If there’s one thing we’ve all learned during the pandemic, it’s that family time outside the house isn’t to be taken for granted.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Bend this spring break, don’t just focus on lift tickets and parking passes. Central Oregon offers plenty in the way of family-friendly activities for all ages, ensuring your week in Bend is fulfilling, memorable and safe.

Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas:

Take in the Beauty of the Deschutes River

While Bend is commonly known as the gateway to the Cascades, the Deschutes River is truly the heart of our town – and really, Central Oregon overall. And, Bend’s Deschutes River Trail system makes it easy for families to explore the beauty, tranquility and wildlife in and around this natural resource. Whether walking or on the saddle of a bike, the trails connect notable parks, districts and sites all through town. See more and make quicker time by renting bikes of all types, from single and tandem to eight-passenger Surrey’s, at Wheel Fun Rentals in the Old Mill District. They open for the season Saturday, March 20.

Explore the Badlands

Immerse yourself among ancient juniper, volcanic vistas, sand and sagebrush – a natural area of beauty and seclusion that can only be found in the Badlands Wilderness Area located 16 miles east of Bend. With more than 50 miles of trails, you can explore the Badlands on foot, bike or horseback. You and your family will find plenty of solitude among this high desert wilderness area, along some awe-inspiring panoramic views. Just dress appropriately for the weather and download a quality map onto your smartphone. Trails are easy to moderate. Learn more from the National Park Service webpage.

Build Your Own Pies

Have a family of picky eaters? Well, everyone loves pizza so long as it’s made to their individual liking. At Flatbread Neapolitan Pizzeria in Bend’s Old Mill District, kids can personalize their own wood-fired pizzas, helping ensure lunch and/or dinner is satisfying and delicious for the entire family. Flatbread also offers a menu filled with authentic recipes that stay true to the culinary traditions of Neapolitan pizza, as well as a full menu of local and regional beers and wines to warm you after a day on the slopes. Learn more at flatbreadpizza.com/bend/.

Hunt for Outdoor Art

Not all the beauty of Central Oregon is of the natural type. Our region is home to high-end artists of a variety of styles, which becomes evident as you begin to notice colorful murals adorning buildings, walls, alleyways and walkways throughout the area. Such creative beauty is a source of pride in and around Bend, and taking a walking tour of these public art pieces is a great way to learn about our town and its culture. To learn more about exploring great outdoor art in area, start with the Central Oregon Mural Trail website.

Visit Tumalo Falls

If you love waterfalls, Tumalo Falls is a pretty awesome site. Located about 15 minutes west of Bend, this 97-foot waterfall is surrounded by forest and cliffs that combine to make an amazing backdrop for a vacation-style family portrait. As the falls live at a higher elevation, it’s possible you’ll need to hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski the additional three miles from the main parking lot, but the payoff is worth the effort. If you need to rent snowshoes or skis for the trek, visit REI in the Old Mill District for help. And for trail information, visit the Tumalo Falls Forest Service website.

 

 

Find Bigfoot

Oregon has one of the highest rates of reported Sasquatch sightings in America, and Central Oregon lies in the heart of what some consider Bigfoot country. Now, whether you believe such a beast exists or you simply feel the thrill of the unknown is reason enough to invest time and money into a new adventure, Big Mountain Heli Tours in Bend has you covered. This air tour company offers 45-minute helicopter mountain searches for Bigfoot, a trip that at the very least will net you some awesome aerial mountain and forest views along with memories your family will talk about for years. Learn more here.