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.

Portland Airport with Kids: Play Areas, Shopping and More

Whether you’re arriving Portland to enjoy a wonderful family vacation, or you’re headed out of town, the Portland International Airport (PDX) offers plenty of kid-friendly diversions. Who’d think that going to the airport could be so enjoyable? Who knows, you might even want to arrive a few minutes early.

Play areas for kids at Portland International Airport

Portland Airport Play Area things for kids to do

Portland Airport Play Area

Two play areas keep little ones busy at PDX. One play area is located near the D/E security checkpoint, pre-security, and the other is located on Concourse C near gate C17 beyond the security checkpoints. Tired parents and grandparents can rest weary legs on the nearby seats (just don’t fall asleep!).

The airport’s play area located near the D/E security checkpoint (pre-security) offers a full play structure equipped with two slides, climbing stairs and a creative space for imaginative play. The space also offers three Lego tables and a wooden activity set for toddlers.

Portland Airport Play Area a fun thing for kids to do

Portland Airport Play Area

PDX’s play area on Concourse C (post-security) offers an airplane-themed play space for toddlers and a flat screen TV.

Family restrooms at the Portland airport

Family rest rooms are located near Gates A2, C3 and D1.

Changing stations are available in every restroom at PDX. Here’s a Portland airport terminal map for further reference on where each is located.

Areas for nursing moms at the Portland airport

During normal business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday – Friday, excluding holidays), the PDX Conference Center, located pre-security, provides mothers a private area with seating to nurse their infants and an electrical outlet for pumps. This room is offered free of charge on a space available basis.

Of course, in Oregon, moms are free (and encouraged) to nurse wherever they like, whenever they like. I’m not making it up — it’s the law (read more at the Oregon Health Authority). While it’s fine if you don’t breastfeed, breastfeeding in public is very normal throughout the Pacific Northwest.

After security, pumping moms can head into one of many rest rooms throughout the airport that offer a convenient bench with nearby electrical outlets. The rest room near Gate D-3 offers a bench near a bank of sinks away from the toilet stalls.

You will also find benches and nearby electrical outlets in rest rooms near the ABC security checkpoint, on the baggage claim level.

Travel Tips for the Portland International Airport with kids

At the Portland airport, there was once a children’s toy store, but the store didn’t renew its lease. Thankfully, there are three Powell’s Books at the airport; one located pre-security in the Oregon Market, and the other two are located on Concourses C and D, beyond the security checkpoints. Each of these locations has an assortment of children’s toys and books to select from to keep little ones busy and entertained while traveling (more than 30 percent of their inventory is children’s toys). These locations even buy books — so you might be able to sell an already-read book, then buy a new board book for your toddler.

Need more help navigating PDX? Visit the Port of Portland’s website.

Thanks to Annie Linstrom and Steve Johnson at the Port of Portland for background information and photos.

Family Travel! Bobbi Sue camps with kids in British Columbia

bobbisue2Bobbi-Sue Menard kicks butt at camping. This Kelowna-based freelance journalist and mom of five kids knows a LOT about camping in every type of weather and condition. She goes on 10-day camping trips, she’s experienced 12-hour drives, she copes with torrential rainstorms, she’s even gone canoe camping. Wow. Sort of puts the one-night outing in perspective. Let’s hear more:

Why do you love camping with your kids?

I love camping with my kids because we do it together with abandon.  Once we are out there, while we might have adventures, and it might not work out, life is kind of simple.  We’re camping and that’s it.

Do you have a favorite BC family camping spot?

We were at Shuswap Lake Provincial Park three weeks ago and loved camping in the middle of a cedar forest, just beautiful.  The sites seem like they are set up in a fairy glen forest.  We also have fond memories of the Lakes District around Burns Lake.

What’s the longest camping trip you’ve been on in British Columbia?

We did 10 days in two stages. The first spot was in Syringa Provincial Park, which we loved, although it doesn’t have showers. We were there for three days before moving on to our true destination, Waterton Lakes National Park.

We looked at the map and despite the fact we are experienced mountain drivers we estimated the second leg of the trip to be 7-8 hours drive; we were wrong about the travel distance, it was closer to 12 hours with traffic, plus we had a late start as we had had truck problems so we left late.

When we arrived at 11 p.m., we set up in Waterton at our reserved site on the flats at the end of the lake. It was the pitch dark, with the torrential rain driven by 60-90 km/hr wind gusts.  We pitched the brand new, 8-person dome tent in the shelter of our Expedition SUV, yet the wind was so strong, the tent would inwardly flex so the roof would touch our faces.

The next morning we tore down camp again and waited in line at the non-reservable campsite on the mountain side where the wind was still strong but bearable. After a morning blessedly free of rain, it turns out it was just saving up…it sheeted rain for the next two days.

Eventually it eased off into a steady drizzle for the remaining two days of our trip and we got in some hiking and went paddle boating. Nonetheless we considered the trip a triumph.  The kids were aged 9, 8, 5, 3 and 1 — and none of them were sick, everyone kept good spirits and we were able to tell some really fun stories.

Wow, that is hardcore. Is there a point at which you know you need to pack up the tent, call it off and go home?

