Just because it's not summer doesn't mean you can't do an outdoor getaway! You might even find the cooler fall weather makes toasted s'mores eaten around a roaring campfire all the more enticing. Veer off the beaten path when you book one of these affordable and amazing rustic retreats, perfect for families.
1. Cabins at Wallace Falls State Park, Gold Bar
How do you like the idea of taking a morning walk to a 265-foot plunging waterfall? After a night in one of the cozy private cabins at Wallace Falls State Park, you can do just that. The cabins are nestled within the park’s 4,735 lush acres of forest along the shores of the Wallace River. Each cabin has electric heat and light, and locking doors. Inside are bunk beds that sleep three and a full-size futon bed for two.
Outside is a 6-foot-long covered front porch, picnic table, firepit and barbecue stand. The park has trails for every hiker — flat interpretive nature trails through woodland, short trails to three waterfalls, and a longer, more challenging trail to Wallace Lake that was built by teenagers through the Washington Trails Association.
Details: Reserve the cabins year-round online. As many as five people per cabin; pets are allowed in two of the cabins for a $15 fee per night.
2. Platform tents at Dosewallips State Park, Brinnon
Imagine you are a family of early pioneers camped near the shores of Hood Canal while staying in one of the white canvas wooden platform tents at Dosewallips State Park. Dosewallips is a favorite park for families with small children because of its variety of both forested trails and saltwater beaches. The modern platform tents set in a maple forest are 14- by 16 feet inside and comfortably sleep five people. Each tent has a bunk that sleeps three, a futon for two, electric lights, a table and a heater.
Outside, you’ll enjoy a deck, picnic table, fire grill and utility hookup. Walk to shared bathrooms and showers nearby. You’ll need to bring your own bed linens for the platform tents, as well as extra blankets and clothes in autumn for the cool evenings.
Details: Reserve the platform tents year-round online. The tents accommodate as many as five people. Dosewallips State Park also rents three cabins and one rustic bunkhouse. Pets are allowed in one of the platform tents for a $15 fee per night.
3. Cabins at Kitsap Memorial State Park, Hood Canal near Poulsbo
This small park is just 58 acres in size, but it has big views of Hood Canal and about 1,800 feet of shoreline to explore. One of these cute cabins at Kitsap Memorial State Park would make a nice base for visiting the “Little Norway” town of Poulsbo, just a few miles to the south. Small kids will love the park’s grassy playfields and playground equipment. Parents will love a romantic stroll on the beach while the kids look for starfish in tide pools.
The cabins at Kitsap Memorial are a little less rustic that other state park rentals because they include kitchenettes with mini refrigerators and microwaves. The cabins are cozy (13 by 13 feet) and are simply furnished with a bunk bed that sleeps three and a futon that sleeps two. Enjoy electric heat and lights. Each cabin is accessible to people with disabilities. Bathrooms and showers are a short walk away. A firepit and picnic table are just outside your door. Bring extra blankets to stay warm while lounging outside.
Details: Reserve a cabin online. Cabins accommodate as many as five people.
4. Yurts at Pacific Beach State Park, Washington Coast
Pacific Beach State Park is on North Beach, a remote stretch of beach north of Ocean Shores that’s popular for razor clamming, beachcombing, flying kites and storm watching. No one wants to watch a storm from their tent, but the yurts at Pacific Beach provide a perfect refuge on blustery days. Located within walking distance of the beach, the yurts are 16 feet in diameter and simply furnished with bunk beds that sleep three, a full-size futon and a small end table. Each yurt furnishes one overhead light, a heater and an electrical outlet so you could bring your own small lamp for softer lighting in the evening.
Outside you’ll find a picnic table and small covered porch. Both the yurts and nearby bathrooms are accessible to those with disabilities.
Details: Reserve online.
5. Shipping container at Tolt MacDonald Park, Carnation
Kids will love sleeping in a shipping container turned camping vessel set on the shores of the Tolt and Snoqualmie rivers in Carnation. This unique camping option features a full-size bunk bed, table and multipurpose cabinet made from reclaimed materials. Other signs of sustainability include used soccer goals that were converted into a green wall, and an old door that is now the kitchen table.
Details: For more information visit Tolt MacDonald Park online.
Note: This article was first written in 2012 and updated in 2021.