I’ve been wanting to visit Eastern Washington since the day I moved to Washington. Living in the Seattle area, all I ever hear about is how different it is over there. I finally had a chance to take a trip to the other side of the Cascades and spent the weekend in Lake Chelan for a friend’s birthday weekend this spring.
Chelan is approximately three hours away from Seattle. That commute time can vary depending on the time of year, especially during the winter since this drive will take you through scenic mountain passes and they are known to have frequent closures due to winter conditions. We made this trip in the late spring, so we didn’t have to worry about all of that fun stuff. Although, no matter how you put it, spending several hours in a car be a drag if you aren’t prepared for it.
Thanks to my friends at Mitsubishi, we were traveling in a comfortable 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander, the perfect ride for a road trip with friends. This beauty is not only spacious but it was equipped with all of the essentials for mountain excursions. 4-wheel drive, a panoramic roof, a robust Rockford Fosgate sound system, just to name a few. Basically, all of the creature comforts that are needed when you’re going to spend several hours on the road.
From the time that we got on the road, to the time that we arrived at our rental house, it didn’t seem like 3.5 hours had passed by. This is because the drive to Lake Chelan is gorgeous and it will keep you visually stimulated most of the way. For me, the most fascinating part was seeing the geographic transition between Western and Eastern Washington. Western Washington is grey, moist and mountainous. Afterall, they don’t call Seattle “the rainy city” for no reason. However, as you make your way west through the mountain pass, you will notice that Eastern Washington is dry, with some environments that resemble a desert. The best part of this environmental change was the blue skies and sunshine, something we just don’t get enough of in Western Washington.
Upon arriving in Chelan, you can’t help but notice the small town charm of the tiny downtown nestled between mountains and Lake Chelan its self. All of the buildings have their own personality, with a variety of shops and restaurants inside. The other thing that caught my attention was all of the wineries along the road. The main road is literally lined by vineyards, which makes for incredible scenery.
The house we stayed at during our weekend trip was technically in Mason, which is another town along Lake Chelan. The commute between the two was only a few miles and really gave us the opportunity to really experience Lake Chelan and all of its beautiful surroundings. In fact, we spent the weekend traveling between the two.
Are you planning a weekend trip to Lake Chelan, Washington? Here are the highlights of my trip and everything I recommend you eat, see, and do while you are there. Keep in mind, I was only in Lake Chelan for a weekend, and I hope to return soon to add more reccomendations to this list.
Weekend Travel Guide: Things to do in Lake Chelan, Washington
Located at the South Shore of Lake Chelan, Tsillian cellars has a rustic appearance that will make you feel like your in Tuscany. The property and venue are stunning, with unparalleled views of Lake Chelan, the vineyard, and the property which resembles an Italian countryside retreat. I have to admit, I’m not a big wine drinker unless it’s sparkling or Froze. However, speaking on behalf of the group I was with, their award-winning wine selection is worth a taste. It pairs perfectly with the menu options of Sorrento’s Ristorante, which is located inside. I may not have tasted the wine, but I did enjoy several items from the food menu and it was AMAZING. The ingredients in the food are fresh and are prepared in an authentic Italian kitchen with meticulous attention to ever detail.
Blueberry Hills Resturant (Mason)
The crew of friends I was spending the weekend with likes to get down with a good breakfast– my kind of people. Upon arriving we started to hunt for a breakfast destination and all of the locals mentioned Blueberry Hills for their delicious homestyle breakfast menu. They also mentioned that we should arrive early, as this spot is known to get packed. All of those statements were facts. We listened and arrived early (around 9 AM) and there was already a small crowd at the door.
The restaurant has a country store charm and is located right in front of a blueberry farm. When you walk in, you will continue to get that country feeling and will instantly notice all of the quirky country decor and blueberry everything, everywhere!
Now let’s get to the important part– the food. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, so I made a very strategic decision when placing my order. I wanted to try their blueberries (obviously!), so I opted for yeast pancakes with warm blueberry pie filling and whip cream. This dish was just as good as it sounds. Looking around at what the others were eating, it became clear that you can’t go wrong regardless what you order.
The Coffee Shop (Mason)
I’m all for a good latte and I’m not willing to sacrifice my coffee snobbery while I’m on vacation. Rather than opting for the Mr. Coffee in our rental house, my fellow coffee aficionada and I ventured off for an early morning coffee run. We decided to stop at The Coffee Shop solely on the line on a Saturday before 8 AM. We figured if people are lining up, it’s got to be good. Sure enough, their espresso did not disappoint. The staff was speedy and nice too, which is even better. Bonus points because they have a drive-thru window.
Radiance Winery Tasting Room (Chelan)
One of the top things to do in the Lake Chelan area is to go wine tasting. You will not be short on options because there is robust wine scene here that continues to grow. Like I mentioned before, I’m a froze kind of girl and I enjoyed the frozen goodness at the Radiancy Winery. The day we went they had two options (a white and a red), and I leaned towards the white. While we were there we had a chance to chat with one of the owners of the family owned and operated spot and he was very friendly. He talked to us about Lake Chelan and was one of the people who suggested Blueberry Hills as a must for breakfast. Considering that the tasting room is warm and cozy, we stayed for a while sippin’ on rośe and enjoying good conversations.
Spend time on Lake Chelan
Not to point out the obvious, but you can’t visit Lake Chelan without planning some time on the lake. The lake is cold (all year round from what I’m told), so while you may not go in for a dip, there are tons of other things to do. There are parks around the lake, along with camping grounds if you want to stay right next to it. Renting a boat or jet skis is also a great option. If you prefer to stay dry (like us!), consider a walk along the lake or picnic at the park. We went for a nice stroll to take photographs and had a rock skipping competition while we were at it.
Shopping in Chelan’s eclectic downtown
The historic downtown area of Lake Chelan may not be very big, but it’s packed with boutiques and shops with unique items. There are several clothing boutiques, along with shops to outfit your home. Make some time to pop into these shops and see if you find a fun souvenir to take back home with you. I didn’t have as much shopping time as I would have liked, but next time I’m planning to make my rounds through the shops.
These are some of the spots that were most memorable to me from my trip to Lake Chelan, Washington. I hope to visit the lakeside town again in the future to do more exploring.