32 Best Things to Do in Lake Chelan (Complete Guide!)

Last Updated on January 7, 2022 by admin

Planning a trip to Chelan? We got you covered! We vacation in Chelan every year and it’s one of our favorite places in the world. (And that’s saying a lot, because we have traveled to 24 countries and 36 states!) In addition to yearly family vacations, I went there for my bachelorette party and babymoon. It truly is one of my favorite places in the world. This pristine lake has some of the clearest waters in Washington. Lake Chelan is home to over 30 wineries, plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities, and a small town that serves up some pretty amazing food. This post will cover 32 fun things to do in Lake Chelan.


Disclosure: I only share my honest opinions. This post may contain affiliate links that provide me a small percentage of any completed sales to help run this blog without any additional cost to you. This post was not sponsored. 


About Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan is the third deepest lake in the United States, and it’s the 26th deepest lake in the world. It’s maximum depth is 1,486 feet. It’s also a massive lake. It’s over 50 miles long! That means that there is plenty of shoreline for outdoor recreation and some pretty amazing vacation rental properties

During July, the average high is 85 degrees Fahrenheit. During the winter, the average high is 33 degrees Fahrenheit. The hills surrounding the lake are golden in the summer, and covered with snow in the winter. It’s a beautiful place to visit year-round, although this post will focus on recreation ideas for the warmer months

The lake was named by the local indigenous people, called the Tsillane. (This name was later spelled as Chelan in English.) The name means “deep water”, which is a fitting description for this lake!

The Lake Chelan region is especially known for its agriculture, particularly its apple orchards and vineyards! As you drive around the lake, you’ll see plenty of farms. There are over 20 varieties of fresh fruit produced in the region. (I especially love the cherries!) There are 14 different types of apples. (You can read more about the varieties here.) And, there are over 30 different wineries you can visit!

The City of Chelan

The city of Chelan has a population of 4,146 residents (2019 data). The numbers swell during the summer, when tourists visit and there is more seasonal employment. The city hosts over 2 million tourists every year. 

The city of Chelan has held onto its small-town feel while providing plenty of entertainment options for visitors. There is a quaint downtown that is filled with boutique shops, restaurants, and bars. There are several public parks within walking distance of downtown, which are easily walkable to the lake or the river. 

What to Bring on a Trip to Chelan

When visiting Chelan, we recommend that you bring the following:

    • Flotation Lounger: The water is very cold, and it’s really nice to just sit and float for awhile!
    • Group Flotation Island: If you’re going with a group, you’ll definitely be glad you packed this one!
    • Beach Towels: Be sure to pack a few!
    • Sunscreen: During the summer it can get very hot, be sure to protect yourself.
    • Beach Toys: If you’re bringing children on your trip, this will keep them busy! We bought our daughter this set and she loved playing with it all weekend long!
    • Sun Glasses: Don’t forget sun glasses, you will need them! Bring a second pair just in case. 
    • Waterproof Pouch: If you plan on doing any water activities, protect your electronic devices.

Things to Do in Lake Chelan

1. Visit Don Morse Memorial Park and Lakeside Park

Within walking distance of the downtown area is Don Morse Memorial Park. The park has over 2,000 feet of waterfront, so you are sure to find a good spot to throw down a beach blanket and relax. The park has a playground, tennis court, skate park, volleyball court, and a basketball court. There are also picnic shelters for special events. No dogs are permitted in the park Memorial Day through Labor Day. 

485 W Manson Hwy, Chelan, WA 98816

2. Check out Lake Chelan State Park

About 10 miles uplake from downtown Chelan is Lake Chelan State Park. This is the place to go where you want to be out of the “city” and have more connection with nature. The state park has a sandy beach, playground, and some recreation rentals. (Tip: If you visit the state park, check out Watson’s Alpenhorn Cafe for a meal. It’s located across the street from the state park and is open seasonly. We recommend that you order a milkshake!)

