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Seattle’s Best Skiing Destinations and Family Vacation Spots for Kids 2023

As winter wraps its chilly arms around Washington, the state transforms into a snow-draped paradise, perfect for families seeking a blend of adventure and relaxation with their kids. From the enchanting Bavarian village of Leavenworth to the snowy peaks of Mount Baker, Washington offers a diverse array of winter destinations. So bundle up with a nice hot cup of cocoa, play in the snow, sled down some hills, and hit the slopes on a nice snowy family winter vacation near Seattle. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the best winter vacation spots for families with kids and provide an essential packing list to ensure your family is well-prepared for a memorable fun getaway.

Where to play in the snow! For those interested in the thrill of sledding and tubing, especially with kids, be sure to explore our detailed guide -> Winter Wonderland in Seattle: Tubing and Sledding Adventures with Kids

Table of Contents

1. Suncadia Resort - A Winter Wonderland Close to Seattle

3600 Suncadia Trail, Cle Elum, WA 98922

Suncadia Resort, nestled in a stunning natural landscape, transforms into a magical winter oasis ideal for families. Located just over an hour’s drive from Seattle, it offers a perfect blend of winter activities and festive charm, making it an excellent choice for a family winter getaway.

This in-depth guide will provide you with all the information you need to make the most of your enchanting winter getaway at Suncadia with kids.

Family-Friendly Winter Activities

Tubing Hill: Kids and adults alike will love the thrill of gliding down the resort’s tubing hill, a quintessential winter activity for all ages.

Ice Skating Rink: Lace up your skates and enjoy the outdoor ice-skating rink, a delightful experience under the winter sky.

Heated Pool: Imagine swimming in a heated pool amidst a snowy landscape – it’s a unique and enjoyable experience for the whole family.

Snowmobiling and Snowshoeing: For the more adventurous, explore the winter wonderland of Suncadia on a snowmobile or take a more serene approach with snowshoeing, both great ways to enjoy the scenic beauty.

Accommodation Options

Rent a House or Condo: For families seeking privacy and space, renting a house or condo within the resort is an excellent choice. It offers the comforts of home in a beautiful winter setting.

Stay at The Lodge: Alternatively, the Lodge at Suncadia provides a luxurious and cozy stay, with easy access to all the resort’s amenities and activities.

Final Thoughts

Suncadia Resort offers a complete and enchanting winter experience. From exhilarating outdoor activities to festive holiday events, it’s a place where families can create lasting memories in a picturesque winter setting. Whether you’re speeding down a tubing hill, enjoying a warm swim amidst snowflakes, or cozying up in a beautiful lodge, Suncadia promises a delightful winter escape for everyone.

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2. Leavenworth - A Bavarian Winter Fairy Tale

820 Front St, Leavenworth, WA 98826

Leavenworth, Washington’s own Bavarian-style village, is transformed into a captivating winter wonderland during the colder months. This enchanting town offers a unique blend of Northwestern hospitality with an old-world European charm, making it a perfect family getaway destination.

For an in-depth exploration of a family trip to Leavenworth during the winter, be sure to check out our comprehensive guide: A Magical Winter Family Trip to Leavenworth with Kids

Highlights of a Winter Trip to Leavenworth

Christmas Lighting Festival: The town’s Christmas Lighting Festival is renowned, offering an extraordinary experience that feels straight out of a fairy tale. The village lights up in a dazzling display, creating a magical atmosphere that delights both children and adults.

Sledding Adventures: Families will find plenty of fun sledding opportunities in and around Leavenworth. It’s a joyful activity that is sure to bring laughter and excitement to your little ones.

Carriage Rides: For a touch of old-world charm, take a carriage ride through the snow-covered streets. It’s a picturesque and leisurely way to experience the beauty of the village.

Local Shops and Eateries: Stroll through the village and explore the unique local shops offering a variety of goods, from handmade crafts to delicious German treats. The local eateries provide a cozy refuge to enjoy warm, hearty meals after a day in the snow.

