When we decide to pack up for family vacation, to save money, we typically pick a destination that we can drive to within a days time. Given a full week, we decided this time to head South and visit Central Oregon from Mount Hood, through Bend and finally Sun River. It had been years since I had last passed through and I couldn’t wait to go see myself what all the buzz was about. We set out for Central Oregon travel with family fun in mind and we were not disappointed!
Central Oregon travel offers a unique combination of the Cascades mountains combined with the eastern slopes high desert area. This means that not only does it brings plenty of opportunity for snowy winter fun, but even more outdoor summer fun. The temperatures in this region in the summer can range from morning to night. Starting your days cool and warming up to a comfortable high and then cooling again in the evening.
We started our family adventure by stopping in overnight at Mount Hood. Summertime at Mount Hood is stunning. Not only will you find the typical hiking and mountain biking, the main attraction is the Skibowl Summer Adventure Park! Here you will find all sorts of adventure for all ages including an alpine slide, summer sledding, bungee jumping, horseback riding, go-carts, zipline and more. You can buy items ala carte or purchase packages. We arrived on a hot August Saturday and it was quite busy, but never had to wait in real long lines, but to avoid crowds and for cooler weather, we prefer visiting a bit later in the season.
Next we hopped in the car and headed two hours south to Bend. We arrived at the Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center and were excited to check it out. Although it is a slightly older hotel, it is very well maintained and has a fabulous indoor and outdoor pool, and an incredible on site restaurant, The Crossing.
Bend is a gateway to outdoor enthusiasts dream adventures. Hiking, rock climbing, riding, mountain biking, kayaking, whitewater rafting… it’s all right outside your door. If you don’t want to explore on your own, there are a number of tour agencies that will take you out such as Wanderlust Tours who offer canoeing and caving adventures! You can even visit the fun High Desert Museum and learn more about the area before you head out on your excursions.
We took some of our free time to head down to the old mill district and do a bit of shopping and grab a bite to eat after hitting the local shops downtown. Next to the shopping area, the Deschutes River runs through with an adjoining large park. We rented a Surrey Bike from Wheel Fun to go out and explore a bit. It was so much fun, the kids loved every minute of it. If we had more time, it would have been a blast to rent a paddle board as well and jump in and cool off!
After a few days in Bend, we finished our trip with 3 days in Sun River. Sun River is not a “city” so much as a planned community full of houses and condos in which you can rent, connected by plenty of biking trails and activities.
We stayed in a beautiful home, #5 Lava Top, throush Discover Sun River Vacation Rentals, which was conveniently located close to the village where you could hang out, shop, eat and play, and also very close to the large and popular SHARC aquatic center which has indoor and outdoor pools, lazy river and water slides!
In addition there are plenty of other additional activities which we experience including horseback riding with Sun River Stables, a Family Fun Float at the Marina followed by S’mores, and even a visit to the OSU Observatory to look at the stars through high powered telescopes and a constellation “tour”.
When we weren’t running around playing, we were biking the trails or just hanging out in the hot tub or playing ping pong at our rented house.
Even with three days, we didn’t see and do everything there is to do at Sun River but one thing is for certain, it is a must visit destination for great family fun!
As every vacation does, it finally had to come to an end and we were all sad to have to pack up to go home. Visiting Central Oregon was such a memorable experience for us and we can not wait to get back down again. If you are looking for a place to spend some quality time with your kids, this is it!
Thank you to all the generous partners who made this family vacation possible for us!
I received reduced or free rates in exchange for my honest editorial of our experiences. All opinions expressed are my own.