Serious vomiting or diarrhea, significant equipment failure that we can’t reasonably replace and puts us in real discomfort or possible danger. For example, when the last kid to go pee doesn’t shut the tent properly and the sleeping bags at that end of the tent get wet beyond reason with no way to dry the bags — we go home.

We have canoe camped with young kids, despite tons of planning, the right gear, and short trips, it generally sucked.  Time in a canoe is rarely fun after the first half hour or so with small kids.

Any general tips on camping with babies or toddlers?

With babies or toddlers, divide and conquer. Take turns with the kid(s) while the other parent accomplishes the basic tasks.  Bring the portable play pen, put the toddler in it whenever necessary.  If you aren’t too tired, use your child backpack or baby carrier liberally.

If you are hiking to the most gorgeous waterfalls you’ll ever see and they are at the end of a 7 km trail, with a 7 km hike back, make certain you have had toddler in a backpack for a 14 km hike more than once.

Love the environment, but don’t be a fanatic, bring stacks of baby wipes, STACKS. (Lora says: And bring even more baby wipes! An unending supply of baby wipes! Or 1000 cloth washcloths, if you must).

I am in awe of anyone who manages cloth diapers on a camping trip.  Make certain you have a good system, because those diapers will either be locked in your vehicle overnight because of bears or in your hard sided, possibly un-air-conditioned car with you.

Invest in a box of large Glad freezer bags, they’ll fit a wet, soiled outfit perfectly and keep the mess safely stowed until you get home to your laundry.  When I said invest I meant it, handling liquids on a camping trip can be a hassle, with kids you could be relying on the sealing power of quality bags more than you think.

What’s the most difficult thing, in your opinion, about camping with infants and toddlers? How do you overcome that problem?

Accepting how infants/toddlers sleep schedule is going undergo a big shift and you will be at its beck and call.  Depending on your kid, day two or three could see a parent quietly sitting in camp while your darling naps away an entire afternoon while the other parent takes older siblings on an outing. Plan to keep your child well rested; that will cut down on accidents (trips and falls), keep the hot afternoon whining down, and your child’s eating more regular.

So, what’s your never-leave-behind item that you feel like every family should pack on a camping trip? Anything special when you’re camping with toddlers?

Never leave behind prescription meds, a photocopy of ID, emergency contacts and medical insurance, and $100 cash. That’s the civilized list.  For physical emergency, never forget a first aid kit, or rain gear.  Bring pull-ups/overnight diapers for any toddler night trained for less than a year.  It gets cold in a tent and when kids are TIRED, accidents are more common than you would like to believe.

Is there anything that you think a family COULD leave at home?

You COULD leave home your dog on the first trip ever.  The first time can be a bit overwhelming and a dog can be a lot of stress.  You could also leave home everything electronic. Try the trip without a DVD player — play ‘I spy’ or ‘Simon Says’ in the car.

Any tricks for preparing for a camping trip with five kids?

For me the big thing is to think through solutions to situations before I leave so that my expectations are managed.  Then I tell the family how we are going to handle things when they go wrong.  For example: We now bring on board game for vehicle breakdowns.  We laugh about it, “This trip Monopoly only gets played it the truck dies…” etc.

For little kids we go over our expectations each day, “We are camping, we are here to have a good time, but as a person although you are small, you must remember please and thank-you, no whining and you wash your hands with the baby wipes before you eat anything.”

No-Cry Tips for Camping with Babies and Toddlers

OK, I’m sure half of you are laughing at the very title of this article – camping?! With an infant, crawler or toddler? The little humans that are nothing if not predictably unpredictable? Noooothankyou.

Wait, wait…come back. We’ll break this down and I’ll see if I can convince you. Because maybe there’s some little part of your pre-baby self that does want to sleep beneath the towering evergreens, the scent of fir and campfire enveloping your soul.

(I know, I said the word “campfire” and now all you can think about is your toddler playing with the embers.)

We took both kids camping at an early age – my daughter at 8 months on Mt. Rainier and my son starting at 12 months, on the Hood Canal. I’ve compiled a list of recommendations and tips from myself and Jennifer Aist, blogger at Wilderness for Kids and author of the excellent Babes in the Woods: Hiking, Camping & Boating with Babies and Young Children.

1. Try the tent. Camp in the glory of your own backyard, just to give your family a trial run. Some children have easy-to-transition personalities that won’t screech at a new sleeping spot. Others – well – let’s hear a story from Kelowna, BC-based mom Bobbie-Sue Menard, whose first four kids slept well in tents between 12-24 months. Then her fifth child put the established pattern to the test.

“My last baby pitched a high- frequency panicked fit at the top of his lungs on our first camping trip – at 3. a.m.,” Menard says. “Since we were surrounded by hundreds of tenters in Banff national park who were being woken up to the sound of screaming baby at 3 a.m., Baby and I slept sitting up with babe sprawled across my chest inside the van for the next three nights.” It happens. (We’ll hear more from Menard later in the week — this woman rocks the camping trip)

2. Pick the perfect campground. “If you are unsure about this whole camping thing, choose a campground that has resources nearby like a grocery store, restaurant or maybe even a hotel,” says Aist. I recommend staying no more than an hour from home, only so you can beat a hasty retreat if necessary (see point #1 above).


