It's cold outside, but winter is one of the best times to venture out and try new experiences in Washington! The chillier season inspires people to find more creative ways to get out and enjoy this beautiful state. In an ironic twist, this Seattle freeze actually brings people together.
There's more than just Christmas lights (although there are A LOT of lights) to enjoy this season. You can head to the mountains for snow sports, go east for a staycation in Leavenworth, take a day or evening cruise, or just stay local and check out all the wine, beer, and eggnog to taste. You can even craft the perfect wreath or cookie decor while you're at it. You can also always keep it simple and snuggle up next to one of the many cozy fireplaces around Seattle.
Whatever your favorite holiday traditions may be, we've got some creative ideas for adding to your winter bucket list in Seattle this year.
Snowtubing at The Summit at Snoqualmie Pass
Where: Snoqualmie Pass When: Opening soon--dependent on weather
There's no greater way to take advantage of the season than heading to the mountains to play in Nature's wonderland. Channel your inner child as you explore the snow at the famed Snoqualmie Pass.
Snowtubing is like skiing, except it's horizontal, way less expensive, and you can still do it if you've had a few spiked eggnogs.
Well, really, you could snow tube under almost any circumstances as long as there's snow and a 'tube. It's pretty basic. Someone could literally just strap you into an innertube and send you down the hill--you wouldn't even have to be awake. In fact, you could fall asleep in an inner tube after drinking spiked eggnog all afternoon, and wake up to find yourself snowtubing. It might be best to save the hard nog for later. Your call.
Winter Beer Festival
Where: Magnuson Park Hangar 30When: Weekends November 30-December 12
The name pretty much sums it up! This event celebrates the greatest beers in the Northwest--from warm winters to ales, barrel-aged and everything in between.
Come to have a few of your favorite brews from local legends like Redhook, and take home a selection for holiday gifts.
Eggnog pop-up tasting competition
Where: Brimmer and HeeltapWhen: December 6
Sun Liquor's legendary spiked eggnog is the reigning nog of Washington. That crown is being challenged by the ambitious Brimmer and Heeltap. They're proud of their own housemade eggnog that's served seasonally in the winter, and they've challenged Sun Liquor to a taste-off competition.
This bold move deserves respect and an audience. Anyone willing to go head-to-head with Sun Liquor on eggnog has some serious snowballs. The event will be stocked with more than just nog--It will have all the cozy feels of the holiday season: Hot cocoa, roaring firepit, smores, and of course, holiday spirits.
Walrus & Carpenter Oyster Picnic
Where: Totten InletWhen: January 17 and February 17
Taylor Shellfish Farms hosts 2 nighttime picnics on the beach to get oysters straight from the source. A bus takes guests on a 1 1/2 hour ride to Totten Inlet, where adventure and wine await. Under the lights from candles and the moon, the group will pluck the freshest oysters in the world right off the beach and enjoy.
The picnics are happening regardless of weather conditions, so come prepared if it's raining or cold. Sometimes a little extra chill, wind, or water can add to the unique magic of the experience. Proceeds for this excursion go to support the Puget Sound Restoration Fund.
Christmas by the Sea day trip to Whidbey Island
Where: Departs from SeattleWhen: Weekends in December
This 7-hour day trip takes guests from Seattle to explore Langley, a charming seaside town on Whidbey Island. Peruse the quaint shops in search of unique Christmas gifts, and check out the local restaurants for farm-fresh to table options.
Art Under $100
Where: Seattle Design CenterWhen: December 8
Find the perfect piece of art and the perfect price point at this popular December exhibit.
Buying artwork can feel out of reach for many budgets, but this event sells high-quality art at affordable prices so you can come home with art not just for people on your Christmas, but something for yourself as well! Have you been adding to your home decor board on Pinterest all year, and you think you're finally ready to pull the trigger on sprucing up the ol' nest? Take this opportunity to get a piece that makes you love your home even more and helps you feel good about supporting local artists and community.
Razor clamming at the ocean
Where: Washington coastline When: Winter season
Winter is prime season for getting razor clams on the coast. Washington is one of the premier places in the country to get clams, and you'll be surprised how much fun it can be to try and get these sneaky little critters out of the sand!
