Oregon Dunes (Florence) with Kids

Skateboarding kid at Oregon Dunes in Florence, Oregon

Skateboarding kid at Oregon Dunes in Florence, Oregon

The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area — the largest coastal sand dunes in North America – makes you feel exactly like Luke Skywalker. Well, maybe you won’t look or sound like him, but after 10 minutes here, you’ll empathize with Luke’s long walk over those huge, majestic dunes on Tatooine.

Naturally, kids LOVE this place.

As if  dropped right into a giant’s sandbox, you’ll find giant 500-foot-tall (152 m.) peaked mounds and “tree islands,” where trees cluster together, surrounded by sand.

The Oregon Dunes NRA Visitors Center offers hiking tips through the dunes, info on the area’s natural history and summertime programs on the plants and animals of the dunes. No tusken raiders actually live here, boo.

Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park is a great place to experience the area’s unique landscape — walk the dunes, watch kids sled or snowboard down dunes, and visit the beach. The park’s freshwater lake (Cleawox) was warm enough to qualify as a “bath” for my kid, who hates baths but didn’t complain here.

Cleawox Lake, Florence Oregon with Kids

Cleawox Lake, Florence Oregon

The dunes stretch for forty miles long along the coast, so many visitors opt to see them in a giant, slow-moving dune buggy (you can even bring a baby in a carseat on a buggy) or a faster sand rail (required: goggles, a helmet and age 3 & up).

In either case, reservations must be made in advance with one of the dune buggy outfits. Sandland Adventures has a nice little Family Fun Center with bumper boats, if you want to cool off after a Sandland buggy ride.

If sandboarding looks more your kids’ speed, Sand Master Park rents gear, gives lessons and offers family packages. The park is right next to a Fred Meyer, and it’s funny to see the sand actually moving into the parking lot – it creeps inland 16 feet per year. Maybe some day we’ll all be driving sand buggies.

Oregon sand dune

View from the top of a Oregon Sand Dune

Where to stay in Florence with Kids

You can stay at Jessie M. Honeyman in one of the yurts — or bring your tent. Book far in advance, because it’s a popular destination with great weather.

We stayed at the Driftwood Shores Resort right on the beach, which was fine and clean, if a bit dated and mildewy in spots (hey, it’s the Northwest Coast — only so much you can do about things like this). A bonus: The Inn has a small children’s aquatic play area with fun showers and sprinklers — a nice back up if you do arrive on a very windy or rainy day.

Where to eat in Florence with Kids

After some deep research, we went with a few fun places:

Mo’s in Florence Old Town. 1436 Bay St., Florence, Oregon. So,  the seafood is similar, perhaps, to your grandparent’s seafood restaurant (like a fancy Skipper’s, maybe). You can’t beat the location (right on the water), the kid-friendly aspects (really noisy restaurant, crayons, kid menu) and the fact your child’s palate and your grandparent’s palate are probably not too dissimilar. It’s fine. Order an appetizer if the restaurant is busy, as you may wait a while for your food.

Maple Street Grille. 165 Maple St., Florence, Oregon. An upscale restaurant with solid meal options, including well-cooked salmon, chicken and pasta. A bit more formal and expensive. No kids’ menu, but kid-friendly restaurant staff will help your children find yummy food, such as mac ‘n’ cheese.

Nature’s Corner Cafe and Market. 185 Hwy 101 Florence, Oregon. Hearty, healthy breakfasts in a very casual setting  — more like a store than a restaurant. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. It can take a while for the food to arrive (maybe order something small to take the edge off). But when it does  arrive– yum.

1285 Restobar also looks like a decent option for pizza and Italian food.

Read more about Florence with Kids.

Bainbridge Island with Kids

Bainbridge Shops with Kids

Bainbridge shops

On a sunny day, there’s nothing better than catching a Washington State Ferry from Pier 52, bound for Bainbridge Island. En route, ask the kids to find the mountains — they’re all around you. Olympics to the west, Cascades (behind Seattle’s high-rise office buildings) and Mt. Rainier looming to the south. Once you’ve arrived, hop off and enjoy some island time: slow down, ramble along the streets, poke your head into independently owned shops and say “hello” to store owners.

Things to Do on Bainbridge Island with Kids

Bainbridge Aquatic Center, 8521 Madison Avenue N.
Rainy day on Bainbridge Island with kids? No problem! Ride down the 180-foot water slide, cruise along the lazy river, take your stir-crazy toddlers to the play area or encourage your teen to jump off the diving board.

Bainbridge Cinemas at the Pavilion, 403 Madison Avenue N.
In downtown Bainbridge Island, catch a first-run movie or matinee on one of five screens, along with the usual popcorn and popcorn-powder toppings.

Farmers’ Market, Town Square at City Hall Park (spring, summer, fall – Saturdays, 9-1)
This market’s rules say the veggies, fruits, handmade cheese and crafts must be island-grown or island-made, so when they say local, they mean local.

Kids Discovery Museum (KiDiMu), 150 Madrone Lane N.
KiDiMu’s sweet little museum welcomes babies, toddlers and preschoolers with a child-sized village, a cute Smart car, a realistic treehouse and upstairs hands-on science lab. It’s not big, but makes up for size in enthusiasm.

KiDiMu: Bainbridge Island Attraction with Kids

KiDiMu: Bainbridge Island Attraction with Kids

Waterfront Park
Native plants gather around hiking trails and a playground in this 5.5-acre park. Picnic tables welcome picnicking families.

Bainbridge Island Historical Museum may interest older children. Or it might not. Skip it with any child under the age of 10 or so; the museum probably isn’t hands-on enough to engage younger kids.

Where to eat with kids on Bainbridge Island

Blackbird Bakery, 210 Winslow Way E.
Pastries include wheat-free and vegan options, along with rich pies and quiches. I love the unusual drinks; once, I enjoyed a nettle lemonade here. Pack up your snacks and take them to the Waterfront Park (above).

Café Nola, 488 Winslow Way E.
Draw on the paper-topped tables before your pecan-orange challah bread arrives (breakfast). Great lunches and dinners too. The kids’ menu has everything from ravioli to quesadillas to PB&J. Long lines – make a reservation if you can. One of my favorite restaurants in Puget Sound.

Doc’s Marina Grill, 403 Madison Ave S.
Fish ‘n’ ships! Your meal comes with a fine view of boats on Eagle Harbor, whether you’re seated indoors or outdoors. The menu doesn’t stray too far from the typical burgers, sandwiches and breaded fish.

