The Methow Valley

There are a few places in the state of Washington that remind me of where I grew up in Montana, and the Methow Valley is one of them. About a dozen years or more ago we were introduced by friends to Winthrop, Washington, where they had purchased a cabin. We spent nearly every New Year's Eve, winter ski week, Thanksgiving, 4th of July and various long weekends during both summer and winter in Winthrop. Our children learned to ride a bike, then mountain bike, and ski in the Methow Valley. There are many wonderful memories made in this magical spot. The Methow Valley feels like it belongs to us in many ways, but it is impossible not to share the magic of this place. It might be easy to buzz over to Suncadia, but to make the 3.5 to 5 hour trek from Seattle to the Methow Valley is worth every minute for those that love a true escape. 

A view from below Pine Forest

Views from Sun Mountain Lodge

When we weren't at our friend's cabin in the Pine Forest area, we rented rooms at Sun Mountain Lodge, or even better, the Lodge's cabins at Patterson Lake. In winter there are endless cross country skiing trails and in the summer it is full of mountain biking and hiking trails. The cabins have kayaks, paddle boards, canoes and fishing gear to help you enjoy the lake in the summer. In the winter we have seen ice fishing and have ice skated on some of the safer spots. 

After our long drive from Seattle to Sun Mountain we usually head to the The Wolf Creek Bar and Grill in the Lodge. The dining is casual, the game is usually on, and the wait staff knows us by name. We have celebrated milestone birthdays in the Wine Cellar there, and been dazzled by the views ant the locally sourced cuisine on New Years Eve in The Dining Room

The Lodge has a outdoor pools and hot tub that have gorgeous views of the valley. You can also enjoy the Spa at The Lodge, rent gear, sit by the giant fireplaces and enjoy a book, or listen to live music on the weekends. It is low-key there, with deer grazing nearby and horseback riding in the summer months.  Come winter, take a cross country lesson, or a super fun horse drawn cart rides to pristine sledding hills equipped with warming tents and hot chocolate waiting for guests. 

Freestone Lake in Mazama

When we aren't staying in Winthrop itself, we love to stay at The Freestone Inn cabins in Mazama, about 15 minutes out of Winthrop. You can bring your pets, which is good news for our two dogs and the location is gorgeous. The Inn itself and the cabins are in a beautiful wooded area and surrounded by flat long trails with pretty little Freestone Lake a stone's throw away.  The Mazama Store, a total gem, is filled with gourmet foods, locally sourced goods, outdoor gear and more. Not far away is the Woodstone Pizzeria, a cozy spot where we had fantastic pizza for dinner. It is next to the Rolling Huts, where we have not yet stayed, but have heard many great things about. 

Our family learned to mountain bike the trails through Pine Forest and beyond, beginning with the Chick-A-Dee Trail below Sun Mountain and going on from there. Even as athletic as I am not, I have loved riding the trails with a bike rented from Methow Cycle & Sport in town. Whizzing through the forests and across the steel bridges is a great way to see this beautiful place. 

A steel bridge off the mountain biking trails

History and rustic beauty outside of Winthrop

 In the town of Winthrop you can wander the wooden sidewalks end to end to visit the local art galleries and co-ops, outdoor specialty shops, clothing boutiques and more. It is charm personified. We always stop at the local bookstore and eat lunch at Oliver's Artisan Kitchen because of its delicious Parisan flair and the fact that my son's name is Oliver. If we aren't at Oliver's we head to The Schoolhouse Brewery, where you can hear the river below while you dine on the patio. And we love to grab a drink at the charming bar and kitchen Copper Glance, a total gem that makes a killer cocktail.  The super dry air makes my skin care need something extra, which I always find at the lovely Nectar Skin Bar & Boutique. Sheri's Sweet Shop is always full of folks seeking old fashion candy by the barrel full and ice cream scoops on hot days. A great cup of coffee or tempting pastry can be found at The Rocking Horse Bakery and love their sandwiches too.

Digging around antique stores is a favorite thing of mine, so I always make a stop at Robin's Egg Bleu on the edge of downtown Winthrop (Look for the cool old blue truck parked out front). Last visit I found a pair of matching brass vases (see one above, on my shelf at home) and I never leave there empty handed. A total gem of a spot. I collect antique silverware so I am always on the hunt for pieces that are interesting to put into the mix. The artist co-op gallery in town had these hand stamped antique pieces, although I am sorry to say I have not been able to track the artist except that I was told he now lives in LA and was the gallery's son. If you more information on this please let me know.

