With spring break around the corner, vacay’s on your mind. And with the changing seasons, you’re torn between one last ski trip and finding sunny outdoor adventures. Why choose when you can visit Wenatchee and enjoy the best of both worlds? A hidden gem of a ski mountain, and a thriving town in the valley below that’s got all the outdoor (and indoor) recreation you need to keep your family active and engaged. Read on for our take on the best Wenatchee has to offer!

photo: Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort via Yelp

Play & Eat on the Mountain

The Inside Scoop on Mission Ridge
We’re convinced one of the best kept ski secrets in Washington state has got to be Mission Ridge, a true locals’ spot that boasts the charm of an old school ski resort and 300 days of sunshine a year (jelly much?). The 2,000-acre park has 36 runs, plus trails, chutes, screamers and bowls, so no matter what your ski or board style, they’ve got what you’re looking for. And because it’s a little further down the road then Snoqualmie or Stevens Pass (psst…the drive’s only about an hour longer), families can expect it to be less crowded too, which means short lift lines and lots of runs any day you ski. Did we mention the lift ticket prices? They’re another big draw, especially for families looking to save some green. With prices starting at just $7 (for kids 9 & younger) it’s easy to yes to more days on the slopes.

Good to know: Mission Ridge is a great long weekend spot. They’re open Thurs.-Sun. from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., with special Night Ski options on Saturday nights all season long.

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

Get (Ski) Schooled!
Whether this is your kiddo’s first time on skis, or she’s taken a few lessons and is ready to carve hard, Mission Ridge makes learning easy. Beginners start out on the rope tow, at the mountain’s base, just outside the ski school building. We love it because proud parents can easily watch from the windows or stand at the bottom of the hill to get those ever-important pics and vids to keep track of your family’s ski history. If they’ve progressed beyond the basics, instructors take them on the mountain to test out their skills with the group, reviewing what they know and adding in new twists and turns so they can perfect the sport in no time. Ski and snowboard lessons are available for kids as young as three (seven if they’re snowboarding), and parents can choose full ($88-$118) or half day ($58-$88) options, so you can make the most of your time on the mountain.

Good to know: When checking in for ski lessons and renting gear, plan about 45 minutes for the process. If you’ve got your own gear, drop your little skier off about 10 minutes before her lesson starts.

photo: Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort via Yelp

Take Care
Families can also take advantage of the on-site childcare if they have Littles that are too young to strap on skis yet, or prefer arts and crafts to careening down a mountainside. Full and half day options are available for kids as young as three months and as old as six. With prices ranging between $40-$55 and lunch or a snack included, it’s a simple way to get your family skiing, even with baby in tow!

Good to know: Remember to make a reservation via email (childcare@missionridge.com) or phone 509-663-6543 at least 24 hours in advance if you plan to use the childcare option.

photo: Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort via Yelp

Fill ‘Er Up
Because skiing makes your crew hungry, Mission Ridge has dining spots at the mountain’s base and at the top of Chairlift 1. Down below, families can dine one of three ways: sit down seating at the Chair 5 Pub, grab and go goodies from the Ka-Wham Café or bring your own. Either way you can easily find a seat inside or around the fire pit on the deck. This season, Chair 5 Pub’s menu is all new and features delish hot dishes like chicken fingers, nachos and poutine to warm you up from the inside, alongside healthier options like salads and light sandwiches. Expect an array of craft beers here too for your après ski down time. Atop Lift 1, you’ll find the Midway Lodge, catering to skiers who aren’t quite ready to get off the mountain just yet. Expect hot food and drink perfect for a quick recharge before heading out to brave the double blacks yet again.

Good to know: Although you can almost always find a spot in the self-seating areas, the lunchtime rush at Chair 5 Pub is real. We suggest avoiding a noon arrival time if you want to be seated quickly.

Play, Eat & Sleep in Town

There’s plenty going on down in the Valley too. Whether your fam wants to play in the great outdoors or check out some fab active indoor options, there’s plenty to keep everyone in your crew busy.

photo: courtesy Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce

A Breath of Fresh Air
Pack the bikes on the family truckster and plan to hit the 10-mile Apple Capitol Recreational Loop Trail that circles the Columbia River. Its flat, paved surface and peaceful views make a great spot to walk, jog, stroll or bike with the kids. You can head out for the day (don’t forget to pack a lunch) and try to make it all the way around, or just plan a simple out and back to get some fresh air on a sunny day. There are more than a few choice grassy parks along the way that make for ideal kite flying on a windy day or quiet picnic spots where families can enjoy the river. One of our favorites is Walla Walla Point Park. The playground makes it extra-appealing to the wiggle worms in your family.

Good to know: Arlberg Sports, just inside Pybus Public Market, off the trail, is an easy spot to rent wheels if you forgot to bring yours from home!

