Living simply in the wild

Cheap Things to do in Lake Chelan: 29 fun activities

Cheap Things to do in Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan offers so much for a family vacation. Even if we all can’t afford the lake front condo, private boat rentals, and luxery win tours. You still can have an amazing time in the valley on a budget. Use this guide of 29 cheap things to do in Lake Chelan to enjoy a nice relaxing vacation without breaking the bank.

1. Chelan State Park

If you already have a Washington State Discover Pass go there first! If you don’t have a pass it’s $10/day for the park or the Discover Pass is $30 for the year and will grant you access to:

Once inside Lake Chelan State Park you can enjoy:

lake chelan state park

lake chelan state park

  • RV and tent camping.
  • A playground your kids will thank you for.
  • 6,000 feet of shoreline
  • Roped off Swim beach area.
  • Restrooms.
  • Little Bear Trail.
  • A creek to walk along.
  • Boat launch.
  • Hose shoe pits.
  • Volleyball net.
  • Picnic tables (covered and uncovered).
  • Amphitheater.
  • And a huge green space, so bring your frisbee.

 2. Hang out at Riverwalk Park

Just park in downtown Chelan and head to Riverwalk Park (between Woodin St & Dan Gordon Bridges). It’s a great spot for a short stroll or bike ride on a paved walkway.

  • 12 acres
  • restrooms
  • picnic areas
  • picnic shelter (rentable)
  • boat launch
  • short-term moorage
  • boat trailer parking
  • one-mile paved scenic river loop trail
  • grass playfield

3. Manson Bay Park

There’s quite a few places you could hop in the Lake if you need to cool off. And I do mean cool off. That water is COLD. Head Past the safeway, past Red Apple and go into Manson, about 8miles. At the end of the downtown strip and just before the fire station there is a great swim beach.


  • Lifeguards on duty
  • restrooms
  • shallow area roped off
  • Docks to jump off
  • Green space for picnics

4. Go Hiking or Mountain Biking

Trails and Trails and more trails!

cheap things to do in lake chelan

Pick up some trail maps at the State Park or at the Chelan Ranger District 428 W Woodin Ave

5. Gone Fishing

Kids fish free (some rules apply). You can pick up an adult fishing license at Walmart or in downtown Chelan at Kelly’s Ace Hardware. You can fish the lake from a number of spots or head to fish some of the smaller lakes around the valley.

  • Lake Chelan
  • Wapato Lake in Manson
  • Antilon Lake in Manson
  • Dry Lake just outside Manson
  • Roses Lake in Manson
  • Alta Lake near Peteros
  • Chelan River at the Riverwalk Park
  • Columbia River down Chelan Falls Road (Hwy 150)

6. Get Outdoors. Go Camping!

Whether you want an place to park your RV, need amenities around, or if you really want to get back to nature Chelan has it all.

For RVs and Tent campers who like amenities:

For those looking to go a little cheaper and a little more backcountry:

There are 22 primitive campgrounds that the Chelan Ranger District has. They are first come, first served.

10 “boat-in” campgrounds are located up Lake Chelan. They do require a Dock Site Permit ($5/day or $40/season).

You can “Drive to” 7 campgrounds:

  • Snowberry Bowl (daily fee)
  • Antilon Lake (free)
  • Grouse Mountain (free)
  • Handy Springs (free)
  • Junior Point (free)
  • South Navarre (free)
  • Windy Camp (free)

Windy Camp

There are 5 “hike-in” campgrounds that are free including:

  • Boiling Lake
  • Cub Lake
  • Domke Lake
  • Hatchery Camp
  • Holden Ballpark

All Chelan Ranger District Campgrounds include some form of picnic tables, toilets, fire-rings and some include group shelters.

Be sure to check with the Ranger station at 428 W. Woodin Ave in Chelan for current status of these before heading out.

7. Head to the Shores of the Lake and watch boaters, jet skiers, and other water sports.

Where ever you can catch a glimpse of the water, you’re sure to see some water sports going on in the summer.

8. Don Morse Park

Don Morse Park is A great park with a lot to offer.

