It’s no secret that Bend, Oregon offers a variety of free outdoor activities to do with the family. Whether it’s biking, hiking, floating the river, or kayaking on the lakes, Bend seems to have it all. But what if you feel like doing something other than the outdoor nature day? Perhaps you want to relax and have “adult time” while your children are having fun. Maybe an outdoor activity with your family that is more “interactive” and “different” than a typical hike is in order? How about indoor activities for when the weather isn’t cooperating, or you just want to be inside? Well, you’re in luck as there are plenty of fun things to do in Bend with kids when you don’t feel like going on a grand adventure.
Here are my favorite “budget-friendly” things to do in Bend with kids in no particular order.
1. Roundabout Scavenger Hunt: (Free)
Thanks to Visit Bend, this downloadable scavenger hunt includes 24 of the roundabout art pieces in Bend. Geared towards kids, it’s a great way to keep them engaged as you drive around exploring the city. With challenging trivia questions and historical information, this scavenger hunt is also a great way to learn more about Bend, Oregon. Don’t forget to bring the completed quiz to Visit Bend to get your Roundabout Art Route souvenir!
2. DIY Workshop at The Home Depot: (Free)
This is a great activity when the weather isn’t cooperating or when you want to learn something new with your kids. Each workshop offers a different DIY project, with hands-on-learning and skill building.
3. Paulina Lake: (Free)
I love taking the family to Paulina Lake for the day. There is so much to do there, and it never gets old. Try the Paulina Plunge, a natural water slide in warmer months. Soak in the natural hot spring by the shore of the lake. Drive or hike to the top of Paulina Peak for remarkable views of Bend and the Sisters Volcanic Complex. But most importantly, don’t forget to jump into the deliciously warm lake.
4. Vector Volcano: ($5.00)
Anyone who knows me can attest that I don’t like video games. However, Vector Volcano is an exception. Located Downtown on NW Oregon, Vector Volcano is an endearing throwback to the ’80s with their vintage video games and pinball machines. If you like Space Invaders, Pong, Pac Man, and Centipede, this place is right up your alley. For $5.00 an hour, you have an hour of free play on any of their games. Don’t want to play? No worries! Vector Volcano has a comfy little seating area up front where you can sit back and relax with a refreshment and watch your kids game it up.
5. Fishing at Shevlin Park or Pine Nursery Park: (Free)
This is a great activity to do with your kids or when you feel like relaxing and letting them do their own thing. Both parks are located within the city limits of Bend and are fully stocked with fish. There are benches for relaxing or you can bring some lawn chairs or a blanket to take in the beauty of your surroundings. The best part? No matter your child’s fishing ability, the fish don’t play hard to get. Your child will catch a fish every five minutes! This is a great place to teach kids how to fish, build confidence, and keep them engaged for hours.
6. Sledding in Hollinshead Park: (Free)
There are definitely hills all over the City of Bend that are great for sledding. However, the hill at Hollinshead Park can’t be beat. It’s short enough that your kids won’t mind walking up it 50 times but incredibly steep so they fly down it at borderline frightening speed. There are no trees to worry about and plenty of flat, runoff space at the bottom to help them gradually slow down. Sledding at Hollinshead Park is a blast and will bring out the inner child in you!
7. Open Swim at Juniper Swim and Fitness: (Free-$7.00)
If you haven’t discovered Juniper Swim and Fitness you are missing out. The facility is fantastic for kids and adults. Though they offer a vast array of fitness classes and have multiple indoor and outdoor pools, the family swim is the best deal and fun for the whole family! If you are a member, family swim is included in your membership. However, if you don’t have a membership, no problem! For a reasonable fee (Adults- $7.00, Seniors and Students-$6.00, Youth and 80+-$5.00, Children under 3-Free) you can partake in three hours of family fun. Swing from the rope into the pool, jump off the high dive or low dive, slide down into the kiddie pool, or relax in the hot tub.
8. McMenamins Movies and Secret Rooms: (Free-$4.00)
For those not familiar with McMenamins, they are a family-owned chain of brewpubs, breweries, music venues, historic hotels, and theater pubs in the Pacific Northwest. There are lots of things to do and see at the McMenamins in Bend and it’s definitely worth checking it out. Two of my favorite things to do at the one here in Bend are searching for the secret rooms with the kids and taking advantage of their movie theater. The secret rooms are located behind the restaurant and theater in one of the hotel room buildings. I don’t want to give too much away but watching kids try to find these hidden rooms is a joyous activity in itself.
The movie theater is small and cozy, furnished with overstuffed chairs and sofas. A full-service bar offers a wide variety of refreshments and local craft beer on tap. If you’re hungry, you’re in luck! Pizza, snacks, and popcorn are available. At a fraction of the price ($4.00 per person, and $2.00 for children 12 and under), McMenamins offers an affordable way for the family to go to the movies!
**Make sure to check out their Tuesday and Wednesday night specials.**
9. Feeding and Petting the Alpacas: ($5.00)
Crescent Moon Ranch located in Terrebonne, Oregon is a wonderful place to visit with your family. They have an adorable gift shop with clothing and gifts made locally from the wool of their alpacas. The highlight for me though is spending $5.00 on a bag of grain, going out to the fields in the back and feeding the alpacas. It’s amazing how friendly and tolerant an alpaca becomes when you have food to offer. Reminiscent of a petting zoo, it’s wonderful to interact with the animals. Crescent Moon Ranch is also a great place to go with a group of kids for a birthday party. Depending on the time of year, the birthday child can take a picture holding a baby alpaca.
10. Mining for Thundereggs: ($12.50)
Richardsons Rock Ranch located in Madras, Oregon is fun for all ages. Thundereggs, for those unfamiliar, are the official state rock of Oregon. On the outside, they look like round balls of dirt. Yet, crack one open and give it a little polish and they turn into beautiful marble-like geodes. The activity begins when you arrive at the ranch and receive mining tools as if you were a paleontologist. With your small pickaxe and brushes, you go up into the hills behind the ranch where your mining adventure begins. Little by little, you chip away at the earth to find a Thunderegg. It’s surprisingly exciting and enjoyable. It’s certainly not something that’s run of the mill, which is why the novelty goes a long way. Once you’ve unearthed your rocks, you bring them back to the ranch to weigh them, polish them (if desired), and pay.
**Important Tip: Keep in mind that it’s $1.25 per pound with a $12.50 minimum per car. It’s easy to get carried away and forget that you’re paying by the pound. My rule of thumb is two eggs per person. With a family of four, this keeps the cost right at the $12.50 mark.**
Things to Do in Bend with Kids | Bend Relocation Services
When it comes to activities in Bend, there is no shortage of things to do. While there are plenty of outdoor adventures to be had, sometimes you just want to stay indoors or do something a little different. Plus, doing something free is always nice on the wallet. I live here in Bend and have raised my kids in Bend. So, I consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to entertaining little ones, if I do say so myself. If you are new to Bend and are looking for things to do in Bend with kids, don’t hesitate to reach out! I am more than happy to give you my recommendations and resources. Welcome!