Trip Planner: Sunriver

sleigh ride, sunriver stables
written by Kjersten Hellis featured photo by Steve Tague 

Perhaps there is no place in Oregon more magical around the holidays than Sunriver Resort. Outside are banks of snow, panoramic views of the Cascade Range and endless possibilities to start your day. Sunriver Resort is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise with a healthy balance of adventure, charm and family time. The holiday season is especially opulent. At more than 4,100 feet of elevation, Sunriver is a snow-filled globe for the holidays. The village blinks with Christmas lights, and excitement plays in the crisp air of the high desert.

Once a U.S. Army training post for World War II combat engineers called Camp Abbot, Sunriver became a destination resort in the late 1960s. The Great Hall, once an officers’ club, still stands as a centerpiece for events in Sunriver. The luxury resort today encompasses 3,300 acres and figures prominently in the holiday plans of many Oregonians.

Day 1: Ice Skating | Pub Food | Shopping

There is far more to do in Sunriver than lounging in pajamas. Take an espresso macchiato and a fluffy pastry from Brewed Awakenings as you hit the Village. Rent skates at the Pavilion for a morning session of ice skating. If you aren’t keen on skating, you can search for the next Michelle Kwan while in the glow of the warming hut’s fire. Not all skaters are created equally, so find Village Bar and Grill, a good place to nurse your wounds and refill your tank over lunch. Choose from a menu of juicy burgers, sandwiches, pastas, and killer fries, but don’t forget a local craft beer. Outside the grill’s windows, children zoom by every ten minutes on laps of the Alpine Express Train. On foot, be sure to check out local shop Lazy Daisy for a collection of women’s accessories and home décor. Stop by Goody’s, a Sunriver icon for housemade ice cream and soul-warming hot cocoa.

Day 2: Mt. Bachelor | Dog Sledding | Tubing

If you are tired of plodding through the snow on foot, it may be time to approach it a different way. With Mt. Bachelor less than a half-hour drive away, shredding powder at the mountain is the place to be. Beginners can get comfortable turns in on Marshmallow while more experienced riders have free rein to explore the rest of the 3,683 skiable acres. Meet up for lunch at Pine Marten Lodge for an overstuffed Bachelor burrito. Bachelor offers plenty of other activities for non-skiers. When you pull into the parking lot you may hear a chorus of exuberant barking. A little pre-planning can earn you a reservation with Oregon Trail of Dreams, a sled-dog outfit whose dogs zip its riders through the Deschutes National Forest. There’s also an exhilarating shot down Bachelor’s inner-tubing hill. If you’re traveling with kids, you’ve done enough for them by now. Make sure to pre-book time at Sage Springs Spa for your day’s effort.

Day 3: Sleigh Rides | Fine Dining | Winter Wonder

In December, the holiday spirit is alive in Sunriver. Children delight in holiday activities including snowshoe tours, gingerbread contests and crafting with Santa’s elves. If you find yourself in Sunriver on a weekend, what luck. Start your morning with breakfast with Santa in the Great Hall. Enjoy a buffet and watch your children share a special moment with the jolly old elf. After brunch, take the family on a horse-drawn thirty-minute sleigh ride through the glittering evergreens on snow-covered trails around the resort. Snuggle under a blanket and share the magical moment with your family. After, head to The Grille at Crosswater for a crab fondue and filet mignon. Bring your A-game, as reservations are required and a dress code is in effect.

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