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6 ways to be a kid again in Bend, Oregon


All of us have family vacation memories from the days we were carefree kiddos who didn’t have to worry about annoying trip details like finding the perfect Bend hotel or kid-friendly restaurant.

Unleash your inner child in Bend.

Just because you’re all grown up doesn’t mean you should surrender the idea of experiencing Bend with the fun, carefree spirit of your youth. Here are 6 ways you can enjoy being a kid again on a Bend vacation.


Do the leaf pile pounce

Right now, Bend’s parks are teaming with glorious, multi-hued leaf piles just begging for you to leap right in.

Indulge yourself. Heck, bring your own rake so you can pile them up into a towering leaf mountain. Take a running jump and pounce on that pile like the goofball you are.

Then rake and repeat until your face hurts from giggling.


Go sledding, wage snowball battles, or build snowmen

We’re teetering on the brink between fall and winter, which means snow is starting to pile up near Mt. Bachelor.

Blogger Tawna giggling like a kid in a saucer sled.

It doesn’t take much searching to find an open field of snow where you can mold a few snowballs to toss at pals, or flop down on your back to make an old-fashioned snow angel.

If you’re feeling artsy, pack a carrot and a spare scarf and build yourself a snowman.

Once Mt. Bachelor opens for the season, you can enjoy an old-fashioned sledding experience (minus the need to lug your inner tube uphill) in their Snowblast Tubing Park. If you’d rather go it alone with your saucer sled or Flexible Flyer, check out this blog post for ideas on where to do some sledding in Bend.


Get your game on

Fun on the Go-Karts at Sun Mountain Fun Center.

Remember the thrill of visiting a video arcade with a pocketful of quarters and a steadfast determination to get the top score on Pac Man? You can recapture that experience—minus the quarters, but add in a beer—at Vector Volcano. It’s a vintage video arcade that charges a low flat fee for unlimited play.

If you want more than just video games, visit Sun Mountain Fun Center. They not only offer a wide array of arcade options, but also bumper cars, Go-Karts, mini golf, bowling, and more. The pizza here is surprisingly awesome, and your arcade play earns you tickets to cash in for prizes.


Jump around

Sometimes, kids just need to burn off some energy. The same holds true for adults, and there’s no shame in venturing to an indoor arena like Mountain Air Trampoline Park for the chance to bounce around like a freakin’ lunatic.

You know you want to try this. Do it at Mountain Air Trampoline Park.

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.

Note to grownup ladies: Pack a sports bra for this one. You’ll thank me later.


Check out critters at High Desert Museum

The first time I visited the High Desert Museum in 1984, I was nine years old and they had only been open a couple years. I remember running around the 135-acre grounds checking out chipmunks and learning about birds of prey. It was the most fun I had all year.

Not much has changed.

Make new animal friends at the High Desert Museum.

Well, the museum itself has, with tons more exhibits and animals (including a newly-renovated otter exhibit and a brand new juvenile otter who just joined the existing two on display).

Even without my kids in tow, I love visiting the museum for the raptor show, the porcupine demo, or just to check out the latest exhibits. It’s fun for all ages, and consistently ranked by TripAdvisor as the top Central Oregon attraction.


Play with your food

When you were a kid, you heard the refrain over and over: “Don’t play with your food!”

But you did it anyway, because it was freakin’ fun.

There’s nothing quite like grub you can eat with your hands.

While it’s not socially acceptable to waltz into Jackalope Grill and have a mashed potato fight, there are plenty of foods you can eat with your hands and have it be totally cool.

Pizza is a great pick for grub you can grab with both hands. My current fave is the pizza menu at 10 Barrel, which also boasts an impressive beer menu with recommended pairings for each pie. For a full list of Bend pizza spots, go here.

Tacos are another awesome option for eating with your hands. Check out this page for a full listing of Mexican restaurants in Bend, or scope out our blog post rounding up Bend’s tastiest fish tacos.

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