(Incidentally, this is what happens when a tourism bureau hires a USA Today bestselling romantic comedy as their blogger, but I digress).
Romantic opportunities are everywhere in Bend, and here are four ways you can make a special romantic gesture in Bend, Oregon.
Central Oregon is dotted with dozens of glorious, cascading waterfalls that are as beautiful as they are inspiring. Want to make a special gesture with your loved one?
Make a waterfall wish
Hike to the waterfall of your choice. Along the trail, pick up a pair of small sticks that catch your eye. When you reach a safe spot at the top of the falls, hold hands with your sweetie and make a wish together, then toss in your sticks and watch them bob and float before tumbling over the edge.
(Let’s not dwell on what it means for the wish if someone’s stick gets snagged on a rock, mmkay?)
Need ideas for finding waterfalls near Bend? Check out this blog post. Waterfalls with easy access points to viewpoints from the top include Tumalo Falls and Salt Creek Falls, but you can find ways to make it work from nearly all of them.
It goes without saying that you should stay on marked trails, refrain from littering, and also avoid maiming or killing yourself in your quest for this romantic gesture.
The snowy heart
How many times have you seen a beach montage in a romantic movie where the swoony lovers draw a heart in the sand with their initials inside?
There’s a more creative way to do it in Bend.
Head for higher elevations near Mt. Bachelor, where fields of snow abound at surrounding Sno-Parks. Snowshoe or Nordic ski to a warming hut for a romantic picnic, and conclude by using a stick or ski pole to carve your initial-filled heart in a blanket of snow. Bonus points if you flop down together and make side-by-side snow angels.
Not up for trekking out on your own? Book a romantic moonlight snowshoe adventure with Wanderlust Tours. They’ve had tons of couples get engaged over the years during their Bonfire on the Snow tours, which tells you all you need to know about how awesomely romantic this experience can be.
Add some ink
I’ll preface this by saying I never, EVER recommend getting a loved one’s name or likeness permanently inked on your body.
That said, getting a tattoo while on vacation in Bend is one of the most unique souvenirs you can get, and there are plenty of ways for couples to experience it together.
Subtle “couples tattoos” like matching infinity symbols, EKG heartbeats, or musical notes representing your favorite song are popular. There are endless complementary designs like the moon for one partner and a sun for the other (or peanut butter and jelly, or electron and proton symbols, or…well, you get the idea).
It’s not mandatory to be matchy-matchy, either. My husband and I got inked together in New Zealand, and though the tattoos have nothing to do with one another, they’re a perpetual reminder of our dream vacation together. I’ve also seen artsy couples who get tattoos featuring each other’s handwriting, photos, or sketches. The possibilities are endless, and there are tons of great Bend tattoo studios (I can personally vouch for Monolith).
Keep in mind that many artists book up months in advance, so reservations are mandatory, as is chatting with the artist in advance to explain what you’re envisioning.
Do a couple’s quest
It’s super-common for Bend visitors to arrive toting must-see lists that include major Central Oregon landmarks like Smith Rock State Park and Tumalo Falls.
But why not take it to the next level with a romantic bucket list you create together?
Pledge to smooch atop Pilot Butte at Sunset. Make a date to stargaze together from the Hopservatory at Worthy Brewing. Book a couples’ massage appointment at one of Bend’s fabulous day spas. Vow to write lists of ten things you love most about each other, and read them to one another while sipping your favorite beer beside a cozy fire pit along the Bend Ale Trail.
The possibilities are endless, and you’ll have as much fun coming up with your bucket list as you will checking the items off one by one.
There are plenty of good reasons to plan that Bend vacation you’ve been dreaming about. Fun. Fresh air. Relaxation.
But there’s another good reason to crack open that day planner and start making hotel reservations. Did you know a Bend vacation can help you impress important people?
Don’t believe me? Here’s a roundup of four people I promise will be wildly impressed by your plans to frolic in Central Oregon’s mountainous high desert.
Impress your boss!
In my non-Visit Bend life, I’m a romantic comedy author. On the days I’m not writing blog posts giving you tips on fun things to do around Bend, I’m writing funny smut.
Or trying to, anyway. See, sometimes I get stuck. In my younger days as an author, I’d force myself to sit at my desk gnawing on that plot knot until I fixed it. Most of the time, gnawing off my own foot would have been preferable.
Eventually it occurred to me that every time I gave myself a break and took the dog for a long walk, something magical happened. Blame it on Bend’s fresh air or the beautiful scenery, but within a few steps of my front door, I’d almost always solved my plot problem.