7544 S Lakeshore Rd, Chelan, WA 98816

3. Go to Slidewaters Waterpark

One of our favorite things to do is visit Slidewaters! We have been to some of the best water parks in the world, and Slidewaters is still one of our favorites. It’s a beautiful waterpark with views of the lake below. It’s always been exceptionally clean and there are plenty of attractions. There are lots of waterslides, a lazy river, the world’s largest stationary wave, and much more! It’s a true oasis during the summer.

102 Waterslide Dr, Chelan, WA 98816

4. Visit a Winery

With over 30 wineries, you could make an entire weekend of wine tasting! We wrote a full post about our favorite wineries here. We highly recommend Tsillan Cellars (gorgeous Italian estate), Siren Song Wines (a beautiful estate property), Hard Row to Hoe (local winery with a scandalous past), Rio Vista Winery (located right on the river), and Lake Chelan Winery (with unbeatable views of the lake). 

5. Go Mini-Golfing

Located right next to Don Morse Memorial Park is “The Green” Putting Course. The putt-putt course has 18 holes with a beautiful view of the lake. After you’re done playing, you can relax at the park or head into town for a bite to eat. 

485 W Manson Hwy, Chelan, WA 98816

6. Go Real Golfing

If you’re a golfer, there’s a beautiful golf course with views of the lake. Lake Chelan Municipal Golf Course has a restaurant, rental clubs, rental carts, and golf lessons. 

1501 W Golf Course Dr, Chelan, WA 98816

7. Check Out the Go Karts

During the summer, Rally Alley is open at Don Morse Memorial Park. They offer both double karts and single karts. It’s a lot of fun for kids!

485 W Manson Hwy, Chelan, WA 98816

8. Hang Out By the Pool

The waters of Lake Chelan are pretty cold, so we recommend staying at a property with a pool. The water temperature of the lake is typically between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit, so a heated pool is perfect for people that don’t like to swim in cold temperatures. (Although I’m not one of them… I love swimming in the lake!) But I will say, having the option to swim in a pool is also nice. (Especially if you have little kids that don’t like playing in cold water.) We recommend staying at Campbell’s Resort, which has its own swimming pool. 

9. Catch a Movie

Normally we wouldn’t recommend going to the movies while you’re on vacation, but we are making an exception because the historic Ruby Theater is such a unique place to visit. It was built in 1914 and has only one operating screen. (Therefore they only feature one movie at a time.) It’s a charming place to watch a movie at least once. 

135 E Woodin Ave, Chelan, WA 98816

10. Go Ziplining

High Trek Chelan features ziplines as well as obstacle courses that will keep you active! They have a ropes course with 60 obstacles, 2 ziplines, and a trust fall experience. They even offer axe throwing! You just rent a lane and bring your friends.

106 Waterslide Dr, Chelan, WA 98816

11. Visit an Apple Orchard

There are several farms near the lake, and we recommend Chelan Valley Farms. Currently they offer apple-picking on the weekends. During summer they offer u-pick flower cutting. 

2393 Green Ave, Manson, WA 98831

12. Pick Some Blueberries

Another great farm to visit is Blueberry Hills Farm. During the summer they offer u-pick blueberries. While you’re there, we also recommend you have brunch at their award-winning restaurant. 

1315 Washington St, Manson, WA 98831

13. Learn About Local History

The Chelan Museum is located downtown and is operated by the Lake Chelan Historical Society. Admission is free, so it’s a convenient place to hop in and learn about the local culture. 

204 E Woodin Ave, Chelan, WA 98816

14. Visit the Farmers Market

The Chelan Farmers Market operates during the summer near Riverwalk Park. The market is stocked full of fresh produce, artisan crafts, artwork, and local food vendors.

15. Explore Town by Electric Bike

At Chelan Electric Bikes, you can book a guided tour of the area. Their Winery Tour is for adults 21 years and older. Along the route, you’ll stop by local wineries. The tour is 4 hours long and covers approximately 18 miles, which they say is very easy on the electric bikes. It’s a great activity to do with a group! They also have the Path Less Pedaled tour for guests 15 years and older. On this tour, you’ll go “off roading” into the Columbia River Gorge.

