Summer is on its way, and with it, plans of summer getaways to picturesque lakeside towns (hey, that’s us!) If you’re planning a trip to the valley this year but don’t know where to start, here are our top 10 things we think you’ll want to know before visiting Washington’s favorite lake.
1: Where to Hit the Water
One thing you’ll want to know before you go is where you’ll get that sweet beach time. Finding the right place to spread out for the day can be difficult on hot, sunny days when everyone wants to post up by the water. But there are plenty of public parks along both north and south shores where you can lay your towel out and go for a swim. Check out Lake Chelan State Park, Lakeside Park, Don Morse Memorial Park, the Willow Point Park in Manson, or Manson Bay for public beach access. Or consider renting a place that includes beach access like Wapato Point Resort, the Lookout, or Darnell’s Lake Resort so you’re never far from lakeside fun. Click here to find more places to stay!
2: How to Get Around
The population of Chelan and Manson may be small, but there sure is a lot of ground to cover when visiting the valley. Whether you’re touring wineries or heading into town for some window shopping, make sure you have a plan for how you’ll get around. While there is Uber here in the valley, it’s limited and wait times can often be long. Assign a designated driver or reserve a wine tasting tour so no one worries about transportation. If you’re hanging out in downtown Chelan or Manson, find a place to park and spend the rest of your day on foot as almost everything you’ll need from food to drinks to shopping will be within walking distance!
3: Where to Catch Live Events
Hoping to catch some live music? Wondering about upcoming festivals or fairs happening while you’re in town? Check out our calendar for upcoming events so you don’t miss out on the fun! If you want to plan your trip to Lake Chelan around a notable event, like the Lake Chelan Wine and Jazz Festival, look ahead to the coming weeks and months. And if you’re the more spontaneous type, download the Week in the Valley Calendar to see what’s happening now.
4: Manson is its Own Destination
Chelan may be the only incorporated community on the shores of Lake Chelan, but Manson has its own personality with plenty of dining and tasting room options. Spend a day (at least!) exploring in and around Manson. You’ll find 13 wine, cider, and beer tasting options in downtown Manson alone, plus a handful of other wineries in the surrounding hills. Grab pizza from Troy’s Pizza and enjoy a picnic on the lawn at WineGirl Wines or treat yourself to casual but elegant dining at Wapato Point Cellars.
5: When to Stock Up
Renting a place in Lake Chelan for the weekend? We highly recommend stocking up on snacks and drinks before the long weekend lines. Manson Red Apple, Chelan IGA Market and The Meat Shop are all great options. During the busy summer months, the grocery stores and markets in Chelan and Manson fill up quickly. Avoid getting stuck in line by thinking ahead, compiling a list, and getting your shopping done when you pull into town. You’ll thank us later.
6: Ways to Experience the Lake (that aren’t swimming)
We love swimming in Lake Chelan. On our list of favorite things, it’s probably at the very top. But there are so many ways to experience the crystal-clear waters of Lake Chelan! Try parasailing for a bird’s eye view of the lake and surrounding valley, gaining speed on a jetski, or enjoy an easy evening paddle on a stand-up paddle board.
7: How to Taste Wine
If you’ve never been wine tasting before, working your way through the Lake Chelan AVA is a perfect starting point. Our main tip – leave behind the pretense. Wine tasting can be laidback and fun for everyone – lovers and skeptics alike. Don’t worry about knowing the right terminology or being able to tell whether a wine is “good” or not. Keep an open mind, ask a lot of questions, and don’t be shy about what you like! The winemakers and tasting room associates are knowledgeable and passionate about the wine they make and they’re always excited to share what they know.
8: How to Eat like a Local
Ever wonder what places the locals like to frequent for good food and drinks? Don’t get us wrong – we LOVE a woodfired pizza from Siren Song Wines and bucket of fries from the Lakeview Drive-In. But there are also some lesser-known eateries that are worth checking out, too. Places like La Brisa, County Line and My Buddy’s Place sometimes fly under the radar. You really can’t go wrong when choosing a restaurant in the valley, but that leads us to our last tip…
9: The Far Side of the Lake
If you’re able to swing it, plan ahead and visit Stehekin for a day or two! You’ll fall in love with the uplake scenery while you disconnect from the stresses of everyday life. Ride a passenger ferry on a bright morning and spend the day exploring the untouched beauty of the Stehekin Valley. Turn off your phone (you won’t get service anyways!) and take in the sights, sounds, and cinnamon rolls of the far end of the lake.
10: The Locals Know Best
Your barista at the coffeeshop? The gal selling produce at the Thursday Farmer’s Market? The person checking you into your hotel? Many of them live in the valley year-round and know all the ins and outs. Pick their brains for places to eat, drink, hike, or catch a sunset. Chances are, you’ll get a tip for a place you might not have heard about otherwise. There’s more to Lake Chelan than meets the eye and no one knows that better than the locals.
We hope you’re feeling prepared to make the most of your Lake Chelan vacation with these insider tips. The only thing that’s left is to get here and soak it in. See you soon!