One of the greatest things about living in the Pacific Northwest is the milder weather that allows us to enjoy a host of winter activities in the greater Seattle area.
With the winter (and holiday) season upon us, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite winter activities to keep you entertained from December through February.
All Season Long
Looking for something to do on those long winter days? Greater Seattle has plenty to offer for the whole family — whether you’re looking for a quick outing or a weekend-long adventure.
#1. Seattle Center Winterfest
Running for the entire month of December, Winterfest is an annual tradition you don’t want to miss. With a stunning blend of sparkly lights, local entertainment, and a wide variety of activities, this festival has everything you need to embrace the spirit of the winter season.
Winterfest offers a mix of free and affordable activities, like ice skating and child amusement rides. On weekends, you can watch ice sculptors in action and enjoy live performances and student showcases.
Festivities draw to a close with a New Year’s Eve celebration, featuring a Fountain of Light dance party, live music, and of course, fireworks.
#2. Downhill Skiing
One of the biggest joys of living in the Pacific Northwest is the easy access to mountains, so it’s no surprise that downhill skiing is a top winter activity.
Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a weekend getaway, Steven’s Pass is a mere two-hour car ride away. With a wide combination of ski runs for various skill levels, Steven’s Pass has something for skiers of all ages and abilities.
Summit at Snoqualmie
Located only 50 miles east of Seattle, the Summit at Snoqualmie is one of the most accessible options for those looking to enjoy a day or night on the hills.
With four base areas, 21 chairlifts and six surface lifts covering over 1100 acres of terrain, finding your perfect ski run is easy as can be.
If someone in your group isn’t interested in downhill skiing, they can also choose from snow tubing or nordic skiing, or spend their day sipping hot chocolate by the fire inside the resort.
Known for being the largest ski resort in Washington state, Crystal Mountain Resort offers over 50 ski runs spread out over 2600 acres.
Primarily a day-use resort, once you’ve spent the day on the slopes you can enjoy a night out at one of the many restaurants and then relax at your hotel until the next morning when you can get up and do it all again.
It also boasts the state’s only high-speed gondola — the Mount Rainier Gondola.
Located in the Cascade Mountain range, and offering sweeping views of Mount Rainier, White Pass has been in operation for over 65 years.
Known for its family-friendly atmosphere, White Pass offers on site childcare giving the adults a chance to get out on the hills for some solo skiing. The resort has an extensive ski school, so if you want to take out some novices lessons are available.
The High Camp, a mid-mountain lodge, is the perfect spot to rest, fuel up and enjoy a hot beverage.
When you’re not on the hills, you can choose from a variety of dining options. Spend the night at the Village Lodge Inn, or bring your RV and have a hillside campout.
It’s no surprise that the third highest mountain in Washington would deliver some spectacular skiing, and Mount Baker does not disappoint.
Known for producing plentiful amounts of snow every year, one thing that makes Mount Baker notable is that it’s in fact an active volcano, and boasts a peak of over 10,000 feet.
Home to their Adaptive Program for over 20 years, Mount Baker takes the idea that anyone can learn how to ski and offers lessons for people of all abilities.
Located a two hour drive from Seattle, Mount Baker is an ideal spot for a weekend ski getaway. If driving up to the mountain isn’t something you’re interested in, consider using the Baker Bus, which runs on weekends and holidays and will take you from Bellingham right to the resort.
#3. Snowshoeing at North Cascades or Lake Wenatchee State Park
If you want to enjoy the great outdoors, but racing down the ski hills is too fast-paced, consider an afternoon snowshoeing at either North Cascades or Lake Wenatchee State Park.
Known for its endless wilderness of mountains, lakes, and glaciers, North Cascades National Park is not to be missed. The park offers a wide assortment of trails suitable for snowshoeing at your own pace. With over 200 species of birds and plenty of wildlife, the park is an ideal spot to spend an afternoon taking in everything the Pacific Northwest winter has to offer.
Another great spot for snowshoeing within driving distance of Seattle is Lake Wenatchee State Park. Centered around glacier-fed Lake Wenatchee, the park expands across 492 acres and is split into the north shore and south shore. Home to cross country skiing, snowmobiling, dogsledding, and ice climbing in the winter months, it’s a picturesque location worth exploring.
#4. Ice Skating in Bellevue
Skating in Bellevue Park has been a Seattle area tradition for over 20 years. As the only outdoor skating rink in the area, it combines the fun of skating with a festive, outdoor atmosphere.
Sheltered from the elements, the rink can be enjoyed on even the rainiest of days in the Pacific Northwest.
All season long, the rink plays host to various events, such as Free Skate Mondays, and can be rented for private events.
For those who are new to skating or need a bit of a tune-up on their skills, professional instructors can be hired for lessons.
For a Little Holiday Magic
Part of what many people love about the winter is the holiday season in December, and the greater Seattle area has plenty of activities to help you get in a fun and festive mood.
#5. Leavenworth Winter Wonderland
People come from far and wide to visit Leavenworth during the holiday season. With its Bavarian-style buildings and annual light festival, it truly is a winter wonderland straight out of a fairytale.
The annual Christmas Lighting Festival runs the first three weekends in December, and this is when the town becomes electric (literally!). With live music, Santa and his reindeers, and no shortage of outdoor activities, the spirit of the season is on full display in Leavenworth.
Hit the slopes (weather permitting) for some tobogganing, enjoy chestnuts roasting on an open fire, join the carolers for a stroll around town, then cap your day off with some shopping and a meal in one of the many restaurants.
Also, while in Leavenworth, make sure to check out the Nutcracker Museum, which is home to the most extensive collection of nutcrackers in the world.
#6. WildLights at Woodland Park Zoo
What do you get when you combine twinkling lights, fake snow, and up-close encounters with your favorite animals?
WildLights at Woodland Park Zoo!
With nearly 400,000 LED lights on display, visitors can enjoy two and three dimensional light displays that recreate the wild animals and the places they come from.
The Zoomazium is open for kids needing to burn off some energy, and the whole family can enjoy nightly entertainment and delicious snacks and making friends with the visiting reindeer.
#7. Gingerbread Village at the Seattle Sheraton
Gingerbread houses are synonymous with the holiday season, and for over 25 years, the Seattle Sheridan has played host to the Gingerbread Village in support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund’s (JDRF) Greater Northwest Chapter.
Every year, children have the opportunity to collaborate with chefs from the Sheraton and local architects to build the gingerbread houses of their dreams.
To make the event happen each year, the Sheraton Grand Seattle donates dough, icing, and candy, in addition to thousands of volunteer hours to make the event happen.
Open to the public from late November and running through to the first of January, the Gingerbread Village is a local tradition focused on giving back to the community and has raised over $1 million to date.
#8. Enchant at T-Mobile Park
T-Mobile Park transforms into a stunning magical winter wonderland. Known for being the world’s largest Christmas light maze and market, Enchant is the perfect way to spend your day.
Start your visit by going skating on the ice trail, and then take a stroll around the Enchant Christmas Market to find that perfect gift you’ve been searching for or enjoy an afternoon snack.
Boasting mesmerizing light sculptures and the largest Christmas tree in the area, it’s also an ideal spot to capture some holiday memories with your camera.
No matter which winter activities in greater Seattle you choose to enjoy throughout the seasons, whether you prefer indoor or outdoor endeavors, the Pacific Northwest has something for everyone.