Mora Iced Creamery, 139 Madrone Lane
Mora serves Bainbridge-made seasonal favorites like eggnog (winter) and lavender (summer) along with more typical flavors. But mostly, I love going here for the funky flavors.

Pegasus Coffee House, 131 Parfitt Way S.W.
Order breakfast, salad or dinner, listen to an open-mike or jam session (weekends only), or try absinthe (adults only!). Pegasus coffee for adults, and drinking chocolate for the kids, which is like drinking a slurry of melted chocolate bar – rich enough to share, for sure.

That’s a Some Pizza, 488 Winslow Way E.
Easy-cheesy, pick up a slice to go for the ferry ride home or a pie for your hotel room.

Bainbridge Stores for Kids

Bon Bon Confections, 230 Winslow Way E
Enough candy to scare a dentist: Bainbridge Island Fudge, chocolate in jars, pastel-colored beauties and more than a dozen varieties of licorice. And fudge. Yum.

Calico Cat Toys, 104 Winslow Way W.
A fun little toy shop with great unique selections, including locally made toys and a fantastic stuffed-animal collection.

Eagle Harbor Book Company, 157 Winslow Way E.
Sit on the hardwood floors or an armchair and read from a picture book or a tween paranormal romance – this indie bookstore has it all. Yes, a great selection of books for grown-ups, too.

Lollipops Children’s Boutique, 278 Winslow Way E.
A children’s boutique with upscale brands for girls and babies, with some locally made extras that make fun souvenirs.

Where to Sleep on Bainbridge (Family-Friendly Hotels)

Eagle Harbor Inn, 291 Madison Avenue S.
Four boutique hotel-style rooms (including one with a queen bed and a foldout couch) within walking distance of the ferry and the village center.

Best Western Bainbridge Island Suites, 350 N.E. High School.
Spacious, kitchen-outfitted suites that are great for families, although you’ll need a car to get here and the views are lacking (parking lots, the road, etc.).

Washington Water Parks & Water Slides

Washington State Waterparks

Washington State Waterparks: Birch Bay Waterslides

Need a way to cool off the kids this summer? Try one of Washington’s waterparks, where children (and parents) can ride down giant water slides, splash in water sprayparks, dump buckets of water on friends, play in a wet-sand playground or just chill in the pool. If you’re within an hour or two of the Washington-BC border, you may want to read this piece on BC Water Parks.

Ready? Let’s splash.

Water Parks in Western Washington

Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington.

Washington State’s mega-water park that draws visitors from BC and Oregon, this indoor water park offers year-round fun — as long as you spend the night. No day passes here, folks. So with your night’s stay, you’ll also get admission to the indoor water tree fort, a crazy funnel water slide, rafting slides and four story flumes, among other wet ‘n’ wild stuff. For younger kids, there are kiddie slides, water guns, a wave pool and water basketball. Overstimulating, expensive, and well, kids love it.

Wild Waves, Federal Way, Washington State.

Washington State’s other water park, in an infamously temperature-variable area. You could end up riding water slides in mid-summer rain, under overcast skies or in glorious sun — perhaps  all in the same day. That said, this water park’s prices are a good value for bigger kids who are tall enough to ride the park’s multiple giant water slides  (42″ or taller) like Zooma Falls or Konga River and Slides. For younger children there’s the pirate-themed “Pirate’s Cove” spray playground. Look for coupons and passes to cut costs.

Birch Bay Waterslides, Birch Bay, Washington.

This year is Birch Bay’s 30th year of running a low-key outdoor waterpark alternative to the Big Boys (see above). They’re adding a pizza restaurant this year, and are planning to run lots of giveaways and discounts this year to honor their anniversary. The half-dozen slides include curlicue, straight-shot and drop chute rides, along with a children’s slide and tube slide. Nothing too fancy, just a nice way to cool down in summer.

Henry Moses Aquatic Center, Renton, Washington.

A great outdoor aquatic center with zero-depth entry (like a beach) suitable for toddlers, along with a toddler area; for bigger kids, a lazy river with tubes and a wave-machine enhanced pool, a spray area, an island lagoon, two big water slides, a water play structure. At just $14 per person over age 5 ( non-resident), not bad. Sells out fast though, so line up early.

Sprayparks and Wading Pools, Seattle, Washington.

Seattle’s communities are watered in summer by the City of Seattle’s wading pools and spray playgrounds (sprayparks). None of these are quite as wonderful as the ones in Vancouver BC,  but they’re not bad, if you’re in town. The lakes and shorelines of Seattle are also popular, and many have shallow depths suitable for toddlers/preschoolers, along with lifeguards.

 

Water Parks in Eastern and Central Washington

Blaster Ride: Slidewaters Waterpark in Central Washington

Blaster Ride: Slidewaters Waterpark in Central Washington

Splash Down Family Water Park, Spokane, Washington.

Six-story slides, body slides, tube slides, dark slides, four-story-tall bowl slides for big kids, teens and adults. For younger fry — a toddler/preschool-aged area with toddler slides, splashketball, a space where you can refill your water guns, and another area where you can launch water cannonballs at other people (who will hopefully remain your friends and family). For a less-expensive water experience, head upstream to the water jets and splashpads at Discovery Playground in Spokane Valley.

Surf ‘n’ Slide Water Park, Moses Lake, Washington.

Some municipal pools just do it right. This outdoor waterpark is like a mini-amusement park, with big (200 feet) and small slides, a lazy river, zero-depth entry points and a wet-sand playground for the littles and a surf simulator. Located off of I-90 between Spokane and the Cascades, this is a nice place to stop and cool off for a few hours. Admission $8-10 pp, so a pretty good deal.

Slidewaters, Lake Chelan, Washington.

The best  sunburn of my life came from this place, in eighth grade. I earned that burn. Slidewaters continues to thrill big kids and teens with the Downhill Racer and Purple Haze slides, and dependably sunny weather. In the past year, this small park recently added a long lazy river for summer tubin’. Wear your sunscreen.

Asotin County Family Aquatic Center, Clarkston, Washington.

Southeast Washingon’s place to slip down body slides, ride tubes down a slide or around a lazy river, a wave pool with kid-friendly zero-depth entry, and an adventure spraypark. There’s a giant indoor pool as well, with fountains, zero-depth entry and sprinklers, if you just need a break from the Eastern Washington sun.

