Day Trips,  Kid-friendly Trip Ideas,  Seattle

Family Day Trips from the Seattle Area

If you’ve only got a day, try one of these family-friendly daytrips from the Seattle area for winter break, spring break or a weekend escape:

Bellingham with Kids Daytrip

Take I-5 North to Bellingham and enjoy the town’s artsy vibe, parks and museums, then get a cool scoop at Mallard Ice Cream. In fact, there are over 20 family-friendly things to do in Bellingham.

If you don’t want to drive as far as Bellingham, try the picture-perfect, riverfront town of La Conner for spring’s tulip festivals or just to stroll streets stacked with bookstores, toy shops and museums.

A typical storefront in La Conner

Don’t forget to try the Banana Coconut Cakes at Calico Cupboard Cafe.

Time one-way to Bellingham: About one hour, 40 minutes.

Kitsap County with Kids Daytrip

A quick ferry from downtown Seattle delivers you to Bremerton, where you can pick up a pack of Belgian frites at Fritz European Fry House or tour the U.S.S. Turner Joy warship (my son loved the maze of sleeping bunks and chow hall). At Bremerton’s small, affordable Quarters Arcade, you can pick up plenty of skeeball points and questionable prizes (that kids love).

You can do this passenger-only, and walk around downtown Bremerton, but pay close attention to return-ferry times.

Maybe you can find your sea-legs aboard the U.S.S. Joy — I obviously didn’t!

If you brought a car, drive up the peninsula to enjoy the Nordic themes and the SEA Discovery Center in Poulsbo, which has a replica tide pool and doesn’t charge an admission fee. If you’re not exhausted yet, end your day at Bainbridge Island’s KiDiMu. Ride the ferry home, from Bainbridge to Seattle.

Time one-way to Bremerton: About one hour, but pack lots of snacks if you embark on this trip, which is considerably longer.

Olympia Daytrip with Kids

Visit Olympia’s stellar Hands On Children’s Museum with little kids or the Washington State Capitol Building with big kids. Then spend a few hours in the local toy stores, cafes and at Olympia’s April-December farmer’s market. Read more here: Daytrip: Olympia with Kids.

Finding out what’s up with George at the Washington State Capitol

Need more to do? On the way down, you can always make a stop at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo. Or visit the 19th-century fort at Fort Nisqually’s Living History Museum, which now has an escape room.

Time one-way to Olympia: About one hour

Snoqualmie Pass Daytrip with Kids

If the snow skipped your neighborhood, there’s still a chance of catching the white stuff up on Snoqualmie Pass, even into early spring. Whether sledding or snowshoeing at Hyak, skiing at Summit West, tubing at Summit Tubing Center or just playing in the snow, the Cascades offer dramatic vistas of cloud-wrapped, evergreen-studded peaks. Read more at The Summit at Snoqualmie website.

Sledding and snowshoeing at Hyak

In summer, either stay mountaintop and enjoy the cool breezes or push on just a little further over the mountains and let the kids visit “The Dry Side.” Central-Eastern Washington features a dry, hot, arid landscape and rolling hills of bleached grass. Your kids might not think they’re still in Washington. A prime pick: Washington’s weird little Petrified Gingko Forest (about 2 hours from Seattle; head to downtown Ellensburg for food).

Time: 45-90 minutes or more , depending upon road conditions. In winter, pack chains and check road conditions before leaving.


Lora Shinn writes about family travel, Pacific NW travel, grown-up travel...and travel in general. Her travel-related articles and essays have appeared in Family Fun, Parenting, AFAR, National Geographic Traveler, AAA magazines and Redbook, among others.

One Comment

  • Anna

    Oooh, still haven’t taken the kids to La Conner. The historical museum is the perfect kid-sized experience. On the list for when the weather improves!