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Yes, Virgina, there is a lot to love about winter!

While one person I know quipped, “Don’t you mean four OR five things to love about winter?” there is much more to love if you just know where to look. Here’s a list of wintertime activities sure to warm your heart – or get your heart pumping. Grab a cup of cocoa, maybe from our No. 1 Winter pick, Chocolate Necessities in Bellingham, and read on for more great ideas.

1. Hot chocolate from Chocolate Necessities –
You’ve probably already heard tell of, or tried, one of the delectable hand-made truffles from Chocolate Necessities in Bellingham, but did you know that you could be sipping chocolate instead? Using a molten Italian drinking chocolate – not syrup – and real milk, this drink takes hot chocolate to a whole new level.

2. Snowboarding at Mount Baker –
Often considered the birthplace of snowboarding, you’ll find plenty of room to shred with like-minded boarders on this mountain. Or, just come for the fun of it and watch the pros at the Mount Baker Legendary Banked Slalom event in February.

3. Winter brew from Skagit River Brewery in Mount Vernon –  The Trumpeter Stout is a “Big Bird” by any measure! The brewery boasts this year’s Trumpeter is a “huge beer with rich layers of smoke, chocolate, roast, caramel, jet fuel, motor oil and hops.” Stop in a sip one for yourself or grab a growler for the weekend.

4. Rain

5. Fuzzy socks at ModSock in Bellingham –
This locally owned store is fully devoted to fun, funky and functional socks. After opening its doors in downtown Bellingham in December 2011, this place quickly became the place for all your vibrantly colored, comfy, cozy sock needs.

6. Comfort food from the Iron Skillet in Sedro -Woolley – Breakfast is where it’s at when dining at the Iron Skillet. Dig in to a heaping serving of Biscuits & Gravy or a hearty helping of Eggs Benedict. The home style cooking and down-home atmosphere make you feel right at home – minus the pajamas.

7. Gathering around the fire

8. Tubing at Manning Park Resort in Canada – Enjoy a day of tubing in the Polar Coaster tube park at Manning Provincial Park in British Columbia. Beginner and advanced runs, and lift service, are provided – tube down and ride up! A 2.5-hour drive from Bellingham, make a weekend of it and stay in one of the resort’s rooms, cabins or chalets. Skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating are among the other wintertime activities offered here.

9. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

10. Traveling to sunnier destinations is easy with Allegiant Airlines destinations to SoCal and Arizona. Hop aboard a plane and you can be enjoying the warm sun in just hours!

11. Baking cookies –
If the holidays put you in the mood for baking, check out NorthSoundLife.com for some holiday cookie recipes.

12. Escaping the rain at the FIG –
Interactive Gallery at the Whatcom Museum for the uninitiated. The FIG features interactive exhibits where little minds can create and explore as well as an art studio to create their own museum-quality works!

14. Sweaters

15. Hot stone massage at the Watergrass Day Spa in La Conner – Give yourself 90 minutes of hot stone bliss at this gem of a day spa; it’s the perfect winter warmer.

16. Holiday shopping 

17. Holiday lights at the Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach in Stanwood – Victorian carolers, a Polar Express train, delectable snacks (including terribly tantalizing fresh, hot mini-donuts), and adorable holiday gift shops are just a few of the things you will find while wandering around to take in the displays of more than 1 million Christmas lights spread over 15 acres at the Lights of Christmas. During 22 days in December, visit Warm Beach in Stanwood to enjoy the holiday cheer and don’t forget to bring the kids for a visit with Santa Claus or Bruce the Spruce, the talking Christmas tree.

18. Egg Nog –
Made fresh at Twin Brook Creamery in Lynden, this seasonal delight is available at markets and grocery stores throughout Whatcom and Skagit counties.

19. Playing dreidel

20. Snowshoeing on Mount Baker –
A new two mile snowshoe route near the Mount Baker Ski area allows snowshoers to enjoy this new loop that starts at White Salmon Road. This is the second new route to open from White Salmon Road in the last year, guaranteeing more trail space for eager outdoor enthusiasts.

21. Hot baths with Bathtub Tea from Paper Dreams in Fairhaven –
This nifty invention combines herbs and essential oils into a “tea bag” so you can enjoy the benefits of an herbal bath without the mess. Comes in four “flavors” – Clarity, Healing, Refresh and Relax.

22. Catching a movie at your local independent theater.
We in the North Sound are fortunate to have two great independent theaters – the Pickford in Bellingham and the Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon – showing quirky, thought-provoking and decidedly not main-stream fi lms as well as simulcasting live opera and dance events.

