Lake Chelan is Washington state’s largest lake, stretching for more than 50 miles through peaceful mountain scenery and past vineyard-covered slopes. Escape here in any season for a fun-filled family vacation or weekend break. The area abounds with outdoor activities, including water-based activities in warmer months, and snowboarding or skiing during the winter. Enjoy staying at a Lake Chelan vacation rental right on the lake, where you can fall asleep each night to the sound of the water gently lapping on the shore. Venture higher up in the mountains to wake up to spectacular panoramic views of the lake.
1. Take a Trip with the Lady of the Lake
For a great way to get to know the lake, take a cruise with The Lady of the Lake. This cruise ship travels through breathtaking scenery and deep into the heart of the wilderness, while the crew points out areas of interest. Visit the quaint village of Stehekin, which is only accessible by boat or float plane, and consider staying overnight to allow more time to explore.
2. Take a Swim
Many of the popular vacation rentals have their own private pools, so you don’t need to travel far for your morning swim. If wild swimming is more your thing, look for a waterfront cabin with its own swim dock, or make the trip to one of the lake’s swim beaches. Many of the city and state parks, such as Manson Bay Park, have protected swim areas.
3. Float your Boat
If you and the kids love spending time on the water, choose a waterfront property with its own dock, hitch up your boat and strap the kayaks to the roof. Don’t forget the paddles and life preservers for all the family. The lake also has a number of public boat launches with facilities such as gas, and places where you can hire a range of water craft including paddle boards, canoes and boats of varying sizes. Be sure to pick up a copy of the City of Chelan and Chelan County boat and water use regulations from the Chelan County Sheriff or the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.
4. Pump up the Action with Water Sports
While you’re getting the family out on the water, why not experience the thrill of being pulled along behind a speedboat on a wakeboard, water skis or in a tube? A number of waterside companies hire out the relevant equipment. Please make sure your family wear approved flotation devices and abide by the Washington State regulations that require a boat and personal watercraft drivers to be at least 14 years old.
5. Go Parasailing High Above the Lake
Experience the thrill of flying as high as 800 feet above the lake when you go parasailing. Pirates Cove Parasail and Chelan Parasail & Watersports can fly up to three people at the same time, so the whole family can join in. Children need to be aged 5 or older to participate.
6. Go Fishing
The waters in and around Lake Chelan are renowned for their world-class fishing, with stocking programs releasing thousands of Cutthroat and Kokanee fingerlings into the lake each year. Kit out the kids with fishing gear, and keep the camera handy to capture the moment they pull out their first catch from your vacation home’s private dock. Take out a fishing boat and you might even hook a 20-pound Chinook or a large Mackinaw. Check out fishing license requirements and limits at a local sporting or hardware store.
7. Soar Above the Treetops
Continue your high-flying adventures at Tunnel Zip Lines where you can zoom from tree to tree and land on platforms with spectacular views. For safety reasons, participants must weigh between 60 and 250 pounds, be in good physical condition, and measure at least 4-feet two-inches tall.
8. Take a Hike
With more than 14 major trailheads in the 422,000-acre Chelan Ranger District, there’s plenty to keep hikers entertained. Families with younger children can enjoy simple trails such as the 1-mile Riverwalk Park Loop Trail in historic downtown Chelan, and the 3-mile Little Bear Trail at Chelan State Park that runs alongside the lake and up into the forest. Older children enjoy the challenge of the steep, 9.5-mile Pot Peak hike.
9. Take a Bike Ride
There are plenty of places to rent bicycles, and some vacation rentals include bikes, but if you enjoy mountain biking, you should try to bring your own if you can. Epic rides include the Pot Peak trail with a dizzying 5,000-foot descent. If you or your family’s fitness levels aren’t quite up to pedaling long distances, Chelan Electric Bikes rents single and tandem electric bikes to help take the strain.
10. Play a Round or Two of Golf
There is plenty to keep golfing enthusiasts busy, with eight courses located within an easy driving distance of Lake Chelan. However, be warned that the spectacular lake views of Lake Chelan and Bear Mountain Ranch golf courses might put you off your stroke. Farther afield, the family-friendly Bear Creek course at Winthrop provides fabulous views of the Cascades.
11. Experience the Fun of Winterfest
If you’re seeking a winter vacation, there is plenty of outdoor fun to be had in and around the lake, including the annual Winterfest. Book your all-access pass for a weekend of fun activities in this winter wonderland. Get some selfies on the amazing ice throne, visit the Lakeview Drive-in to chow down bacon burgers and fries, join other crazy swimmers by jumping in the lake, and dry off beside a crackling beach bonfire while fireworks explode above your head.
12. Indulge in Some Retail Therapy
When you fancy a break from all the healthy outdoor activities, or simply need to top up your provisions, the small towns of Chelan and Manson absolutely ooze charm. Specialty shops and boutiques are packed full of tempting wares to treat family and friends or provide a lasting memento of an amazing vacation.