SEATTLEITES HEAD TOLake Chelan, Lake Sammamish, and Banks Lake for water-sports getaways, but that popularity translates to boatloads of crowds in the summer. For the price of a four-and-a-half-hour drive, Idaho’s Hayden Lake offers all the benefits of a sunny, warm lake without the hustle and bustle. It’s a far calmer (and smaller) locale than its neighbor in the Idaho panhandle, Lake Coeur D’Alene, and weekdays in particular offer glassy water ideal for kids’ water-skiing or wakeboarding lessons and quiet sandy beaches for strolls. The lake’s wandering coral-reef shape makes for nearly 40 miles of shoreline (and plenty of waterfront properties too). If you’re not looking for rugged waterfront properties, the southwest region near the country club offers a more suburban feel, complete with carefully manicured lawns.
While many lake homes aren’t necessarily appealing as winter destinations, Hayden Lake is an exception. Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling dominate local activities when the temperatures start dipping into the 30s; just 45 minutes north is Idaho’s second-largest ski resort, Schweitzer Mountain. By sheer location, Schweitzer sees far fewer skiers than Utah or Colorado but gets blanketed in more than 300 inches of dry, fluffy powder. An hour’s drive from town in the other direction are Silver Mountain, which just doubled the size of its terrain park, and Lookout Pass, a small hill that runs a dizzying array of kids’ ski-school programs.