23. Hot Toddies

24. Snowmobiling at Mountain Spring Lodge –
Snowmobiling guided tours at Mountain Springs Lodge in Leavenworth offer a unique and exhilarating experience with breathtaking scenery through the Cascades. These tours provide everything from the snowmobiles and tour guide to the cold weather clothing and helmets, with trails for both the beginner and expert.

25. Holiday bazaars

26. Hot shaves –
They aren’t a thing of the past, they’re alive and well at V’s Barbershop in Bellingham. Relax with a steaming hot towel around your neck – there’s nothing better to take the chill away, and you come away looking sharp.
27. Soup from The Soup Bowl in Mount Vernon 
Seven different homemade soups are featured each day, along with hot sandwiches and fresh salads. Lunchtime has never been so satisfying.

28. Sitting in the sauna at Internal Harmony in Bellingham – Nothing warms your from the inside out like an infrared sauna, and Internal Harmony offers this service. Far infrared technology is shown to aid in weight loss and detoxification, support cardiovascular health and promote healing from injuries. And, it just feels fabulous on a damp winter’s day.

29. Football

30. Lighted Christmas Tree Parade in Lynden – This perennial favorite, in its 22nd year, features a dazzling display of lighted trucks, cars, fl oats, wagons, farm equipment and more, winding its way through the main streets of Lynden. Local merchants get in on the act as well, with unique light displays and decorated storefronts. This year’s parade takes place Dec. 1.

31. Snow angels

32. Skiing at Whistler – With a world class skiing venue practically in our back yard – and an average of 469 inches of snow a year – it’s no wonder Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia keeps drawing skiers north.

33. New Year’s Eve at the Best Western Lakeway Inn – Dance the night away as SpaceBand plays chart-topping tunes from the ’80s, ’90s and today. Party favors and Champagne help ring in the New Year. And with comfy hotel rooms upstairs, there’s no reason to go home.

34. Coffee from The Black Drop in Bellingham  The Black Drop supplies coffee connoisseurs sublime espresso drinks and tasty baked goods set in a fun and funky shop near the museum district in downtown Bellingham. Stop by for Free Doppio Friday – they’re so sure you’ll love their espresso that you’ll be back again and again.

35. Ice skating at Robson Square in Vancouver, B.C. – For an outdoor skating experience, grab your skates and head north to Robson Square in downtown Vancouver. The ice rink here is a sunken, open-air ice rink with a cover to keep out the elements. If you don’t have your own skates, not to worry, rentals are available.

36. Tea from the Spice Hut in Bellingham – If you’re not familiar with the Spice Hut, don’t let the name fool you – there’s plenty of tea to be had at this shop that’s been dubbed 2011 Best Tea House in Western Washington by KING5 viewers. With a selection of more than 200 premium loose-leaf teas, it’s no wonder.

37. White elephant gift exchanges with gifts from Creswell Boggs in Bellingham – Every guest will want to “steal” the gift you bought at Creswell Boggs. From truly tasteful to just-a-touch tacky, you’ll find delightful gifts for $10 or less.

38. Puddle jumping

39. Christmas carols – Hear some of the region’s finest voices as the Skagit Valley Chorale presents Heralding Christmas on Dec. 15 and 16 at McIntyre Hall. This festive Christmas concert features selections, including J.S.Bach’s Christmas Day Cantata, BWV 191 “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” “Sing We Now at Christmas” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

40. Knitting – Wear on Earth in Lynden is one of our favorite places for fi nding unique yarns and other knitting supplies perfect for making a cozy hat or scarf to keep out the winter chill. Wear on Earth is also a consignment store, so you may be able to pick up a cute new outfit to accompany your knitted accessories.

41. Dark, stormy nights

42. Gingerbread houses – Not only are they fun to decorate and eat (!), gingerbread houses have become the centerpiece of the Port of Bellingham’s holiday festival, this year from Dec. 7-9. Come to the Bellingham Cruise Terminal to see the gingerbread house contest entries and vote for your favorite.

43. Movie marathon hibernation with videos from Film is Truth in Bellingham – Snuggling up on the couch in your PJ’s with a loved one and a bowl of popcorn can make the perfect night in. Browse the selection at Film is Truth, select a few of your favorites, and prepare yourself for hours of cozy indoor bliss.

44. The Nutcracker by Northwest Ballet Theater – Catch this holiday classic performed by the Northwest Ballet Theater at two regional venues: McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon or Mount Baker Theatre in Bellingham.

45. Winter festivals – The Bavarian Ice Festival in Leavenworth takes place in January, and is a breathtaking display of the romantic Bavarian atmosphere the town is known for. Along with the snow-bedecked beauty, this festival includes many activities and must-see sights, including snow sculptures, sleigh rides, a game of tug o’ war, an ice cube scramble for kids six and under, fireworks and Leavenworth’s famous Smooshing Contest: a race quite unique to this festival.