There are some vacations where a hotel with a bed, a coffee maker and maybe a mini-fridge are all you need to get by. If your plans include days filled with sightseeing, dining like a local, and logging miles inside fascinating museums, there’s no need to spring for a luxurious room you’ll hardly spend any time in. But sometimes it’s natural to long for a getaway where you don’t need to set foot off of the same property where you lay your head at night. The convenience of having top-notch cuisine and a range of activities—from languid to fast-paced—all in one place can be alluring, especially when winter’s frigid temperatures push us indoors. The Northwest has no shortage of handsome lodges that fit the bill, and we’ve rounded up five of our favorites to help you plan a snug escape. Better yet—each is tucked into a visually magnificent environment. So now all you have to do is decide: rainforest, coast or river?
1131 SW Skamania Lodge Way, Stevenson, Wash., 509-314-4177
Skamania Lodge might be the only retreat of its kind that was created by an act of Congress. Most longtime Oregonians and Washingtonians know that legislation passed in 1986 established the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area—an 85-mile stretch of land that straddles the river between both states. But far fewer are aware that a mission statement in that act called for the construction of a lodge and meeting center on the Washington side of the Gorge. Let’s face it: Congress makes a lot of mistakes, but not this time around. Five years after the statute was approved, crews broke ground on the project, and Skamania welcomed its first guests in February 1993.
The four-story lodge has a Cascadian-style architectural design (think rustic wooden beams, stonework and a sloping roof, which helps the structure’s silhouette mirror the majestic ridgeline across the Columbia). It’s an aesthetic that’s meant to blend into the forest around it, the work of native Oregonian and developer John Gray, who was also behind Salishan in Lincoln City.
While just a quick jaunt from the charms of both Stevenson, Wash., and Cascade Locks in Oregon, you’ll end up abandoning any plans to leave the resort after arriving. That’s because there’s simply so much to do on Skamania’s 175 wooded acres, from navigating an aerial course to ax throwing to playing a round of putt-putt (or actual golf). You don’t even need to get back in the car to fit in a Gorge hike—the property boasts several decent trails. Though the most satisfying thing to do at Skamania might be taking a pint to one of the Adirondack chairs on the sprawling lawn and spending an hour or two staring back at Oregon (the prettier half of the Gorge, as we all know). When you can no longer stand the cold, retreat to the lodge’s Gorge Room and warm up by the 85-foot-tall andesite rock fireplace.
Lake Quinault Lodge
345 S Shore Road, Quinault, Wash., 888-896-3818
Washington’s Olympic National Park is a wild, remote and mostly untamed place. So much so that most of the land within its boundaries was the last unexplored and unmapped territory in the Lower 48. Though much of the park is closed or inaccessible during the winter months, there are a couple of corners that remain open. One of these is Lake Quinault and the Quinault Rainforest—home to waterfalls, ancient forests and the humble but historic Lake Quinault Lodge, which might just be the king of cozy during the holiday season.
“What about Timberline Lodge?” you ask. Well, not to belittle the old gal, but this 1926 lodge on the banks of Lake Quinault predates Timberline by a decade and exudes all the same warmth and charm. It also sees about 1.5 million fewer visitors each year. And when you think “cozy,” numbers like that count. It’s the perfect home base for up-valley rainforest explorations, and the onsite Roosevelt Dining Room is outstanding. It’s a place where you can see a herd of elk in the morning, walk through a grove of old growth in the afternoon, and eat a perfect medium-rare wild-caught king salmon fillet come sundown. It’s hard to get more Pacific Northwest than that.
Overleaf Lodge & Spa
280 Overleaf Lodge Lane, Yachats, 800-338-0507
If the crowds during the last handful of summers are any indication, word has gotten out about the tiny but enchanting Central Coast town of Yachats. The allure goes beyond Yachats Brewing, Beach Street Kitchen, and the legendary Drift Inn. Yachats’ Overleaf Lodge & Spa is yet another Oregon coastal classic that occupies a very explorable stretch of oceanfront.
Accommodations are varied, but many come with a fireplace and/or a jetted tub. Take in the striking blown-glass art in the lobby, grab a bottle of romance at the onsite Wine Cove, sit in an ocean-view soaking tub, or take a stroll along the wildly scenic waterfront on the 804 Trail. Heck, life is short and energy wanes with age, so get it all in. That said, the Overleaf is a place that has an uncanny ability to wash away stress, so if you feel like doing absolutely nothing at all and are completely comfortable with that, this is the place to simply chill. No judgment either way. Additionally, the beaches and creeks in the Yachats area are splendid for agate hunting.
Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge
96550 North Bank Rogue River Road, Gold Beach, 800-864-6357
Southern Oregon’s Gold Beach is where the mighty Rogue River empties into the Pacific. It’s also home to what might be the world’s largest myrtle tree, a conspicuous monolith known as Kissing Rock and, a little ways upriver, the Tu Tu’ Tun Lodge—home to a seriously elegant flavor of cozy.
Sitting on the banks of the Rogue, both the lodge itself and the grounds of the Tu Tu’ Tun are a stop-you-in-your-tracks combo of beauty, tranquility and sophistication. This is a solid option for a solo or couples getaway for a number of reasons—not the least of which is that this lodge really is away from it all. There are certainly wonderful things to see and do, but you need to go find them. This lodge does not have neighbors (not the kind inclined to serve you a craft beer or sell you a glass float, anyway). Dinner is a magnificent part of the Tu Tu’ Tun experience, but note that service from November through April is offered Thursday through Sunday only. We are telling the truth about the myrtle tree, by the way. Go check that thing out.
Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa
33000 Cape Kiwanda Drive, Pacific City, 503-483-3000
Pacific City isn’t all that big, but it sure is popular. Especially on a summer weekend, when seemingly half of Oregon and a third of everybody else pours into the tiny town to enjoy its triple threat: the “other” (larger) Haystack Rock, the 1,000 acres of open sand dunes, and the original Pelican Brewing pub. But in winter, as tends to be the case for much of the coast, Pacific City returns to some semblance of normalcy and is a wonderful place for storm-watching and quiet time—particularly at the Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa.
Perched on a bluff overlooking the aforementioned three-pronged attack of awesome, the Headlands offers ridiculously beautiful, clean and modern lodge rooms and cottages. The onsite restaurant, Meridian, serves elevated Northwest coastal cuisine, and the Tidepools Spa & Wellness center features all of the stress-relieving bells and whistles you’d ever want, including an outdoor hot tub. The lodge is also staffed with a team of Adventure Coaches who can point you in the right direction when it comes to everything from prime bird-watching locations to crabbing spots to secluded waters for kayaking. Pro tip: The Sitka Sedge State Natural Area, just up the road from the lodge, is a place you’ll want to explore.
This article appears in WW’s Oregon Winter Magazine, available for free all over Portland. See where to pick one up at this link.