Often 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. 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. If you’re headed there soon, be sure to take along our handy guide. Tip: If you have little ones not yet in school, a fantastic (and much less crowded) time to go is in early June or September (when the “big” kids are all in school).
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, swimming pools, a 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. Large single family homes (often big enough to host multiple families), are also available for rent at Wapato. They are rented privately, so you’ll need to check rental sites such as www.homeaway.com, www.wapato.com , www.vrbo.com , and Craigslist. Just head up the hill to Red Apple for groceries, diapers and other neccessities. As of summer 2010, there’s a fantastic new cheese shop that just opened across the road from the Wapato entrance.
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).
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!
For some exercise, you can walk, jog, or bike ride the mile-long Riverwalk trail in Historic Downtown Chelan which is scenic and takes you between the two bridges in town. Hit Don Morse Memorial Park for playground fun, beach play, and some mini-golf. Or, for a short hike, drive up to Echo Ridge (near the ski area) and try Lolly Pop Loop (about a mile). In the winter months, you can head to Echo Valley Ski Area for skiing, tubing, and snow play.
Visit Sunshine Farm for U-pick produce (take a hay-ride up to their orchard) and visit with the animals too. Check their schedule for special events including farm day camps for kids.
The bustling town of Chelan has all the comforts of home such as a drive-thru Starbucks, pizza joints (Troy’s is also located in Manson and delivers to Wapato), 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 in 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 the meal, the kids can play in the grass and explore the hillside. After a day of fun at the lake, you can hit dinner early (they are open from 4pm-8pm daily in the high season) 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 some ice cream or a slice of fresh baked pie on the deck afterwards.
At Wapato Point’s Winemaker’s Grill at Wapato Cellars, you can have a fine dining experience on their outdoor patio, while the kids run around on the vast lawn (surrounded by vines) and play on the playground equipment. They’ll stay busy on the slide, merry-go-round, and swings while you can enjoy a glass of vino and wait for the food. They also have a kids’ menu and crayons. If you’re staying at Wapato, you can just walk!
— Angie J. Ballas