The Pacific Northwest is well known for its range of tourist attractions and outdoor recreation, and Washington State is no exception. However, enjoying all these destinations becomes something else if you're a parent in Seattle are who's trying to plan a fast family-friendly getaway. Once, wine tasting your way across the Skagit area was a great way to spend a day. But now that you've got tiny creatures to take care of, you're actually trying to minimize all the whining.
While entire weekend getaways are easier to plan given all the options overnighting allows, planning something you can do in a day takes serious work. This being the case, we've come up with this handy travel guide to help you save time and get where you're going faster.
5 Family-Friendly Day Trips from Seattle
1. Bainbridge Island
This tiny city is located right across the Puget Sound from downtown Seattle. In addition to an art and history museum, the island has fun features like natural areas, a small stone labyrinth, and for hardworking parents, a distillery with a tasting room. The island can be reached by way of a ferry ride, which kids will obviously love. What's more, the island is a great place to catch guided tours when whale watching comes into play. Of course, there's always the chance of an orca sighting from the island's breathtaking Bloedel Reserve, so save yourself some cash for ice cream if you can.
2. Point Defiance
Located just north of central Tacoma, this tiny peninsula has quite a few activities to choose from, all of which are family-approved. Attractions include things like the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, beaches, parks, a very tall set of stairs and slides, a rhododendron garden... you get the idea. If you're feeling extra adventurous, you could also take the ferry to Vashon Island just across the way.
3. The San Juan Islands
Since this archipelago thrives on tourism, you can be sure to find something to do on one of its many islands. While this primarily consists of parks, farms, other serene scenic attractions, some museums, and at least one ziplining place. Since there's more to do between all the islands than we can list here, we'll leave it up to you to lead the research effort.
And, as ever, if you've still got some wind left in your sail, you could always take the ferry a little further and head into Canada to enjoy lunch or dinner in the city of Victoria.
4. State and National Parks
There are many national forests, state parks, and other outdoor areas surrounding the Seattle region. They are often built up with families in mind. They feature fun attractions like visitor centers, gift shops, and other kid-friendly outlets.
While Mount St. Helens is further than you'll want to drive if you're just taking a day trip, Mt. Rainier is only a little over 100 miles away, making it a perfect way to slay a whole day. Mount Rainier National Park and many other nearby outdoor recreation areas are loaded with kayaking and rafting opportunities, not to mention fun hiking trails that lead through old-growth forests and wildflower patches to some of the most beautiful views you've ever seen.
Other parks, forests, and outdoor areas you might consider include:
- North Cascades National Park
- Diablo Lake
- Olympic National Park
- Lake Chelan National Recreation Area
Family-Friendly Winter Day Trips from Seattle
Nestled in between the towering spires of the Cascade Mountains, you'll find this enchanting small town. Leavenworth was modeled after Bavarian-style villages and had a gingerbread look that kids are sure to appreciate. And, when cold weather comes, this tiny gem becomes a real Winter wonderland full of sled, ski, and snowshoe opportunities.
If you've already made the two-hour drive out, you could even go a little further to the city of Wenatchee, which is billed by some as the "Apple Capital of the World" due to its extensive collection of apple orchards.
Who Didn't Make the Cut?
This is a list of the five best day trips to take from the Seattle area. There's no way to squeeze in every possibility. Only the best for our readers! For instance, we'd love to convince you to visit the Snoqualmie Falls area, as it is featured in the show "Twin Peaks." But when it comes down to it, "Twin Peaks" is definitely not kid material, and there's not much in the area that appeals to youngins, even if it is family-friendly enough.
Meanwhile, apparent targets like the Space Needle didn't make it because, duh, we're talking about trips outside the city. Elsewhere, although the metropolitan area of Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, WA can be reached in a day, it's not as if that landlocked region has much to offer that Seattle doesn't.
Have any favorite family-friendly destinations in the Seattle area? Let readers know what's good on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!