13 Washington Spring Break Ideas for Families

Whether you plan to drive near or far, there’s a Washington State destination just right for your family spring break getaway.

Northwest Washington Family Spring Break Ideas

1. Bellingham. A sweet little city often overlooked by families motoring up I-5; the college town of Bellingham deserves it own multi-day stay. See my post on 20 Things to Do in Bellingham with Kids, go on a scenic drive (stop often for candy!) and play in the snow at Mt. Baker.

2. San Juan Islands. Go whale watching on the ferry ride, then arrive in the supercute village of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, where you’ll probably stay, unless you go out to Roche Harbor. Drive around the island, using the article 13 things to do with kids on San Juan Island as your guide. Great vacation with bigger kids (elementary age).

3. Whidbey Island. An often less-expensive alternative to San Juan Island, Whidbey Island’s got it all: great dining, an unbelievably cool bookstore-puppet shop, and plenty of hikes and beach excursions.

Puget Sound Family Spring Break Ideas

4. Seattle. Spend a day or two at Seattle Center, and don’t miss these 35 free and cheap things to do with kids in Seattle. You could also combine a trip here with Bainbridge Island, just a ferry ride away. Check out the island’s guide to kids’ activities.

5. Tacoma. Yes, you’re very near Seattle, but Tacoma deserves its own spring break exploration, in my opinion, particularly with toddlers and preschoolers. Visit the beluga whales at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium (and let the kids go nuts on the great outside play structures) then bring toddlers to the new Children’s Museum of Tacoma.

6. Great Wolf Lodge. Read up on these 18 tips for staying at Great Wolf Lodge (in Grand Mound, about halfway between Portland and Seattle). You could combine a trip here with a stop in Olympia (Olympia is cool, but not worth an overnight stay, IMO).

Washington Coast & Olympic Peninsula Family Spring Break Ideas

7. Long Beach. Washington’s low-key answer to the Oregon Coast, with plenty to keep you busy for a weekend. Ride a horse, visit Jake the Alligator Man at Marsh’s Free Museum, play in the Long Beach sand (well, after you’ve put on a raincoat) and tour Cape Disappointment State Park.

8. Port Townsend. This Victorian seaport is inherently charming, and offers great family-friendly dining and activities for families. You could easily spend a few days here, with excursions to visit Port Angeles‘s kid-friendly picks.

South and East Washington Family Spring Break Ideas

9. Columbia Gorge. I grew up here! But don’t hold that against the Columbia Gorge. Check in at the Skamania Lodge (offering MANY kid-friendly spring-break activities), then go for a hike and count the violets for me.

10. Leavenworth-Lake Chelan. Tiny Leavenworth is great for a day or two — check out these quick guides on things to do with kids in Leavenworth and kid-friendly dining. But this destination can be combined with other destinations. Lake Chelan is another two hours away, but if you’re willing to make this a road trip, Lake Chelan’s pedestrian-friendly town and lovely lakeside views are worth another day or two.

11. Spokane. A wonderful getaway with chilly (but probably sunny) weather. Check out my article on the best of Spokane with kids and enjoy the brand-new Mobius Science Museum.

12. Suncadia. Combine a resort stay at Suncadia with a tour of the still-very-vintage (AKA rustic) ex-mining town of Roslyn-Cle Elum.

13. Walla Walla. If you like to unwind from a family day with a glass of wine, Walla Walla has you all set, with more than 100 wineries in town. But there’s plenty of non-vino activities (thank goodness!) to keep kids occupied, including a children’s museum.


13 Great BC Spring Break Ideas for Families

British Columbia’s mountains, lakes and harbors offer hundreds of great spring break family getaways. These standout cities and villages provide lots of great indoor and outdoor fun things to do for little kids, big kids and teens. Take a look and let me know if I’ve forgotten any of your favorite spring break destinations.

North and East BC Spring Break Ideas:

1. Fernie. Tour historic downtown (including the last standing wooden oil derrick in BC), visit the Fernie Nature Centre and enjoy all sort of great activities.

