Winthrop, Washington may be a small town (just over 4 hours northeast of Seattle), but it is the site of our nation’s largest cross-country ski area, with almost 125 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails. Located in the Methow Valley, Winthrop also features other winter sports activities such as snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice skating and fat-biking. We recently spent a winter weekend in Winthrop and enjoyed much that this charming town has to offer.
Friday: We left Seattle and headed east on US Highway 2 through Steven’s Pass. Because it is a long drive, we decided to stop for lunch in the town of Leavenworth.
Chad and I love Leavenworth, which is a charming town refashioned to resemble a Bavarian village and we’ve had several fun adventures there (Christmas in Leavenworth, 48 Hours in Leavenworth With Kids, Tubing in Leavenworth). Any chance we get, we like to stop and take in the Bavarian culture. So we had lunch at Bavarian Bistro & Bar on Front Street.
We decided to sample several bites including delicious roasted brussels sprouts, spaetzle with gravy, a soft Bavarian pretzel accompanied by some delicious German beer!
Bellies full, we continued on, driving north along (and across at one point) the Columbia River and then headed west finally arriving in Winthrop.
Winthrop had already received quite a bit of snow this year (and more was on its way Friday evening). We were delighted, as we left rainy weather in Seattle. And, our main reason for visiting Winthrop was to check out the winter sports!
We checked into our cabin at River’s Edge Resort.
This was our first stay here and we loved it! We had a one-bedroom cabin, which featured a great room (living room, dining room, kitchen and gas fireplace), plus the separate bedroom and a private deck with a jacuzzi.
As we’ve mentioned in our previous post (Discovering Winthrop), the town of Winthrop (like Leavenworth) had a facelift – only instead of creating another mock-Bavarian village, Winthrop returned to the Old West. Every building in the town resembles something out of a John Wayne movie.
After checking in, we walked through the town, passing by the old-time saloon, visiting the Bookstore, and checking out the snowy river. We thought about getting an old time photo at Miss Kitty’s,
as we had done with our friends William and Greer in the past, but sadly Miss Kitty’s was closed this Friday evening.
Friday evening: we stayed in our cabin – it was too quaint to leave! We prepared a cheese plate, served ourselves some wine and relaxed by the fire.
Later we enjoyed a dip in the jacuzzi as the snow fell.
Later that evening, we decided to drive up to Sun Mountain Lodge to check it out. We had first heard about the lodge on the Grant Goodeve show “Northwest Backroads.” Grant toured the hotel and it looked quite nice, so we decided to go up and have a drink. Little did we realize it was almost 10 miles up a winding mountain road. When we got there, the lodge felt really sleepy – we only saw two other guests! Always ready to rally, we sat in plush chairs by a roaring fire and enjoyed some peppermint eggnog.
The lounge has a more casual sitting area which is adjacent to the bar and the a separate room for dining, both are quite nice. As we left, we took in the many animal heads hung throughout the hallway leading to and from the lounge and various side rooms, including a very charming library.
We made our way to our car, back down the winding road and to the warmth of our cabin.
Saturday morning: Fat Biking has long been on our bucket list since moving to Seattle and the place to fat bike is in this glorious Methow Valley. So Chad and I were very excited to finally be able to try this sport. What is fat biking, you ask? Fat biking is also be referred to as “Winter biking.” You ride a bicycle that has been fitted with larger tires (typically 3.7” to 5” wide) – the large tires have strong treads to really grip the snow.
We had reserved some bikes at Methow Cycle & Sport and so we walked the few blocks from our inn over to the sports shop Saturday morning. Fat biking has become so popular in Winthrop that the Methow Trails Association kindly grooms separate fat biking trails alongside the Nordic ski trails. The folks at Methow Cycle & Sport set us up with our bikes and pointed us towards some nearby fat biking trails. Great people!
The trails were out of a winter fairytale. Storybook farms nestled in snow along a wintry river set the stage for our journey.
We traveled past an ice-rink,
and then went into the woods along the river, up a short hill into a wide snowy pasture.
The bikes really handle the snow well and its a great way to get some exercise in a unique way.
If you get the chance, swing by Methow Cycle and Sport, rent a bike and head out.
Saturday Mid-day: A big winter storm was headed our way, so the visibility of the trails became difficult. We returned our fatbikes around lunch time and decided to venture to the nearby town of Mazama to check it out.
Just 28 miles south of the Canadian border, Mazama is darling, but I think the town is only one block long. Actually, we discovered it is not even a town, it is an unincorporated community with a population of 200 people. The main attractions in Mazama are the various cross-country ski trails, the Mazama Country Inn, and the very charming Mazama Country Store.
We grabbed some keepsakes from the Country Store along with a coffee and headed out to explore more.
After our trip to Mazama, we visited the wonderful Glass Works of Winthrop and bought some Christmas presents for family and friends.
Then, having worked up a thirst, we visited the Lost River Winery where we tasted some delicious reds – we particularly enjoyed their Syrah and their Merlot.
After the winery, we explored the Shafer Museum, a gathering of historical buildings built during the early 1900s,
including a log cabin schoolhouse, a print shop, a general store, and a mining exhibit.
As the snow was really coming down at this point, Chad and I were the only ones at the Shafer Museum.
Indeed only some of the trails between the buildings had been plowed, so we were glad we were still wearing our ski pants as we trekked through the snow to view some of these old buildings.
Saturday evening: we decided to step out on the town. First we stopped at a “petite lounge’ called Copper Glance where we enjoyed some craft cocktails and small bites.
The food was wonderful, olives and anchovies and Manhattans.Yum!
Later, we made our way across the street to the Old Schoolhouse Brewery, where we listened to a band from Portland called Three for Silver.
They were a great trio and their lead singer sounded a lot like a young Louis Armstrong. Good music and great beers were a fantastic way to end our evening!
Sunday morning: We enjoyed our jacuzzi one final time. And then, as it had blizzarded the night before, we made sure we could find our car under the snow
and then we walked around the town one final time, before heading back to Seattle.
On our next trip to Winthrop, we plan to cross-country ski and perhaps snowmobile as well. There are so many fun activities for such a small town!