Okay, so most of you probably aren’t romance authors. That doesn’t mean your professional brain can’t be refreshed and rejuvenated in the same way. Explore Bend’s hiking trails. Spend an afternoon fishing. Take a bike ride. Whatever you do, get out of your element and into Bend’s great outdoors. I guarantee it’ll work wonders for your creativity, productivity, and probably a few other –ivities I can’t even think of right now.
See? I totally need to rejuvenate my vocabulary by ducking out early to go standup paddleboarding.
Impress your neighbors!
Look, I’m not one to advocate for keeping up with the Joneses. Just because Jim and Sally next door bought a new BMW doesn’t mean you have to do the same.
That said, is it really the worst thing in the world to want your neighbors to feel just a teeny, tiny bit jealous of you? Like if they see you loading up the roof rack with all your bikes, kayaks, skis, and sporting equipment, is there a small part of you that kinda wants them to feel a twist of envy?
Maybe that’s just me. Or maybe you’re a kind and generous soul who would never, ever want to inflict those kinds of feelings upon your dear, sweet neighbors. In fact, if you love your neighbors that much, why not rent a Bend vacation home with them? There are oodles of them around town, ranging from private residences with hot tubs to little cottages on the fringe of popular hiking and biking trails.
Just make sure the Joneses know you’ve got dibs on the biggest room.
Impress your significant other!
I didn’t realize until I started plotting out this blog post how frequently I’ve written about romance in Bend. Like this post on planning a romantic Valentine’s Day. Or this post on unique date ideas in Bend. Or this post on the best spots to kiss. Or this post featuring five adorable stories of couples who got engaged in Bend. Or this post on how to plan a fabulous proposal, honeymoon, or wedding in Bend.
In my defense, I’ve been blogging here nearly five years, and I am a romance author. Still, that’s a whole lotta romantic ideas at your fingertips. Really, you have no excuse not to use them to prove to your loved one that you’re all that and a bag of chips.
Impress your parents!
This one’s a little tougher, depending on who your parents are. Like maybe mom and dad have always pushed you toward self-improvement. Why not use your Bend vacation as an excuse to learn a new skill? You can take a cooking class from The Well Traveled Fork or learn to snowshoe or kayak with the naturalist guides from Wanderlust Tours.
If it’s professional development your parents want you to work on, check out the continuing ed classes from Central Oregon Community College or consult Visit Bend’s event calendar for a roundup of educational opportunities during your planned vacation.
Maybe mom and dad have been nagging you to change your wardrobe or cut your hair. There’s tons of great shopping in Bend, and you can get that haircut while you enjoy a tasty Bend craft beer if you stop by Bond Street Barber Shop.
Oh, and if your parents are nagging you for grandkids? Er, go back and read that last section on romance. You’re welcome.
As I shared in last week’s post, I just got married September 6. While I’m with you all in spirit, I have to confess I’m currently on a beach in Belize sipping fruity drinks and feeling a little nostalgic I’m missing my favorite time of year in Bend.
But in the spirit of passing along some giddy romantic vibes, we recently asked folks on Visit Bend’s Facebook page to share stories of marriage proposals that took place in Bend and Central Oregon. After all, the town named one of America’s Most Romantic Cities by Livability.com should have some great tales of people getting down on one knee to pledge eternal devotion.
Here’s what we rounded up for you:
Greg and Kristen (a January proposal at Smith Rock State Park)
“I proposed to my fiancée back in January,” Greg shared on Visit Bend’s Facebook page. “I surprised her by telling her I wanted to do a hike up to Misery Ridge [at Smith Rock State Park] to watch the sunrise. Little did she know our closest friends and family had hiked up at 4 a.m. to hide and take pictures, carrying celebration champagne to the top. It worked out perfectly, and I proposed at the bench on the lookout on top of Misery Ridge. We watched the sunrise, even though it was freezing fog.”
The couple is planning a June wedding in Bend.
Misty and Novin (a July proposal at Tumalo Falls)
“Bend is THE PLACE to get engaged!” Misty shared on Visit Bend’s Facebook page. “My fiancé proposed on the Fourth of July last year at Tumalo Falls. We were standing on this rock admiring the falls, and he was looking nervous and awkwardly fumbling with his pocket. He started mumbling some nice words I can’t remember, and he tried to take the ring out of the box, but I started yelling at him to stop because I had a bad feeling he would drop the ring into the water. Haha!
“We moved back onto the trail so he could safely put the ring on my finger. We spent the holiday weekend with family in Sunriver and celebrated the rest of the weekend at several awesome spots including Sunriver Brewing Company and Ariana Restaurant. We’re getting married in September at Eagle Crest Resort. We just love Central Oregon that much!”
