Winter in Washington: 25 Incredible Washington Winter Activities

Post Summary: 25 Activities To Do During Winter in Washington

Found yourself feeling the itch for an adventure this winter?

Don’t fret! We’ve got you covered with all the best things to do this winter in Washington.

Abundant in hiking and snowshoeing trails, ski and snowboard resorts, cozy coffee shops, museums, and epic winter destinations in Washington, the upper-left USA is plentiful in both indoor and outdoor winter activities that you won’t want to miss.

25 Incredible Adventures to do During Winter in Washington

Winter in Washington hot springs - Emily Mandagie soaking at Scenic Hot Springs

1. Soak in a hot spring​

Among all of our adventures in the upper left USA, we’ve come to know that one of our favorite activities to do as a couple or with friends is soak in Washington hot springs.

Soaking in a hot spring after a long hike is so welcome after an exciting day skiing on the slopes. It’s one of the best winter activities in Washington!

We particularly love Scenic Hot Springs near Stevens Pass (privately owned, reservation required, $10-15).

Sol Duc Hot Springs in Olympic Hot Springs is a perfect hiking stop on an Olympic peninsula road trip!

Finally, Goldmyer Hot Springs is one to strive for in the Snoqualmie National Forest (natural/commercial, lottery entry).

Winter Hiking in Washington - Quartz Mountain Lookout

2. Go Hiking

Washington is known for its excellent hiking in tons of unique and beautiful Pacific Northwest forests.

Check out our complete list of winter hikes in Washington. It includes some of our faves like the Bowl and Pitcher Loop in Riverside State Park (easy, 2-mile loop, Discover Pass required), Mount Storm King in Olympic National Park (difficult, 4.7 miles round trip), and Wallace Falls Trail near Stevens Pass (moderate, 4.4 miles round trip).

Winter cabins for rent in Washington State - Captain Whidbey

3. Rent a Cabin

One of the best ways to truly experience the wonders of winter in Washington is by renting one of many gorgeous Pacific Northwest cabins and staying a night or two.

There are many incredible ones to choose from, all over the state. Doc Roy’s Rustic Cabin is on Fish Lake in Leavenworth ($301 per night). The perfect weekend getaway from Seattle is at the Tye Haus A-frame cabin in Skykomish ($401 per night). Finally, the Pleasant Bay Lookout cabin in located in Bellingham ($150 per night).

Pack up and get ready to visit these beautiful winter destinations in Washington from the comfort of your cabin this year!

Check out our complete cabin packing list to help you know what to pack during your next weekend getaway this winter.

4. Head to a Mountain Resort

Because of the enormity and size of the Cascade Mountain Range, skiing and snowboarding are abundant in Washington State.

In Washington, there are 16 mountain resorts–most of which are on the west side of the state in the Cascades.

Some of the top mountain resorts in Washington include

At each of these mountain resorts in Washington, you can expect ski and snowboard rental shops, cross-country/Nordic skiing locations, and other unique amenities!

Snowshoeing during winter in Washington

5. Go Snowshoeing in Washington

Snowshoeing is one of the best winter activities in Washington because it is more family-friendly and you can opt into any difficulty at any location in the state!

There are tons of snowshoeing trails in Washington! Some of our favorites include:

In Mount Rainier National Park, Panorama Point from Paradise Inn trail (moderate, 4.1 miles round trip), Myrtle Falls Viewpoint via Skyline Trail (easy, 0.8 miles round trip), and Narada Falls Trail (moderate, 2.4 miles round trip) are particularly popular snowshoeing trails in Washington that are accessible to all kinds of hikers.

6. Go Cross Country Skiing

Winter in Washington is meant for skiing!

Nestled into the jagged North Cascades of Washington, Methow Valley is the largest cross-country ski area in North America. It’s home to a world-class trail system and an annual 40k marathon or team relay called Ski to the Sun!

Cross-country skiing in eastern Washington’s Mt. Spokane State Park Nordic Ski Area is another great option.

