Hot air balloon festival in Winthrop, Washington. Image credit oksana.perkins via Shutterstock

7 Best Towns in Washington for a Winter Getaway

A winter getaway in the state of Washington offers endless opportunities for adventure, ranging from cozy ski lodges and Christmas-focused towns to spectacular icy waterfalls and snow-sprinkled beaches. Winter sports enthusiasts are sure to find excitement in one of the many slopes, while urban retreats offer a chance to sit back and relax or enjoy a romantic weekend away. Though the city of Seattle houses plenty of beauty, there is something to be said about the charm of a small town in Washington, especially when in search of an exciting winter getaway.

North Bend

Winter road in North Bend, Washington.
Alpental Ski Area in North Bend, Washington. Image credit Attila Adam via Shutterstock

North Bend is one of Washington's most gorgeous towns, hidden within the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. It is also the filming location of Twin Peaks, perfect for TV buffs looking for a photo op at some of their favorite landmarks, such as the DirtFish Rally School or Reinig Bridge. In terms of outdoor adventure, Mount Si is one of the most popular destinations for winter hiking, boasting panoramic views of the surrounding town, waterfalls, and snow-capped treetops. The cozy Roaring River Bed and Breakfast sits along the shores of the Snoqualmie River. As an added bonus, the big city of Seattle is just 30 miles away.


Snoqualmie Falls, Washington In Winter
Icy Snoqualmie Falls in winter.

The town of Snoqualmie, one of the coziest towns in the Pacific Northwest, sits just five minutes down the road from North Bend. It is home to the cascading Snoqualmie Falls, a natural wonder reaching 270 feet in height. It also houses the Summit at Snoqualmie, a mountain resort ideal for skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, sipping hot cocoa, and more winter activities. Plus, there are plenty of Nordic trails for hiking, mountain biking, and snowshoeing. The Northwest Railway Museum is a great destination to learn about the town's past and enjoy a railroad adventure. Salish Lodge and Spa, situated near the rushing Snoqualmie Falls, is one of the best destinations for an overnight stay.

Bainbridge Island

Pier view on Bainbridge Island, Washington.
Pier on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

While it is one of the best destinations in the Pacific Northwest for a summer vacation, Bainbridge Island also offers plenty of winter adventure. The isolated island houses parks and trails such as The Grand Forest, Fort Ward, Gazzam Lake, and Battle Point Park, where travelers enjoy hiking and biking. There are several wineries and breweries scattered throughout the area for a tasting, such as Bainbridge Organic Distillers and Highside Distilling. There are also many beachfronts along the island, where travelers may enjoy a snowy day or kayak on the water (even in winter!). Visitors may access the island via ferry and extend their stay at the Inn at Pleasant Beach, with ocean views and rustic rooms.


Old rustic yellow wooden wagon in winter season cold snow covers carriage wheels agriculture landscape outdoors in Ellensburg, Washington
Agricultural landscape in winter in Ellensburg, Washington. Image credit T.Dub Photography via Shutterstock

Ellensburg is one of the most beautiful towns in Washington, home to Olmstead State Park, as well as the expansive Kittitas Valley, and Yakima River Canyon State Park. Travelers enjoy hiking, snowshoeing, and bird-watching in the area.

December offers exciting events such as an Art Walk, the Ellensburg Night Market, and Holiday Girl's Night Out. There are several scenic drives ideal for enjoying the sparkling snowfall, such as State Highway 10, State Route 821, and Reecer Creek Road. For travelers looking for an especially unique experience, Brew House Boarding offers a nostalgic and historical stay, once a microbrewery, and including a tasting room.


Winter fan sleigh ride with beautiful Percheron horses in Winthrop, Washington
Carriage rides in Winthrop, Washington. Image credit oksana.perkins via Shutterstock

Winthrop is one of Washington's coziest small towns, backdropped by the North Cascades, which wow year round but are especially beautiful as the town transforms into a winter village. Winthrop is also home to the picturesque Pearrygin Lake State Park, which offers the perfect opportunity for snowshoeing and Nordic skiing. The town also hosts the annual three-day Balloon Roundup, where colorful balloons cover the white mountainscape in color. Plus, it boasts some of the darkest skies in the lower US, ideal for stargazing and romantic getaways. For an extended stay, visit River Run Inn and Cabins, nestled along the river's edge yet just a short jaunt from the town's historic downtown.

Cle Elum

Cle Elum Washington State I-90 in the winter
Evergreen forest in Cle Elum, Washington, in winter.

Once a mining and logging town, Cle Elum is one of the prettiest small towns in Washington. The town is home to the Suncadia Resort, surrounded by more than 6,000 acres of forested mountain landscape and a wonderful hub for spa treatments and relaxation. For outdoor adventure, Lake Easton State Park, Wenatchee Crest Snowshoe Trailhead, and Coal Mines Trail are ideal snowshoeing and skiing destinations. Winter is also a great time to explore the local wineries and breweries, such as Dru Bru and Mule & Elk Brewing Co., while enjoying the surrounding winter landscape. Unforgettable places to stay include Flying Horseshoe Ranch, Whispering Pines, and the Suncadia Resort.


City of Snohomish with a Light Snow, Snohomish County, Washington
City of Snohomish with a light snow, Washington.

With snowy, cool winters, Snohomish transforms into a snow globe village each winter and is one of the best destinations for retirees. Visitors may partake in guided walking tours of the historic downtown area, which dates back 150 years, beginning in the picturesque Cady Park. Each December, there is a Winter Solstice Walk, Santa's Arrival, a Tree Lighting Ceremony, and the three-day Winterfest. Travelers may also enjoy the Wine Walk, traversing through local spots and marveling at the surrounding architecture. Be sure to grab a bite to eat at some small businesses, such as Andy's Fish House, or peruse the unique finds at the Antique Station in Victoria Village. For a vacation, Snohomish Inn offers a charmed stay in the heart of the town.

Enjoy a Winter Getaway in Washington!

From winter activities such as ice skating, tubing, and cross-country skiing to storm-watching from a cozy hotel, these charming Washington towns are the ideal location for any winter getaway. With blankets of snow coating the conifer-dappled mountaintops and the icy shores of the Pacific Ocean, beauty awaits in the state of Washington, and the sparkle of snow only offers an extra special reason to visit. While sunshine-chasers may head in the opposite direction, snowbirds are sure to find a delightful adventure in Washington.

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