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10 Best Kid-Friendly Places In Bend And Central Oregon

10 Best Kid-Friendly Places for Entertainment in Central Oregon

Central Oregon is one of those places that just abounds with kid-friendly places and entertainments for all ages.  Even though there are definite seasons in this part of the United States, no matter what the season, you can always find kid-friendly things to do here.  

Before moving to Central Oregon 6 years ago, we vacationed here for 9 years and during that time, our kids were in their late junior high and early high school years.  The recreational possibilities were astounding then and they have gotten even better in all these many years since we started coming to Central Oregon.

For kids of any age - from 1 to 92 - you will never be disappointed in Central Oregon as there are always things to do and places to be.  Come along with me and take a look at my pick for 10 best kid-friendly places for entertainment in Central Oregon. 


Photo Credit:

High Desert Museum

The High Desert Museum is one of the coolest museums you will ever see because it is not your typical 'museum'.  It's alive!  Come visit the High Desert Museum and see such things as the Birds of Prey Exhibit (usually these are birds that cannot return to the wild and have been saved and now live at the museum), the Changing Forest Exhibit, the Mustang Corral, the Wildlife Observation Exhibit, and the Otter Exhibit.

There are wildlife experts on staff who give talks and demonstrations throughout the day.  This is a great museum for the entire family and you get a chance to learn more about wildlife here on the high mountain desert

There is a cafe located on premises - the Rimrock Cafe - which is also kid-friendly and is a welcome stop after a day of bustling about the museum.  Take some of the trails as well or stop in to see the gallery.  Check out the covered wagon on display as well. 

Hours are year round and the only days the museum is closed are Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.  May 1st through October 31st, hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  November 1st through April 30th, hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

You can even rent out the High Desert Museum for events such as weddings or parties. 

Even though we've been to the High Desert Museum many times over the years, it is always changing and the exhibits are always new and exciting.  Come see for yourself!

Oh - and if you have pets with you, High Desert Museum is 'pet-friendly' in that they offer free of charge crates for your pets in the shade to keep them from getting too hot in the car. 

Goody's Soda Fountain and Candy Store

Voted Central Oregon's Sweet Spot and Best Place for a Milkshake , you simply have to check out Goody's if you have kids and you are in Central Oregon.

Goody's Chocolates has long been a tradition in Central Oregon though they now have a store in Boise as well. When we first started coming to SunRiver there was a Goody's in the town square in the SunRiver Mall Village. No matter what season we came to visit, we always had at least one trip over to Goody's for ice cream sundaes. Their ice cream is all handmade and hand packed and it is out of this world.

Add to the flavor of the ice cream the fact that it is served in an old fashioned ice cream parlor makes it all the better as you munch away on delicate waffle bowl cones. The store is always packed, no matter what time of year.

But ice cream isn't the only thing Goody's is famous for! Goody's chocolates are now sold on-line as well and are famous for their great taste and quality. They have an old-fashioned display case full of everything from pralines to caramels and huge old-time jars of candies of every type you can think of from jelly beans to licorice ropes.

Goody's has always been a favorite hang-out for kids and ours were no exception. They were always bringing back treats for later from Goody's and now that there are more shops (one in Redmond, 2 in Bend) it makes it even easier to stop in after a movie and grab an ice cream float or a waffle cone.

For the young at heart and a great kid-friendly spot for dessert, check out Goody's! You won't be disappointed! They are open 7 days a week at all locations.

Mavericks at SunRiver

For adventure on several levels, Mavericks at SunRiver is the place to be for kids of all ages. Located on the north side of SunRiver towards Bend, Mavericks is actually a health club but this like no health club you have seen before!

In addition to the standard health club machines, Mavericks has the most authentic rock-climbing wall in Central Oregon.

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It also sports the FlowRider permanent wave machine. You have to watch the video to appreciate the possibilties.  There is also a water slide and an indoor pool.

There is also a half-court basketball court, yoga and spinning classes available (for the older kids at heart) and state-of-the-art exercise equipment.

Call Mavericks at SunRiver for hours of operation as they change at different times of the year. If you are staying through certain properties in the SunRiver area, there are perks and privileges for guests.

This is a unique place that plans on growing in the future. They have plans for an outdoor pool as well though SunRiver has many pools throughout the resort community.

