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Ask 10 local residents to describe their perfect winter day, and seven of them will paint a picture much like this: A hearty breakfast at a favorite eatery, an afternoon on the slopes with friends or family, a muscle-relaxing massage at a nearby spa, a generous serving of comfort food at another favorite restaurant and—finally—a sound night’s sleep in a comfy bed.

The other three residents? They aren’t available to answer—because they’re still in the mountains.

Here are some of our favorite local establishments and destinations to help you achieve this quintessential Northwest winter day.

Lessons & Gear

Ski Image 1Start from scratch or brush up your skills with indoor ski lessons at Mini Mountain. Twenty-minute private sessions are available by appointment Tuesday through Sunday, and all equipment is provided. Mini Mountain also offers skiing and snowboarding equipment rentals, by the day, week or month.

At Sturtevant’s in Bellevue, you’ll conveniently find the latest ski and snowboard apparel and gear, as well as equipment rentals, boot fittings and waxing. Just a few miles east, REI’s Redmond store also offers clothing and gear, plus ski and snowboard tuning, waxing and seasonal classes like Cross-Country Skiing Basics and Mount Rainier Snowshoeing.

Pre-Flight Breakfast

Lot 3. Chicken and WafflesThere isn’t a hotter spot for breakfast than Chace’s Pancake Corral. Get there early to beat the rush, then carbo load with a stack of potato or banana pancakes. Gilberts on Main also serves up delicious sweet and savory breakfast dishes, which you can eat in the cozy little restaurant in Old Bellevue or get to go.

If you want to impress your ski buddies, take them to Eques at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue for a breakfast among the best on the Eastside, featuring mouth-watering dishes like Alaskan Dungeness crab eggs benedict, and buttermilk pancakes with cranberry white chocolate bark.

Getting a later start? Stop by Lot No. 3 for their yummy brunch, which starts at 9 a.m. on the weekends. On the flip side, if you’re eager to get going early, stop by Top Pot Doughnuts for a maple old-fashioned and a latte for the road. The Bellevue café opens at 7 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Ski Areas

From Bellevue, you can be on the slopes in less than an hour. The Summit at Snoqualmie is just about 45 miles east and offers four different ski areas: Alpental, Summit West, Summit Central and Summit East, as well as tubing and Nordic centers. Runs, lessons and rental equipment serve skiers of all levels, as do cafeterias, lounges and lodges at each of the four base areas.

Stevens Pass (75 miles northeast) and Crystal Mountain Resort (75 miles southeast) are just under two hours from Bellevue, and both offer a variety of easy to challenging runs, lodging, lessons and equipment rentals. For more, ahem, cold spots, where visitors can hike, snowshoe, tube and sled, check out our guide to Skiing and Snow Sports.

January through March, the US Forest Service offers guided snowshoe walks, by donation. Tours run from 90 minutes to five hours, and snowshoes and poles are provided. Call 509-852-1062 to make reservations for Snoqualmie Pass, and 360-677-2414 to make reservations for Stevens Pass.

Muscle Melt

Truce Spa Westin - wes1555sp.129045After an invigorating day on the slopes, warm and soothe your sore muscles with a therapeutic massage. Recoop, Gene Juarez Salon & Spa and Truce at The Westin Bellevue are all located right in downtown Bellevue and offer muscle-melting treatments sure to relieve any aches and pains you might have picked up on your way down the hill.

About 15 minutes away in northeast Bellevue, The Spa at Pro Sports Club has some of the best bodywork and deep-tissue specialists in town.

Apres-Ski Dinner

Monsoon East PhoNow that you feel like a noodle, how about getting some noodles? You can get the Italian variety at Cantinetta or the Asian style at Monsoon, Wild Ginger or Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, which now offers takeout, in case you’d rather slurp your noodles in your jammies.

If it’s a thick, juicy steak you crave, we recommend El Gaucho, Daniel’s Broiler or John Howie Steak. And for contemporary American cuisine and upscale comfort food, not to mention fantastic wine lists, park your (ski) bum at Purple Café & Wine Bar or 99 Park. (Got a craving for something we haven’t mentioned? See our restaurant guide.)

The Comfy Bed

Hyatt Room Couple on BedOur favorite stories have a happy ending, of course, and this winter tale wraps up with a deep sleep in a dreamy bed. Among the numerous hotels ready to envelop you in comfort are The Westin Bellevue, home of the heavenly bed; the beautiful and brand-new Seattle Marriott Bellevue; the sophisticated and centrally located Hyatt Regency Bellevue and the luxurious Hotel Bellevue.

For even more lodging choices, visit our guide to Bellevue hotels. We’ll let you in on a little secret: Weekend rates are lower than weekdays, so you have no excuse not to stay the night!

In the Pacific Northwest, snow-cloaked mountain ranges aren’t just a pretty picture, they’re an invitation to a glorious day on the slopes. So cross your fingers that snow comes early and often, and when it does, join us in Bellevue for a perfectly wonderful winter day.

From top to bottom: Images courtesy of Gabriel Santiago,, Lot No. 3, Truce at The Westin Bellevue, Monsoon East, Hyatt Regency Bellevue