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:
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 www.deschuteslib.org, the Crook County Public Library at www.crooklib.org or the Jefferson County Public Library at www.jcld.org). 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.
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 museum.com/backpack- 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 museum.org 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 thewallbend.com 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 naturecenter.org 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 sports.com 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.
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: bendrockgym.com or 541-388-6764
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.
Location: 117 N.W. Oregon Ave., Bend
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 andrec.org/Juniper_Swim__Fitness/ 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: www.raprd.org 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 owners.org, 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: www.macaquatic.com 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.
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; sunmountainfun.com or 541-382-6161
• Lava Lanes: 1555 Forbes Road, Bend; www.lavalanes bend.com 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
• 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 sportscenter.com 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.
Location: 1789 S.E. Veterans Way, Redmond
Contact: www.rgagym nastics.com
• 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 nastics.com 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.
Location: 1045 S.E. Business Way, Bend
Contact: www.casgym nastics.com or 541- 322-9791
• 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 (www.lowsbuildandgrow.com).
• Michael's also offers a range of craft-oriented classes for kids. Check out the store's website for details (www. michaels.com).
• 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 (www.mtbachelor.com or www.hoodoo.com).
• 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 email@example.com.
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.