Accommodation Options

Bavarian-Themed Hotels: Many hotels in Leavenworth embrace the town’s Bavarian theme, offering unique, culturally immersive experiences. These hotels often feature traditional German architecture and decor, adding an extra layer of charm to your stay.

Vacation Homes or Airbnb: For those who prefer more space and privacy, renting a vacation home is an excellent choice. These homes often come with multiple bedrooms, living areas, and a kitchen, making them ideal for larger families or those who enjoy the comforts of home.

Final Thoughts

Leavenworth is not just a destination; it’s an experience. The combination of its festive atmosphere, winter activities, and the charming Bavarian setting makes it a must-visit spot for families seeking a memorable winter vacation. Whether you’re basking in the glow of the Christmas lights, laughing on a sled, or enjoying a warm meal in a cozy restaurant, Leavenworth offers a winter escape that feels like stepping into a storybook.

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3. Snoqualmie Pass - Your Gateway to Winter Fun Just Outside Seattle

1001 WA-906, Snoqualmie Pass, WA 98068

Snoqualmie Pass is a winter wonderland that blends the thrill of snow sports with the convenience of being just over an hour away from Seattle. Ideal for families seeking a snowy adventure, it offers a range of activities and accommodation options to suit every preference.

For those interested in the thrill of sledding and tubing, especially with kids, be sure to explore our detailed guide -> Winter Wonderland in Seattle: Tubing and Sledding Adventures with Kids

Activities at Snoqualmie Pass

Skiing and Snowboarding: The Summit at Snoqualmie is celebrated for its diverse range of slopes that cater to all skill levels. Whether you’re introducing your kids to skiing or you’re seasoned snowboarders, the pass has slopes that will suit your needs.

Tubing Fun: Take a break from skiing and indulge in the exhilaration of tubing. It’s a fantastic way for the whole family to enjoy the snow, especially for those who might not be keen on skiing or snowboarding.

Snowshoe Trails: Explore the serene beauty of winter landscapes with a snowshoeing adventure. 

Accommodation Options

Vacation Homes at the Base: Opt for a cozy vacation home at the base of Snoqualmie Pass. These homes often provide the comfort of a home-away-from-home experience, ideal for families.

Summit Inn: For those looking to maximize their time on the slopes, the Summit Inn offers ski-in access. This means more time skiing and less time commuting, a definite plus for any ski enthusiast.

Hotels or Airbnb Near Seattle: For families who prefer to stay in a more urban setting, there are numerous hotels and Airbnb options in the cities near Seattle. This choice allows you to enjoy the vibrancy of city life while being a short drive away from a day trip to the snow-covered slopes of Snoqualmie Pass.

Final Thoughts

With its blend of winter sports, beautiful scenery, and a range of accommodation options, Snoqualmie Pass is an ideal winter destination for families looking to enjoy the magic of the season in Washington.

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4. Stevens Pass - Family Skiing Paradise

US-2, Skykomish, WA 98288 

Stevens Pass in Washington is a fantastic destination for a family skiing adventure. Known for its family-friendly atmosphere and diverse terrain, it offers a great skiing experience for both kids and adults.

Distance from Seattle: Stevens Pass is conveniently located about a two-hour drive from Seattle, making it an accessible location for a family ski trip.

Skiing and Snowboarding Opportunities

Varied Terrain: Stevens Pass boasts a mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced slopes, catering to all skill levels. This makes it ideal for kids who are just learning to ski or snowboard, as well as for those who are more experienced.

Ski Schools: The resort offers ski and snowboard lessons for children and adults. Group lessons can be a fun and social learning experience for kids, while private lessons offer more personalized instruction.

Tubing: Besides skiing and snowboarding, Stevens Pass offers a tubing center, which is a fun alternative for kids and adults alike. It’s a great way to enjoy the snow, especially for those who might not be keen on skiing.

