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Sunshine & Splashes: Lake Chelan Summer Vacation – Things To Do with Kids

Summer at Lake chelan, perfect summer vacation with kids, boat or paddle board on the lake, relax on sandy beaches and more.

Lake Chelan, nestled in the heart of Central Washington, offers the best of both worlds for families looking for the perfect summer getaway. This sunny vacation spot has become a favorite for Seattle-area families, blending the excitement of child-friendly activities with the relaxation and sophistication adults crave. Here’s why Lake Chelan is the ultimate answer to the perennial vacation dilemma for parents.

Table of Contents

When to Go? Enjoy the Summer Sun at Lake Chelan

While Lake Chelan’s allure spans all seasons, offering unique charms from the blossoming of spring to the cozy, snow-draped winters, the zenith of its appeal undeniably falls in the summer months. From mid-June through August, the area transforms into a vibrant paradise, perfect for families seeking both adventure and relaxation under the sun.

Chelan Temperatures


During these prime summer months, Lake Chelan truly comes alive. The weather is at its most welcoming, with average temperatures that create the ideal backdrop for a plethora of outdoor activities.

Getting There: A Scenic Journey from Seattle to Lake Chelan

The journey to Lake Chelan from Seattle is not just a means to an end; it’s an integral part of the vacation experience. Spanning approximately 170 miles, the drive can take anywhere from three to four hours, depending on the route you choose and the stops you make along the way. Here’s how to make the most of your scenic drive to Lake Chelan.

Route Options

Via I-90 and Highway 97: This is often the most efficient route. After heading east on I-90, you’ll connect to Highway 97 via Highway 970 near Cle Elum. This route takes you through the Wenatchee National Forest, offering stunning mountain views. However, be cautious when driving on Highway 97 at night, as curves and occasional fog can make the drive challenging.

Via Highway 2: For those who prefer a more scenic journey, Highway 2 is a great alternative. This route winds through the Cascade Mountains, offering breathtaking views and charming towns along the way. It’s a bit longer but worth the extra time, especially if you’re planning to make a few pit stops.

Must-Visit Stops on the Way or Back

Leavenworth: A gem along Highway 2 is the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth and Leavenworth Adventure Park. It’s a great place to grab a meal, stroll through the charming streets, and enjoy the alpine-style architecture. While it’s a bit of a detour if you’re eager to get to the lake, it’s an excellent option for those looking to extend their vacation experience.

Rocky Reach Dam Discovery Center in Wenatchee: This stop is perfect for stretching your legs and learning something new. The Discovery Center offers interactive exhibits and the chance to watch salmon navigate the fish ladder. It’s a hit with kids and adults alike and a great way to break up the drive.

The Reptile Zoo in Monroe: If you’re taking Highway 2, don’t miss the opportunity to visit this unique attraction. Home to an extensive collection of reptiles, including alligators, snakes, and even a two-headed turtle, the Reptile Zoo provides an educational and thrilling experience for the whole family.

Family Fun in the Sun

One of the greatest joys of a family vacation in Chelan is the sheer simplicity and variety it offers. At the heart of these adventures is Lake Chelan’s prime attraction: its crystal-clear, 50-mile long lake, cradled by majestic mountains. This stunning natural setting provides a perfect backdrop for a vacation that’s as relaxed or as adventurous as you wish.

Lake Chelan Beaches & Parks

Chances are, you’ll find yourselves drawn to the lake for most of your stay. We discovered that the beaches served as the perfect base camp for our family adventures. Don Morse Park beach in Chelan and Manson Bay Park in Manson became our go-to spots, each offering unique features that made them hits with the kids.

Don Morse Park features a sandy beach (mind the rocks—water shoes are a good idea) complete with a playground, making it ideal for families. Meanwhile, Manson Bay Park (image above) feels like a giant pool in the lake, with a swimming area cordoned off by a dock and lifeguards on duty throughout the summer, ensuring a safe environment for water fun. Both spots also offer Shoreline Watercraft and Boat Rentals, allowing you to rent everything from kayaks and paddle boards at Don Morse Park to pontoon boats and jet skis at Manson Bay Park, catering to all your aquatic adventure needs.

