Few word combinations contain such a breathless flurry of magic, whether you’re 8 or 68.
I’m well past the age of giddy anticipation for a school bell releasing me to a week filled with freedom and fun and lunches not served on a cafeteria tray. But with two kids enraptured by the spell of spring vacation magic, here’s how we’re spending our perfect trio of days in Bend, Oregon.
Lodging is more than a place to sleep when we travel as a family. It’s the nostalgia-tinged home base for our vacation memories.
I can still hear my kids’ laughter as they held an impromptu dance-off in the kitchen of our Guatemalan vacation rental, or smell the cedar plank walls of the little mountain cabin where we first stayed as a family.
That’s what we love about LOGE Camp Bend: It’s the perfect place to make memories. The rooms themselves are quirky and unique, with hammocks strung over beds and s’mores supplies waiting for our arrival.
There’s a summer camp vibe, even in the dead of winter. The kids can make friends in the outdoor hot tub, while their dad and I sip local beer and groove to an on-site concert.
Best of all, we’re a 20-minute drive to Mt. Bachelor and a 15-minute bike ride to Downtown Bend (and yep, they include free cruiser bike rentals!) We can walk the dog to the Deschutes River, or grill dinner in one of their outdoor, covered kitchens.
Here’s the thing about springtime travel in Bend: You might get snow, or you might get warm sunshine. You might get both in one day.
That’s why our Bend spring travel plans include a little bit of everything.
Since Mt. Bachelor’s season runs through Memorial Day, there’s plenty of snow play to be found over spring break. Budget-friendly ski lessons will get us all on the slopes together, or we might take it easy with an hour in the Snowblast Tubing Park. There’s even a Nordic center for family members itching to try cross country.
When bellies start growling, we head back down to Bend. My daughter’s on a healthy eating kick, so it’s off to Active Culture Café. She’s obsessed with their Evolution Bowl made with organic brown rice, organic quinoa, lentils, cucumbers, onions, cranberries, red pepper, almond slices, Slammin’ Sauce, and mint. My son opts for one of their housemade veggie burgers (which I’m pretty sure he doesn’t realize is plant-based) while my husband and I split nachos and an open-faced prosciutto egg bagel. Cocktails and local craft beer? Yep, don’t mind if I do! It’s vacation, after all. We can work it off later with a stroll through scenic Drake Park.
Now let’s get back to serious playtime.
You know that thing I said about snow and sunshine in the same day? Time to put the second part of the plan into action.
Since LOGE Bend backs right up to a killer mountain bike trail system, we bust out the two-wheeled fun machines. It’s no sweat if we don’t bring our own, since LOGE has an on-site demo center and retail store.
We’ll let pedal power carry us along the connector trails leading to popular Phil’s Trail for a family ride. Got a grump who doesn’t feel like riding? Switch gears and lace up the hiking boots instead, since the Deschutes River Trail is nearby.
When dinner time arrives, we’ve got our usual family faves like Bend Brewing Company and GoodLife Brewing. But spring is the season of renewal, so we’ll try something new by visiting the new taproom for Monkless Belgian Ales.
Nestled above the Deschutes River at the edge of the Old Mill District, they boast an assortment of housemade sausages, salads, and fresh-steamed mussels. Their full bar gives us plenty to pick from between killer cocktails or taster tray of their trademark Belgian beer.
With night owls in the family, we’re not ready to call it a day yet. There’s still time for a post-dinner moonlight snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours, which includes all the gear rental, transportation, and a naturalist guide. Don’t worry if you can’t stay up that late. Wanderlust also does daytime snowshoe trips as well as lava cave tours perfect for unpredictable spring weather.
Not knowing what spring weather might bring, we’re prepared with a full lineup of indoorsy Bend activities.
The High Desert Museum has been a mainstay for us for decades, so we head there to catch a raptor show and watch the otters snack on fish before scoping out the living history exhibits. It’s a fun dose of learning for kiddos missing classroom time.
Afterward, we refuel at 10 Barrel’s eastside location, where the kids practically inhale their pepperoni pizza. Their dad and I go gourmet with a fennel-apple salad and beer taster tray to wash down mouthwatering salmon cakes and bleu cheese stuffed dates wrapped in Applewood bacon.
If the weather’s nice and we’re ready for fresh air, a walk around the Old Mill District is a chance to do some souvenir shopping. A call to the Bend Tour Company sets us up with a spin on their Art Safari Tour so my art-inspired kiddos can get a taste of Bend’s scene.
With a fresh dose of culture in our systems, it’s time for an upscale kind of dinner. 900 Wall straddles the line between modern American, French, and Italian cuisine, with an industrial-chic vibe to the space. Don’t fret that it’s too fancy for families—they have a great kids’ menu, and kids even eat free on Sunday.
Rested for more hiking the next morning, we set out to experience Bend’s unique volcanic history. It’s a tossup between Pilot Butte, an ancient cinder cone in the center of town, or the craggy volcanic landscapes of the Oregon Badlands Wilderness.
Either way, we deserve a post-hike reward: Tasty wraps at Parrilla Grill. I’m a sucker for the Bombay Bomburrito made with ginger-banana chutney, cilantro-lime rice, cabbage, bamboo shoots, green curry, and your choice of protein wrapped in a soft flour tortilla.
And we’ve earned that meal, since we’re fans of leaving Bend better than we found it. Each hike doubles as volunteer duty, with family members toting small trash bags to pick up litter along the trail. We find other ideas for sustainable Bend travel by visiting like a local.
And after an epic spring trip, we all feel like part of the Bend family.