Babies are awesome, but they can make traveling a challenge. Fortunately, there are moms and dads who’ve blazed a trail before you and can offer tips on getting around Bend with a little one.
While your regular Visit Bend blogger, Tawna, is out on vacation this week, we’ve asked author and traveling mom Kristen Riggle to step in with her recipe for the perfect day in Bend with a baby.
Go-To-Guide: Best things to do in Bend with a Baby
Hi there, Kristen Riggle here! I’m the author and illustrator of The Busy Birds Adventures: Hello, Bend and Little Bird Explores Bend. My intention behind creating these books was to help engage little ones with their surroundings during some of their very first Bend adventures.
Along with these books—and with the help of some awesome local moms and dads—I have put together this go-to-guide for the Best Things To Do in Bend With a Baby, to help you hit the ground running during your time in Bend!
Grab a coffee and take a stroll through town…
Looney Bean or The Commons at Drake Park
Drake Park is the perfect place for a relaxing walk with a paved path along the river and benches dotted around for breaks to watch the ducks and geese! Grab your coffee at Looney Bean or The Commons—both of which are located next to Mirror Pond. Fun fact: Looney Bean has the Killer Bee, a honey + cinnamon + cayenne latte, and The Commons has local beer on tap… the choice is yours! From here you can also have the option to pop right over to the main drag in downtown Bend. It’s full of local shops and fun to wander around.
Strictly Organic at The Old Mill
The Old Mill District is another option for a lovely stroll. Grab your coffee or tea at Strictly Organic, then walk along the paved path that follows the Deschutes River. Here you can see a variety of birds. Osprey are often seen fishing in this area along with the occasional muskrat or river otter!
Enjoy some community activities:
Yoga at Tula Movement Arts
Tula Movement Arts is a family friendly studio that offers Mom & Baby Yoga and Postpartum Flow classes. Not only are there classes you can take with your baby, but also ones that have childcare offered during class … for a little YOU-time! (Be sure to call them the day before to confirm there’s available space for childcare). Whether you come to a class with your baby or take a class while your babe hangs in the other studio with qualified professionals, Tula is the perfect place for a fun and aligning experience for you and your baby.
Read Together at Deschutes Library
The Deschutes Public Library, located downtown on NW Wall Street is the perfect place to have some interactive play or reading time with your baby! On the first floor, there is a great kids’ section and a play corner with toys and a colorful carpet to sit on, get some tummy time in, and read together.
Learn + Play at the High Desert Museum
High Desert Museum is an interactive museum that brings wildlife, art, and culture to help learn about the natural and cultural heritage of Central Oregon’s High Desert! You can check out their daily schedule to see what activities are going on each day such as natural history walks and bird shows. Of course, you can also explore the grounds on your own! There is a nice balance of outdoor and indoor areas with a variety of things to see to keep little ones busy.
Take a hike…
Deschutes River Trail
The Deschutes River Trail is the perfect hike to bring a baby and can often be used all year ‘round, depending on how much snow we had that year. Bringing a carrier backpack is a great idea for this hike as much of it is dirt and gravel with some rocks to walk over here and there. There are some inclines, but overall it’s an easy hike with beautiful views of the river, lava flows, and pine trees. From this hike you can access many day use areas like Meadow Camp, Dillon Falls, and Benham Falls.
Riley Ranch River Trail
Riley Ranch River Trail is a beautiful and convenient hike right inside of town. The trails are easy, well kept, and run along the Deschutes River through a narrow canyon. (Note: Dogs are not allowed on this trail). There are a number of connected loops to choose from, which gives you the freedom to choose how far you want to go including Juniper Loop (0.7 miles), Sage Flat Loop (0.9 miles), Canyon Loop (1.25 miles), Robin’s Run (775 feet), and Riley Ranch to Tumalo State Park along the Deschutes River Trail (6.5 miles roundtrip)… lots of options!
