Kid-Friendly Lake Chelan

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chelan1Often referred to as “nature’s playground”, Lake Chelan is the ultimate family getaway for Seattle families anxious for a sun-filled vacation. Just 3.5 hours from Seattle, it’s a whole different scene on the east side of the mountains. The desert-like climate makes it feel like you’re in a whole different state. Stunning scenery, combined with a vast lake as your playground, is the setting for an action-packed vacation. Not only for summer visitors, Lake Chelan seems to have a festival almost every month of the year and plenty of winter activities.

The 116-acre Wapato Point peninsula juts out into the lake and the condominium-style lodging here is ideal for families. All condos, ranging from studios up to 3 bedrooms, have fully equipped kitchens. The Wapato Point resort has 1.5 miles of beachfront, playgrounds, pools, fishing pond, putt-putt golf and a year-round calendar of kid’s activities plus skiing and ice-skating during the winter months. Boats of all shapes and sizes area available for rent (or arrange to bring your own). Kids love paddling around in the kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats while families who want to venture further out may choose to explore the lake via jet-skis and speedboats. Luxury, single family homes (often big enough to host multiple families), are available for rent at Wapato. They are rented privately, so you’ll need to check rental sites such as, , , and Craigslist.

A sprawling lakeside resort right in downtown Chelan, Campbell’s Resort has it all; including lake views from each of the 170 rooms. Guest rooms come in a variety of sizes including some with kitchens or 1-2 bedroom suites. Besides beach and pool activities (and a day spa…ahhh), summer programs  include craft hour, kid’s fishing lessons, swim lessons, and canoe/kayak rentals. Dining is available onsite at the Veranda Bistro or you can keep it casual by ordering from the Beach Bar without moving from your lounge! Since the resort is right in town, you can explore the nearby shops by foot (and stroller).  chelan5

Families who prefer an individual cabin to a large resort should try Kelly’s Resort. Eleven individual cottages and 4 lakeside units (either one or two bedrooms) are situated on the wooded lakefront property. While a little more secluded than the big resorts, the cottages still have modern comforts such as  full kitchens, air conditioning and a TV. Kelly’s has woodsy walking trails, a grass play area, heated pool and a swimming dock. Even Fido is welcome here. In operation for over 60 years, you can almost envision the grandparents coming here once upon a time!

Kiddos (and their parents) will have a blast at Slide Waters. Open Memorial Day through Labor Day, the water park caters to all ages. Babies and little kids will love splashing around in just a couple inches of water at the shallow “Aqua Zoo” with climbing toys and a fountain. Nearby are the beginner and intermediate slides – grab a spot on the lawn and hit these two areas all day. Ready for some thrills? Some of the larger slides are ok to ride with a child in your lap…have fun!

Head up to Manson for family-friendly farm fun at Banjo Creek Farms. Visit and pet the resident sheep, goats, alpacas, and rabbits. Pan for gold by the water tower and take home a treasure. Seasonally, the farm has a corn maze and wagon or sleigh rides. Pack a picnic and stay awhile. A visit isn’t complete without kicking back with an ice cream cone and checking out the shops.

The bustling town of Chelan has all the comforts of home (drive-thru Starbucks, pizza joints, and Mexican restaurants). For something a little different, try one of these fun “off the beaten path” spots.
Surrounded by vineyards, Lake Chelan Winery offers a picturesque outdoor BBQ provides a relaxing picnic-type setting. Enjoy a glass of wine and a delicious BBQ dinner cooked on their applewood grill. The menu is small (you may need to supplement a picky toddler with a few items from your diaper bag) with salmon, chicken, ribs (delicious), and hot dogs plus a few sides offered. While waiting for their meal, it’s not uncommon to find kids exploring the hillside surrounding the picnic tables, occasionally breaking into an impromptu game of ring-around-the-rosy. After a day of fun at the lake, you can hit dinner early (they are open from 4pm-8pm daily) or enjoy live music on a Friday night.

An 8-acre working berry farm with U-pick available in the summers (not just the blue variety), Blueberry Hills Farms has a country restaurant serving comfort food in a charming barn with a covered deck and fantastic views. Come for breakfast or lunch for down home cooking such as scratch soups, sloppy burgers, and smiley face waffles for kids. Or just come by to pick berries and cool off with an ice cream cone or a slice of fresh baked pie on the deck afterwards.

— Angie J. Ballas