Big, fat snowflakes drift downward. Unique art installations scattered around the grounds shimmer with icicles. A ridge that looks like a reclining woman rises out of the mountain nearby, as if guarding the valley.
Cross-country ski with the kids along Icicle Creek or soak your sore muscles in the hot pool while more big snowflakes fall around you. Enjoy a gourmet meal, family style, made with local and organic ingredients, by a roaring fire. After dinner, curl up in the library with a warm beverage and a book or take your whole crew to the Playhouse to shoot billiards or play board games. Then head to your warm, rustic cabin or room (some boast alcoves or lofts, which kids will love), where you can bed down under cozy down comforters for a slumber akin to that of The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood. That is, the Sleeping Lady in a winter wonderland.
Located about two and a half miles from Leavenworth, Sleeping Lady mountain resort has everything you need for a winter retreat with the kids. Delicious meals are included in the package—and because the resort grows much of what is served, the dining hall’s meals are truly fresh.
While the meals are fabulous, the experience is casual. You take a tray, fill it up and then find a place to sit, at a smaller table with your family or at a bigger table, where you might share with another group. (When you make your reservations, be sure to tell staff about any food allergies, so they can prepare for your visit.) While the food may seem really exotic to many kids, the kitchen staff almost always has something like pasta with cheese in the back, ready to whip it up for the pickiest of eaters.
Cross-country ski rental, available in the deli, gives you access to groomed trails right out the front door. You can enjoy yoga, relax in the spa or play in the snow, and there are plenty of places to warm up with a piping hot beverage or a game. You can even take a wintry horse-drawn sleigh ride. Or you can go low tech and have a cup of tea in the Grotto Bar and watch the kids through the window while they play outside in the snow.
Sleeping Lady is fun any time of year, but if you are really counting on snow, January or February is your best bet. But you just might get lucky in December; you can always call and check out the conditions.
Because the resort is so close to Leavenworth, broaden your Sleeping Lady vacation to include activities such as downhill skiing, snowshoeing or tubing at nearby recreation areas; shopping in downtown Leavenworth; dog sledding; or snowmobiling. In addition to outdoorsy pursuits, you can go highbrow at the theater or nearby museums.
If you’re not crazy about driving over the snowy pass, you can even make an adventure out of your trip by taking Amtrak’s daily train from Seattle.
Sleeping Lady is a great place to take the family for the holidays: It offers packages for Christmas and New Year’s dinners, and Leavenworth’s Christmas Lighting Festival in December. You will also find a host of other winter holiday events in Leavenworth, including holiday concerts and stage productions.
Perhaps the grooviest thing about Sleeping Lady is its history. While the area’s original inhabitants included the Yakama and P’squosa tribes, the site also was home to the Icicle Camp of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and 1940s. It then operated as a camp and retreat for various groups until local philanthropist and environmental activist Harriet Bullitt purchased the land to preserve it in 1991.
With a firm commitment to sustainability, Sleeping Lady is operated with Bullitt’s vision in mind—and it also turns out to be a superfun place to take your kids.
Tera Schreiber enjoys an annual trip with a bunch of friends to Sleeping Lady.
If you go . . .
Leavenworth winter activities
It’s a Wonderful Life presented by Leavenworth Summer Theater, December 2011.
Christmas Lighting Ceremony, Dec. 2–4, 9–19, 16–18. (The village lights up at 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays only.)
Bavarian Ice Fest, Jan. 14–15, 2012.
Stevens Pass: Offers kids’ downhill and snowboard packages that include lessons, lift tickets and rentals.
Mission Ridge, Wenatchee: Downhill and snowboard packages for kids.
Leavenworth Winter Sports Club: Offers ski events all winter, tubing and alpine skiing/snowboarding at the Leavenworth Ski Hill, plus cross-country skiing and reasonably priced kids’ lessons and family ski passes.
Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce: Lots of information about winter activities and sports.