North America Travel

A Visit to Bend and Sunriver Oregon

We spent a week in Central Oregon last month with my husband’s family, enjoying the beautiful city of Bend and the resort of Sunriver. It was our first time in Sunriver, but we had visited Bend several times. Bend and Sunriver are about 20 miles apart. The high desert area of Central Oregon is one of my favorite places in the Pacific Northwest. I wish we had more time, but here are some of the things we recommend on a visit to Bend and Sunriver Oregon.

Where are Bend and Sunriver

Located about three hours from Portland Oregon and six hours from my summer home in Port Orchard Washington, Bend and Sunriver are in the high desert of Central Oregon, offering a lovely dry climate with warm days and cool nights in the summer. Winter brings snow and cold but still dry compared to the area we live near Seattle. Bend and Sunriver are year-round playgrounds for hiking, cycling, water sports, downhill skiing, cross country skiing and snowshoeing as well as many other activities.

Bend Oregon

The Deschutes River runs through Bend

Incorporated in 1905 Bend historically was a quiet logging town on the Deschutes River. Today however, Bend’s population has grown to just under 100,000 with many newer residents moving to the region for its outdoor recreation and beauty amongst the ponderosa pines. The city has a historic downtown, with shops and restaurants, many parks and is known for its many microbrewery options.

Golf in Bend

Rivers Edge Golf in Bend

Bend has many golf courses, but we only have visited a few with our favorite being the Rivers Edge Course right near town.

Restaurants in Bend

A huge variety of restaurants are available in historic downtown Bend as well in the surrounding area. We have not been to as many as we would like, but our favorites currently are Wild Rose for its amazing northern Thai Cuisine, Longboard Louies for a quick Mexican lunch, McMenamins for burgers and beer, El Sancho Taco for the best Mexican in Oregon, Sintra for breakfast and Pine Tree Tavern for the history.

Wild Rose
Longboard Louies

Beer in Bend

Because we love beer, we always make an effort to try some different breweries when in Bend, as we work our way through the more than 25 breweries in the greater Bend area. During this visit we enjoyed checking out Good Life with its great outdoor beer garden, Sunriver Brewing with some delicious looking food although we didn’t eat there, and The Yard located in the courtyard of the Bunk and Brew Hostel.

Good Life Brewing

Sunriver Oregon

Swans on the pond, Sunriver

The first explorers filtered through the area in the early 19th Century and homesteaders started farming the region in the late 1800s. Sunriver is located on the grounds of the former Camp Abbot, a World War II training facility. The U.S. Army camp opened in 1942, but by June 1944 the camp was abandoned and most of the settlement was razed.

In 1954, state highway 97 was completed in its current location and four years later, the Mt. Bachelor ski area opened. Both served to make Central Oregon a prime vacation and recreation area. Portland land developer John Gray acquired what would become Sunriver in 1965 and transformed the landscape into a residential and resort community.

Today about 1700 people are full-time residents of Sunriver, but the population expands on weekends, holidays and in the summer.

Family dinner on the deck

Raft the Deschutes

Since we were on a family vacation with a total of seven people, renting a raft at the Sunriver Marina seemed like a perfect activity for the family. Our raft for seven was meant for as many as ten, but I think ten people would have been uncomfortably crowded. We enjoyed the leisurely drift down the Deschutes on a beautiful day. Ten person raft was $330 (about three hours and includes transportation back to the Marina) but many options are available including kayaks and tubes.

Family goes rafting
Old guys pretending to be teenagers

Cycle and Run or Walk the Paths

Our giant Airbnb (five bedrooms and six bathrooms) was located right on one of the main paths that meander through the Sunriver resort. So every morning at sunrise I was the first one up and after the obligatory coffee, I was out onto the path for a run. Flat, paved and absolutely beautiful, I loved having that available. The rest of the family enjoyed it for running and long walks as well.

Several of us brought our bikes and a few rented bikes, and we enjoyed a couple leisurely rides through the forest and along the river on the safe and well maintained trails.

Family goes cycling
My morning run

Golf and Activities in Sunriver

We did not golf while in Sunriver but there are four courses available as well as several swimming pools, a Nature Center and Observatory, horse stables and a shopping and restaurant center with events, concerts, markets and art fairs.

About seven miles away back towards Bend on Hwy 97 you’ll find the High Desert Museum. Fun and interesting especially for families.

High Desert Museum
MIL with horse art

Nearby Hiking

On our final day we did two easy hikes that were perfect even for my 88 year old mother-in-law. Both these hikes would be good for kids and families too. I recommend the Benham Falls hike and the Lava Lands State area hike.

If you are interested in more strenuous hiking there are many options near Mount Bachelor.

Benham Falls
Lava Lands

A Visit to Bend and Sunriver Oregon

We had such an enjoyable time in both Bend and Sunriver – a perfect place for a family vacation. I certainly would love to go again. You should consider a visit to Bend and Sunriver Oregon for your family or for couples too. There is so much to do.

On the river
With the hubs

Thanks for reading our post A Visit to Bend and Sunriver Oregon. We love it when you pin and share our blog posts!

See this week’s top performing pin Cyprus in My Heart Forever here.

See last week’s blog post Golfing Around the Sound here.

Previous Post Next Post

You may also like


  • Reply Teja

    I like how simple the name is lol It’s where the river bends just a bit, so it’s ‘Bend’. People opening townships these days think too hard about names.

    August 26, 2022 at 4:56 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      I never thought of that but its true! Great observation. 🙂

      August 28, 2022 at 11:55 am
  • Reply Sue

    What a beautiful place & a fantastic location for a family trip. It all looks very realxing!

    August 26, 2022 at 11:50 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      Definitely was. thanks Sue.

      August 28, 2022 at 11:54 am
  • Reply Linda (LD Holland)

    We really do need to plan to return to Oregon and spend more time exploring this state. The area around Bend looks great. I would have expected lots of wineries. So good to know there are some brewery options too. And some good hiking to wear off those calories too.

    August 27, 2022 at 6:17 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Oregon has great wine too, but beer is the drink of choice in Bend! 🙂

      August 28, 2022 at 11:54 am
  • Reply Heather

    Love seeing all your food posts, looks so yummy and what a lovely spot!

    August 27, 2022 at 9:36 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Thank you Heather!

      August 28, 2022 at 11:53 am
  • Reply Marilyn

    Looks like a wonderful location for a family get together, picturesque scenery.

    October 1, 2022 at 9:26 am
    • Reply Laureen

      It is a great location!

      October 1, 2022 at 11:50 am

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.