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4 ways to chill out in Bend

kayaking the deschutes river

Moms and dads, can we share a high-five?

Those of us with school-aged kids just survived the chaos of cramming in one last summer vacay, the drama of back-to-school shopping, and the bedlam of settling back into routines for homework, carpools, and the myriad of after-school activities you swear you’re going to cut back on one of these days.

Elk Lake Goodlife

Blogger Tawna chills out on Elk Lake.

You need to relax. Chill. Take a breather.

Can Grandma watch the kids for a weekend? Good. Throw some clothes in a duffel, tie your kayak to the car, and drive to Bend with this chillout checklist in mind.


Get out on the water

There’s something infinitely soothing about water, and we’ve got plenty of it in and around Bend.

Temps might be dropping, but there’s still enough warmth here in the high desert to make floating the river a do-able early-autumn excursion. Though the Ride the River shuttle has stopped for the season, it’s easy enough to do a dual-car shuffle or hoof it the short distance from the Bend Whitewater Park back to Riverbend Park where you can put in again and float the same section over and over until you feel the tension ease from your shoulders.

If kayaking, canoeing, or SUPing is your scene, the Deschutes River provides ample opportunity to get out on the water. You can also head for one of Bend’s mountain lakes like Elk, Cultus, or Paulina to rent the watercraft of your choosing and paddle ‘til your pulse slows down.


Plan for some pampering

Spending a few hours on the water is enough to help regular folks relax, but if your shoulders are knotted up like mine, you’ll need a few extra steps toward decompression.

Float Central

A visit to Float Central is the ultimate relaxation.

Book an appointment at one of Bend’s full-service day spas and enjoy a pedicure, facial, or soothing massage. Several of them like Jinsei and Anjou even offer couples’ massage if you want to unwind with your sweetie or bestie.

For a unique brand of chillaxation, check out Float Central where you can float your cares away in a soundproof tank filled with Epsom salt-saturated water heated to skin temperature. The result is an experience that’s a little like zero gravity where you lose track of where your body ends and the water begins.

Bend also boasts super-unique yoga experiences like the upcoming free yoga class on September 30 at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.


Unplug for an afternoon

Okay, guys…this might be tough to hear: You need to give up your phone.

Blogger Tawna enjoying the unplugged experience at Crescent Lake (the Kindle isn’t on wifi, promise!)

Not forever. Just for an afternoon. Few things rival the restorative powers of unplugging yourself from social media and email, even for a few hours.

Lucky for you, there’s a built-in excuse that comes in the form of spotty signals at higher elevations. Just head for one of the high Cascade Lakes to spend a few hours lounging on a blanket or float tube with a good book and something to sip from your favorite Bend Ale Trail stop.

Wait, your phone doesn’t have a signal? That’s too bad (no, it’s not).

When you return to civilization (and yeah, a voicemail or two) you’ve got a legit excuse for being out of cell range.

And if someone’s annoyed that you cut the electronic umbilical cord for a few hours, you’re chill enough now that you honestly don’t care.


Do something just for you

We vacation differently with kids in tow, amirite?

couple dining on 900 Wall patio

Now’s a good time to relax with a romantic dinner outdoors before the snow flies!

Activities are planned around nap schedules and tween tolerance (intolerance?) for anything that seems “boring.”

But when you’re planning a trip aimed at grownup relaxation, the agenda is all yours.

Visit those art galleries you’ve had your eye on, or take it a step beyond that by booking an art tour with Bend Tour Company. Schedule that romantic dinner you’ve been meaning to plan for months but haven’t found the time for. Set out on the Bend Ale Trail and sample all those hoppy IPAs and malty stouts you’ve passed up on previous visits.

You can even book an adventure that’s technically family-friendly (hello, cave tour or moonlight canoe outing with Wanderlust Tours) but enjoy it without fretting about the little ones’ comfort or the expense of having the kids join you.

Even the High Desert Musuem (one of my kiddos’ favorite Bend attractions) is a uniquely different experience when we enjoy it as a grownups-only outing.

Bottom line, this is your chance to relax, chill out, and do something just for you.

I promise not to tell your kids.

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