Winter is knocking on our door, and the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest is a playground for cold weather fun that pairs perfectly with a wintry cabin rental. So gather your gang and get ready for icicle dreams, snowball fights and downhill sledding. Enjoy blustery days that turn into cozy nights at these vacay rentals, all within a few hours of the city.
Elk Feeding & More at White Pass
If the name alone doesn't convince you this is the winter cabin you've been looking for, the cabin's aesthetic will. It's modern and chic and has everything families need to hunker down on vacay. A cozy fireplace, a kitchenette, an outdoor fire pit for stargazing at night are all part of this spacious studio rental that easily accommodates parents and a couple of cuties too. And its convenient location to both Mt. Rainier National Park and White Pass Ski Area put it in the two-fer column for winter fun. Psst... if you need more room, try Bigfoot Cabin on the same property, owned by the same host.
Nearby White Pass Ski Area is where the action will be this winter, at least until Mt. Rainier's Snowplay area opens. Online day tickets are what you need to ski the fresh pow pow. Be sure to put March 6 & 7, 2021 on your calendar for the annual Winter Carnival; although it may look different this year, organizers are hoping to pull off a festive family-friendly event, pandemic-style. Families can also watch the winter elk feeding sessions at the nearby Oak Creek Wildlife Area in Naches. Like all things 2020 (and now 2021), it'll be a bit different. Truck tours and the Visitor's Center are nixed for now, but families can still watch the elk feeding from the comfort of the public parking lot.
Backwoods Trails & Skiing at Mount Baker
Carson Creek Cabin
Carson Creek Cabin is a seemingly unassuming cabin located less than 30 minutes from Mount Baker Ski Area. Don’t be fooled by the simple exterior, once inside it’s a luxury getaway with everything your family desires for après-ski life. Snuggle into three bedrooms and two full baths. The fully stocked open kitchen gives way to high ceilings of knotty pine for maximum coziness. The first floor has a rustic chic living room, kitchen and yes, a massage chair for über-chill time. Upstairs bathroom features a large walk-in shower with rock wall, plus wine barrel with vessel sink. Bonus items include a large six-person hot tub, a mud room with boot warmer and laundry facilities for those well-used, dirty garments. Kids love the bikes, toys and trails to explore.
Mount Baker is the snowiest resort in the country. Beyond skiing and snowboarding, tubing, sledding and cross-country opportunities abound. With so much snow Mt. Baker Ski Area normally has the longest ski season in the state (it usually goes into March). Is anyone else thinking mid-winter break trip?
Reindeer & Sleigh Rides in Leavenworth
Sleeping Lady Resort
Sleeping Lady Resort transports your family to a winter wonderland with cozy cabins and delicious fireside dining featuring local ingredients, many from the on-property garden. Located a few minutes from downtown Leavenworth, the resort allows visitors to explore the full array of Nordic, Alpine and backcountry skiing nearby. The Leavenworth Winter Sports Club has promoted a vast array of sports for locals and visitors alike. They offer the only ski jumping facility on the West Coast—but the kiddos might prefer sledding on the golf course! Or kick it up a notch at the Lt. Michael Adams Tubing Park—with its thrilling 100-foot descent—tubes and tow rope to the top provided. For a local leg stretcher, wander the serene property on a self-guided art walk. Professional artists and local craftspeople are featured throughout the property. Look for Shaman Salmon, a sculpture by Richard Beyer of Waiting for the Interurban fame.
This year Leavenworth has its famous square and holiday trees lit up around the clock (through Valentine's Day). The town is full of eats, shops and sights for all ages. Grab a hot mug of mulled wine from Patterson Cellars Tasting Room and sit outdoors under the heat lamp to watch the dusk bring on the twinkling tree lights. Everyone appreciates a good sleigh ride. The folks at Icicle Outfitters will hook you up with a cozy 30-minute ride, warm blankets and cozy wood-burning stove provided—the hot toddies are up to you. We highly recommend Leavenworth Reindeer Farm for animal lovers of any age. This family-run enterprise is the only reindeer farm open year-round in the lower 48 and you can't go wrong feeding reindeer by hand on a snowy day.
Sleeps: 3-8 people
Cost: starting at $149/night
Build a Snowman in Skykomish
Bring board games and unplug at this picturesque A-frame just off of US 2. Its simple design will charm the kids, like a good storybook cabin should. Parents can take the Queen bed up in the loft while the kids can bunk side by side downstairs. Enjoy the fireplace alongside hot cocoa after a brisk day of exploring, or relax in the bubbly deck hot tub once the kiddos are asleep. It's the winter escape you've been looking for.
Skiing and boarding at Stevens Pass is the snow play families can look forward to here. Whether you're a beginner (they've got lessons for every level and age) or you've been skiing for as long as you can remember, these slopes are tons of fun to carve. Families staying at Tye Haus can also explore the walking trails in the community or venture out to get their hike on—try the nearby Blanca Lake hike for unbeatable views on a clear winter day.
Winter Glamping in Walla Walla
Go on a true adventure with the kiddos at this Hideaway Tent with pool and hot tub. The 320-square-foot Colorado Yurt Company luxury tent sleeps four and gives the impression of camping while being absolutely fabulous. Wi-Fi, TV, coffee maker and microwave go nicely with the deluxe queen mattress and yes—running water. An indoor heated pool and hot tub just steps away round out the accoutrements. A 30,000 BTU gas fireplace keeps things cozy in winter and hey—if yurts are warm enough for the frozen tundra of Central Asia they’re warm enough for Eastern Washington.
