Looking for things to do in Bend Oregon with kids? You’ve come to the right place! We spent close to a month exploring the fun-filled, kid-friendly town of Bend. At the time of our visit, we were traveling with our almost 2-year-old. Even though our son is of toddler-age, this list of what to do in Bend Oregon with kids can really be applied to any age group. And please note, we visited Bend in the last 2 weeks of July and the first two weeks of August, so this is primarily a Things to Do in Bend Oregon in the Summer list!
The great thing about Bend, Oregon kid activities is that you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice what you want to do for the sake of your child. Most of the activities we’re about to recommend are great for both kids and adults. You won’t find any theme parks, zoos, or tacky fun houses in and around Bend. Many of the activities mentioned here are nature-focused. So, if you’re an outdoorsy family, like us, you will LOVE Bend! Well, let’s get to it. Here are 20+ things you can do in Bend Oregon with kids.
Lava Lands Visitor Center
We’re starting with one of our favorites! We were absolutely fascinated by the geological wonders found at the Lava Lands Visitor Center in Newberry National Volcanic Monument. The Trail of the Molten Land meanders close to a mile (each way) from the visitor center to the base of Lava Butte. Much of the trail is stroller/wheelchair accessible, though our little guy explore on his own two feet. Several interpretive signs tell the story of the eruption of Lava Butte along your stroll over remnants of the basalt lava flow.
Lava Lands is a recreation pass site and is $5/vehicle. If you have the America the Beautiful Pass, your entry is covered! (If you’ve got a 4th grader in your family, be sure to get an Every Kid Outdoors Pass. The pass is FREE. It covers entry into Lava Lands, in addition to hundreds of parks, lands, and waters for an entire year.) For more information about the Lava Lands Visitor Center, visit the forest service website.
High Desert Museum
The High Desert Museum is highly rated as one of the top things to do in Bend Oregon with kids. Some of the displays were a little beyond what our toddler was interested in. However, there were still plenty of exhibits that captured his attention. Specifically, the outdoor portion of the museum was particularly fascinating to our son. Discover the natural world and cultural history of the local region through exhibits, art displays, and wildlife features.
As mentioned, our son was most intrigued by the outdoor exhibits. He got up close with several rescued birds of prey at the Kerr Center. He laughed at the otters at the Autzen otter exhibit. And he experienced days gone by at the Miller Homestead. Unfortunately, we didn’t see the Lazinka Sawmill in action, but it was neat to be able to gaze upon the authentic 1904 mill. For more information about exhibits, both permanent and rotating, check out the High Desert Museum website.
Rent a Surrey Bike
Walking or riding along the Deschutes River in Bend is a great way to take in some of the best views in the city! Rent a bike from Wheel Fun Rentals in the Old Mill District and cycle the waterfront. We opted for a surrey bike so our son could just sit up front and enjoy the ride! And boy, did he LOVE it! Wheel Fun Rentals offers 1, 2, and 3 row surrey bikes, in addition to choppers, mountain bikes, electric bikes, and more! Check out their entire fleet HERE.
Go Tubing in the Deschutes River
If your kids are the adventurous type, hop in an inner tube and float down the Deschutes River. Other popular activities on the water include kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Even in the summer, water temps can be pretty chilly and because our son is not yet swimming, we decided to forego a dip in the river this visit. It’s definitely on our list for next time! Tumalo Creek provides tube rental and Ride the River shuttle service, so you can easily make your way back to your car after an afternoon of floating or paddling.
Check out the Local Libraries
We are big fans of public libraries and were excited to see that Bend has two to choose from! The main branch is located in the heart of downtown. Another branch (East Bend) is located on the east side of town, just about 10 minutes from downtown. Both libraries have excellent play areas including toys, puzzles, costumes, and activities to spark the imagination of little ones. Check their children’s program calendar for storytimes and other engaging activities offered throughout the year.
Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway
Looking for a mild adventure with your little one? Enjoy a scenic drive on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. This 66-mile drive starts in Bend and ends near Crescent Lake and Odell Lake. Glaciers and volcanoes crafted the beautiful landscapes you’ll see on this drive. If you’re looking to help break up this scenic road trip, there are several opportunities to get out of the car and explore the gorgeous surroundings up close.
Stunning views of Mt Bachelor and the snowcapped Cascade Mountains greet you at practically every turn. Please note, due to snowfall, the road closes west of Mt Bachelor in the winter. For a more in-depth look at things to see and do along this national scenic byway, check out this publication.
Deschutes National Forest
As you drive the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway you’ll pass right through Deschutes National Forest. There are several kid-friendly hiking opportunities here. Our favorite short walks within the forest were to river and waterfall overlooks, including Benham Falls, Dillon Falls, and Lava Falls (all pictured below).