Even if you were an avid, hardcore backpacker before kids, don’t beat yourself up for taking the car-camping or “glamping” route with little ones. I hold off on the backpacking, at least until kids can help carry items back and forth to the car. However, other families certainly pull can this off with panache. (If you’re a backpacking-with-babies family, I’d love to hear from you)

Aist points out that busy campgrounds can be stressful; smaller campgrounds offer a calmer environment for young children. I prefer campgrounds stocked with additional attractions, such as a lake, beachfront or easy hiking trails. My other must-haves include running water — it makes for easier clean-up of easy-mess infants — and modern flush toilets. Pit toilets can be intimidating (and mega stinky) for adults, much less a potty-training toddler.

3. Select your site carefully. Avoid sites near rivers or lakes (to prevent wandering catastrophes), entrance/exit points for the campground (too much car traffic), or even a site without much privacy.  “Pick a site that backs up to the woods rather than another campsite so you won’t fret over keeping your neighbors up all night with a fussing baby,” Aist says.

If you’re with a potty-training kid, sites near the bathroom and running water are solid options; bringing along a portable potty isn’t such a bad idea either (we brought a Babybjorn Potty Chair).

4. Pack right. “Toddlers are very sensitive to their routines,” Aist says. “Keep the routines going even when you are camping,” and incorporate expected customs around sleep, comfort, food and play. Pack favorite snacks (Cheerios, Goldfish crackers), beloved stuffed animals, books they can practically recite from memory, Tylenol for teething infants and a camping lamp that can run all night (if your child loves his bedroom nightlight). One note — if you do use cloth diapers, you might think about switching to disposable or Gdiapers for the duration of your camping trip. Or figure out a good solution for dealing with dirty dipes (stay-dry stuff sacks are a good option).

To keep baby out of the fire or food prep area, use a pack ‘n’ play-type playpen from home, which can double as a nap and nighttime solution. “Daytime naps are critical to good night sleep,” Aist says, so don’t skimp on this part. With a baby monitor, you can listen in on your tent-napping babe, while you relax with a book by the fire.

5. Sleep tight. “For small tents, the pea pods (example: KidCo PeaPod Portable Self Inflating Travel Bed – Lime) are popular,” Aist says. She also recommends bag doubles like the Functional DesignSleeping Bag Expander for co-sleepers — the expanders make one parent’s sleeping bag wider, so baby can snuggle in with you.

Another option (our family’s choice) was to cosleep on a queen-size air mattress, bringing sheets, pillows and a lightweight-but-superwarm blanket along with us (I love our wool Pendleton Blanket— 10 years old and often all we need on a camping trip). We dressed ourselves warmly and outfitted our daughter in a fleece bunting, (like this Columbia Snowtop II Bunting) so she stayed warm all night — even after kicking off the covers. The bunting also served as a warm romper during a chilly alpine morning.

Before bedtime, remember what we mentioned about routines. “Look at your home bedtime routine and see how you can modify it in the field,” Aist says. “For example, if you read a book before bed at home, do it in the tent too. If you use a white noise machine at home, download a white noise app for your iPod and play it in the tent.” Don’t skimp on the pre-bedtime snack or feeding, and don’t keep your baby up late hoping they’ll be so pooped they’ll pass out. “Put them down for bed before they are overtired,” Aist suggests.

6. Reframe “camping.” The pace is slower, and there won’t be as much sitting around, reading magazines and books or chilling out by the fire — except during naptime. You may have to plan activities for your toddler or spend more time entertaining them, as on an airplane — but without someone glaring from the seat in front.

Order a book on local flora and fauna (we use National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest), as toddlers enjoy identifying and naming objects — why not the stinging nettle (ouch) or huckleberry? A few more fun toddler-ready ideas: Heading out on a trail ramble, looking for crabs (under rocks) at the beach, using a magnifying glass to get up-close to bugs, throwing rocks into the lake and collecting seashells. Playing with some of the food-prep equipment is always a great option – a toddler, a small fry pan, a tin cup and a spoon can last longer than you’d think. You could even bring a few toy trucks from home for hauling pebbles.

7.  Worst case scenario. We know what this looks like. Your infant or toddler hates camping. She hates being cold, she hates the weird noises and she really, really hates that icky campfire smell. You have a few options – pack it up and go home (we know people who’ve done this), sit in the car with your baby until she calms down or….pack it up and go home.

But don’t give up on the idea yet. There’s always next year, when the kids are a little older and more flexible.

“The benefits of getting kids outside far outweigh a bad night’s sleep,” Aist says.

Readers, do you have any tips for camping with babies or toddlers? Any favorite toys, campsites, must-bring items from home?

Tofino with Kids: Advice from a dad insider

Tofino BC with Kids

Tofino with Kids

Tofino is where wilderness and luxury meet. It’s a wave-washed destination where even the public campgrounds are never far from million-dollar views.

John Platenius is the parent of two children (ages 5 and 7) and a resident of Tofino, a top summer vacation spot along Vancouver Island’s western shore. Platenius has just put out a fine new book on the region, Tofino Guide, retailing for $19.95. Read more at his Tofino-focused website or leave questions below in the comments.

