One thing I love so much about the PNW is the holiday season. It gets cold enough to feel like Christmas, but the actual snow and freezing is minimal (especially compared to my roots in Upstate New York!). There are so many mornings where you wake up to white frost on the grass and a thick white fog in the air, and it is truly beautiful. The other great thing is all the culture and wonderful things to do as a family – making memories together this time of year is so magical to me! It is so surprising to me as an east-coast transplant how I find so many lifetime Seattleites who have not gone out and experienced all that there is to offer here, which is why I thought I would share!
To start the season right, you have to go cut down a Christmas tree. When we lived in Queen Anne there was this ’boutique’ tree shop we went to once and bought the most beautiful pre-cut tree I had ever seen… pretty sure it was like $85 and it wasn’t very fun driving it around the corner just to haul upstairs. I vote to get out of the city and have a nice muddy adventure! You can basically just drive down Hwy 9 towards Snohomish and there will be “U-Cut” signs and arrows galore. We have been to Stocker Farms a few times, which we enjoyed since they shake and bale your tree for free, and have snacks and coco for the kids while you wait.
The next big thing for the kids, of course, is SANTA. As much as I want to have those glorious pictures with the big man in the red velvet chair at the downtown flagship Nordstrom, my sanity is more important and I just can’t bring myself to stand in those lines. If you venture a little further north into Bothell there are some super cute choices without the headache and lines! Country Village is tucked back in Bothell away from the hustle and bustle, and if you have never been there before you HAVE to go. It is a little historic farm-style shopping center with neat locally owned boutiques (clothing, food, holiday, home..). There are pet chickens wandering the yard, and for Christmas there is an indoor “Santa’s Workshop” where you can go sit on his lap and get pictures. They host Christmas events all month so make sure to look at their calendar!! I can’t forget to mention – THEY HAVE LIVE REINDEER 🙂 Another idea to try would be the McMenamins Anderson School Saturday Breakfast with Santa where for only $18pp you can enjoy their delicious food and have a personal visit with yours truly!
How about, the LIGHTS! There are so many places to go, so I will have to pick my absolute favorites. The Warm Beach Lights of Christmas display HAS to take the cake as one of the most massive Christmas displays out there. Yes, it is a drive (all the way up in Stanwood), but boy is it worth it! Their claim-to-fame is their 1-MILLION light display (it seriously takes hours to walk through), but guys, this place is like the next closest thing to Santa’s actual workshop. They have reindeer to see, indoor holiday crafting and workshops for kids, petting zoos, you can ride the Polar Express Train, live story-telling Pony Rides… like seriously the list goes on forever. Just trust me and try it, and make sure to get some of their fresh, hot doughnuts too 🙂 The next runner up (and also in the city if you don’t feel like making that drive) would be the Woodland Park “WildLights”. Starting right around Thanksgiving through January 1st, you can visit the zoo nightly between 5:30-8:30pm to see the zoo and animals after sunset, all decked out with Christmas Lights! You can go for a festive Merry-Go-Round ride, have an indoor snowball fight, and there are lots of goodies sold to warm you up from warm chowder to mulled wine. You can’t go wrong with either of these!
Downtown shopping – is festive, but of course a little insane on the hustle and bustle scale. I love the big Christmas tree always outside Westlake Center and the big star on Macy’s. If you have made the trip and are in the madness, there is one place you HAVE to stop. The Sheraton Seattle is notorious for their annual Gingerbread Village display. It is always free to attend, and themed differently every year to keep it interesting. IT IS MASSIVE! This year they did a Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme and we seriously CANNOT WAIT to see it!!!
The last thing I am demanding you try (haha) is taking the family to see the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker. We have always gone and loved this as a tradition, but in 2015 they totally stepped it up creating a whole new set and program to premier the George Balanchine version of the show, and it is truly one of the most breathtaking performances I have ever seen live! They introduced some small video snippets that help explain the story to non-ballet goers, and the set and costumes are so bold and colorful that you can’t not love it! A little plus that we loved, the set and costumes were designed by Ian Falconer, the author of “Olivia the Pig”… our daughters favorite book at the moment