Mavericks at SunRiver

McMenamins Old St. Francis School Movie Theater

Most kids love going to the movies, and although Central Oregon, Bend in particular, has several movie theaters, nothing is quite like experiencing the movies at McMenamins.

The Old St. Francis School used to be a catholic school and has now been converted into a complex that incorporates a large restaurant, complete with a large patio for outdoor seating, several bars, a pub, lodging of several kinds and the movie theater.

While the movies are not 'new releases' they are close behind and usually the most popular ones.  They are all the movies you would see at the 'regular cinema' and then a few others that are totally unique.  The ambiance of McMenamins though is the stuff dreams are made of.

McMenamins is a family-oriented business and one of the best kid-friendly places to visit in Central Oregon. Check for movie times but movies are shown daily as well as having kiddie matinees.

McMenamins also has several locations throughout Oregon and Washington so if you are traveling, be sure to check out their movie theaters as well.

Public Domain photos

Public Domain photos

View through lava tubes

View through lava tubes

Dee Wright Observatory

The Dee Wright Observatory is a wonderful kid-friendly place to visit in Central Oregon - and something you'll be amazed by once you see it. The Dee Wright Observatory was formed from lava flow rocks and is one of the most popular viewing spots in Central Oregon.

To reach the Dee Wright Observatory, you drive 15 miles west of Sisters, Oregon on the McKenzie Pass in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. As you drive, you leave the typical trees and underbrush of the high mountain desert behind and enter the land of lava. It is breathtaking to see the extent of the lava flows that washed over this area of the country virtually wiping out almost all vegetation - though there are a few hardy plants and trees that still manage to root themselves and survive.

At the very peak of the pass you come upon the Dee Wright Observatory which looks like it blends right in with the lava flows. There are interpretative trails you can hike from the observatory and you can also go inside and look through the many lava tubes.

On a good day, you can see up to 19 different mountains and buttes! It's a great place to study a little bit of the history of Central Oregon. Follow it up with a trip to the Lava Rock Cave further south of Bend or the Lava Lands Visitor Center.

Due to the elevation at Dee Wright Observatory at 5235 feet, this region gets a lot of snow and the roads are closed from November through July. Check for road closures before going but July through November, it is a wondrous place for kids of all ages!

There are many restaurants back in Sisters, Oregon including 2 great places to get ice cream - Sno Cap Ice Cream and BJ's Ice Cream! There are also numerous family oriented restaurants in the charming city of Sisters.

Sun Mountain Fun Center

Sun Mountain Fun Center has been something our family has enjoyed since we were coming here on vacation years ago. This is a great kid-friendly place to visit in Central Oregon and the only drawback is that you may have a hard time getting the kids to leave!

This is a family-owned business that has been in Bend since 1986. They are located right off Highway 97 in Bend near Macy's. Check out some of the great fun things to do at Sun Mountain Fun Center:

  • Water wars
  • Bowling
  • Pool/billiards
  • Bumper cars
  • Miniature golf
  • Batting cages
  • Arcade

They also have a kid-friendly eatery serving pizza and other favorite kid foods - Sunny's Cafe.

Sun Mountain Fun Center is a great hang-out for kids of any age and they are open year round. Monday through Saturday they are open noon to 10:00 p.m., Sunday noon to 8:00 p.m.

Outdoor Skating Rink at Inn at the Seventh Mountain

For those wintry days when you are looking for activities that are kid-friendly, the Inn at the Seventh Mountain has the answer - their outdoor skating rink.

When winter roars through Central Oregon, there are a lot of happy people - those folks who happen to love downhill or cross-country skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, etc. However, for kids, one of the best things about winter is putting on ice skates and going skating. This outdoor skating rink is just the ticket for kids of all ages.

The rink is located on premises at the Inn at the 7th Mountain (also referred to as Seventh Mountain Resort) and usually closes in April. Once winter arrives though, call for hours of operation and enjoy this unique experience at a lovely outdoor skating rink.

Bend is just minutes away but there are two kid-friendly restaurants on the premises as well - The Seasons Restaurant and Big Eddy Cafe. Bring on the hot chocolate!


Photo Credit: Image used with written permission of Vanessa Berning, Seventh Mountain Resort

Wheel Fun Rentals in Old Mill District and Lunch or Dinner

Weather permitting, Wheel Fun Rentals in the Old Mill District in Bend has bike rentals at the north end of the shopping area. Check out the picture for what kinds of bikes are available.

