Bend’s the kinda town where outdoor play can be a ‘round-the-clock endeavor. You kick off your morning with a sunrise hike and end with a moonlight canoe paddle. But what happens when wildfire smoke puts the kibosh on outdoor fun?
Or sometimes it’s a rare, rainy desert day making it less than awesome to play outside. No matter what drives you indoors, don’t fret! While Bend might be the recreation oasis of the West, there’s plenty of fun to be had with a roof over your head. Here are 18 great options for indoorsy Bend fun.
Trek a trail of suds
Bend’s famous as a beer town, and a jaunt around the legendary Bend Ale Trail gives you indoorsy fun with the added bonus of…well, beer. Not just that, but a chance to use your Bend Ale Trail passport or app to earn prizes for tasting all the hoppy IPAs, malty porters, and lip smackin’ sours your beer lovin’ heart craves. Hit the Bend Ale Trail page to learn more about territories, prizes, beer tours, our designated driver program, and more.
Did someone say meow?
Whether you’re missing furry friends back home or just wishing for whiskery kisses, Playful Paws Cat Cafe is the purrrrfect way to get your feline fix in Bend. For a small visitation fee, you get 50 minutes of petting, cuddling, and playing with resident kitties who also happen to be adoptable (hint hint!) Even if you’re not taking home a mouse-catching souvenir, snag a drink from their cooler and the satisfaction of slathering affection on a four-legged love bug. Reservations are smart, but not required, or inquire about private parties and special events.
Fuel your passion for pickleball
If you’ve hit one of Bend’s many outdoor pickleball courts, you’ve seen firsthand this sport’s wild surge in popularity. When hazy weather chases you indoors, hit the indoor courts at Pickleball Zone. They share a building with Trampoline Zone (more on them in a sec!) and offer lockers, an on-site pro shop, loaner shoes and paddles, and gobs of reservable courts. There’s even a players’ lounge with wine and beer, not to mention epic views of the Cascade Mountains from the upper floors.
Got a need for speed?
Get your zoomies out at K1, an indoor go-kart track with 100-percent, zero-emission, all-electric karts. These aren’t the lawn mower-powered go-karts of your youth. We’re talking high-performance machines with the torque and horsepower you need to whoop Uncle Charlie’s butt when you break from that Bend family reunion. There’s a height requirement for juniors at 48” and 58” for adults, which leaves lots of wiggle room for drivers of all ages.
Embrace your inner monkey
If sport climbing’s on your Bend agenda, don’t abandon the dream when Smith Rock gets socked in by smoke or rain. Bend boasts several state-of-the-art climbing facilities, including Bend Rock Gym and the Circuit Bouldering Gym. For a more kid-centric, family-friendly experience, try the climbing walls at Free Spirit.
Curl up with a good book
We’re wired to think VACATION means spending every waking moment seeing, doing, and experiencing as much as humanly possible. But can I just say some of my most treasured vacation moments involve curling up with a good book and a view of something lovely? Hit one of our amazing Bend bookstores for a special vacay read, then pick your spot, kick back, and embrace the art of relaxation.
Know what makes a great Bend souvenir? Something you craft with your own two hands. Visit Studio Create for a paint-your-own-pottery party, or create your own clay masterpiece at Synergy Ceramics. You’ll find tons of classes on the schedule for DIY Cave, or paint your own special Home Sweet Home sign at Board and Brush. For the green thumb in your group, scope out the workshops at Somewhere That’s Green and take home a special succulent garden or one-of-a-kind potted plant.
Catch a show
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. If movies are more your jam, you’ll find all the best blockbusters at Regal Cinemas in the Old Mill District. For indie flicks, try Tin Pan Theater or scope out second-run films from the comfy, couch-filled theater at McMenamins Old St. Francis. If music’s your jam, tons of breweries along the Bend Ale Trail offer live tunes on certain days of the week. Check our Event Calendar to find out what’s happening during your Bend stay.
Chuck some axes
Hone your hatchet throwing skills at Unofficial Logging Company. With personalized coaching from their trained staff and a full tap list (plus tons of tasty food!) it’s a unique experience guaranteed to get your whole group laughing and embracing their inner lumberjack. My teens loved hurling axes at the wooden walls, while I enjoyed showing them Mom’s no one to mess with.
Stage an escape
One of my family’s favorite indoorsy activities is our post-Christmas tradition of hitting the Bend escape room Puzzle Effect. Working as a team, we follow clues, solve riddles, and hunt for objects to help us escape a locked room while the clock ticks quickly. There are multiple rooms with different themes, and the experience makes a fun brain teaser for the whole fam!
Get your game face on
When you get tired of playing board games at your Bend vacation rental, head to Porter Brewing Co’s downtown Bend Cellar. It’s a cozy space with a bounty of English-style ale and an impressive collection of board games. If you’d rather score a game you can take home at the end, hit the hip space at Modern Games. They’ve got taps and snacks, plus an amazing array of card games, role playing games, puzzles, and more.
If you like your games with buttons…
If arcade games are more your speed, Sun Mountain Fun Center has a staggering array of them, plus bumper cars, mini golf, bowling, and more. Kids will love collecting tickets they can cash in for prizes at the end of game play. Get your vintage arcade fix at Vector Volcano, which features games from the ‘80s and ‘90s and unlimited game play for a flat fee—no quarters or tokens required.
Are the kids getting wiggly? Time to hit Bend’s premier trampoline parks, Trampoline Zone or Mountain Air. At Trampoline Zone, you’ll find more than 50 trampoline beds, plus a gladiator course, dodgeball pits, multiple climbing walls, a laser maze, and even a ninja course. At Mountain Air, they’ve got gobs of trampoline space, including a toddler zone that’s safe for littles to explore. They also offer basketball, extreme dodgeball, a cosmic jump, and a giant airbag that’s one of my own kids’ favorite attractions.
Do 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.
Hit the museum scene
Central Oregon’s museums are as diverse as our landscape itself. Why not hit several when weather chases you indoors? 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, porcupines, and badgers. Their raptor programs are a must-see, with owls, falcons, and hawks swooping overhead. History buffs will adore Deschutes Historical Museum, which is located in the historic Reid School (Bend’s first modern school opened in 1914). Operating in Bend since 1980, they feature a unique variety of attractions ranging from local history to rotating exhibits. If indigenous history intrigues you (and it should!) head north on Highway 26 to see the Museum at Warm Springs. They have one of the most exquisite collections of Plateau Native American artifacts in the country, plus jewelry, pottery, music, and more.
Plan a spa day
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 driving your 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…that’s vacation!
Channel your inner Homer Simpson
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 judgment 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 flock 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 before you head home.