The Spring Fling List: Nearby day trips and getaways for cooped-up kids
Do you hear that thrumming sound? That just might be the open road calling you! We hope that by spring 2021, you can gas up the family rig and pick any one of these day-trip destinations for a much-needed — and safe — change of pace and scenery.
Anacortes: This historic ferry town isn’t just a stop on the way to the San Juan Islands. Soak in views at Washington Park; visit the W.T. Preston, a stern-wheeler snag boat that used to run on the Skagit River; and enjoy not getting on a ferry. Stop at the stunning Deception Pass Bridge on the way there or back.
Bellingham: Explore cool STEM museums, such as the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention and Mindport Exhibits; walk the boardwalk over Bellingham Bay; and ride mountain bikes at Larrabee State Park. Then claim your reward — a cone at one of the best ice creameries in Washington state: Mallard.
Camano Island: Another “island” you can drive to, Camano’s star stop is Cama Beach Historical State Park, once a family resort, which rents out rustic cabins all year (book early). While away more beach hours at Cavalero Beach County Park or Camano Island State Park.
Camlann Medieval Village: The year is 1376. The town is Somersetshire, ancient realm of King Arthur. During a festival weekend, which are held from May through September, you can enthrall your kids with a visit to this living-history project near Carnation. Listen to minstrels, watch knightly combat, learn archery, visit the forge and eat medieval delicacies.
Don’t miss out on Duvall’s biggest summer draw, the SandBlast Festival, a destination in its own right. Held every year in July (though the event was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19), the festival showcases an international sand sculptor creating a work in real time, as well as live music and an arts fair.
Duvall: The starting point of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, Duvall has attained a rural yet artsy vibe — look for murals, metal art and totem poles — without feeling too upscale. Fuel up on wood-fired pizza from Red Pepper Pizzeria & Pasta, browse antique stores and have a rail-trail bike adventure.
Gig Harbor: Stunning scenery, awesome parks and free museums: Those are just a few of the attractions you’ll find in this South Sound town, just over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Peep at our perfect day-trip itinerary.
Harstine Island: Drive over the bridge to Harstine, located in south Puget Sound, and you’ll be transported back to a simpler time. Hike and beachcomb at Harstine Island State Park and Jarrell Cove State Park. Make a reservation to visit the Wild Felid Advocacy Center, an unusual sanctuary for big cats.
Mima Mounds: Are your kids into geology and mystery? Take them to the strange and beautiful Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve, a wonder of the South Sound area. Encompassing more than 600 acres of extremely rare prairie habitat, the preserve features 6- to 8-foot-high mounds that dot the landscape like oversize molehills. Visit in late spring to walk the stroller-accessible interpretive trails and enjoy the wildflowers in bloom, or in summer to spot butterflies.
Northwest Trek: Located in Eatonville, about 60 miles south of Seattle, Northwest Trek is an animal park known for its open spaces where native Northwest animals roam free in their natural habitat. Resident critters include bison, mountain goats, Roosevelt elk, moose, caribou, bighorn sheep and deer. While the excellent tram tour and the Kids’ Trek playground (one of the most adventurous romps in the Puget Sound area) were closed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 this spring, the park has debuted two new unique experiences, Wild Walk and Wild Drive, to restore access to the park for families.
Port Townsend: Grown-up pleasures in PT are many — the views and the Victorian homes, to name two. But the surefire hook for kids is that you can actually lock yourself in an old-time jail at the Jefferson Museum of Art and History, housed in the former city hall. Don’t miss a jaunt around Fort Worden State Park, a former military base that is home to abandoned bunkers, a plethora of well-kept walking paths, a field that’s fabulous for flying kites, a lower beach complete with a Marine Science Center, plus the picturesque Point Wilson Lighthouse.
Kitsap With Kids: 5 Charming Towns to Explore
Have you ever been on the ferry to Bainbridge Island or Kingston and wondered what lies within the green coves and inlets in the distance? It turns out there’s a treasure trove of historic towns dotting the meandering shoreline. Consult ParentMap contributor Jennifer Kakutani’s terrific guide to the Kitsap Peninsula to plan your day trip to gaze at a historic lighthouse, visit Chief Sealth’s gravesite, and behold the world’s largest private collection of seashells and so many more wonders.
Poulsbo: Where else can you find a 12-foot-tall Viking, a giant octopus sculpture and enormous doughnuts? Celebrate our region’s Scandinavian heritage with a trip to this Kitsap town, which is often called “Little Norway.” Touch sea stars at the free aquarium (the SEA Discovery Center), stroll the waterfront park and eat doughnuts or lefse at Sluys Poulsbo Bakery.
Roslyn: Once upon a coal mine, this town was booming. Next time you visit Suncadia, detour through Roslyn to see artifacts from the glory days when coal from these mines powered steam engines that crossed the Cascades (Roslyn Historical Museum). Grab coffee at the café made famous by the TV series “Northern Exposure” and walk along the Coal Mines Trail. Amble through the old cemetery, which has a larger population than the town and is divided by ethnic background.
Skagit Valley: Tiptoe through the tulips! Head north to behold acres of stunning flower fields at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
Snohomish: Want to pick pumpkins and apples at the same farm? Need a vintage typewriter or a 1950s-era school desk? Have a hankering for a slice of fresh, award-winning seasonal pie? Check, check and check: This historic town has got you covered.
Rev Your Engines! Does your kiddo have a passion for all things motorized? Almost every community hosts its own car celebration. Check out our hand-picked, kid-tested list of local attractions for car enthusiasts, young and old alike.
Tacoma: The “dusty old jewel in the south Puget Sound,” as singer-songwriter Neko Case puts it, is less gritty than it used to be and even more family-friendly. Race pinewood derby cars at LeMay – America’s Car Museum. Bike along Ruston Way before heading to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium to gawk at red wolves, walruses and sharks.
Westport: Get a taste of Washington’s coast (without driving forever) in Westport. Climb to the top of an observation tower or Washington state’s tallest lighthouse. Stop for fish and chips, fly a kite, dig up a clam or two and watch surfers chase waves.
Whidbey Island: This long, skinny island is home to stunning beaches and parks (Deception Pass State Park is a must), a lighthouse, military forts, charming towns and farm stands. There’s also the Blue Fox Drive-In Theater, an actual drive-in movie theater that also offers go-karts and an arcade.