There’s something about Bend that leaves everyone feeling a little frisky.
I’ll go so far as to say the fresh air and gorgeous scenery can make you downright amorous. While I’m not suggesting anyone go out and grope strangers on street corners in Downtown Bend, there are a number of great spots in and around Bend that lend themselves to the occasional dreamy smooch with your sweetheart.
Here are a few of my favorite romantic locales:
Romantic dinner for two
It’s no secret Bend has a plethora of amazing restaurants, but some just have that extra something special to leave you feeling oh-so-romantic. Snag a table outside at Crossings at the Riverhouse on Third Street, Pine Tavern in Downtown Bend, Anthony’s in the Old Mill District, or Greg’s Grill in the Old Mill District. All four spots have terrific food, great views of the river and enough space between tables to give you that cozy, romantic feeling.
One of Bend’s best-kept secrets for sunset dining is the rooftop at Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails in Downtown Bend. Seating up there is extremely limited, so be sure to make reservations. The day of your reservation, you’ll want to check back around 3 p.m. to make sure the roof will be open, since lousy weather or wind will put the kibosh on outdoor dining plans. But assuming you’re able to snag one of the coveted tables, it’s one of the most romantic spots in town for a great meal and a great lip-lock (or even a sub-par lip-lock, since the food will be terrific enough to cancel it out).
Craving a quick drink and some snacks en route to or from dinner? Velvet is one of Bend’s hippest bars with terrific drinks and nibbles, but they’ve also got a couple intimate tables in the downstairs section that make a great place for a cozy embrace.
Er, not that I know personally.
Seeking seclusion along the trail or just outside town
We know you plan to spend your nights in Bend, but we don’t blame you for stepping outside the city limits for a bit of play.
So to speak.
As a fourth-generation Oregonian who’s traveled all over the state, I can safely declare the trail along the McKenzie River leading to Tamolich Pool to be one of the most beautiful spots in the state. The trailhead off Highway 126 in less than an hour’s drive from Bend, and the two mile hike to Tamolich Pool (also known as the Blue Pool) is one of the most breathtaking bits of scenery you’ll ever see, with many hidden spots for a scenic lip-lock.
I’ve hiked the area countless times, but another way to see it is on a mountain bike. Bend outfitter CogWild offers the McKenzie River Shuttle for $40 a person (plus bike rental, if you don’t have your own). They leave Bend at 8 a.m., stop at a cozy Sisters bakery en route, and drop you above Clear Lake. You can take the 26-mile trail at your own pace, seeing Tamolich Pool and the McKenzie River with a stop or two to along the way to canoodle with your honey. The shuttle picks you up at the bottom and returns you to Bend around 5 p.m. (just in time for that romantic dinner I mentioned!)
Another great out-of-town spot for a smooch is the Pine Mountain Observatory 26 miles southeast of Bend. An amazing spot for stargazing, this facility is open to visitors Friday and Saturday evenings from late May through late September. The high altitude (6,500 feet) makes for chilly evenings, and while I suggest most folks bring hats and gloves, the amorous among you may find better ways to get warm.
Though I can’t vouch for this personally, another Visit Bend staffer assures me the fire lookout tower at the top of Lava Butte just south of Bend makes an excellent spot for a stolen smooch. Hey, whatever lights your fire!
Love on the water
What is it about being out on a lake or river that gives so many people that lovin’ feeling?
If you’re one of those folks, you’ve got plenty of choices.
If nighttime is the right time for you and your sweetie, head out with Wanderlust Tours for a little moonlight canoeing, starlight canoeing, or the fabulous moonshine canoe & beer tour. These trips are reserved for adults and mature kids only, and though a guide will be nearby to ensure your safety, all couples get their own private boats to themselves. What could be more romantic than a kiss under a starry sky with snow-capped mountain peeks shimmering in the reflection of a moonlit lake?
Well, maybe a daytime kayak trip with Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe. Their half-day Upper Deschutes trip takes you through pristine, undeveloped winding river trails and into secluded lagoons. The water is an inviting shade of aqua blue, and dense aspen groves and lush meadows create the perfect romantic ambiance.
I have it on good authority the guides don’t mind if you paddle your boat into a hidden channel and steal a quick kiss or two. Or twelve.
Looking for an extra challenge? Let’s see you top what my parents mastered during their very first standup paddleboard lesson with Standup Flatwater Bend (pictured at left). Impressive!
Need some lessons? (Er, on standup paddleboarding, not kissing, though my parents have been married more than 40 years and could probably offer a few pointers there). Check out Visit Bend’s page devoted to standup paddleboarding for all the good info on gear rentals and lessons.
Of course, there are oodles of other romantic locales throughout Bend, and we’ll leave it to you to discover where those are. Happy smooching, everyone!