: Dylan VanWeelden

Go on a Family Adventure in Central Oregon

The outdoors beckon year-round in Oregon’s mountains and high desert.
December 13, 2022

With steady snowfall and sunshine, Central Oregon offers endless opportunities for family fun throughout the winter. From downhill skiing to cross-country, snowshoeing, ice skating and sled-dog rides, the adventure never stops. In fact, it only gets better when the Three Sisters panorama glistens with white and you gather with family around an outdoor fire pit to recount the day’s adventures.

Mt. Bachelor

Where to Play

Whether your little ones are experienced skiers and snowboarders, or they’re more interested in toboggans and cocoa than racing down the hill, there’s a place for you at Mt. Bachelor. The sixth-largest ski resort in North America, you and your family can choose from more than 100 ski runs ranging from beginner to expert, with many dishing up stunning views of the Three Sisters. Onsite rentals and lessons make it easy to try something new, and a range of ticket options let you choose what works for your plans.

In addition to downhill skiing and snowboarding, Mt. Bachelor offers sled-dog rides and guided snowshoe tours. Its Nordic area has 56 kilometers of groomed classic and skate-skiing trails and 10 kilometers of packed snowshoeing trails. The Nordic lodge, located across the parking lot from the West Village, offers rental gear, apparel and accessories for sale and a crackling fireplace for thawing out post-ski.

A family ice skating indoors
Photo by Steve Heinrichs

 

Hoodoo Ski Area near Sisters is a smaller resort with a more intimate, low-key vibe. More than 30 ski runs and a variety of terrain for all ski levels can be found here. Extended hours on some evenings make it a great choice for night skiing, which is usually cheaper and less crowded than daytime hours — plus there’s just something special about slicing down the hill over snow glowing under bright lights. On sunny days, skiers can take in views of Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack and Mt. Jefferson. Hoodoo offers lessons and rentals as well as half-day tickets. Finish up a day on the slopes at the Autobahn Tubing Park for guaranteed belly laughs.

Next to Hoodoo is Ray Benson Sno-Park, which provides access to ungroomed cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails. Two warming huts within the trail system offer shelter for a break or a lunch stop (don’t forget to pack a thermos of hot cocoa).

Central Oregon also has a few options for ice skating. The Pavilion, located in Bend near the Deschutes River and the Old Mill District, offers regular indoor open skate as well as rentals, lessons and discounted pricing for families. Also in Bend, the Seventh Mountain River Company has open skate on an outdoor rink in a wooded setting. Check online or call ahead to reserve a 90-minute session. Finally, if you’re staying near Sunriver, the Sunriver Ice Arena offers daily public ice skating and skate rentals.

Worthy Brewing (Photo by Steve Heinrichs)

Where to Eat

Cozying up with food and a drink — whether that’s a warm mug of coffee or tea or a craft beer next to an outdoor fire pit — is part of what makes winter in Central Oregon extra special.

In Bend, kick-start your day at one of three Thump Coffee locations for a cup of locally roasted coffee and a house-made pastry. After some cold-weather activities, warm back up with a bowl of spicy miso ramen and a steamed bun from Miyagi Ramen (kids’ ramen is also on the menu). Then wrap up a joy-filled snow day with a craft brew next to a blazing fire at one of Bend’s kid-friendly brewpubs. Worthy Brewing and Crux Fermentation Project both have outdoor fire pits (don’t forget a pair of warm mittens).

If you’re in Sisters, swing by Sisters Coffee Company on your way up to Hoodoo or Ray Benson Sno-Park to fill your thermos with Metolius Chai or hot cocoa. Afterward, wind down at The Barn in Sisters, which has four food carts including Boone Dog Wood Fired Pizza, welcoming indoor seating and more than a dozen rotating taps, plus wine, bubbles, cocktails and nonalcoholic drinks.

 

Sunriver Resort

Where to Stay

Fifteen miles south of Bend and 20 miles from Mt. Bachelor, Sunriver Resort offers family-centric recreation opportunities like 45 miles of paved walking and bike paths and the expansive Cove aquatic center with a year-round indoor and outdoor pool, jetted hot tubs, and a waterslide. Onsite restaurants, lodging and a spa/fitness center complete the experience. About 45 minutes northwest of Bend, Black Butte Ranch also offers an indoor pool with waterslide and hot tub, a game room, and several onsite restaurants with kid-friendly menus. In Sisters, Ski Inn Taphouse Hotel has newly renovated rooms with beautiful views over the main street. Settle into your spacious modern digs, then stroll downstairs for pints, soft drinks, and platter of crispy nachos studded with house-smoked brisket at the kid-friendly onsite taphouse.

About The
Author

Allison Hartz
Allison Hartz feels at home with dirt between her toes, snowflakes in her eyes and sweat dripping off her chin. She tests her limits while exploring Oregon's wild and beautiful secrets, taking on crumbly volcanic peaks, remote trails and less-traveled ski lines.

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