Oregon Coast Road Trip with Kids

Oregon Coast Road Trip with Kids

Just south of the busy tourist towns of Cannon Beach and Seaside is the 40-mile, quieter Three Capes Drive, which has a few haystack rocks of its own. From north to south, you’ll follow the gentle C shape from Tillamook to Pacific City. This coastal drive — rich in over 2,500 acres of warm-sand beaches, dramatic cliffs, dunes dotted with evergreens and coastal rainforest – encourages you to slow down, smell the sea air and unwind. Here’s an all-day itinerary for enjoyment:

10 a.mOregon Coast Road Trip 1: Tillamook Cheese Factory with Kids, Oregon

The town of Tillamook acts as a road-trip gateway to the coast, tying Highway 6 from Portland to the Oregon Coast’s Highway 101 (Portland is about 90 minutes away). A quick 30-minute self-guided tour on at the Tillamook Cheese Factory reveals quirky facts. For example: Why is the Oregon Coast a great place to make cheese? Facts are always best served with samples and treats, so try the facility’s complimentary samples and pick up a picnic lunch for later.

Tillamook Factory Signs

Tillamook Factory Mad Men-Era Ads

11 a.m. Oregon Coast Road Trip Stop 2: Cape Meares Scenic Viewpoint 

Just 8 miles from Tillamook and over 200 feet above the ocean, Cape Meares Scenic Viewpoint offers ocean-view housing on a bluff – to the largest colony of common murres south of Alaska. From the parking lot, walk a paved .2 mile down to the 1890s-era lighthouse and watch for migrating grey whales (nearly 18,000 pass Oregon’s shores annually), puffins, seals and Stellar sea lions. Kids will love running the paths guarded by giant evergreens — and don’t miss the “Octopus Tree,” a 250+ year-old sitka spruce shaped by time and wind into a many-trunked fascination. Read more about the Octopus Tree so you sound like an expert to the kids.

Octopus Tree Oregon Coast

Octopus Tree

12 p.m.  Oregon Coast Road Trip Stop 3: Oceanside

From Cape Meares, take Bayshore Drive south and pop into Oceanside’s heart-stopping idea of real estate. Oceanside’s vacation community steps up the face of sheer cliffs, rewarding inhabitants with incredible views of the offshore Three Arch Rocks Refuge, the oldest National Wildlife Refuge west of the Mississippi, where over a quarter-million nesting birds land annually. Grab a latte at local coffeeshop Brewin’ in the Wind, dig your toes into Oceansides’s sliver of sand and marvel over the gravity-defying habitats surrounding you. I would really like to stay here someday.

1 p.m.  Oregon Coast Road Trip Stop 4: Cape Lookout State Park

Stop at the 700-foot Cape Lookout State Park for a hike and picnic lunch. Set right in a lush coastal rainforest, the cathedral-like setting also acts as a sanctuary for deer, elk and yes, even a bear or two (hide the roast beef sandwiches). Get back in the car and move south along the two-lane Cape Lookout Road past glossy salal, stout firs and twisted spruces blanketing eastern hills. Blackberries brambles offer juicy gems in summer, a roadside snack that one-ups store-bought candy. To the west, waves fall like dominoes on sandy, quiet beaches.

2 p.m.  Oregon Coast Road Trip Stop 5: Whalen Island

The Clay Meyers State Natural Area at Whalen Island‘s gentle contours are the perfect setting for a post-picnic hike with the kids after a long day on the road. It’s an easy loop hike, about a mile and half long through a variety of Oregon Coast land, from mudflats to dunes. Read more about the Whalen Island hike at the Portland Hikers Field Guide.

4 p.m.  Oregon Coast Road Trip Stop 6: Pacific City

Spend the night in Pacific City’s beachfront community, the southern entrance to the Three Capes drive and home to Cape Kiwanda and the Pacific dory fleet. Pacific City is similar to Cannon Beach, right down to the signature haystack rock and sandy coastline — but it doesn’t have the shops or crowds. It’s like Cannon Beach’s shy Oregon Coast sister.

Surfing, shopping and sunsets are all here in Pacific City. Put down the car keys and pick up a micro-brew at Pelican Pub and Brewery. The brewery offers a sophisticated kids menu (grilled salmon is an option),  and the staff brings a packet of goldfish crackers ASAP after you order a kids’ meal, a godsend for starving kids and anxious parents. After the meal, sit on the pub’s back deck, immerse yourself in the salt air and let the craggy-faced haystack rock offshore hypnotize you as the kids play in the sand.

Pelican Pub: Oregon Coast with Kids

View from the Pelican Pub outdoor patio

You can walk from the pub to the Inn at Cape Kiwanda, where every room has an ocean view. However, be aware that the hotel’s rooms are right above the road. Although I was anxious about reviews that disparaged road noise, I really enjoyed this hotel.  The Inn kindly rents DVDs from a complimentary library with many family options, a board game library and a hunt through the hotel’s trinket “toy chest.” Other cool benefits of staying here: Free chocolates, manager’s reception on Friday nights (cheese, wine, etc.), free coffee for mom and dad, and nice family-sized vacation packages.

If you need lots of room or are staying multi-generational, you might look into the vacation rentals that dot the Oregon Coast; VRBO or Google some options.

Inn at Cape Kiwanda: Kid-friendly Oregon Coast Hotel

Inn at Cape Kiwanda: Kid-friendly Oregon Coast Hotel

For breakfast, head to Grateful Bread Bakery and order the Gingerbread Pancakes. Do it for me…and tell me how you liked them!

From here, it’s about two hours back to Portland, without traffic. Not as beautiful of a road trip, but you’ll have your memories, right?


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Seattle Restaurants for Families (Take the Kids!)

 

40kidfriendly

My kids are pretty good at eating — if there was an extracurricular award for it, I’m sure we’d be putting it on future college applications. So I’ve tried a ton of restaurants with them from babyhood to the tween years. Here’s my mega-list.

Intro

Breakfast for Families
Family Coffeehouses and Cafes
Desserts for Families
Seafood for Families
Kid-friendly Seattle Restaurants

Seattle Breakfast for Families

So, for breakfast, I really feel like Portland and Victoria count their eggs, hatch them, and then make them

The Crumpet Shop (Downtown Seattle). Right around the corner from Pike Place Market, this homey storefront serves organic crumpets with savory (pesto and cheese) and sweet toppings (like walnuts, honey and ricotta) . The scones are topped with lemon curd or raspberry preserves. Super delicious but a three-wet-wipe cleanup. Opens at 7 a.m.

