Winter Sports Guide 2021

Welcome to winter! (Well, almost winter — but with the weather outside, it feels like we’re already in the heart of the season.) A time when many burst open the doors of their homes with winter sports gear in hand, enthusiastically packing up the car to head out to our region’s many snow sports areas. For others, a time to shutter the doors of their home, cozying up inside with a good read, a warm meal or a favorite film.

Whether you embrace the winter months or curse them, there are plenty of activities you can do to celebrate the season. Read on for stories on unique and festive outdoor dining spots, what’s new in Western Washington’s ski country this season and reader recommendations on how to get through the colder months, as well our recommendations for things to do in and around ski areas (that’s not skiing) this winter.

Stay warm and happy winter!

— Seattle Times Features staff

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

When we asked Seattle Times readers how they get through the Pacific Northwest’s dark months, winter lover Moira Macdonald told us we were looking at the season the wrong way. Read on for her take on ‘the Big Dark,’ plus reader tips for enjoying the winter.

“The Bellevue Downtown Ice Rink features 9,000 square feet of real ice in a covered and open-air rink. There is also a heated viewing area, on-site concessions and a series of special events throughout the holiday season.

It’s time to break out the skates! Here are some Seattle-area ice rinks open this winter, including Bellevue Ice Rink. Or check out Jingle Bell Run, a selection of holiday markets or other in-person and virtual happenings.

Skiers and Snowboarders recreate at Stevens Pass ski area in the Cascade Mountains Tuesday, March 9, 2021.  216589

Between the pandemic and a visit from La Niña, last winter was an unprecedented Washington ski season. While COVID-19 lingers, Seattle-area ski areas will veer closer to normal this year. From weather to rules, here’s what to expect if you hit the slopes.

Crystal Mountain has six self-guided snowshoe trails of varying difficulty levels. Oh, and feel free to bring your dog.

Even if skiing isn’t your thing, there are other ways to have fun in the snow around Western Washington’s ski areas. From tubing to snowshoeing, here’s a look at your options around four of the region’s most popular ski areas.

Rupee Bar in Ballard is one of the hardest reservations to score due to limited seating. But this hot spot now has additional seating out front. (Courtesy of Rupee Bar)

The pandemic has changed people’s minds about outdoor dining amid Seattle’s rainy winters. Here are our food writers’ picks for their favorite outdoor dining setups in and around the Seattle area right now.

Firehouse, which will feature gear, coffee, grub and more, aims to be the new front porch for visitors to Snoqualmie Pass.

Come January, the snow sports enthusiasts who descend on Snoqualmie Pass will have a new hangout to check out: Seattle-based outdoor retailer evo pumped $2.5 million into Firehouse, which will have coworking spaces, showers, food options and retail.

“99: Stories of the Game” by Wayne Gretzky. Narrated by Mike Chamberlain.

Before you head to the ice rink, plug in these five hockey audiobooks — perfect for lifelong fans of the game and brand-new Seattle Kraken fans alike. On the list: books by hockey legends like Wayne Gretzky and Willie O’Ree, the NHL’s first Black player.

A backcountry skier follows a skin track through fresh snow near Alpine Lakes High Camp.

Whether you’re new to outdoor winter adventures or you’re a seasoned snowshoeing extraordinaire, this backcountry camp near Stevens Pass is a gem that offers up a snowy retreat where you can still enjoy comforts, like running water and cell service.

Weatherman Larry Schick, also known as the “Powder Poobah,” in his home in the Magnolia neighborhood in Seattle on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. Schick is in his 25th year of snow forecasting and has been a well regarded figure in the ski and snowboard community.

Longtime TV weatherman Larry Schick pioneered the idea of independent snow forecasts delivered to an online audience. For Pacific Northwest powder hounds eager to get to the slopes on powder days, he’s been an invaluable resource for decades.