2. Fort Steele. In East Kootenay, this restored 1890s boom town boasts more than 60 heritage buildings, and spring break demonstrations of tin smithing, gold panning and dress making.

3. Kelowna. Ski and tube at Big White (look at the family spring break packages), visit the Kelowna Art Gallery for free on Thursdays and go for drop-in swim time in the wave pool at H2O Adventure Fitness.

4. Prince George. Learn about hands-on science and history at the Exploration Place Museum and Science Center (check out those dino models!), view constellations at the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Prince George Centre, play in the sprays, bubbles and lazy river at the Prince George Aquatic Centre.

5. Revelstoke. Chug your way through the Revelstoke Railway Museum, slalom your way down Revelstoke Mountain Resort (where kids stay, eat and play free through March) and tour the Rogers Pass National Historic Site.

West BC Spring Break Ideas

6. Harrison Hot SpringsSpring break-themed deals and packages for families abound at Harrison Hot Springs and Resort, on the south shores of Harrison Lake.

7. Vancouver and West Fraser Valley. Visit nearby Fort Langley and hear stories by the fire, learn about historic weapons and then back into Vancouver to visit Kitsilano with kids. If it’s raining? No problem. Check out this list of great rainy day activities in Vancouver.

8. Whistler. You’ll still find fresh powder in the impressive Blackcomb-Whistler community; if you stay right in Whistler village, everything (restaurants, lifts, and activites) is walkable. Ride the Peak 2 Peakswing at the new playground and oh yeah, ski! Check the Whistler family deals and activities page at the Whistler-Blackcomb site.

9. Steveston. No, it’s not big and fancy or all that far from Vancouver.  But this little seaside fishing village has charm to spare, and feels worlds away from the big city. Walking the historic streets feels like a step into a quiet past — so it’s just the right speed for a getaway-from-it-all BC spring break with kids. Stay in Vancouver or Richmond (don’t miss taking the kids to sample the international flavors of Richmond’s Aberdeen Centre) or just visit for the day. Read more at Steveston with Kids.

Vancouver Island Spring Break Ideas

10. Ladysmith. On Vancouver Island, this laid-back town offers shopping, beach play and a bright red-and-green little trolley. But before you book your destination, review this round-up I wrote on kid-friendly Vancouver Island resorts.

11. Parksville. Also on Vancouver Island, this beach town was made for families. Explore Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, go on a self-guided tour of Morningstar Farm, wow over the springtime enthusiasm of Little Qualicum Falls and warm up at Nature World, in the butterfly-dotted tropical gardens. 

12. Tofino. Vancouver Island’s western shores offer stormwatching, beaches, movies and even more fabulous kid-friendly excursions. Read more on Tofino with kids, with tips from a Tofino dad.

13. Victoria. One of my favorite destinations if you prefer a pedestrian-friendly spring break; leave the car at home and push the stroller or hold hands in the compact downtown. Enjoy toddler-friendly activities and 35 free and cheap things to do with kids in Victoria.


Northwest Spring Break: Where to go for great weather

Where should you take the kids for a spring break in the Pacific Northwest? Where can you go without a raincoat, scarf, hat and boots? Below, you’ll read about the March and April temperature and rainfall averages. It’s in Imperial and Fahrenheit, just to keep it all consistent, and the site I used (Weather.com) to compile the information offered that approach first. I’m sorry, Canadians!

Low rain spring break

If you’re desperate for some sun or just a break from the rain, Central and Eastern Oregon are great places for the kids’ spring break. Bend, Oregon is mild, with average March temps of 51 and 57 in April, and about .75 inches of rain. Pendleton, Oregon has a March high of 54 and an April high of 61, and about an inch of rain in each month. Further East, Baker City sees 50 degrees as the high in March, and 58 in April, with a scant .82-.85 inches of rain over the two months.

