Dreaming about exploring the scenic outdoors of the west coast? Look no further than Chelan, a city in Washington state and home to the 50-mile-long Lake Chelan.
I got to visit Lake Chelan for our friend’s wedding, and it was such an unexpected and wonderful place to vacation!
Lake Chelan is located in the northern part of Washington, about 198 miles away from Seattle. It is also the third deepest lake in the United States, going 386 feet below sea level at its deepest point.
Lake Chelan is located within the town of Chelan, but also passes through multiple towns that span its 50-mile length.
Chelan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state of Washington and the perfect place to visit during the warm summer months.
I was personally surprised by the geography of Chelan. While I expected Chelan to be covered in forest and trees, it actually has a desert, arid climate—perfect for growing grapes and fruit.
Some of the biggest attractions to the area are visiting the lake and heading to the surrounding Cascade mountains. However, there are plenty of other things that you can do during your time in Lake Chelan, Washington.
Take a look at this list of 20 things to do in Lake Chelan to guide you on your west coast adventure.
And of course, a gorgeous view of the vineyards spanning across the properties. You simply cannot go wrong with whichever winery you choose to visit. Hopefully, you can hit multiple wineries during your time in Lake Chelan.
Hike Along the Lake
Pack your hiking boots or walking sneakers because it is time to get your steps in with a hike or walk along the lake.
There are many popular hiking and walking trails to follow, including:
Each has its own level of difficulty and length, so pick whichever seems most comfortable for you. If you are up for more of a challenge, check out the hiking on Stormy Mountain, which is part of the North Cascade section of the Cascade Mountains. This trail is short, but the elevation makes it a bit more of a challenge. No matter which route you take, you will certainly get exciting lake, mountain, and potentially animal views as you make your way along the lake.
Play Water Sports on the Lake
Lake Chelan is more than just nice to look at and is a great lake for enjoying water sports while on your trip.
Waterskiing, jet skiing, tubing, and swimming are all popular water activities that can be enjoyed on the lake. Lake Chelan parasailing is also a very big hit. There are specific areas on the lake meant for enjoying these activities and for loading your equipment into the water.
Have your own jet skis or other water sport accessories? Be sure to pack them for your trip. If not, there are ample rental opportunities to enjoy the sports for the day.
Shop in Downtown Lake Chelan
The downtown area of Lake Chelan gives off the sweetest small-town feel. There are all kinds of stores to shop and explore in the downtown area. You’ll find clothing stores, sports apparel stores, art stores, clothing boutiques, decor shops, and much more.
Take a Hard Cider Tour
Lake Chelan is not only known for its sweeping vineyards that create delicious wine, but it is also the home to many apple orchards that create delicious hard cider. That being said, make sure to leave time during your trip for a visit to one of the many local establishments that create amazing cider. These include Steelhead Cider,Washington Gold Cider,Bad Granny Cider, andRootwood Cider.
No need to choose between a winery destination and a cider destination when you can get the best of both worlds on one vacation!
Attend the Lake Chelan Bach Fest in July
If you are planning your trip to Lake Chelan in the month of July, then check the calendar to see that year’s dates for the annualLake Chelan Bach Fest.
The fest showcases concerts at various wineries, orchestra performances on the lake, and other musical performances by local talent. At this fest you’ll see professional and semi-professional musicians from all across the northwest to perform. If live music is one of your loves, then consider planning your trip to Lake Chelan around the dates of the annual Lake Chelan Bach Fest.
While you are visiting Lake Chelan, take a stop at theLake Chelan Historical Society Museumto learn more about the history of the small town. The museum showcases artifacts and stories of the origins of the town. This includes Native American artifacts, old photographs, and information on local family histories. If you’re a history buff, you might enjoy this!
Stay Somewhere Fun (Cabin, Resort, or Hotel)
While you are planning your time in the outdoor town of Lake Chelan, you may as well experience it to its highest degree by staying in a fun location whether that’s a cabin or hotel. There are many different cabins to choose from for various costs and experiences. Check outChelan Rentals Resort, or a cottage at Kelly’s Resort if the rustic cabin feel is up your alley.
If you’d rather stay in a hotel or resort, try one of these. While I was there we stayed at the Lakeside Lodge and Suites right on the lake and near downtown. It was a great spot for our friend’s wedding weekend! Our other friends loved staying at the Campbell’s Resort right in downtown Chelan.
Fish on the Lake
If fishing is a hobby you enjoy, there is plenty of room on Lake Chelan to explore the fishing scene. Fishing on Lake Chelan is world-class and the most popular fish caught are Chinook (King) Salmon and Lake Trout (Mackinaw).