  • 2,000 feet of waterfront
  • 40 acres
  • Swimming
  • Boat launch
  • volleyball courts
  • skate park
  • tennis and basketball courts.
  • playground area
  • picnic shelters with electric, water, and BBQ

9. Head to the Library

The Chelan library moved to its beautifully remodeled building fall 2013 located at 216 N Emerson Street, caddy-corner from the Post Office.

  • Grab a good book to read
  • Play in the kids area
  • Surf the internet
  • Baby Rhyme Time every friday 10am. Ages 0-3
  • Story Time every wednesday 11am. All ages.

Manson also has a library with great events going on

  • STORYTIME Wednesday at 3:45pm. Ages 4 to 9, but children of all ages are welcome!
  • MANSON BOOK GROUP. Second Tuesday of each month at 6:00pm.

10. Drive up the Butte

As you’re heading into Town on HWY 97, right across from Lakeside Park and just before you hit Little Stone Church, turn and head up Chelan Butte Rd. This will wind you up the hillside 15-20 minutes. *This drive is not for the faint of heart*


Prepare for a bumpy ride, but the view is worth it! Lake Chelan on one side, Columbia basin on the other.

On the perfect day you may even catch a hang glider or parasailer take off.

11. Catch a Festival

Schedule your visit during and festival and you won’t be disappointed.



  • March
    • Top Dog Parade
  • April
    • Garage-a-rama aka Sidewalk sales!
    • Earth Day Fair
  • May
    • Beach-n-fly hang gliding contest
    • Manson Apple Blossom Festival
    • Spring Barrel Tasting
    • Memorial Parade
  • June
    • CruiZin Chelan Car Show
  • July
    • Manson and Chelan fireworks
    • Bach Fest
    • Chelan Man
  • August
    • Rodeo
    • Fine Arts festival
  • September
    • Car show and cruise
    • Sailing Regatta
    • Hydrofest
  • October
    • Crush Festival
    • Harvest Festival
    • Ciderfest
    • Trick-or-treat downtown Chelan
  • November
    • Veterans day parade
    • Fall barrel tasting
    • Manson winter festival and village of lights
  • December
    • Echo Valleys Ski Area New Years Eve Party

12. Farmers Market & Berry Picking

Head out to the evening farmers market in the Riverwalk Park every Thursday in the summer from 4-7pm. Snack on treats, find fresh fruits and veggies, enjoy entertainment. There’s something for everyone, literally.

Other farmers market include:

  • June-Oct Saturday 8am-12pm in the Chambers parking lot
  • Manson Market June-Oct Sat/Wed 8:30am-11:30 at the Grange Hall

Come in April to see Pear trees blooming beautifully. Apples will follow shortly after and other glorious fruits will follow. Stop by these places pick your own berries and fruits or make your own Apple Cider!

The freshest produce you can get!

13. Visit Themed towns around the area

  • Leavenworth: A Bavarian Themed town. Beautiful architecture. Great food. Fun festivals. It’s like a little Germany. There’s trails and camping and rivers to explore!



  • Twisp: Grab your cowboy boots and strap your saddle on your horse. This Western town is filled with small shops along a boardwalk for even the toughest cowboy. Rafting down the river is also a grand time.

camping leavenworth


14. Wine Tasting

With a plethora of wineries around the valley the only problem you’ll run into is which one to go visit. A lot of the wineries around offer complimentary tasting, and others have a small fee (around $5) that can be applied toward your purchase.

For info and a map of wineries in the area:…/our-wineries.html

15. Live Music

There are a few places around town that offer some live music.

The Vogue Liquid Lounge (117 E Woodin Ave), full service coffee and wine bar. They have live music on the weekends with no cover and are a family friendly joint.

Valeries Waterfront Bistro (114 E Woodin Ave) features:

  • Mindful Mondays: open forum discussion 8pm
  • Date Night Tuesday: 10″ pizza, large salad, 2 fountain sodas $24.00
  • 50/50 Thursday: Flip for a chance to win 50% off of your drink
  • Music and dancing Fridays and Saturday

16. Visit Riverwalk Books

Riverwalk Books is a fun little bookstore. The kids always head straight upstairs for a seat on the throne and to test drive new toys and books.

17. Lakeside Park

Right off Highway 97A Lakeside Park provides a great place to view Lady of the Lake, water sports, and might even see a paraglider or two.

