Take the cabin fever cure in Leavenworth and Wenatchee
January through March can be tough months for families in the Puget
Sound region, who can start feeling cooped-up after weeks of rain.
Luckily, Leavenworth and Wenatchee -- located just a few hours from the
Puget Sound region by car -- offer unique winter activities and lodging
options for almost any family's budget. Get away from the rain for a
weekend and enjoy the snow that makes this area seem so magical in the
is a Bavarian-themed village nestled on the eastern side of the
Cascades, accessible via I-90 or Highway 2. Either route should take no
more than a few hours if the weather is cooperating and the passes are
Leavenworth boasts many family lodging options, including
the Natapoc Lodging complex located a few miles outside of downtown on
the banks of the Wenatchee River. Natapoc offers several beautiful
cabins, each with washer and dryer and full kitchens. My family's
favorite cabin is the Stuchin, which features a hot tub outside,
pull-out bed for the kids on the ground floor and a romantic river-view
If you have teens, check out the Best Western Icicle Inn. It is located
in downtown Leavenworth, adjacent to the Icicle Junction family
entertainment center, which includes a teen-pleasing indoor arcade and
a movie theater.
While in Leavenworth, stroll the charming downtown filled with shops
and restaurants. Try Visconti's if you are in the mood for a delicious
Italian meal or Sandy's Waffle and Dinner House for breakfast all day.
Café Mozart, located across from the city park, offers traditional
German and Austrian cuisine.
Ready to burn off all those calories? Then hit the slopes at nearby
Mission Ridge in Wenatchee or Stevens Pass, or cross-country ski the
trails near downtown Leavenworth. For deals on Mission Ridge skiing,
look for the two-for-one deal for a mid-week lift ticket in the Chinook
Book, available at Whole Foods and PCC.
If you want to make a magical memory with your family, consider taking
a sleigh ride. Icicle Outfitters, located just outside of Leavenworth,
offers a 30-minute ride followed by a post-ride warm-up of hot
chocolate, spiced cider or coffee. Rides are available December through
February, and a portion of the fee (kids half price) goes to
benefit Friends of the Northwest Hatcheries. Make reservations by
If all of this sounds fabulous but you are still paying off holiday bills, consider Wenatchee.
Located just a few miles from Leavenworth, Wenatchee offers access to
all the area's fun activities, but with less spendy lodging and
restaurant options. For less than $90, a family of four can stay at the
Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel, which has an indoor pool and is located
one block from the beautiful Apple Capital Loop Trail. Nearby La Quinta
Inn and Suites and the Holiday Inn Express both feature indoor pools,
complimentary continental breakfasts and rates that go easy on the
Wenatchee itself is a wonderful destination for
families who want affordable winter fun and educational activities for
their children. History comes alive at the Wenatchee Valley Museum in
downtown Wenatchee on South Mission Street. Children are captivated by
the apple industry display, featuring a vintage apple-packing line that
still works -- which museum staff are happy to demonstrate upon
request. Kids also enjoy Coyote's Corner, an interactive exhibit and
play area, which teaches children about the three distinct ecosystems
in the Wenatchee Valley. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday
from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission is $5, children under 6 are free
and ages 6-12 are just $2.
Just a few miles outside of town, off Highway 97A, the Rocky Reach
Hydro project offers a wonderful free tour of the dam and fish ladder
and an attached museum and visitor's center. If you have a budding
biologist or engineer in your family, he or she will especially enjoy
visiting the dam. The visitor center is open year-round, while the
museum closes in November and re-opens in mid-March.
When you are ready for a meal, you'll find several unique and
family-friendly options in Wenatchee. The Owl Soda Fountain dates back
to 1926 and provides families with an old-fashioned soda fountain
experience. And if you long for a beer with your meal, head for
McGlinn's Public House on Orondo Avenue. Children are welcome at this
pub, which features burgers, pizzas baked in wood ovens and a variety
of regional microbrews.
Kathleen F. Miller is a Sammamish-based freelance writer and mother of two.
- Leavenworth's Visitor website
You'll find lots of information here, including lodging options and directions from Seattle. www.leavenworth.org
- Wenatchee's Visitor Web site
- Natapoc Lodging
- Best Western Icicle Inn
- Mission Ridge information
- Stevens Pass
- Icicle Outfitters
- The Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel
- La Quinta Inn and Suites Wenatchee
509-664-6565 or 800-642-4271
- Holiday Inn Express Wenatchee
- Wenatchee Valley Museum
- Rocky Reach Hydro Project Visitor Center