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Getaways to Escape the PNW Winter Blues — Or Grays, Let’s Be Real

The Pacific Northwest is one of (if not the) most beautiful regions in the country. However, December through February and often even March can be a rough time to be in the area nonstop. The relentless cloud coverage, frigid temps, and constant drizzle can become old, no matter how beautiful the Evergreens and mountains look shrouded in fog.

To help you beat the less-than-stellar vibes that many have during the cold season, here are 5 places around the Pacific Northwest where you can escape and enjoy some good weather and sunshine!

5 Pacific Northwest Spring Escapes

Cannon Beach, Oregon 

Cannon Beach in Oregon, United States

The Oregon Coast has long been a favorite holiday destination for PNW residents. And while most will flock to the long stretches of sand during spring break and summer vacation, I’d say winter might be the best time to visit. The crowds that can make the more popular months less relaxing are absent during winter. Additionally, some activities and businesses are closed, but you’ll score nice deals on accommodation. It can be cloudy and rainy, but the nice ocean breeze and clean salt air will rejuvenate you for the rest of the time!

Cannon Beach is the perfect base, with plenty of beachside rentals and cabins to choose from. Stroll the beach in the morning and admire the numerous flocks of birds that take up residents on iconic Haystack Rock. In the afternoon, head into town and peruse the art galleries, adorable cafes, and old-school candy shops.

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*Bonus — Cannon Beach is extremely dog-friendly, so should you have a four-legged friend (or two) that you don’t want to leave at home, this is the ideal winter vacay spot!

Sequim, Washington

A bit of a wild card, I’ll admit. I mean, who thinks of Sequim for a getaway? But hear me out! Thanks to its location in the Olympic rain shadow, the small city and surroundings receive far less precipitation than the rest of Washington. To add even more reasons to plan a trip, Sequim also has some of the most sunny days in the state.

So, if you’re looking for some Vitamin D, this is the winter getaway destination for you! Take advantage of the favorable weather and go golfing at one of the three courses near town. Or, go hiking and keep an eye out for wildlife at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. 

Victoria, British Columbia 

British Columbia Parliament Buildings in Victoria, Canada

If you want to dust off your passport, but don’t really wish to sit through an international flight, can I suggest our neighbor to the north? Canada is always a good idea, but the B.C. capital, Victoria, is particularly lovely thanks to its unique feel. The old colonial architecture will make you feel like you’re strolling through a European town, and the harbor creates a scenic backdrop for coffee or drinks on a patio.

Don’t miss high tea at The Empress Hotel, worth a visit for the stunning architecture alone. And just like many cities across the Atlantic, Victoria is full of aromatic gardens. Must-visits include the Butchart Gardens and the Victoria Rose Garden. And of course, it wouldn’t be a “European-lookalike” without a castle! So make sure to schedule a visit to Craigdarroch Castle, which dates back to the Victorian Era. It might still be a bit gray during the winter, but you’ll have so much fun exploring that you’ll barely notice!

Sun Valley, Idaho 

If you’re after winter sun, why not head to a place named for the plentiful rays that flood it? Sun Valley is a sought-after ski destination for those all around the region, but it also has so much else to offer during the snowy season. You can, of course, partake in classic winter sports like snowboarding and cross-country skiing. However, the area also offers the opportunity to try backcountry adventures and snowmobiling.

More about Sun Valley, Idaho:

If you’re looking for indoor options, Sun Valley is also a major wellness destination. The town is a hub of yoga studios, spas, and health clubs. Additionally, it is located within the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, should you want to go stargazing.  

San Francisco, California

Woman Lying on White Textile in Grass Field during Daytime

An easy flight from most PNW regional airports, San Francisco is an ideal place to visit in the winter. It’s no Southern California (which requires a much longer flight), but the temps are typically in the 50s and 60s — a nice break from freezing rain on Puget Sound or snowy Eastern Washington and Oregon.

Should you want to visit Southern California, however, we wouldn’t blame you! We recommend visiting Palm Springs – Discover Outdoor Adventures in Greater Palm Springs

Beyond that, the quintessential Bay Area fog usually lifts in the afternoon. So be careful and always pack some SPF, as morning clouds can be deceiving. Enjoy walks at Land’s End, watch surfers at Ocean Beach, and eat your way through one of the top dining destinations in the country.

Exploring these five Pacific Northwest escapes offers a refreshing break from the winter gloom, with options ranging from the serene beaches of Cannon Beach to the urban charm of San Francisco. Whether you are seeking outdoor adventure, cultural experiences, or just a change of scenery, these destinations provide the perfect winter getaway. Share your favorite PNW winter escape in the comments!

Sydney Baker

Sydney is a freelance writer from Seattle who previously worked in immigration and international education at higher education institutions. She has lived in Sydney, Montreal, and Luxembourg, traveled solo across four continents, speaks French, and a little Spanish, and is always on the lookout for her next adventure. When she isn’t sipping coffee you can find her hiking in the mountains or near the water. She writes about travel, lifestyle, and language all over the internet.


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