The Pacific Northwest is known for its glorious summers. But the region also has so much to offer for winter getaways: snowy ski slopes, backcountry adventures, winter markets, romantic weekends in coastal cabins. Getaways fill up fast—so start thinking about making reservations now.
Here are a few options to consider, from mountains to sea:
No holiday season is complete without a trip to Washington’s own slice of Bavaria, Leavenworth, where swirling snow and twinkly lights combine for a quintessential winter experience. Along with the cute shops, authentic eats, and festive beers downtown, Leavenworth offers easy access to ski slopes, snowshoe trails, sleigh rides, a reindeer farm, ice climbing, and other outdoor activities. See a sample getaway here.
The largest ski resort in Washington, Crystal Mountain, is just two to three hours away from the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas. It features more than 50 named ski runs over six peaks, with slopes to accommodate everyone from beginners to seasoned experts. Have non-skiers in your group? Try a gondola ride or a snowshoe tour. Some on-site lodging is available, or head to the nearby Alta Crystal Resort for cozy cabin accommodations.
The list of outdoor winter activities you can experience at Whistler in British Columbia is seemingly endless, from nearly any type of skiing—downhill, Nordic, heli-skiing, and more—to snow tubing, ice climbing, ice skating, snowmobiling, and backcountry tours. If you’re feeling adventurous, give bungee jumping or zip-lining a try. And as if that’s not enough, you can make use of Whistler’s Olympic past by trying biathlon or bobsledding. Check out the winter bucket list here.
Get away without going far away at the Salish Lodge next to Snoqualmie Falls. Along with the jaw-dropping waterfall that thunders all winter long, there are several hikes nearby and a casino a short drive away. Afterward, pamper yourself and your partner with a couples massage or other treatments from the on-site spa.
Hop on the ferry from Port Angeles to beautiful Victoria, where world-famous high tea, authentic Northwest cuisine, and an energizing spa experience await at the Fairmont Empress. While there, head over to the famed Butchart Gardens, where you can not only stroll the lush landscape all winter long, but also tour the family home, a rare seasonal treat.
For the ultimate relaxation, dip into five natural hot mineral pools at Harrison Hot Springs Resort, also in British Columbia. Nearby in November, enjoy the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival or get in the holiday spirit with “Lights on the Lake” during December and January.
Pacific Northwest beaches in wintertime are a delight with romantic fog, driftwood-dotted shorelines, and vast expanses of sand with nary a crowd to be found. One of the best bets? Kalaloch Lodge, nestled along the shore within the boundaries of Olympic National Park, where weathered-wood bluff cabins boast ocean views. Walk north along the beach to see the majestic Tree Root Cave, enjoy a romantic dinner at Creekside Restaurant, or grab a local wine and snuggle by the fire.
Voted “Best Cabins” by KING 5, Iron Springs Resort in Copalis Beach, Wash., features well-equipped, recently remodeled cabins with kitchens and fireplaces or wood stoves. Beach access, a fire pit, and hikes are among the outdoor amenities here. Plus: It’s very dog-friendly.
Seabrook is a pristine beach town nestled into a notch along the Washington coast, with distinctive neighborhoods of coastal-style rental homes for every type of visitor. Rent a bike, hike to the beach, hit the sport courts, shop for gifts, or gather around one of the many fire pits dotting the community’s pocket parks. Winter activities include digging for razor clams (you can buy a license in Seabrook and rent gear from Buck’s Bikes), cold-weather surfing, and storm watching.
Desire a more touristy experience? Head south to Seaside, Ore., where there’s plenty to do even in winter and the visitor traffic is just large enough to keep shops and restaurants open but not overflowing. Take a stroll along the boardwalk, build a bonfire on the expansive beach, or hit the local arcade for pizza and pinball. Centrally located near the Oregon Coast are attractions like Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park, and the Tillamook cheese factory. Inn at the Prom is a particularly cozy waterfront option for your stay.
No matter where your heart takes you, there’s a little something for everyone during Northwest winters. Start planning now to claim your spot around the fire.
Whistler image: Kevin Hale
Fairmont image: Rikki/Julius Reque