5 Family Friendly Day Trips from Seattle

You and your family are in Seattle, WA for a long weekend. What do you see? Where do you go? Mountain? Valley? The Sea!? Here are our Top 5 Family Friendly Day Trips from Seattle.

sjsafaris_050516_0012#1 San Juan Island – 90 miles Northwest of Seattle

Considered the jewel of the Pacific Northwest, the San Juan Island Archipelago is located just 90 miles northwest of Seattle. The San Juans are called “Nature’s Theme Park” for a reason; there is no shortage of family friendly activities in the San Juans’ four main islands. Whale watch, sea kayak, tide pool, or hike! The San Juan Island Visitor’s Bureau makes it easy and has many family friendly itineraries to enjoy.

  • Fly from Seattle directly to San Juan Island on a Kenmore Air seaplane for an afternoon of whale watching in the San Juan Islands with the Whale Plane Tour. You’ll have time to explore the quaint seaside town of Friday Harbor before joining San Juan Safaris on a 3-hour whale watch and wildlife vessel tour. Don’t miss visiting the Whale Museum!
  • Family-specific guided sea kayak tours are a great way to introduce kids as young as 6 years old  to the Salish Sea marine environment. Professional naturalist guides with exceptional safety training keep you comfortable and informed on the water. Hold starfish and jellyfish, or have the chance to sample Puget Sound’s lettuce, also known as bull kelp.  No previous experience required!
  • Hike Mount Grant – Mt. Grant is San Juan Island’s newest hiking destination and over looks Haro Strait and the waterways surrounding the San Juan Islands. Plan this adventure for a clear day to increase your odds of seeing some of Washington State’s volcanic peaks including Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier. Because this property is a “park in the making” the trail is an easy two-mile round trip hike on paved roads.

tulips#2 Mt. Vernon– 60 miles North of Seattle

Located at the center of Skagit Valley, Mt. Vernon is a slice of small town heaven.  Some of Western Washington’s most scenic and pristine landscape is in this fertile swath of rolling farmlands and fields.

  • Every spring, Skagit Valley erupts in brightly colored tulips during the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. In addition to two main display gardens, there are many fields located directly off the country roads. Dress for the weather, wear boots to explore the muddy fields, and don’t forget your camera. The tulip fields are a great backdrop for those holiday cards.
  • Padilla Bay Reserve is a National Estuarine Research Reserve System, established to protect coastal areas for long-term research, and education, and stewardship. The Shoreline Trail  is an easy 2.25 mile trail suitable for large-wheeled strollers and bikes. Be sure to browse through the Salish Sea exhibit in Breazeale Interpretive Center, located near the Shoreline Trail trail head.
  • Located just 10 minutes east of Mt. Vernon is the historic town of La Conner. Considered one of Washington’s most treasured historic communities, La Conner continues to honor a way of life that was begun by early settlers. Kids will have fun exploring historic turn-of-the-century buildings located throughout the town.

Washington State Ferry to Port Townsend#3 Port Townsend – 40 miles Northwest of Seattle

Located the Olympic Peninsula, Port Townsend is considered the starting location for adventures in the Olympic National Park. The city is known for its Victorian buildings and historic charm.

  • If your children love boats, then the place to visit is Northwest Maritime Center. Located on the waterfront, this museum houses the Center for Wooden Boats, and offers a hands-on exhibits and live demonstrations of boat builders in action.
  • Marine Science Center’s mission is to inspire conservation of the Salish Sea. Budding young scientist will love learning about the Puget Sound through interactive exhibits with touch tanks and microscopes. In the summer, join the Center for their free Oceanography on the Dock walks. All ages welcome!
  • Nestled between downtown Port Townsend and Fort Worden State Park is Chetzemoka Park. This city park is a relatively unknown gem and offers great views of the Cascade Mountain Range and has beach access to tide pools and rocky shoreline. There is a play structure, picnic area, and a secret waterfall. Kids will have a blast turning over rocks on the beach in search of intertidal zone creatures.

 Deception Pass State Park is great for families with small kids#4 Whidbey Island – 40 miles northwest of Seattle

This rural island can be reached by both car or Washington State Ferry. Choose your own adventure to get to Whidbey Island!

  • Deception Pass State Park spreads over 4,000 acres and is a marine and camping park with 77,000 feet of saltwater shoreline. Families can rent small watercraft to be used in the parks three freshwater lakes. Deception Pass Bridge connects Western Washington’s mainland with Whidbey island, creating a gateway for exploration.
  • Founded in the 1960, Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens is 53 acres of woodland gardens and a forest preserve. Explore any of the four miles of trails with your kids. Pets are welcome if leashed, and a portion of the trails is suitable for strollers. Children can enroll in the garden’s science-based programs for a hands-on Botany Adventure Tour.
  • Fort Casey Historical State Park is a marine camping state park with expansive views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Admiralty Inlet. Interpretive exhibits are located at the Admiralty Head Lighthouse, and volunteers lead guided tours for families of the gun batteries of Fort Casey State Park. The Park also has a parade field popular for kit flying.

Mt. Rainier is a great family friendly adventure#5 Mount Rainier National Park – Located 100 miles Southeast of Seattle

Mt. Rainier is the most well-known visitor destination in Washington State and is only 2-3 hours from Seattle. The park is nearly a quarter million acres…your family will never run out of family-friendly activities to explore!

  • There not a kid in the world that doesn’t love trails! That’s what the Mt. Rainier Railroad boast, and we must agree. Experience Mt. Rainier from the inside of a historic train car, complete with restrooms and a snack bar. It’s fun, and has a lot of space for children to move around and explore. Conductors also give history lessons of the area. Give your kids a treat and take them on the Mt. Rainier Railroad.
  • Known for some of the best winter skiing and snowboarding in the Pacific Northwest, Crystal Mountain Resort offers families great kid-friendly summer activities. Completed in 2011, the new Mt. Rainier Gondola will whisk you and your family to the nearly 7,000 ft. summit of Crystal Mountain. There, you’ll have the options to hike, explore, or sit and have lunch while viewing the Cascade Mountain Range and Mt. Rainier. Open year-round!
  • Mount Rainier National Park started a Junior Ranger Program in 2010, which offers guided kid-friendly tours of Mt. Rainier from Sunrise and Paradise. Many of the trails are two miles or less and accessible for strollers. Families and children are welcome to join any guided Mt. Rainier ranger tour!