Jacob and Rebecca (a July proposal at Suttle Lake)
“Rebecca had just landed at PDX airport after climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro,” Jacob shared on Visit Bend’s Facebook page. “I had given her a letter for every day she was gone and then this big surprise on the way home.”
Jacob really wanted to surprise her, so he pulled off the road next to Suttle Lake on the way back to their hometown in Bend, Oregon, right at sunset. Some good friends helped him set up a candlelit dinner scene with Rebecca’s favorite dessert and music by the side of the lake.
After a few minutes of slow dancing, he spun her onto his knee and asked if she’d spend the rest of her life with him.
She said yes (of course!) and the couple is set to wed in early October.
Larry and Lisa* (a November proposal at Mt. Bachelor)
“Larry was working at the Olympia Brewery at the time, when we decided to spend a long weekend in Bend,” Lisa shared. “We had been dating for a while, and both of us knew we had found our soulmates. It was Sadie Hawkins Day, and I was getting increasingly chicken about proposing while skiing at Mt. Bachelor. Finally, Larry couldn’t wait any longer and while we were taking in the view, he popped the question. I was so surprised, he had to ask twice! (Larry really likes to tell this part of the story). This was 27 wonderful years, two kids, and two breweries ago!
* Lisa Sidor is the Visitor Information Specialist for Visit Bend, and Larry Sidor is the owner/brewer at Crux Fermentation Project.
Becky and Geoff (a March proposal at Smith Rock State Park)
“My now fiancé, Geoff, my dog Yogi, and I visited Smith Rock for the first time in December 2013,” Becky shared in an email. “We fell in love with it so much that we hiked there twice in one weekend. Although only visiting there twice, I claimed that was my favorite place in all of Oregon and the entire world. I made plans with a running guide to trail run there as well in May.
“On Saturday, March 22, 2014, Geoff, my dog Yogi, and I drove all the way to Terrebonne from Portland, anticipating a great day of hiking. It was 60 degrees, sunny, in my favorite place in the world.
“We hiked the Misery Ridge trail, and once we got to the summit, he took me to an area that was secluded from the hikers. He started taking photos of me, and I didn’t know why. He kept saying I looked really beautiful and kept snapping away. After soaking in the beautiful views of Smith Rock, I jokingly mentioned “this would have been the perfect place to propose”. He laughed and said “eventually!” We stayed for a bit as he took photos of me, then told me to lead us back to the trail. Then he said, “Becky?” I thought he was going to tell me a joke, and I said, “WHAT?” Then I saw him on one knee, with the ring out, and he asked “Will you marry me?”
“I was in so much shock, I didn’t expect a proposal. My dog, Yogi, was our only witness! I was so happy and the first words that immediately came out of my mouth were, “what the hell?!” Because I was so surprised. I then started crying, kissed him, and said “yes!” It was the perfect moment, on Smith Rock, on one of the most gorgeous days! Or maybe it’s always gorgeous. We spent the entire hike smiling, kissing, and enjoying the moment.”
I got married at Tumalo State Park in Bend this past Saturday, so you might say I have weddings on the brain. The fact that I already live here precluded me from choosing Bend as a honeymoon destination, but rest assured, I’m aware that this is one of the most romantic spots in the universe.
Here are seven of my favorite reasons Bend makes a fabulous place for a romantic marriage proposal, a couples’ getaway, or a destination wedding:
How ‘bout that backdrop?
Whether you’re popping the question or popping the cork on your wedding day champagne, you want a scenic backdrop to your special moment. Luckily, Bend is packed full of vistas so beautiful you want to gobble them up with a spoon.
Want a romantic riverfront setting? Scope out the parks map to find a setting that’s perfect for your big moment. Scenic locales like Smith Rock State Park and Tumalo Falls are popular places for couples to get engaged or share a romantic moment. Just about any hiking trail around Central Oregon will lead you to a scenic, secluded setting that’s perfect for asking your honeybun to be with you ’til it’s time to choose matching cemetery plots.
Planning a wedding? It cost me a whopping $50 to reserve the picnic area where we wed last Saturday at Tumalo State Park, so clearly you can get the scenic setting on a budget. For more elaborate affairs, consider the stunning backdrop at Brasada Ranch and start planning your destination wedding today.
Visit Bend has multiple web pages devoted to finding the right venue, flowers, DJ, and more, so click the link to get started.