In British Columbia, Penticton sees March average temperatures of 49 and April of 59, with low precipitation (.8-1 inch).

But my money for a great spring break might be on Lake Chelan, Washington. This little lakeside town sees warm temps in March (54) and warms up even more (63) in April, with precipitation amounts decreasing from 1.1 inches in March to .68 inches in April.

Mild weather spring break

Leavenworth, Washington warms up from March’s 53 high to 62 in April, and daily rainfall drops from 2 inches to 1.1 inches.

For a Vancouver Island spring break, Victoria is mild but not too cold and wet — 50 degrees in March, 55 degrees in April; 2.8 inches of rain in March, and 1.7 inches in April. Also on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo’s average high in March is 51 and April is 56, but April sees a giant plummet in rain averages — 4.6 inches in March (that’s a bit too rainy for me) and 2.4 in April. These are good destinations if you want to enjoy some outdoor time (but only Nanaimo in April!).

Lots of rain spring break

Our region’s big cities are rainy for spring breaks in March and April — but on the upside, there are many wonderful indoor attractions. Vancouver, British Columbia offers 4.3 inches in March and 3 inches in April, 49 degrees as the March high and 54 Fahrenheit in April. In Seattle, the March high is 54 with 3.5 inches of rain, and April isn’t much better — 59 with 2.7 inches.

In Portland, it’s a little warmer, but rainier: March has a 56 degree high (and 4.5 inches of rain) and April has a 61 degree high (3.4 inches of rain). Eugene has similar temps to Portland, but it’s much rainier — March offers 4.9 inches of rain, and April offers 3.3 inches.

Massive rain spring break

So, if you hate rain, don’t go to the Oregon Coast, which is well-sprinkled throughout March and April. Newport sees 7.75 inches of rain in March and 4.7 inches in April (54 and 56 degrees F, respectively), and Cannon Beach is walloped with 8.7 inches of rain in March, and 5.9 inches in April (53 and 55). Bring a raincoat. Or just give in and wear your swimsuit — everywhere.

Aquariums to Volcanoes: 25 spring break ideas

So, what are you doing for spring break? A whole week — and me without plans. So I came up with a list of 25 great ways to spend your family time, from half-day museum visits to multi-day resort experiences.

1. Go tidepooling at Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, Ore, Shi Shi Beach, Wash., or Botanical Beach in Port Renfrew, BC.

2. You’ve done 3D – now go for the 4D experience at the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, BC.

3. Spend the night on an active volcano — sleep at the National Park Inn on Mt. Rainier.

4. Skip the petting zoo and go on a farm stay.

5. Park your car — you won’t need it in the pedestrian wonderland of Whistler, BC  — then slip down the slopes at the Tube Park.

6. Identify wildflowers on an Oregon-based Columbia Gorge hike.

7. Expose the kids to art – for free – at a Seattle museum.

8. Look for Pokemon toys at the Asian-Canadian supermall Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, BC.

9. Go for a family ride in one of the most “bike friendly cities” in the U.S.: Portland, Ore.

10. Visit Spokane’s Riverfront Park, a family-friendly playground with 15 super-cool attractions.

11. Touch Moon meteorites and Martian rocks at OMSI’s Space exhibit, in Portland, Ore.

12. Look for the Ogopogo Monster in Lake Okanagan, BC.

13. Watch glassblowers create liquid art in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop in Tacoma, Wash.

14. Ride the new Rose Carousel at the Butchart Gardens.

15. Visit the sea lion caves in Florence, Oregon.

16. Use coupons for family-friendly fun on Central Vancouver Island, BC.

17. Go whale watching among the San Juan Islands, Wash.

18. Take the kids skiing – for free – on Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor.

19. Chill out at Harrison Hot Springs in Harrison, BC.

20. Dig into the prehistoric past at the Oregon Paleo Lands Institute in Fossil, Ore.

21. Tour the weird and wacky Roadside America stops around Cascadia.

22. Fly a kite or dig for clams in Long Beach, Wash.

23. Ride the Mount Hood Railroad in Mt. Hood, Ore.

24. Let the kids bounce off (someone else’s) walls at Sky High Sports in Bellevue, Wash.

25. Close your eyes, point to a map of BC, Washington and Oregon. Where did your finger land? Drive there. Tell me what you find.

