A weekend trip to Bend, Oregon–just a 55-minute flight from Seattle to Redmond, Oregon, and then a 30-minute drive–is an active outdoor exploration for the whole family, from picnicking in the park to running the snowy trails to hitting the slopes (with ski school for the little ones).
- Easy to get
- No charger
- Left handed use only
- Supports only Apple products
- Low storage
At a Glance Three-Day Itinerary:
Day: 1: Flight to Redmond; 30-minute drive to Bend; settle in and catch up with friends; outdoor fun at Columbia Park
Day 2: Trail running. Vinyasa Yoga at The Yoga Labs; Tumalo Park and Deschutes River; Shopping at Gear Fix; food and drink at Portello Wine Cafe
Day 3: Morning fuel at Sparrow Breakfast; Gravity (ski) school for the kiddo and skiing Mount Bachelor; apres Ski at Ariana and/or catch a flight home
Day 1: Friday
Both a little bleary eyed, my son and I hopped aboard a 7 a.m. flight in Seattle to visit our friends in Bend, Oregon. We were too excited for our upcoming weekend of outdoor winter fun to focus on how tired we were. Besides, we were both playing hooky on this Friday, so the adrenaline of this skip-day escape was certainly playing a part in our excitement.
Flying to Bend from Seattle is easy and affordable. Alaska Airlines has a $99 direct flight from SeaTac to Redmond, Oregon, which is a quick 30-minute drive from Bend. We landed and were with our friends by 9 a.m. This gave us the whole day to get settled for the weekend, catch up with our friends and get ready for all of the fun activities we had planned.
Off to the Park!
Bend is known for its outdoorsy feel and active residents. Its high desert climate makes it dryer and sunnier than other places in the Pacific Northwest, which makes it easy to stay active and spend time outdoors year round. After settling in on Friday, we were off to one of Bend’s awesome parks for kids and adults, Columbia Park. The park sits along the Deschutes River, which runs through the center of the city. In the summertime, it’s warm enough that you can rent an inner tube and float the river. The playground structure is shaped like a pirate boat and has a few cool slides, even for older kids. It was a beautiful sunny day and the big open space was perfect for our kids to run around!
Mama tip: There are some large, climbing rocks down the path from the park that are industrial-grade magnets for adventurous 6-year-old boys, and heart-attack inducing behemoths for parents… So adults beware, and see if you can steer the little ones clear.
Day Two: Saturday
On Saturday morning, I woke up with a when-in-Rome state of mind and went on an early morning run. It was a beautiful bright morning with motivating blue skies as I ran along the trail. The trail was quiet and peaceful, and as I ran, I saw animal tracks in the snow and even spotted a couple of deer. It was hard to believe this peaceful refuge was still in the city!
We continued the active theme throughout the morning, and my friend and I went to a drop-in yoga class at The Yoga Labs. Our instructor lead us through a fast-paced Vinyasa-style practice that was as rejuvenating as it was challenging. I love yoga and practice regularly in Seattle, but I had never moved through the poses that quickly. It was unexpected, but our instructor guided us through each pose expertly, and the speed facilitated a flow that allowed any self-consciousness to melt away. As we were guided out of our practice, I felt relaxed and at peace. It was full mind, body, and spirit experience that left me saying Namaste, and meaning it.
After yoga, we took our kids to another flourishing natural spot in Bend, Tumalo Park. Also along the Deschutes River, this is a good place for fly fishing (though better in the spring/summer when the current isn’t as strong) and general picnicking/exploring. Our friends bought a couple of pool noodles, so the kids were content using their imaginations to play Star Wars the rest of the afternoon in the big open space! Insider tip: There is A LOT of goose poop this time of year, so keep an eye out if you’re out with the kids or dogs!
Before we could hit the slopes on Sunday, we had to get all of our ski equipment. So after the park, we went to Gear Fix to gear up for the main event of the weekend. Gear Fix carries all kinds of lightly used second-hand outdoor gear available for purchase and rentals.The staff was knowledgeable and answered any questions we had about fit and feel. They stock sports gear seasonally, with all kinds of skiing and snowboarding equipment in the winter, and bike, swim, camping gear/accessories for the spring and summer. I didn’t want to check a bag for a quick weekend trip, so the option to pick up second-hand gear at a reasonable price was awesome (and then rent the rest at the mountain!).
