We’ve written about planning a winter or spring getaway to Sunriver, Oregon with your family, and about skiing at Mt. Bachelor with kids and snowshoeing with teens in the Deschutes National Forest. Sunriver is an ideal playground for outdoorsy families, located just outside of Bend in the Central Cascades, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: Sunriver Resort makes for a great grown-up getaway as well. If you can fend off the parent guilt, head to Sunriver (in any season) and enjoy spa pampering, peaceful and inspiring nature walks, and plenty of good food and drink.
Where to stay in Sunriver:
When you have the kids in tow, we recommend renting a vacation home through Sunriver Resort. With the whole crew on vacation, you definitely need to kitchen and laundry facilities. However, switch gears for your grown-up getaway. Stay in one of Sunriver’s 245 guest rooms and suites, called the Sunriver Lodge Village. These accommodations offer luxuriously appointed guest rooms adjacent to all the resort amenities. You can get a single room, or upgrade to a suite, which includes a kitchen (with everything but an oven), fireplace, deck, and upstairs bedroom. You can even order room service to your door, even in the townhouse-like suites. Each section of the Lodge Village has their own outdoor hot tubs, but you can also use Sage Springs fitness center and spa (more on that below). What to upgrade, the River Lodges (similar name!) are more luxurious and located along the river, with wonderful views.
Where to eat:
When we come to Sunriver with the kids, we always seem to end up with a take-out pizza from the shopping center. I’m no food snob, but during a grown-up getaway, this won’t cut it. During my stay, I was lucky enough to time my visit with the Month of Chocolate, which was celebrated with specials in the spa, resort restaurant menus, and with special accommodation packages. Find chocolate-y goodness, plus amazing cuisine and ambiance any time of year at:
Carson’s American Kitchen: Sunriver’s newest restaurant is all about Pacific Northwest flavors in a casual setting. Hey, it’s Oregon…almost everything will be casual. The menu is seasonally-driven, which I always find makes for a more special experience. Try one of Carson’s salads…they’re a full meal and locally sourced when possible.
Twisted River Tavern: I love an upscale bar with great ambiance, and Twisted River delivers. Formally called Owl’s Nest in the main lodge, Twisted River has undergone a makeover for a lodgy-retro-sheek feel. Not only do they serve inventive craft cocktails, but the tavern menu is both satisfying and sophisticated. You definitely won’t feel like you’re at the kiddie table. On weekend nights, expect a DJ playing fun dance music (it does get a little loud after 9 pm).
What to do:
Obviously, you need to relish some ‘me’ time during a grown-up getaway, which means you need to head to Sage Springs Spa. If you’re staying at the resort, you get access to Sage Springs’ fitness center, lap pool, and whirlpool spas. You also get access to their locker rooms, which may not seem like a big deal…until you see them. These luxury locker rooms include jacuzzi tubs with nature soundtracks and starry night sky features, steam rooms, showers with full products to help you get ready for your day (or evening), and relaxation areas.
If you’re a spa guest, you also get access to the spa relaxation room, where you can sip tea and relax with a book or magazine. I got a facial during my stay, but made sure to stay extra to enjoy the ambiance in my spa robe and slippers. If you’re not utilizing the spa, still come by for the lap pool, indoor tennis courts, or state-of-the-art exercise machines. These machines were just replaced last year. There are also fitness classes and yoga offerings.
I can’t stand to be somewhere as beautiful as Central Oregon and not spend time in the outdoors, so during my grown-up getaway, I broke out my snowshoes and headed into the mountains. My favorite place for DIY snowshoeing and cross-country skiing is along the Cascades Highway en route to Mt. Bachelor. For snowshoeing, head to Dutchman Flat Sno Park, right next to the ski resort, or Swampy Lakes Sno Park (which has dedicated snowshoeing trails) and for nordic skiing, try Virginia Meissner. Don’t want to go it alone? We recommend Wanderlust Tours for any guided excursions. I’ve actually enjoyed the outdoors with Wanderlust three times now, and each time has been a joy, with kids and without. Wanderlust is based in Bend, but operates out of Sunriver, too.
Of course, downhill skiing abounds at Mt. Bachelor, or, a bit further afield past Sisters, Oregon, Hoodoo. And even in winter, the Deschutes River shines. Take a walk and go birding, or even biking if the grounds are snow-free. When there is snow, it’s possible to cross-country ski in the resort.
If the weather allows, Sunriver is criss-crossed with paved bike trails, so bring your road bike. Tennis courts are also available, as well as a full exercise facility. In summer, raft with Sun Country tours, or go low-key and enjoy the lodge pool. In season, there’s also golf, which is a huge deal in Central Oregon.
Or here’s an idea…just relax. Sunriver’s main lodge features the Living Room, an inviting space with gorgeous views and an oversized fireplace just waiting for you to curl up with a good book.
Tips for finding more activities at Sunriver:
- Check for seasonal events and promotions. During our stay during the Month of Chocolate, we were lucky enough to enjoy a ‘Chopped’ style cocktail-making competition in Twisted River, in which four bartenders contended for a title. I was even called forward to judge! At the same time during our stay, Sunriver was hosting s’mores by the fire in the outdoor fire pit by the lodge, complete with story hour for adults and kids.
- Take full advantage of the grounds. Along the bike and walking paths, not far from the lodge, visitors will find the nature center and observatory. Both operated independently from Sunriver, they are affordable, informative, and offer events you may not want to miss.
- Act like a local. Don’t forget that Sunriver is a community as well as a resort. Ask about ongoing events and classes. Tennis tournaments are held regularly at the Sage Springs complex, and are open to guests if they register, and regularly-programmed culinary events take place monthly. For instance, the last Friday of each month, Sunriver hosts a winemaker’s dinner. We joined the dinner on the Friday of our stay, and met other guests, a few locals, and the wine distributor for the featured NW winery. In this case, the winery was aptly North by Northwest (King Estate).
As I disclose whenever applicable, I was hosted at Sunriver for the purpose of review. All opinions remain my own.