With beautiful mountain scenery and spectacular seascapes, the Pacific Northwest has countless wonders to explore. Whether you need a family bonding experience during winter break, want a tranquil retreat to enjoy with loved ones or have a yearning desire to explore somewhere new, consider the abundance of wintertime fun to be had in your own backyard.

Leavenworth Christmas Lighting

Gaze at thousands of twinkling holiday lights, discover unique boutiques chock-full of one-of-a-kind gifts or cozy up inside with delicious eats and sips. The best part? Most of these destinations are only a quick boat or motor coach ride away from Seattle. Satisfy your winter wanderlust and journey to these three must-visit locales for an amazing holiday vacation from Seattle with your friends or family.

See the Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Brighten Up the Night

First come T-Day and turkey. Then Black Friday. All of the sudden then it is December. Yea for winter! Visions of snow-filled landscapes, mountain goodness and countless holiday lights dancing in your head? Enter Leavenworth, a quaint Bavarian-style town, which looks like it could have been plucked from Germany and set among the Cascade Mountains. Only a scenic three-hour deluxe motor coach ride away, this mountain village brims with plenty of holiday magic and cheer.

For adventure junkies, the trip east over the Cascades offers a sense of escape few other forms of travel can offer. Wind your way through frozen mountain passes and along the snow-covered banks of the Wenatchee River, before arriving in Leavenworth’s postcard-perfect scene. Wander the town and you’ll find carolers, horse-drawn open sleighs, an ample supply of shops to fuel your last-minute gift buying, the slippery slopes of the town’s sledding hill on Front Street Park, and, of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus themselves.

When the last rays of sunlight fade from the horizon, follow the harmonic sounds of alphorns to the Town Square for the highlight of the day – The Lighting Ceremony. In one magical moment, the entire town comes to life with a synchronized display of more than half a million sparkling lights and live music.

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Indulge in traditional, house-made Bavarian brats at Sausage Garten or duck inside the Watershed Café, where you can expect a new experience and menu every time you visit. With a farm-to-table menu that changes daily, it is the epitome of Pacific Northwest culinary goodness.

Experience an Enchanting Winter Scene with Christmas by Sea in Langley

While there’s something to be said for hitting the open road, there’s nothing more exhilarating and freeing as the open sea. If you have the itch to explore somewhere new, hop aboard the San Juan Clipper and embark on a day trip from downtown Seattle to the picturesque town of Langley on Whidbey Island, where a curated winter scene “Christmas by the Sea” experience is sure to warm your soul.

The festivities begin right away as an array of shimmering lights and holiday tunes greet you as you climb onboard the sleek catamaran. Don’t worry, we won’t blame you if you find yourself humming along to classics like Andy Williams’ “Silver Bells” or doing your best Mariah Carey impersonation to the catchy “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Cozy up with a cup of delicious warm apple cider and soak in wintery views of the Olympics, the beautiful Bainbridge Island and then Kingston as you cruise toward Whidbey Island’s southern tip.

Shop Langley's adorable boutiques.

Amble off the boat and snap a festive selfie or two with friendly elves at the “Moto Foto Booth” while carolers promenade along the city streets. Head to First Street to explore Langley’s festively-decorated boutiques for last-minute gifts that are sure to please everyone on your list.

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Grab lunch at the cozy pub, Spyhop, where the delicious hamburgers (which are named after spots around town) are the perfect cure for rumbling stomachs. If you’re thirsty after shopping, warm up on Double Bluff Brewing’s heated patio with a flight of sudsy pints. Be sure to sample the Coho Kolsch, which is brewed onsite with fresh local hops.

Discover Glittering Displays at The Butchart Gardens Holiday Lights

Holiday lights are something we all look forward to, but when it comes to Christmas spirit there’s one venue that takes the cake. A quick ride away from Seattle on the Victoria Clipper through the Salish Sea, Victoria’s Butchart Gardens all but radiate pure joy with the help of more than 300,000 lights.

The transformation happens at dusk, when thousands and thousands of blubs click on, bringing life to the 55-acre grounds and causing you to feel like you are wandering through the twinkling stars (albeit more vibrant ones) of the Milky Way. Silvery icicles melt off jewel-toned trees and glittering streams flow through fields.

Butcharts' Sunken Garden Brims with holiday lights.

Oh, and did we mention that The Gardens are decked-out in a 12 Days of Christmas theme? Those two illuminated birds roosting in a golden cage? Two turtle doves. The circles in the Sunken Garden Pond? Five golden rings. All 12 are sure to inspire and delight. Simply put, if the colorful wonderland of lights filling every inch of grounds doesn’t cause your jaw to drop, we don’t know what will.

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Tuck inside The Garden’s Dining Room Restaurant and warm your body and soul as you cozy up next to the restaurant’s roaring fire and feast on phenomenal festive eats (Butcharts’ amazing culinary team works months in advance to craft and test all items on the menu). When it comes time for dessert, skip scouring the menu and opt for the apple tart tatin. Brimming with cinnamon covered apples and married with Canadian whiskey ice cream, it is ooey-gooey perfection.

From exploring cozy island towns to playing in the snow to incredible light displays, there are plenty of amazing adventures to be had in the Pacific Northwest this holiday season. Grab your friends and family for memorable holiday escape and discover the beauty of winter.


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Photo Credits: Feature Photo: The Butchart Gardens 1st photo block: Leavenworth boutiques. Credit: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce. 2nd photo block: Ott & Murphy Winery Tasting Room. Credit: Langley Chamber of Commerce. 3rd photo block: The Sunken Garden. Credit: The Butchart Gardens.