‘Tis the season! For work parties, wish lists, hectic schedules and overindulging. Want to get away from it all? Consider booking a weekend winter getaway with your pint-sized crew and indulging in some good ol’ family fun. Scroll down for 13 winter escapes where you can recharge your soul and make this winter season the best one yet.
Wine country makes the perfect winter getaway for families and foodies of all ages! While tasting rooms abound on every corner, the Children’s Museum of Walla Walla is filled with indoor and outdoor activities to amuse tykes for hours. Town founders and pioneers the Whitman family are memorialized all over town, lending their name to the most centrally located hotel (The Marcus Whitman) and the local liberal arts college (Whitman College). The sculpture garden at Whitman College makes a great scavenger hunt for the little ones, and the Whitman Mission is a National Historic Site which allows young visitors to earn their Whitman Mission Junior Ranger badge.
Families looking for a complete winter wonderland escape will want to check out Eritage Resort, minutes from the city center. Adults will enjoy culinary delights from Chef Jason Wilson of Seattle's Fire & Vine, while the kids play board games around the fire in the common space. It's hygge heaven! When it's time to fuel up on the way out of town, the whole family will enjoy Andrae's Kitchen, easily the world's best restaurant entirely located inside a gas station. For a photo op night out, dine at Whitehouse-Crawford Restaurants. Have the little one's dress up, and cross next year's holiday card photo off your list. Check!
When it comes to rustic winter elegance, there's nowhere for a special-treat-vacay quite like Western Montana. Missoula makes the perfect home base. The town is filled with characterful antique shops and classic pubs, and the kids shouldn't miss the chance to take a spin down by the river on A Carousel for Missoula, one of the very few hand-carved carousels built since the 1930s.
Big Sky Country is yours to discover. Relish some of the world's most famous "dude ranches," which are also high-end world-class resorts, filled with the finest food and drink, horse and carriage rides, hiking, mountain biking, archery, fishing, skating, skiing and a myriad of indoor activities. Two favorites include The Resort at Paws Up, about 30 minutes from Missoula, and The Ranch at Rock Creek, 90 minutes to the southeast. "RRC", as it appears on the plush towels and linens, is a stunning wonderland of glamping, revelry and endless fun. Whether leading a ride deep into snowy mountain ravines, or simply pouring a dram of the fine local single malt, the guides and hosts at the Ranch at Rock Creek are always the friendliest and best reason to visit.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Don't make easy hard: Take the family skiing and snowboarding to a comfortable winter wonderland. As the first ski resort in North America, Sun Valley has hosted Seattle families for decades. The wintry delights are endless, and all conveniently located in a cozy, welcoming environment. Go ice skating at the Sun Valley Resort, or mix it up with sledding, snowmobiling, ice biking, bowling, or cross country skiing. Bundle up with blankets for a horse-drawn sleigh ride, then walk into the village to Grumpy's or The Pioneer Saloon for a burger and a beer. Everything about Sun Valley is optimized for comfort, convenience and fun. See? Easy.
Great Wolf Lodge - Grand Mound
Great Wolf Lodge is a family retreat into another world. Imagine a place where magic, crafts, stories and characters mingle with a high-excitement water park, ropes course and an arcade. Great Wolf Lodge guests are immediately greeted with friendly enthusiasm and whisked away into this fairy tale as soon as the wolf ears are placed on little heads. And the smiles and fun don't stop with so much to do and explore. Great Wolf Lodge has upped its food game recently with the Lodge Wood Fired Grill serving freshly caught seafood and dishes that all ages will love to share. Psst! After the kids are asleep, order the Wine Down Service. Choose from four different wine pairings for the perfect ending to the day.
Great Wolf Lodge - Grand Mound
20500 Old Hwy 99 S.W.
Centralia, WA 98531
Seattle families looking for holiday lights instead of dark drizzle should escape to Leavenworth, a snow globe come to life in the Northwest. This former mining town reinvented itself in the 1960s to become the popular family destination enjoyed today. The bustling replica Bavarian village houses a Nutcracker Museum, a plethora of Bavarian-themed restaurants and a host of retail shops. The best part? Leavenworth receives an average of 89 inches of snow every year, so you're pretty much guaranteed to enjoy the white stuff during your visit. While the kids play in the snow, adults can amuse themselves at the Argonaut Espresso Bar, Blue Spirits Distillery, Doghaus Brewery and Woohoo Winery, all conveniently located within earshot of all the German merriment. Prost!
Suncadia Resort – Cle Elum
Suncadia, A Destination Hotel might conjure up images of heat-drenched summer fun, but this is a year-round resort bedecked in winter wonderland adventures. Skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, inner-tubing, ice skating and sleigh rides are all offered. Rope Tow Inner Tubing Hill and guided winter tours offer safe, exhilarating fun and celebration for all ages. The elk herds around Nelson Dairy Farm provide a pleasant surprise for kids of all ages. Families can stay at The Lodge at Suncadia or rent a home; for a quieter experience couples stay at the charming Inn at Suncadia. Portals serves delicious farm-to-table Pacific Northwest cuisine with a stunning view of the mountains. For an escape from your escape, visit nearby City of Roslyn, a cute village with shops and restaurants.
