Winter time has come again. As Christmas lights and holiday cheer blossom across the United States, each state experiences an explosion in travel. It is no exaggeration to say that winter is the busiest and most active period of the year. Every year, singles, couples, and families focus on a location to pass the perfect winter vacation. Yet, only Seattle comes to mind when most people think of Washington. However, the northwesternmost state has much more to offer, delivering countless reasons why it should be your next winter destination.
A beautiful town decorated with authentic German-style architecture and Bavarian-themed shops and eateries, Leavenworth is picturesque and perfect for igniting holiday cheer. The town hosts the Winter Lighting Festival every year, an explosive demonstration of over half a million lights. Combined with the Annual IceFest with its ice sculptures and snow sculpture contest, it delivers an awestriking and unique experience. Leavenworth also has its own Nutcracker Museum, home to over 6,000 nutcrackers, and to shake things up, there's the Leavenworth Ski Hill for skiing and snow tubing—the perfect opportunity to add a bit of extreme sport to your holiday adventures.
The winter possibilities continue with the town of Winthrop, which has transformed into a Nordic skiing paradise. The Methow Trails, the nation's largest cross-country ski area, and a dazzling outdoor ice rink, the Winthrop Rin, are the perfect choice for friends celebrating a winter season together for a change of pace. The Old West-themed downtown area will deliver an Instagram-worthy backdrop to satisfy even the pickiest of social media influencers. It will undoubtedly be a winter vacation to remember between the Winter Balloon Festival, featuring hot air balloons, and the Annual 'Methow Valley Snowshoe Festival.
Crab lovers will adore the winter crabbing season in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It is just one of the many winter activities Port Angeles has to offer. For the artsy crowds, there is the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, with outdoor art displays, and the Second Weekend Art Event, with its monthly art walks. For those with more athletic desires, take a getaway to the Olympic National Park for winter activities like Hurricane Ridge for snowboarding and downhill skiing. The scenic slopes and crisp mountain air are refreshing and a great way to bring in the new year away from the crowds of more populous cities.
Renowned for its winter wine tastings and tours, couples will find Walla Walla an excellent choice for a romantic getaway. Downtown hosts a seasonal ice skating ring, local shops and restaurants, and plenty of charming beds and breakfasts or lodging, making the town the perfect weekend vacation destination. There is also a. Impressive historical element to the town. With Kirkman House Museum, a Victorian-era home, and Fort Walla Walla Museum depicting pioneer life, plenty of material for stimulating conversation will keep couples well-occupied and at ease.
Anacortes is a nature lover's paradise during the winter months. Cap Sante Park offers panoramic views of the San Juan Islands, and Mount Erie provides hiking and stunning winter vistas. The town also boasts winter whale watching for orcas and gray whales, which goes perfectly with the Maritime Heritage Center, which hosts boat-building workshops. The annual Anacortes Winter Wonderland Walk brings the holiday spirit and the perfect reason to escape city life and enjoy the Anacortes Community Theatre, which hosts winter performances that captivate the senses all season long.
Sequim is home to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, known for its winter birdwatching, the Olympic Game Farm, a drive-through wildlife experience, and even lavender farms that remain visible even during the cold months. The Dungeness Spit, the longest natural sand spit in the U.S., is also a popular site for travelers. With a record-breaking 15 feet of growth every year, your experience is set to be a unique one. The entire town is an enthralling learning experience that is sure to be unforgettable.
Every year, Gig Harbor hosts the Lighted Boat Parade in December at the height of the winter season. Crowds can enjoy winter kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding in the harbor, Skansie Brothers Park, and Cushman Trail for winter hiking and biking. In the middle of downtown Gig Harbor, there is a great gathering place for Thursday markets, kayaking classes, or fishing lessons, plus a pleasant place to walk around. The Annual Gig Harbor Winter Sip & Stroll event also draws in couples for winter fun with a more adult-time feel and parents wanting a short break from the kids.
Nicknamed "Little Norway" with Norwegian-themed architecture, Poulsbo delivers a gorgeous and one-of-a-kind environment for the holidays. The Annual Viking Fest celebrates the town’s Norwegian heritage and brings the town together for family fun, food, and music. It's an excellent opportunity to get children away from electronic devices for a day. There is also the Poulsbo Marine Science Center with interactive exhibits sure to preoccupy their minds and allow parents to take family pictures without objects from teens. A visit to downtown Poulsbo's waterfront boardwalk and its abundance of restaurants and shops make for the perfect ending to a long day of adventures.
Chelan is a spellbinding town that delivers a little for everyone, especially during the Lake Chelan Winterfest with its ice sculptures and fireworks. Gym lovers will love getting active between Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area for cross-country skiing, Chelan Butte for winter hiking and bald eagle watching, and the Chelan Seaplanes for winter aerial tours of the lake, ensuring plenty of active pastimes to remove all regrets of skipping the gym. Suppose winter sports and rigorous exercise are not your thing. In that case, the historic Ruby Theatre, one of the oldest in Washington, and wine tours and tastings at local vineyards are ideal for more peaceful and quiet winter adventures.
Washington's Winter Wonders
The state of Washington beacons every year with beautiful winter vistas and a tantalizing holiday spirit. History, winter sports, and great food are great reasons to venture north and live the highland life. An abundance of tours and local gems make even the smallest towns the perfect winter getaways. In more ways than one, Washington should be on everyone’s mind when planning the family winter vacation.