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

A World of Adventure Under One Roof
A good starting point for your indoor adventures is the Pybus Public Market. Known as a community gathering space, we’re crushing hard on this mini version of Seattle’s Pike Place Market that’s got just as much charm as its big city counterpart, without the crowds (yes, you can wheel your jog stroller through this market!). Families can stroll through small specialty shops tasting oils, cheeses and more, while browsing kitschy, artsy shops featuring local artists too. Plus, it’s a good place to bring the fam when hunger strikes, as there are restaurants and eateries to satisfy every appetite (keep reading for more deets on this). But our favorite part of this lively market is the family-friendly music and game nights, all part of the weekly lineup that keeps visitors and locals coming back for more.

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

Climb to New Heights
Wenatchee’s Riverfront Rock Gym is an unexpected gem in the middle of the Valley. Whether it’s your first time climbing or you and the kids have been there, done that, you’ve got to check it out. The facility is open seven days a week and purchasing a day pass ($12-$18) gives you access while you’re in town. If you’re new to climbing, try an Intro class. It’s an easy way to learn the ropes. Instructors walk you through the rope climbing and safety basics, enough so you’ll feel confident letting your kids explore the self-belay stations on their own in no time. Plus, there are plenty of bouldering areas for them to explore if rope climbing isn’t their bag. Before you head over, fill out the online waiver to make things easy.

photo: Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce

Skate Through Your Trip
Because indoor skating is sometimes hard to find, we recommend lacing up your skates and taking the kids to the Town Toyota Center, near the waterfront. Sure, it’s a place where the community goes to watch hockey games and exciting events that come through town (psst…the special events calendar may give you a few more vacay must-try’s). But every day between 1 p.m.-3 p.m., families can free skate for just $3/kid and $6/adult. Bring your own skates to this favorite local rink, or rent some for just $2 when you get there. Skate on!

photo: Pybus Public Market via Yelp

Fab Foodie Finds

We’re not gonna lie, when hunger strikes in Wenatchee families have some hard choices to make because good food is beyond easy to find in this mountain town. A good bet for lunch is Pybus Public Market; no matter what you’re in the mood for, they’re sure to have it here. Café Columbia is all about homemade breads, salads and baked goods that make for an easy sit down or grab and go lunch. Whereas Fire will satisfy your wood-fired pizza craving, and definitely needs to be paired with its sister store, Ice, where the gelato display looks like inviting waves visitors will want to dive into (can you blame them?). And if adventurous eaters are part of your group, try the French comfort food plates at Pybus Bistro or a modern spin on Latin food at South. Consider this stop an easy win-win.

photo: Richard B. via Yelp

Downtown Eats
In town, McGlinn’s Public House is the place to dine on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s where those in the know go for fresh, locally sourced meals and a shared table among friends. What we love about this Wenatchee fave is the menu variety. You can go all out with starters, greens and a main dish, or keep it casual with a wood-fired pizza or burger and brew. Plus, the kid’s menu is an easy win. They’ve got all your kiddo’s restaurant go-to’s like mac-n-cheese, spaghetti and burgers, so you know they’ll find something on the menu. And the homemade play dough they bring to keep wiggle worms busy after you order doesn’t hurt either. Our only suggestion? Leave room for the chocolate chip pizza for dessert—it’s a fun (and super shareable) way to top off your meal.

photo: Steve S. via Yelp

If casual and quick is what you’re looking for, the Owl Soda Fountain should be at the top of your list. This historic ice cream, soda shop and old-school diner is a fixture of the community. It opened in 1926 (at a different location) and has been serving Wenatchee families and visitors some of the best ice cream creations this side of the Cascades ever since. Your kids will flip for this sweet shop! There’s one other stop to make on your Wenatchee culinary journey, and it can easily be saved for the car ride back to the city. Anjou Bakery, a few miles outside of Wenatchee, is a family-owned café that’s worth the stop. It’s housed in a renovated fruit warehouse and is nestled among pear orchards (hence the name). Trust us, their fresh-baked breads, sandwiches and pastries are a welcome companion for the drive ahead. They’re open Thursday through Sunday and can be easily spotted from the highway as you come into Cashmere.

photo: Comfort Suites at the Park via Yelp

Sleep Well

Make staying the simplest part of your Wenatchee weekend when you book a suite at the Comfort Suites on the outskirts of town. The rooms have plenty of space for families to spread out in, thanks to the added bonus space that’s standard with each suite. The indoor pool and hot tub make it an easy choice too because if there’s one guarantee for families on the go—it’s the lure of the hotel pool. Whether you’re getting up to ski or explore the town, the breakfast spread (included with your stay) is varied enough that each picky eater in your family will find something on the menu, from custom egg scrambles to fresh made Belgium waffles. Then, it’s off to the races with a full belly and easy highway access, which helps you get your crew to the slopes to make the first run in the morning. Rooms here fill up fast, so book one early for your spring trip! 

Do you think you’ll book a Wenatchee weekend getaway this spring? Tell us in the comments below. 

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—Allison Sutcliffe

This trip was arranged by Parsons + Co and paid for by the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce and Mission Ridge, but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.

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