Snowshoeing: For families looking to explore beyond the slopes, snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding area.

Accommodation Options

While Stevens Pass doesn’t have on-site lodging, there are plenty of accommodation options nearby. You can choose from a range of hotels, lodges, and vacation rentals in the surrounding communities, offering the perfect retreat after a day on the slopes.

Leavenworth: Located about 35 miles east of Stevens Pass, Leavenworth is a charming Bavarian-themed town with a variety of lodging options. Visitors can choose from hotels, inns, vacation rentals, and bed & breakfasts, each offering a unique experience in this picturesque town.

Skykomish and Gold Bar: To the west of Stevens Pass, the towns of Skykomish and Gold Bar offer closer lodging options, including cozy cabins, lodges, and vacation homes. These accommodations are typically nestled in the serene natural surroundings, providing a peaceful retreat after a day of skiing.

Vacation Rentals: Various vacation rentals are available in the areas surrounding Stevens Pass. These can range from rustic cabins to luxurious houses, offering more privacy and often complete with full kitchens and living spaces.

Final Thoughts

Skiing at Stevens Pass with kids offers a delightful mix of outdoor adventure and family bonding. The resort’s variety of ski runs, kid-friendly facilities, and additional winter activities ensure that there’s something for every member of the family to enjoy.

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5. White Pass: A Family Ski Haven

48935 US-12, Naches, WA 98937 

White Pass in Washington stands out as a family-friendly skiing destination, perfect for creating those unforgettable winter memories with your kids. It’s an excellent spot for both learning to ski and enjoying fun snow activities.

Distance from Seattle: White Pass is approximately 140 miles southeast of Seattle. The drive typically takes around 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. The route, often scenic, takes you through parts of the Cascade Range.

Distance from Yakima: The distance to White Pass from Yakima is about 50 miles. This shorter drive usually takes about an hour, making it a very accessible option for a day trip or a weekend getaway from Yakima. The route is straightforward and is popular among local residents for quick ski trips.

Ideal for Beginner Skiers

Family-Friendly Slopes: The mountain’s gentle slopes are ideal for beginners, making it a safe and encouraging environment for kids and adults who are new to skiing.

Ski Schools: With skilled instructors and well-designed programs, White Pass offers great learning opportunities for those just starting out on the slopes.

Tubing Hill for Extra Fun

Fun for All Ages: In addition to skiing, White Pass boasts a tubing hill, offering a thrilling experience for the entire family. It’s a fantastic way for kids and adults alike to enjoy the snow in a different, exhilarating way.

Accommodation Options

While White Pass itself doesn’t have extensive on-site lodging like some larger resorts, there are several nearby options that provide a cozy and convenient stay.

White Pass Village Inn: Located at the base of White Pass Ski Area, the Village Inn offers convenient ski-in/ski-out condominiums. These units come in various sizes, accommodating different family needs, and are equipped with basic amenities for a comfortable stay.

Packwood Lodging: The town of Packwood, located about a 30-minute drive from White Pass, offers a variety of lodging options, including hotels, motels, cabins, and vacation rentals. Staying in Packwood allows families to explore local dining options and shops while being close enough to the ski area.

Yakima Valley Accommodations: An hour’s drive to the east of White Pass is the Yakima Valley, which offers a range of hotels and inns. This area is ideal for those who prefer staying in a more urban environment with access to various amenities and services.

Mt. Rainier Lodging: If you’re looking to combine skiing with exploring the natural beauty of Mt. Rainier, consider staying in one of the lodges or cabins near the National Park. This option is ideal for families who enjoy nature and want to experience more than just skiing during their trip.

 

Final Thoughts

White Pass is more than just a ski resort; it’s a place where families can come together, learn new skills, and enjoy the excitement of winter sports in a safe and welcoming environment. Whether you’re gliding down beginner slopes, laughing together on the tubing hill, or just enjoying the crisp mountain air, White Pass is an ideal destination for a family ski trip that combines fun, learning, and unforgettable moments.

