Kid-friendly slopes with no lift lines, blue skies and plenty of powdery snow make for a perfect winter vacation.
If you love impossibly long lift lines, crowded sledding hills, and restaurants so expensive you need a second mortgage to feed a family of four, you should probably stop reading right now.
But if your family’s winter vacation fantasies feature pristine, kid-friendly slopes, nonexistent lift lines, budget-friendly hotels and restaurants, and sunshine shimmering on endless fields of powder-light snow, Bend, Oregon, is calling.
Things look different in the cozy, high-desert mountain town of Bend. Don’t be surprised if strangers smile at you on the street or your waiter brings a bowl of crayons to keep the kids busy while you peruse menus teeming with creative Northwest cuisine An easy drive or several daily nonstop flights from Seattle make it a snap to journey to this family-friendly oasis offering 300 days of sunshine a year.
Ready to revel in a winter wonderland? Point your car toward Mount Bachelor and drive 20 minutes from historic downtown Bend. Bachelor boasts copious sunshine, a new chairlift brings the total number of skiable acres to just over 4,300, and Bachelor has highest skiable elevation in Oregon and Washington. Bluebird skies and one of the longest seasons in North America make this an epic winter destination, so consider Mount Bachelor your personal playground and pick your favorite form of snow play, including alpine skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and sledding. You can even take the whole family on a dogsled adventure with Oregon Trail of Dreams.
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Mount Bachelor’s diverse terrain means there’s something for everyone, from beginner slopes to terrain parks and the chance to ski 360 degrees off the summit. And, Mount Bachelor is a dormant volcano. That’ll give the kids bragging rights at school. The best part? No lift lines. Seriously, none. Plus kids 12 and younger ski free with the purchase of adult lift tickets, and you’ll find lessons for family members of all ages.
Take a break from the snow play when you book a cave adventure with Wanderlust Tours. Explore ancient lava tubes with a trained naturalist guide, or head back out on the snow with a snowshoe outing that will give your kids the inside scoop on forest critters, plants and geology.
Time to refuel? You’ll find a plethora of family-friendly restaurants in Bend. At Flatbread Community Oven in the Old Mill District, kids build their own pizzas and watch with glee as their creations bake in big wood-fired ovens. Need something portable to take on your family hike? Try the tasty wraps at Parilla Grill. When Sunday rolls around, kids eat free all day at Fire in downtown Bend, and creative choices like summer pear pizza or oven-baked Italian wings will please parents’ palates, too.
And don’t think you have to miss out on the legendary Bend Ale Trail just because you have toddlers in tow. Check out the drool-worthy kids’ menus at Deschutes Brewery and Bend Brewing Company, or set the wee ones loose on the wide, grassy lawn at Crux Fermentation Project while mom and dad sample some of the best beers in town.
When you’ve finally had your fill of family snowball fights and fast-action sledding, bed down for the night in your cozy vacation rental or family-friendly hotel suite.
Bend, Oregon is famous for outdoor pursuits and pristine beauty. Catch an art exhibit, dine at an award-winning restaurant, indulge yourself at a spa, or trek the legendary Bend Ale Trail, the largest beer trail in the West.