This is a super kid-friendly place to visit - the Old Mill District - with its great restaurants from Red Robin to steakhouses to Ben and Jerry Ice Cream to Italian restaurants - and all right on the Deschutes River.

Rent the following types of bikes at Wheel Fun Rentals and make a day of it - or rent for longer if you like!

  • Surreys - 2-seater or 4-seater
  • Coupes
  • Cruisers
  • Mountain Bikes
  • Tandem bikes
  • Kids bikes of all sizes
  • Baby jogger
  • Trailers
  • Tag-a-longs

You can ride in Bend for miles and miles on paved trails - or you can ride from the Old Mill District up to downtown Bend and back again, turn in your bike and go for a float on the Deschutes River - or pop into Red Robin for lunch or dinner.

Hours during the summer are 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. 7 days a week - in fall, Fridays and Saturdays 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. You can even run your dog beside you on one of the surreys or coupes and exercise them as well!

Picture by Audrey Kirchner

Picture by Audrey Kirchner

Bend Elks Baseball

What could be more fun than a real old-fashioned baseball game? Especially one that didn't cost you a week's salary to attend!

There is not a more kid-friendly place to be than at a baseball field and the Bend Elks Baseball Club is a remarkable step back in time to old-fashioned kinds of things like wooden baseball stands!

The games are played in Vince Genna Stadium which is located just off old 97 in Bend. You are so close to the game that you can almost see if the players have shaved or not! The games that we've attended, we've watched the players manicure and line the field before their game started and again midway through the game.

The players are mostly farm club players but that doesn't mean that they aren't wonderful ball players.  A few have gone on to bigger and better things and every once in a while, you'll catch a pro player in the making.   

The games run from June through August.  Most places in Bend have schedules posted or you can find the schedule on line. Tickets are really inexpensive.

Enjoy a dinner of ball park hot dogs and the usual ballgame fare while you sit in the wooden stands and watch the sun set majestically in the west over Mt. Bachelor. Beer and wine are served in the beer garden.

There is also fall ball at the Vince Genna Stadium and you just might be able to see some of the up-and-coming high school players playing at America's favorite past-time.

Paddleboarding at SunRiver

Paddleboarding at SunRiver

Photo Credit:  Image used with the written permission of SunRiver Resort

SunRiver Marina and Trout House

One of the most kid-friendly places in all of Central Oregon is Sunriver Resort in beautiful SunRiver.  Whether you are just visiting for the day or staying there for vacation, no matter what time of year, kids will not find a happier place.  They say Disneyland is the happiest place on earth but I disagree - I think it's SunRiver!

The SunRiver Marina and Trout House is but one venue to enjoy at SunRiver, whether you stay at the resort, rent from the many real estate companies in and around SunRiver, or you just drive down from Bend or environs for some fun. 

The marina is a great place to rent boats of several different kinds - kayaks, canoes, or rafts.  We've rented all of them and found them all to be a great way to spend time together and get out on the water. 

You can rent your boats right beside the Trout House Restaurant and set off for a leisurely float down the Deschutes River.  Along the way, you'll see much wildlife and many beautiful sites.  The entire float trip usually lasts about 2 hours but you can put in on the shore and swim or eat lunch.  However, after you reach a certain sign on the river, you can paddle yourself in the direction of that fork in the river and be shuttled back to the marina - free of charge!

After a nice float on the river, stop in at the Trout House for breakfast, lunch or dinner in their wonderful restaurant overlooking the Deschutes.  Their menu is perfect for any age and their food is always superb. 

If you happen to be in SunRiver in winter, there are wonderful snowshoeing and cross country skiing trails down by the marina  - and the Trout House is open as well though more limited hours. 

Marina at SunRiver

10 Best Kid-Friendly Places for Entertainment in Central Oregon

These are but a few of the great kid-friendly places for entertainment in Central Oregon. I could list many, many more but these are some of my favorite.

No matter what your age, there is always much to see and do in Central Oregon and all of it is kid-friendly. It is a place in the world where life is a little slower and people actually care about things like wildlife and the beauty of the country around them.  It is a place where people believe in families and sharing good times together. 