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6. Mount Baker - A Winter Paradise for Snow Enthusiasts

Mt Baker Hwy, Deming, WA 98244

Mount Baker, celebrated for its remarkable snowfall, is a dream destination for families who love skiing and snowboarding. Located just over an hour east of Bellingham, it’s the perfect spot for those looking for a scenic winter road trip.

Enjoy a Variety of Winter Activities

Skiing and Snowboarding: The slopes of Mount Baker are a paradise for skiers and snowboarders, offering a range of trails suitable for various skill levels.

Sledding Fun: Don’t forget to bring a sled! Find a hill and enjoy the simple thrill of sledding, a favorite for kids and adults alike.

Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing: Explore the serene beauty of the landscape on snowshoes or cross-country skis. It’s a peaceful way to connect with nature and experience the quiet of a winter wonderland.

Relax by the Fireplace: After a day full of activities, there’s nothing better than unwinding next to a cozy fireplace, perhaps with a hot beverage in hand.

Accommodation Options

Vacation Homes: Renting a vacation home in the Mount Baker area offers a relaxing and low-key snowy vacation. It provides the comfort of a home setting, ideal for families who want a more personal and private experience.

Final Thoughts

Mount Baker not only offers a range of winter sports but also the chance to immerse yourself in the stunning winter landscapes of Washington. Whether you’re an adrenaline seeker or looking for a peaceful retreat, Mount Baker has something for everyone in the family.

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7. Crystal Mountain - Majestic Skiing and Breathtaking Views

33914 Crystal Mountain Blvd. Enumclaw, WA 98022

Crystal Mountain, not only the largest ski resort in Washington State but also one of the most picturesque, offers an exceptional skiing experience with stunning views of Mount Rainier. Located about two hours from Seattle, it’s a perfect getaway for families seeking both adventure and awe-inspiring scenery.

Enjoy a Variety of Winter Activities

Diverse Runs: With a variety of runs, Crystal Mountain caters to skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. From gentle slopes for beginners to challenging terrains for the experienced, there’s something for everyone.

Ski Schools: For families with beginners, the resort offers ski and snowboard schools, ensuring a fun and safe learning experience for all ages.

Gondola Ride: One of the highlights of Crystal Mountain is the scenic gondola ride. It takes you up to the summit, offering panoramic views of the breathtaking landscape, including Mount Rainier.

Summit House Retreat: At the summit, you can enjoy a meal at the Summit House, the highest elevation dining experience in Washington. It’s a perfect spot to relax and take in the views after a day on the slopes.

Accommodation Options

Onsite Lodging: Crystal Mountain offers a range of onsite lodging options, from comfortable and convenient hotels to cozy chalets. Staying onsite means you’re just steps away from the slopes.

Silver Skis Chalet and Crystal Chalets: For the ultimate convenience, consider the Silver Skis Chalet or Crystal Chalets, which offer ski-in access. This is particularly advantageous for families, making the start and end of your ski days seamless and stress-free.

Final Thoughts

Crystal Mountain is more than just a ski resort; it’s a complete winter experience. With its impressive range of slopes, breathtaking gondola rides, and comfortable accommodation options, it’s an ideal destination for families looking to indulge in the beauty and excitement of Washington’s winter landscape.

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8. Lake Chelan in Winter - A Family Wonderland

104 W Woodin Ave, Chelan, WA 98816 

While Lake Chelan is often synonymous with summer, it’s in the winter that this community truly sparkles with festive spirit. With fewer crowds and an array of events and activities, Lake Chelan becomes a serene winter haven perfect for families.

Diverse Winter Activities in Whistler

Winterfest Celebration: Don’t miss the annual Winterfest, running January 12-21, 2024. This event is a delight for kids, with fireworks illuminating the snowy peaks, creating a magical spectacle.