Here are Platenius’ tips on things to do with kids in Tofino, his recommendations for great hotels and campgrounds, and even the best hiking trail with a preschooler. (Photo at right, Platenius’s son playing on a Tofino beach)

1. Can you recommend a good Tofino hotel, if you’re staying with kids?

Platenius: Oh oh — prepare yourself for long answer, because there are so many great hotels and resorts in Tofino. Most people come here for the beaches, so it’s a natural fit to recommend a place located on one of the beaches. I can truly say that you can’t go wrong by any of the hotels and resorts that are located on a beach. For many families visiting Tofino, price is the main determining factor. Luckily for budget travelers, our peak season of July and August is relatively short, and there are incredible deals outside of these months. If adventurous families want to come to Tofino in the winter months, they can find a room or even a cabin at a luxury resort for $100 per night — and that’s for a stupendous beach location with cushy amenities!

The most established family-oriented hotel and resort on the beach is Pacific Sands Beach Resort. It’s located on Cox Bay and is a great choice. But it really comes down to taste and what’s available at the time. Pacific Sand’s neighbors, Cox Bay Beach Resort and Long Beach Lodge get rave reviews and are equally stunning in terms of location and amenities.

Chesterman Beach only has one hotel, the Wickaninnish Inn. The Wick is a Relais and Chateâux property and it’s the definition of luxury. My family goes there for coffee fairly often to take in the incredible atmosphere and feel special. If price is not your determining factor for accommodation, I would recommend it in a heartbeat. They have a kid-friendly   special called “Wick Kids” which has a kid-version of a gift basket and they offer complimentary child care when guests dine at their restaurant perched over the Pacific.

And then there is MacKenzie Beach, which has two places that I often recommend — again depending on the price and need for amenities. Middle Beach Lodge is an established resort that offers an out-of-this world experience. It was built with heritage materials and is appointed with marine antiques and artifacts that create a warm and relaxing mood. The owner likes to quote a writer who visited there and said “Ralph Lauren would be happy here,” and I too think that’s a great description. Middle Beach has a good approach to welcoming kids to a resort, with family-specific cabins, which are located a great distance from their adult-specific lodge. It’s a 40-acre property, so there’s lots of room for everyone.

The last place I’d recommend on the beach is Ocean Village Beach Resort on MacKenzie Beach. It was recently purchased by a green development team that revitalized the property. It is one of the few places in Tofino that has an indoor swimming pool. It also has an expansive lawn that leads down to the sandy beach, which makes it very attractive to families with wee ones.

OK – there’s one more on MacKenzie Beach that I should mention: Crystal Cove Resort. This place has an awesome private play park for kids. While it is mostly set-up for RVs, they have some really nifty cabins for rent that are built up on stilts, so it feels like your sleeping in a tree fort.

It’s also important to point out that many families choose to stay in vacation rentals — entire houses that have been set up for nightly rentals. My family loves to stay in a vacation rental when we travel, because we can cook our own food, and the kids have more space to roam around and play freely. Most of the resorts that I mentioned above have cabins that they rent in this fashion and there’s two large vacation rental management companies in town: Tofino Vacation Rentals and Tofino Beach Homes. Additionally there are over 100 privately owned vacation rentals in Tofino, so there are tons of options available.


2. Which beach is the best for toddlers or preschoolers visiting Tofino?

Platenius: In my mind, all beaches are great for young ones. Exploring, digging, boogie boarding, skipping rope with bull kelp — what fun! In Tofino Guide, I recommend MacKenzie Beach as the calmest beach for toddlers looking to wade around in the water. It’s relatively protected from the swell and wind, which generally makes for calmer water. There’s also some spectacular tidepools at one end of the beach that make for wonderful exploring if it’s a low tide. Kids love to squish their fingers into sea anemones and giggle as the alien-like blob squirts out water and closes it’s tentacles.

3. Can you recommend any family Tofino/Ucluelet restaurants where you can take kids?

Platenius: Ooooh. That’s a tough one. Most of the restaurants in Tofino are attractive for families, and all of them are good. Three come to mind, and I’ll explain the perks of each. All three give crayons and have kid-friendly choices.

SoBo — which stands for Sophisticated Bohemian — is run by parents of two young ones, so it’s a natural first choice. The owners recently commissioned a local father to build an attractive but functional play toy for kids to use on their patio. He built a mini replica of the purple bus that they used to operate out of when they first opened and it’s a great draw for kids. Our kids love to eat lunch at this restaurant, and they usually order a kid-friendly version of their miso oudon noodle soup. SoBo’s polenta fries are practically a staple for many Tofino families.

Shelter Restaurant is another great choice for kids, especially for lunch. It’s a bit darker, and more lounge-like than the other three, which I think can be fun for kids to experience. They have the best booths in Tofino — big and cushy. They also play surf movies on four or five TVs, which my kids love to watch. The kid’s pizza there is a great choice.

And then there’s the restaurant at the Weigh West Marine Resort, which has been around for a long time. It’s perched right over the water on wooden pilings, so kids can lean over the window and watch the marine life below. It’s common to see river otters and sea lions swimming right by your window, and you can watch the star fish clinging to the pilings. You are literally dining in an intertidal zone! The kids fish and chips is great, and it’s a good value too.