Near Mount Baker, there are tons of excellent options for cross-country skiing, including Salmon Ridge Sno-Park Area, Mt. Baker Ski Area, and Baker Lake/Middle Fork Nooksack.

7. Go Sledding

There’s no doubt that one of the funnest winter activities is sledding, and there are tons of locations in Washington (and near Seattle) that are perfect for it!

Some of the best sledding and snow tubing locations in Washington for their unique qualities, snow conditions, amenities, and popularity include:

8. Visit Leavenworth

Leavenworth, Washington in the winter is downright magical!

With tons of Christmas lights (through February!), winter fun, Bavarian-inspired restaurants, bed and breakfasts, cabins, and other unique places to lodge, shops, and glorious Cascade Mountain views, Leavenworth is the place to be this winter!

9. Stay at a snowy resort

After a busy holiday season, stay at a snowy Washington resort for a romantic getaway or ultimate relaxation!

The Post Hotel in Leavenworth (starting at $595 per night), the Alderbrook Resort and Spa in Union (starting at $209 per night), and the Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie (starting at $342 per night) are some of our favorite resorts that are so fun to stay at during the winter.

If you’re looking for more places to stay, check out our complete list of 27 dreamy romantic getaways in Washington!

10. Visit Palouse Falls

The cool thing about Washington’s waterfalls is that many of them freeze in the winter!

Palouse Falls is no exception!

Visit the stunning Palouse Falls (the largest waterfall in eastern Washington!) this winter and see for yourself what makes this landmark the official state waterfall of Washington.

11. Visit The Hoh Rainforest

Within Olympic National Park, the Hoh Rainforest rests quietly, keeping within its forests immense power and beauty.

Being one of the world’s largest temperate rainforests, the Hoh Rainforest gets as much as 14 feet of rain per year!

The Hoh Rainforest also has a well-preserved ecosystem of ancient Sitka Spruce, Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Western Hemlock (Washington’s official state tree).

Whether you’re going on a day trip from Seattle or out for a longer adventure, the Hoh Rainforest is a perfect stop along your Olympic Peninsula tour (just be sure to pack a raincoat!).

Read More: 34 Fun Facts About Washington State

What To Pack For Olympic National Park in Winter

12. Take an Olympic Peninsula Road Trip

Among all of our Pacific Northwest adventures, the Olympic Peninsula has a special place in our hearts for its unique rainforest ecosystem, stunning Olympic Mountains, and epic outdoor opportunities.

We particularly love adventuring within the vast Olympic National Park (check out our guide!), including camping on La Push Beaches, staying at the Kalaloch Lodge, soaking in Olympic Hot Springs, and visiting the Hoh Rainforest.

Outside of Olympic National Park, there are tons of jaw-dropping stops you simply must see on your Olympic Peninsula road trip, like Ruby Beach, Rialto Beach and Hole-in-the-Wall (4-mile round trip hike).

Book your hotels here: The Best Places To Stay Near Olympic National Park

Scenic Drives in Washington - The road of Palouse Falls Highway in Winter

13. Or take another Washington Scenic Drive

Not only do we have you covered with an Olympic Peninsula road trip guide, but we also have a complete list of scenic drives you can easily do in Washington state!

Some of the best scenic drives that take you to tons of epic winter destinations in Washington are:

  • Snoqualmie Pass, where there’s access to tons of incredible hikes.
  • The 150-mile Coulee Corridor National Scenic Byway, which features giant basalt cliffs and the Grand Coulee Dam.
  • The Palouse Scenic Byway stretches for 120 miles between Spokane, Washington and Lewiston, Idaho.
  • Planning an Eastern Washington road trip is great in winter. Hotel deals are excellent and the path is generally clear of snow!

Queue up the Pacific Northwest podcasts, don’t forget your emergency car tool kit, and get ready to ask your road trip buddies questions that will spark exciting conversation on your next Washington scenic drive.

14. Take a Weekend Trip to the San Juan Islands

Just three hours from Seattle (plus a ferry ride!), the San Juan Islands are the perfect weekend getaway destination in the winter.

