Lake Chelan, Washington
IT COULD EASILYbe called the working man’s second-home spot. More often than not, Lake Chelan’s waters teem with motorboats, water-skiers, and families eager to enjoy the commotion—a good draw for anyone in search of a laid-back destination. As a result, second-home owners longing for quieter waters largely ignored the area for years, but several high-end developments, a burgeoning arts scene, and a boom in viticulture have led many to reconsider.
The sun (more than 300 sunny days annually) and the area’s 50.5-mile glacier-fed lake draw people of all lifestyles. Windsurfing, parasailing, and sailboating are especially popular in the Lucerne Basin, and anytime the weather is warm the lake is crisscrossed with tubers and water-skiers tethered to motorboats. Smaller lakes and the nearby Columbia River offer kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.
When water lovers are ready to leave the lake behind, the vineyard-filled hills beckon. More than a dozen boutique wineries dot the landscape. Tastings and tours are available, but the annual Lake Chelan Wine Festival in September is the big attraction, when local wineries pair their latest creations with food from nearby restaurants. As summer gives way to winter, the area transforms into a haven for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling—the area is the best place for the latter in Washington, according to SnoWest magazine. Echo Ridge provides 21 miles of groomed Nordic trails for anyone who wants to explore the winterscape.