When looking for a dinner recommendation during your time in Lake Chelan, be sure to consider the restaurant within Campbell’s Resort called Campbell’s Pub & Veranda. This restaurant is known for its northwest menu and hospitality, making it a staple of your Washington experience.
A few other great options for lunch and dinner are:
The county park,Beebe Bridge Park, allows for camping and provides electricity, water, a boat launch, and a dump station. There are also other small campsite setups that would give a great camping experience no matter how much camping you have done in the past.Pick your campsiteand fully embrace the outdoor exploration during your time in this outdoorsy town.
Visit Don Morse Memorial Park
Make a stop atDon Morse Memorial Park during your trip for a day of both water and land activities. Don Morse Memorial Park has an 18-hole putting course for golfing, a go-kart track, a skatepark for skateboarding, and a variety of other courts for tennis, basketball, and volleyball. There are plenty of water activities as well, including water sports offered byLake Rider Sports and boating rentals. No matter what your interests may be, there is something for everyone at Don Morse Memorial Park.
For an amazing trip along the whole lake, consider booking an experience onLady on the Lake! It’s a ferry that rides the entire 50-mile length of Lake Chelan.
Lady on the Lake is a form of transportation to other parts of the Washington area, but can also be booked for private charters. They offer a beautiful scenic view of the entirety of the lake for birthdays, rehearsal dinners, and other special occasions. If you are traveling with a big group for a special occasion, maybe this experience could be the perfect fit for you.
Splash at Slidewaters Water Park
Exchange your water activities on the lake for water activities atSlidewaters water park for one day during your time at Lake Chelan. Slidewaters is a family-friendly water park with over 19 fun-filled attractions, like a lazy river, body slides, tube slides, a hot tub, surf waves, and more.
They have their own restaurant, River Run Grill, to fill your hungry stomach after a day of water activities. The best part – you can still enjoy a wonderful view of the lake and the mountains from the waterpark.
Hopefully, the weather stays warm and sunny during your time at Lake Chelan, but if you are in need of rainy day activity, then check outRuby Theater for a movie. Ruby Theater is a historic theater in both its look and feel. They offer all current movies and can even be rented out for private screenings.
Another day-long adventure to try while staying in Lake Chelan is to visitStehekin. Stehekin is a remote “town” at the very top of Lake Chelan which would take about 4 hours to travel by boat.
Stehekin is actually only reachable by boat or plane. It is a tiny hidden oasis only inhabited by 80 full-time residents, making it the perfect place to escape the surrounding world. Take the Lady of the Lake up to Stehekin for a day of hiking just to enjoy the peacefulness of nature.
What better way to see the entirety of Lake Chelan and its surrounding towns than from up above? Specifically, through the eyes of a helicopter.Lake Chelan Helicopters offers all sorts of tours with varying lengths, destinations, and prices.
One of these tours is actually a winery tour that will transport you to various wineries via helicopter! If a helicopter tour has always been on your bucket list, this is your sign to book that experience in Lake Chelan.
Purchase Produce from the Chelan Evening Farmers Market
Head over to theChelan Evening Farmers Market for farm-fresh produce to enjoy during your trip. The market is open on Thursday evenings during the months of May to October.
It showcases over 20 vendors and farmers selling their goods. There are even often entertainment and educational sessions at the market that spread the word to the community about the importance of shopping locally.
Explore on a Bike
Tour the area of Lake Chelan on a tour-guide-led bike tour.Chelan Electric Bikes is a popular company that offers winery tours and off-road mountain biking tours. While the winery tours may be better for 21-year-old + beginners, the mountain biking tours get a little bit more challenging when biking on the off-road terrain. Regardless of which way you choose to go, the bike tours will be sure to bring a fun and memorable highlight to your trip.
Some of these areas you will recognize from the list of hiking trails, including Chelan Riverwalk Park. According to the trail map, some of the birds that can be found along the listed trails include Thrushes, Nuthatches, Towhees, Woodpeckers, Goldfinches, Warblers, Loons, Buffleheads, Swallows, and more, all depending on the time of year. Regardless of if bird watching is a normal hobby you enjoy while visiting a place known for great bird sightings, it could be a fun adventure to seek them out during your trip.
Every time you visit Lake Chelan you could have a brand new experience. It often becomes the go-to summer vacation spot for couples and families. Now that you know what to do in Lake Chelan, Washington, it is time to get your trip booked and enjoy a great time in an incredible outdoorsy place!
Welcome to the Traveling Spud! I’m Katie, a 30 something from Idaho who quit her marketing job in San Francisco, California to travel the world for a year. After a trip around the world, my heart chose Idaho. I'm addicted to outdoor adventures, photography, and inspiring others to get out of their comfort zones and cross experiences off of their bucket lists. Let's explore together! Read more here.