204 E Wapato Ave, Chelan, WA 98816

16. Go For a Walk at Chelan Riverwalk Park

Chelan Riverwalk Park is located adjacent to downtown Chelan. The one-mile loop consists of a paved path and a boardwalk. You’ll walk over two bridges as you complete the loop around the river. It’s a beautiful place to stroll at sunset!

117 E Wapato Ave, Chelan, WA 98816

lake chelan at sunset
A gorgeous sunset at Lake Chelan

 

17. Catch a Comedy Show

Head to Rotten Apple to check out a comedy show. They partner with local venues to put on some great shows! It’s a perfect idea for date night or to go out with a group.

18. Go to the Mill Bay Casino

On the north side of the lake in the town of Manson is the Mill Bay Casino. They have slot machines and table games.

455 Wapato Lake Rd, Manson, WA 98831

19. Visit the Remote Town of Stehekin

Take the Lady of the Lake passenger ferry 50 miles uplake to visit one of the most remote towns in the country. No roads lead to Stehekin, it’s only accessible by boat. (Or hiking!) You can visit Stehekin as a day trip or stay overnight at the lodge. We wrote a full post about things to do in Stehekin here

20. Go Bowling

Head to Chelan Lanes to go bowling. It’s one of our favorite things to do on a rainy day!

518 W Manson Hwy, Chelan, WA 98816

21. Go Kayaking of Paddle Boarding

Rent kayaks or paddle boards at Lake Chelan State Park. We’ve rented kayaks there before, and there’s nothing like a quiet morning on the water! Campbell’s Resort also has rentals for their guests as well. 

kayaking lake chelan
Gorgeous morning kayaking on the lake

 

22. Go for a Helicopter Tour

See the lake from a new perspective! Lake Chelan Helicopters offers a variety of tours: a tour of Lake Chelan, a tour up to Stehekin, or a wine valley tour.

136 E Johnson Ave, Chelan, WA 98816

23. Go Skydiving

Visit Skydive Chelan for the thrill of a lifetime! Their Winery Tandem Jump will have you parachuting into a winery! The best part? There’s a bottle of wine waiting for you when you land.

201 Kelly Ln, Chelan, WA 98816

24. Go Parasailing

Soar about the water during this parasailing excursion. Currently Chelan Parasail & Watersports is offering parasailing for $110 per person.

1228 W Woodin Ave, Chelan, WA 98816

25. Rent a Jet Ski

Chelan Parasail & Watersports also offers jet ski rentals. Their jet skis seat between one to four people. Jet ski drivers must be 21 years or older. They will provide a brief orientation and issue a state-approved temporary license.

1228 W Woodin Ave, Chelan, WA 98816

26. Go to the Spa

Book a massage at Lake Chelan Massage & Spa. After a day on the lake, your muscles will thank you!

115 S Emerson St Suite C, Chelan, WA 98816

27. Go to the Brewery

There’s a couple of options on the lake. Stormy Mountain Brewery and Local Public House is located in downtown Chelan. Lake Chelan Brewery is located on the north side of the lake in the town of Manson. Both offer incredible craft beers!

28. Go Shopping

There are lots of boutique shops in downtown. You could easily spend some time before or after a meal exploring the local shops. Because of the Historic Downtown Chelan Association, the city of Chelan is one of only 13 cities that are designated as Washington State Main Street.

29. Have Dinner with a View

We recommend that you make dinner reservations for Sorrento’s Ristorante at Tsillan Cellars. You’ll be able to enjoy Italian fine dining with a view of the lake. We also recommend that you walk through the estate grounds before or after dinner.

30. Rent a Party Boat

If you’re with a group, it can be really fun to rent a party boat! They have boats that can accomodate up to 22 guests.

1228 W Woodin Ave, Chelan, WA 98816

31. Visit the Grand Coulee Dam

A little less than 70 miles from Chelan is the Grand Coulee Dam. The massive dam is worth seeing for itself! They have a visitor center with lots of exhibits. It’s really fun to visit the dam at night because they have the “One River, Many Voices” laser light show. It was one of my favorite things to go see as a kid!

