We just returned from a week long vacation to the beautiful Lake Chelan in Eastern Washington and I received so many requests about this destination that I decided to write a blog post. This will be my 5th time to Lake Chelan, we have gone ever since our 1st wedding anniversary (that was actually my first time there believe it or not) and I have to say it’s one of my favorite places ever! It reminds me of Lake Tahoe in that the lake is crystal clear and surrounded by mountains, although I’m pretty sure the weather is a lot warmer as they get a lot of sunshine in that part of the state! They have a (very small) downtown area with restaurants and shopping, a public boat launch and a couple resorts that provide everything you could need, but the past two years, we have stayed in a rental house.
Last year was our first time staying in a house and we went with a few other friends and their kids which was so fun! We decided we needed to make it a tradition, not only because it’s the perfect Pacifiic Northwest getaway but also to create lasting memories for the kids that hopefully they can carry on for years to come. This year, we found a new house and it was incredible! It was right on a sandy beach - which is very rare - and the water was shallow enough that we didn’t have to worry about the kids going swimming, etc. The only bad news…I can’t share the details with you. It’s a family run rental that is not heavily advertised because they purposely want to keep it small and offer it to the same families every year. But I will say, there are A TON of rentals, you just have to do your research - I’ve listed out some tips below.
Because this is such a popular destination, you have to book at least 9 months in advance…seems crazy I know, but that is how we have gotten the best rentals. We usually book in November/December for a July vacation. Best places to look is VRBO and AirBNB, but we surprisingly found our last one on Craigslist so don’t rule that one out. Side note: most rentals require a 7 day minimum stay during the Summer so if you’re looking to stay for just a few days look into a hotel/resort - our favorite is Campbell’s Resort.
WHAT TO DO
Our friends always bring a boat so luckily we spend most days doing that or floating the lake in front of the house, but if you don’t have direct access to water you can check out the public boat launch and parks. We also always go to Slide Waters, a waterpark in town that is so fun! It’s great for the kids and it’s way less crowded than a mainstream waterpark. Get there right when they open and make sure to bring your own food because they don’t mind. Kids of all ages can go on a lot of the slides too as long as they sit with an adult. Another fun thing to do which we haven’t done yet is Music in the Park - it’s every other Sunday all Summer long. Lake Chelan is also known as a little wine country so there are plenty of wineries around. Make sure to stop by Radiance Winery in Manson for their frozen wine slashes - so good! And another must-have is Benson Vineyards - it has the most incredible view of the lake and vineyard with live music on the weekends and great wine! Here is a list of all the happenings in Lake Chelan - CLICK HERE.
WHAT TO PACK
Since we are there for 7 days, we usually pack everything but the kitchen sink (no exaggeration), LOL. With kids, especially toddlers, you can never have too much of something. Since a lot of the houses don’t come equipped with food and specialty appliances, we bring our own. Here is a list below.
Pack N Play or portable bed for the kids with their blankets and pillows.
Pillows you love to sleep with from home.
A fan (I made the mistake of forgetting this and the A/C never got cool enough in our room so that was a major fail).
Beach towels. Most rentals only have towels for inside we brought a towel for each of us to use.
Plenty of sunscreen. It gets really hot there and since it’s a dry heat you don’t sweat a lot so it can be deceiving, make sure to lather up!
Food to cook. We stopped at Costco in Wenatchee, which is about 45 mins from Chelan so we could stock up on things for the house that we needed in bulk.
Toys and activities for kids. We brought coloring books, favorite toys from home and a couple of new things that could entertain them when they needed a break from the heat.
Extras that I bring: My Nespresso because I can’t live without it; Vitamix for smoothies (I didn’t bring it this year and I regretted it because it’s the best way to get your fruit and veggie intake in (plus it doubles as a margarita machine); Laptop charger in case I need to get on my computer to answer emails one day; Extra toilet paper and paper towels because they never supply enough, especially when you’re sharing a house with 8 people!
SHOP TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
Hope this post is helpful if you’re looking to book a trip to the other side of the mountains! I have never been to Chelan in the Fall or Winter but i’ve heard it’s equally as beautiful and fun and it actually snows there! It’s a lot less expensive that time of year, too FYI. And if you have been, I’d love to hear what some of your favorite spots are!