If you’re eager to get moving and enjoy some fresh air, the Chelan Riverwalk Park is the perfect spot. Tucked beside the glistening shores of Lake Chelan, features a charming one-mile scenic loop trail that’s perfect for a family stroll. This smooth, paved path is just right for little legs to explore and discover the peaceful surroundings. While the sections near the bridges bring you close to cars, the beauty of the path—with its stunning views—more than makes up for it. It’s also a great place for furry family members, as long as they’re kept on a leash, ensuring a fun outing for everyone.

Kid-Friendly Parks Worth Exploring

Lake Chelan's Rentals: Adventures on the Water

There are numerous locations around Lake Chelan that offer a variety of watercraft rentals, from serene kayak and paddleboard outings to thrilling boat and jet ski adventures. We immersed ourselves in ALL of these aquatic experiences.

On our first day by the lake, we chose a stand-up paddle board from Shoreline Watercraft and Boat Rentals, enjoying the tranquil beauty of Don Morse Memorial Park. The experience was such a hit with the kids that we ended up purchasing our own paddle board once we returned home!

The following day, we opted for a pontoon boat from Lake Shores Watercraft and Boat Rentals, adding a tube for an extra dose of fun. Between the tunes, tubing, and swims, it struck the perfect balance between exhilaration and relaxation.

Our aquatic adventures culminated with a jet ski rental from Shoreline Watercraft and Boat Rentals at Manson Bay Park in Manson. Initially apprehensive, our six-year-old eventually declared it the highlight of his life, even surpassing the wonders of Disneyland and California Adventure Park!

Slidewaters Water Park: Splashes of Fun for Everyone

Our day at Slidewaters Water Park, open seasonally from Memorial Day through Labor Day, was filled with sun, splashes, and smiles. The park boasts an array of attractions including 12 water slides catering to all levels, a lazy river, a dedicated toddler play area, a swimming pool, and a wave pool. It was the perfect setting for our six-year-old to bravely venture onto water slides for the first time. Initially hesitant, the option to slide with a parent quickly boosted his confidence, allowing him to progressively tackle more advanced slides independently.

To enhance our experience, we opted for a cabana rental, providing a convenient shade spot for our little ones. While renting a cabana is a luxury, bringing your own seating like chairs, tents, or picnic mats can also create a comfortable base—just aim to arrive early to claim a prime spot. The park has a concession stand, but guests are welcome to bring their own food and snacks for a more budget-friendly option (note: hard coolers are not permitted).

The park is particularly enjoyable for young children, with smaller slides and pools designed for those under five, although popular attractions can experience longer lines. For those not renting a cabana or pavilion, bringing a blanket and canopy is recommended, especially since the park can become crowded. From our experience, weekdays offer a more relaxed visit compared to the busier weekends.

Despite the crowds, the variety of activities—from the kiddie pool to the lazy river and an assortment of slides—ensures that there’s something for everyone. Our children particularly loved the diverse options available, making it a memorable outing. To avoid the peak crowds and fully enjoy the park, a weekday visit is advisable. Overall, despite its popularity, Slidewaters Water Park delivers a fantastic family experience with a little planning and timing.

Blueberry Hills Farm: A Berry Delightful Summer Outing

Starting your day with a blueberry picking adventure at Blueberry Hills Farm is a delightful way to embrace the summer. This small, family-owned U-pick berry farm is nestled in Manson, along the sunny shores of beautiful Lake Chelan, Washington. With over 20 acres of farmland hosting 18 different varieties of blueberries, the farm offers an abundance of plump, sweet berries that are among the best you’ll ever taste. Depending on the season, you might also find raspberries and blackberries ready to be picked.

After filling your baskets, enjoy a meal at the farm’s farmhouse-style restaurant. The restaurant, famous for its hearty, scratch-made country cooking, offers stunning views of the farm and its surroundings. It’s a popular spot that doesn’t take reservations, so plan to arrive early and be prepared for a short wait—it’s absolutely worth it.

In addition to the berry picking and delicious eats, the farm provides a wholesome experience for all ages. Toddlers, in particular, will be thrilled to watch the goats roam around the farm. Blueberry Hills also features a fruit stand where you can purchase freshly picked produce and a country gift shop filled with unique finds. Whether you’re there for the blueberry season or another berry-picking time, Blueberry Hills Farm offers a charming and tasty way to enjoy a summer morning by Lake Chelan.