Nearby Walla Walla beckons, a warm, festive small town with world class wines. Outdoor dining has taken over the downtown core with wintry white lights strung over the parklets. High up in the beautiful Blue Mountains, Ski Bluewood has the second highest base elevation in the state at 4,450 feet. With its dry high-desert climate and annual snowfall of over 300 inches, Bluewood is renowned for having some of the best snow around.
Cross Country Skiing in Winthrop
Sun Mountain Lodge
Calling all Nordic skiers! Sun Mountain Lodge is the largest cross-country skiing resort in the country, with 60 kilometers of meticulously groomed trails available from your resort room door. Strap on those skinny skis (rentals available on-site) and get out there. Those amazing trails aren’t going to ski themselves. Sun Mountain Lodge could rename itself Snow Mountain Lodge starting with the season’s first snowfall. After the snow angels are made, grab some hot cocoa and plan the day. Choose from snowshoeing, sledding, on-site sleigh rides and downhill skiing at Loup Loup Ski Bowl (beginning December 19th, snow permitting). Curious about Alti Hok backcountry ski shoes? We are too! Imported from Northwest China by Cascades locals, hoks (pictured) are a cross between snowshoes and short, fat downhill skis. Inquire at the activities desk on how to get started. Don’t forget to check for Sun Mountain Lodge’s possible upcoming kids shows with Santa appearances and story time.
What’s better than ice skating during the winter? Ice skating outdoors with stunning views of Mount Gardiner in the distance. Winthrop Ice Rink was named a Top 10 U.S. ice rink by Sunset Magazine and has the facilities to match. 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.
Cost: starting at $178/night
Clamming & Storm Watching on the Olympic Peninsula
Kalaloch Lodge & Cabins
For some Pacific Northwesterners getting away from the snow is a winter activity unto itself. Cue up Washington’s stormy, majestic coast replete with lighthouses and driftwood. Kalaloch Lodge is a movie set waiting for a film crew. The cabins overlook the crashing ocean from atop a cliff and the view makes guests feel they are the only people around. Fully stocked kitchenettes make dinnertime an easy family affair (the restaurant is closed during this season) and the rooms are small but perfect for hygge hunkering down. Don't forget to pack your favorite board games! Coastal activities offer more quiet amusement than on the mountain this time of year. Long beach walks and storm watching should be on your daily agenda. Also, it's prime season for clamming. Washington is one of the premier places in the country for razor clams. Your kiddos will be occupied for hours digging the wily little critters out of the sand. Then enjoy dinner over a bonfire on the beach. Slurp, lick, yum!
The Olympic Peninsula is a natural cold weather playground, and families looking for traditional winter sports will find plenty of steep and deep at Hurricane Ridge Ski & Snowboard Area, The mountain has tubing and sledding options as well, with epic views of the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Cost: starting at $172/night
Ice Skating & Snowmobiling in Spokane
Davenport Grand Hotel
If ice skating around in circles seems like yesterday’s news, try the Numerica Skate Ribbon at Spokane’s Riverfront Park. The rink is more like skating on a frozen lazy river and consists of a 16-foot wide pathway that is 650-feet long. Skaters glide by lighted holiday trees and decorations, enjoying gentle slopes as they make their way around large, cozy fire pits for après-skate cocoa-sipping. The on-site Sky Ribbon Café offers a variety of snacks to quell growling little tummies. To make the most of this location, stay at the Davenport Grand Hotel across the street from Riverfront Park. Electric fireplaces in the modern rooms provide warmth against the winter chill, and access to the indoor pool and jacuzzi at the nearby Davenport Tower is complimentary. Request a higher-level floor for optimum park views. Be sure to check pool/jacuzzi hours and status due to recent guidelines. The Holiday Tree Walk (through Jan. 3, 2021) is another glittering attraction kids will love. It features up to 40 decorated trees by local organizations. The Singing Sculpture at the Rotary Fountain, a responsive light display that interacts with sound, will delight the family as well.
Schussing time! Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and moguls await. Choose from one of these five ski resorts near Spokane: Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park, Silver Mountain Resort, 49 Degrees North Mountain Resort, Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area or Schweitzer Ski Resort. Stick with one or try them all!
Cost: starting at $131/night
Snowy Staycation in Snoqualmie
Holiday Chalet on the Slopes
Who says you have to drive for hours to find your snowy mountain getaway. Just a quick trip from Seattle, this ski-in-ski-out log home is perfect for a low stress getaway. This duplex unit is all about comfort and privacy, from the hot tub on the deck, to the garage where you can store your ski gear, to the private covered walkway that drops you and your little ski bums at Summit West slopes. There's plenty of space for everyone in your ski crew to apres together around the stone fireplace while playing board games and sipping cocoa after a blissful day of riding.
The Summit at Snoqualmie features awesome steeps, back bowls, terrain parks, a Nordic center and a tubing park. What more do you need? Tiny skiers can start their love of the mountain on the learning terrain, while parents show off on nearby runs. Open seven days and six nights a week, there is lots of powder time available for all levels.