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Old-fashioned lake vacation

Lake Chelan offers much including an unexpected wine destination thrown in

Slidewaters Waterpark is one of the cleanest water parks you will find. Photo credit:

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Many of us have fond memories of lake vacations with boating, fishing and lots of swimming. The towns of Chelan and Manson are perfect destinations for a lakeside vacation. Lake Chelan's crystal clear waters fed by melting snow from nearby hills and mountains just beckons on hot summer days. Just a four-hour drive from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, you can plan to go for a week or easily drive over for a weekend. The Wapato Point Resort in Manson makes a good lakeside retreat for your trip. Fully equipped condos are situated on a point which extends out into the lake. The resort has nine pools, tennis courts, 1.5 miles of waterfront and sits on 116 acres. Onsite you can rent kayaks, canoes, standup paddleboards, as well as motorized boats and jet skis. This is a very family-friendly destination with families coming back year after year. Insider Tip: Although it is unlikely to see a summer time deal, the Armed Forces Vacation Club offers great offseason deals for Lake Chelan and Wapato Point Resort.

When arriving into the town of Chelan, make sure to stop at the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center. It is a vibrant space with lots of exhibits on things to do in the area as well as local history. The Chelan downtown has some cute stores to visit. One of my favorites was Culinary Apple, which is a kitchen store but they also carry some neat local products. The smell of roasting nuts and samples of fudge alone make it worth a stop. Riverwalk Books is the place for booklovers and has been a community bookstore for 25 years. Owner Libby Manthey's beautiful themed displays make it easy to find the perfect summer read.

There is such a variety of recreational activities in the area. Golfers will love the Lake Chelan Golf Course with its scenic views. Speaking of views, Bear Mountain Ranch Golf Course is laid out in the hills south of the lake offering spectacular views of the water below. Visit to see for yourself. Other courses located near the Lake Chelan Valley include Desert Canyon Golf Resort in nearby Orondo, and Gamble Sands in Brewster -- a relatively new resort receiving very good reviews. Insider Tip: You can make tee time reservations 30 days in advance for the Lake Chelan course.

The view when standing on the tee of the Par 3 7th Hole at Bear Mountain Ranch. (Photo credit:

No trip to Lake Chelan is complete without a trip to Slidewaters Waterpark. Enjoy high-speed waterslides or slow it down with a float on the Lazy River. If you like to hike there are 14 trailheads with access to more than 250 miles of trail. Castle Vineyards and Ziplines have to be the greatest concept ever. The kids and adventure seekers in your group can enjoy some of the fastest ziplines in the world, and the adults in the group who like a more laid-back experience, can taste some wine.

Summer fun in the Lake Chelan Valley. (Photo courtesy Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce)

Speaking of wine, the Lake Chelan area is becoming a wine destination. There are 13 wineries within three miles of the Wapato Point Resort, many within walking distance. Wineries line the main drag in Manson where you can taste wine, cider or beer, and then enjoy lunch at one of the many restaurants. The Wapato Point Cellars offers wine tastings from noon to 5 p.m. and then turns into an outstanding restaurant in the evening. When you experience a tasting, there is a recommendation for a dish at the restaurant that pairs with the wine you are trying. It was nice to order dinner that night knowing I had tasted the perfect merlot to go with my steak.

Like many resort towns, Chelan and Manson have a variety of dining options in pedestrian-friendly locations. You can enjoy Mom and Pop eateries, Mexican food, pizza joints as well as upscale meals with wine pairings. One that is worth the short drive from Manson is Blueberry Hills Farm. It was named one of the top four restaurants in Washington state by the Seattle Times. This family-owned farm raises 16 different varieties of blueberries. They are known for fresh fruit pies, their huge burgers, and the local favorite, a French dip sandwich. It is casual dining on an outdoor deck with great valley views. Another place worth stopping at is the Bear Foods Market and Café-Creperie. Insider Tip: Order the #5 -- a decadent crepe filled with herbed pecan pate, arugula, mushrooms, chevre and cranberries drizzled with truffle oil. Yum! Many of the local wineries have bistros or offer charcuterie plates and are worth a visit.

The Lake Chelan area is the perfect summer vacation destination with something for everyone. The website for Lake Chelan has an interactive tool to help you plan your trip based on your interests and gives you a complete itinerary.

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