…and Wine, Oh My!
We wrapped up our day at neighborhood wine bar Portello Wine Cafe. The kids were worn out from saving the galaxy, so it was really nice to enjoy some adult conversation with my friend over a glass of wine. Portello has a selection to die for, but I also love that it has a true-to-Bend focus, featuring many great choices from Oregon and Washington, as well as local vineyards. The owners have personally gone to many of their featured vineyards along the West Coast and have a sommelier-esque knowledge of tastes, grapes and years. The food is designed to emphasize the wine, and the servers are well-versed in what delicious small plates, salads and entrees t pair well with the available wines. We split a Beet and Chevre Salad and a selection of fabulous assorted bruschetta, from classic salmon and cucumber to brie and apples. We opted for a bruschetta tasting: you select four from 12 choices, with delicious combinations ranging from tuscan white bean and sundried tomato, and blue cheese, walnut, and honey. Bonus: Gluten-free options are available. And it’s not too heavy but just enough to keep your stomach happy while drinking wine.
Day 3: Sunday
Hitting the Slopes with the Locals
When the sun came through the window Sunday morning, we were all grateful that we could roll out of bed, dress quickly and be on the slopes in time to beat the morning rush. Mount Bachelor is only 30 minutes away from Bend, and the resort has special carpool parking for any car with more than four people (#fasttrack.). It was actually pleasantly busy that morning, though normally Sunday is the locals’ ski day (while Saturday they leave for all the tourists).If you’re going with local friends, expect to greet many other families with little rugrats fully geared up for Oregon winter skiing.
Quick tip: If you are looking for a great breakfast place (or pastries to go) before your ski day, Sparrow Bakery is the place to go. The smell of freshly baked pastries and the healthy choices will warm you from the inside-out before hitting the slopes. Sparrow also has breakfast sandwiches in case you need more than a croissant to get you through the active day!
When we got to the mountain, we dropped our kids off at ski school for the day. Our friends do this every weekend, so their child was in the advanced program that runs throughout the season. Mine was able to jump in the day school program (they call it Gravity School). That left this happy adult free to ski the whole day. I couldn’t believe how simple it was—get your rentals, drop the kids off and go!
Ski school is $150 for the day ($130 if you sign up a few days in advance), which was a great deal. However, keep in mind that ski rentals are separate and if they do well in the morning and graduate to the big bunny hill in the afternoon, you will have to pay extra for their ticket to the kid-sized lift.
After dropping the kids off, we skied to the lift line and headed up the mountain for our first run of the day. The visibility wasn’t great, but we had a clear, dry day and the snow was fluffy and fresh. When we got to the top of the mountain I had a mini moment of panic. I hadn’t skied in years, and I was a little skeptical that my body would remember the right moves ! Luckily, Mt. Bachelor is a tame mountain, and after a few runs, I had my ski legs back. For those of you that do want some more challenging runs, fear not! You can absolutely find black diamond runs to your liking—we just chose to spend our day leisurely cruising the eastside of the mountain with respectable blue runs.
Insider tip: If you have a friend with a season pass, you can get a buddy pass for a discounted price.
We had to catch a 7 p.m. flight on Sunday night, so after our last run of the day, with a quick stop at home to grab out luggage, we headed back to the airport. The return trip was just as easy as our flight there, and we were home in Seattle by 8, with my kid tucked into bed by 9, ready for a full day of school the next day.
Some final insider tips:
There is only one restaurant and one newsstand once you go through security at the Redmond airport, so if you are planning to grab a bite to eat before your flight, know that your options are limited.
If you decide to spend the night on Sunday and leave on Monday morning, you need to get to the airport a full two hours in advance. Many locals make a weekly commute to Seattle so Monday morning flights are especially busy. It’s a small airport so normally getting through security is a breeze, but lines are long on Monday!
While our Apres Ski consisted of heading to the airport, Bend has a lot of great drinking and dining options for unwinding after a full day on the slopes. One of the most buzzed about restaurants in Bend is Ariana, which the locals buzzed about. Ariana’s chef has cooked for Barack Obama, so you know it has to be good! We’ll be back to check it out.