Get Out There! Top Outdoor Adventures for Seattle Kids and Families

Published on: December 20, 2013

It pays to play outside. Research shows that kids and families who unplug and spend time in nature have less stress and perform better in other aspects of their lives.

And of course, there's no better place to play outside than the Pacific Northwest, home to stunning mountains, rivers, national parks, beaches, and wonderful urban nature adventures, too. Here are top outdoor adventures for spring and summer in the Northwest.

1. Investigate winter

Excavate toy treasures, make artistic ice, go a baked-potato walk, draw winter trees: Ingenious ideas for luring the kids outside.

Investigate winter

2. Go snowshoeing

It's the anti-schlep winter fun solution. Rentals are cheap, you can snowshoe in even cruddy conditions, and you might even get a conversation in with your adrenaline-charged teen. Here's where to go and how to prepare.


3. Pet a big rock

Take a field trip to meet some of the biggest, most fascinating boulders in the Seattle area — glacial erratics. Kids can climb, play and get a lesson in Pacific Northwest history and geology at the same time.


 Pet a big rock
Take a hike

4. Take a hike

Mix up a thermos of hot cocoa, grab your mittens and head for one of these 10 hikes with an indoor option, or a secret urban hike in Seattle. Need tips on gear, or motivating the kids? Read Hiker Mama's winter hiking tips.



5. Capture it

Want to get better at capturing your outdoor adventures? Check out one of our most popular articles from 2013, 11 tips for making your smartphone camera the only camera you need. Don't forget to enter our Kids in Nature photo contest!

Capture it



Rain art

6. Do rain art

A five-minute activity for those drip-drip-drip days. Place dots of food coloring or bits of powdered paint onto pieces of paper and set outside. Watch as rain drops splatter into a colorful work of



7. Connect to nature indoors

Want to touch a sea creature, get eye to eye with a butterfly or just sniff a few flowers, here are our six picks for indoor nature-and-animal fun in Puget Sound.

Nature indoors

nature tip birding

8. Find nature in your backyard

Winter is an ideal time to connect with the feathered wildlife outside your window. Set up a feeder, put up your Audubon poster on the fridge door and get ready to learn.



9. Find a new park

From a hidden gorge in the middle of the city, to a stunningly wild Japanese garden, here are seven hidden-gem parks to explore. Next, try one of these nine secret urban hikes.

Find a new park



10. See elk up close

When the snow falls in the eastern foothills of the Cascades, the Oak Creek Wildlife Area near Yakima is a refuge for wintering herds of elk and bighorn sheep. Visit two feeding stations to see them up clos


11. Stormwatch

This is a top five Northwest winter adventure: book a cozy coastal cabin and watch the storms roll in and out, learning something about the weather in the meantime. 



12. It's all downhill

Grab your tubes and sleds and go sledding at one of these super spots. Hint: Mount Rainier Snow Play area opens on Jan. 18.


13. Half camp

Now that local campgrounds boast yurts, platform tents, and even shipping containers to stay in (many complete with hardwood floors and heaters), the camping averse have no excuse. Check out (and book) one of these rustic retreats.

Half camp - yurting
Play with rain 14. Experiment with rain

If you can't beat the drip drip, why not use it to fuel some basic physics experiments outside? With some simple materials, kids can measure rainfall, add food coloring, direct the drip -- the possibilities are endless.


15. Make tracks

Cross-country skiing is (relatively) cheap and close, easy for kids to pick up and exhilarating. And talk about tired-out kids


Make tracks

 Give back

16. Give back

Make a difference and have fun getting dirty by pulling weeds and planting native plants at one of these National Day of Service events.





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