4. What is your favorite hiking trail in the area (that would be suitable for a family with young kids), and why?

Platenius: The Rainforest Trail, Loop B is my first choice. It’s about one kilometer long (0.6 miles), which I find a perfect distance for my 5-year-old daughter. The entire loop is boardwalked, which makes for easy walking, and there are great interpretive signs about the temperate rainforest ecosystem. One section of the trail crosses a ravine by way of a huge log that fell who-knows how long ago, which impresses the kids and the adults in the crew.

5. Can you recommend a favorite family-friendly campsite near Tofino? Why is it good for kids?

Platenius: Before I answer this one, I should mention that if families are looking to camp in Tofino in July or August, they should make reservations well in advance.

All of the campgrounds are family friendly, but I think Green Point Campground, in the Pacific Rim National Park is probably the top choice for families. It’s situated up above Long Beach, which is about a five-minute walk from most campsites. The reason I choose this one is because it gets you away from it all, but still has all the amenities you’d expect at a campground. Because it’s in the National Park, it’s significantly cheaper than the others. There’s a theater in the campground that hosts naturalists and park staff who present evening shows on topics like black bears, gray whales and the local indigenous culture.

Tips and Hints: Finding a family-friendly hotel

Kid friendly hotels – whether in Portland (Oregon) or Portland (Maine) — are blessedly similar. Sure, the landscape changes, but a great hotel offers both respite and recreation to vacationing families.

Here are questions we ask before we go, we or read over hotel websites to find the answers. Any of these points are equally valid if you’re looking for family friendly New York City hotels or kid friendly Las Vegas accommodations. And of course, you’ll want to take into account customer reviews or guidebook recommendations (I recommend dozens of kid-friendly Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle and Portland hotels in my book Northwest Kid Trips).

However, it’s rare to find a hotel that offer every amenity – you’ll probably weight some kid-friendly hotel features over others, and some won’t matter you a bit.

Questions to ask before you book your family-friendly hotel:

Do kids stay free? If we need a rollaway, is that free? Do kids eat for free?

Most (if not all) family-friendly hotels offer free stays for children under age 18, even if extra bedding (rollaway bed) is required. Kids may be offered free breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Does your hotel offer a free breakfast for families? What time is breakfast served?

A free breakfast for the whole family is a total score, in my book. Even if it is blah hotel food, fresh from Sysco, dished up assembly-line style. You can’t mess up cereal, fruit and eggs, at least not to an inedible extent. However, breakfast has to be served when a child’s internal alarm clock wakes the whole family . A 9 a.m. cereal call is not going to work for most children; they’ll wait too long and the whining will begin.

Is there a pool? Is it indoor or outdoor? If outdoor, what’s the temperature? Are there hours that are off-limits to families?

In the summer, an outdoor pool is lovely in the Pacific Northwest or British Columbia. But during any other time of the year, get staff to specify whether the pool is indoor or outdoor. An outdoor, unheated pool is a disappointment on a rainy spring day. A pool that kicks kids out by 8 p.m. is nothing but frustrating (10 p.m. seems reasonable, though).

Does your hotel offer any children’s services or perks?

Some Seattle, Portland and Vancouver hotels offer kid-friendly options like toy-stuffed backpacks, treasure hunts, holiday parties, stuffed animals, free passes to area attractions, borrowable board games, fish-babysitting opportunities and complimentary kid-bathrobe use. But you may not know unless you ask. Even if booking agents tell you about the amenities at booking time, you may have to remind front-desk staff at check-in. They’re busy and may forget.

Are there rooms on the ground floor that open onto a lawn or beach? Is there a fence or other kid-containment device? If the room opens onto a balcony, is it safe for toddlers or preschoolers?

Access to an outdoor area is lovely – as long as it’s safe. Older children, in particular, do well with wide-open spaces right outside the back door.

Is there a DVD player in the room? Do you offer kid movies for rent or free?

Some hotels are now offering DVD players and free rentals for families, or a coupon for one free on-demand family movie. I love this trend.

Is Wi-Fi free in the room?

I love it so I can work after the kids pass out (I’m often writing about our trips). But my kids love Wi-Fi because I can always set them up with a streaming movie or TV show if I need to take a quick shower. On our last long trip (taken during the school year), my daughter wrote blog posts on the educational aspects of the vacation — and then posted those items for her teacher’s review.

Where is the nearest playground or play area?

Hopefully, it’s around the corner or within a few blocks of your hotel.

Where is the nearest shopping or eating center?

I am not a fan of suburban stays – I don’t like being forced to eat lunch or dinner on-property, particularly because most hotel food is so overpriced and undertasty. I also generally dislike driving once at my destination, so I prefer to stay near a downtown location, where you can visit parks, pick up inexpensive food and toys, ride public transport and go for walks to people-watch.

Do you offer baby cribs, playpens or child-proofing kits?

You won’t need to bring your own massive furniture from home or rent it, if the hotel offers on-site baby-care items. In some older properties, you may want to make sure that the crib or pack ‘n’ play is up to current safety standards.

Does the room come with a fridge or microwave?

Many hotels offer minibars, but those rarely keep our noshes cold enough, and there’s all that moving around of tempting expensive liquor bottles. I prefer a fridge; sometimes you can pay a little extra to get a mini-fridge delivered to your room ($10-$15/night), if they’re not an automatic amenity. And a microwave is nice, if your children want warmed-up food.

Do you offer a clothes washer and dryer in the room? On site?