Any season of the year, kids will find an abundance of things to keep them happy and healthy - and if you are visiting, they will leave with fond memories. Some of our kids' best memories are here in Central Oregon and it is a place full of possibilities.

10 Best Kid-Friendly Places in Central Oregon

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Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 08, 2010:

Thanks, Katie - amen to that! We always tried to make sure our kids were involved and relaxed so we could be too - just as you said!!

Katie McMurray from Ohio on September 08, 2010:

Fab review, many of us need a good place to relax as best we can with the kids. When the kids are happy we can relax and enjoy as well. Love the 10 best kid friendly places for entertainment in Central Oregon.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 08, 2010:

Thanks for the read, Faye!

Benny Faye Ashton Douglass from Gold Canyon, Arizona on September 07, 2010:

Thank you Audrey for a beautiful and exciting hub for kids and adults.Thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 07, 2010:

Oh this is WAY better than Baskin's although in a pinch, I'll settle for that anytime! Thanks for the read, Crewman6 and hope you get to do the wall at Mavericks one of these days - I'm not sure I'd venture into doing that either...maybe I'd just do the videotaping and watch everyone else ride and climb!

Crewman6 on September 07, 2010:

Forget the kids... this sounds like fun! I'd love to try the rock wall at Mavericks. And then relax afterward with homemade ice cream at Goody's. (I'm a serious ice cream fanatic, and we lost our Baskin's a couple of years ago.)

Great hub, always fun to read.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 07, 2010:

Thanks, Simone! I hope so.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on September 07, 2010:

Wow- this is great, and super useful!!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 07, 2010:

Hey - that's super to know! My kids were older when we started coming here but they still love it and always want to visit. The problem is, when you are just visiting, it is so hard to hit it all and there are many, many things to do! Thanks so much for the read.

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on September 07, 2010:

You hit them all! Great work - My kids love everything on your list!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 07, 2010:

BJ - Oh yes - more hubs to come on that note! I actually do have a great kayaking story I have yet to write - I hard to believe! And miraculously, the kayaking story is not on the Deschutes although I have ANOTHER funny story about the fish involved thank the lord! I've already killed fish before and don't want to go there again!

Truth be told, I do not ice skate much because I'm a little worried about the outcome - but now that you bring that up....hmmm..that icecapades or is that escapades with Bob could be worth something on youtube. I can only imagine the time he'd spend though in the hospital after he tried to lift me up above his head. He is not a spring chicken - but god it would be worth it, eh? I'm going to get on those bribes right away and maybe by the time the snow falls, we'll be on here AND on youtube....although he may have to spend Christmas at the local hospital!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on September 07, 2010:

Well, since I fit into the "1 to 92 kids" category, I am fascinated by all the fun venues in central Oregon. The paddle boarding at Sun River looks like the mostest fun. Do you have any stories to share of paddle boarding episodes in future hubs?

How about the time your board accidentally struck and killed a very large fish - a female fish who was pregnant, thus ending too soon the lives of her incipient brood of several hundred!

Or your prowess on the ice at the Seventh Mountain Inn skating rink? Folks there are still talking about your famous couples ice-dancing routine which you performed solo since Bob refused your generous bribe. Anxious to hear all the details.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 07, 2010:

Laurel - Oh my GOSH - kids absolutely love it here - ours always had the best of times here - still do when they come for a visit! It's now a matter of what can we fit in.

CM - Oh yeah baby - that is definitely one killer gym! I'm afraid to try that wave machine though - we all know what happens when I get near water.

T.elia - Oh you have to - it is a gorgeous little place and so cool to see the raptors especially that they have saved!

HH - Glad to return the favor as you show me so much of places I want to go and probably never will get to see!

Hello, hello, from London, UK on September 07, 2010:

It sounds a fascinating place and thank you for showing me around. I learn so about about the USA on hub. It is great.

t.elia from Northern Ireland on September 06, 2010:

If I ever get as far as Oregon I'll definitely go visit the High Desert Museum.

Wonderful Hub


carolina muscle from Charlotte, North Carolina on September 06, 2010:

That Mavericks at Sun River sounds like my kinda gym!!!

Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on September 06, 2010:

I'll be there with my skates on, Audrey! In about 6 or so years with the new grandbaby!

Great ideas, and love the maps.

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