Daily Dozen Doughnut Company (Pike Place Market). The “doughnut robot” makes an automatic process out of making mini doughnuts, whether you like them topped with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, brown sugar or just plain. Opens at 8:30 a.m.

Hi Life and other Chow Foods (Ballard). I’m not a huge fan of this chain for meals other than breakfast, but wow, they know how to serve up a kid-friendly Seattle breakfast. A children’s menu accompanies adult menus, with perfectly proportioned plates available, along with crayons (don’t eat those). Adult meals are filling and could be split with toddlers or preschoolers, if you can bear to share. Some outdoor seating, and all of the Chow Foods restaurants are kid friendly (highchairs, high tolerance for children, etc).

Honore (Ballard). Say oui to awesome French pastries, savory tarts and other breakfast goodies. Kids will go nuts for the brightly colored macarons that come in a dozen or so flavors, filled with a delicious creme. Other French options: Cafe Besalu (downtown Ballard) and Bakery Nouveau (West Seattle).

Original Pancake House (Ballard).  The variety is worth a visit — pancakes, dutch babies, crepes and gluten-free ‘cakes  make an appearance on the menu. Kids love this place and the all-sorts of toppings  (nuts, cinnamon apples, berries, etc. etc.) that come with your flour extravaganza. I find the pancakes just OK, but lots of people do love them — and you might too. I do enjoy the fully wood-paneled appearance of the Ballard restaurant, a throwback to vintage-flavored Pacific Northwest (yes, I think there might be a maple syrup smell cooked into the walls, at this point).

Portage Bay Cafe (Ballard, University District, South Lake Union near Downtown). Really, kids love this place for The Breakfast Bar, where you can load-your-own pancake with a buffet-style layout of fruits, nuts, maple syrup and whipped cream.

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Seattle Family Coffeehouses and Cafes

We’re in a friendly rivalry with Portland and Vancouver for coffeeshops-per-capita. Well, someone’s gotta stay awake to take care of the kids, right? Head to one of these places for a pick-me-up that kids can enjoy too.

Fresh Flours (Greenwood.) Japanese pastries and green-tea lattes near the so-wonderful Woodland Park Zoo. That is all.

Twirl Café (Queen Anne). A play area takes up half of this cafe, perfect for hungry kiddos under age 6. Head here for early morning breakfast and free play (7-9) before Seattle Center opens, or come for an open play session ($5/child) and a lunch or dinner sandwich featuring gourmet Northwest ingredients like Zoe meats, Tillamook cheese and Macrina bread.

Coffee to a Tea (West Seattle). Cupcakes, tea, coffee, muffins, scones… and a train table. Afternoon tea by reservation.

A few more cafes with toddler/preschooler play spaces that serve OK food: Firehouse Coffee (Ballard), Serendipity Cafe (Magnolia). Some coffee shops in Seattle also have petite areas dedicated to children (and amazing coffee), such as Espresso Vivace.

 

Seattle Desserts for Families

Seattle families love all kinds of desserts, from ultra-carby cupcakes to tangy custard ice cream to pie. Here are my favorite restaurants for dessert-time.

 

Getting a scoop at Molly Moon's

Getting a scoop at Molly Moon’s

Bottega Italiana (Downtown/Pike Place Market). Creamy, classic gelato right next to Pike Place Market.

Beard Papa (International District). Puff pastries filled with heavenly amounts of vanilla cream (or chocolate cream). Each is filled fresh, right before your eyes.  The Papa serves doughnuts too, but really, those cream puffs are particularly good.

Fuji Bakery (International District). East meets West at this tiny bakery, where you can pick up a salmon brioche, Japanese milk bread and other savory and sweet surprises.

Cupcake Royale (Ballard, Capitol Hill, West Seattle and more). Cupcakes were sort of a trend for a while, and now, maybe they’re not — kids don’t care. Kids love cupcakes.

Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream (Capitol Hill, Wallingford). Fancy flavors like maple walnut, honey lavender and salted caramel.

D’Ambrosio (Ballard). Great Italian gelato made from scratch. Teeny-tiny seating area, so plan to get your scoops to go (Marvin’s Garden is a few steps away).

A La Mode (Greenwood). The best pie shop in Seattle. Giant slices can be shared between two kids, or one kid and an adult, or go one of the kid-sized “pie babies.” Near Woodland Park Zoo.

Peaks Frozen Custard (University District). The tarted-up version of gelato, IMO.  Limited flavors (check the daily calendar for today’s recipes) but good stuff. Kid tables. Beware poor imitations…

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Seattle Seafood for Families

Seattle’s waterfront neighborhoods often means the fish was literally caught right on the restaurant’s doorstep — or at least not hauled far. Here are some great seafood restaurants that offer children’s menus, or kid-friendly picks like fish and chips. Nom.

ck seattle seafood with kids

Ivar’s Acres of Clams (Pier 54; multiple locations). Okay, this place can have the reputation of a tourist destination, but it’s a solid choice when on the pier, if you want a quick bowl or fish ‘n’ chips (watch out for greedy seagulls who demand you share, share, share.) Go inside for the more carefully prepared meals, which are surprisingly good, fresh and locally focused. Yes, really.

Pike Place Chowder (Downtown Seattle/Pike Place Market). With flavorful broth and big chunks of seafood served in a bread bowl or regular bowl, this restaurant is an award-winner and kid-pleaser. One bread bowl is enough for two, if you’re looking for ways to save money while eating out with the kids. I like the smoked salmon chowder.

Chinook’s at Salmon Bay (Interbay, near Ballard and Ballard Locks). Half of the draw is the view — giant plate-glass windows look out over fishing vessels and Salmon Bay, a passageway between Puget Sound and Lake Union. The food is fine, too, with a children’s menu coloring placemat and seafood-centric options. A great place to go after a hike at Discovery Park.

Little Chinook’s (Interbay, near Ballard). The cheaper, to-go counter version of Chinook, with a focus on items like fish ‘n’ chips and salmon tacos. Kid-friendly booths for eating.

Ray’s Boathouse Cafe (Ballard). Sustainable seafood in a four-star location. The upstairs portion of the restaurant (the cafe) is often filled with families and highchairs, and where I would recommend eating. Make a reservation in summer, and cross your fingers you’ll get an outside table, which overlooks a sparkling blue bay, crisp white boats and active sealife. One of my very favorite Seattle seafood restaurants to take kids.

