For many people in Washington, Lake Chelan is best known as a summer destination, but autumn at the lake is one of the state’s best-kept secrets.
Lake Chelan quiets down once the kids head back to school and tourists pack it in for the year. That makes it the ideal time for some rest and relaxation with leisurely hiking and biking through colorful foliage, fine dining, wine and cider tastings, and shopping at the many mom-and-pop stores.
Lake Chelan is quickly becoming known as a young but thriving winemaking scene, too, with dozens of wineries in the area. In early October, the Lake Chelan Crush Festival offers the chance to stomp grapes like they did in the old country.
By car, Lake Chelan is about five hours from Bellingham. Take Interstate 5 south to U.S. Highway 2 East. Follow U.S. Highway 2 east to Highway 97 Alt. North, and then Washington Highway 971 North.
WHERE TO STAY
Chelan Valley Inn: Conveniently located near the village of Manson and minutes from a public beach, the inn features several room options to accommodate a variety of visitors’ needs. Choose a studio suite, a kitchenette, or a room with a fireplace.
200 Wapato Point Court, Manson
Mountain View Lodge and Resort: The boutique-style hotel has proximity to the best that Lake Chelan has to offer, and a shuttle to nearby Mill Bay Casino. It’s a great location for a day trip along the Cascade Loop Scenic Highway.
25 Wapato Point Parkway, Manson
Chelan House Bed and Breakfast: Any of the three suites in this 1930s home is a comfortable getaway for couples. Near the Chelan River, you’ll be able to check out the Riverwalk Trail, and walk to tranquil downtown Chelan.
311 S. First St., Chelan
WHERE TO TASTE
Cuillin Hills Winery: The family-run winery is committed to producing small lots of distinctive wines.
135 Wapato Way, Manson
Karma Vineyards: The sustainable growers have 14 acres of select varietals on the south shore of Lake Chelan.
1681 S. Lakeshore Road
Tunnel Hill Winery: The tasting room is a stone cottage made from the stones of Knapps Hill Tunnel, which was blasted in 1933.
37 S. Highway 97A, Chelan
WHERE TO EAT
Campbell’s Resort: Fine-dining menu features seasonal fare and Northwest microbrews.
104 W. Woodin Ave., Chelan
Lakeview Drive-In: Locals and travelers alike recommend this landmark eatery. Grab a burger the way you want it, and try the fries with some of the drive-in’s famed seasoning salt.
323 W. Manson Highway, Chelan
Bamboo Shoot: Traditional Thai food, with a variety of curry entrees, salads, sauces and rice.
138 E. Woodin Ave., Chelan
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Buckner Homestead: The homestead and orchard at the head of Lake Chelan offers a glimpse of pioneer farm life via historic buildings, ruins, and hand-dug irrigation ditches.
Stehekin Valley, Stehekin
Sunshine Farm Market: Press your own apple cider with a hand-cranked press. Cider pressing are Saturdays and Sundays in September and October.
179 Highway 97A, four miles west of Chelan
Chelan Electric Bikes: Explore the area for the day on an electric bike.
204 E. Wapato Ave., Chelan