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Sleepless near Seattle

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What is it? A sunny break at a lake in the US state of Washington’s wine and apple region. 

Where? The Lake House at Chelan in Chelan, Washington. 

Description: If you’re tired of the British weather, why not visit Chelan? Located suprisingly in the US state of Washington near Seattle, not known for being exceptionally sunny, it offers a variety of sunny outdoor pursuits against the backdrop of a gorgeous lake, as Margo Crandall and family discovered… [balcony.jpg]

To escape the sodden spring in Seattle – which has a climate much like the British climate, only worse.

Our kids loved the Lake House “splash zone” of sprinklers, heated swimming pool and hot tub, and would have spent the entire day there if we’d let them. Don Morse Park across the street provides beach and dock access to the lake, as well as a recently updated playground. For older kids there are basketball courts, a putting green, a skateboard park and mini-car racing course.

The Lake House pool and pool house are available until 10 pm, and include a pool table, poker room, and outdoor kitchen. Two doors down, the Chelan Lanes bowling alley has kid-friendly bumpers that can be raised and lowered for each player as appropriate, as well as a disco-themed light and sound show called “Thunder Alley.”  

The concierge service at the Lake House has a list of local babysitters that you can book. Most of the sitters are teens and pre-teens who have had recent training in childcare and emergency procedures. They have busy lives, so call ahead if you want to go out. 

The resort staff are wonderful at helping to book you into local activities, including the many highly-rated local spas. For shared decadence, there are chauffeured tasting tours of the 15 local wineries. 

Local activities: The hardest part of our trip was deciding which of the many available activities to do. Activities that centre on the lake include fishing, boating, water skiing, jet skis, scuba diving, parasailing, the Slidewaters waterpark, cruises on the Lady of Lake, and floatplane flights to Stehekin—a town at the north of the lake that is inaccessible by road. Out of the water, the area supports camping, hiking, eight golf courses, wineries, and numerous roadside farm markets.  

Wish we had known: …that the resort suites had such well-equipped kitchens and grills. With the exception of Blueberry Hill, a restaurant about 10 miles away, we weren’t that impressed with the local restaurants we found, and kept thinking longingly of the gas grill. We definitely wished that we’d planned ahead and got steaks and asparagus, and brought pancake mix, syrup, and a few condiments (salt, pepper, butter and parmesan).

Our top tip: Bring your water gear – sunscreen, beach toys, towels, blankets, fishing and ski equipment – as there are many beaches to play on (although you can splurge and buy locally if you’d like). Also, don’t forget about peak traffic times (we did, and it cost us an extra traffic hour). If you are on a tight schedule, plan to leave and return at off hours.  

Kids say: Maya, 10, says, “I like that there was a bowling alley near the hotel” and Ben, 7, says, ”I liked the beaches and the pool.” 

Getting There: Chelan is a three-and-a-half hour drive from Seattle, Washington state’s capital, over Snoqualmie Pass and through the fruit country of eastern Washington. Family summer vacation packages at the Lake House that include three night’s accommodation and four one-day passes to Slidewaters waterpark in Lake Chelan start at $1,059 for four people. To book, send an email to info@thelakehousechelan.com, or make a reservation at the websitehttp://www.thelakehousechelan.com. Flights to Seattle are available from all major UK airports.     

About our stay: As an antidote to too many miserably rainy days in the UK, the goregous town of Chelan in Washington state is absolutely perfect! The weather there is absolutely beautiful in the spring – it is sunny, and pleasantly warm (70-80 degrees F). We chose to visit before the crowded US May bank holiday of Memorial Day, the traditional opening of the full tourist season, to avoid crowds and the summertime heat that eastern Washington is known for. As a tradeoff, a few amenities were not open yet.  We live in Seattle and it was good to get out of the city and remember that Washington State holds significantly more than the coastal weather and urban areas we see so much of at home. Passing from the spring-time rain and green of the Puget Sound lowlands to the high plains desert and irrigated fields of the Columbia Plateau is a dramatic change. Chelan is a small town (population 3,500) with a well-developed and lively centre, within walking distance of the resort. Outside the town are many fruit orchards, vineyards, and small businesses.   As we prepared for our trip, my husband, two children Ben and Maya and I were all looking forward to the sun in Chelan, but we didn’t have great expectations of our lodgings at the resort. We assumed that they would be similar to those we’ve rented in ski areas throughout the west—functional, but not particularly welcoming. Imagine our delight when we discovered that our suite was truly lovely (the kids rated it 5 million spots), and that everyone at the resort was adept at making arrangements for activities in and around town.  [bunks.jpg] The Lake House at Chelan is a new resort that offers both holiday rentals and residences for sale. It is not on the seaside itself, but just across the road from it.  We had a suite on the 4th floor that included a dining and living room, in addition to a large, very well-equipped kitchen (complete with hob, fridge, microwave, full-counter space, plates, saucepans, cutlery and every kitchen gadget you might need) and a large washer and dryer. A welcome surprise was the enormous deck with a propane grill and outdoor table large enough for six. The 3-bedroom, 2-bath suite sleeps six, including a room with bunk beds that the kids instantly claimed and rarely emerged from, an en-suite master, and another bedroom with a king-sized bed. The living room and each bedroom had its own flat-screen TV, and the living room and master suite shared a gas fireplace. The hardest part of our trip was deciding which of the many available activities in the area to try. Ben and Maya unexpectedly opted to start Saturday with fishing from a dock, and declared success when they saw fish, and caught a few twigs (we brought our own poles and bait, and made sure to buy a fishing licence).  [lake.jpg] My favorite part of the day was stopping by a local winery for a wine tasting. We were lucky—we happened to choose a weekend during which many local wineries were participating in the spring barrel tasting, where the winemaker provides tastings of wines they are about to bottle. Although we limited ourselves to one stop, there are 15 wineries in the newly-designated Lake Chelan appellation area alone.   In the afternoon, we spent a few hours at the beach at Don Morse park while the kids tested the playground, and built canals in the sand. They couldn’t decide whether their favorite part of the day was swimming at the Lake House or bowling at Chelan Bowl, two blocks away. The owner programmed the lane’s bumpers to come up when the kids were bowling, but allowed us adults to display our prowess at throwing gutterballs. For our last frame we also got to experience “Thunder Alley,” a sound, light, and smoke-filled disco bowling extravaganza.   We didn’t have time for a long trip this time, but could easily have stayed and explored for weeks. As we prepared to leave Chelan to go back home to Seattle the kids wanted to make the most of every minute and not even sleep. They were also busy planning activities for our next visit, and they hadn’t yet discovered the waterpark… * Margo Crandall is a full-time mother of two – and a full-time Microsoft employee in Seattle.

Created: 2009-05-26 15:48:38.233

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