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Kid-friendly Seattle Restaurants

Downtown/Seattle Center/ID

Piroshky Piroshky (Pike Place Market). Russian. Piroshky is a thick, fist-sized pocket of dough wrapped around an infinite variety of fillings (but usually involving meat, potatoes, cheese and maybe broccoli). Kids like the familiar flavors; parents like the easy-to-eat aspect.

Tutta Bella (Multiple Locations; Westlake is near downtown Seattle in South Lake Union). Pizza. Fancy thin-crust Italian pizza where waiters may also give you balls of dough or wikistix for the kids to play with, if you ask nicely.  Tip: Sign up for the restaurant’s e-mail notices — they send great coupons.

Wild Ginger (Downtown Seattle) Thai. Upscale pan-Asian restaurant where kids are welcomed with their own children’s menu, which offers dishes like skewered chicken ($3.50) or fried rice and chicken. It’s fancy enough to feel special, but not so fancy as to exclude kids.

Green Leaf Vietnamese Restaurant(ID/Chinatown and Belltown). Vietnamese. A tiny two-story restaurant that will give you children’s plastic plates and cups and serves well-flavored fresh veggies, noodles and meat dishes. Try to ask for upstairs seating at the International District location, where you dine on unusual wooden benches with wheels on each side (like a wagon bench).

Pagliacci Pizza (Multiple locations). Pizza. We have a lot of pizza restaurant chains in Seattle. This is one of them. Thin-crust, zesty toppings with Northwest ingredients, and kids like the make-your-own-pop touch-screen machine at the Queen Anne location, which allows them to make perfectly disgusting drinks that never existed…until now.

McMenamins (Queen Anne/Near Seattle Center). Sit-down restaurants that welcome families aren’t so common Lower Queen Anne (near Seattle Center). It’s more of an upscale or nightlife destination. I like McMenamin’s for the dependable food and children’s menu (with vegetarian options for kids), and because honestly, I really like the Ruby Red ale.

Armory (Seattle Center). Multiple options at this food court for families, including Skillet (think fried chicken and burgers), Kabab (vegetarian and meat-eating mideastern fare) Bean Sprouts Cafe (kid size portions and fun),  and MOD Pizza (my favorite), with $3.88 personal pizzas.

 

Central/South Seattle Restaurants

Cafe Flora (Madison Valley). Vegetarian. A long-time Seattle institution, this vegetarian restaurant welcomes children with a super-healthy (but delicious) children’s menu, books and toys. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free kids items available. Near the Seattle Arboretum.

Louisa’s Cafe & Bakery (Eastlake). Bistro. Half off the kids’ menu on Wednesdays, cozy bistro food seven days a week, although the location may be a bit out-of-the way. Nearish to South Lake Union if you’re driving.

Vios (Capitol Hill and Ravenna). Greek. Two locations, two kid-friendly play areas inside the restaurants, one great Greek restaurant. Head to the Ravenna location if you’d like to combine bookstore shopping with your dinner; to Capitol Hill if you want an after-downtown dinner or Sunday morning brunch with kids. The play area can get a little noisy.

Randy’s Restaurant, is what would happen if a Boeing jet flew into a 1970s-era Denny’s and made itself comfortable. For your transportation-obsessed toddler, this restaurant puts 
vintage plane paraphernalia on the walls, grilled cheese sandwiches on
 the menu, and retired Boeing engineers in the seats. Very close to the Museum of Flight.

Ballard/Fremont Restaurants

La Carta De Oaxaca (Ballard). Mexican.  Authentic Mexican fare in an informal environment. You won’t find cheese-smothered enchiladas on the menu, but kid pleasers like homemade corn chips, quesadilla fritas and tostadas are all well represented.

Uneeda Burger (Fremont). Yummy grass-fed burgers that come dressed in a variety of ways — or plain, or with veggie patties. A wonderful outdoor dining space (on picnic tables, no less) welcomes families in summer. Young kids may not like the spicy house sauce. Near the Woodland Park Zoo, and a great post-zoo stop.

PCC Natural Markets (Multiple locations, but the Fremont, Green Lake and West Seattle locations are most convenient for kid activities). It’s a grocery store, but PCC’s deli demands a stop if you’re in a hurry. Pick up a quick sandwich, salad, burger or dessert and take it to any one of Seattle’s parks for a picnic. Throughout the store, the “Kid Picks” logo indicates child-approved foods (yes, the store really tests the items!).

Pho Than Brothers (Multiple Locations). Vietnamese. Let’s face it, kids really just want to come here for the cream puffs, one per customer, served for some reason at the beginning of the meal. Getting some inexpensive pho in them is an extra. YMMV.

The Yard (Greenwood). Mexican. It’s a bar, it’s a Mexican restaurant, it’s super yummy and it lets you bring kids in. There’s even a large outdoor seating area with heaters. What’s not to love?

 

U District/North Seattle

Agua Verde Cafe (University District). Mexican. Amazing Mexican food — my son tends to take over the guacamole and chips and make it his meal. Some children may find certain selections too spicy, so ask waitstaff which options are literally not-so-hot (the mango quesadillas w/o the chiles are a good pick). The best part about dining here is the outdoor patio, which is heated in winter and open-air in summer. However, there can be a loooong wait for an Agua Verde table in summer, so you might need to order from the to-go window and sit outside at a picnic table.

Taste of India (University District). Indian. Other than a near-intrusive institutional need to constantly refill everyone’s water glass, this restaurant is a great place to take the kids for first-time Indian food. A pages-long menu creates infinite variations on traditional Indian staples, and the chefs will make your kids’ korma as mild as necessary. Lots of seating.

Chaco Canyon Cafe (West Seattle, U District). West Coast. Organic, gluten-free and often raw. Yet, the smoothies and sandwiches are pretty darn good. The West Seattle location offers a small play area for kids, and a healthy menu for children.

Blue C Sushi (Multiple Locations, including Fremont, Downtown Seattle, University District). Japanese. Although I’ve found the choices to be inconsistent lately, the novelty of picking your own avocado roll off of a conveyor belt makes kids happy — three cheers for instant gratification.

Old Village Korean BBQ (North Seattle). Korean. In-table charcoal burners allow you to grill your own beef or pork, which you’ll eat with white rice and an assortment of sides, including kim chee, green beans…(and potato salad?!). Because of the in-table burners, this might be a better choice for well-behaved kids or older kids — but what fun it is. Also available: hot pot (cook your own food in a pot of boiling soup).