Some suite-style hotels do offer clothes washing facilities. You don’t have to pack as many clothing choices, and you won’t worry (as much) when your toddler paints his pants with ketchup.

Playmobil vacation on a hotel bed

Playmobil vacation on a hotel bed

Can we get a larger hotel room, such as a corner room?

This can be more important than a room with a view, at least for vacationing families. Rooms size and layouts – particularly in older properties – can vary tremendously, and you’ll want a room with ample floor area for playing, rather than a supersized, spa-style bathroom. On the other hand, if you’re staying in a city and plan to be out and about for most of the day, the room’s size may not matter so much.

Does the hotel room have a bathtub?

With smaller hotel room footprints, you may find only a shower in the bathroom. My kids are flexible and can go with any type of set-up (or we just don’t wash them for a day or two, oh horrors). But if your children insist on a bathtub (and you don’t want your kids to smell like mine), then you should insist on a tub as well.

Where is the parking located? Is it on-site? Is the parking garage down the block? Do you offer valet parking only?

Babies and toddlers usually require more gear: carseats, strollers, blankets, diapers, wipes, food, diaper bags…the list feels endless. You will forget something in the car. Or you will forget something in the hotel room. If you can’t easily access your vehicle – without going through a valet or three elevator systems – you will curse every forgotten item. You and your partner may play a super-fun game of “I think it’s your turn.”

It is not really a fun game. I’m lying. You should find a hotel with in-building or on-site parking.

One more note: Leave a decent tip for housekeeping, whenever they come to your room. Kids make messes and it’s nice to provide a little extra to those who work hard to clean up after you.

What would you add to this list of family-friendly hotel features?

Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Victoria, BC

To find out more about family-friendly hiking and camping near Victoria, BC I interviewed Kari Jones, a mom to one son and the author of the book “Hiking Adventures with Children: Southern Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula” which you can order from Kari’s blog or from Amazon.com.

Q: Is there a kid-friendly hike within Victoria’s city limits that you recommend? What do you like about it?

There are so many walks within Victoria; it’s hard to choose just one. But if I have to, I’d say Mystic Vale is my favourite. The walk starts at the University of Victoria, which is easily accessible by car or bus, but once you are in the Vale, it’s hard to remember you’re in the middle of the city. It’s a little bit of wilderness.

Mystic Vale (This photo and one at right — also Mystic Vale — courtesy of Sarah Pugh)

There are tall trees, wildflowers, and a little stream that runs its length. With small children, going to Mystic Vale can be a whole morning’s outing. The best place to park is along Cedar Hill Cross Road, and if you go by bus, you have to walk across the campus to Cedar Hill Cross Road (not far, about 5 minutes of walking). The Vale itself is probably only one kilometer or so, but I will see if I can get a specific length. If you look at the map at this link, the vale is the red line. As you can see, you can make a loop out of it by walking on the red line, which is up above the vale (in the valley).There is no cost, and it is always open, though I wouldn’t recommend visiting it in the dark. It would be easy to trip.

Can you recommend a hike (within 45 minutes of downtown Victoria) that’s good for families with toddlers? Is there a spot accessible via public transportation?

Francis/King Regional Park is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Victoria, and is a fantastic place for toddlers. There are several hikes, the easiest of which is the Elsie King Trail. This park is inland, so it’s drier than some of the coast walks.

Francis/King park, photo courtesy Marci Zoretich

The area is home to so many species of plants and animals I can’t name them all.  In the spring there are wildflowers all along the trails, and we have seen newts, moles, owls, and other hard-to-see creatures there.

If you are on a bus, Beaver Lake is a nice place to walk. It’s flat, and the trail is well defined. It’s less “wild” than Francis King, but there is still a lot of wildlife to entertain a toddler with.

Q: Can you recommend a hike (within 45 minutes of downtown Victoria) that’s good for elementary-age kids — children who can go a little further without complaint?

Witty’s Lagoon is a fantastic place for families with kids of any age. It’s a bit of a hike from the road to the beach, so be prepared to carry toddlers. Any kid will enjoy watching the water cascade down the waterfall and running along the lagoon. Once you reach the end of the trail, the beach opens up and you can spend a whole day amusing yourself in the sand and water. On a sunny day the water warms up on the sandy flats, and many people enjoy swimming when the tide is high.

Q: Where is your favorite kid-friendly hiking spot mid-island? What do you like about it? Who is it good for (age-wise)?

In the winter, people visit the ski resort at Strathcona Provincial Park, but many aren’t familiar with the great summer hiking. This park is really best in mid-summer, once all the snow has melted. There are lakes to swim in, mountains to climb, and alpine meadows to walk through and camping platforms to erect your tent on. It is a wilderness destination, so you have to carry in everything you need and carry it all back out again. It’s great for families with children small enough to carry or old enough to carry a small pack.

Q: Do you have a favorite Victoria post-hike spot to take your kid for treats?

After a hike we often stop in at Demmitasse (1320 Blanshard Street, Victoria) in Oak Bay for a baked treat and a hot chocolate or coffee (depending on your age!). It’s a family-run bakery on McNeil Avenue, which has seats outside where you can sit, even if you are stinky from hiking, and sip at lattes, cappuccinos or hot chocolates. My son always chooses a popsicle, even when the rest of us are having hot drinks. They cater to all our needs.

