Just 16 days, 9 hours, and 53 minutes until Valentine’s Day. Er, not that I’m counting.

Okay, I’m totally counting. When I’m not here singing the praises of Bend, Oregon, I make my living as an author of romantic comedy, so I kinda live for the schmoopy stuff.

Get romantic under the stars with Wanderlust Tours!
Get romantic under the stars with Wanderlust Tours!

When you mix my love of Bend with my love of…well, love…it’s a recipe for finding some of the coolest romantic dates in Central Oregon. Here are a few to consider as we approach Valentine’s Day 2016.

 

Get smoochy in the snow

The naturalist guides at Wanderlust Tours can tell you plenty of tales about marriage proposals unfolding during canoe trips, snowshoe outings, and even cave tours. Considering how magical a Wanderlust adventure can be, it’s not surprising they get folks feeling the love. Their guides have even married people in the forest on snowshoes!

Who wants to snuggle by a bonfire in the snow?
Who wants to snuggle by a bonfire in the snow?

That’s why their special Romance on the Snow package is the perfect option for lovers looking to add a little extra amour to a standard snowshoe tour. This couples-only outing is offered February 13 and 14, with tours departing at 7 p.m. and returning home by 11 p.m. The $95 price tag includes all transportation and gear, a snowshoe adventure with a naturalist guide, a seat by the crackling bonfire in a glittering amphitheater hand-carved into the snow, hot cocoa with hazelnut espresso vodka, chocolate-covered strawberries, and champagne.

If you want to propose, hey, that’s up to you. If you just want to have fun with your longtime love or that special guy or gal you just started dating, that’s cool, too. Keep in mind that space is limited on the Romance on the Snow tours, so book early to make sure you and your sweetie aren’t left out in the cold.

And if those dates don’t work for you, a Wanderlust Tours gift certificate still makes an excellent Valentine’s gift.

 

Rub each other down

Admittedly I’m still a newlywed (17 months in February!) but one of the coolest romantic experiences of our marriage thus far was the Couples Massage Workshop at Brasada Ranch.

Blogger Tawna and her husband, Craig, enjoy the glorious Couples Massage Workshop at Brasada Ranch.
Blogger Tawna and her husband, Craig, enjoy the glorious Couples Massage Workshop at Brasada Ranch.

This is a special workshop designed by the Brasada Ranch Spa to give couples a special experience and new skills to take home and enjoy for years to come.  It was the highlight of our recent stay at Brasada Ranch, and it unfolded like this…

The hubs and I kicked off the experience by slipping into plush robes and spending a few minutes unwinding in the steam rooms of our respective dressing rooms. Then we met up in the Relaxation Room where we nibbled lavender honey shortbread cookies and sipped tea by the fountain until it was time for the separate one-hour massages we’d booked to get us into the zone.

After that, we joined a massage therapist who chatted with us for a while to determine our interests, goals, and familiarity with massage techniques (zero).  I got to go first, lying facedown on the massage table, tastefully draped, while the therapist showed my husband how to perform a variety of massage strokes on my neck, back, shoulders, and legs.

Gourmet s'mores by the fire at Brasada Ranch? Yes, please!
Gourmet s’mores by the fire at Brasada Ranch? Yes, please!

After 30 minutes or so, we switched spots and I got to learn how a 5’4” female (me) can use leverage and technique to exert the right amount of massage pressure on a 6’1” male (my husband) who prefers a firm massage touch. Since we don’t happen to own our own professional massage table, the therapist gave us tips for replicating our newly-acquired massage skills in our own home.

While you can book the Couples’ Massage Workshop even if you’re not staying at Brasada Ranch, it’s worth a splurge to book a room in one of their Ranch House Suites or luxury cabins. If that’s not in the cards for you, at least stick around for dinner or go straight to dessert with gourmet s’mores you can toast over the open campfires beneath sparkling stars.

 

What’s cookin’, good lookin’?

Over the last five years, the hubby and I have given each other Well Traveled Fork gift certificates for so many special occasions that if a holiday slips past with no fork-adorned slip of paper, one of us asks, “Wait, where’s the cooking class?”

A cooking class with the Well Traveled Fork makes a fun way to learn new skills as a couple.
A cooking class with the Well Traveled Fork makes a fun way to learn new skills as a couple.

Experts have said one of the best ways to bond a couple is to learn a new skill together, and I believe it. No matter how many classes we take together with the Well Traveled Fork, we always come out with something new. Maybe it’s a special knife handling technique or a tip for finding the best produce, or maybe it’s just the packet of recipes we go home with and try out again and again to remember how much fun we had.

Though the Couple’s Class scheduled near to Valentine’s Day is already sold out, there are plenty of other options on the 2016 docket. Classes range from Cooking With Bourbon to Easy Weeknight Meals and more. Check out the schedule to choose one that looks fun, then sign up with your sweetie so you have something to look forward to in the coming months.

 

Dinner and a show

Yeah, yeah. It’s kind of a cliché, but there’s a reason the old “dinner and a show” date never gets old for most of us. It’s a perfect blend of good food and dinner conversation, followed by a couple hours of entertainment that’ll give you a shared memory to talk about for months to come.

Bend offers dozens of spots for romantic dining (including Bistro 28, shown here).
Bend offers dozens of spots for romantic dining (including Bistro 28, shown here).

Reservations go fast on Valentine’s Day for a lot of Bend restaurants, so consider dining out the night before or after if your schedule allows it. If it doesn’t, you’ll still find a few slots available at many local dining hot-spots. Culinary options range from creative Northwest cuisine to Asian fusion to Italian to Middle Eastern to seafood to vegan cuisine and more. Scope out our Bend dining page to find something that piques your interest, or peruse the dining and drinking category on this blog for ideas.

As for the “show” component, you can search for musical performances at great venues like The Tower Theater or Silver Moon Brewing. If it’s a movie you’re after, head to the Old Mill District to catch the latest blockbuster, or opt for an indie film at the artsy little Tin Pan Theater. You can also scope out an array of live theater performances at places like Second Street Theater, Volcanic Theater Pub, and Cascades Theater (which has a special one-night-only performance of Venus in Fur on Valentine’s Day).

For more ideas, check out Visit Bend’s Event Calendar and search the date night you have in mind.

Oh, and when you call to make reservations at your Bend hotel or vacation rental, be sure to ask about romance packages or sweetheart specials. Many places have them, and they can range from rose petals on the bed to chocolates and an assortment of local craft beer or wine. Go here to start your Bend lodging search.

 

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