10 Easy Winter Weekend Getaways to Take Now

winter vacation near seattle, winter road trip, weekend winter getaway near seattle
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Who knew the PNW was made for winter? This year, Seattle-area resorts and winter weekend destinations celebrate in snowy style with lights, fireworks, sculptures and those elusive snow sports your kids crave. So rev up the car and head out to these ten winter vacation hot spots in the mountains, near lakes and on the islands.

Leavenworth, WA

Winter Play 
Leavenworth should be every Seattle family’s travel list. It embodies everything families love about winter, including those city's dazzling half a million lights that will be turned on nightly through February. Aptly named Christmastown, the village houses a Nutcracker Museum, themed gift stores, festive outdoor restaurants and a litany of libations for Littles and their parents. Prost! The entertainment continues into 2022 with live glass blowing, winter markets, snow shoeing and more. With an average of 89 inches of snow every year, you're pretty much guaranteed to enjoy the white stuff during your visit. Snow permitting, the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club has a vast array of sports for your amusement, including the only ski jumping facility on the West Coast. They also host snowshoeing, sledding, tubing and snow biking. One notable excursion is the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, open year-round. The look on the children’s faces when they see the reindeer for the first time is pure wonder.

Where to Stay
After all the excitement, there is no better place to get your hygge vibe on than Sleeping Lady Resort. Dinner is a delicious seasonal chef’s menu with locally sourced ingredients, or grab quick snacks at O'Grady's before taking a self-guided art walk around the property, listening to Icicle Creek gurgling nearby. If you escape without the kiddos for a romantic romp in the snow, check into the Posthotel. You won’t need anything except your spa attire and relaxed vibe. Once you put on your robe, you won’t want to leave.

Plan it: leavenworth.org

Winthrop, WA

Winter Play
Want a Western-style winter escape? Grab the little cow pokes and head to Winthrop for a snowy rodeo. The whole town is straight out of the movie, High Noon. Wooden sidewalks, saloon-style entrances and old-timey fun make this destination unique. First stop Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe. Taste one of their famous cinnamon rolls, enjoy a scoop of ice cream or suck on old-fashioned candy. Peruse the town and then eat at Old Schoolhouse Brewery by the river or at the local fave East 20 Pizza. Afterwards, go ice skating at the Winthrop Ice Rink. The NHL regulation ice hosts a variety of events—like free skate, figure skating and hockey—and the 6,000 square-foot changing room has rentals, hot showers and even ping pong tables.

Where to Stay
Stay at Sun Mountain Lodge, the largest cross-country skiing resort in the country, with 60 kilometers of meticulously groomed trails just outside your resort room door. Strap on those skinny skis (rentals available on-site) and get out there. After the snow angels are made, grab some hot cocoa and plan the day. Choose from snowshoeing, sledding, on-site sleigh rides, Alti Hok (a cool import from Northwest China) and downhill skiing at Loup Loup Ski Bowl. The season opens soon, snow depending. Don’t forget to check for Sun Mountain Lodge’s game room where you'll find ping pong, foosball, and pool tables for indoor amusement.

Greenwater, WA

Winter Play
Even if you’re new to Seattle, chances are you’ve seen the iconic Mt. Rainier peek out from behind the clouds on a few occasions. Our area’s unofficial mascot, this mountain is more than just a pretty face. Winter is surprisingly great time to hit the National Park and Crystal Mountain's ski slopes to take in the full majesty of the park and peaks. But wait, there’s more. Dine at the Summit House, Washington’s highest restaurant at 6872 feet, with fresh PNW ingredients and flavor plus a stunning view of Mt. Rainier. Cross-country skiing, sledding, snowshoe dinner tours and Mt. Rainier Winter Scenic Gondola rides round out the your snow-filled weekend escape.

Where to Stay
Bring your gaggle of gigglers to the pet-friendly Alta Crystal Resort. The closest accommodation to the Sunrise entrance, this resort is ready for your group to frolic and explore. We recommend the spacious lofts with two private sleeping areas for families, or the cabins with a private hot tub on their deck. Evening bonfires with s’mores, free movie rentals, pool and hot tub, and a huge meadow for building snow people and igloos are all on the agenda at Alta Crystal Resort.

Plan it: altacrystalresort.com

Lake Chelan, WA

Winter Play
Lake Chelan is a summer sensation, but it’s during the winter when the heart of the community shows its festive spirit. Events and activities abound and the crowds are gone. Lake Chelan’s deep, blue water is cradled by a semi-desert climate, hills and vines. This season join the locals for wine tastings, winter lights lit all season long and the town's annual Winterfest celebration. Running January 14-23, your tinies be in awe as fireworks reflect off of snowy peaks during this celebration. After shopping, dining and photographing the intricate ice sculptures around town, get your snow vibe on with cross-country skiing, tubing, snowmobiling, skiing and snowboarding, all just a few miles away. When you're ready to come in from the cold, it’s time to bowl at Chelan Lanes where families will find arcade games, billiards and J’s Lane Eleven restaurant.

