Travel & Outdoors

Best Holiday Escapes Near Seattle

December 8, 2012 6:00 AM

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Face it, no matter how much you love the family, you’re probably going to need an escape during the holidays. Seattle is located near the mountains for a quick ski day or weekend, and close enough to the Pacific Ocean to venture out to watch the winter storms. The Skagit River valley and flats offer many opportunities for birders to see migratory snow geese and bald eagles. The small artist town of La Conner offers art galleries, fine dining and lodging. For short jaunts, the Washington state ferry system has many great routes to ride the ferry, enjoy the scenery and feel the breeze. These are the best holiday escapes near Seattle.

It is common to see Mule Deer around Lake Crescent. Photo Credit Karen Ulvestad

(Photo Credit: Karen Ulvestad)

Lake Crescent Lodge
416 Lake Crescent Lodge
Olympic National Park, WA 98363
(360) 928-3211
www.olympicnationalparks.com

Price: starting at $210 per night

Nestled in the Olympic Mountains, Lake Crescent is one of the deepest and largest lakes in Washington state. The historic Lake Crescent Lodge was built in 1916, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The lodge sits lakeside on Barnes Point (south shore), and offers spectacular views of the lake from the guest accommodations. In the winter season, the Roosevelt Cottages are available on weekends only (with a Friday night arrival). These cottages are either one or two bedroom, and do not have television or telephone. Each cottage has a microwave and mini-fridge. The nearest town is Port Angeles, which boasts plenty of restaurants and grocery stores for food and supplies.

The Skagit Valley is the wintering grounds for 60,000 Snow Geese from Russia. Photo Credit Karen Ulvestad

(Photo Credit: Karen Ulvestad)

LaConner Country Inn
107 S. Second St.
La Conner, WA 98257
(360) 466-3101
www.laconnerlodging.com

Price: starting at $109 mid-week/$179 weekend

La Conner is a great, little artist town filled with beautiful galleries and fine dining. The LaConner Country Inn sits one block off of Main Street, making it the perfect place to stay. Spa services include massage and skin therapies. The inn allows dogs to stay with advanced notice. Early mornings here are quiet, with wildlife visible even from Main Street. The Calico Cupboard Old Town Cafe is a great place for early morning coffee and/or breakfast. The area is home to great blue heron, river otters, harbor seals and bald eagles. It’s also known for the flocks of snow geese that migrate from Russia to winter in the Skagit Valley. The number of wintering birds are usually 40,000 to 60,000 in the valley. The easiest way to see these magnificent flocks is to exit I-5 at Conway, and travel across Fir Island to La Conner. Tundra and trumpeter swans spend the winter in the valley as well, though in smaller numbers.

After a day cross-country skiing, Leavenworth is a great place to eat and enjoy the holiday lights. Photo Credit Karen Ulvestad

(Photo Credit: Karen Ulvestad)

Leavenworth Golf Course
9101 Icicle Road
Leavenworth, WA 98826
(509) 548-7267
www.skileavenworth.com

Price: $15 adults/$10 children ages 7 to 17/free children 6 and younger

This golf course is open year round. In the winter months, it is a groomed cross-country ski trail. It is quieter than the other trails around Leavenworth and is geared for the beginner to intermediate skier. The trails are suitable for all ages, including young children. The trail weaves through the golf course, which is mostly flat with some small inclines/declines. The scenery is beautiful, with Wenatchee River flowing on one side of the course and tall mountains surrounding the area. It sits southwest of the town of Leavenworth near Icicle Creek canyon. No dogs are allowed on this trail, though they can be on other trails in the Leavenworth area.

Related: Ocean View Hiking at Oregon’s Heceta Head

Seattle-Bremerton Ferry
801 Alaskan Way Pier 52
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 464-6400
www.wsdot.wa.gov

Price: $7.70 adults/$3.85 seniors/disabled age 65 and older/$6.20 children ages 6 to 18/free children 5 and younger

The Seattle-Bremerton ferry travels across Puget Sound past Vashon and Bainbridge Islands. The trip takes about 60 minutes either way and offers views of Puget Sound, the Olympic Peninsula and area islands. In this area, orca, sea lions and harbor seals often grace visitors with a show. There are many species of gulls, seabirds and shorebirds that frequently fly through here as well. On a sunny evening, the sunset is spectacular viewed from the ferry, and the return trip offers the lights of Seattle. Bring a picnic dinner to eat on board the ferry, or visit a restaurant in Bremerton before the return trip.

Spencer Island
4th St. SE
Everett, WA 98205
(360) 568-2482
www1.co.snohomish.wa.us

Spencer Island sits in the Snohomish River Estuary, making it one of the best places to see ducks, geese, shorebirds, hawks and bald eagles. The island is home to other wildlife as well, including river otters, coyotes and deer. The ecosystem lives off of both fresh and salt water, creating wildlife diversity rarely seen elsewhere. This island is wintering grounds for many species of ducks, so dogs are not allowed on the south half of the island (owned by Snohomish County). A 2.6-mile dike surrounds the island, serving as a trail for visitors and a great adventure for families.

Related: Best Spring Break Staycations in Seattle

Karen Ulvestad is a mother and professional writer/photographer, who lives in the greater Seattle area. She graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in English Composition. Her background is in fitness, travel, photography and writing. She continually researches locations to visit, and/or entertainment opportunities for family outings and/or photo shoots. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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