Best of the Northwest: December

by Lauren Braden on December 17, 2013

in Trip Ideas

Happy Holidays! Whether you prefer sipping eggnog by the fire or bundling up on the ice rink, we’ve got you covered for finding winter cheer.

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Sip some Holiday Cheer

Best of the Northwest: DecemberA sip of homemade eggnog, a shake of sleigh bells and even the soggiest Seattle day transforms into a winter wonderland. The essential word of course is homemade, as no amount of good bourbon can rescue the syrupy milk you buy in a carton at the store! I’ve whipped up homemade eggnog using Martha Stewart’s recipe for as long as I can remember, made with raw eggs and a boozy dose of cognac, bourbon and rum, then topped with a dusting of freshly-grated nutmeg. The nutmeg is essential, the rum is not. It tastes just fine beside a roaring fire. 

No fireplace at home? Here are some cozy places for holiday merrymaking this winter:

Holiday Tea at the Sorento Hotel (900 Madison Street on Seattle’s First Hill). For many Seattleites, tea at the Sorento is a seasonal tradition. Snuggle onto a red damask sofa in the hotel’s gorgeous Fireside Room. Sip tea (or their famous Haute Toddy) and munch on watercress sandwiches with ham and mustard amid the twinkle of Christmas lights and holiday music on the piano, from the Nutcracker to Vince Guaraldi. ($37 per person and includes tea, sweets, pastries, sandwiches and canapés, seatings are daily at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. Reservations are required, call 206-343-6156).

Champagne at The Heathman (1001 SW Broadway in Portland). Settle in on a cozy couch beside the marble fireplace in the Heathman Hotel’s Tea Court Lounge. Admire the Eucalyptus-paneled walls and Austrian hand-cut chandelier as you sip champagne, nosh on a chocolate yule log and tap your toes to live jazz. Or, book your table for holiday tea at The Heathman, $32 per person.

Holiday Stout at Garrick’s Head Pub (69 Bastion Square, Victoria BC). My family loves Christmastime in Victoria, from the colorful lights at Butchart Gardens to horse-drawn caroling rides downtown. And after an afternoon of holiday caroling, a drink beside the fire at Garrick’s Head Pub in Bastion Square makes a perfect end to the day.

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Holidays on Ice

Best of the Northwest: December

Imagine skating in circles with your sweetie among gently-falling snow, a chill in the air and a mug of hot cocoa on your mind. Sounds divine.

Got ice skates? If you don’t have a pair of your own, you’ll be able to rent then for the whole family at most of these outdoor rinks throughout the Northwest. Some offer rentals packaged with the price of admission.

Grouse Mountain Ice Rink (6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, BC) Board the tram up to Grouse Mountain pond, taking breaks in between laps at the adjacent firepit. On a clear day, the views are phenomenal of snow-capped peaks of the coast range and down to the city lights of Vancouver. Finish your afternoon with a basket of poutine at Lupins Cafe. Open daily in winter, 9am-10pm. Admission is $40 for adults, $14-$24 for kids and free for children 5 and under. Skates are available to rent.

Bellevue Magic Season Ice Arena (at NE 1st St and 102nd Ave NE in Bellevue, WA) I am already smitten with Bellevue’s beautiful Downtown Park, and now I have another reason to go – it hosts the Seattle area’s largest open-air ice-skating rink. Bring cash for concessions. Admission is $12 and includes skate rental, or pay $9 if you bring your own skates; Kids 6 and under are $8. see hours /

Winthrop Ice Rink (208 White Ave, Winthrop, WA) If ever you tire of the primo cross-country ski trails in the Methow Valley, don a pair of skates and take to this rink. Open skate sessions are offered six days a week in winter. Admission is about $6 and you can rent skates for $4.

Seventh Mountain Resort Ice Rink (18575 SW Century Drive in Bend, OR) This beautiful rink is set in the mountains of Central Oregon, and you can twirl and spin yourself or take lessons from a professional instructor. There are public skate hours nearly every day in winter – see the calendar. Admission is $8, skate rental is $6.

Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink (95 Winburn Way in Ashland, OR) Bring the whole family; their skate rentals accommodate toddler size 9 up to Men’s size 15. There’s an open skate session every day – see the calendar. Admission is about $4, and you can rent skates for $2.50.


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Ring in the New Year

Best of the Northwest: DecemberI want to know who these people are who make New Years plans in the summertime. Needless to say, I am not one of them, so we’ll be stuck at home making homemade sushi and playing Peggy Lee on the turntable (which come to think of it, sounds pretty fun).

If you, too are a procrastinator (yet lucky enough to have already booked a sitter) here are some last-minute New Years ideas.

Portland Monthly has a lengthy list of fun New Years Eve events and parties in PDX, from jazz to stand-up comedy. Per usual, you’ll be able to catch a Pink Martini show, this year at Crystal Ballroom.

Seattle Met has the lineup for Seattle New Years revelry, from an art party at the Chihuly Glass Garden to a comedy show at Jet City Improv. And for all you Space-Needle-Fireworks traditionalists out there, please note that for the first time EVER, the world’s best radio station, KEXP, will be DJ’ing the party at the Space Needle. That means you’ll be ringing in the New Year with indie tunes alongside Macklemore, the Ramones and Pearl Jam.






Thanks for reading Northwest TripFinder, and if you love it, please share it!
photos: Sorento’s Fireside Room from the Sorento Hotel, Seattle fireworks by algalkin, skating rink in Ashland by singedpheonix.
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