This Mother's Day forget sending mom to the spa. She doesn't care about long, luxurious massages or treatments that peel ten years off her face. She lives in Bend! What she really wants is to spend time in the great outdoors making memories that last a lifetime with her favorite people (that's you!). If you're not sure where to take your special Central Oregon mama, don't worry, with a little help from local moms, we've put together a list of the best spots (and activities) for a perfect Mother's Day outing.
(Note: We were kidding. Do get her a spa treatment, box of chocolates and a sparkling bottle of wine as well. She deserves it all!)
Top Spots for Your Mother's Day Outdoor Adventures
Malheur Wildlife Refuge: Slightly over a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Bend, this refuge offers families a real birdwatching adventure. Bend mama, Sara Yellich says, "Last year we went to Malheur Wildlife Refuge for Mother's Day. We camped in our van which served as a great blind for birdwatching." Yellich explains that neither she nor her husband are expert birders, and she had no idea how her then five-year-old would do.
"The Malheur area, of course, gets so lush in the spring," says Yellich. "We loved the milder weather and everything blossoming all around. We also saw so many mothers in nature it felt like a true celebration of birth: cows with their calves, ducklings with tails swishing behind their mother and owlets sleepy on branches while Mom rested nearby."
Alder Springs: Bend mom, Sommer Petty Wilson says Alder Springs is one of her favorite locations. "There's a little bit of everything," she explains: "Views, a river, a canyon, cool layers of rocks with areas to further explore...you must cross the river too."
This outing is appropriate for all ages, abilities and comfort levels. Though, Wilson notes that there are spots along the top of canyon where younger children would need more supervision.
Meadow Camp: Endorsed by local mom, Camden Sabat, this locale is just under 15 minutes from town. "Last Mother's Day, my kids and I spent the day at Meadow Camp exploring, bouldering, playing in the river..." says Sabat. "It was pretty special." Meadow Camp is ideal for families with both younger and older kids.
Top Family-Friendly Spots
Shevlin Park: This delightful spot is perfect for a picnic, gentle hike or short bicycle ride. With access to the river as well as a pond, it provides a lovely piece of scenic nature five minutes outside of town and is perfect for the family with small children (or that mama who loves nature but prefers to keep her outdoor adventures lowkey).
Drake Park: Have a brand-new babe or toddler with a naptime? This is a great option. Nestled in the heart of downtown, Drake Park boasts a lovely spot to play outdoor games and observe wildlife (specifically ducks and geese). Follow the footbridge across the river and Harmon Park, with a full playground, is just to the left.
Smith Rock: Located 20 minutes outside of Bend in Terrebonne, Smith Rock offers several varied levels of hiking paths and rock climbing with amazing views of the Crooked River. The drive is beautiful and it's an ideal picnic destination that provides quite a backdrop for those Mother's Day photos.
Tumalo Falls: Five minutes outside of Bend, Tumalo Falls offers a very easy quarter of a mile nature stroll with a spectacular waterfall as the payoff. It's ideal for all ages and abilities. The surrounding areas will keep kids busy with trickling streams, quaint wooden bridges and possible wildlife sightings.
Paulina Hot Springs: A little bit further, just outside of Sunriver, Paulina Hot Springs features a beautiful hike around a pristine lake with natural hot springs that can be dug out! With a very clearly marked map and signs on the trail letting you know you're at the right spot, it's a breeze to access. It is a longer hike, around two miles of all flat terrain, ideal for grade school aged children and older.
Mother's Day falls around the best time of year to see...well...falls! According to Wilson, Dillion Falls, Lava Falls and Benham Falls areas all offer great family hikes that include diversity in the scenery as well as plenty of places to explore. Hikes can be tailored to be as long or short as needed to accommodate all levels, and Wilson says, "Dillon Falls is awesome as it's only about 800 ft from the parking lot and you can get right up to the water with ease." Benham Falls is also close to the parking lot and has a viewpoint area.