Magic in the Market
Where: Pike Place MarketWhen: November 24
The 23rd annual Magic in the Market this year will feature live music, free cookie decorating in the Atrium Kitchen, hot cocoa and cider for purchase, and of course, Santa.
Enjoy the festivities and get some Christmas shopping done as you go through the market. After sunset, Santa will lead a countdown to tree lighting to end the event in a grand finale.
Where: Various When: Whenever you want!
There's something meditative and special about sitting next to a fire in the winter. Seattle has a variety of cozy options for warming up next to the flames. If you want to sip your favorite coffee and read a book, the fireplace at Starbucks Roastery is an ideal place to come in the early morning before the crowds.
If you want to have a romantic dinner out and also enjoy views of the Puget Sound, check out Six Seven, the restaurant at the Edgewater Hotel. If you want to sit by a fireplace after hours, Lost Lake is open 24 hours and has a toasty fireplace in their bar. Explore more options here.
Winterfest at Lake Chelan
Where: Lake ChelanWhen: Weekends January 18-27
This 2-weekend event is sure to get you in the winter spirit with--well, with spirits! Each weekend has specific events that are basically themed by specific kinds of alcohol, if that gives us any hint of what the activities will center around.
Winterfest activities include horse-drawn carriage rides, viewing ice sculptures, listening to live music, and stand-up comedy. Specific theme events include Ale Fest, Battle of the Bloody Mary, Bubble Bar Sparkling Wine Brunch, Lake Chelan Brewers & Distillers Night, Wine Tent & Grand Wine Walk.
Green Lake Pathway of Lights
Where: Green LakeWhen: December 8
Every year the path around Green Lake becomes even more charming with lights all along its trail.
Guests stroll through to enjoy the ambiance and watch as hot air balloons take off over the water (depending on weather).
Complimentary refreshments and Christmas music add to festivities, making this one of Green Lake's most popular holiday events.
Redmond Winter Wonderland
Where: Redmond Town CenterWhen: December
This annual event is at the Redmond Town Center this year. Come to shop, ice skate, ride a Christmas train or a horse carousel. After the festivities, dine at one of the trendy restaurants inside the Center.
Teatro ZinZanni has partnered with the Town Center this year to offer shoppers $15 off tickets to Teatro ZinZanni for performances in January with a purchase of $25 or greater.
Bainbridge Island Studio Tour
Where: Bainbridge IslandWhen: November 30, December 1 & 2
Since 1884, Bainbridge Island has showcased creations of its thriving arts community in an annual studio tour. Every piece of art in the tour has to pass a jury process of quality and ensure that the "hand and spirit" of the artist is evident in the work. The organizers make a concerted effort to offer a variety of artwork that includes jewelry pottery, paintings, mixed media, and garden art.
Ride the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge to take advantage of one of the greatest ways to see the full beauty of Puget Sound.
Once on the island, you can pop into the Streamliner Diner before exploring hunting for art on the tour. Known as "Bainbridge Island's favorite breakfast," it features a charming, rustic ambiance and a Northwest menu that including smoked salmon egg dishes and housemade granola.
Christmas Ship Festival
Where: Lake Union ParkWhen: November 24-December 23
This festival isn't just for the guests who ride the boats--it's for the people on the land to see the lights and hear the music. However, there are drinks and other festivities available on the boat, so you might want to opt for celebrating on the Lake.
The Kirkland Choral Society will be on a lead boat as a second boat tails behind in parade-style. There will be two stops during the evening: The Seattle Tennis Club and the Seattle Yacht Club. People are inviting to celebrate on-land at either location. The Tennis Club will have a bonfire, adding to the warm, seasonal flare of this event.
Watch Salmon Run
Where: Various locationsWhen: November-December
Watch one of the wonders of nature in the Northwest as salmon return after spending their lives in the ocean to spawn in the same streams that they were hatched in--where the magic happens! It is a longheld Washington tradition to watch salmon follow these incredible natural instincts, fighting against the current to come home.
Every fall there are organized tours to watch salmon come home, and while most tours are earlier in the season, some species of salmon migrate later in the year, so you should be able to see them through December.