Wintertime fun for kids

Check out these options for staying warm, having fun

By Alandra Johnson / The Bulletin

Published Jan 4, 2013 at 04:00AM

During the spring, summer and fall, figuring out how to entertain kids can be easy. Just head to the nearest playground. But in cold winter, those parks can turn too snowy, icy and windy to enjoy. Families looking for ways to keep kids occupied in brisk weather can check out the list of options we have compiled here. Suggestions come from local parents and Bulletin staff members. This list focuses on activities that are drop-in, rather than ongoing classes.

Places to go:

Local libraries

There's a library in nearly every community in Central Oregon. These can be great places to visit, especially when staff offer special activities, such as story times and other youth events (the All Ages section runs a list of these events each week, or you can check out a complete listing from the Deschutes Public Library at, the Crook County Public Library at or the Jefferson County Public Library at Libraries also offer more than just books (although that is a big draw). Many locations have toys for toddlers to play with — the train set at East Bend Public Library is very popular — and giant stuffed animals for cuddling. Kids can check out movies, music, puppets and even passes to the High Desert Museum.

Cost: Free

High Desert Museum

If you haven't been to the museum in a while, now is a great time to go. A relatively new exhibit features live butterflies and hummingbirds and is exceedingly kid-friendly. During the week, the museum also hosts special kid-centric events. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the museum offers Backpack Explorers for preschoolers (check out the website for details on costs, times and themes: www.highdesert explorers). And for kids ages 2-5, check out a special story time, called Totally Touchable Tales, on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m.

Cost: $15 for adults, $12 for age 65 and older, $9 for ages 5-12, free for ages 4 and younger

Location: 59800 S. U.S. Highway 97, Bend

Contact: www.highdesert or 541-382-4754

Bouncing Off the Wall

This indoor business in southeast Bend includes large inflatable structures where kids can bounce, slide and climb. There are also lots of options for toddlers and infants, including balls, blocks, a toy kitchen, a train set and more.

Cost: $7 per child, $3 for a playing adult

Location: 1134 S.E. Centennial Court, Bend

Contact: www.bouncingoff or 541-306- 6587

Sunriver Nature Center

This nature center is open on Saturdays during the winter from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cost: $3 adults, $2 kids

Location: 57245 River Road, Sunriver

Contact: www.sunriver or 541-593- 4394

Cascade Indoor Sports

This indoor facility in northeast Bend has roller skating and a giant play structure (as well as other ongoing sports). Open skating is available Friday, Saturday and Sunday; the play structure is open seven days a week at various times.

Cost: Skating is $8 for ages 9 and older, $5 for ages 5 to 8, free for 4 and younger; play structure is $5 per child

Location: 20775 High Desert Lane, Bend

Contact: www.cascadeindoor or 541-330-1183

Earth Fire Art

Kids are welcome at this paint-your-own pottery studio in downtown Bend, open seven days a week.

Cost: Varies

Location: 117 N.W. Oregon Ave., Bend

Contact: www.earthfireart .com or 541-323-3480

Bend Rock Gym

This rock climbing gym in southeast Bend offers two drop-in options for kids with little to no experience. Cliff Kids is for ages 4-8, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Rock Monkeys is for ages 7-12, 4 to 5:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Cost: $20 for a drop-in session

Location: 1182 S.E. Centennial Court, Bend

Contact: or 541-388-6764

Fledgling Fun

The East Cascades Audobon Society offers an afternoon program for grades K-5 at the Environmental Center in Bend the second Monday of every month. The program includes games, crafts and more. The next one is Jan. 14, from 3:45 to 5:15 p.m.

Cost: Free

Location: 117 N.W. Oregon Ave., Bend

Contact: 541-480-6148


While swimming may seem counterintuitive when the weather outside is telling us to bundle up, winter can actually be a great time to hit the pool.

• Juniper Swim & Fitness Center

Open recreation swim (7 to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday), parent and child swim (for kids 6 and younger, 10:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday) and family swim (11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday).

Cost: $6 for adults; $5 for ages 16-18; $4 for ages 3-15; out-of-district residents pay $1 more

Location: 800 N.E. Sixth St., Bend

Contact: www.bendparks or 541-389-7665

• Cascade Swim Center

Recreation swim for all ages (time varies; check schedule online for information).

Cost: $3 for ages 16 and older; $2 for 15 and younger; $10 per family.

Location: 335 S.E. Jackson St., Redmond

Contact: or 541-548-6066

• Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic & Recreation Center

The indoor pool area is open. Visit the website or call for pricing and hours, which are highly variable.

