By Sonia Garza, Army Spouse

The Pacific Northwest offers plenty of things to do whether its a family event or a date night with your spouse. And the I-5 corridor makes it an easy drive to fun getaways. Here are our suggestions when you want to venture away from base to enjoy fun day trips JBLM.

Fun Day Trips from Joint Base Lewis-McChord

#1 Beach Getaway

When the weather is nice, you’ll want to find the nearest beach area to enjoy. Steilacoom is the closest beach town, only 10 minutes from JBLM. If you are looking to spend a day exploring the Pacific Ocean, rather than a nearby lake or the Puget Sound, head west to Ocean Shores, a quiet beachfront community where you can fly your kite and do some local shopping.

#2 Bridges and Boats

Washington state is a beautiful place to see, especially by boat. Catch a ferry at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park to Vashon Island, only a 10-minute ferry ride, for beach swimming and eateries. Better yet, take the 20-minute ferry in Steilacoom to Anderson Island for waterfront dining. Head further out by way of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to waterfront towns like Gig Harbor, where you can take a gondola ride or go to the viking town, Poulsbo.

#3 City Life

Tacoma is a short day trip from JBLM, as it takes roughly 25 minutes to get there. Although close, Tacoma offers world-class amenities that can take all day to view. Park at the Freighthouse Square (where parking is free) and ride the light rail train to the city center. Grab a cup of coffee at Anthem and cross the glass bridge to the Museum of Glass and visit artisans making pieces in the hot shop. Visit the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of History or Children’s Museum. Or you could spend the day at Point Defiance Park and visit Owens Beach or Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Sports buff? End your evening with a Rainier baseball game at Rainier Stadium or attend a show at the Tacomadome.

#4 The Emerald City

Getting to Seattle can take upwards of an hour from JBLM, but you will not regret this day trip. Seattle is a mecca for art, culture, and fun! Park downtown and walk the high-end shops or head to the pier to ride the Great Wheel. The Seattle Aquarium on the water is a must see, as well as Pike’s Place Market for specialty items and food. Are you a chocolate lover? Tour the Seattle Chocolate Factory for a special treat then head to the Space Needle for a spectacular view of the city. Don’t forget to check out the art museums too!

#5 Capital City

Olympia is a quick trip from JBLM, roughly 25 minutes, but you can easily spend the entire day exploring the Capital city. Stop in for a visit to the Capital building, grab a cup of freshly hand-crafted java at Olympia Coffee Roasters, and stroll the streets and shops. If you have your kids in tow, catch a show at the Olympia Family Theater then head to the two-story Hands On Children’s Museum.

Lewis-McChord

#6 Mountain Trip

Within an hour from JBLM, you can be at the foot of Mount Rainier. During the summertime, passes are open. Just be sure to take your winter coats as Mount Rainier still has snow even in July.

#7 Portland 

Everyone stationed near JBLM must take a trip to Portland. It is as unique as they say. Make the drive or catch the Amtrak train to downtown. Go hungry and visit the rows of food trucks. Head to the Portland Zoo or the Children’s Museum if it’s raining. Don’t forget to pay a visit to Voodoo Donuts. You’ll go home happy.

#8 Rainy Day Trip

The Pacific Northwest is a wonderful place when it’s nice outside, but the rain can last anywhere from 6-9 months, so it’s important to find indoor getaways. One such place is the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, about 40 minutes from JBLM. Pack your swimsuits so you can splash in the water park until your heart is content, even if it’s miserably wet and cold outside.

These are just a few day trip ideas. If you are blessed enough to call JBLM home during your military journey, you will find that there are endless things to do and places to see right at your back door.

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Sonia GarzaPCSgrades Author: Sonia Garza is a proud Army wife of 10 years and mother to two wild kids. A journalist by trade with a BA in Communications/Journalism and a Masters in Nonprofit Management, her passion for writing has led her to write for print and online publications spanning from the West Coast to the East Coast, including local and on-post newspapers, lifestyle magazines and military spouse blogs.