 

Old Village Korean BBQ: for families

Old Village Korean BBQ

Outside Seattle

Mayuri Restaurant (Bellevue). Indian. If you’re ready to stray beyond the typical Indian menu, this restaurant dishes up dosas (flat, pancake-like wraps stuffed with savory fillings) and other North and South Indian dishes. Worth a drive over or if you’re headed home from the Cascade Mountains.

Facing East Restaurant (Bellevue).This Taiwanese restaurant serves dishes similar to Chinese cuisine, so most children will feel comfortable — but different enough to interest adults tired of American-style Chinese food. Delicious, fresh buns stuffed with pork, sweet potato pancakes, and a truly impressive sweets menu (kids will like the Everything Shaved Ice, although they might not be able to recognize all the ingredients).

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Hey readers, what are your favorite kid-friendly Seattle restaurants suitable for families and why do you like them?

 

Suncadia Resort with Children: Trip Report

Cycling on the Suncadia Resort Paths

Cycling on the Suncadia Resort Paths

Recently, Josie Swanson, her husband and her two sons  (2.5 and 5.5) visited Suncadia Resort, just east of Washington’s Cascade mountains. She shared some new restaurants she found (which sound SO good) and activities at the resort. Let’s hear more!

How did you like Suncadia Resort? What kinds of things did you do with the kids while at the resort?

The kids liked the playgrounds, water slides/pool/hot tub, hiking/biking/scootering around, seeing lots of wild animals (elk and deer), etc. I liked the sauna, steam room and gym. It was a great place to run (except for the altitude!).

I didn’t do the spa, but would next time. We stayed in the Lodge one-bedroom and a full kitchen and a washer and dryer was nice. It would be fun to be there in the winter to use the ice-skating rink and do other snow sports.

The thing I liked a lot about Suncadia is how CLOSE it is to Seattle. We hate long drives. The trip back was so fast! And the service was great, too.

In Cle Elum, we took the kids to Interactive Toys, which is now called The Plaza. She’s going to still have toys, but fewer, and is adding in some other things.

Where did you eat with your kids at Suncadia or in Roslyn?

The Roslyn Cafe has new owners as of December and was really good and kid-friendly! Kind of reminded me of Endolyne Joe’s and some other Seattle places. Full bar, great drinks!

The newish Roslyn cafe Pie in the Sky was excellent and the brunches were better than Seattle brunches. Rustic, down-home, perfectly seasoned. I’d eat anything on the menu. The owner is AWESOME. We’d eat there all the time if out there more.

Village Pizza was good! Crust could be better, but the browned cheese on top was a nice touch. We were starving, so it was a hit with us.

The ambiance in the family dining room was terrible at The Brick Saloon. If you can’t go there without kids and eat in the bar (which is very cool), it may not be worth it.

Safeway is the only real store out there. The little natural foods store in Roslyn — Maggie’s Pantry — was very limited, but nice to have in a pinch.

Eating with Kids at Roslyn Cafe

Eating with Kids at Roslyn Cafe

Any caveats or things you wish you knew in advance about staying at Suncadia?

They do nickel and dime you. Our final bill for three nights was BIG.

Our good friends happened to plan a trip there that overlapped, and they have boys the same age as ours. Our friends also liked it a lot, except the nickel-and-diming and they only stayed two nights and felt that they needed three.

I can only compare this place to places like Alderbrook, Semiahmoo, Sleeping Lady and Surfsand. We thought it was substantially better than most.

Running on the Suncadia Resort paths

Running on the Suncadia Resort paths

 

Read more: Suncadia Resort Hotel Review with Kids and Kid-Friendly Roslyn Picks

Painted Hills (Oregon) with Kids: Photos & Tips

Painted Hills, Oregon

Painted Hills, Oregon: A national monument

The Painted Hills are one part (or “unit”) of a three-part Oregon national monument: The John Day Fossil Beds, located in Eastern Oregon. They’re all pretty cool, but I think this is my favorite.

Painted Hills, Oregon

Painted Hills, Oregon

Over millions of years, ancient Oregon volcanoes spewed ash that fell, then transformed into these breathtaking mounds of crimson, gold, and ebony claystone (bentonite). Lacy fossil leaves and metasequoia needles were found here — evidence of a once-damp, rainforest-like climate almost impossible to imagine today.

Painted Hills, Oregon

Painted Hills, Oregon

Smart travelers pack a camera — during spring, otherworldly parfait-like layers of color brighten after a rainstorm, and more than 22 varieties of vibrant flowers blossom in the hills and valleys. In the summer, the bright red hills almost seem to show off beneath brilliant blue skies.

Painted Hills Close Up

Close up of ground at Painted Hills

From a distance, the ground looks velvety, or like the playground surfacing now so popular. But it feels like hardened mud. Bentonite expands as it absorbs water, then cracks and breaks as it dries. Today, bentonite clay is used in kitty litter, among other things.

Painted Hills, Oregon with Kids

Walking the Painted Hills Cove Trail

 

Boardwalks weave around the bright red mounds for the gentle (but otherworldly) 1/4-mile Painted Cove hike that even a preschooler or baby-jogger stroller can manage. It’s very hot out here though, with few shady spots. Slather on the sunscreen before leaving the car, and if you decide to go on one of the non-paved, more strenuous hikes that cross the Painted Hills, then bring lots of water for everyone. A mile doesn’t sound far, but in 90-degree temperatures in midday sun, it feels like a slog.

A picnic area is available; pack a picnic, because there are not many food options are nearby, except for the nearby dead-end town of Mitchell, Oregon, nine miles from the Painted Hills. Half of the town’s buildings appear to be sinking into the earth, a ghost town in the making.

Mitchell, oregon

Mitchell, Oregon

 

We ate an unforgettable breakfast at the Little Pine Cafe. Three words: Ice cream pancakes. They were somehow both scary and awesome. The kids loved them (of course), and I liked the cafe’s decor. The service was fast and friendly, and the menu is stacked with classics like onion rings and burgers. It felt very old-school Oregon. We still talk about that cafe. See? Unforgettable.

Little Pine Cafe, Oregon

Little Pine Cafe, Oregon

If you want to find more great places to go this summer with kids, head to Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday.

Camping Grub That Kids Will Love: Kid-Friendly Camping Food

Cardamom donut holes

Cardamom donut holes

Recently, I had the good fortune to interview Emily Trudeau, a veteran camper and one of the three cofounders of the camping-food blog Dirty Gourmet, along with Aimee Trudeau and Katherine Kwan. She encourages first-time campers to get out there — even if you’re not typically comfortable with sticks, dirt and bugs. “Being outdoors is a healing experience,” she says, whether you’re sitting around a campfire, counting stars in the night sky or watching your kids play (with sticks, dirt and bugs).