Q: How about camping? Can you recommend a great car-camping location not too far from Victoria, with trails or a lake (or similar) nearby?

My favourite car camping location is Ruckle Park. It’s on Saltspring Island, and what I love about it is that you drive to a parking lot, park the car, and walk to your campsite a few meters away. So when you’re camping, you have easy access to your car, but your view consists of ocean and trees. There’s a lovely hike from the campground to a small beach where kids can safely wade or play in the sand or search for purple shore crabs. The campsite is very near to a working sheep farm, which you can also walk around if you want a longer hike.

Thanks, Kari! Readers, can you suggest any hikes?

Victoria with Kids: 5 Things to Do with Toddlers in Victoria, BC

A reader writes in:

We are planning a family vacation to Victoria in June with our 2 year old.  Do you have any recommendations for kid-friendly hotels and activities?  Thank you so much for your help! — Jessica

I’m so excited for you. Victoria is one of my favorite destinations, particularly with toddlers.

My first suggestion — buy my book! In Northwest Kid Trips: Portland, Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, I lay out Victoria activities picks by age, and you’ll find more hotel and dining options than I have here.

But here are additional suggestions:

Kid-friendly Victoria BC Hotels:

I like staying at the Royal Scot Hotel & Suites, because I like the kitchen-equipped rooms, particularly when staying anywhere with kids, and I like how big the suites run (one bedroom separate from living area with a pull-out couch). There’s also an indoor pool and jacuzzi, always a hit with kids.

If you’re not particularly concerned about room size, The Fairmont Empress offers luxe rooms (some with views of the Inner Harbour) and a fun little kid’s activity pack at check-in. The Admiral Inn also provides simple, kitchen-equipped rooms, but the suite dimensions are slightly smaller.  I have more hotels (including kid-friendly Victoria bed and breakfast options) in my book.

Things to do in Victoria with kids:

  • Beacon Hill Petting Zoo. I know, you’ve probably visited a bazillion petting zoos already in your son’s short life. But this one is super cute. It’s only a few loonies to get in, and once inside, your toddler will be wowed by the Running of the Goats and the chance to groom the goats. I write more about Beacon Hill Children’s Zoo in this post, “Victoria Pick: Beacon Hill Petting Zoo.”
  • Butchart Gardens. Your child will mostly love running up and down the paths, poking the flowers (the Gardens is where my son learned the phrase “one-finger touch!”) and riding the carousel. You’ll love the spectacular diversity — sunken gardens, Japanese gardens, rose gardens. Don’t forget your camera, and don’t forget to check out these kid tips first. How to get to Butchart Gardens? You can always go with Gray Line Tours. But on a weekday, go for less on the city’s Route #75 bus. If you’re lucky, it’ll be a double-decker. Board at the first pick-up point to ensure a front-row seat on top. Toddlers and preschoolers LOVE the double-decker buses. If you bring a stroller, make sure it’s small and collapses easily to get it up the stairwell.
  • Royal BC Museum. The whole museum is fabulous — one of my favorites — but your toddler will love the Natural History Gallery, which has life-size, sound-rich exhibits showcasing of forest, seashore and ancient life. So a Woolly Mammoth towers overhead and a you’ll go toe-to-toe with a moose, right before you walk into the birdcalls in a seashore exhibit. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I really swear that seashore exhibit smells like the sea.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf. You can feed a seal! For real. Watch your toddler’s hands (some seals are grabby) and make sure the child doesn’t go over the wharf’s edge. I write more about the Fisherman’s Wharf on my “Island Time: 9 Fine Kid-Friendly Picks in Victoria, BC.”
  • Victoria’s Community Centers. If you brought your car (by traveling on either the Washington State Ferries or the M.V. Coho), you can drive to one of the fantastic Community Centre swimming pools. In Saanich, for example, check out these options at Gordon Head Recreation Center. Pirate ships, wave pools, swim toys, Tarzan ropes and toddler pools. They’re quite amazing, honestly.
  • With a 2-year-old child, you can take advantage of naptime in the stroller and shop downtown or shop along Fort Street (antiques). Oh, I miss those days…

What you might not do in Victoria BC with toddlers:

  • Victoria Bug Zoo. You’ll want to listen to the funny tour guides, and your child won’t, and you may feel frustrated at how quickly you have to leave. It’s a fantastic Victoria attraction — and I love it — but with a child that age, you might expect it to be more of a 20-minute stop, unless your child has a much longer attention span than the average toddler, and is far gentler (to hold the bugs without squishing them). The Victoria Bug Zoo can be a better choice for preschool-aged children and up.
  • Miniature World and Royal London Wax Museum. I don’t think either will hold his interest, unless he knows plenty of fairy tales. The wax museum has a very gory part that is best avoided unless your child is already watching PG-13 or R-rated films. Even I had nightmares afterward. But I am a big baby like that. It’s easy to skip the hallway though, without your child even knowing that you’re passing it by.
  • Pacific Undersea Gardens. I do not recommend this attraction to anyone, sorry. It’s currently rated #79 out of 79 attractions in Victoria, BC on Tripadvisor. If that doesn’t tell you what you need to know, then e-mail me.

