The holiday season is upon us, along with the extra stress of family visits, parties, gift buying and more. The more stress experienced, the less fun the holidays become. There are many opportunities in the greater Puget Sound area to take a day, and relieve some of the stress. These activities can be indoors or outside, inexpensive or costly. It depends on the choices made.
Skiing is a popular sport, and the snow levels are dropping at this time of the year. Mount Baker is one of the first areas to get substantial levels of snow. Its season opens when the base becomes deep enough for both skiers and snowboarders.
Season tickets may be purchased on-line, at the Bellingham business office or at the resort. Purchase on-line and at the business office are reduce priced. Lift tickets may be purchased at the resort.
The ski resort is 2.5 hours north of Seattle via I-5 and the Mount Baker Highway (Exit 255 off of I-5). Road conditions and other resort information can be found here.
Leavenworth is just on the other side of Stevens Pass (Highway 2), and a great holiday get-away. Its Bavarian theme buildings and foods offer a European touch to the holidays. The town offers opportunities to shop, cross-country ski, tree-lighting ceremonies every weekend and more.
There are many cross-country ski areas around Leavenworth. There is the Golf Course, Icicle River Trail, North Park, South Park, Eagle Creek, Ski Hill, and others. The trails range from easy-moderate to difficult. A full list of trails is listed here, along with links to trail details.
The holiday season is the time for the Christmas Lighting Festival, Theatre productions, Arts and Craft fairs, music and more. The Christmas Lighting Festival happens every weekend through December, and is attended by hundreds of people. Depending on which weekend attended, the festival includes singing, horse drawn carriage rides and more. For more information about these events, visit here.
Leavenworth is about 2.5 hours from Seattle via Highway 2. Winter conditions may exist in the winter across the pass. For information about road conditions, visit here.
The Skagit Valley holds many opportunities to forget about the holidays, and enjoy life. Fir Island is the wintering area for 50,000 to 70,000 Snow Geese each year. Other wintering birds include Bald Eagles, Tundra Swans and Trumpeter Swans.
In the winter, the nearest cup of coffee or food is Conway or La Conner. From March to October, the Snow Goose Produce Market offers great produce, coffee, ice cream, art, gifts and more. Conway offers a small grocery store, gas station and drive-up coffee stand. La Conner has these plus many restaurants, cafes, art galleries, and more.
La Conner is 1.5 hours north of Seattle via I-5 to Exit 221 (Conway). At Conway, visitors need to turn right onto Fir Island Road. This road travels through the Skagit Valley flats, and flocks of Snow Geese and Swans can usually be seen along the way. When Fir Island Road crosses the Skagit River, it becomes Best Road. To get to La Conner, travelers need to turn left onto Calhoun Road, which goes out to the artist town. It is 68 miles one-way.
The San Juan Islands are beautiful year-round. Visitors can drive to Fidelgo Island via a bridge (Highway 20). The ferry docks are located just outside of Anacortes. A great place to visit on the island is Washington Park. The state park offers hiking, beach combing, camping, a boat launch, and great photographic opportunities.
The park offers views of the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The area is habitat for wildlife and birds. It is common to see Bald Eagles, Black Oyster Catchers, Harlequin Ducks, Harbor Seals, Porpoises and more. The area is rugged in parts, though some areas are handicap accessible.
The park is about 1 hour and 45 minutes northwest of Seattle via I-5 and Highway 20 west. Once in Anacortes, follow the signs for the San Juan Ferry, pass the ferry docks, and the park sits at the end of the road. For more information about this park, visit here.