Bend is home to one of the best park systems in the country. The Bend Metro Park & Recreation District manages 2,375 acres of public parks and open spaces ranging from neighborhood playgrounds to an extensive riverfront trail network. If you are looking for a shady picnic area, or your children are in search of some new slides to zoom down, Bend offers a myriad of options throughout the city for all ages.
In 2006, after being selected as a finalist for four years in a row, the Bend Metro Park & Recreation District received the National Gold Medal Award for excellence from the National Recreation and Park Association. The award recognizes Bend Parks & Rec for its long-range planning, environmental stewardship and progressive programming, but the award is also a special acknowledgement of the district’s ability to harness Bend’s rapid population growth to create many new parks and public spaces.
The centerpiece of Bend’s park system is Drake Park. With one-half mile of riverfront property, it is a popular gathering spot for friends and families. The reflection of Mount Bachelor off Mirror Pond in this picturesque park is one of the most well known images of Bend. Make sure a stroll along the Deschutes River at Drake Park is on your list of to-dos when visiting downtown Bend.
Another gem of the parks district is Farewell Bend Park along the Deschutes River near the base of the Bill Healy Memorial Bridge. The park includes three acres of native riparian planting and in-stream wetland restoration, and now has a viewing bridge with a railing so you and your children can see the river up close. The playground at the park has a lumber theme that includes a water wheel, buzz saws and logs and many different sized rocks to scale.
Most locals would agree that the 51-mile-long urban trail system that connects parks and schools and neighborhoods together in Bend adds tremendously to the quality of life, providing countless running and jogging routes for everyone from moms with strollers to professional athletes.
Families with toddlers or teenagers will find a clean and safe park system in Bend that has ample parking, restrooms and some distance from traffic. Whether you are picnicking under a shady tree, or playing pirates on the green and white boat in Harmon Park, there are countless beautiful places in Bend to spend time with your loved ones