Looking to maximize summer and kick off the school year in a fun way while mitigating pains of the online schooling / bored kid duo? Take your kids on an outdoor adventure, where they can learn about volcanoes, craters, calderas, animals, rock formations, water flow, stars and planets! Let Sunriver be your home base as you tap into a little bit of everything Central Oregon has to offer. With nature as your guide, you really can’t go wrong. The kids will develop thoughtful memories that will last a lifetime!
LEARN ABOUT WATER FLOW : BIKE TO BENHAM FALLS
Let’s get straight into nature and stretch those legs with a Bike Ride to Benham Falls! Over 300 bikes are ready for renting at the Bike Barn, so pick your cruiser of choice, and get moving! Benham Falls is located on the outskirts of Sunriver and accessible by trail from the Resort. Stop by McDivot’s Café on the way over for delectable lunchtime and early evening fare. If you choose to drive to the head of the trail, this easy hike will take you 1.5 miles through Ponderosa Pines and along the heavy whitewater of the Deschutes River. Add approximately 5 miles to the ride if you are biking in from the Resort.
After the eruption of nearby Lava Butte around 7,000 years ago, the river dammed up from the lava flow, eventually giving way, creating the massive rush of water we call Benham Falls. This a great opportunity to talk to your kids about water flow and rivers! To learn more about Bend’s water supply, click here!
If you are riding your bikes over from the Resort, stop by McDivots for lunch or an early-evening dinner along the way! McDivot’s offers burgers and fries, deli sandwiches, snacks and your favorite beverages. Located next to the putting green and the Woodlands Golf Shop.
Challenge #1: Does the Deschutes River run North or South? Is salmon considered a keystone species?
Fun Fact: 75% of the human brain is water and 75% of a living tree is water!
TAKE A TRIP BACK IN TIME : LEARN ABOUT LAVA
Get a head start on the day by fueling up at Café Sintra, where benedicts and omelets rule!
Today, we recommend you head over to Lava Lands – sounds cool, right? Sunriver Resort is situated right next to The Trail of Molten Land, which meanders through an actual lava field — don’t worry, it erupted about 7,000 years ago, so it’s not hot! The Lava Butte Rim Trail, a 3.8 mile, paved and easy hike, will take you up to the top of the butte – you will see a crater at the head, along with amazing views of the lava flow down the back side! The Visitor’s Center is closed right now (an amazing resource if you get a second chance), but the trails will remain open until the end of September. You might want to bring a boxed-lunch – the top is a great spot for a picnic! The Merchant Trader Café at Sunriver Resort offers boxed-lunches and a variety of drinks and snacks, so stock up and hit the trails!
Looking for an easy dinner with a view, and perhaps a little golf? Head over to Caldera Springs, home to the 9-hole Caldera Links family-friendly golf course and Zeppa Bistro, offering brick-oven pizza and Italian gelato, lakeside. Enjoy watching the Ospreys dive and fish in Obsidian Lake!
Challenge #2: Is Lava Butte considered a Shield Volcano or a Cinder Cone? And in which direction do you think the lava flowed... north, south, east, or west?
Fun Fact: Did you know that in 1966, Astronauts training to land on the moon practiced their space walks on Lava Butte?! Now, that seems out of this world!
LEARN ABOUT OUTER SPACE : EXPLORE THE OBSERVATORY
This might be a good time to hit up The Cove, featuring a zero-entry pool and hot tub, private cabanas, a waterslide, nature walk and discovery area, lakeside trails and a spacious deck and lawn. The kids can play while you sip on a poolside beverage. The Spotted Frog Café, located at The Cove is the perfect spot for delicious lunchtime fare while enjoying the sunshine. Pool reservations can be made online before you arrive.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the Spotted Frog Café is named after our local Spotted Frog? Here at Sunriver, we partner with conservation strategists to keep our Spotted Frogs happy, healthy and thriving. Learn more about Spotted Frogs here.