  • Sand volleyball court
  • basketball half court
  • restrooms
  • 17,500 square feet of sandy beach
  • swimming area
  • picnic tables
  • playground
  • boat launch

18. Window Shop Downtown

Downtown Chelan has a great shopping strip with tons of fun stores to look through.

Our personal favorites are

19. Beach combing

Chelan is filled with amazing rocks and stones and even some tiny shells. Just remember to leave the treasures you find for the next treasure hunters.

cheap things to do in lake chelan

  • Don Morse Park at the beach west of the Marina
  • Lakeside Park
  • Beebe Bridge Park across the bridge from Chelan Falls (along the Columbia River)
  • Chelan Falls Park on the Columbia River has good sandy beaches.
  • Willow Point Park 1 mile west of Manson

*Some beaches are covered during high water in the summer

20. Field’s Point Landing

Field’s Point Landing is 17 miles up lake from Chelan along South Lakeshore Road. Here you can see catching the ferry boat uplake to Stehekin.

It is a National Forest Service and National Park Service site.

  • picnic tables
  • benches
  • Interpretive site
  • paved pathway  walk around the “point.”

21. Hit The Road

Pack a picnic, buckle your seatbelt and hit up a scenic drive

  • S. Lakeshore Road:You can only go so far uplake. So take a drive to the end of the South Lakeshore Road. Any further uplake you’ll have to take the boat ferry, seaplane, or hike up to one of the most remote communities in the lower 48.
  • Manson Loop: will take you along the back paved roads of Manson. You’ll wind through orchards and vinayards and will give you stunning views of the lake


  • Forest Service Roads: grab a map from the Ranger station and head up above 25-mile creek state park. Climb up creek-copper mountain. Bear Mountain. Stormy Mountain. The views are stunning! And the terrain….hold on tight in some places.

22. Tweet: Bird Watching

Head to any of the parks and lakes with some binoculars and you’ll see birds and wildlife everywhere. Visit for local bird watching guides.

23. Geocache

If geocache is your thing grab your GPS and go around to locate the local Geocaches. *there’s one inside Lake Chelan State Park

Zip codes in the area are

  • Chelan 98816
  • Manson 98831
  • Chelan Falls 98817

24. Audio Walking Tour

Goto and download the free mp3 guide and have fun on your journey.

25. Surf: The Web

You’ll find free wifi around town

  • The Vogue
  • Riverwalk Books
  • Starbucks
  • Westside pizza

26. It’s Game Time

If you want a little indoor time head over to Company Creek Pizza. They have big tables, lots of pizza and a small arcade the kids can sit and play while you sip, or gulp…I won’t judge, a nice cold beer.

Chelan Lanes also has a small arcade/bowling alley/and food for the whole family.

27. The Chelan Museum

Grab a piece of Chelans history and visit the Chelan Museum in downtown Chelan. 

  • Native American baskets, clothing, arrowheads, tools
  • Wapato Indian displays
  • A mining cabin
  • Old-time kitchen, home and store displays
  • Memorabilia of local life and families
  • Old newspapers
  • Research copies of many books on the history of North Central Washington
  • Logging tools
  • Toys

The entrance fee is only a few dollars a person, definitely worth the history lesson! Ask about their Treasure Hunt For Kids.

28. Fun in the Sun

If you want to get out on the water a lot the rental places offer specials. You can rent all types of equipment….kayaks, paddles boards, jet skies, boats, water toys, bikes  etc….. 10% discounts on their rentals during the weekdays Mon-Thurs morning 1/2 day specials Early bird special from 7am till 9am.

www.chelanjetskis.comweekday morning jet ski special 

*call or check website to confirm specials and prices

29: First Fridays of the Month

If your lucky enough to be visiting on the first friday of month from June-September you must head to Downtown Chelan. It’s family friendly and usually follows a fun theme. The shops stay open until 8pm and there are special deals, free samples, free kids activities, musicians and local artists on display and other fun things to check out.


There’s your list of 29 cheap things to do in Lake Chelan. Enjoy your stay in the Valley!

*if you have an idea or business that you feel is missing from the list leave a comment or email


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