5 Cozy Winter Towns in the Pacific Northwest

Don't miss out on the wintry magic of these 5 Pacific Northwest towns. There's plenty of options for kicking back in a cabin or heading outdoors on epic winter adventures.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Hygge (noun): a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or wellbeing (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).

Pack warm layers and a good book and head to the Pacific Northwest! The agreeable winter climate and variety of landscapes make the Pacific Northwest a beautiful place to relax and recreate.

Whidbey Island, Washington

Photo: whidbeycamanoislands.com

Whidbey Island, located north of Seattle, is the perfect tranquil winter weekend getaway. The island features beautiful beaches, farmland, forest, and hilly terrain. Visit Whidbey in the winter to enjoy fewer lines, less traffic, and less tourist congestion than in summertime. 

The cute coastal towns of Coupeville, Langley, and Oak Harbor are great places for slowing down in cafes, art galleries, and boutiques. Grab a hot cup of coffee to warm up at Whidbey Coffee and get a taste of the local artistry at Penn Cove Gallery

If you’re a history fan, check out the Island County Historical Museum to learn about the island’s Native American roots. You're sure to build up your appetite after all that exploring, so visit historic Toby’s Tavern in Coupeville, for some delicious mussels and burgers. 

Whidbey Island is also home to several family-owned distilleries like the Whidbey Island Distillery that offer free tastings and tours around the island – a great way to get in the spirit! 

Outdoor Adventures: Hike 3.5-mile Ebey’s Landing near Coupeville or walk through the Earth Sanctuary, a 72 acre property of old-growth forest and wooded wetlands. 

The Greenbank Farm also has miles of dog- and horse-friendly hiking and walking trails open year-round. If you want a seaside experience, take a beach walk along Double Bluff Beach, which also has an off-leash area for dogs.

Powell Butte, Oregon

Photo: Randy Gordon

Powell Butte is unique in that it’s an unincorporated community in Crook County, Oregon. It’s named after the nearby Powell Buttes, which are extinct cinder cone landforms that look like an isolated hill with steep sides and a relatively flat top.

When you visit Powell Butte, head to cozy and top-rated Brasada Ranch Resort. Surrounded by the breathtaking mountains and trees, the ranch features cozy cabins to snuggle up in and sit by the fire. There are also outdoor fire pits where families can roast s’mores (available daily) while staring at the starry night sky. And to get in the spirit of the holidays, enjoy snowy carriage rides, ranch-to-table dining events, and live music on-site!

Outdoor Adventures: Check out Pilot Butte State Park, the Green Lakes, and the Deschutes River Trail for some memorable hiking experiences. 

Head to the Hoodoo Ski Area, Mount Bachelor, or Mount Hood Skibowl for a chance to shred in the fluffy snow. 

Thrill seekers should try out snowmobiling at the Wanoga Sno-Park. Finally, visit Hoodoo’s AutoBahn Tubing Park, one of the largest snow-tubing parks on the West Coast! Though currently closed until further notice, check back for updates on their potential reopening this winter.

Garden Valley, Idaho

Photo: Chad Johnson

Garden Valley is located in Boise County, Idaho and is a prime place for outdoor adventurers. With a population size of 489 as of 2019, it’s a quaint spot for those looking for a chance to escape the hustle and bustle. The mountainous terrain makes for a beautiful backdrop for outdoor recreation. 

Soak your worries away at one of the hot springs! Chill in a cozy rental cabin or relax during a carriage ride from Idaho Sleigh Rides. Beautiful spotted draft horses pull the sleighs through the snow. This activity is wheelchair accessible and available based on the weather. Bundle up to stay warm on your ride!

Garden Valley is also ideal for thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies looking to spend time among the raw beauty of the area’s natural wilderness. 

Outdoors Adventures: Ski or snowshoe to Stargaze Yurt- a fun backcountry winter adventure. Keep warm by a crackling wood fire under a blanket of stars during your overnight stay. 

There are plenty of snowmobiling trails in the Garden Valley area, so rent a sled and hit the road! If you prefer traveling on foot, check out the Garden Valley Trail or Station Creek Trail for a hike in the crisp air. 

Whitefish, Montana

Photo: explorewhitefish.com

Whitefish is situated in the Rocky Mountains in northwest Montana. You can’t beat the mountainous scenery, which is especially lovely in the winter when the mountains are snow-covered. From peaks to lakes and glacier-carved valleys, the natural beauty of Whitefish feels like a breath of fresh air.

During the holiday season, the town is decked out in festive decorations – a magical sight that’s sure to spark childlike joy!

This adorable town is home to many shops, restaurants, coffee houses, and cozy resorts. GreenGos homemade meals are great for feeding your whole family, especially when you're busy exploring and too-tired to pick and follow a recipe! For a quick bite, don't miss out on one of the Wichhaus's delectable farm-to-table sandwiches in between adventures.

After an active day, keep the fun going and check out one of Whitefish’s breweries/distilleries like the Montana Tap House or Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits. Stay at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake or the Kandahar Lodge.

Outdoor Adventures:   Winter visitors can delight in skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, sledding, and fat tire biking. Hit the slopes atWhitefish Mountain Resort. At nearby Glacier National Park, go on a snowshoe or ice climbing tour with Glacier Adventure Guides. For some incredible backcountry cat skiing in the midst of pristine wilderness, check out the Great Northern Powder Guides. For hiking/walking, try out the Swiftcurrent Nature Trail, but be aware of the forecast and avoid going out in inclement weather.

Lewistown, Montana

Photo: Denis Agati

Located in the center of Montana, Lewistown is known to be one of the happiest places in all the state. It’s an off-the-radar town surrounded by beautiful mountains.

When you walk down the sidewalks, you’ll notice the quaint community feel. Art lovers should visit the Lewistown Art Center on Main Street to see photography, paintings, and woodworks by local artists. Afterward, indulge in some delectable dessert from Brooks Market and Deli, known for its daily selection of fresh pies!

Outdoor Adventures:
 Nearby Showdown Mountain is Montana’s oldest ski area. Try something a little different and explore the town’s ice caves for a unique winter time activity. 

Lewistown is a great place for fly fishing in the warmer months, but you can still enjoy fishing even in the winter. Popular ice fishing spots include Ackley Lake, Carter’s Pond and Hanson Creek Dam

Lewistown’s mountain climate also makes it a stellar area for snowmobiling at places like Judith Gap or the Big Snowy Mountains. Finally, for something a little more relaxed, take a walking tour of the downtown area to view several buildings on the National Register of Historic Sites.


Cover Photo: explorewhitefish.com

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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