If you spend enough time in Seattle during its abbreviated (and sometimes drab) winter days, you’ll likely hear words of wisdom to road trip eastward. The advice might sound something like this: “If it’s raining here, it means it’s snowing in the mountains!” Also, the fact that the sun so often shines beyond Snoqualmie Pass provides year-round motivation for city folks to head toward those stunning snow-capped peaks.
Whether you’re looking for some outdoor adventure or cozy, indoor R&R, we’ve found a couple alluring reasons to head east on I-90 for some uplifting weather, fresh mountain air and breathtaking scenery that will help you reboot at this hectic time of year.
When in doubt, head toward Washington's mountains for some fresh air and nature-inspired Zen — Photo courtesy of Corinne Whiting
The thriving adventure hub at Snoqualmie in sun-kissed central Washington proves a perfect spot for winter activities, from skiing (downhill and Nordic) to snowshoeing and tubing.
And located just 30 minutes east of Snoqualmie (and 80 miles from Seattle), you'll find Roslyn, a charming historic spot that was incorporated as a coal-mining town in 1886. The area’s extensive coal fields fueled the Northern Pacific Railroad’s trains during the early operation of a direct rail line through the Cascade Mountains, which drew immigrant workers to the region. (At one time, 24 ethnic groups and nationalities called Roslyn home.)
Today the teeny, quaint town – once the filming site for exterior scenes on the TV show Northern Exposure – draws outdoors enthusiasts who take advantage of nearby hiking trails and campgrounds. Visitors stop into Roslyn to refuel at one of the few eateries that line the main street, including the Brick Saloon, Washington’s oldest continuously operating bar, established in 1889.
Here you'll enjoy a friendly, down-home vibe; pool tables; juicy burgers; pitchers of local beer; and the presence of a 100-year-old bar still showcasing its original, 23-inch-long running water spittoon.
At Suncadia, pool dips come with awesome views and fresh, mountain air — Photo courtesy of Suncadia
In nearby Cle Elum, Suncadia Resort provides a delightful mountain oasis, perfect for overnight guests or those who simply want to pop in for a delicious Portals meal (perhaps post-snow sport) or a decadent spa treatment.
With architecture inspired by the grand lodges of Washington's National Parks, the majestic venue shows off master craftsmanship and Northwest-tinged design elements that honor the exquisite natural surroundings.
The 254 Suncadia guest suites and penthouses mesh that cozy cabin feel with modern amenities; some perks include stainless steel European-style appliances, a deep soaking tub, private outdoor balcony and flagstone gas fireplace. Nothing beats "building" a fire with one easy flick of a switch.
The resort's location high above the Cle Elum River provides spectacular river valley and mountain panoramas; in the main sitting room, grab a fireside chair to overlook a calming sea of pines and distant peaks, plus an enticing hot tub that beckons from below.
Thanks to the property's 6,000 acres of "forested mountain landscape, sun-dappled meadows and rushing rivers" – not to mention all the amenities of The Village – the resort offers family-friendly activities year-round, like miles of hiking and biking trails, 36 holes of mountain golf, on-site swimming pools and, right next door, the 2.2 million-acre Wenatchee Washington National Forest.
Suncadia guests enjoy riverside strolls on the expansive, tranquil property — Photo courtesy of Corinne Whiting
For a special Christmas Eve or Christmas Dinner experience, consider booking a table at on-site Portals, where superb views accompany tasty, seasonal dishes like Riesling Mustard Basted Berkshire Ham and Cabernet Brined and Smoked Standing Rib Roast, along with tasty sides like Beecher’s Flagship Potato Gratin.
And whether you stay overnight or just make a daytime pit stop at the resort, be sure to add a visit to the Glade Spring Spa to your list, too. (Non-guests can make appointments, too.) At this luxurious, Zen spa with top-notch customer service, take advantage of indulgent massages, an eucalyptus steam room, rainfall showers, dry cedar saunas and more.
You'll feel all cares melt away as you slip into al fresco, heated, saltwater soaking pools from which steam rises into the crisp air. With afternoon or early evening bookings, you'll get to soak as sunset fades to dusk, and the dark sky overhead gradually twinkles with a million dancing stars.
Through early January, Suncadia gets in the holiday spirit, with a calendar jam-packed with outdoor winter fun, including tubing, ice skating and cross-country skiing, holiday spa treatments and holiday dinners. (There are also whimsical perks like "elf tuck-ins" and Santa’s Workshop.)
Winterfest at Suncaida also means breakfast with Santa, holiday cookie decorating, complimentary s'mores, seasonal cocktails and steaming hot toddies. 'Tis the season!
Although we clearly love it over here in Seattle, we admit there's something magical that happens every time we wander into those mountains out east.