges roughly 100 feet into the river below. (If the waterfall looks familiar, a scene from the hit Disney film Homeward Bound was filmed here.) Just a short walk downriver, Koosah Falls plunges about 75 feet into a deep pool. Keep going for a mostly easy 2.6-mile hike, or turn back for a quick, kid-friendly outing. If your time along the McKenzie piques your curiosity, learn more about the rivers in Central Oregon.
Hoodoo Ski Area:Just a half-hour northwest of Sisters, Hoodoo Ski Area hosts some of the best family-friendly skiing in Central Oregon. The long-running ski area hosts a wide range of runs geared toward skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels, as well as a family-friendly tubing park. Hoodoo’s night skiing is another delightful attraction, especially for little ones; the fun includes live music, a massive bonfire (occasionally kept alight via flamethrower), and a food menu that leans heavily on kid-friendly snacks. If you want to hit the slopes elsewhere around the region, check out our page on skiing and snowboarding in Central Oregon.
Redmond Caves: For a fun diversion not far from downtown, check out the Redmond Caves Recreation Site—home to five caves that formed when a lava tube collapsed thousands of years ago. Today, caves one, three, and four have big enough openings to walk into and explore; caves two and five, meanwhile, are smaller and shallower.
Pump tracks and skate parks: Redmond hosts a few fun stops for budding bikers and growing skaters. If your kid loves boarding, make time for a stop at Ponderosa Skate Park or Rockridge Skate Park in Bend. Budding riders, meanwhile, can test their skills on the Homestead Pump Track (offering a few straightaways and two wall rides) or Redmond Bike Park (which hosts three dirt-jump trails and a pump track). Further east, Prineville Bike Park offers jumps, roller, berms, and other challenges for new and advanced riders alike. To the North, Madras Skate Park where skaters can play in bowls, a snake pit, and street elements.
Fun on the ranch: You’ll find ranches of all kinds across Central Oregon—including Crescent Moon Ranch, home to several alpacas, which opens its doors daily to anyone wanting to see the furry animals up-close. (Try to visit in March or April to see the year’s newborns.) For a small fee, visitors can even feed the alpacas for a one-of-a-kind experience. An on-site boutique sells all manner of items made from alpaca fiber—including shirts, sweaters, yarn, and more.
Curious about other activities around the region? Learn more about things to do in Central Oregon.
Explore Nature’s Beauty
From the sagebrush-covered plains of the high desert to the towering pines and majestic mountain peaks, discover the diverse landscape Central Oregon has to offer.