Adult Leisure #Wineries

What sets Lake Chelan apart is its ability to cater to adults seeking leisure and relaxation. The region is renowned for its wineries, offering exquisite wine tasting experiences amidst breathtaking scenery. Places like Succession Winery, with its family-friendly atmosphere including a playground, or Lake Chelan Winery, where you can enjoy BBQ in the Vineyard, prove that wine tours and family trips can indeed go hand-in-hand.

For those looking to indulge in some spa time or enjoy sophisticated dining, Lake Chelan does not disappoint. The town and its surroundings boast several spas and restaurants that offer everything from casual to fine dining experiences, ensuring that parents can enjoy a grown-up escape without having to venture too far from the family-friendly fun.

Final Thoughts

Lake Chelan’s charm lies in its ability to merge family-friendly excitement with adult leisure seamlessly. Families can start their day picking blueberries at Blueberry Hills Farm, where kids can roam free and parents can savor a farm-to-table meal with a view. The day can then transition to an afternoon of water sports on the lake, followed by an evening wine tasting session as the kids play nearby. This unique blend ensures that every family member finds something to love about Lake Chelan.

Where to Stay? A Guide to Staying at Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan caters to all kinds of travelers, offering a diverse array of accommodation options to fit every family’s needs and preferences. Whether you’re seeking the comfort of a resort, the privacy of a vacation rental, or the natural charm of a campsite, Lake Chelan has it all. Alongside the all-encompassing Campbell’s Resort, here’s a rundown of what you can expect when planning your stay in this idyllic vacation destination.

Hotels and Resorts

Choosing one of Lake Chelan’s renowned resorts for your family’s stay promises a perfect mix of cozy comfort, playful luxury, and easy access to endless fun activities, making every moment of your vacation unforgettable for both kids and adults alike. From the historic allure of Campbell’s Resort to the scenic Lakeside Lodge & Suites, and the newly opened Manson Bay Suites, the area caters to all preferences and needs.

Campbell's Resort: A Historic Lakeside Retreat

Campbell’s Resort combines the elegance of its historical roots with modern luxury. Offering a wide range of family-friendly activities and amenities along its extensive lake frontage, it ensures guests of all ages enjoy a memorable and fulfilling vacation. Its prime location and comprehensive offerings make it a top choice for those seeking both adventure and relaxation.

Lakeside Lodge & Suites: Beauty and Serenity by the Lake

For those captivated by nature’s beauty, Lakeside Lodge & Suites offers stunning lake and mountain views, alongside comfortable suites perfect for families. The lodge provides convenient amenities, including indoor and outdoor pools, ensuring a relaxing and enjoyable stay for everyone.

Manson Bay Suites: Modern Comforts in a Boutique Setting

The newest addition to Lake Chelan’s accommodation scene is Manson Bay Suites. Opened on July 1st, 2021, this boutique hotel in Manson, WA, offers modern comforts and a cozy atmosphere, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a stylish home base near Downtown Chelan. Its convenient location allows easy access to the lake’s attractions, ensuring a pleasant stay for visitors seeking both tranquility and convenience.

Vacation Rentals and Condos

For those looking for a home-away-from-home experience, Lake Chelan offers a variety of vacation rentals and condos. These options provide families with the flexibility of self-catering facilities, multiple bedrooms, and often, private access to the lake. Whether you’re in the town of Chelan or nearby Manson, you’ll find a rental that suits your family’s size and style.

2 Bedroom Condo at Lakeside - Lake Chelan

Lakeside Sandy Feet Retreat #101, nestled within Chelan Resort Suites, presents a stunning, spacious ground-level unit newly adorned to enhance your stay. Offering the largest two-bedroom, two-bath layout in the complex (1209 sq ft), it comfortably accommodates up to 8 guests, ensuring ample space for everyone. Perfect for romantic escapes, special celebrations, or family vacations, its central location serves as your gateway to Lake Chelan valley’s myriad attractions, from enchanting wineries and the Lady of the Lake to the excitement of Slidewaters and the serenity of Lakeside Park, with downtown’s charm just a short drive away. 

