There’s no better way to lift your spirits during the Northwest winter than to head out for a long weekend with plenty of opportunities for outdoor excursions. You could hop a plane to a warm destination, but there’s a closer solution at hand: Interstate 90, which quickly whisks you from dense city to evergreen-covered foothills and snowy mountains, with multiple options for spirit-lifting excursions along the way and upscale lodging that offers welcome pampering.
SWEET INDULGENCE: Treats from Boehm’s Candies in Issaquah. Photo courtesy of Boehm's Candies
Make your first stop a trailhead on Squak Mountain in the Issaquah Alps. Your destination is Margaret’s Way, a 2.7-mile forested trail (5.5 miles round-trip) completed in 2015. Even with the 1,500 feet of elevation gain, you’re unlikely to hit any snow (highest point is at about 1,700 feet), but you’ll get enough of a workout that you’ll be ready for a ’50s-themed burger at Issaquah landmark Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in (take exit 17 from I-90). Before returning to the highway, stock up on European-style chocolates, caramels and other treats from iconic Boehm’s Candies (located in Issaquah since 1956) in the alpine-style Edelweiss Chalet.
REST AND RESTORE: Top: Pamper yourself with a soak in one of the pools at the Salish’s spa. Bottom: The Salish is perched above Snoqualmie Falls
Hop back on the highway to continue your journey to exit 25 and the day’s final destination: Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge, about a 10-minute drive from the highway. The lodge—the inspiration for Twin Peaks’ Great Northern Hotel—offers 86 rooms, all updated earlier this year. The upscale Northwest-rustic decor—with room amenities like gas fireplaces and dual rainfall shower heads—will quickly have you kicking back into relaxation mode. Settle in with a book by the fireplace, head to the spa for a massage or soak in one of the therapeutic pools. (Book a Club 268 experience to have unlimited access to the spa’s pools and the 268 Lounge, with happy-hour hors d’oeuvres and continental breakfast included.)
By now, light has left the sky. Before you head to dinner, take a short walk outside and gaze at the lighted falls as they tumble 268 feet to the pool below, a picture of nature at its most awe-inspiring. One Salish employee notes that he enjoys the falls most in the winter, when they are often shrouded in mist.
Back at the lodge, choose your dinner venue: the casual Attic, where wood-fired pizza and cocktails are the attraction; or the Dining Room, where the menu, highlighting locally sourced ingredients, competes with views of those falls.
If you have time, indulge in the famed multi-course Country Breakfast at The Salish
The lodge’s dining room has long been famous for its Country Breakfast, but indulging in that multi-course, lengthy extravaganza would likely mean a late start. Instead, order something lighter (or visit the Club 268 lounge) and then head outside to check out the Snoqualmie Falls viewpoints from above, before starting down the .7-mile interpretive trail that ends at a boardwalk that takes you along the Snoqualmie River for a view of the falls from below. After making the steep climb back to the top, make one last stop at the lodge’s Country Store for a jar of its famous honey, courtesy of the on-site apiary, before returning to the highway.
Once again on I-90, you’ll be at Snoqualmie Pass (exit 53) in 30 minutes or less. Recreation options abound here: downhill and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and tubing. But today’s visit is a lunch stop at The Commonwealth, a welcome addition to the pass’s dining options. Wash down your tacos or Glondo’s sausage (made in nearby Cle Elum) with a beer from neighboring Dru Bru brewery, and then let it all digest as you visit the adjacent Washington State Ski and Snowboard Museum, where medal hardware from some of the state’s most storied winter athletes (Phil Mahre, Debbie Armstrong and others) is on display.
Back on the road, the day’s last destination—Suncadia Resort—is just 32 miles away, a planned vacation community nestled on 6,000 acres in the central Cascades. Take exit 80 and wind your way along the road, following signs to the resort as tall evergreens hug the shoulders. You can choose from a variety of accommodation options—from a room or suite at The Lodge, perched high above the Cle Elum River, a room at The Inn, or, especially attractive for bigger families or groups, a house rental.
OUTDOOR FUN: From top: Skaters enjoying the outdoor rink at Suncadia; the outdoor thermal pools at Glade Spring Spa; snowshoeing on the extensive groomed trails around Suncadia. Photos courtesy of Suncadia Resort
If there’s snow on the ground, a selection of the resort’s 40-plus miles of trail will be groomed for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and a hill will be ready for tubing. Whatever the weather, there’s also a skating rink and the aquatic center, with its indoor pool (and two waterslides) to enjoy. The resort will also help you arrange for guided winter fly-fishing, sleigh rides or a snowmobile tour.
As the sun descends, head to Swiftwater Cellars winery, located within Suncadia, for a glass of wine before dinner. Suncadia has several restaurant options, but a stellar choice is Portals Restaurant at The Lodge, where you can gaze at a serene mountain scene as you nibble on the house-made charcuterie board while deciding between the buffalo rib-eye Spencer steak or pan-seared Alaskan scallops.
There’s time for one more indulgence before the trip home. Head to Suncadia’s Glade Spring Spa for a treatment or just ease into the outdoor mineral baths for a relaxing hour. As you head back to your room to pack your bags, you may feel like you’ve traveled far on this long weekend away, but lucky you—home is a mere 90 minutes away.
Boehm’s Candies, Issaquah, 255 NE Gilman Blvd.; 425.392.6652
Margaret’s Way trail
Salish Lodge & Spa, Snoqualmie, 6501 Railroad Ave. SE; 800.272.5474
Snoqualmie Falls, Snoqualmie, 6501 Railroad Ave. SE
Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in, Issaquah, 98 NE Gilman Blvd.; 425.392.1266
The Commonwealth, Snoqualmie Pass, 10 PassLife Way, No. 1; 425.434.0808
Dru Bru brewery, Snoqualmie Pass, 10 Pass Life Way, No. 3; 425.434.0700
Washington State Ski and Snowboard Museum, Snoqualmie Pass, 10 Pass Life Way; 425.434.0827
Days 2 and 3
Suncadia Resort, Cle Elum, 600 Suncadia Trail; 866.904.6300
Glade Spring Spa, 509.649.6470
Portals Restaurant, 509.649.6473
Swiftwater Cellars winery, Cle Elum, 301 Rope Rider Drive; 509.674.6555
Both the Salish Lodge and Suncadia offer special holiday events: