With just a few days to go until Valentine’s Day 2016, I’m seeing hearts everywhere I look. They’re on greeting cards at the store, and scratched in the frost on car windshields.

In this season of hearts and flowers and other schmoopy stuff, here are five things you can do to make your heart happy in Bend.

 

Hit the hiking trail for some cardio love

I’m well aware that cardiac fitness is good for my heart, but hearing the word “exercise” makes me want to crawl under the bed with a bottle of wine and a bag of Cheetos. But if you utter the word “hike,” and I’ll be lacing up my boots faster than you can say “let’s hit the trail, guys!”

Hiking Pilot Butte is an excellent way to get the blood pumping, plus it can be a romantic couples' adventure, too!
Hiking Pilot Butte is an excellent way to get the blood pumping, plus it can be a romantic couples’ adventure, too!

Luckily, there are a gazillion great hikes you can enjoy in and around Bend that will be fab for your cardio health, but won’t feel like exercise at all.

If you want to stick close to town and get killer views of the city while you’re at it, hike Pilot Butte. It’s that 500-foot cinder cone in the center of town, and the incline and distance make it a pretty good workout that doesn’t feel like a workout. Your reward at the top is an amazing 360-degree view of Bend and surrounding areas.

Tumalo Falls is another awesome Bend hike (though snowshoes are usually required if you attempt it in the winter months). Ditto that for the Deschutes River Trail, which offers several options for starting points ranging from Farewell Bend Park to Lava Island Falls to the Dillon Falls area (and everything in between). Check out Visit Bend’s hiking page for more detail about those areas.

And if you feel like exploring a bit farther afield, the folks at Cascade Hiking Adventures have a lot of great suggestions for short road trips you can take from a Bend home base to explore some truly magnificent landscapes nearby.

 

 

Drink beer. Seriously.

You’ve probably heard that drinking wine comes with certain health benefits, but did you know you can get some of the same heart-healthy properties from drinking beer? That’s pretty handy here in the land of the Bend Ale Trail!

Beer is great for your heart. No, really.
Beer is great for your heart. No, really.

A recent Italian study shows moderate consumption of beer decreases the risk of heart disease by 31%, which is the same as what you see from the consumption of wine.

So if you’re a beer fan, drink up! While it’s always easy to find tasty brews along the Bend Ale Trail, it’ll be even easier the weekend of Valentine’s Day. That’s when Zwickelmania happens every year. It’s the statewide celebration of craft breweries taking place Saturday, Feb. 13, and you’ll find tons of live music, tasty food, brewery tours, and of course, beer samples. Scope out the 2016 Zwickelmania schedule here.

 

Do good deeds to make your heart feel warm and fuzzy

Ever notice how doing good deeds makes your heart feel all squishy and nice? While you probably don’t want to turn your whole Bend vacation into a charity endeavor, there are lots of little ways you can warm your heart with kindness during your visit to Bend.

You already know Oregon Winterfest is fun, but did you know the event benefits charity? That's one more reason to attend Feb. 12-14, 2016!
You already know Oregon Winterfest is fun, but did you know the event benefits charity? That’s one more reason to attend Feb. 12-14, 2016!

One of my favorite things to do when visiting a new town is prowling consignment shops and thrift stores. If that’s your jam, you’ll find quite a few Bend thrift stores that donate a portion of the proceeds to local charities. Try the Humane Society Thrift Store, Goodwill, or the Teen Challenge Thrift Store. For a complete list, go here.

Many local restaurants have regularly-scheduled charity events where the proceeds are donated to local non-profits. Keep an eye on the calendar at 5 Fusion, where I can pretty much guarantee any meal will leave you swooning. Another spot that routinely hosts charity dinners and events is 10 Barrel, so you can get a two-for-one cardio punch with the aforementioned beer bonus. Sign up for their email list or watch their Facebook page for info on charity events.

You’ll also discover Bend has plenty of big charity events happening year-round. Oregon Winterfest (which takes place this weekend February 12-14) benefits Saving Grace, an organization devoted to preventing and dealing with family violence and sexual assault. The Ghost Tree Invitational in August benefits the Ronald McDonald House, while the annual Gala at the Riverhouse each January has raised more than $2.3 million for local charities over the years. Animal lovers won’t want to miss Brightside Animal Clinic’s annual Spay-ghetti Benefit Dinner in February.

 

Eat your heart out

Eating healthy means different things to different people, but it’s safe to say a vegan and vegetarian dining is considered pretty heart-healthy due to lower levels of cholesterol and saturated fat.

Think burgers are bad for your heart health? Think again? This plant-based version from Next Level Burger is heart-healthy and deeeeelicious!
Think burgers are bad for your heart health? Think again! This plant-based version from Next Level Burger is heart-healthy and deeeeelicious!

Visit this page for a listing of all restaurants in Bend offering vegan or vegetarian cuisine, and check out this blog post for a roundup of 10 amazing vegan dishes you’ll love even if you’re a meat-lover (I promise!)

But if you’re less interested in eating for heart health and more interested in a romantic Valentine’s dinner, plenty of Bend restaurants have special meals planned for Valentine’s Day evening. The one that keeps catching my eye this year is at Pronghorn Resort, where the special event menu includes items like smoked duck confit ravioli, lamb osso bucco, seared diver scallops, and flourless chocolate torte. Go here to scope out their special menu, or here to peruse all your dining options in Bend.

Bend is the city of love!
Bend is the city of love!

 

Make your heart throb with romance

A couple years ago, Livability.com named Bend one of the 10 most romantic cities in America, and it’s no surprise. There’s something about fresh air and abundant sunshine that puts a wiggle in your walk.

Check out this blog post for a fun roundup of great places to kiss in Bend and Central Oregon, this post for 7 reasons Bend’s a great place to get hitched or honeymoon, and this post for a cute collection of stories from couples who got engaged in Bend.

If you’re coming to Bend for Valentine’s weekend and you’re looking for a little extra romance, ask your Bend hotel or vacation rental if they have any romance packages, or check this page to read about any special lodging deals that include perks like chocolate-dipped strawberries or rose petals on the bed.

 

 

 

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