Up next in Pit Stops for Kids’ series on best ski towns for families is Bend, Oregon. Not only is this central Oregon high desert town ideally situated at the base of Mt. Bachelor and the Sisters peaks, it offers much more than downhill skiing: families will find plenty to do biking, river rafting, and fishing in the summer months and skating, sledding, and spotting wildlife in the winter.
Where to ski: Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort is the only show in town, not that you’ll hear anyone complaining. We love Mt. Bachelor for their challenging terrain, great crowd and chairlift line control, and affordable pricing. For extended visits, take advantage of their flexible multi-day passes and kids ski or ride for free!
Where to stay: Just twenty minutes from the slopes is the resort community of Sunriver. We always opt to stay in one of its many vacation rentals, but the centerpiece of the village is without doubt the beautiful and sprawling Sunriver Lodge, where you’ll find indoor/outdoor pools, tennis courts, and a full spa and fitness center (vacation rental guests also have access to these facilities). Also within the Sunriver community are walking and biking trails, playgrounds for kids, full childcare program centers, and a central village with ice skating, shops, restaurants, and outdoor gear rental.
Where to eat: If staying in Bend, stop for breakfast before skiing at Pilot Butte Drive In (917 NE Greenwood), voted locally as ‘best breakfast in Bend’. If you’re staying in Sunriver, drive through Bend to their Trader Joe’s location for groceries you can prepare yourself in your rental’s kitchen!
What to do when not skiing: Whether you have little ones who aren’t ready to hit the slopes, or just find yourself with a stormy day, we recommend the High Desert Museum (59800 Hwy 97) outside of Bend. Inside, you’ll find wonderfully done exhibits on Oregon history and culture as well as natural history lessons in the form of replicas, tours, talks, and live animal shows and habitats. Outside, visit the river otter habitat or beaver dams, and see live eagles and hawks take flight. In summer, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument (1645 Hwy 20) boasts a caldera to climb, a great challenge for families!
How to get here: Bend is located on Highway 97, approximately 2.5 hours from I-5. To find the Sunriver Resort, take highway 97 from Bend to the exit at Cottonwood Road.