The Greater Seattle/Tacoma area is a great place to raise kids. The abundance of nature and wildlife activities will inspire awe in both kids and kids at heart. If you are stationed at Joint Base Lewis/ McChord, Naval Base Kitsap, Naval Station Everett, or NAS Whidbey Island, then you and your family are in driving distance of these kid-friendly activities.
Glass Beach is a stunning “hike” through miles of flat, sandy beaches. To get to the section with an abundance of ocean-eroded glass to comb, it will be about a 3-5 mile round-trip trek. But even the beach adjacent to the parking lot is a short distance and will delight small kids. Be sure to check the tide schedule and only go at low-tide! (Note that this beach hike is NOT stroller-friendly, but the flat nature of the trail makes baby-wearing a good alternative.)
Bainbridge Island is a quaint community with hiking, dinning, shopping, and family-friendly wineries and breweries. It is a 30 minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle, or a 45 minute drive from Bremerton/Silverdale (Naval Base Kitsap). I recommend visiting Doc’s Marina Grill, Eleven Winery, and Manitou Beach.
Because it is wheelchair and stroller accessible, the trek from the parking area to the falls is easily managed. The native Snoqualmie Tribe consider the 268-foot drop of the falls to be humanity’s place of origin, and with the majestic roar of the water rushing over the edge, it’s easy to see why. While in the area, be sure to stop by downtown Snoqualmie and treat yourself to a “cronut” (a croissant-donut!) at North Bend Bakery.
It’s more than a zoo; it’s a park that aims to educate on the native plant and animal species in our local area. With bears, birds, bison and so much more, The Northwest Trek Wildlife Park has traditional enclosures as well as 435 acres for many animals to roam free. Activities include trams, nature trails, zip line, keeper tours, Wild Drive, and more. Your local base may have discounted tickets, so be sure to check with ITT before you go!
Not only is the view of the bridge that connects Fidalgo and Whidbey Island stunning, but Deception Pass State Park also boasts one of the only ADA trails in the state. This means it’s a great place to hike for all ages and abilities! They’ve also created a Scavenger Hunt for kids while on the Sand Dunes Interpretive Trail to learn more about the variety of habitats. You’ll also want to look out for whales, seals, eagles, and military aircraft from the nearby Naval Air Station.
Nestled right underneath the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Gig Harbor, this rocky beach has picnic tables, grassy areas, and is a perfect place to spend a hot summer day. It’s small and off-the-beaten path, so it’s conducive to letting kids have some freedom and explore. Just be aware that there are only porta-potties, so come prepared if you are in the potty-training stage. But the view of the bridge is stunning! It’s also a good location to start a driving tour of Puget Sound.
The tulip fields in Skagit Valley are a sight to behold. With tulip fields for miles, the blooming beauty attracts tourists and locals each year. Even though the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is held in April, many of the fields (like RoozeenGaarde and Tulip Town) have activities year-round. Kids will love seeing all the colors and patterns of the tulip petals, and most tulip farms in the area also have specific activities/attractions made just for kids. Be sure to bring your camera, because you’ll want to cherish those memories for years to come!
Amie Glazier is the proud spouse of a Naval pilot and mom of four little kids. She is the co-owner and Director of Partnerships for The Military Mom Collective, a collaborative community for military families worldwide. When Amie is not writing or herding her adorable brood, you can find her working out at the local crossfit gym, binge-watching cheesy Hallmark movies, and actually enjoying chemistry while homebrewing with her husband. Amie and her family are currently stationed outside Seattle, and plan to make Washington their “forever” home.