Please note, many of the roads within the forest are unpaved and can be quite bumpy. Also, to park within the forest, a recreation pass is required. The cost is $5/day and can be picked up at the Cascade Lakes Ranger Station (18500 Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway) or at any one of these locations. The following passes are also sufficient: Northwest Forest Day Pass | Northwest Forest Annual Pass | 3- Day Monument Pass | Interagency Annual Pass (America the Beautiful) | Interagency Senior Pass | Interagency Access Pass | Interagency Military Pass | Every Kid in a Park Pass | Northwest Forest ePass.
Another great kid-friendly waterfall hike in Deschutes National Forest is Tumalo Falls. Views of the picturesque falls can be accessed just a short walk from the parking area. To get a closer view of the waterfall, take the kid-friendly trail to the top of the falls. It’s about a half-mile there and back and there are several great viewpoints along the way.
Because Tumalo Falls is within the national forest boundary, be sure to have your forest pass before making the several mile drive down the long dirt road (Tumalo Falls Road – Forest Road 4603). We warn you because we saw several cars with tickets on their windshield.
So much of what we love about Bend is its natural beauty. Bend Oregon with kids is a no-brainer because there are so many opportunities for them to just run free and explore! Shevlin Park offers just that. It’s a 1,000-acre regional park that offers hiking, picnicking, and the opportunity to dip your toes in the chilly waters of Tumalo Creek. Its close proximity to downtown makes it easy to get to. But when you’re there, you’ll feel like you’ve escaped into the expansive wilderness! Tumalo Creek Trail runs along the creek, as the name suggests, and is an easy trail for families with young kids.
Bend, Oregon Playgrounds
Looking for playgrounds in Bend? You’ve got about 40 to choose from! There is certainly no shortage of places to let your little one climb, swing, and play to their heart’s content. Among our favorite playgrounds were Orchard Park (dinosaur slide), Columbia Park (pirate ship structure), and Al Moody Park (train and tree house-like playground). For a complete list of parks (with playgrounds), check out the park locator on the Bend Parks and Recreation website.
Pilot Butte offers the best panoramic views in Bend and can easily be enjoyed with kids. You can walk or drive to the summit of this old cinder cone in east Bend. A walk on one of the three trails leading to the summit would probably be best enjoyed by older kids, as its a gradual climb the entire way up. And of course, you always have the option to drive to the top. Once atop the 480-foot butte, take some time to take it all in.
See the Deschutes River meander through town. Enjoy views of Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, Black Butte and Mt. Hood to the west. Time your visit right to watch a spectacular Bend sunset, as the sun dips behind the majestic mountain peaks. Please note that Summit Road closes during the winter months. Check out this brochure for more details about Pilot Butte.
Bend Farmer’s Markets
Bend has several farmer’s markets to choose from. Local markets are a great place for kids sample delicious local produce and learn about locally grown and hand-made products. There’s also often (free) live music, which our son is particularly fond of. The Bend Farmer’s Market is Wednesdays from 2 – 6 pm (May through October) in the Brooks Downtown Alley. The NorthWest Crossing Farmer’s Market is held on Saturdays from 10 am – 2 pm (June through September).
Local Tip: When in NorthWest Crossing for the Saturday market, stop by Sparrow Bakery for a deliciously famous ocean roll (top center image below). It’s a MUST when in Bend.
The Last Blockbuster on Earth
Children of the 80s rejoice! There is one Blockbuster Video left on the entire planet and it is located in Bend! Take a trip down memory lane with your own kids as you wander the wire metal racks filled with nostalgia from your youth. Who knows when this opportunity will disappear forever, so be sure to check it out while in Bend. Let them experience life before streaming services and instant downloads.
Downtown Bend has a fun vibe perfect for window shopping or actual shopping! Browse the dozens of boutique shops, toy stores, restaurants, cafes, breweries, and outfitter stores that line several blocks of the downtown area. Pick up souvenirs from The Bend Store or spoil your little one with a gift from Leapin’ Lizards Toy Company. For a complete listing of downtown business, check out this directory.
And while downtown, pop in to the Bend Visitor Information Center at the corner of Oregon Avenue and Lava Road to pick up free maps, guide, and get advice about more things to do in the area. Just outside of the main downtown area is Drake Park. Featuring a half-mile of riverfront walkway and acres of open lawn, Drake Park is a wonderful place to let your kids run free. Though, please keep a close eye on your little ones along the water’s edge!
Breweries in Bend Oregon with Kids
Bend is one of the most brewery-dense cities in the US! There are so many to great options to choose from. And just because you’ve got your kids with you doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some delicious brews. We visited several Bend breweries with toddler in tow and found the majority of them to be extremely family-friendly. Many breweries in Bend have large outside areas where kids (and even dogs) are free to run around. Of all the breweries we visited, we found Good Life Brweing, Crux Fermentation Project, Bend Beer Company, and Worthy Brewing to be the most family-friendly breweries in Bend.
