Deception Pass State Park is a great day or weekend destination for a trip with kids.
With nearly 4,000 acres and more than 70,000 feet of saltwater shoreline, plus lakes, forests and more, you’ll appreciate the change of scenery and you won’t get bored.
Here are five great things to do:
Go take a hike. Of course! There are almost 40 miles of hiking trails in Deception Pass State Park, plus some for mountain bikes, some for horses, and some ADA-accessible. Walk through a forest, along a beach or through sand dunes. The Sand Dunes Interpretive Trail at West Beach features signs (made by local students) explaining the unique vegetation.
Learn some history. The Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built some park facilities, notably at the beautiful Bowman Bay. There’s an interpretive center (closed at the moment) where you can learn more.
Look up. On many days, you’ll see military planes from nearby Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. Noise pollution or “the sound of freedom”? It’s a local debate.
Look out to sea. The park is along the Whale Trail, and there’s also a chance to see seals (not to mention interesting boats.)
Look for Sasquatch. The Bigfoot vibe is alive and well here, as in much of the state. Study up on the phenomenon and give kids something (someone?) to look for.
Walk across the bridge (or don’t). Everybody does this, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea. The views are spectacular, yes, but the sidewalk is narrow and, in fact, the entire bridge is narrow so it can be a loud, crowded, hazardous-feeling experience (not to mention the challenge of social distancing). Definitely wouldn’t recommend for the littlest kids. There are great views to be had from many other vantage points. We had a lot more fun walking across the Highway 520 floating bridge a while back.
Update, May 1, 2021: The parking lot south of the bridge is closed through early 2022 as construction work goes on. People wanting to walk across the bridge should park at Bowman Bay on the north side of the park, or in the beach access parking lots on the south side of the bridge. (Here’s a map.)
Deception Pass State Park with kids:
Getting there: It’s about 90 miles from Seattle, so roughly a 90-minute drive if traffic cooperates. Definitely do-able as a day trip. One fun idea: Drive up there, taking Interstate 5 to Highway 20, then for the return trip, cruise the length of Whidbey Island and come home via ferry from Clinton to Mukilteo.
If you want to stay: It might not be easy to get camping (or cabin) reservations at the state’s most visited state park, so plan early. My family used a cute Airbnb rental, and the communities of Anacortes, La Conner and Mount Vernon are not far.
Originally published Jan. 29, 2021