With cozy, moody ocean vibes and lots of fun indoor and outdoor activities, the San Juan Islands are a wonderful vacation spot for families, couples, and friends.

While on the San Juan Islands, enjoy these gorgeous locations:

Want to make your weekend trip longer? Hop over the Canadian border to Vancouver Island and follow our complete one-week road trip itinerary (just one ferry ride away!).

15. North Bend

Did you know that this area has been the setting for tons of Pacific Northwest shows and movies?

Not only is Washington known for being the setting for the popular vampire movie, Twilight, but it is also the filming location for the show, Twin Peaks!

Take a tour of all of the unique filming locations for Twin Peaks in North Bend–a charming town found at the base of the Cascade Mountains, including Mount Si (the film’s namesake), Snoqualmie Falls, and Twede’s Cafe.

16. Escape to Lake Chelan

Get cozy in a cabin on Lake Chelan to experience the wondrous outdoors of winter in Washington!

Visit the nearby Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort or Echo Valley for all kinds of winter activities, such as snow tubing, skiing and snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in the Nordic ski area high above the clouds.

During your stay at Lake Chelan, you can also tour downtown Chelan and go wine tasting, relax at the Lake Chelan Massage & Spa, or check out the small-town charm of Chelan’s shops.

Don’t miss this year’s Winterfest at Lake Chelan from January 13-22 to experience spectacular fireworks shows, the infamous ice bar, live music, ice-themed slides and sculptures, and more!

Free Stuff To Do In Seattle - Pioneer Square

17. Be a Seattle Tourist

Have you ever been a tourist in your own city? Or have you always wanted to explore Seattle, but never have?

We’ve got you covered with tons of free things to do in Seattle, super convenient hikes near Seattle, and places you simply must visit during your stay.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite tourist activities in Seattle, Washington in winter:

Read More: The Ultimate Seattle Packing List for All Seasons (+ FREE printable checklist)

Emily Mandagie sitting at Oregon Coast Modern in Manzanita, Oregon

18. Head To The Library

What better way to spend a gloomy PNW winter day than spend time with a good book in a library?

Among Washington’s whopping 2,500 libraries, some of the most popular and unique include: 

With a purchased library card (or a free library card), you can visit the University of Washington’s Suzzallo and Allen Libraries–an architectural treasure–and feel like you’re studying in a library straight out of Hogwarts!

19. Go To A Museum

If you’re looking for free things to do this winter in Seattle and greater Washington, consider going to one of Washington’s many unique museums that explore the arts, cultures, history, and more!

Visiting museums in Washington is one of the best free things to do with kids and the whole family, in addition to being a relaxing solo activity.

Here’s a list of museums in Washington that we love:

Here are the museums in Seattle that participate in Free First Thursdays:

Remember, you can check out a Museum Pass for free at the Seattle Public Library, which allows you to visit a museum with FREE admission any day of the week!

Here are the museums that honor the Museum Pass:

20. Catch up with friends at a Coffee Shop

Washington State is a hub for coffee shops, and the perfect place to hit up some of the best java joints in North America with a buddy or two!

Seattle, in particular, is abundant in coffee shops–namely Starbucks, which originated in Pike Place Market, and Storyville Coffee, also in Pike Place.

Olympia Coffee Roasting is another great coffee shop in Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia!

In the northwestern corner of Washington in Bellingham, Camber Coffee is especially delicious and cozy.

In Anacortes, Washington on Fidalgo Island (one of the most accessible of the San Juan Islands), Pelican Bay Books and Coffeehouse has outstanding coffee and pastries, and a wide selection of new and used books!

And on the eastern side of Washington, the award-winning Indaba Coffee Roasters in Spokane is well-loved by Spokanites and visitors alike–and it has three unique locations across the city (and two more in the Tri Cities and Yakima)!

Ruby Beach on the Washington Coast in winter

21. Head to the Washington Coast

Rain or shine, Washington’s coast is the perfect place for a weekend getaway or location to relax.

