Best Northwest Lake Getaways: Soap Lake
Dive in, the water’s fine.
By Niki Stojnic, Max Rose
June 15, 2017
Check out the rest of our 26 Best Lakeside Getaways in the Northwest here.
Quirky, historic and…therapeutic? That’s Soap Lake in a nutshell, where mineral-rich waters with purported healing qualities have been attracting visitors for decades. Local Native American tribes came here, and settlers built a health resort (known back then as a sanatorium) in the early 1900s.The lake’s name comes from the water’s propensity to foam up, giving it a soapy appearance and feel.
Soap Lake, a sleepy spot with tourist-town aspirations (townsfolk have been in a lather to construct a giant lakeside lava lamp for years—it remains unbuilt), has an avid fan base that includes Eastern Europeans and Russians. Visitors come here for the soothing waters and healing mud: Slather it on and then bake in the sun to get the full skin-soothing treatment.
Book your stay at the historic Soap Lake Natural Spa and Resort, which pipes in the Soap Lake water so you can enjoy it inside at your leisure; the attached restaurant, Don’s, serves classic steak and seafood fare, with some Greek dishes included in the mix. The real local find, however, is nearby Mom’s European Food & Deli, a haven for Russian bites, from salamis to authentic borscht.
Depending on your interests, you’ll either avoid or embrace the carnival-like atmosphere of the annual motorcycle rally, usually held during the third week of July. Or go caving with the kids 7 miles north at Lenore Lake Caves, created by ice age floods and featuring plenty of scenery and wildlife.
GETTING THERE: Soap Lake is in the middle of Washington state, approximately 25 miles north of Moses Lake and about a three-hour drive from Seattle.
Soap Lake Natural Spa and Resort, 236 Main Ave. E; 800.524.0558
Mom’s European Food & Deli, 331 Main Ave. E; 509.246.1121
The Sand Set
As the second-largest lake in the state, it’s no surprise that Lake Washington and its beaches are a big draw for locals searching for a nearby spot for boating, swimming, paddleboarding and other summertime fun. These are some of the best.
Luther Burbank Park (Mercer Island, 2040 84th Ave. SE): Perfect for you, your kids and your dog. After your dip in the water, take your dog for a romp in the off-leash area.
Matthews Beach (Matthews Beach Park, 5100 NE 93rd St.): This popular, family-friendly swimming area is Seattle’s largest freshwater beach.
Juanita Beach Park (Kirkland, 9703 NE Juanita Drive): Bring a date for a walk along the gorgeous dock or bring friends for a day of beach volleyball and horseshoes.
Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park (Renton, 1201 Lake Washington Blvd. N): The kids will enjoy the large swimming area, surrounded by a pier, and the sizable playground. Forgot your picnic? Ivar’s and Kidd Valley have concessions on the park’s grounds.
Chism Beach Park (Bellevue, 9600 SE 11th St.): Spread out on the sloping grassy area of this small park while watching a brilliant summer sunset.
Groveland Beach Park (Mercer Island, SE 58th Street and 80th Avenue SE): This west-facing neighborhood beach area is perfect for watching the Blue Angels during Seafair’s big weekend (August 4–6).
Waverly Beach Park (Kirkland, 633 Waverly Park Way): This beach is popular in the summer because of its long stretch of dock and breathtaking views of Seattle.
Madison Park Beach (Madison Park, 1900 43rd Ave. E): Watch boats pass by from the grassy picnic area, the sandy beach or the dock, with its multilevel diving boards.