Winter getaways
Yes, it is cold but no need to stay home
Okay, a lot of people are all ready for spring,  1but thereís no sense in sitting around doing nothing as you wait for February and early March to play out and the warmer weather to arrive.

The great thing about the Pacific Northwest is that there are so many options to choose from when planning your getaways Ė whether they be summer or winter Ė and weíve selected just a few here for the colder season, some of which you may not have thought about.

Methow Valley Ski Huts

We begin with a trip to North Central Washington and the Methow Valley, where you will find more than 200 kilometers of Nordic trails in the valley. Itís a gorgeous place and the Methow gets a lot of sun, even in winter.

If you are into cross-country skiing, there are five ski-in huts that are positioned about five miles from each other, all with wooden bunk beds and kitchens. You can even take your dog with you.

Rendezvous Huts offers these huts for rent and has detailed information on the companyís website. The huts are very comfortable and the scenery in the Methow is spectacular. Families and groups of friends return to the Rendezvous Huts year after year to re-experience the beauty of the mountains

Lots of sun, great dry snow and breathtaking scenery Ė whatís not to like? For more information, visit www.rendezvoushuts.com or phone 509-569-6575.

Anderson School

If youíve ever wanted to spend the night in a school, we have your solution. The McMenamins hotel chain has now remodeled an 84-year-old junior high school in downtown Bothell, Washington, and turned it into a very unique hotel. Bothell is just a few minutes north of Seattle and this place has wood-burning fire pits all over the property, a saltwater swimming pool, a movie theater and a lot of things that were probably not part of your junior high experience.

The hotel is called Anderson School and it has three restaurants and three small bars with the classrooms actually turned into hotel rooms. Built in 1931 as Bothell Junior High and later named after the school's first Principal, "Andy" Anderson. Itís about 13 miles north of Seattle, Washington and no doubt will be one of the most unusual winter getaways youíve ever experienced.

For more information, visit www.McMenamins.com or phone 425-398-0122.

Vashon Island

How about a winter getaway idea thatís just a short ferry ride from Seattle? Vashon Island really is a bedroom community for people who work in the Seattle area and people live there because they love the Puget Sound views and the quiet, rural feel of the island. Itís not really been known as a tourist destination and is about the sleepiest suburb in the Seattle area. But thatís why itís a great getaway.

Now thereís a hotel on the island where you can try the island out for yourself. The Lodges at Vashon is only about a block from the islandís downtown business district and it offers a very unique place to enjoy your winter getaway.

Each lodge features a king-size bed, gas fireplace, flat-panel television, high-speed Internet and a stylish bathroom. There are various special features including well-appointed wet bars, soaking tubs and dining nooks. Theyíre just the kind of lodgings for that special getaway.

But the highlight of your visit to Vashon will be the island itself Ė itís picturesque, relaxing and just a short ferry ride from the downtown Seattle area.

For more information, visit www.lodgesonvashon.com.

Wintergrass

All right, for all you people who STILL donít want to venture out into the winter cold, you just have to hop in your warm car and DRIVE to Wintergrass, an indoor music festival held the last weekend in February at Bellevueís Hyatt Regency Hotel.

This Seattle suburb is just east of the city and easy to reach. At Wintergrass you can get in from out of the cold and sit back and enjoy hours of bluegrass, folk, Americana and other types of music. And you can get an education while youíre there Ė workshops actually teach you more about the various types of music.

The whole idea here is the preserve the sound of acoustic music Ė the kind you can play without an electronic amplifier and the various music forms that are popular in so many other parts of the country. Jamming isnít only allowed during Wintergrass, itís encouraged, with impromptu groups springing up among musicians in locations throughout the hotel property.

For more information, visit www.wintergrass.com.

Mount Rainier

For those of you who DO want to get out in the colder temperatures and who thrive on the incredible winter scenery in Washingtonís mountains, we encourage you to visit Mount Rainier. The road to Paradise remains open most of the season.

And a lot of people donít realize that the Rangers lead free snowshoe tours through the meadows of Paradise twice a day on weekends. They say itís the best way to avoid getting lost on the perilous ledges of the mountain. And itís great exercise. Snow shoes are provided, but sunscreen, warm clothes, and tire chains sometimes required to navigate the Paradise road are not.

Itís a different mountain in winter. The transformation of the scenery is magnificent and people who love winter here in the Pacific Northwest will find the very best of it at Mount Rainer.

For more information, phone 360-569-6575.
PHOTOS: Beautiful winter setting at Mount Rainier
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