With your layers on and favorite hot drink in hand, start feeling the holiday cheer as soon as possible. The biggest challenge? Choosing what to do first.
1. Head South to the Zoo Bundle up for a trip to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma for the 25th anniversary of ZooLights! Sip hot cocoa and take in the dazzling displays Nov. 23 to Jan. 1, from 5-9pm. pdza.org
2. Leavenworth If you want to get into the holiday spirit, Leavenworth is a must-make trip. Experience a Bavarian Christmas celebration with weekends filled with chestnut roasting and a legendary festival of lights that transforms the town into a glittering winter wonderland. For a full list of Leavenworth’s holiday events visit leavenworth.org.
3. Gingerbread Lane Indulge in this sweet family tradition with unique gingerbread creations on display from Dec. 1-21, as well as the Kids-Quest Children’s Museum’s family gingerbread workshops on the 9th and 10th at the Hilton Hotel Bellevue. magicseason.com
4. Ice-Skating Skate your way into the season at The Magic Season Ice Arena and enjoy a series of holiday events and free ice-skating lessons from Nov. 23 toJan. 13. New this year is Thursday stroller-skating hours and the arena will also be open on Christmas Day! Cost to skate is $10, including rental. magicseason.com
5. Bravern Does the Holidays Enchanted Holidays at The Bravern kicks off Nov. 18 with a special holiday tree lighting led by Santa, pony rides and festive live musical entertainment. Celebrate the season in style and enjoy breakfast with Santa at Neiman Marcus, decorate cookies at Sur La Table and don’t forget to drop off your Christmas wish list at Silberman Brown Stationers. thebravern.com
6. Let There Be Light Let yourself be dazzled by the Garden d’Lights, where the Bellevue Botanical Garden is transformed into a sparkling forest of more than 500,000 twinkling lights. Wander through the glowing flowers, shrubs and vines native to the Pacific Northwest from 5-10pm every evening from Nov. 26 to Dec. 31. magicseason.com
7. Join the Candy Cane Hunt The 13th annual Redmond Lights Festival will be even more elaborate this year as the city goes all out to celebrate its centennial. Fun for the entire family starts at 4pm and continues until 8pm with popular activities such as the Candy Cane Hunt and the Hot Air Balloon Glow, and new this year will be an ice sculpture demonstration by Cascade Crystal Ice Sculptures. The traditional tree lighting outside City Hall will feature a special surprise in celebration of Redmond’s centennial. redmondlights.com
8. Winter Wine Tasting Enjoy a weekend of holiday wine tasting events at the St. Nicholas Day Open House in Woodinville on Dec. 2 from noon to 5pm. The wineries of Woodinville open their doors at this festive holiday event for guests to taste exclusive wines, meet the winemakers, and stock up on your favorite wines for the season. woodinvillewinecountry.com
9. Snowflake Lane Downtown Bellevue will once again be transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with falling “snow,” dazzling lights and holiday music. Join sugarplum fairies and live toy soldiers on Snowflake Lane in the heart of the Bellevue Collection every night at 7pm from Nov. 25-Dec. 24. magicseason.com
10. Skiing and Snowboarding At Stevens Pass Dust off your skis or snowboard and be the first down the mountain this season at Stevens Pass. The drive to the Skykomish Valley is more than worth it; this family-friendly resort is the place to be on a powder day no matter if you’re on the bunny hill or blazing down the black diamond. stevenspass.com
11. Issaquah Reindeer Festival If the only thing missing from your holiday checklist is to see a real live reindeer, look no further than The Reindeer Festival at Cougar Mountain Zoological Park, open Dec. 1-23 and Dec. 26-30. Meet Santa’s reindeer team, listen to a holiday tale from one of the elves and make sure to drop off a letter at Santa’s post office. cougarmountainzoo.org
12. Rent a Snowmobile Take a ride on the wild side and rent a snowmobile for the day. The Leavenworth and Chelan areas sport more than 150 miles of designated trails of breathtaking backcountry to enjoy. For information on seasonal Sno-Park permits visit parks.wa.gov.
13. Sail into the Season The Argosy Christmas Ship Festival has been a Northwest holiday tradition since 1949, bringing communities together with coastal caroling overseen by Santa himself. Gather with friends and family around a beach bonfire to await the Christmas ship and its following of parade boats, or even experience the event onboard! Join in the largest holiday floating parade in the world, Nov. 24-Dec. 23. argosycruises.com
14/ 12K’s of Christmas Burn off those holiday cookies at the 10th annual 12K’s of Christmas Holiday Run. Whether you are walking or running that peppermint bark off, there will be a celebration waiting at the finish line, including a 1K kid’s dash, costume contest and other holiday festivities. Start stretching early for the 9:30 start of the 12K and 5K at Marina Park in downtown Kirkland, to register visit 12ksofchristmas.com.
15. Tubing the Summit at Snoqualmie If extreme snow sports aren’t your style, take advantage of the northwest slopes on a tube! A leisurely tow will take you and a friend to the top of the mountain, then enjoy the rush as you ride back down. Located across from Summit Central, tubing sessions are sold in two-hour chunks on weekends, beginning at 9am.
16. Molbak’s Annual Festival of Poinsettias Take part in an Eastside holiday tradition and visit Molbak’s to see more than 35 types of poinsettias, gather gift ideas and decorating inspiration from the beautiful holiday displays and don’t forget to snap a family photo in front of the stunning poinsettia tree. It kicks off Nov. 6 and 7 with Danish kringle, cookie decorating, live musical performances and much more. molbaks.com
17. Providence O’ Christmas Trees Give back this season by attending the three-day signature event, Providence O’ Christmas Trees, held at the Westin Ballroom in Seattle. All proceeds benefit ministries serving more than 14,000 people a day in need of housing, healthcare and hospice services. On Nov. 26, there will be a Christmas Carnival. On Nov. 27, there will be a holiday fashion show, lunch and designer Christmas trees will be on display. On Nov. 28, the gala and dinner and auction will end the event on an elegant note. www2.providence.org
18. Sled the Day Away Hyak Sno-Park is the ideal spot for an inexpensive day of winter fun. Find the perfect hill and sled the day away in the brisk air. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself making it a regular activity! parks.wa.gov/winter/trails
19. Holiday Classics at the Theater The Theater at Meydenbauer Center presents a magical series of musical and dramatic productions that capture the spirit of the holiday season. Catch Dickens’ “Scrooge,” “The Magic of Mistletoe Sinfonia,” “The Nutcracker” and more. magicseason.com
20. Snowshoeing An activity for the true winter enthusiast, snowshoeing is a great way to explore the Washington outdoors on foot. The Summit Nordic Center at Snoqualmie is a well-kept secret, offering miles of rugged trails through alpine meadows and frozen lakes for snowshoers of all abilities and age levels. Guided trips through the Commonwealth Basin are also available through the U.S. Forest Service (for either a 90-minute program or a five-hour walk).
21. Get Away for the Weekend It’s that time of year to cuddle up in a front of a roaring fire, and what better place to do it than the Pronghorn luxury Residence Club in Bend, Ore. With some of the best snows in the Pacific Northwest, spend the day on Mount Baker and return to indulge in lavish accommodations overlooking a world-class golf course. The Ski-and-Stay package is perfect for the Eastsiders looking for a getaway, including shuttles, meals, lift tickets and a nights stay. pronghornclub.com
22. Trees of Distinction Boasting more than 100 years of old-fashioned seasonal spirit, Carnation Tree Farm is the place to take the family to get the authentic tree-cutting experience (it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places)! Make sure to see Santa and then grab some homemade kettle corn on your way out! carnationtreefarm.com