Carson’s American Kitchen at the Lodge will be a perfect solution for dinner, offering American food with a Pacific Northwest sensibility, and a tasty kids menu! Enjoy a beautiful setting with mountain views.
Keep those kids awake after dinner, because it’s time to seek the stars at the nation’s largest publicly accessible observatory, right here in Sunriver! This NASA-sponsored outlet will blow your mind. One-hour sessions include night sky viewing through various telescopes with staff astronomers, a guided constellation tour, meteorite displays, and an educational presentation. For reservations and ticketing information at Oregon Observatory, click here.
Challenge #3: Name one planet and one constellation. Is the sun a planet or a star?
Fun Fact: Did you know that Sunriver has been recognized as one of 130 locations in the WORLD that has been inducted into the International Dark Sky Places program? We’ve spent over 60 years protecting our pristine skies from light pollution! Sunriver is the only place that holds this title in all of Oregon — way to go, Sunriver!
ALL ABOUT THE ANIMALS : VISIT THE NATURE CENTER AND HIGH DESERT MUSEUM
Let’s make today all about the animals!
Enjoy the great outdoors with a horseback ride that fills your senses. Sunriver Stables offer 45 and 75 minute trail rides through the pines, fields of wildflowers and alongside the sparkling Deschutes River. If you’re lucky, you’ll see deer or elk munching on tall grasses, or a Bald Eagle or Osprey fly overhead!
Head to the Backyard, located behind The Lodge for lunch, where you can pick up some grab-and-go lunch items from Merchant Trader. With fresh beers on tap, and sodas for the kids, the Backyard is a place to re-energize for the second half of the day. As you kick back, you can easily keep an eye on the kiddos as they access the 9-hole putt-putt course attached to the grass area, where they can stretch out and play.
Ready to see some more animals? There are two fantastic resources we recommend. You can bike or drive over to The Nature Center at Sunriver (located next to the Observatory), home to snakes, lizards, frogs, owls, hawks and eagles, and botanical gardens, or you can hop in your car for a quick drive to visit the High Desert Museum for close-up views of native wildlife such as river otters, porcupines and birds of prey, visit an authentic homestead and sawmill from 1904 and learn about Native American culture and history. Check out their websites for ticketing and reservations!
Challenge #4: Which one is faster, a bald eagle or a racehorse?
Fun Fact: Did you know that there is a Bald Eagle’s nest located high in a tree on the Crosswater Golf Course, here at Sunriver? We’ve seen some babies learning to fly this year! Eagle pairs usually stick together for life and will also use the same nest every year, as long as their babies survive. Each time the Eagle couple comes back to the nest, they add 1-2 feet of sticks to it, so the nest gets bigger and bigger and bigger over time! Bald Eagles can live to be 20-30 years old!
For Dinner, we are thinking you parents need a little something to indulge in — you are on vacation, after all, so we recommend Suniver Brewing Company (reservations needed), which offers pub fare with an artisan flare, kid-friendly options and amazing beer for all palettes. They also offer curbside pickup if you’d like to head back to your room or home.
End the day with an ice cream cone, candy or chocolate from Goody’s— a one-stop-shop for everything that makes you feel like a kid again! Feel free to browse the Sunriver Rocks and Gems store or the Tumbleweed Toys store while you are over at The Village – both fun spots for kids!
HEAD UNDERGROUND : LEARN ABOUT LAVA CAVES
Let’s go caving! Set up a tour with our partner, Wanderlust Tours, to explore a real-life cool (as-in temperature) lava tube! There is a vast network of caves throughout the Bend area, and one of the caves is super close to Sunriver. Wanderlust Tours is the only guide company permitted in these special lava caves, which are wild, meaning they do not have a paved path or lighting. Closed toe shoes are recommended for navigating the uneven rocky surfaces and it gets cold down in the caves (even if it’s hot outside), so dress in layers and bring a warm jacket! Wanderlust will teach you about the history of the cave, the delicate ecosystem, and the unique organisms that dwell in the cave. This award-winning tour is something that you will definitely remember!