If you’re planning to visit a good number of breweries during your visit to Bend, be sure to look up the Bend Ale Trail. Stop by the Bend Visitor Information Center downtown and pick up an Ale Trail brochure (including map and passport). Fill up your passport with stamps you’ll collect at each of the breweries (purchase NOT required for a stamp). And if you complete the ale trail, you get a commemorative souvenir!
Let’s be honest, being a parent is a lot of work! It requires tons of energy, and sometimes that energy needs to be supplemented with caffeine. Good thing places like Riff Taproom exist! With a focus on unique coffee concoctions and coffee infused food items, you can get your caffeine fix morning, afternoon, or evening! Though, even if you don’t like coffee or you prefer decaf, Riff has plenty to choose from. Check out their truly unique menu HERE.
Seasonal Bend, Oregon Kid Activities
Because our visit to Bend fell within the summer months, we had plenty of great outside activities to choose from. In addition to the year-round happenings in Bend, the city puts on some excellent summer events that are fun for the whole family!
Days of Play
We are seriously impressed with the Bend Parks & Recreation Department. They offer some really great activities for youth of all ages. We took full advantage of their summer Days of Play program during our visit. Most weekdays (during the summer) the P&R department sets up games, activities, and crafts at one of Bend’s many playground parks. Our son was actually below the recommended age (4+), but he was welcomed and still had a great time.
Munch and Music
Also during the summer, the city of Bend hosts a weekly Munch and Music festival in Drake Park. This family-friendly event features live music, tons of delicious food and drink vendors, a Kid Zone carnival-like area, and artisan booths. This summer tradition has been going on in Bend for close to 30 years now. They bring in some seriously talented musical acts and it’s a ton of fun for people of all ages. It’s FREE to attend, though parking can be a bit of a challenge because it’s so popular! Munch and Music takes place on Thursday evenings mid-July through mid-August.
These are just two examples of fun happenings in Bend. Let’s Picnic is another FREE summertime event that takes place at various parks throughout Bend on Wednesday evenings. Gather with family and friends for live music, games, art activities, and ice cream treats. Just bring a blanket and/or chairs and get ready for a good time! Be sure to check the event calendar to see what all will be going on during your visit!
Day Trips from Bend Oregon with Kids
Once you’ve experienced all things to do in Bend with kids, you may want to head just outside of the city for more fun kid-friendly destinations! Below you’ll find three more places to explore with your kids, all less than an hour’s drive from Bend.
Less than a 20 minute drive from Bend is the resort town of Sunriver. Here you’ll find another branch of the Deschutes County Library complete with an amazing play area for your little ones. You know who else has a nice play area for kids? Sunriver Brewing Company! You can enjoy a delicious brew, like their Fuzzriver Hefeweizen, while your child(ren) play in the nicely appointed children’s area.
Sunriver Brewing is located in The Village at Sunriver, which has a great collection of restaurants and shops. Shop for toys at Tumbleweed Toys or get stocked up on outfitter gear at Sunriver Sports. Also at The Village is a rock wall, power jump, bounce houses, mini golf, bumper cars, an alpine train, and ice skating (winter). So, there is no shortage of things to do in Sunriver Oregon with kids.
Smith Rock State Park
In the town of Terrebonne, about a 35-minute drive from Bend, is one of the most spectacular geological wonders in the state of Oregon. While in central Oregon, you simply MUST make the trip out to Smith Rock State Park. Miles and miles of hiking trails await you, from easy riverside strolls to strenuous, steep climbs (Misery Ridge Trail). Smith Rock is renowned for rock climbing. Though if a mild adventure is what you crave, you can still experience much of the park by simply driving to its various look out points. (A little bit of walking (maybe 2-3 min) is required to reach the look-out points.)
While you’re already in Terrebonne visiting Smith Rock, it is well worth your time to make the 20-minute drive to the Steelhead Falls trailhead. From the parking area, it’s a only a 1/2 mile hike to the falls. We did the hike with our almost two-year-old, but please note that the trail can be a little steep in parts. The falls were shaded during our early morning visit, but it was still a spectacular hike nonetheless.
So, needless to say, there is plenty of things to do in Bend, Oregon with kids! Even though we spent close to a month exploring the town and its surroundings, we still feel like we left a lot undone and unseen. All that means is that we’ll have to go back to further explore Bend another time. We look forward to returning when our son is a little older so we can go tubing and raft down the Deschutes River. If you’ve been to Bend and want to recommend things for us not to miss on our next visit, please let us know in the comments below!