Location: Overlook Road off circle 2, Sunriver

Contact: www.sunriver, click on SHARC or 541-585-POOL

• Madras Aquatic Center

Recreation swim is 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Mommy & Me recreation (for age 5 and younger with a parent) is 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Cost: $3 for youth, $3.50 for seniors, $4 for adults; $1.50 more for out-of-district residents

Location: 1195 S.E. Kemper Way, Madras

Contact: or 541-475-4253

• McMenamins Old St. Francis School soaking pool: Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., this tiled soaking pool is filled with salt water. It's a totally different experience than a regular swimming pool.

Cost: $5

Location: 700 N.W. Bond St., Bend

Contact: www.mcmenamins .com/699-old-st-francis-school-soaking-pool


• Sun Mountain Fun Center: (also offers arcade games) 300 N.E. River Mall Ave., Bend; or 541-382-6161

• Lava Lanes: 1555 Forbes Road, Bend; www.lavalanes or 541-318-5656

• Madras Bowl: 66 N.E. A St., Madras; 541-475-3353

• La Pine Bowl: 52510 U.S. Highway 97, La Pine; 541-536-3121

• Rimrock Lanes: 2653 S.W. High Desert Drive, Redmond; 541-416-8816

Gymnastics facilities

• Acrovision Sports Center: Local sports center and gymnastics facility in northeast Bend offers open gym for kids up to age 6, from 11 to noon Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Cost: $6, or $3 on Thursday with a can of food

Location: 63255 Jamison Road, Bend

Contact: www.acrovision or 541-388- 5555

• Redmond Gymnastics Academy: This facility offers an open gym for ages 1-6, Monday and Wednesday from 2 to 3 p.m. and Friday from 10 to 11 a.m.

Cost: $5

Location: 1789 S.E. Veterans Way, Redmond

Contact: www.rgagym

• Central Oregon Gymnastics Academy: This gymnastics spot in northeast Bend offers Playmania for ages 0-5, from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday, 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday and Friday, and 9 to 10 a.m. and 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Open Gym, for ages 4-13, is from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Saturday.

Cost: $5, or $2 on Tuesday with a can of food

Location: 63060 Layton Ave., Bend

Contact: www.cogym or 541-385-1163

• Cascade All-Star Gymnastics: This facility in southeast Bend hosts Gymspastics for ages 0-5 from 11 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday; and an Open Gym for ages 6 and older from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Cost: $5-$7

Location: 1045 S.E. Business Way, Bend

Contact: www.casgym or 541- 322-9791

Other places

• Head to a big-box store and give your child $3 to pick out something (nonedible).

• Visit a local pet or reptile store.

• Head to a local Humane Society. Here's what Lynne Ouchida of the Humane Society of Central Oregon in southeast Bend had to say about visiting: “Families are always welcome to visit the animals at the Humane Society of Central Oregon. Some parents and children visit regularly, oftentimes bringing treats for the cats and dogs. Some creative families make toys as a project and bring them in for the animals. We just ask that parents supervise children closely when with animals, for their own safety. It's important to remember that most of the animals arrive as strays, which means we know little about their behavior around children. If they would like to arrange for a tour of the shelter, they can call me at 541-330-7096.”

• Check out a kid-friendly coffee shop. RiverRim Coffee Shop off of Southwest Brooks-wood Avenue in Bend is very kid-friendly.

• Lowe's and Home Depot both offer free workshops for kids. The next monthly clinic at local Home Depots is about how to make a diamond-shaped birdhouse and will take place Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon for ages 5-12. Lowe's Build and Grow program takes place on Saturdays at 10 a.m. The next one is Jan. 12. Check the website for the schedule and details (

• Michael's also offers a range of craft-oriented classes for kids. Check out the store's website for details (www.

Outdoor fun

• Sledding. Wanoga Snoplay Area is a great sledding hill up the Cascade Lakes Highway, but there are other spots in town worth checking out. Larkspur Park, Drake Park and Hollinshead Park are good choices when there is plenty of snow.

• Tubing. Both Mt. Bachelor and Hoodoo Mountain Resort offer tubing fun for kids and adults. Visit the websites for details ( or

• Birding. The East Cascade Audubon Society offers a Birding for Preschoolers class every Monday at 10 a.m. in Drake Park (meet near the restrooms). The free hourlong program includes looking for birds, singing and much more. Contact: Mary Yanalcanlin at

Staying home

Looking for creative ideas to keep kids occupied inside? Here are a few thoughts:

• Build an obstacle course out of chairs, tables, pillows and more. Time the kids and see if they can beat their time.

• Create a fort.

• Bring glow sticks into the bath.

• Create a fairy village.

• Make cookies.

• Spread out a vinyl tablecloth and then put out all sorts of cooking gadgets as well as some rolled oats, water, etc and let the child make something.

• Pull the cars out of the garage and let kids ride their bikes in there. Or roller skate.

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