Or do you have a spring break hot spot to share? Tell us all about it…

Beachy Keen! 5 NW Spring Break Spots

kid-friendly cannon beach

Sure, some families are heading to Mexico, Hawaii and Florida for spring break. But you don’t have to fly thousands of miles to get your sand fix. Save time and money by checking out one of the five sweet Northwest beaches.

Okay, you won’t find 80-degree temps or swim-ready water — not in the spring, at least — but the following destinations offer cool prices to match the chilly days.

cannon beach with kids

1. Family-friendly Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Why go? Cannon Beach in the off-season offers mellow charm, mild weather and no summer-crowd insanity. But the infrastructure is ready year-round, whether you want to buy a kite, nosh on Haystack cookies or browse for books.

Go tidepool-peeping for anemones and barnacles. Or take it easy –while the kids create sand McMansions, watch the still-gorgeous sunsets from your Pacific-front hotel — at one-third to one-half the price of a summer stay.

Sites to explore: Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce and Our Cannon Beach

astoria museum with kids

2. Kid-friendly Astoria, Oregon

Why go? If forecasters are calling for rain, Astoria’s Victorian-era architecture and art-rich community is a sure bet. Enjoy great kid-friendly breweries and bakeries, an indoor water recreation center and downtown Astoria’s toy store and comic shop.

After visiting Columbia River Maritime Museum, make a splash at the Astoria Aquatic Center. Not far out of town, visit the atmospheric Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark spent their first dreary winter. Then retreat to your heated hotel and praise modern conveniences.

Sites to explore: Astoria and Warrenton Chamber of Commerce and Astoria Oregon

kid-friendly long beach washington lighthouse

3. Kid-friendly Long Beach, Washington State.

Why go? On Southwest Washington’s tip, Long Beach hosts funky curios like Jake the Alligator Man, chainsaw-carved logs and beachfront houses with eccentric decor. Personally, I love the house with hundreds of buoys displayed out front.

But beyond the video games, go-karts and beach trappings (and kids love all of it), you’ll also find an amazing foodie community’s restaurants in Long Beach and neighboring towns of Ilwaco, Seaview and Nahcotta. And gentle hikes through Cape Disappointment State Park provide see-forever views of the Pacific Ocean before you come upon a stately lighthouse.

Sites to explore: Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau and Bailey’s Bakery and Cafe, which serves up some of the best baked goods I’ve ever enjoyed.

4. Kid-friendly Newport, Oregon.

Why go? The furthest south (a little over 120 miles from Portland), Newport embodies that taffy-in-your-teeth memory of childhood beach vacations. Fly kites, ride bikes on the beach, tread water in the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s underwater tunnel, or go whale-watching in the early spring.

The Oregon Coast is famous for great crabbing and clamming, plus warm, California-sent breezes. Although spring brings iffy weather, nothing could  ruin that fresh batch of caramel corn and bubblegum-flavored taffy.

Sites to explore: Newport Oregon (Don’t miss that free child’s admission on the “Special Deals & Promos” page) and the Oregon Coast Visitors Association

kid-friendly westport donuts

5. Westport, Wash.

Why go? Westport’s rocky shoreline is about as far as you can get from the silky sands of Mexico or Cannon Beach’s art galleries. But that’s part of the fun — this is old-world Washington, rugged and unrefined.

Pick through sea-smoothed rocks for a favorite, walk down Westport’s tourist-tacky marina, and down a cup of hot clam chowder at Merino’s Seafood. In winter and spring, watch storms create spectacular, crashing walls of water.

Sites to explore: Westport Washington

What’s your favorite taffy flavor?