Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park isn’t exactly in Bend but it is close by and so worth the visit. We arrived and I just couldn’t get over the views. It was absolutely breath taking. This visit we didn’t end up partaking in any hiking because our travel companions weren’t as able to hike. We did however walk the easy paths and take in the amazing views. If you’re feeling particularly daring (and extremely qualified) you might even decide to take your littles rock climbing. We came across a family of four with two littles who looked to be 4/5 and 6/7 who were doing just that. Seriously amazing. Next visit you probably (definitely) won’t find us rock climbing but we hope to strap the kids in the carriers and really explore the park more by foot.
Bend Playgrounds and Parks
Bend has so many parks and playgrounds to explore plus a really extensive trail system. Above is Harmon Park which was only a few blocks from our rental house. It was right on Mirror Pond and had some really fun and unique play structures including a boat, a submarine and dinosaurs. We also really loved Columbia Park which was only about a half mile from Harmon Park which had a pirate ship and an extra long slide that both kids couldn’t get enough of.
The High Desert Museum
The High Desert Museum was recommended to us over and over so of course we had to check it out for ourselves. The museum hosts a number of exhibits in the main building as well as a play area for littles. It also has an outdoor nature path that will take you by a covered wagon, down to the birds of prey, up to the ranch and the sawmill and loops back up to a dig, climb and play area. Soon there will also be an otter exhibit as well. We got a bit of a late start so we didn’t end up getting to see everything inside before it was time for lunch so we are anxious to visit again soon and to see everything else. I would say this museum is really perfect for all ages and a must visit for any Bend trip.
Where to Stay:
I am sure there are some wonderful hotels to stay at in the Bend area but we honestly haven’t done a lot of research into them. We decided to go the rental route and rented a home off from VRBO. We have found that with two little ones a rental is usually better for us because it usually means separate bedrooms to for bedtime and it allows us to have a place to relax for downtime and a we can prepare our own meals when/if we want. It was a beautiful three bedroom house that was within walking distance to shops, restaurants, and parks. The perfect location and fit for us.
Where to Eat:
Our first stop when we arrived in Bend was at Whole Foods to pick up food for snacks and a few dinners and breakfasts. Like I said above we really like to save our time and our money and prepare our own meals when possible. That isn’t to say we don’t enjoy going out to eat as well and we did visit Spork which was really delicious and had a fun, playful atmosphere. They have a kids menu that while small is perfect for vegan, vegetarian and omnivore families. We also had dinner at Next Level Burger which I’m going to be real isn’t one of our favorite spots. We tried the Portland location when it opened and were pretty underwhelmed but we wanted to give it another try at it’s original location in Bend but again left feeling like we wish we had eaten at a different spot. The kids did enjoy their meal though and it has some pretty great kids meal options especially for plant-based littles.
We also enjoyed breakfast at Mother’s Juice Cafe where we picked up some really delicious smoothie bowls and the littles enjoyed a smoothie and oatmeal. They don’t have a specific kids menu but for us it wasn’t a big deal because Edith and Alder were happy sharing a big bowl of oatmeal.
We also stopped for ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s because we wanted to try out their new non-dairy flavors. While this isn’t special to Bend it was a fun spot for us to stop. I am sure there are more local ice cream shops that you could seek out and maybe we will next time if we can find one with non-dairy options.
We had a wonderful time exploring Bend and can’t wait to return again this summer. Share in the comments your favorite Bend sites and eats or share with us a place that you love to travel with you littles.