Camping doesn’t mean you have to leave the comfort foods of home at home — particularly with kids. Yet, if you’re sick of hotdogs by the summer’s end, I’m with you. With Emily’s help, here’s a quick rundown of popular camping meals for families that everyone will enjoy.

Dirty Gourmet Girls

Dirty Gourmet Writers

Kid-friendly camping meals (links to Dirty Gourmet site): 

Great kid-friendly camping snacks:

Camping with kids in Washington, Oregon and BC

Prepping for S’mores

Top this! New twists on s’mores: 

Emily Trudeau calls S’mores the “all-American quintessential campfire delicacy.” That doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun, though. Stack your s’more in a new way:

  • Pepperidge Farm Geneva cookies, marshmallows and dulce de leche
  • Shortbread cookies, marshmallows, chocolate and raspberry jam
  • Graham crackers, peanut butter, chocolate and marshmallow
  • Graham crackers, marshmallows, bacon, chocolate
  • Graham crackers, fresh strawberries, chocolate, marshmallows

Don’t forget:

  • Your awesome cooler
  • Cooking oil
  • Foil
  • Dish soap and cleanup
  • Cooking utensils
  • Mixing bowls
  • Silverware
  • A sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Plates & silverware
  • A knife for kids to “help” (you could bring bananas, etc).
  • Easy snacks for the kids (goldfish crackers, pre-sliced fruit, Trader Joe trail mix etc)

For more fun recipes, check out the Cascadia Kids “Camp Cuisine” board on Pinterest. Do you have a favorite camping snack or recipe to share?

Whale Watching in Washington State with Kids: Seattle, San Juan Islands & Beyond

Whale watching tours near Seattle

Orca Whales. Photo via NOAA.

Three resident orca whale pods (family groups of whales) circle our waters  June through September — along with visiting orcas in April, May, and late September and early October. Minkes, humpbacks and gray whales also pop up here and there, along with smaller whales such as white-sided dolphins. Whale-watching trips are fun for creature-crazy kids — the tours’ naturalists also point out the wild variety of birds, deer and other island or sea residents. Here’s a quick rundown of whale-watching trips in Puget Sound (Washington only), including prices and ages welcome aboard.

With young children, look into the short trips; older kids and teens can (probably) handle the longer cruises. Most of the excursions listed here are on bigger sightseeing boats (not the zodiac-style inflatables that are not typically recommended for young children).

Questions to ask about taking children on whale-watching trips:

  • Do children often ride the boat? (More to get an idea of the kid-friendliness of the tour company)
  • How many people do you take on outings?
  • Do you have kids’ activities on board, such as coloring books, toys, etc.
  • Is there a naturalist or marine biologist on board?
  • Is there a heated indoor space?
  • Is there an on-board restaurant?
  • Are there changing tables or a place to change my baby or child?
  • What do you suggest we bring with us? (Binoculars, route maps, snacks, bird ID guides — or are they supplied?)
  • What’s your cancellation policy?
  • What if we don’t see any whales? Do you offer a free trip or money back (or just tissues for the kids, boo hoo).

Whale Watching Options in Puget Sound (Seattle, Friday Harbor, Orcas Island, Bellingham) :

San Juan Excursions
Departs from: Friday Harbor, Washington State.
Ages: All ages
Kids ages 3 –12: $59
Tours last: 3-4 hour trips
Kid extras:  A children’s library, coloring crayons and books, a $1 snack bar, complimentary binocular use and a visit to the wheelhouse where they can “drive” the boat with the Captain.

San Juan Safaris
Departs from: Friday Harbor, Washington State.
Ages: All ages
Kids ages 2-12: $55
Tours last: 3 hours

Western Prince Whale & Wildlife Tours
Departs from: Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington State.
Ages: All ages on Western Prince II; Kids 6+ only on Western Explorer
Kids on WP II 2-12: $56; Kids on Explorer 6-12 $76
Tours last: 2.5-5 hours
Kid extras: On-board snack bar, coloring sheets, toys, two naturalists on boards who are kid-friendly.

Clipper Vacations
Departs from: Seattle, Washington State.
Ages: Age 6 and up. Clipper Folk Say: “The day is long, nearly 12 hours with all but 2.5 hours onboard the vessel.  It is a lot of sitting time to keep young kids entertained.  Although we often see whales along the way, the whale watch excursion itself is 2.5 hours including to/from the dock.”
Kids under age 12: $20
Tours last: All day (12 hours).
Kid extras: An experienced, family-friendly naturalist is on board; three decks seating up to 200 people; rent binoculars for $5/pair; changing table in washroom.

Puget Sound Express
Departs from: Port Townsend, Washington State.
Ages: All ages
Kids 2-10: $65
Killer Whale Tour lasts: 4 hours
Kid extras: Coloring offered to children; kids can accompany parents to the bridge to meet the Captain  (weather and conditions permitting).

Island Adventures
Departs from: Anacortes, Washington State.
Ages: All ages
Kids 3-12: $49+ (lots of deals though)
Tours last: 3-6 hours
Kid extras: Guests receive a 64-page color-photo wildlife viewing guide, free binocular use while on board.

Mystic Sea Charters
Departs from: Anacortes, Washington State
Ages: All ages
Kids 3-17: Start at $49
Tours last: 5-6 hours

Island Mariner
Departs from: Bellingham, Washington State.
Ages: All ages
Kids 4-17: $49
Tours last: 6.5 hours

Deer Harbor Charters
Departs from: Orcas Island (Rosario & Deer Harbor), Washington State.
Ages: All ages
Kids under 17: $42 & up
Tours last: 3.5 hours

Orcas Island Whales
Departs from: Orcas Island Ferry Landing, Washington State.
Ages: All ages
Kids 12 & under: $59
Tours last: 3.5 hours

Harrison Hot Springs with Kids: Where to Eat, Sleep & Splash

My kids and I recently went on two trips to Harrison Hot Springs, which is about 90 minutes east of Vancouver, and two hours north of Seattle. And we loved it.

Harrison Hot Springs Resort outdoor pool.

Harrison Hot Springs Resort outdoor pool.