2 Bedroom Condo at Park Pointe - Lake Chelan

Nestled just across from Don Morse Park and a short stroll from downtown Chelan, this inviting upper-level condo offers two bedrooms and two bathrooms, comfortably housing up to six guests for an unforgettable Chelan adventure. Enjoy your morning coffee or evening relaxation on the private balcony, boasting expansive views of downtown Chelan and the shimmering lake. This condo comes fully equipped and resides in the esteemed Park Pointe Condominiums, granting you access to an outdoor pool, hot tub, and clubhouse for leisurely days (open seasonally from May 15th through September, weather permitting). Venture out to the nearby 18-hole putting greens, explore a variety of local dining options, or indulge in a day of wine tasting at the area’s renowned wineries, all easily accessible from this ideally situated vacation spot.

Lakefront Condo with Water Views - Chelan

Lake Chelan Shores: Sweet Retreat (#3-3) is nestled within the serene condo community of Chelan Shores, situated along the picturesque shores of Lake Chelan in the North Central Cascade region of Washington. Embrace lakeside living with kayaking or paddleboarding adventures, easily accessible with rentals from Lake Rider Sports. For a taste of local luxury, venture just three miles to explore Chelan’s finest wineries. Additionally, the charming town of Chelan, located just over two miles away, offers a wealth of shopping and dining experiences to enhance your stay.

3 Bedroom House in Manson

This picturesque A-frame boasts breathtaking Manson Bay views, just a stone’s throw from downtown’s vibrant offerings, including shops, eateries, wineries, and the lake. It features a deck perfect for family barbecues and a cozy living room with plush seating and a TV for movie nights. The kitchen is ready for meal prep, and dining areas inside and out offer scenic views for mealtime. A game room promises ping-pong fun, while the outdoor mini-golf provides extra entertainment for the kids. With the convenience of WiFi and a washer/dryer, this spot ensures a comfortable and fun-filled family stay.

Camping and Cabins

If you’re leaning towards a more outdoor-oriented stay, Lake Chelan’s natural beauty can be enjoyed up close at Chelan State Park, Lakeshore RV Park, or Echo Valley Cabins. These sites offer families the chance to reconnect with nature, with the added benefits of lake access for swimming and boating, and trails for hiking and exploring. Camping here combines the adventure of the outdoors with the comfort of well-maintained facilities, making it suitable even for those new to camping.

Echo Valley Resort & Cabins

Take your family and kids on a memorable getaway to Echo Valley Resort + Cabins, conveniently located just a 15-minute drive from both downtown Chelan and Manson. This prime location puts you close to the excitement of local wineries, boating adventures, and boutique shopping, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Echo Valley is the ideal escape to unwind and reconnect, featuring hot tubs on the deck with stunning views—a perfect place to get away from it all and reconnect with nature!

Lake Chelan Essential Family Gear: Road Trip Fun and Lakeside Essentials

Embarking on a family adventure to Lake Chelan requires a mix of preparation and excitement. From engaging car activities to ensure a smooth journey to packing the right gear for sunny days by the lake, here’s a guide to making your trip both enjoyable and comfortable.

For the Road Trip

Interactive Car Games: Pack a variety of travel-friendly games that encourage interaction and can be easily managed in the car. Think magnetic board games, trivia cards, and classic road trip bingo to keep everyone entertained.

Audiobooks and Playlists: Curate a selection of family-friendly audiobooks and create a road trip playlist. Let each family member pick a few favorites to add, ensuring a diverse mix that appeals to all ages.

Snack Packs: Prepare individual snack packs filled with a mix of healthy options and treats. Reusable containers with compartments are great for keeping everything organized and accessible.

Kid Headphones: Headphones. This allows kids to engage with electronic devices or watch movies without disturbing the driver or each other.

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Gear for the Lake, Swimming, and Sun

Sun Protection: High SPF sunscreen, UV protective swimwear, hats, and sunglasses are non-negotiable. Consider a portable sunshade or umbrella for extra protection during peak sun hours.

Water Shoes: The lake’s shoreline can be rocky or slippery. Water shoes provide the necessary grip and protect feet from sharp rocks and hot sand.

Swimming Essentials: Bring life jackets or floaties for younger children, along with inflatable water toys and a waterproof case for phones or cameras.

Quick-Dry Towels: Opt for lightweight, quick-dry towels that won’t take up too much space in your bag and will dry off quickly between swims.

Insulated Water Bottles: Keeping hydrated is key in the summer heat. Insulated water bottles will keep your water cold throughout the day.

First-Aid Kit: Pack a waterproof first-aid kit with essentials like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and after-sun lotion for any minor scrapes or sunburns.

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