Located in the North Cascades, the town of Winthrop has a western theme to it, making it seem like you’ve stepped back in time. I loved feeling like I was in the wild west, from the look of the buildings to a saloon with a swinging door. It’s the perfect weekend getaway from Seattle. Here’s how to spend a weekend in Winthrop.
How to Get There
If you’re coming from Seattle, you can take either I-90 E or I-5 N to get to Winthrop. Without traffic, I-5 tends to be faster, so you’ll head north until you get to exit 232 by Sedro-Wooley. From there, it’s a straight shot for about 2 and 1/2 hours on SR-20 E until you get to Winthrop. If you’re leaving on a Friday afternoon, allow extra time to get there to accommodate for traffic.
When I do road trips, I like to break them up with stops to make it more manageable. I found that having dinner at Birdsview Brewing Company was a great idea, as it’s about halfway to Winthrop from Seattle. They have an outdoor beer garden to stretch your legs, and kids are allowed in the restaurant part. I had a pint of their Ditsy Blonde and a veggie burger for dinner, which powered me through for the rest of the drive.
If you leave early enough in the day, make sure you bring your camera for the many places to pull off along SR-20. I’d never been to the North Cascades before and was obsessed with views like this around every corner.
Where to Stay
I looked at many properties in town, but ended up choosing Hotel Rio Vista. It was affordable and right on the river, which was the main seller for me. You can’t beat seeing that view from your balcony when you wake up! It’s only a few minutes walk from the central part of town, which ended up being really convenient.
In the morning, head to Duck Brand for breakfast. It’s a Mexican restaurant, but serves a delicious brunch as well. I went with the blueberry pancakes and a mimosa. I loved being able to sit outside to enjoy the weather while I ate.
After you eat breakfast, head out to do some shopping. They have several outdoor clothing and gear stores, boutique shops, and a bookstore. I ended up buying jewelry from a local artist at French Quail and was tempted to buy paintings from local artists as well. There is a general store in case you need basic food, alcohol, or any supplies you may have forgotten.
Walking around the city was fun to see everything they have. This is the cutest town hall I’ve ever seen!
Methow Valley Ciderhouse
For lunch, head over to Methow Valley Ciderhouse. It’s about a 10-minute walk from town, but worth it. They have a variety of locally-made ciders to try while you sit on their deck and enjoy the sun. I recommend getting a sampler so you can try them all. They have a full menu, but their sausages seemed to be the most popular. They have dozens of different condiments to top it with, including sauerkraut in a crockpot.
Float in Lake Pearrygin
While the river runs through the town, I felt like getting in the water since it was in the 90s when I was there. Lake Pearrygin State Park is only a 15-minute drive away, so bring your swimsuit and floaties. People were also on their boats and jet skis, and many people at the park were BBQing on the grills that were provided.
Cool Off With Ice Cream
After being in the sun, you’ll likely want to cool down. Head back into town to Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe. This is the place to get homemade fudge, taffy, and every kind of candy you can think of. What you’ll smell when you walk by are the freshly-made waffle cones to go with the dozens of different ice cream available. I dare you to walk by without grabbing a scoop!
Play a Round of Mini Golf
After you eat your ice cream, stop at the espresso stand to rent clubs and balls for mini golf. They had a western theme to the holes, including shooting the ball through horseshoes. I was pleasantly surprised to find the last few holes were pretty challenging.
Old Schoolhouse Brewery
By now I’m sure you’ve worked up an appetite, so head over to Old Schoolhouse Brewery to reward yourself for an active day. The building looks small from the front, but extends pretty far back and even has an outdoor patio right on the river. There was live music when I was there, which was an enjoyable way to eat dinner. Order the Rude Awakening IPA with fish and chips, and you’ll be set.
Visit Washington’s Oldest Legal Saloon
There’s some debate about this, but the rumor is Three Fingered Jack’s is the oldest legal saloon in Washington State. If you’re looking for one more drink after dinner, this is the place to go. They have swinging saloon doors when you walk into the bar, pool, and billiards.
Walk Along the River
Before you settle in for the night, take a walk along the river. You’ll get beautiful views of the mountain range and the sun as it goes down over the river. There’s a pedestrian bridge you can cross, which will take you to an ice skating rink that’s used in the winter.
People Watch at a Cafe
When you wake up the next morning, head over to the Rocking Horse Bakery. They have a wide selection of quiche, muffins, scones, and other tasty foods. You can grab a cup of coffee and sit outside to watch the town start to wake up.
Visit the Shafer Museum
Before you leave, check out the Shafer Museum. This outdoor exhibit shows buildings from the late 1800s when the town was just getting started. It was fascinating to see machinery used back then and even a bike from that time. It always helps me appreciate a city more when I know the history behind it.
Winthrop is a fun town to visit, whether it’s for a weekend or just the day. I saw many motorcyclists come in each morning, walk around town, and leave by dinner time.
When you’re headed back, leave time to stop at the places you didn’t see the first time. There are many hikes along SR-20 if you’re feeling adventurous. The small parking lots fill up fast though, so I’d recommend going early in the morning.
If you’re looking for a unique place to visit, Winthrop won’t disappoint you. Getting there is half the fun, so I’d recommend going for at least a few days. You’ll feel like you stepped into the wild, wild west!
What do you enjoy the most about road trips?
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