Wine Tastings and Winter Lights: The region’s renowned wineries offer tastings that can be enjoyed by parents, while the whole family can bask in the glow of winter lights that adorn the town all season.

Ice Sculptures and More: The intricate ice sculptures around the town are not just beautiful; they’re perfect for capturing those special winter photographs.

Outdoor Adventures: For those seeking active fun, Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area offers excellent cross-country skiing. Families can also enjoy tubing at Echo Valley’s Family Ski Area, along with nearby opportunities for snowmobiling, tubing, skiing, and snowboarding.

Bowling at Chelan Lanes: When it’s time to warm up, head to Chelan Lanes. This family-friendly spot offers bowling, arcade games, billiards, and dining at J’s Lane Eleven restaurant, ensuring entertainment for all ages.

Accommodation Options

Campbell’s Resort: A family-owned gem since 1901, Campbell’s Resort offers guest rooms and dining on the shores of Lake Chelan, combining comfort and scenic views.

The Lookout: Ideal for families, especially those with young children or babies, The Lookout offers vacation homes for nightly rental, providing a cozy and convenient stay.

Final Thoughts

Lake Chelan in winter transforms into a picturesque setting filled with joy, community spirit, and a plethora of activities for all ages. Whether you’re sipping wine amidst twinkling lights, gliding through the snow, or enjoying a family game night, Lake Chelan offers a memorable winter getaway that combines the tranquility of nature with the warmth of small-town charm.

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9. Whistler, British Columbia - A World-Class Winter Wonderland

4365 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, BC V0N 1B4, Canada

Whistler, located just north of Washington in British Columbia, Canada, offers an unparalleled winter vacation experience, making it a top choice for families seeking adventure, relaxation, and everything in between. A scenic road trip of just over 4 hours transports you to this world-renowned resort, where a plethora of activities await.

Diverse Winter Activities in Whistler

Skiing and Snowboarding at Whistler Blackcomb: With vast ski terrain, Whistler Blackcomb is one of North America’s most famous ski destinations, offering runs for all skill levels.

Vibrant Whistler Village: Explore over 200 shops and restaurants in the bustling Whistler Village. It’s a perfect place to stroll, shop, dine, and soak in the lively atmosphere.

Bobsleigh and Dog Sledding: For a unique winter experience, try bobsleighing or dog sledding, both exhilarating ways to enjoy the snowy landscape.

Adrenaline-Packed Adventures: Get your heart racing with winter zipline and bungee jumping, offering breathtaking views and unforgettable thrills.

Snowcat and Sleigh Rides: Enjoy the beauty of the backcountry on a snowcat tour or relax on a traditional sleigh ride through the scenic trails.

Olympic Photo Ops: Don’t miss the chance to take a photo with the iconic Olympic Rings, a reminder of Whistler’s status as a former Olympic Games venue.

Excalibur Gondola: Experience stunning mountain views on a ride up the Excalibur Gondola, a must-do for visitors.

Indoor Activities: For a change of pace, enjoy indoor rock climbing and ice skating, perfect for those days when you want to stay warm and cozy.

Vallea Lumina: In the evening, immerse yourself in Vallea Lumina, a mesmerizing multimedia night walk featuring a captivating light show in the forest.

Accommodation Options

Whistler offers a range of accommodations to suit every family’s preferences, from luxurious hotels to cozy chalets and condos. Staying in Whistler provides easy access to all the activities and experiences the resort has to offer.

Final Thoughts

Whistler is not just a ski destination; it’s a comprehensive winter resort that caters to all ages and interests. Whether you’re hitting the slopes, enjoying the village life, or indulging in unique winter activities, Whistler promises a memorable vacation filled with adventure, relaxation, and wonder. It’s the perfect international getaway for families looking to experience the best of winter in a world-class setting.