While Washington has tons of peaceful and stunning beaches, we particularly love Kalaloch Tree Root Cave in Kalaloch, Washington, which features an ancient tree suspended on the side of a cliff, and Cape Flattery–the most northwestern point of the US (Makah Reservation pass required, $10 per day)!

The foggy shores, giant sea stacks, and cozy environment will surely make your winter weekend getaway in Washington one to remember!

22. Visit a Christmas Tree Farm

Not only do the forests of Washington give off magical winter vibes, but so do many of the state’s Christmas tree farms!

With over 400 Christmas tree farms in the state, there are tons of unique places to visit, including Christmas Creek Tree Farm in North Bend, Olmsted Tree Farms in Poulsbo, Mountain Creek Christmas Tree Farm at the base of Mount Si in Snoqualmie, Coates Christmas Trees in Auburn, Badger Pocket Christmas Tree Farm in Ellensburg, and Dietz Christmas Tree Farm near Spokane.

So, put on your beanie and scarf, grab a warm cup of hot chocolate, and head over to a Christmas tree farm this winter to kick off the season’s holiday festivities!

23. Go Razor Clamming

A fun fact about Washington is that the best time to harvest Pacific razor clams on Washington’s coast is in the winter–all you need is a clam shovel or tube!

Try your luck at popular razor clamming locations like Long Beach near the Columbia River, Twin Harbors, Copalis Beach, Mocrocks, and Kalaloch Beach (where you can also check out the ancient Kalaloch tree!).

Make sure you stay up to date on all rules and regulations and know what to look for during your hunt, and you’re good to go.

Once you’ve got the razor clams and have safely transported them to your kitchen, consider making clam chowder, fried clams, or spaghetti and clam sauce for a cozy winter meal!

24. Take a Twilight Tour of Forks

Winter in Washington is the perfect time to visit Forks.

The winter’s rain, gloom, and fog make it an ideal time for vampires and werewolves to make an appearance.

Follow our ultimate Twilight tour guide in Forks, Washington this winter and see all the spots where the movies were filmed, including the Bella Italia restaurant in Port Angeles where Bella and Edward went on their first date, the Forks Chamber of Commerce where Bella’s red trucks reside, and the Cullen house from the books (aka Miller Tree Inn Bed and Breakfast) where you can stay the night!

Want to spend more time on Washington’s west side? Make the Twilight tour a fun day trip on your next Olympic Peninsula road trip this winter season!

25. Go Winter Camping in Washington

If you love camping, don’t let the snow stop you! There are tons of incredible places to go winter camping in Washington. From yurts, cabins, huts, and even tent camping, there are a range of shelters to choose from, depending on your comfort level.

Mount Tahoma Trails Association has a ton of resources to find and book backcountry camping for Washington winter camping in shelters. For tent camping in the winter, head over to Eastern Washington. There isn’t a ton of snow over there, so places like Potlatch State Park and Bridgeport State Park stay open during the winter.

If you want to drive to the coast, consider staying at Deception Pass State park, or Cape Disappointment State park in the winter.

Winter in Washington FAQs

Does it snow during winter in Washington?

Yes, you can almost always expect there to be snow present during winter in Washington. You may not encounter snow on the coast, but definitely in the Cascade Mountains!

What are Washington winters like?

Washington can have harsh winter, depending on what part of the state you’re talking about! Winters on the Washington coast are mild but rainy (ranging in the 30s-40s). Winters in the Cascade Mountain areas can be much colder and snowier, ranging anywhere from the 10s-30s depending on the month.

What are the winter months in Washington State?

Winter months in Washington state are considered to be from later November to mid-March. Late November is when some mountain passes close for the winter (Specifically Highway 20 through the North Cascades). Mid-March to April is when you can expect mountain trailheads and passes to open up again.

Winter in Washington State: Activities MAP

Did you enjoy these places to visit in Washington State in winter? If you have a favorite activity that wasn’t listed here, share it in the comments!

More Washington Resources

20 Incredible Things To Do in Mount Rainier National Park

22 Fun Facts About Mount Rainier National Park

30 Epic Things To Do In Olympic National Park