Winter Wonders: Your Guide to Enjoying Washington’s Chilly Charms

Washington’s winter months cloak the state in a serene blanket of snow and crisp, clear skies that attract adventurers and peace-seekers alike. It’s a time to engage in activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and whale watching.

The Evergreen State’s landscape in winter is a reminder that the season can be as much about exploration and discovery as it is about rest and rejuvenation.

This article explores the best winter activities in Washington State to help you plan your adventure. It also highlights:

  • Top locations and expert tips for each activity
  • The ideal dress codes for each activity
  • How to make the most of your winter activities

Top Winter Activities in Washington

Winter in Washington is suitable for activities such as:

Skiing and Snowboarding

Glide down the slopes of Washington’s ski resorts, where winter sports lovers gather for the ultimate snowy adventure.

Top locations for skiing and snowboarding include:

  • Crystal Mountain: It boasts the largest ski area in the state and offers lovely views of Mount Rainier
  • Stevens Pass: It caters to both beginners and experts and its high elevation guarantees a good snow base.

For the best experience, follow these tips:

  • Ski during weekdays to avoid weekend crowds
  • Check snow conditions in advance to ensure a smooth experience
  • Consider night skiing for a unique experience
  • Explore different runs to fully experience the terrain variety

When skiing and snowboarding, wear thermal base layers, waterproof ski pants, and jackets. Also, goggles and a helmet offer safety and comfort.


Snowshoeing is a peaceful way to explore Washington’s snow-covered landscapes.

You can snowshoe at Mount Rainier National Park. This park offers trails like the Nisqually Vista Loop, where you can enjoy views of the mountain and its surroundings.

Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge is also a good spot that provides a winter snowshoeing experience. Thanks to its panoramic views and well-maintained trails.

Follow these tips for a good experience:

  • Beginners should start with short, flat trails
  • Always check the weather forecast before heading out
  • Consider joining a guided tour for a more informative experience
  • Bring a map and compass, as trails can be harder to navigate in the snow

The dress code should include insulated, waterproof boots along with moisture-wicking socks. This allows for adjusting to activity levels.

Winter Festivals and Events

Embrace the festive spirit at Washington’s winter festivals. Here, lights and celebrations bring warmth to the chilly season.

You can enjoy winter festivities such as:

  • Leavenworth Christmas Lighting. This event transforms Leavenworth into a brilliant winter wonderland. It features musical performances and Bavarian-style architecture.
  • Pike Place Market in Seattle hosts unique winter events, offering a chance to explore local crafts and seasonal foods.

Always plan your visit to coincide with specific events or performances. In Leavenworth, weekday visits can mean fewer crowds. At Pike Place, explore beyond the main market area to discover hidden gems.

In terms of what to wear, consider warm, layered clothing. This is because temperatures can drop in the evenings.

Whale Watching

Experience the awe of seeing whales in their natural habitat during Washington’s winter season. Suitable spots for whale watching include:

  • The San Juan Islands where you get the chance to see orcas, gray whales, and humpbacks.
  • Puget Sound provides excellent vantage points and the opportunity to see various marine life.

To have a seamless experience:

  • Book a tour with a reputable company that practices sustainable whale watching.
  • Dress in layers as it can be much colder on the water.
  • Consider seasickness remedies if you’re prone to motion sickness.
  • Wear waterproof, wind-resistant outerwear, hats, gloves, and warm footwear as it can be much colder on the water.
  • Carry binoculars to enhance your viewing experience.

Indoor Activities: Museums and Galleries

Winter in Washington state gets even more interesting when experienced indoors. You can learn about Washington’s history and culture through its museums and galleries. This is a perfect retreat from the cold.

You can visit the Seattle Art Museum. It offers a diverse collection, from Native American art to contemporary pieces.

Another example is the Museum of Flight. It will you on a journey through aviation history.

Follow the following tips:

  • Check for special exhibits and events, which are often scheduled in winter
  • Visit on weekdays if you want less crowded spaces
  • Allow enough time to fully explore the exhibits
  • Consider guided tours for a more in-depth experience
  • Wear comfortable, smart-casual attire
  • Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll likely be on your feet for extended periods


Feel the rush of excitement as you sled down Washington’s snowy slopes, a delightful activity for families and thrill-seekers alike.

You’ll like the Hyak Sno-Park which offers a designated sledding hill with nearby amenities—making it ideal for families.

The sledding areas at Mount Rainier National Park, such as Paradise, offer stunning scenery and varied slopes.

Follow these top tips to make your thrill even more lovely:

  • Go early to secure a good spot, especially on weekends
  • Always supervise children and use sleds that are steerable for better control
  • Check the area for safety hazards
  • Wear a waterproof outer layer to keep warm
  • If you’re sledding with kids, make sure they wear helmets and waterproof gloves to keep them safe and warm.