Spoil me, pamper me, love me
If your vision of a romantic weekend getaway involves a decadent massage for two, you’ll find tons of great ideas on Visit Bend’s spa page. Two of my favorite spots offering couples’ massage are Jinsei and Anjou. Both have cozy, romantic suites where they set up two massage tables side-by-side and spoil you with chocolates and champagne.
Bend’s spas are a great place to get spiffed up and beautiful for a wedding, too. In the weeks leading up to my own nuptials, I sprung for a series of facials at Revive Skin Services to help smooth out some of the damage done by Bend’s harsh desert climate. Jen at Polish works magic when it comes to waxing and eyelash extensions, and my tootsies were perfectly pampered thanks to a pedicure at Raelynn at Images Salon. I’ve trusted Fawnda at Luminescence to trim and style my hair for more than a decade, with the added bonus of stunning river views as I sit in her chair.
To plan your own weekend of pampering in Bend, be sure to check Visit Bend’s spa page.
Make memories together
There’s nothing quite like marking a special vacation with an activity you’d never get to do at home. Whether you choose to propose during a romantic moonlight snowshoe tour, or celebrate your honeymoon with a starlight canoe outing, you owe it to yourself (not to mention your sweetie) to book a special outing with Wanderlust Tours.
If you’re more of a foodie than an adventurer, schedule a cooking class together with The Well Traveled Fork. I can’t tell you how many times my new hubby and I have consulted the recipe packets from our classes with Chef Bette, and it makes us smile every time we prepare one of the dishes we learned to make together. Watch her offerings around Valentine’s Day for special classes like aphrodisiac cooking!
Want to bond over a shared adrenaline rush? Book a whitewater raft trip with Sun Country Tours, or opt for the ultimate adventure with an aerial tour. You can see Bend from the vantage-point of a helicopter, airplane, or hot air balloon. You can even scope out the scenery while skydiving. Talk about taking the plunge!
Table for two, please?
If you’re looking to canoodle over canapés, there are plenty of romantic restaurants in Bend for your special occasion. One of my favorite splurgy dinner spots is Ariana Restaurant. Their outdoor patio is sunny and open, and their indoor space is cozy and romantic. The menu is centered around Northwest cuisine and unique twists on classic dishes, and their wine list can’t be beat.
If you want Italian cuisine like you’ve never experienced before, Trattoria Sbandati is your spot. You can go here to read my full write-up on this magnificent little Italian restaurant, or just trust me when I say the food here is one of those things you’ll remember for years after you’ve lovingly polished off the last forkful of Tagliatelle al Gorgonzola.
Jackalope Grill is another special occasion hotspot guaranteed to leave you swooning from more than just the romance. Order the Osso Bucco and a seat in their sunny courtyard, and prepare to have your mind blown.
If you feel like venturing outside the city limits for something a little different, check out the scenic dining at Black Butte Ranch. Their menu features creative Northwest cuisine, and you’ll always find unique dishes like elk loin or brook trout.
For a complete roundup of Bend restaurants to fit every taste and budget, go here.
The honeymoon suite
Whether you’re planning a honeymoon, or just a romantic weekend getaway, Bend is jam-packed with hotels, motels, vacation rentals, and resorts. For an in-depth look at the charming array of bed and breakfast establishments in Bend, check out this post, or peruse Visit Bend’s lodging page for info on all kinds of great places to stay.
Even though I was Belize-bound for my honeymoon, I chose to spend my wedding night in a lovely river-view suite at the Riverhouse Hotel & Convention Center. We had a breathtaking view of the Deschutes River, an in-room hot tub, and a fireplace that came fully-stocked with everything we needed to start a toasty little fire to sit beside while we enjoyed the champagne and chocolate they left for us. Perfect!
Hey, don’t just take my word for it
OK, I know what you’re thinking. “Of course the lovestruck newlywed thinks Bend is the perfect place for romance.” That may be true, but I’m not the only one with that opinion. Travel + Leisure included Bend in their January 2013 roundup of America’s most romantic towns, and Livability.com ranked Bend in the #1 slot in their roundup of the nation’s top 10 romantic cities. See? It’s not just me.
Come back again and again
When you get engaged, hitched, or otherwise romantic in a certain city, ever notice how you want to go back? Once you’ve made some memories in Bend, we hope you’ll want to return for anniversaries and special getaways. Luckily, it’s easy to reach Bend from just about anywhere. Nonstop flights depart daily to major hubs like Seattle, Portland, LA, San Francisco, Denver, and Salt Lake City.
If you crave the bonding time of a road trip, check out our handy Getting Here page for maps and info about travel times.