Tumalo Falls is an iconic waterfall in Bend. It’s beautiful during the summer and winter and very accessible, just 20 minutes west of town. Note: This is a popular location, so going early and on weekdays is suggested!
Summer: North Fork Trail
During the summer, you can drive right up to the waterfall and hop onto the North Fork Trail, a moderate hike out and back for up to an 8 mile round trip. There are a number of waterfalls along the way for some great views.
Winter: Tumalo Falls Road
During the winter, you can’t drive right up to the waterfall so the hike (snowshoes recommended!) starts roughly two and a half miles from the waterfall, at
the gate. You can snowshoe up to the falls on Forest Road 4603 (aka Tumalo Falls Road). The view of the icy waterfall is well worth the 5 miles round-trip.
Pilot Butte is an extinct volcano with trails that wind up to the summit, about 1.8 miles from the base. Fun fact: Bend is one of the few cities in the country to have a volcano within the city limits! The hike is easy with a steady climb. There are bathrooms at the top and benches dotted around on the way up for breaks or diaper changes! At the top, you will find a lovely 360-degree view of the town and on clear days, you can see all the mountains and volcanoes that surround it.
Have a picnic…
Along the Cascade Lakes Highway sit a number of beautiful bodies of water called the Cascade Lakes. The highway is closed during the winter because of
Since you will hit each one of them consecutively from town, you can keep making your way up if it’s too crowded. The beach at Twin Lakes is super shallow, with no motorized boats and places to find shade and picnic tables and at any of these. You can pack a picnic, sand toys, and enjoy some wading, fishing, and quiet time. Of course there are many more lakes to see, which you can drive along and explore with the whole family.
Farewell Bend Park
Farewell Bend Park is in a great location along the Deschutes River. There are covered picnic tables that sit next to a playground and a well kept grassy area. It is stroller-friendly with wide, paved paths you can take over the bridge to the Old Mill District. The Park is also close by the Deschutes River Trail, which you can walk to and starts a trail loop along the river. Note: The River Trail is not good for strollers as it’s mainly dirt and there are some spots where you will need to walk over rocks.
Columbia Park, also known as Pirate Ship Park, is the perfect place for a picnic and playtime, especially if you also have a toddler in tow. There is a large, well-kept lawn, picnic tables, a ship-shaped playground with a treasure hunt game installed, a couple different slides, one baby swing, and one regular swing all on top of a rubbery terrain. There’s a little something for everyone!
Tumalo State Park
Tumalo State Park is an organized and spacious camping or day use park. If you want to introduce your baby to camping, this location is nice and close to town and clean as far as camping goes! There are walking trails that go along the Deschutes River and bathrooms and showers to use. If you’re coming for
the day, you will find different grassy sections with picnic tables dotted around, along with river access for those warm Bend summer days!
End the day right with a bite and a beverage:
Crux Fermentation Project
Crux has a nice big lawn area where you can take a picnic blanket, snacks, and a bucket of trucks for the small kids, a soccer ball for the bigger kids, and lawn chairs for the adults (there are also picnic tables if you prefer that)! Once you have your spot set up, you can grab a delicious craft beer on tap from the patio area and have your choice of food from the menu or from the yummy food trucks right outside.
Goodlife also has a nice big lawn area to bring a blanket and toys! This may be a better spot to go when it’s slightly cooler outside as they don’t have as much wind chill. There is a full menu to peruse including cocktail choices. Fun Fact: Goodlife offers a happy hour from 3-6 p.m. on weekdays.
Jackson’s Corner is a great place to go if you’re looking to have a bit more of a sit-down meal, but since you order and pay right in the beginning, you have the flexibility of leaving whenever you need to. The food is delicious with a fresh kids’ brunch and dinner menu. The rotating seasonal dishes always make it interesting, along with seasonal cocktails and a wide variety of drinks to choose from.
I hope that this guide, along with my Bend inspired children’s books, will help introduce your little ones to the beauty and beloved activities found here in Central Oregon! If you want to find the book at a local shop while you’re in town, check out the shop list here!