3600 Suncadia Trail
Cle Elum, Wa 98922
Need an escape that's quick, simple and cheap? For just $8.50, a Washington State Ferry can transport you across Elliott Bay to magical Bainbridge Island. No cars required; the entire Winslow downtown area is easy to see on foot. Taking an urban hike along the waterfront trail is an absolute must. While on Bainbridge, visit book and record stores (Eagle Harbor Book Co., Backstreet Beat), specialty stores (PrettyStick, The Traveler) and museums (Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, KidiMu). Wind down with a cask ale from Bainbridge Brewing at the Harbour Public House or the Bainbridge Brewing Alehouse. Maybe both? It could not be easier. Just being on the water is reason enough to go; the views of downtown are spectacular.
Port Townsend & Olympic Peninsula
From Bainbridge Island, drive north for one hour to arrive in picture perfect Port Townsend, the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula. This gigantic chunk of land the size of Rhode Island offers the wildest, most spectacular outdoor setting in the region. While summer activities abound, wintry visitors can still hike Fort Worden State Park, enjoy steaming hot springs, and of course, hunker down with local fish and chips and dark winter ales at any of the three local breweries. The town's fine assortment of Victorian B&Bs offer warm blankets and hygge fireplaces for chilly travelers. Psst! Leave the kids with the grandparents and enjoy a romantic escape to another world while looking out at Whidbey Island, just across the Sound.
Eastsound, Orcas Island
Further afield, the San Juan Islands beckon like sirens to sailors. What sets Eastsound apart from every other delightful locale in the San Juans is its views and array of top-notch dining options. Stay at the Outlook Inn on Orcas Island, overlooking adorable Indian Island. The attentive owners will be glad to point out the town's many great features. Darvill's Book Store makes the perfect home base for WiFi, coffee and chatting with locals. Foodies must visit Hogstone's Wood Oven, technically a pizza joint but actually one of the most interesting restaurants in the state. New sister restaurant Aelder promises even more dazzling farm and foraging tastings. Take a hike up Mount Constitution, the highest point in the San Juans, for jaw-dropping views of Mount Baker, the Olympics and Vancouver Island.
Leave early to avoid traffic, then check in for a perfect weekend at one of Portland's fab hotels. The Hoxton is PDX's latest gem, with a hip design, tasty eats and drinks and a community-focused event schedule in the vibrant Chinatown neighborhood. Enjoy the rooftop taqueria-inspired Tope, order a mezcal cocktail and star gaze from the outdoor patio. The Alder Street food trucks, Portland Art Museum, Powell's Books and Wildfang boutique make for a fun, walkable day in town. Or book a wine country tour to Oregon's wonderful Willamette Valley. Ardiri Winery & Vineyards offers blissful views and classic Oregon pinot noir—picnic baskets encouraged.
Is beer tourism a thing? Absolutely! Bellingham has become a beer mecca, with 15 different breweries conveniently located just 90 minutes north on I-5. Bed and brew packages abound. At the lovely Chrysalis Inn & Spa Bellingham, on the water in Fairhaven, visitors receive four local beers, two glasses, chocolate truffles and a Bellingham Tap Trail map for an extra $30. The neighborhood offers antiquing, thrifting and endless gastropubs. Or surprise your partner with a stay at Stones Throw Brewery Guest House. That's right! You can spend the night in the brewery. On the way out of town, enjoy a boozy brunch at the Mount Bakery Cafe. The smoked salmon benny is legendary!
Victoria, British Columbia
Majestic Victoria BC couldn't be easier to visit from Seattle. Pack an overnight bag, walk on the Victoria Clipper and then explore this charming, walkable city. It's one of the sunniest locations in the Pacific Northwest. The flowers and shrubs at The Butchart Gardens and high tea at the Fairmont Express Hotel will surely brighten any winter day. And the tech boom has left a plethora of indie boutiques, galleries, cafes and lounges for you to sample. Want to visit the outskirts? Bring your bike aboard the Clipper and enjoy the marvelous marine views.
Clipper Vacations: clippervacations.com
Vancouver, British Columbia
Traveling to the region's other big city is like entering a parallel universe: so near, and yet so different. For starters, Canada. Wallow in poutine, enjoy the fantastic exchange rate and marvel at Pacific Northwesterners who are shockingly friendly and outgoing. Culture shock abated, enjoy one of the world's great cities. The Richmond suburb has the best Chinese food this side of Hong Kong. The downtown architecture stuns with its civically planned array of gleaming spires. Visit or stay at the iconic, original downtown Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, aptly dubbed the "Castle in the City." And be sure to rent a bike or walk along the Stanley Park seawall for maximum views of Lions Gate Bridge. Then, resist the urge to just keep driving north without ever coming back.