Looking for more Volcano Education? Here are a few alternative suggestions!
- A day at Newberry Volcanic National Monument: Paulina Falls, and Paulina Peak.
- The McKenzie Pass Scenic Byway – complete with a lookout-fort made of lava rock at the Dee Wright Observatory!
- If you have the day to drive a little further, we recommend visiting Crater Lake – one of the natural wonders of Oregon.
ONE OF THE 7 WONDERS OF OREGON : SMITH ROCK STATE PARK
Smith Rock State Park is the location of your next adventure. Hop in your car, hit up Starbucks on your way to Terrebonne (just north of Bend) and check out some 30 million year old rocks that sprung up when the surrounding area collapsed into a caldera! At Smith Rock, you will find hiking trails, picnic areas, amazing views of the unique landscape and wildlife. Bring your camera – you won’t want to miss the spectacular vistas! Smith Rock is comprised of sheer, 600 ft. cliffs, made of volcanic basalt and tuff — perfect for rock-climbing. There are usually rock climbers on the face of the rock, so keep an eye out! The Crooked River meanders through its base, creating a trail of greenery, offset by the red rocks. The weather can get hot, so bring sunblock, hats and sunglasses!
Looking for something to do on the way back to Sunriver? Have lunch at Basecamp Pizza and indulge in famous Huckleberry ice cream from Rockhard at Juniper Junction! Then head over to Crescent Moon Ranch, where you can pet an Alpaca — all in a day’s fun!
Challenge #6: Do you think the Crooked River makes Smith Rock get taller every year? Name 3 types of wildlife you might see at Smith Rock State Park - one must fly in the air, one must swim in the river, and one must live on land.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Alpacas don’t have front teeth in the top of their mouths? That’s why they have that cute under-bite!
After an action-packed day, we imagine your stomach is rumbling, so fill up with fresh pasta at Marcello’s Cucina Italiana, offering kid friendly and family-style options. Reservations are needed for inside dining and they also offer carry-out.
Before you leave, don’t forget to get some shopping in! For a beautiful assortment of memorable gifts and Sunriver sweatshirts, T-Shirts, and much more, head over to Merchant Trader Gift Shop, downstairs at The Lodge.
On your way out of town, plan to stop at Tumalo Falls for one last scenic memory of Central Oregon. The waterfall can be viewed from the parking lot viewpoint areas where you can enjoy picnic areas at the base, or you can take the short and easy uphill hike (.25 miles) to the top of the falls. About a mile or two of the drive out to Tumalo Falls is on a dirt road, so be prepared to drive slow. And bring your camera! The views are sensational!
*Itinerary suggestions are meant to help guide your journey through the month of September. Itinerary suggestions are subject to change based on weather, seasonal changes, and COVID guidelines, therefore are not guaranteed. Please click on the links and/or call ahead to ensure the latest info and accuracy of all provided activities. Purchase of 7-Day Stay Lodging Package does not include activity pricing/fees. Activities must be purchased separately.
Sunriver Resort offers a variety of Bend, Oregon dining options for every occasion. Executive Chef Travis has brought a keen eye for fresh, seasonal ingredients along with an imaginative palette to create extraordinary culinary moments. Featuring a wide array of cuisine and ambiance, all restaurants have three things in common - great service, delicious dishes and spectacular views.
Carson's American Kitchen is a lively restaurant and gathering place offering satisfying American fare and spectacular views in Sunriver, Oregon.
Sage Springs Club & Spa encapsulates the spirit of this high desert region with it's warm ambiance, signature services and indigenous products. Welcome to a private escape dedicated to your health, fitness and complete well-being. Our Bend, Oregon spa is proud to offer many services and products that are organic, locally grown, and hand-crafted such as lavender from Cascaded Lavender Farms and indigenous Stonecrop products. Enjoy your journey.Book an Appointment