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10. Sun Peaks, British Columbia - A Serene Winter Retreat

Sun Peaks, BC V0E 5N0, Canada 

Sun Peaks in British Columbia, Canada, stands as a hidden gem among winter destinations. This tranquil resort offers a more laid-back atmosphere compared to larger resorts, making it an ideal choice for families seeking a peaceful yet enchanting winter getaway.

Family-Friendly Ski Experience

Varied Ski Terrain: Sun Peaks boasts a diverse range of ski runs that cater to all skill levels, from beginners to advanced skiers. Its family-friendly slopes are perfect for kids and adults alike, providing a safe and enjoyable skiing experience.

Ski Schools: For those new to skiing or looking to improve their skills, Sun Peaks offers excellent ski schools with professional instructors, ensuring a fun and educational experience on the slopes.

Charming Village Atmosphere

Quaint Mountain Village: The heart of Sun Peaks is its charming village, featuring a delightful array of shops, restaurants, and cafes. The pedestrian-friendly layout makes it easy and safe to explore with children.

Cultural Events and Festivals: Throughout the winter season, Sun Peaks hosts a variety of events and festivals, adding to the lively yet cozy atmosphere of the village.

Snowshoeing and Ice Skating: Beyond skiing, the resort offers other winter activities such as snowshoeing and ice skating, perfect for families looking to try different ways to enjoy the snow.

Accommodation Options

Range of Lodgings: From luxurious hotels to comfortable condos and chalets, Sun Peaks provides a variety of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets.

Ski-in/Ski-out Convenience: Many accommodations in Sun Peaks offer ski-in/ski-out access, adding convenience and ease to your skiing experience.

Final Thoughts

Sun Peaks is an ideal winter destination for families seeking a blend of adventure and relaxation. Its uncrowded slopes, charming village ambiance, and variety of activities make it a perfect retreat for those looking to enjoy a quieter, yet equally captivating winter experience. Whether you’re gliding down the gentle slopes, enjoying a leisurely stroll through the village, or embarking on a snowy adventure, Sun Peaks promises a delightful and memorable family vacation.

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Winter Vacation Packing List for Kids

For those who aren’t seasoned veterans of winter travel, it’s quite common to overlook a few essentials that later become necessities. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of key items and brands we brought along on our recent winter journey. Don’t forget to also visit our blog “Essential Snow Gear for Kids: Checklist for First-Time Young Skiers and Snowboarders” for a comprehensive guide on preparing your little ones for their snowy adventures.

Here’s a quick and handy packing checklist to ensure you’re well-prepared for your winter excursion, especially when it involves kids who are growing fast and need appropriate gear for both snow play and hitting the slopes:

  1. Snow Jacket and Pants: Essential for both snow play and skiing. Opt for sets that come together (snow bib + jacket), which are great for fast-growing boys and girls.

  2. Thermal Base Layer: A must-have for that extra layer of warmth under the snowsuit.

  3. Beanie: Keeps the head warm – an absolute necessity for those chilly days.

  4. Neck Gaiter: Provides added warmth and protection from the cold, especially useful on windy days.

  5. Wool Socks: Essential for keeping toes warm and comfortable in snow boots and ski boots.

  6. Snow Boots: For safely and comfortably walking around in the snow.

  7. Goggles: A must-have for skiing (we’re fans of the Smith brand for their quality and durability).

  8. Sunglasses: Don’t forget daily eye protection from the glaring sun and UV rays.

  9. Gloves: Necessary for both the slopes and everyday use to keep hands warm and dry.

  10. Sunscreen and Lip Balm: Protects skin and lips from sunburn and windburn, a must even on cloudy days.

  11. Hand and Feet Warmers: For those extra cold days, these can be a game-changer for comfort.

Remember, being well-equipped not only adds to the comfort and safety of your winter activities but also enhances the overall experience, especially for young adventurers. For more detailed information on each item, check out our blog “Essential Snow Gear for Kids: Checklist for First-Time Young Skiers and Snowboarders.

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