An arid desert climate, an average summer temperature of 83 degrees and a brilliant blue lake make Chelan a prime vacation spot during the summer months. Come winter, Chelan’s cozy vibes and warming drinks beckon, along with the nearby snowscapes.
Go out and play
Slidewaters water park has long been a summertime hot spot, and this year a new feature is slated to join the water slides, tube rides and lazy river: the tallest surfable stationary wave in the world. Snow tubing, downhill skiing and snowboarding are on the menu at Echo Valley Ski Area, just a 20-minute drive from downtown Chelan. Nearby Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area is a dream destination for cross-country skiers, with glorious views along 25 miles of groomed trails.
Celebrate the snowy season at Winterfest. Photo by Chelan Chamber of Commerce
Chelan’s annual Winterfest, held January 17–26 this year, celebrates the best of the snowy season with everything from horse carriage rides to a polar bear plunge into the lake’s icy waters, followed by a reviving beach bonfire and fireworks. Kick off the warmer season with the Lake Chelan Wine and Jazz Festival, May 14–17, and in June, head to Riverwalk Park for food, music and artwork at the Lake Chelan Arts Festival.
Stay the night
Snuggle up in the cabins at Chelan Rentals Resort any time of year, but with the resort nestled in the heart of a national forest and adjacent to a ski area, a wintertime stay sounds particularly cozy. Family-friendly hotels such as Campbell’s Resort tend to get booked up early, but local wineries that offer their own unique accommodations, including Amos Rome Vineyards and Tunnel Hill Winery, are also excellent options, whether or not you’re traveling with kids.
Catch a view
When the weather is nice, make your way up the gravel road to the top of Chelan Butte. Savor the view whenever it suits you, but if you arrive in the morning, you’re likely to see hang gliders taking off—the site is internationally recognized as one of the best hang-gliding spots in the world.
The Chelan area is home to 31 wineries and vineyards, including Nefarious Cellars, where you can enjoy a breathtaking view along with your wine. At Siren Song Vineyard Estate and Winery, food is part of the experience; stop in for lunch or book a cooking class with chef Holly Brown. If you’re interested in a more “feet-on” wine experience, go behind the scenes and into the vats during the fall Crush Festival (October 3–4 and 10–11).
Grab a bite
In summer, pick your own strawberries, raspberries or blueberries at Blueberry Hills; enjoy blueberry blintzes and other fruit-forward treats at the on-site restaurant year-round. If you’re craving something more substantial, head to Lake Chelan Winery for its warm-weather BBQ in the vineyard. For a more casual classic, stop at the Lakeview Drive-In for a burger, fries and a milkshake from this quintessential Chelan eatery.
And another thing…
While you’re in this area, consider hopping over to Stehekin, a charming spot just on the other end of Lake Chelan, accessible only by boat, foot, floatplane or horse.
Portions of this story originally ran in the June 2019 issue of Seattle magazine.