City of Chelan

We love Chelan and we know you will, too. This quaint town provides the perfect escape from the hectic hustle and bustle of the big city. Chelan has a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere. Explore its unique local shops, upscale restaurants, and enchanting historic buildings. Come during the winter months and enjoy a beautiful winter wonderland.

The city of Chelan is located at the edge of the Cascade Mountains on the shore of beautiful Lake Chelan in North Central Washington. Our small city has a population of approximately 4,000 residents, which gives Chelan a very hometown feel. Many of our visitors make it a family tradition to visit Chelan every year to reconnect with their loved ones in this special place.

What To Do in Chelan

Though our population is small, our community has made many efforts to make Chelan a true vacation destination. You will find Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and other popular chains here, but what really sets us apart are the unique local businesses. These are the places you want to visit. Many of our business and restaurant owners are also artisans, whose passion for their craft is visible in their work. This includes the winemakers, the bakers, the cheese makers, the fine artists, the boutique owners, and many others.

If you want to do some shopping while in Chelan, we recommend you visit the Chamber of Commerce website. Here you will find a list of all the town’s stores from antique shops to the country markets.

Part of a vacation is discovering great places to eat, and Chelan has many. Many of the wineries have their own restaurants or bistros, where the professionally trained chefs create food masterpieces that pair perfectly with their wines. We also have a handful of unique pizza places, cafes, and bars. We even have historic restaurants that have been around for 60 years like the Apple Cup Cafe, Alpenhorn Cafe, and our famous Lakeview Drive In. If you need some help picking a place to eat, check out our Dining Page.

History of Chelan

The first people in the Chelan area were the Wenatchee tribe. In 1855, the Wenatchee chief Tecolekun and other Native American leaders signed the Yakima Treaty at the Walla Walla Council, which took away much of their land in exchange for cash and other incentives. Almost immediately after the treaties were signed, war broke out between the Native Americans and American soldiers. In the 1870’s, Lt. Colonel Henry Clay Merriam established Camp Chelan at the foot of Lake Chelan to control and safeguard the Native American population. After this, white settlers began to make a home in Chelan.

As with the rest of Washington, growth and development of Chelan came with the arrival of the railroad. The town was then mapped out and plots were sold quickly. A post office was established in 1890 and then a school was built in 1892. This was followed by the first resort hotel, taking advantage of the area’s natural beauty.

As they say, “the rest is history.” Chelan grew as an agricultural center and resort community, which it remains to this day. We still have many of our historic buildings like St. Andrews Episcopal Church, an 1890s log church that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Other historic places include the Ruby Theater, the Old Chelan Schoolhouse, The Chelan Hotel, and many others.