There are endless things to do from horseback riding to ice skating at Winthrop Rink or playing 18 at Bear Creek Golf Course. A lovely locally owned movie theatre, The Barnyard Cinema, serves wine, beer and espresso along with a stellar line-up of films. We also love the rodeos at The Methow Valley Rodeo Grounds that bookend the summer, happening both Memorial Day and Labor Day Weekend. Sit on the side of a hill with your blanket and a cold brew and watch some good old fashioned fun.

Antique hand stamped silver from the artist co-op in downtown Winthrop

Lake Patterson from the horseback riding trails at Sun Mountain

Tempting treats at Oliver's Artisan Kitchen in Winthrop

Gracie and I enjoying the skiing at "The Loup" 

View from the top of Loup Loup 

We have loved to downhill ski at nearly Loup Loup where both our kids learned to master the sport. Its size and causally locally run vibe reminds me of what it was like to ski in the late 70s and 80s. The mountain has bunny slopes to black diamond runs with killer views and it is the perfect place for skiers of all skill levels. 

A warm hat is always a good idea in the Methow winters. Mine is from The Iron Horse

Ready for winter in my Vasque winter hiking boots

Summer is so hot and dry in the Methow Valley so you can beat the heat by floating the Methow River, and the nearby town of Twisp hosts a good old fashion 4th of July Parade and Festival in town. You won't see any fireworks on the 4th since it is way too dry and the fire hazzard warnings are high, but come back to Winthrop for Thanksgiving and enjoy "Christmas At The End of the Road."  There is a spectacular fireworks display the Friday after Thanksgiving and a festival in town with Santa, chestnuts roasting and music. It is one of my family's favorite days in the Valley. It's usually super cold that night so warm boots and a hat are a must. My hat, featured above, is from The Iron Horse in downtown Winthrop. In addition to a great hat selection, they have beautiful custom iron work, Minnetonka moccasins, jewelry, western wear and more. As far as boots go, I love my Vasque Footwear boots I got from Winthrop Mountain Sports, which is jam packed with the best gear for all seasons. 

Early morning lake view

There are so many places to eat, play, hike, bike and enjoy that it is hard for me to name all that I love about this place. These are a few of our tried and true favorites, but each time we visit we are happy to see a new shop popped up along the charming street. It is a community that has weathered difficult times for certain, from slow economic times to raging wildfires. The Methow Valley residents work together as a community by supporting each other through the ups and downs of small town life and the forces of nature surrounding this beautiful place. Whether you are a visitor, part time resident or a part of the community full time, it is impossible to not fall in love with this special place.

Gracie and David trying their luck fishing on Patterson Lake

Since our first visit, I have always felt like Winthrop was where our family could get the opportunity to experience life outside the busy city and reconnect. We have the time to exhale with a fishing pole or a cup of coffee out on the porch in the early morning. Half the time you don't have cell service, a blessing, and the sound of kids and dogs playing outside is heaven. A happy place, indeed.


Paris Snapshots

Paris is one of my most favorite places in the world to visit, and I am hoping someday that my husband and I can live there for a year. Dreams to reality can take some time, so in the meantime I am trying to get over to The City of Light as often as I can. We have stayed in several arrondissements in Paris over the last few years, and have the pleasure of getting the inside scoop from both our Seattle and Parisian friends. But there is always more to see, more history to hear, places to discover. I always feel like I have barely scratched the surface of this amazing, beautiful place. Here are some snapshots from my happy place. 

Musée Yves Saint Laurent

Biglove Caffé 

Antique shopping at Passy Brocante

Le Georges at The Centre Pompidou

Musée Rodin 

Sidewalk cafes give you the perfect spot to people watch Parisian style

Hôtel Saint-Louis en l´Isle is on a charming street near shops, restaurants and of course, ice cream.

Scenes from the neighborhood on Saint-Louis en l'Isle

French gourmet food at Fauchon Paris

Merci Paris for shopping and a glass of róse afterwards

The Rue Cler Market

Le Malabar in the 7th 

Palais Royale

Galeries Lafayette Paris Champagne Bar

Walking the bridges at night is a gorgeous way to watch the sun set over Paris

Stay tuned for more travel adventures....until we meet again, Paris. xx