Ever notice how the activities grownups love can generate groans of protest from traveling companions with wiggly teeth and a firm belief in Santa? Are you a parent who’s checked your ears to see if they’re bleeding after the 312th repetition of a Barney jingle?
Kids and parents, rejoice! When it comes to your Bend vacation, there are plenty of activities offering fun for visitors of all ages. Here are six of my faves.
The family that floats together, gloats together (about how much fun they had on vacation, of course!)
In the hot summer months, there are few things I love more than flopping my air mattress in the Deschutes River and enjoying a leisurely float from Riverbend Park to the Colorado Street bridge. When I’m joined by my gentleman friend and his two charming offspring, we opt for a queen-sized air mattress with the kids in the middle and the adults on either side for easy paddling. If it’s extra hot, the kids can jump off and splash around before clambering back on and soaking the rest of us. Sun Country Tours offers free rental life jackets for kids 12 and under. Just stop by their trailer in Riverbend Park, which is also where you can rent float tubes and standup paddle boards. They’re open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week, and float tubes are $10 for two hours for kids up to 12, and $15 for adults 13+. Younger kids can easily ride on a parent’s lap to keep things safe and to save you the cost of an extra tube. Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe also has river tube rentals as well as all the watercraft you might expect from the name of their business (hint: uh, kayaks and canoes). If you aren’t traveling with two cars, there’s a shuttle bus available so you don’t have to hoof-it over hot pavement to get back to your car. For complete details on river floating in Bend, go here.
Hit the Fermentation Celebration, family style!
On the surface, you might not think a beer festival would be the ideal place for kids. But as long as you’ve got a sober driver lined up to ensure everyone makes it home safely, the Fermentation Celebration on June 20 is a remarkably family-friendly celebration of Bend’s craft beer scene.
Think of it like a big beer walk through the beautiful Old Mill District. You can stroll and enjoy the live music for free between 5:30-9:30 p.m., or you can opt to purchase a limited-edition fermentation Silipint and 8 drink tickets for $20. The tickets earn you tastes of beer, which is something you definitely won’t want to miss. Every Bend-based brewery will be there, including some of the little guys like Ale Apothecary and not-even-open-yet Rathole Brewing. There will also be several local cider-makers on-hand, plus Naked Winery and Nectar of the Gods Meadery. Hanging out with kids? Take your stroll slowly, popping in at Flatbread Community Oven to give the young’uns a chance to make their own pizzas for dinner. My game plan is to pack a picnic we’ll all enjoy in the grass beside the river before we stroll the grounds for beer samples. Insider tip: If there are certain breweries you’re dying to try, hit ‘em early in the evening, since the taps can run dry toward the end.
Get your yoga on while your kids do the same
I’ve taken yoga classes at Juniper Swim & Fitness for years, but it wasn’t until last week I discovered they offer a number of kids’ fitness classes in tandem with the adult ones. For instance, on Monday afternoon, I attended my regular 4:15 Vinyasa Yoga class. On my way in, I dropped off the 7-year-old in the adjacent room for a kids’ class called Zumbatastic. She had a blast dancing to her favorite songs, bouncing on fitness balls, and enjoying the complimentary snack at the end, and I found my zen in a bright, airy space overlooking the park. On Friday morning I’ll hit a 9:15 class while she takes kids’ yoga next door. The folks at Juniper are smart about staggering the times so kids start 5 minutes before the grownups and end 5 minutes after, so there’s no risk of kids wandering around bored. Best of all, Juniper has super low drop-in rates for only $7 for grownups and $5 for kids, or opt for a 10-punch pass if you’re going to be here awhile. It’s a great way to keep up with your fitness even when you’re on vacation (not to mention a great way to burn off a bit of kid-energy). For a complete schedule of classes and fees, go here.
Lose your marbles
Another fun one-day-only event is the Summer Shootout Marble Tournament this Saturday, June 22 at the Des Chutes Historical Museum. The event begins at 10 a.m. and offers fun for the whole family.
Besides tournament play, they’ll have marble free play throughout the day, lawn games, and other fun activities for families. For those who haven’t played before, there’s a warm-up and marble shooting lessons prior to tournament play.
Whether you’re a marble enthusiast or a total beginner, you can play and compete for great prizes. There are categories for kids 7-11 and for folks ages 13-adult. The grand prize in both categories is Schwinn bicycles from The Gear Peddler. There are tons of great additional prizes from SHARC, Wabi Sabi, The Art Station, Sun Mountain Fun Center, and the Old Mill District. Tournament registration is $10.00 per person, and you can do it the morning of the event or at the Museum’s website. Admission to the museum is free to all participants, and families can also visit booths from Sunriver Nature Center, the High Desert Museum, and more.
We’ve got your critter fix right here
I never tire of visiting the High Desert Museum no matter how many times I go, and I’m thrilled the kids (ages 7 and 11) feel the same. We love wandering between the animal exhibits, seeing the otters frolic or watching Vivi the bobcat and Snowshoe the lynx as they pace around waiting for dinner. There are also tons of educational exhibits that rotate regularly, so even if you’ve visited before, there’s bound to be something new now. Summer hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily May 1 through October 31 (closed July 4). Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $9 for youth 5-12, and free for kids 4 and under.
Wanna know where food comes from?
Chef Bette Fraser of The Well Traveled Fork is passionate about showing people where their food comes from, and her popular Farm & Ranch Tour is a great way to demonstrate it to kids and grownups alike. This half-day tour takes you to several local farms and ranches where you’ll see pigs, sheep, chickens, cows, and a variety of other critters, along with stops ranging from an organic vegetable ranch to an alpaca ranch with oodles of soft things to touch in the gift shop. Chef Bette offers awesome insights into the uniqueness of ranching and farming in the high desert environment, and the fresh air is good for everyone. The cost is $55 per person and includes transportation between all the farms and ranches.