 

Kid-friendly Victoria BC Dining: See my post on family-friendly Victoria restaurants. With a toddler, I would go with the Rebar, Hernande’z, Crumsby’s, Paradiso di Stelle and Noodle Box (all profiled in the piece).

That’s it! Remember, I love answering reader questions. E-mail me at lora AT cascadiakids.com with your questions and I’ll do my best.

Hikes for Kids Near Downtown Seattle

When visiting Seattle, don’t miss the chance to scramble up a fewhiking  trails with the kids. The city limits yield plenty of hiking treasures, and if you’re in town for a few days and you’ve rented a car, spectacular scenery is within a 45-minute drive of the Seattle.

This week, hiking expert Joan Burton tells visitors and locals where to hike in and around Seattle with kids.  Burton is the author of Urban Walks, 23 Walks through Seattle’s Parks and Neighborhoods, published by Thistle Press and Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades, published by Mountaineers Books.

Burton offers great information on kid-friendly hikes in our area. For even more tree-lined trails, plus driving directions and complete hike descriptions, order Burton’s book, Best Hikes with Kids in Washington.

Q: Can you recommend a hike within the Seattle city limits, good for toddlers and preschoolers?

A: Located within Seattle city limits are two large waterfront parks, which families with toddlers and preschoolers can enjoy at any season.

Just 20 minutes from downtown Seattle, Seward Park has a paved trail around a level, 2 1/2 mile peninsula on south Lake Washington. Walkers can push a stroller or carry a toddler in a backpack while walking a dog. The lakeshore beside the trail all the way around the point offers on clear days views of Mount Rainier and the Cascades floating above it. Protection from wind and weather is available in picnic shelters.

In West Seattle (also about 20 minutes from downtown), Lincoln Park lies on Puget Sound, so its western views are of the Olympics. It offers steep wooded paths and level paved trails, but to get to the shoreline promenade with the most gentle descent, drive to the south part of the park and find the path near the ferry landing to reach the paved waterfront path.

The saltwater beach is accessible to families with toddlers, and there are shelters for picnics. Families will find the 1 3/4-mile trail north to Colman Pool — filled in summer with warm salt water — a good option.

Q. Is there a spectacular hike for older kids, within 45 minutes of downtown Seattle?

Snoqualmie Falls is so beautiful the local Indian tribe considers it a sacred place. You can admire the 268-foot falls from a parking lot viewpoint and walk down a steep path to the plunge pool, or you can hike with your children one mile to the base of the falls and gaze upward in awe.

Puget Sound Energy has harnessed the falls for their power, but you can walk around the power station gate to the station powerhouse. See kayaks and rafts being launched there in the eddying current.

On the other side of the powerhouse, follow the rocky trail to a dead-end viewpoint up the face of the waterfall. The sight is so compelling it is hard to turn away and the sound of the falls drowns out all conversation.

Q. Can you recommend a hike for parents of babies or non-walkers, 35 to 45 minutes from downtown Seattle?

In North Bend, Washington, Scenic Rattlesnake Lake has a wide trail around it, past a picnic area on the west side to the south end. In addition, you can see the Cedar River Watershed Visitor’s Center with good natural history exhibits, a three dimensional map of the watershed, and in its courtyard a magical group of large drums being played by amplified raindrops.

Above the lake lies Rattlesnake Ledge, the eastern-most peak in the Issaquah Alps with a sweeping view. It’s a hike popular with parents, who are able to carry a snoozing baby up to its summit. Switchback upward to a rocky ledge with views for 270 degrees of the horizon, toward the city, along the valley and lake below and back to the Cascades.

Rattlesnake Lake is only 36 miles east of downtown Seattle.

Q. Is there another hike you’d recommend for families?

Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest park, with 534 acres of beaches, meadows, ravines and woodlands, It lies between Elliott and Shilshole Bays and offers a maze of walking paths and roads, some left from the 19th century when the park was a federal Army fort, Fort Lawton.

discovery park seattle hike

Discovery Park, Seattle

The park was named for George Vancouver’s ship, the HMS “Discovery,” which sailed past this point in 1792.  The story goes that when Vancouver first saw the madronas along the bluff, he thought they were magnolias and so named it Magnolia Bluff.

Paved roads and trails are open to bicycles and paths are open to hikers only. The park holds a mix of natural and cultural resources, including old military installations.

You can look for woodland second growth, grassy meadows, an historic district of old officer’s homes and barracks; Daybreak Star, an Indian cultural center; viewpoints along the bluff high above the Sound; and miles of undeveloped salt-water shoreline beach lit by a historic former U.S. Coast Guard Lighthouse, open for tours during visiting hours.

This park offers kids long beaches and woodland trails and a meadow where they can fly a kite in the breeze.

The Environmental Center offers children’s activities, nature walks, and displays. The Daybreak Star Center has a collection of Native American clothing, tools, carvings, and baskets, an alternative on a rainy day.

Another beach access trail on the south of the park avoids the steep stairs, and also offers long beaches to play on. Beachcombing on a low tide day is a treasure hunt.

Thanks, Joan! Check out her site (www.joanburton.org), which also describes easy city hikes, trail closures and her work with the Washington Trail Association.

Do you have a favorite Seattle hike to recommend to families?

Also, visit My Little Nomads for even more Joan Burton hiking goodness!