It’s no question that Bend is a kid’s paradise in the summer (and for the kid in you). Between outdoor activities, festivals, music, and treats, there’s nothing like growing up playing in Central Oregon. Here are a few of my favorite memories, along with a few newer options that I know I would have loved if they were around when I was a kid.
Bend has no shortage of festivals, and they almost always include a great area devoted specifically to kids. We’re coming off of the Bend Summer Festival and Balloons Over Bend, where kids can watch giant colorful hot air balloons light up at night and float through the Central Oregon sky during the day. We’ve got the weekly events, like Munch n Music, Munch n Movies, and the Free Summer Sundays concerts at the Les Schwab amphitheater, which provide free ways for families to get outside and enjoy live music and movies on a big screen in the park.
Some of my favorite memories as a kid were running through the aspen tree grove at Shevlin Park, sleeping in the teepees, and doing the Polar Plunge during Cougar Camp, put on by Bend Parks & Rec. I also loved going to our local soccer and art camps. We’ve got great resources here for kids to get out of the house and into nature, or to learn some new skills!
This is a newer development in Sunriver that is no doubt a hit with kids and parents alike. It features more than 2.5 acres of grass, indoor and outdoor recreation pools, a hot tub, two water slides, a lazy river, and a tubing hill. The outdoor pool has a water playground, while the lazy river makes an excellent spot for those seeking a more laid back experience. It’s about a 25 minute drive from Bend, which makes for an easy little day trip.
Dakine Grindz & Flatbread Pizza
Dakine is standard sweet treat fare after a day outside in Bend. They take snow cones to the next level with their ice cream and sweet cream options mixed in, not to mention their tasty Hawaiian flavors. While Bend has a plethora of food options, Flatbread Community Pizza is a favorite among kids because they can make their own pizzas and watch them bake in the wood-fired oven.
A night at the ball game
Nothing says family friendly like going to a Bend Elks baseball game. A typical excursion includes eating hot dogs and peanuts on a warm summer evening, hugging Vinnie the Elk, and winning free ice cream for doing the Chicken Dance.
There’s nothing like cruising along on your bike in the summer. Whether you’re going into town to Cuppa Yo, riding the paved trails in Sunriver and along the Deschutes, renting a 4-person canopy bike at the Old Mill, or shredding the new beginner mountain biking trails at Mt Bachelor, there are plenty of choices for kids of all ages to get into the sport many Bendites thrive on.
More than anything I was so fortunate to live in a place as a kid where we could drive 25 minutes from town and be in a “playground” of beautiful alpine lakes and mountains, perfect for boating, camping, and hiking. From finding frogs and exploring the inlets at Sparks lake to hiking up Tumalo Mountain, I was blessed as a kid growing up here, and still am!