When an Ask Oregon ambassador offers trip suggestions, it’s a good idea to take them.
Especially when those trips are full of easy-to-accomplish family fun.
Central Oregon expert Kim Cooper Findling has released a new travel book destined to be the go-to guide for weekenders, titled “Bend, Oregon Daycations: Day Trips for Curious Families.”
This in-depth handbook describes 19 kid-approved day trips, all within two hours from Bend, with Kim’s personal family stories providing the oh-so-familiar comic relief.
We chatted with Kim about her new book and learned why everyone should explore more — and give up on vacation expectations.
What qualifies as a “daycation?”
A daycation is a day trip that takes in all of the aspects of a mini vacation in one great day.
Describe your family’s ideal daycation.
My family loves nature, exploration, new and unique destinations, learning something about the history and culture of a place, a good dose of Oregon quirk and great food and beverages. We like to hit the road and leisurely explore with minds open to what we might discover.
What are the essential items to bring on a family daycation?
When the kids were little, this list was longer. Crayons, books, blankies, favorite stuffed animals, extra clothes and endless snacks filled up the vehicle. Today we travel a little lighter, but still, food, water and maybe a book or some art supplies are required. And don’t forget the camera, a hat, layers of clothing and maybe the beach chairs, depending on where you’re going.
Camp Sherman fish hatchery
If you had to pick a favorite trip from your book, which would it be?
Such a hard question, because this is a collection of some of my favorite places in the region and how my family has experienced them for years. But, if I must choose, I’d say Summer Lake. The desert skies, the alkaline lake, the expanse of Winter Rim and the hot springs pools combine to a perfect, peaceful, austere aesthetic.
What are your kids’ favorite daycations?
Lucky for me, my kids have always been up for going just about anywhere. But they do love Camp Sherman. It’s such a lovely little old-timey getaway to stay at a cabin on the Metolius River in the Ponderosa forest. An ice cream at the Camp Sherman store is a must, as is a trip to the fish hatchery to feed the fish.
Are there any daycations you didn’t include?
Several. The second edition of this book is already forming in my mind.
You’ve lived in different regions of Oregon; what made you settle down in Bend?
Love. I came here as an experiment and stayed for love. Love is what keeps me here still. I think about living at the Coast again one day, or maybe Southern Oregon. But I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to live in the center of this beautiful, amazing state — and to get to write about it, too.
Why is Bend a good base camp for daycations?
Bend is interesting because it’s grown so much but is still relatively remote. That means that you can base camp in Bend and find wonderful places to stay and eat and be entertained, but that in all directions from town are open spaces full of adventure and natural wonder to explore. However, I believe many people don’t know where to begin or feel comfortable setting forth, which is why I wrote this book.
What does Central Oregon offer that other places don’t?
A real diversity of environment, with great weather. You can enjoy mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, deserts and forests all in a 100-mile radius.
Is there a best season to explore Central Oregon?
My favorite is fall. Summer is glorious but can be crowded these days. By fall, the crowds have thinned but the beauty and decent weather linger. This book is geared towards spring-through-fall day trips, which are my favorite times to get out there, especially with children in tow. I am a self-admitted non-fan of the coldest season. As I write in the book, “your guide gave up winter long ago.”
Oregon Coast on New Year’s Eve
East Lake in the summer
What’s your favorite memory of a family vacation?
So many spring to mind. The girls discovering fairies in the woods around Suttle Lake. Jumping into a hot springs pool after getting caught in a hailstorm at Summer Lake. Catching frogs on the banks of East Lake. Seeing the sunrise from the beach with an early bird three-year-old. Watching my daughter fall in love with theater at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Watching the kids jump in Lake Billy Chinook. I could go on…
Has a family trip ever gone completely awry from expectations?
I had an essay published in Chicken Soup for the Soul years ago called “A Better View,” based on something my sister said when our children were small—“Vacation is like your regular life, only harder, but with a better view.” I’ve been a mother for 12 years now, and I’d like to think I gave up vacation expectations years ago. Maybe on our first visit to Camp Sherman, which began with my baby projectile vomiting. We never left the cabin all weekend. In any case, the moments that go awry make for good material for my writing.
Is your book targeted to a certain type of family?
The curious family! I think this book is for most any family, really. The beauty of this book is that it’s designed to be accessible to everyone. It encourages and facilitates getting out there and seeing the amazing sights of Central Oregon without fear, gear or extreme skill. If you’re usually a wildly adventuresome family but this time the parents are in town and you need something accessible to do with them, this is your book. Or if you are a homebody family that wants to get out there but would like a step-by-step guide to help you explore comfortably, this is also your book. It’s very narrative, too, and is a fun read as well as a practical guide.
What is your hope for your book?
My hope is to share these wonderful places with families and encourage them to get out there and enjoy them like I have. The book is full of personal stories of my family and me exploring Oregon, and I hope it encourages others to create their own personal experiences and memories in a similar way.