Winter in Oregon is a time to restore and renew. Rain feeds the rivers, and the forests take a deep drink to keep Oregon emerald green; Douglas firs are often cloaked in white. Oregon’s lifeblood is water. Her creeks, streams and rivers are born of mountain glaciers and springs that flow into bays and the Pacific Ocean. Each waterway runs with a distinctive rhythm and character, creating a unique soundtrack for your love story. Luckily, Oregon is home to an abundance of waterfront lodgings — from rustic to luxury — designed for ultimate relaxation. No matter your heart’s desire, here are some top Oregon retreats to explore in the cool-weather season.
A stay at The Minnow is like dancing on water, because you literally are. This tiny red floating home offers an experience of the Willamette River like no other. The urban retreat invites guests to live large with a private deck and magnificent views of the Willamette River. It’s moored to the docks off the Canemah neighborhood in Oregon City. The Minnow has a nearby caretaker who will lend you a kayak, a canoe or a fishing pole for some river exploring and fun. You can fix a simple dinner with goodies from the year-round Oregon City Farmers Market to enjoy on your deck or sit inside at the small table with the big river view. Share a bottle of one of Oregon’s fine wines, and when you just can’t keep your eyes open any longer, climb the ladder to the loft to cuddle up in the comfy queen bed.
Lovebirds on the Bay
Many have never heard of Wheeler, a quiet paradise for birders and fishing enthusiasts located along the Nehalem River and Nehalem Bay on Oregon’s North Coast. From the ring of windows of the secluded Mermaid Room at Wheeler on the Bay Lodge, you could spend hours watching blue heron, egret and cormorant as they feed. While each room has different features, the motor lodge — with its original 1940s footprint — has a selection of romantic rooms on the website, including the Honeymoon Suite. Their recipe for romance? Borrow the kayaks to explore the river and grill up a fresh catch, or soak in your jetted tub, lounge by the fireplace and take in the sunset from your private deck with your favorite person.
Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge
A Fishing Hole Fantasy
You’ll welcome the pampering at the Sandy Salmon Bed & Breakfast Lodge in the town of Brightwood, at the confluence of the Sandy and the Salmon rivers just west of Mt. Hood. In this modern cedar lodge, the romance begins with waking up to your sweet someone with the aromas of freshly brewed coffee and something extraordinary wafting from the kitchen. The innkeeper owners claim that the best fishing hole on the Sandy River sits below their deck. The Eagles Nest room — with a Jacuzzi tub, a king-size canopy bed and a large bay window that opens to the sounds of river rapids — is an excellent choice for a romantic nest. Prepare for a day in the snow at any of Mt. Hood’s sno-parks or ski resorts, just minutes east.
Nostalgia in a Natural Paradise
The area east of Eugene along the McKenzie River has always been a nature lover’s paradise, with abundant fish, cold-running rivers, natural hot springs and green forests. At the McKenzie Riverside Cottages, the crystal-clear river runs along a lovely 1930s fishing cabin called Lookout Cottage that President Hoover once stayed in. It’s a favorite among couples for the mesmerizing river views from the king-size bed. Or maybe it’s the nostalgic yellow-painted woodwork of the sweet little kitchen. Relax in front of the wood stove with a hot chocolate as you watch tiny rivulets of rain run down the window panes. Cozy-weather lovers might want to cocoon in warm blankets on the outdoor loungers, which provide the sense of being on the deck of a riverboat. Choose from a selection of riverfront cottages, cabins and lodge suites perfect for winter romance.
Rendezvous on the Rogue
Weasku Inn on the mighty Rogue River is a legendary fishing lodge with a few stories to tell. The historic lodge was completed in 1924 to offer anglers and hunters a place to stay and a hot meal. During Prohibition, flappers and booze runners liked to stop here to let off steam. Silver-screen actor Clark Gable also visited the inn often to fish for salmon and steelhead and at one time courted the owner’s daughter. You can read more about it in the book “Weasku Inn: Oregon’s Legendary Rogue River Resort,” from Vintage Publishing. If just for the love of fishing or a brief flirtation, romance has always been part of the inn. One great option is the private king spa suite cabin with a Jacuzzi tub and a fireplace. While there’s no kitchenette, you can enjoy a hearty complimentary breakfast in the lodge. Don’t miss the s’mores kits or fresh-baked cookies and milk each evening to enjoy at the fire pit.
Under the Milky Way
Couples drawing inspiration from nature’s wide-open spaces and stargazing will enjoy the Crooked River Ranch Cabins on Crooked River Ranch, a 10,000-acre rural resort between Bend and Madras. Built on a bench-rock ridge that towers over the Crooked River, these snug cabins give you the feeling of being off the grid while also having everything you need for a pet-friendly weekend, including a private fire pit, deck, kitchenette and queen bed. Dramatic views of the Crooked River Canyon are just outside your door. Pack a romantic picnic for a day hike down the canyon to the river, or ask your hosts for directions to the waterfall. You might even plan a ski session at Mt. Bachelor, about 50 miles southwest. After dark, settle outside on your deck. Here at the top of the canyon, far from light pollution, the night sky will reveal its veil of stars to show you a glimpse of infinite possibility.
Wine Lovers’ Getaway
Find your romantic escape along the Columbia River Gorge in the town of Boardman at River Lodge and Cabins. There are guest rooms in the lodge, but it’s the nine cabins with beachside fire pits that whisper romance, especially at sunset. The pet-friendly king studios and two-bedrooms offer kitchenettes, but you can also dine at their Two Barrels restaurant, which rivals any taproom and grill in Portland. No-stress day trips together include hiking the paved trails along the Columbia at Boardman Marina & RV Park or exploring the nearby wine-tasting rooms of the Columbia Valley. Visit the nearby Sno Road Winery for estate-grown cabernet sauvignon and bold tempranillo and Echo Ridge Cellars for malbec and muscat. Bring some back to your cabin to enjoy as the fiery sunset lights up the sky.