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Four ways to beat the heat on hot summer days in Bend, Oregon

kayaking the deschutes river
How we float the river in DogTown USA (the nation's dog-friendliest city, according to Dog Fancy magazine).

How we float the river in DogTown USA (the nation’s dog-friendliest city, according to Dog Fancy magazine).

Raise your hand if you’re hot and sweaty in Bend.

On second thought, ew.

Bend’s been a bit on the warm side in recent days, which is nothing to complain about. Those of us addicted to Bend sunshine live for gorgeous summer days like this.

But every now and then you just want to cool off a little. If that’s the case, here are four ways to drop your body temp on hot days in Bend.


Get cool and slippery

Fun for the whole family at SHARC in Sunriver.

Fun for the whole family at SHARC in Sunriver.

Nothing cools you off as quickly as a plunge into a refreshing pool, chilly river, or crystal clear lake. My favorite summer pastime is a float down the Deschutes river on an air mattress. If you don’t have one, book a whitewater rafting trip with Sun Country Tours  or rent a deluxe float tube from Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe. Then go here for all the details on where to put in and how to float safely. Those who prefer the confines of a swimming pool will appreciate the local Parks & Rec pool at Juniper Swim and Fitness – particularly the price tag of only $6 for out-of-district residents. For an extra big treat for the young’uns, drive 20 miles to Sunriver to enjoy the SHARC aquatic center. It’s a bit of a splurge at $25 for adults and $20 for kids 4-17, but worth it for the huge indoor/outdoor recreation pools, hot tub, water slides, lazy river, tubing hill, and more than 2.5 acres of grass for lazing in the sun. You can splash, slide and sunbathe to your heart’s content!

Get up and away


A relaxing afternoon on Elk Lake off the Cascade Lakes Highway.

There’s nothing like gaining a few feet in altitude to earn you a few degrees of cooler temps. On hot summer days, I love following Century Drive toward Mt. Bachelor until I hit the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway. All along the road, you’ll see endless gems of lakes perfect for paddling, hiking, floating, swimming, or anything else you might like. The ones set a bit off the highway (like little-bitty Blow Lake, for instance) are perfect for solitude and a short hike with a picnic. For scenery and ease-of-access, Devil’s Lake is a nice choice. For beach access and amenities like paddleboard or boat rental, try Cultus Lake Resort or Elk Lake Resort. The fun is finding your own favorite lake among the dozens available. This Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway Map is an excellent resource to get you started. Once you’ve found your spot, just kick back, relax, breathe the fresh mountain air, and feel your temperature dropping. As an alternative in the opposite direction, head 26 miles southeast of Bend toward the Pine Mountain Observatory. Operated by the University of Oregon physics department, it offers an amazing array of telescopes, terrific stargazing, and an altitude of 6,500 feet to guarantee you a bit of chilly relief in the evening.


Get shoppin’

You'll find both indoor and outdoor shopping in historic Downtown Bend.

You’ll find both indoor and outdoor shopping in historic Downtown Bend.

While we know you visit Bend for the outdoor adventure, we realize you sometimes need a break from the great outdoors. When that happens, an afternoon of shopping is the perfect way to bask in some air conditioning while picking up souvenirs to take home. Bend’s Old Mill District offers a terrific array of familiar national shops like Victoria’s Secret, Banana Republic, and Bath & Body as well as locally-owned favorites like Nashelle jewelry and Vanilla Urban Threads. You’ll also find oodles of great restaurants where you can stop for a cool drink and great views of the river, or catch a movie at bend’s largest cineplex for a couple soothing hours of air conditioned entertainment.  Then head for historic Downtown Bend to browse cool boutiques, unique art galleries, and an eclectic array of restaurants offering everything from Asian fusion to burgers. There’s plenty of cool AC to spare, and you can meander through Drake Park to dip your toes in the Deschutes River for an extra chilly thrill.

Refreshingly citrusy Fresh Squeezed IPA from Deschutes Brewery.

Refreshingly citrusy Fresh Squeezed IPA from Deschutes Brewery.

Get sippin’

There’s something about a cool drink that always seems to drop my body temperature a few glorious degrees. Since Bend is home to the popular Bend Ale Trail, you’ll find plenty of tasty craft beer guaranteed to quench your thirst and please your palate. My personal favorites for summer are Fresh Squeezed IPA from Deschutes Brewery, and Swill from 10 Barrel. Both are citrusy and delicious and perfect for a hot day. If beer isn’t your thing, you’ll find tons of great spots around town for cool cocktails. Astro Lounge in Downtown Bend has oodles of creative creations and a great happy hour from 4-7. Their cucumber lavender mojito is a divine way to beat the heat. If you’re in the Old Mill District, both Anthony’s and Greg’s Grill have great wine lists and views of the river. Order a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio and a cool salad, and you’ll feel refreshed and relaxed in no time. For a non-alcoholic option, Newport Market sells an amazing hand-squeezed lemonade that’s delicious on a hot summer day.

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