Where to Stay
Stay at family-owned and operated since 1901, Campbell's Resort, with guest rooms and dining right on the shores of the lake. The Lookout, which offers vacation homes for nightly rental, is another easy option for families, especially when you've got tots or babies in tow.

Plan it:  lakechelan.com

Orcas Island, WA

Winter Play
This is the quiet time for the San Juan Islands and some say the best time to visit. Hiking, mountain biking, storm watching, cozy fireside drinks and games, and the “bustling” Eastsound are all a draw for families visiting the island. After a seaside drive, stop at family-friendly Orcas Island Winery set outdoors by a beautiful barn—it makes for a picturesque sip and savor. Take a hike up Mount Constitution, the highest point in the San Juans, for mind-blowing views. The Madrona Bar & Grill has great fish options, Mijitas Mexican take-out is a delicious win-win for the fam and Brown Bear Baking is a staple for a quick sweet treat or sandwich. Shopping highlights include Forest Ceramic Gallery, Wanderlust + Wildhearts and Island Thyme, although any boutique is sure to please.

Where to Stay
Stay at the Outlook Inn on Orcas Island, overlooking the much-photographed Indian Island. Explore the "secret garden" in back for ball games and the private lawn deck across the street for sunset and avian viewing. Consider requesting the newer addition cabins across from the main hotel with unparalleled views. Another great option is Doe Bay Resort and Retreat, well-known for its eco-friendly ethos. Guests can partake in guided ecology hikes with general manager River Augenstein. Afterall, it’s never too early to get the kids interested in the environment and the outdoors.

Plan it: visitsanjuans.com

Sun Valley, ID

Winter Play
Skiers, celebrity sightings and the ghost of Ernest Hemingway are all part of the mystique of Sun Valley. No wonder Seattle families have had a long love affair with this area. The snow-covered mountain provides breathless thrills with 3,400 vertical feet and over 2,000 acres of varied terrain, plus last year’s 380-acre skiing expansion on Bald Mountain. The Cold Springs lift has been replaced by an express quad lift. Kids can mix it up with sledding, snowmobiling, ice biking or cross-country skiing. Consider enrolling them in SnowSports School to improve those skills. For equipment rentals look no farther than Ski Butlers, the easiest ski and snowboard rental process in town. The ice-skating rink is always a highlight, and afterwards head to Duchin Lounge for an après-ski adult bevvie. Grab some fresh food at the new Wildflower Café—don’t forget to add a cookie or pastry to your order.

Insider tip: Mark your calendar for February 1-6 for the Zion Bank Boulder Mountain Tour, and March 30–April 3 for the Sun Valley Film Festival. Both are great reasons to visit the area.

Where to Stay
Knob Hill Inn Sun Valley is an oasis within an oasis. Located in the heart of Ketchum, this boutique mini chalet is steps away from shops, dining and art, and Knob Hill Inn's suites are well designed for families. This winter, chocoholics will love the hotel’s hot cocoa station in addition to the complimentary snacks. Submerge in the Mediterranean-style hot tub and pool with garage door walls. While you soak in the heat, kiddos splash in the pool, as fresh air and snow swirl just outside.

Plan it: sunvalley.com

Bellingham, WA

Winter Play
Bellingham is packed with food, festivities, beer and water views, and the main part of town is easily accessible and filled with shopping and sights. To get a taste of the town’s rich and colorful past we recommend taking a walking tour with The Good Time Girls. Kids love the enthusiastic costumed guides and their enthralling stories. Self-guided history tours are also a possibility and the new, must-do addition is the Whatcom County Culture Crawl, a family-friendly adventure that promotes the region’s art and culture venues. 

Stroll and peruse downtown Fairhaven where you'll find Village Books, a fantastic general bookstore with a huge kids section and Tony’s Coffee, a local legend. Whatcom Falls Park is an amazing 241-acre land of adventures with five miles of trails, a 100-year-old railroad trestle, a pump track for BMXers and oh-so-many waterfalls. Further afield, Bellingham lies in the heart of fertile Whatcom County farm country. There’s always fun at Bellewood Farms, where families can stock up on apple treats, peanut butter, crafts and locally distilled spirits. With 14 breweries for just 90,000 people, Bellingham has become a beer mecca. Boundary Bay was the first, and families can enjoy relaxed outdoor seating with individual fire pits that truly warm the entire table. If your family has special dietary needs, this handy list of places will keep their tummies happy.

Insider tip: We recommend coming in or out of Bellingham by the Chuckanut Drive scenic byway for gorgeous, winding ocean views.

