What do you do when your job is location independent but your partner’s isn’t (yet)? Why, travel on the weekends, of course!
Since my trip to Greece with my mom back in April, I haven’t had many opportunities to travel, so a quick weekend trip to Winthrop, Washington was just what the doctor ordered to scratch my itchy feet.
For a handy list of things to do in Winthrop, Washington, scroll to the end of the post!
A Weekend in Winthrop, Washington
It was also our first chance to take a trip with Ginger, the new truck/camper setup we’d recently purchased from a friend and had yet to take exploring. Isn’t she a beaut?
From our base in Wenatchee, Winthrop is roughly a two-hour drive, first north through the desert-like climate of the Columbia basin, then northwest through the Methow Valley.
From Seattle to Winthrop it’s a longer trek at around four hours, but it also happens to be incredibly scenic by comparison. Road trippers and motorcyclists alike enjoy the majestic mountain views afforded by Highway 20, also known as the North Cascades Highway.
Winthrop is a jumping off point to all kinds of outdoor adventures like hiking, rafting, and climbing. The town itself also happens to draw quite the tourist crowd thanks to its Old West theme complete with wooden boardwalks, one of the oldest saloons in the state of Washington, and an abundance of cowboy paraphernalia both for sale and adorning the local residents.
I hadn’t been to Winthrop since my cousin got married there a few years back and I was excited to return for a closer look (and maybe a bit of shopping at the local boutiques…).
With our camper in tow, however, we wouldn’t be staying in Winthrop that weekend, but in a campsite near neighboring Mazama, an even smaller, equally cute town with just one store.
After some unexpected setbacks that caused us to leave home nearly 2 hours later than planned, we finally cruised through Winthrop at around 2:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday.
But it wasn’t just any Saturday, it happened to be the weekend of the Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival, a busy time of year for this little cowboy town. And since campsites at Klipchuck Campground, our intended destination, are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis, we knew we needed to reserve one ASAP.
Not knowing for sure if we’d find a place to stay wasn’t ideal, but it definitely added to the adventure!
Thankfully, upon arrival, we were greeted by the friendly campground host who directed us to one of the many available spots (though by the evening, the campground did fill up).
We could hear a rushing river nearby (okay, not really a rushing river but Early Winters Creek) which would definitely come in handy–it was hotter than Hades that mid-July weekend. There were also plenty of potable water spouts throughout the campground and toilets that were well looked after by our hosts.
This campground is also located within walking distance of the Driveway Butte Trailhead–convenient if you don’t have a Recreation Pass or you don’t feel like paying $5 for parking on top of the $12 campground fee (which is set to increase to $15 per night in 2018).
Unfortunately, we wound up spending very little time in our campsite that weekend. No roasting marshmallows over the fire, or even building a fire to begin with–instead, we headed back into Winthrop to grab some grub and to meet up with an old friend of Hans’ from his days living in Seattle.
The town of Winthrop is small enough to walk from end to end in little time, so we parked our rig and went roaming in search of food, the clicking sound of cowboy boots never far away.
We settled on a place called Duck Brand Cantina which I’d recalled from my previous visit; what I hadn’t recalled, however, was the strange combination of Mexican and Asian foods on the menu. Chile relleno for me, curry for you…why not? (See more restaurant recs below!)
After refueling, we met up with our soon-to-be friends for a chilled out evening on the edge of the Chewuch River.
In fact, most of our evening was spent with these new friends (well, new to me) lounging at their riverside abode, drinking wine, birdwatching, and swapping stories of travel and the ups and downs of creative entrepreneurship. It was pretty heavenly, albeit completely unexpected. But, when you click with people, you just click.
That night in Mazama, we found ourselves shrouded in the sort of darkness I hadn’t experienced since I was a little girl–a blackness so complete, at times I was unsure if my eyes were really open. Untouched by light pollution, our remote North Cascades campground made for a perfect stargazing setting.
The following morning we had our first and only adventure using Ginger’s stove to make “cowboy coffee” (coffee grounds and water boiled together for a few minutes). It didn’t turn out half bad, either.
Once caffeinated, we hopped on the creekside trail for a morning stroll before we had to check out of our campsite.
On our way out of town, we hit Mazama to gas up and check out the Mazama Store I’d heard so much about from friends. It’s where campers go to restock or buy whatever they might’ve forgotten, or grab a pre-made sandwich for the road.
This family-run general store really does have a little bit of everything on offer, from groceries to cookware to their very own bakery, making it a fun place to browse for trinkets or gifts.
Finally, before wrapping up our quick weekend trip to Winthrop, Washington we made one last a pit stop in downtown to hit the shop our new friends had praised so highly, Gathered Boutique (and maybe a few others–what can I say, I have a weakness for accessories).
Winthrop makes for a perfect weekend getaway in Washington state, whether you’re coming from the eastern side or driving up from Seattle. I hope we can return in the fall or winter to experience more of the outdoor adventures Winthrop has to offer.
Things to Do in Winthrop, Washington
Where to Stay in Winthrop, Washington
Stay in unique lodging at Rolling Huts, “The Ultimate Camping Experience”
Stay in the adorable cabins or tipis at Pine Near RV Park–the tipis sleep 4 people for just $50/night!
Hotel Rio Vista, as you might expect, has some of the best river views in town
Visit Pearrygin Lake State Park, just a 10-minute drive from downtown Winthrop
Learn about Winthrop’s history at the Shafer Museum
Go for a hike–the Patterson Mountain Trailhead is nearby, with many more hiking options just a short drive away
See the beautiful Methow Valley from the vantage point of a hot air balloon
Visiting in the winter? Try a snowshoe tour with Methow Trails
Where to Shop in Winthrop: My Top Picks
Gathered Boutique – My personal favorite, with a mix of bohemian jewelry, home decor, and clothing from independent designers
Cascades Outdoor Store – One of several stores in town selling camping and outdoor sporting goods
Nectar Skin Bar & Boutique – Clothing and jewelry for women, plus beauty services
The Wine Shed – For the oenophiles, of course, but they have beer and top-shelf spirits, too
Where to Eat & Drink in Winthrop
Three Fingered Jack’s Saloon – One of the oldest operating saloons in Washington state
Old Schoolhouse Brewery – Microbrews made locally in Winthrop using pristine water from the North Cascades
Copper Glance – Contemporary grill with vegetarian and vegan options
Oliver’s Artisan Kitchen – Fresh and healthy options made with seasonal veggies; sweet & savory crepes
Winthrop Tipi Dinners – That’s right, dinner in a tipi! Because why not?
Have you traveled to Winthrop, Washington? What did you think of this tiny western town?
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