WA-155, Coulee Dam, WA 99116

32. Spend a Day Trip Visiting Leavenworth

The Bavarian town of Leavenworth is only 55 miles west of Chelan. There are tons of good restaurants in Leavenworth and lots of fun things to do! We recommend hiking Colchuck Lake, eating at Wildflour, and staying at the Posthotel.

Where to Stay at Lake Chelan

For our last few visits to Chelan, we have rented vacation homes through Vacasa or VRBO. Those have been perfect for multi-family trips! When we visited this past summer, we rented a home with a hot tub right on the lake. We wrote about it here if you’re interested in staying there too. 

Our favorite hotel is Campbell’s Resort, which is located conveniently downtown and is one of the nicest hotels in the area. They have a lot of amenities, including a private beach, pool, and dining options on their property. 

We have also really enjoyed staying at the Grandview on the Lake. The hotel is located within walking distance of downtown and the rooms have a beautiful up lake view. Many of the units are condos, so they are fully equipped with kitchens.

You can also stay at one of the vineyards! For example, you can stay at the villa at Siren Song Wines for a unique experience. 

Where to Eat

We wrote a complete post on our favorite restaurants in Chelan here.

If we had to choose just a few to write about here, we would suggest the following:

Brunch | Blueberry Hills Farm

The Seattle Times named Blueberry Hills Farm as one of the top four restaurants in the state of Washington. I have been there for brunch and I have to agree it is one of the best restaurants. Their blueberry-topped cinnamon roll was amazing!

Lunch | Lakeview Drive-In 

Whenever we go to Chelan, we go to Lakeview Drive-In. The Drive-In is right next to Don Morse Memorial Park. It’s within walking distance of the beach and downtown. We always get a burger, fries, and milkshake.

Happy Hour | Campbell’s Resort

Campbell’s Resort Pub is the place to go for happy hour! With outdoor seating on the veranda and skybridge, it’s a beautiful location to enjoy a craft cocktail and tasty appetizers. Their tavern menu is linked here.

Dinner | Sorrento’s Ristorante 

We already shared this above, but we really do recommend that you book a dining reservation at Sorrento’s Ristorante for dinner. The vineyard has breathtaking views of the lake, and the estate looks like it could be in the Tuscan hillside. It was voted as one of the Top 100 Scenic View Restaurants in America by OpenTable diners. Along with incredible views, the Italian food is absolutely delicious.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you pronounce Chelan?

The word Chelan is pronounced as shuh-laan.

Where is Chelan located?

Chelan is located in Eastern Washington.

What county is Chelan in?

Chelan is located in Chelan County.

Can you swim in Lake Chelan?

Yes. The temperature of the water is often cold (65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit), but it’s our favorite place to swim in the summer!

How deep is Lake Chelan?

Lake Chelan’s maximum depth is 1,486 feet.

How long is Lake Chelan?

Lake Chelan is over 50 miles long.

What is Lake Chelan known for?

Lake Chelan is known for being the third deepest lake in the United States. It’s also known for its agriculture. Its famous for its apple orchards. Chelan is also an AVA with over 30 wineries.

How far is Chelan from Seattle?

Chelan is 180 miles east of Chelan. Without heavy traffic, it is a little over 3 hour drive.

How far is Chelan from Stehekin?

Chelan is approximately 50 miles away from Stehekin.

How was Lake Chelan formed?

Lake Chelan was formed over millions of years with the rise of the Cascade Mountains. Because the base of the lake is formed from softer rocks, glacier melt eroded it over time. (That is why it is so deep.)

When is Lake Chelan the most crowded?

Lake Chelan is the most crowded during the summer months and holiday weekends.

Summary

Lake Chelan is my favorite place to go in Washington during the summer. It receives much more sunshine than Seattle, so it’s always nice to head over the mountains and to the eastern side of the state. I hope this post was helpful in finding things to do in Lake Chelan! If you have been to Lake Chelan before, let us know in the comments section below what you like to do when visiting Lake Chelan.

32 Things to Do in Lake Chelan
Feel free to pin for later!

 

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following posts:

Feel free to follow us on Instagram!