Taking a Hike

A winter hike will let you discover the serene beauty of Washington’s landscapes, transformed under a blanket of snow.

You can hike at Discovery Park in Seattle. This park offers gentler trails with views of Puget Sound, ideal for a leisurely hike.

The Spokane River Centennial Trail is good if you want a trail that’s accessible and caters to all levels.

Here are our top tips when hiking on these trails:

  • Dress in layered clothing, waterproof hiking boots, hat, gloves, and wool or synthetic socks to keep feet warm
  • Start early to make the most of limited daylight hours
  • Always let someone know your route
  • Bring water and snacks, even for short hikes

Treating Yourself to a Spa

Indulge in relaxation and rejuvenation at one of Washington’s luxurious spas, an ideal way to unwind after a day of winter adventures.

Examples of top spas include:

  • Salish Lodge & Spa, located near Snoqualmie Falls. It offers treatments with views of the picturesque falls.
  • Alderbrook Resort & Spa, at the Hood Canal. It provides a calm waterfront escape.

Follow the following tips to help you enjoy your spa treatments:

  • Book treatments in advance, especially on weekends or holidays.
  • Look out for packages that include multiple treatments for a full day of pampering.
  • Arrive early to enjoy any additional amenities like saunas or hot tubs.
  • Comfortable loungewear is ideal. Bring a swimsuit if the spa has a pool or hot tub.

Paddle Boarding

Paddle boarding in winter offers a peaceful experience on Washington’s waters.

You can paddle board at Lake Union. It provides a calm setting with stunning views of the Seattle skyline.

Lake Washington is ideal if you want more exploration opportunities.

Follow the following tips:

  • Choose calm, clear days for paddle boarding.
  • Beginners should start in sheltered areas with little to no wind.
  • Always wear a life jacket for safety.
  • Consider a dry suit for additional warmth and safety.
  • Wear waterproof gloves and booties to protect you from the extremities of the cold.

Ice Skating

This is a festive and fun activity for all ages. Skate through winter on one of Washington’s many ice rinks:

  • Bellevue Downtown Ice Rink offers a vibrant outdoor skating experience in the heart of Bellevue.
  • Sprinker Recreation Center provides a spacious indoor option for those looking to escape the cold.

Follow these helpful tips:

  • Check the rink’s schedule for themed nights or lessons if you’re a beginner. Also, start slow and consider using a skating aid
  • Choose weekday afternoons if you want less crowds.
  • Dress in warm layers, including a hat and gloves, for comfort. Knee pads are a good idea for beginners to avoid bruises.

Making the Most of Your Winter Activities

Winter in Washington is a season filled with potential for adventure and relaxation. To truly make the most of it, consider these tips:

Plan Ahead

  • Reserve accommodations and tickets for popular activities like skiing and festivals well in advance.
  • Check local tips from blogs, visitor centers, and social media groups to stay updated on different activities in your selected area.
  • Stay safe by checking forecasts and trail conditions before heading out.
  • Bring your equipment or rent it at your destination, especially for activities like skiing and snowboarding.

Embrace the Season

  • Unique experiences: Try snowshoeing under a full moon or witness a breathtaking winter sunrise.
  • Winter events: Attend festive holiday markets, light festivals, and winter sports competitions.
  • Dress warmly: Embrace the cold by dressing in layers and wearing waterproof outerwear.

Combine Activities

Pair outdoor adventures with indoor relaxation. After a day of skiing or snowshoeing, treat yourself to a spa day or explore the local museums and art galleries. This combination balances the excitement of outdoor activities with the relaxation of indoor leisure.

Combine physically demanding activities like skiing or ice skating with more laid-back experiences, such as whale watching or a scenic drive. This allows you to experience the diversity of Washington’s winter landscape without exhausting yourself.

For families, combining educational indoor activities with fun outdoor experiences can be a great way to keep everyone engaged. Visit a museum in the morning and go sledding or ice skating in the afternoon.

Enjoy Winter Activities in Washington With RV Travel

Winter brings brings a special flavor to the state of Washington. With a range of activities from ski slopes to hikes and lively festivals, Washington in winter caters to a wide array of interests and preferences.

But there’s more. You can experience Washington’s winter with a home on the wheels.

Renting an RV can add an extra layer of comfort and convenience to your adventure. It allows you to navigate the state’s diverse landscapes at your own pace. It also offers a cozy retreat after a day of adventure.

NW Adventure Rentals is your source for modern, well-maintained RVs in Seattle. Our RVs will transform your winter trip in Washington into a lovely, homely stay.

But don’t just take our word for it—here’s what past customers have to say about their experiences:

We first rented an RV from NW Adventures, and had a GREAT experience!! We didn’t know much, and everyone was so patient and helpful with explaining details.”—Kirby Laney, Verified Customer

We just rented our first RV with NW Adventure Rentals and had a great time! Jason was awesome to work with! Already have our next rental booked!”—Brian Craig, Verified Customer