Where to Stay
Dine or stay at lovely The Chrysalis Inn & Spa, with views of the bay and easy access to Taylor Dock, the walking-on-water trail which connects Fairhaven to the Bellingham Farmer’s Market, two miles north. Notable side trips include Mt. Baker, a small and accessible ski resort with much for families to do and powder stats make snow lovers swoon. 

Plan it: bellingham.org

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

Cle Elum, WA

Winter Play
Suncadia could be renamed Snowcadia this season, because this family-favorite resort is a top spot for winter sports, and it's just a short drive from the city. In fact, Suncadia has so many activities and fun there is no way a group can do it all. If you're up to the challenge... better start soon. Nelson Farm is where you'll find winter axe throwing for budding lumberjacks, winter archery and more snow that your little city dwellers will know what to do with. It's also the place to wow your kiddos when they see the elk herds passing through. For more traditional winter wonderland adventures Suncadia offers skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ice skating and sleigh rides. But our favorite part has got to be the sledding hill, and the fact you can BYO to pull around the many trails and small hills you'll find on the property. 

Where to Stay
Stay at The Lodge at Suncadia or rent a condo or home. For a quieter experience, couples stay at the charming Inn at Suncadia. Dine with a view of the Cascades from Portals Restaurant or of the golf course from The Stovehouse. If the Littles need quick nourishment Suncadia’s own Food Truck will do the trick (on weekends). For an escape from your escape, visit the nearby City of Roslyn, a cute village with shops and restaurants.

Plan it: suncadiaresort.com

Ilwaco, WA

Winter Play
The stormy waters off the coast of the Pacific Northwest have been called the Graveyard of the Pacific, and Ilwaco’s lighthouses still brave the night and fog to keep sailors safe. Ilwaco is rich in seafood, friendly locals and untamed natural beauty along with fantasies of adventure on the high seas. The subtle charm of this harbor town draws visitors in and allows families to have quiet bonding time, while still having plenty to do. Stroll the waterway and check out the quaint shops. Time Enough Books is a well-stocked indie gift and bookstore, RiversZen fitness offers yoga (psst...Peggy can tailor private sessions for most ages), Don Nesbitt Art Gallery has lovely souvenirs and Fishpeople is the place to take home fresh or canned seafood.

Take a picnic to Cape Disappointment, weather permitting. It’s one of the most impressive state parks in Washington. The site overlooks the confluence of the world’s largest ocean and the West’s largest river. Walk in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark, see an installation and gaze upon the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast. From there, active families can hike trails to another lighthouse, or bring bikes and ride the Discovery Trail. We recommend bundling up to watch the sunsets by the interpretive center. You just might see a bald eagle swoop overhead while the sun plunges into the Pacific.

Where to Stay
Stay at the Salt Hotel & Pub. Salt is delicious and offers little tummies grilled cheese and chicken strips while adults sip on craft cocktails. 

Plan it: visitlongbeachpeninsula.com

Bainbridge Island, WA

Winter Play
A ride on a Washington State Ferry is a unique escape unto itself, and it's one of the easiest ways to travel with kids. Add an overnight or two on Bainbridge Island and your family will feel like they're worlds away—after just one ferry crossing. Bainbridge has wonderful parks, views and inlets to explore. Picnic at Fay Bainbridge Park, where the pirate ship playground fits in with the water views. Bloedel Reserve is a peaceful place of solace and natural beauty. Take your group on the slow, easy one-hour walk through this serene garden, where you'll spot the former home of the Bloedels, straight from a fairy tale, and the gorgeously groomed Japanese Garden. Psst.. there's still time to enjoy the Winter Walk in the Woods before it closes for the season on January 9. Reservations are required. While on Bainbridge, visit book and record stores like Eagle Harbor Book Co. and Backstreet Beat as well as specialty stores like Dana's Showhouse and the popular Calico Toy Shoppe. Wind down at Eagle Harbor Wine Co. at their winery (tastings available by appointment) or hop over to Bainbridge Brewing Alehouse. Winslow Way is a smorgasbord of indie shops, so pop in and support local. Of course, no stay on Bainbridge would be complete without a trip to KiDiMu (reservations are needed) and the Scrappy Art Lab. Your kids will thank you.

Where to Stay
Stay at The Marshall Suites, named after the juicy Marshall strawberries that used to cover the island. It's perfectly placed near chic, walkable Winslow Way. The large, comfy suites are family-ready and the Family Stay and Play Package is wow-worthy with maps to local playgrounds, plus a KiDiMu Explore Bainbridge STEM box. As always, guests get 10% off at partner restaurants including the kiddo-tested Plate & Pint directly across the road.

Plan it: visitbainbridge.com

—Natalie Compagno


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