Forest fire season is upon us, and with several large blazes raging around Oregon, Bend has seen a bit of smoke this week. A short walk with the dog last night left us both smelling like we’d spent the evening by a bonfire, and folks with respiratory problems have been advised to stay indoors.
While it’s rare for Bend fans to give up even a moment of outdoor play in our glorious high desert paradise, there’s plenty of indoorsy fun to be found when smoke or rain drive us inside. Here are 13 of my favorite forms of indoor fun in Bend.
The High Desert Museum
One of Central Oregon’s top attractions since 1982, the High Desert Museum is a wonderland of wildlife, natural history, and art. It sits on 135 acres and boasts 100,000 square feet of exhibit space where you can get a close-up view of native wildlife including river otters, bobcat, porcupines, and badgers. Their raptor programs are a must-see, with owls, falcons, and hawks swooping overhead.
Stick to the indoor exhibits if the weather is frightful, or head outside to visit an authentic homestead and sawmill from 1904. You’ll also find a variety of educational, hands-on exhibits that will thrill visitors of all ages and bring history and science to life.
Mountain Air Trampoline Park
In less than a year of operation, Mountain Air Trampoline Park has become my 11-year-old’s favorite spot for birthday parties or weekend outings. The main court has 26 trampolines and is surrounded on two sides by angled trampoline walls. There’s also a super-long jumping and tumbling runway.
Mountain Air even offers basketball and dodgeball, along with a giant airbag that’s crazy fun to leap onto from above.
Parents with toddlers they’d prefer not to see squished by older kids will be happy to know there’s a special zone for kids 46-inches and shorter.
Note to busty moms: Double up on the sports bras for this one. You’ll thank me later.
The Roundabout Art Route
One of the most unique art exhibits anywhere, the Roundabout Art Route is a collection of nearly two dozen pieces of public art on display throughout the city in the most unlikely places – at the center of Bend’s traffic circles. The circles, also filled with plants, flowers and trees, are designed to keep traffic flowing around the city.
Pick up a brochure at the Bend Visitor Center so you can map your route between sculptures. At the end, answer some simple trivia questions and return it to the Visitor Center to claim a cool edible prize.
Sun Mountain Fun Center
There’s plenty of indoor fun to be found at Sun Mountain Fun Center, especially if you have kids in tow. Bumper cars, bowling, and a staggering array of video games dispensing tickets you can cash in for prizes.
The pizza here is surprisingly awesome, with a great local beer selection to boot. If you get a break in the rainstorm or smoke haze, head outdoors to do a little Go Kart racing, mini golf, or a stint in the batting cage.
Deschutes Historical Museum
History buffs will adore this well-run museum located in the historic Reid School (Bend’s first modern school opened in 1914). The Deschutes Historical Museum has been operating in Bend since 1980, and features a unique variety of exhibits ranging from local history to an expansive temporary exhibit titled, “Winter Comes: Oregon’s Nordic Ski History.”
They’re also the host site for one of my favorite Bend beer events coming up Labor Day Weekend, The Little Woody Barrel-Aged Brew and Whiskey Festival Sept. 1-2. #JustSayin
When you vacation in Bend, there’s the tendency to run yourself ragged trying to cram in all the hiking, biking, paddling, and playing in the outdoor playground of the West.
Whether it’s rain, smoke, or just a need for relaxation that drive the urge for a spa day, you’ll find tons of great Bend day spas where you can pamper yourself. Opt for a mani/pedi, or get a massage to soothe well-worked muscles. Score a facial to counter the effects of our dry high desert climate, or book a special service like a mud wrap.
Aaaah….now that’s a vacation.
Have an Airsoft battle
For those who’ve never heard of it, Airsoft is the generic name for air-powered toy guns that shoot small, plastic BBs. Peak Airsoft has an indoor arena where you can enjoy a safe, fun, fast-paced, adrenaline-filled action experience.
Playing at Peak Airsoft’s indoor arena revolves around loosely-guided, objective-based game modes requiring teamwork and strategy to complete the tasks assigned to each team. All equipment is provided, including electric M4-style rifles and full face protection
Guests can drop in for open play sessions or book a private party. For info and pricing, go here.
The Tower Theatre
Craving a bit of culture during your Bend visit? Check the schedule at Bend’s historic Tower Theatre and snap up some seats at an upcoming event. This renovated art-deco theater offers musical performances, films, plays, and more, so check their schedule to see what’s happening during your Bend stay.
Children of the ‘80s and ‘90s will fall in love with this quirky Downtown arcade packed with vintage video games, but so will kids of all ages and generations. Vector Volcano is family-friendly, but they also serve local craft beer. Admission gets you unlimited game play for the time period you pick, with no quarters or tokens required.
Bowling is the ultimate family activity for all ages, and Bend is lucky enough to have two great spots for it. Check out Lava Lanes or Sun Mountain Fun Center for a fun-filled afternoon or evening of rolling strikes (or gutter balls—no judgement here).
Shop ‘til you drop
Not-so-hot weather conditions give you the perfect excuse to splurge on a little souvenir shopping in Bend. Whether you’re looking for art, clothing, outdoor gear, or edible gifts to take home for friends, you’ll find it all in Bend.
Scope out the eclectic array of unique shops in downtown Bend, the Old Mill District, and Northwest Crossing, or head for to national chains found at the Bend Factory Stores or the Cascade Village Shopping Center, you’ll find plenty of spots to give your credit card a workout in Bend.