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Six unique ways to find splashy, wet fun in Bend


It’s officially July in Bend, and since this is the high desert, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out it’s pretty hot and dry.

(As a sidenote if you happen to actually be a rocket scientist, maybe you know how to hook up air conditioning at my house?)

Actually, the AC isn’t necessary. There are plenty of ways to cool off in Bend, ranging from things you can eat or drink to other ways to escape the heat.

A lovely fountain in Downtown Bend near the junction of Minnesota Ave. and Lava Ave.

A lovely fountain in Downtown Bend near the junction of Minnesota Ave. and Lava Ave.

But today I want to talk about water. There’s something about it that makes me feel instantly cooler even if I’m not actually submerging myself in it. Here six of my favorite aquatic spectacles in Bend.


Lovely, splashy fountains in Downtown Bend

The Bend Visitor Center is smack dab in the middle of Downtown Bend (and conveniently open 9-5 weekdays and 10-4 weekends if you’d like to stop by when you’re here!)

When I stroll around at lunchtime, I’m treated to an amazing array of public art, some of which includes the lovely splish-splash of flowing water. There are two awesome water features near the corner of Greenwood Ave. and Wall Street, but my personal favorite is the one just a bit south of our office on Lava Avenue. It’s just below the DoubleTree by Hilton and a stone’s throw from Bend’s award-winning Oxford Hotel, so it’s easy to find if you’re staying nearby.

The shady park bench beside it is one of my favorite places in the universe, and the lovely, cool spatter of water makes me feel refreshed even when not a single drop of it hits me. For an added treat, walk a few hundred feet east and grab a scoop of gelato from of Bontá Gelato before you claim your spot on the bench. Ahhh, paradise!


Treat Fido to some special splashing

There are plenty of fun spots along the Deschutes River to frolic with Fido, but one of the most unique places to splash with your pup isn’t a body of water at all. Head to the Bob Wenger Memorial Off-Leash Area to enjoy this fully-fenced 18-acre paradise of trails, fields, and a pup-centric water feature comprised of three spritzy fire hydrants guaranteed to have your pooch leaping and yapping and barking his fool head off.

‘Tis the season to float the river!

Float the river like a local

This time of year, there’s no greater pleasure than plopping an inner tube into the calm shallows at Riverbend Park and floating your way through the Old Mill District and on to Drake Park. You’ll see some of Bend’s most breathtaking scenery, and you’ll stay cool while you do it. For details on floating the Deschutes River in Bend, check out this post.


If turquoise water is your thing . . .

I’d need to remove my shoes to tally up Central Oregon’s lakes using my own digits, and even then, I’d still have to count a few fingers and toes more than once.

Blogger Tawna on the shore of Paulina Lake (and yes, the water really looks that turquoise!)

Blogger Tawna on the shore of Paulina Lake (and yes, the water really looks that turquoise!)

But since I’m barefoot now anyway, it’s a great excuse to choose a lake and set out for an afternoon of aquatic fun. I’ve blogged endlessly about hotspots like Elk Lake and Cultus Lake, but if you’re hankering for something super unique, how about dipping your toes in a body of turquoise water?

OK, technically I suppose the water itself isn’t turquoise. I’m sure there’s some complicated geological explanation for why several Central Oregon lakes appear to have a deep blue-green hue, but I’m too busy frolicking in the water to bother looking it up.

If splashing in a turquoise paradise is your thing, try Paulina Lake in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. You can stop by the Paulina Lake Lodge for a great lunch, then rent a boat or a paddleboard at the marina and set out for a day of play.

If you’re looking for a quieter option, try Devils Lake. You won’t find any restaurants or boat rentals here, but you will find some nice solitude and a great spot to SUP or fish in the lovely turquoise shallows.

Break out that waterfall bucket list

This blog post on exploring waterfalls around Bend is one of our most popular posts of all times, and it’s not hard to figure out why. There’s something miraculously cooling about watching swirling whitewater plunge wildly over a cliff. From the dramatic thunder of Paulina Falls to the more subtle splendor of Dillon Falls, you’ll find more waterfalls than you can shake a stick at around Central Oregon. Check out the post to learn more.

Worth noting: The trail to Tumalo Falls is currently closed until late summer 2015, so you might want to pick a different waterfall from the list if you’re visiting Bend in the next month or so!


Diving boards and waterslides and lifeguards, oh my!

BrasadaPoolIf you prefer your body of water with added chlorine and a lifeguard or two, Central Oregon has a number of resorts and hotels that feature swimming pools for guests to use. You’ll also find some nifty water parks around Central Oregon, including the mineral pools at Kah-Nee-Ta resort in Warm Springs or the SHARC (Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic and Recreation Center) in Sunriver.

Bend also has a terrific community facility at Juniper Swim & Fitness Center with steam rooms, hot tub, kiddie pool, and both indoor and outdoor pools (the latter with a fab waterslide).

For details on finding the perfect pol around Central Oregon, check out this post.


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