Traveling with kids can be hard but road trips can be some of the most memorable times in a child’s life and heck, they are pretty fun for the whole family too.
Living in the Pacific Northwest means that we have tons of awesome road trip destinations just a hop, skip and a jump away from Seattle. Seattle’s Child has gathered our five-favorite child-friendly road trip destinations, just under three hours from Seattle.
Pack up the kiddos, stock the car with some snacks, zoom kits, a family music playlist and hit the road for some unforgettable good times.
(PHOTO: SUNCADIA RESORT/REBECCA MONGRAIN)
Suncadia has everything for the perfect road trip destination. It’s a short 90-minute drive from Seattle so your back-seat drivers won’t have time to get restless and if they do, there are plenty of awesome places to stop and explore along the way. The resort is affordable, great for children and full of activities.
Suncadia Resort features over 6,000 acres of forested mountain landscape with loads of year-round activities from hiking to biking, an indoor and outdoor pool along with waterslides and Campcadia, a day camp and activity center just for kids. The Kids Rule! Package provides kids age 12 and under free biking, free meals, free golf and a free session at Campcadia. Sounds like a pretty good deal for the entire family!
Enjoy the new Barnyard BBQ at Nelson Farm – Every Saturday through Sept. 3. Then dance the night away to the sounds of live music while the kids enjoy their own entertainment area and goodie bags with pint-size treats.
Port Gamble/Kitsap Peninsula
(PHOTO: PORT GAMBLE/REBECCA MONGRAIN)
Port Gamble is ideal for a day road trip or can be stretched into a longer vacation to the Kitsap Peninsula. Located just 6 miles from Kingston, this historic waterfront town is a fun afternoon road trip.
Founded in 1853 by timber entrepreneurs, Port Gamble has retained its character and much of the original architecture. For those older kids intrigued by paranormal activity, Port Gamble is the place to visit. Rumors of ghost-like activities inside the homes by ghosts of former residents keep paranormal investigators busy with lots of ghost walks and even a ghost conference.
The historical Port Gamble General Store located in the center of town is both a cafe and a retail store full of ice cream, fun candy, delightful pastries and slow-cooked, home style food. Make sure to stop in to refuel your crew!
The Port Gamble Playground is a perfect place to get the wiggles out. The playground features five slides, swings, a playhouse and picnic tables. This is the ideal place to take a break from exploring Port Gamble. For the more adventuresome ones, check out the Olympic Outdoor Center which can provide you with everything you need for kayak rental, mountain bike ride and loads of other outdoor gear.
If you have a few extra days, take some time to explore the small towns along the Kitsap Peninsula. Pack up your camping gear and head to Kitsap Memorial State Park for a few nights in the tent and some fantastic hiking trails.
You’ll find some of the most impressive wilderness on the Olympic Peninsula. Head straight to the Olympic National Park and the Hoh Rain Forest for explosive wonder. The Hoh receives over 170 inches of rain annually and is home to the largest old-growth stands in the northern hemisphere. The .8-mile interpretive Hall of Mosses trail provides views of draping club moss, lichen, and Sitka spruce. Head out on the slightly longer 1.2-mile Spruce Nature Trail for views of the Hoh River.
Located at the foothills of the Olympics is Lake Crescent, just off Highway 101. You’ll find this a relaxing stop on your road trip with lots of picnicking, boating, swimming, hiking and fishing to be done. Canoes and rowboats can be rented along the shore.
The Olympic Peninsula features one of the longest natural sand spits in the world at Dungeness Spit. From beachcombing to bird watching and the potential to see an orca whale, the Dungeness Spit is not to be missed. The Dungeness Lighthouse allows visitors to be lighthouse keepers which is sure to delight the little ones. The Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for migrating shorebirds, fish, seals and many other creatures.
No road trip along the Olympic Peninsula is complete without a visit to the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. The three natural thermal pools and a freshwater pool are sure to provide plenty of restoration after all the hiking and exploration the Olympic Peninsula has to offer.
Leavenworth/Lake Chelan Area
Over the mountains, about two hours east of Seattle is the wonderful faux Bavarian village of Leavenworth. Weekends are packed with fun all year round with lots of activities for the smaller set.
This small town is bursting with fun activities from hikes to festivals and the Nutcracker Museum. The Icicle Junction Activities Center offers tons of family fun activities from Bavarian mini golf to arcade games and movies. Should you decide to stay the night, it doesn’t get more kid-friendly than The Best Western Icicle Inn Resort. The hotel has family-friendly rooms along with a miniature golf course, an enclosed pool, and an arcade. The delicious breakfast buffet will feed your hungry brood with ease.
Continue past Leavenworth to Lake Chelan where families can water ski, hit up Slidewaters Waterpark and set out on amazing hikes. With over 25 miles of different hiking trails at The Echo Ridge Summer Trails location, families are sure to find a perfect hike. Slidewaters Waterpark has a Lazy River which provides laid-back floating and a Corkscrew Waterslide with multiple 360 degree turns and a big splash into the pool below.
(PHOTO: VANCOUVER BEACH/REBECCA MONGRAIN)
It’s often amazing to realize that Canada is only a short 2 1/2 hours away and provides mountains of fun. The drive to Vancouver can’t be beat and if you want to take a slightly longer way, a detour along Chuckanut Drive provides endless entertainment. Make sure to stop by Taylor Shellfish Farms to see the oyster beds and buy some fresh seafood from their retail shop. Make a pit stop in Fairhaven, outside of Bellingham for a quick exploration of the historic district’s Victorian era architecture and history.
Head north to Vancouver for more road trip fun. The kids will love Stanley Park and a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium can’t be missed. Fans of Raffi’s Baby Beluga song will be overjoyed to see Belugas in real life. Walk along the seawall at Stanley Park or play on one of their many playgrounds.
Granville Island is the perfect family destination. What used to be an industrial wasteland has been transformed into a bustling location with free live entertainment, decadent treats, a public market, a kid’s market and a water park.
Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park might be a bit too scary for the younger kids but teens and older kids will love making their way across the suspension bridge which hangs 230 feet in the air. The views make the heart-racing journey worth it.
Space junkies will delight in a visit to the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. The family-fun learning experience has astronomy shows under a domed Planetarium theatre, live interactive science demonstrations at Ground Station Canada and hands-on exhibits in the Cosmic Courtyard.