Last Updated on January 26, 2024 by Kelly
Planning a trip to Chelan? We got you covered! We visit Chelan every year and it’s one of our favorite places in the world. (And that’s saying a lot, because we’ve traveled to dozens of different countries!) In addition to annual vacations, I went for my bachelorette party and babymoon.
This pristine lake has some of the clearest waters in Washington. It’s also home to over 30 wineries, plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities, and a charming downtown. In this post, I’ll share with you 35 fun things to do in Lake Chelan.
Best Things to Do in Lake Chelan
1. Visit Don Morse Memorial 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. This is one of our favorite places to visit. In addition to access to the lake, you’re also within walking distance to lots of fun activities (e.g., the go-karts, mini-golf, restaurants, and more).
2. Check Out Lake Chelan State Park
About 10 miles up lake from downtown 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!)
3. Go to Slidewaters Waterpark
One of our favorite activities is to 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.
It’s very easy to spend an entire day at Slidewaters. In addition to all the water activities, the River Run Grill serves meals such as chicken tenders, burgers, and more. There’s also a sweets counter with ice cream and other treats.
4. Visit the Wineries
With over 30 wineries you could make an entire weekend of wine tasting! We wrote a full post about our favorite wineries in Chelan if you’re interested in learning more. 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.
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.
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!
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8. Hang Out By the Pool
The waters of the lake 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 if you don’t like to swim in cold temperatures. (Although 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 Grandview on the Lake or Campbell’s, both of which have swimming pools.
9. Catch a Movie at the Historic Ruby Theatre
Normally we wouldn’t recommend going to the movies while you’re on vacation, but we are making an exception because the historic Ruby Theatre 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.
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.
11. Visit an Apple Orchard
There are several farms near the lake, and we recommend Chelan Valley Farms. Depending on the season, they offer apple-picking and u-pick flower cutting.
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.
13. Visit the Chelan Museum
The 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.
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.
16. Go For a Walk at Chelan Riverwalk Park
The Riverwalk Park is located adjacent to the main street in downtown. 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!
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 Casino
On the north side of the lake in the town of Manson is the 12 Tribes Colville Casino. They have slot machines and table games.
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: Stehekin. 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 based on our last visit!
20. Go Bowling
Head to Chelan Lanes to go bowling. It’s one of our favorite things to do on a rainy day! The bowling alley is typically open during the evenings.
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.
22. Go for a Helicopter Tour
See the lake from a new perspective! Lake Chelan Helicopters offers a variety of tours: a tour of the lake, a tour up to Stehekin, or a wine valley tour.
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.
24. Go Parasailing
Soar about the water during this parasailing excursion. At the time of this writing, Chelan Parasail & Watersports is offering parasailing starting at $120 per person. (Although be sure to check their website for the most current rates!)
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.
26. Go to the Spa
Book a massage at Lake Chelan Massage & Spa. After a day on the lake, your muscles will thank you!
27. Go to the Brewery
There’s a couple of options on the lake. Stormy Mountain Brewery and Local Public House are located in downtown. 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 is one of only 13 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.
31. Spend the Day at Lakeside Park
Lakeside Park is a beautiful park located on the southern side of the lake. What I love about this park is that there’s a floating dock, a playground, and a sandy beach area. There’s plenty of grassy areas under shaded trees to lay down a picnic blanket. During the summer weekends, this park can be absolutely packed with people. When we visited on a weekday, it was much more quiet.
32. Visit the Grand Coulee Dam
A little less than 70 miles from the city 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!
33. Attend a Festival
There are a variety of festivals throughout the year! Here’s a few definitely worth checking out:
- January: Winterfest
- May: Wine and Jazz Festival
- June: Arts Festival; Chelan Pride
- August: Pirate Fest
34. Go for a Hike
There are a lot of hikes to choose from in this area. One of the most popular hikes is the Chelan Butte Trail. The trail is about 7.5 miles long and offers great views. The Little Bear Trail at the state park is about 2 miles long for the Bitterbrush Loop. At Stormy Mountain, there’s a 1.5 mile trail that’s perfect for people looking for a short excursion. Experienced hikers may want to conquer the Chelan Slam, which is a group of 4 Bulger List peaks.
35. 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 in Leavenworth!
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!
This 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 in the region. And, there are over 30 different wineries you can visit!
About the City of Chelan
The city of Chelan has a population of 4,607 residents (2023 data). The numbers swell during the summer, when tourists arrive and there is more seasonal employment. The valley hosts over 2 million tourists every year.
The city 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.
When visiting, 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.
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.
One of our favorite hotels is Campbell’s Resort. The resort has its own private beach, two heated pools, and dining on-site. It’s within walking distance to all of the major downtown attractions, so it’s a very convenient place to stay as well. If you dine at Campbell’s Pub and Veranda, ask for a table on their skybridge. You’ll be able to people-watch as you enjoy your meal.
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.
Brunch | Blueberry Hills Farm
The Seattle Times named Blueberry Hills Farm as one of the top four restaurants “worth the drive” 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
We always go to the 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.
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.
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. With plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities, it’s the perfect place to vacation.
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