As the days grow short and the weather turns cold here in the Pacific Northwest, a change of scenery can be just the ticket to help lift spirits and brighten up the season. Whether you’re looking for a fun day trip or a full-on weekend escape, rest assured there’s a whole world of wintry options available right at our doorstep. From towns packed with holiday-themed family fun, to world class snow sports and outdoor recreation, to nature-inspired retreats, we’ve rounded up our top picks for easily accessible Bellingham based winter getaways– all within a few hours travel (or less!) from the North Sound.

Family Friendly: LEAVENWORTH 

Travel time: ~3 hours 

If you’re looking to get festive and really turn up the holiday cheer this year, look no further than the picturesque Bavarian-style mountain village of Leavenworth. Walking around here in the winter is truly like walking inside a snow globe! This beloved tourist town has a well-earned reputation as a holiday hot spot due to its incredible lights displays and non-stop calendar of family-friendly events and activities. Bundle up for a stroll around town to check out all the frosty fun, including live entertainment, crafts, treats, visits with Santa, and more. For the more adventurous among your crew, the outdoor winter activities here abound– from sledding to skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing, there’s no shortage of cool ways to get out and play. Dining options are also plentiful in this wonderland of a town, with a little something to suit a wide range of tastes. If you’re looking for eats to enhance the winter vibes, we suggest treating yourself to a classic holiday sweet at The Gingerbread Factory or fill up your stein with frothy cheer at one of the town’s authentic Bavarian restaurants like The Bären Haus Restaurant or Rhein Haus Leavenworth.

Winter Sports: MT. BAKER 

Travel time: ~1.5 hours

 If carving up the slopes is more your speed, you can’t beat a visit to local winter sports wonderland, Mt. Baker Ski Area. A local playground for avid skiers and snowboarders alike, Mt. Baker is sure to deliver top-notch thrills, complete with eight lifts and more than 30 runs and lots of luxuriously deep, fresh powder. Snowsports newbies need not worry— the mountain welcomes folks of all experience levels, offering group and private lessons as well as rentals for those who are still getting their “snow legs.” 

With an average yearly snowfall of over 600 inches and 1,000 skiable acres to play on, this world-class ski area is truly a local snow sports enthusiast’s paradise. Situated in the lofty heights of Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Mt. Baker’s peak reaches heights of 5,089 feet, providing winter thrill seekers with plenty of ways to get their adrenaline fix. Once you’ve gotten your fill of fun, take a break and grab a bite or a drink at one of the ski area’s three on-site lodges. 


Travel time: ~2 hours 

Nothing says “winter romance” like a cozy weekend getaway to a waterfall! If you’re on the hunt for ways to keep the sparks flying throughout the cold and rainy months, consider gifting yourself some quality time with your boo at the luxurious Salish Lodge & Spa. Perched directly above stunning Snoqualmie Falls, the lodge features luxuriously appointed rooms, fine dining, and an award-winning spa so you can pamper each other to your heart’s content. 

Relax with a romantic meal for two at The Dining Room (reservations required) or sip on a craft cocktail at The Attic while you stare out at the breathtaking view. Or, skip the sit down altogether, hang the “do not disturb” sign, and snuggle up with some room service and a bottle of local wine. If you’re eager to see the falls up close, you can head down to one of the observation decks to take in the splendor and snap a few post-worthy couple selfies. Or stay inside and simply admire the falls from the warmth of the lodge (we promise we won’t tell!). Either way, a stay here will let you forget the world for a while and focus on creating new memories with the one you love.

Outdoor Recreation: WINTHROP 

Travel Time: ~3 hours 

If you’re looking for an escape from the pressures of modern-day life without sacrificing modern convenience and fun, the historical hamlet of Winthrop may be just the place for you. This charming Wild West-themed town is located right in the heart of Methow Valley, which is renowned as North America’s largest cross-country ski area. A haven for winter outdoor recreation enthusiasts of all stripes, the area boasts more than 120 miles of groomed and interconnected trails to explore. If skis are not your mobility method of choice, the options for outdoor excursions abound— from ice skates, to snowshoes, to snowmobiles, you need only pick your poison.

 While this town may be small, it doesn’t fall short on options to satisfy your appetite. After a day of outdoor play, we suggest you grab a bite at local eatery Arrowleaf Bistro, which serves up “consciously curated” dishes made with locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients. And if your excursions leave you feeling a bit thirsty, we suggest you unwind with a frosty pint at popular local haunt, Old Schoolhouse Brewery.


Travel Time: ~1 hour 

If you’re in the market for some quality “me time”, a solo trip may be the perfect antidote to chase away the winter blues. Luckily, the stunning natural beauty of Lummi Island is only a short ferry ride away— offering a tranquil retreat to slow down your pace and take a break from the holiday madness. Get a big dose of fresh air with a side of solitude while wandering the Island’s breathtaking nature preserves (be sure to bring along a thermos of your favorite hot drink and some rain gear!) or book a stay at a cabin or bungalow through Stay & Sea Lummi Island . Many of Stay & Sea’s vacation rentals include fireplaces or wood-burning stoves to keep you cozy as you get lost in a good book, or in your thoughts while staring out at the ocean waves. Though Lummi Island is only a stone’s throw from the mainland, it will transport you to a different time and place— one where you’ll be free to take a deep breath, reflect, and reconnect with nature (and yourself).