The hot springs of the town’s name are located inside Harrison Hot Springs Resort. While there are little restaurants and hotels in the town of Harrison Hot Springs, this is a town that takes up all of about four blocks, and in order to use the hot springs, you must stay at the resort. So for that reason, check out the family deals and specials offered through the hotel’s website.

The hotel itself, although called a “resort,” is a straightforward middle-class retreat. You won’t find a lot of fancy touches (although there is free wifi) or luxe trappings. The property almost feels like it’s from the 1980s, and I mean that in a good way. The resort attracts people of all income levels, nationalities and languages. No one is here to put on airs — you’re walking around in a bathrobe, for goodness sake.

The pools at Harrison Hot Springs:

Natural hot springs come out of the ground at 150-degrees Fahrenheit; cool water is added, then the mix is fed into the resort’s five pools (which are also chlorinated for hygiene). Outside, plunge into one of three pools: the rectangular lap 87F/30C pool or the asymmetrical curved lines of the 95F/35C larger family pool or adults-only 105F/40C-degree pool. The water is warm enough to sit around in, whether it’s summer or winter, night or day. After sunset, we saw kids bringing glowsticks into the pool — and at night, you can look up and name constellations overhead without city light pollution.

Outdoor pools at Harrison Hot Springs

Rainy day at Harrison Hot Springs Resort

In summer, a spray park sits beneath surrounding towering mountain range –great for toddlers and preschoolers.

Indoors, you’ll find two more pools — another large, rectangular warm pool, and a very hot circular tub (38C/100F) below a dramatic ceiling and skylight. You can go from warm to cool to hot in a matter of steps.

Rooms at Harrison Hot Springs

Inside Harrison Hot Springs Pools

No poolside towel service exists here; you receive towels in your room, and you might not have enough of them during your stay. It seemed like our towels were constantly wet. You might bring some super-absorbent pool towels from home.

Poolside deck chairs are available, but you won’t find much shade. Pack sunscreen. Also, if you’d like a deck chair on a sold-out weekend, you may need to send a member of your party down to scout out chairs early (7 or 8 a.m., perhaps).

Rooms at Harrison Hot Springs:

Family-friendly rooms at Harrison Hot Springs

East Tower rooms at Harrison Hot Springs

Rooms come in more than 25 configurations in four different buildings: each were developed during different time periods. Choose from the East Tower, Main Hotel, West Tower and West Wing. The East Tower offers the most modern, with larger rooms. The family rooms — in the Main Hotel — are historic (so historic, they don’t have air conditioning in summer…). The East Tower and West Tower have balconies, and most rooms have two Queen beds. Views are categorized as garden, pools, lake, mountain and village.

I don’t like a lot of commotion, and rooms facing the inner pools get noisy, so I ask for a lake view room. Many young professionals and groups of friends come here to enjoy the adult-only pool late into the night (the pools are open past midnight), so you might want to figure that into your room choice considerations.

Because the rooms are smaller, you may want to pack some board games and books for the common areas, which are spacious. Lots of little nooks, two-person chairs, couches in front of the fireplace and table-side seats.

Awesome stuff: Arrive by 4 p.m. to take advantage of the daily tea service, so you can get a cuppa and a cookie. On very busy weekends, you may not be able to check in right away at 4 p.m., if your room isn’t ready, so be prepared to walk along Harrison’s lovely beachside path or go play at the town’s playground for a few minutes.

Eating at Harrison Hot Springs:

Most rooms come with a mini-fridge, which is great if you’d like to bring snacks or your own breakfast. We enjoyed the hot breakfast buffet in the resort’s Lakeside Cafe once, and it was okay (great views if you’re lucky enough to score a window). But the buffet is not something I would make a habit of, due to the price (unless you get a Harrison resort package or deal). So you might bring cereal and milk for the fridge.

Lakeside cafe kid-friendly restaurant in Harrison Hot Springs

Getting served at the Lakeside Cafe

The resort’s “Miss Margaret” cafe serves quite good (and shareable) wraps and salads, perfect for a poolside lunch. The hotel’s Copper Room is renowned for its live music, fine dining and light-up dance floor. There’s even a children’s dance floor. However, it is very expensive — sort of a special night out. I’ve never eaten there.

Dining in town is also sort of 1980s  — at 2025 prices. Harrison Pizza is decent, has great service, and offers good deals.  The Yukiya Sushi spot is also fine (despite what the Yelp reviews say), but expensive. In the sushi restaurant, there’s a cute little table-booth that feels a bit more private — as a family, I’d go for that booth. 

Muddy Waters Espresso Bar serves up gourmet sandwiches featuring local ingredients (until 2 p.m.). But mostly, this is a town with $11-12 children’s meals (yes, you read that right), so you may well want to plan for PB&Js or sandwich wraps in the room. There’s no grocery store in town, so stop at the Costco in Abbotsford, at the Abbotsford Farm & Country Market or a grocery in Chilliwack, 25 minutes away to the west.

Kids at Harrison Hot Springs:

The hotel supplies you with two adult robes, but no robes for children. Bring robes for the kids from home, and do bring them — walking between the rooms and the pools can get very chilly, especially at night. During peak travel seasons, the hotel plays kids’ movies.

Be aware that because of the high mineral content in the water, your muscles get tired (aka “relaxed”) very easily, so don’t let the kids wear themselves out on the first day. There’s a zero-entry point (like a beach) for the outdoor pool, perfect for babies and toddlers visiting Harrison Hot Springs Resort.

Bring flip-flops to make an easier (and cleaner) transition between hotel room and outdoors, and between the indoor and outdoor pools.

Kids can wear floatation devices, bring toys into the pool with them, and so on — so don’t forget those toys, either.

There are no lifeguards at these pools. You are 100% responsible for your own kids.

In the main building, kids might like the game room with some old-school arcade games. The resort’s gift shop is definitely the best one in town for families, with board games, activity books, t-shirts, and water toys. Outside, on the resort’s grounds, there’s a small garden suitable for hide-and-seek.

Family Activities in Harrison Hot Springs:

Okay, the truth is that my kids and I mostly like sitting around and playing in the hot springs. If you’d like more though, there’s a nice playground and beach (bring sand toys) lakeside, a water park (like a water playground), surrey bikes for rent and bumper boats for rent. Nearby, you can hike at Sasquatch Provincial Park, which offers picnic tables and Bigfoot (or so I hope, although I didn’t see him when I was there). A public swimming pool sits right in the town center, but it’s not really worth a visit.

***

Later this week, I’ll talk about what else your family can do around Harrison Hot Springs, if you’d like to make it a multi-day stay.