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A Kid Friendly Guide To Mt.Rainier

Thinking of taking kids on a day trip to Mt.Rainier? I’m here to help, with family friendly hikes and know-before-you-go tips if it’s your first time taking the family to Mt.Rainier.

First, because I get a lot of folks here at SFM who are new to the area (Weclcome!) , I’m going to help you talk like a local. Ready? If it’s a clear, sunny day, we say, “The mountain is out.” Fun, huh?

Moving on….Whether you’re entertaining out of town guests or just looking to wow your kiddos, it’s hard to beat a real life mountain (and a volcano at that), for a daycation destination.

Child Friendly Activities At Mt.Rainier

There are several possible routes to Rainier. We typically head to Sunrise, going through Enumclaw and Greenwater on 410, just as if you were headed to Crystal Mountain.

You might also consider heading to Paradise first, via Elbe. has good options and directions. also has a great round up of  ideas for family fun at Mt.Rainier.

Here are my other top tips. Let me know if I missed your favorite! [Read more...]

Ten Great South Sound Parks With Shade!

Need a fun place to cool off with the kids today?

If a little natural air conditioning is in order, I’ve got a list of great shady parks and playgrounds! I’d love for you to share any I missed in the comments.  At the bottom of the post I also have a round up of all my other posts on keep cool strategies for the South Sound, including places to swim, play, eat, and just plain beat the heat!

Pierce County area parks with good shade

Mud Mountain Dam  Children’s wading pool with spray feature, playgrounds, and shaded walking trails   Out towards Greenwater-make it a full day, day trip.

Tehaleh Trails  Bonney Lake  Many shaded walking trails at this Bonney Lake area development. No, you don’t have to be a resident, and yes, they have a trail map!

Loyalty Park Sumner  Fun playground, and huge trees that provide ample shade.

Wildwood Park Puyallup  A great choice on a hot day. It features a little crick for kids to splash in right next to the playground, and tall trees provide shade. Kids will get very dirty here. [Read more...]

South Sound Swimming Lakes

Ready to go for a swim  with the kids? If this heat has you ready to go jump in a lake (literally) here’s a list to hep!

Lake Meridian with text

This round up comes from Sounds Fun Mom Facebook readers who responded to my request for their favorite South Sound lakes for swimming. If I missed a great one you know, leave a comment!

Please do remember that even if a lake has lifeguards, it is important to be vigilant when your children are around water.  You knew that, right? :)

Lakes Where You Can Swim in the South Puget Sound

Renton-Gene Coulon Swimming beach on Lake Washington, walking trails, playground. food concessions  Lifeguards on duty 12-8 through Labor Day

Maple Valley -Lake Wilderness LIfeguards on duty from 12-7  playground, boat rentals, concession stand  Reader Brooke adds that there are clean potties. Bonus!

Kent-Lake Meridian  Lifeguards 12-7  swimming beach, fishing, picnic areas, playground    You can read more about the park in a post of mine here. [Read more...]

Help! The Playground is a Mosh Pit: Strategies for Dealing With Summer Crowds

A trip to your favorite playground can be a little startling in the summer. School is out, and all those big kids have to go somewhere.  Here are my best strategies for having fun on days your regular hang out is a seething kidapalooza. See if I have yours!

Playground Crowds

1.Go Early   Have your fun in the morning, and you’ll beat a significant portion of the crowd, including day care field trips and bored teenagers. Plus, it will be cooler, and your kids will probably be in a better mood.

2. Go Elsewhere   At the risk of stating the totally obvious, most communities have one really popular park, and a bunch of smaller parks that hardly anyone goes to. Head to your park department web site, or the one for a neighboring community and make a little list. Neighborhood parks are often good bets. If you’re a local, Metro Parks Tacoma tends to call these, “Pocket Parks,” There are also a few they call, “Tot Lots.”

3. Go to school  My son’s school has a great little playground, and in the summer there is almost never anyone there. There is something totally delicious about getting to hop on the equipment without having to wait your turn.

4. Go wild   While playgrounds tend to get packed, less developed parks are much less likely to see a whole group, and even if they’re crowded there is room to spread out. We’ve been to Owens Beach and Dash Point on days the parking lots were nearly full and easily found room to spread out by walking a bit.

5. Just embrace it! A park full of kids means you might get to skip a day of tag duty. Just teach yours to answer loudly, “Here I am,” when you call and scope out the exits to the play structures.

What’s your favorite less crowded playground? I’d love to hear about if if you’re willing to spill!

Download a Free Adventure Journal from REI

This is one of my favorite summer freebies for kids. Want to encourage your kids to get outdoors this summer? REI again has this great free adventure journal that you can download. After they complete just one activity (or any number you want), you can award them this Official Adventure Hero certificate.

REI’s family page also has lots of tips on taking your family hiking and camping, recipe suggestions, and more. They also offer some pretty cool classes for kids and grown-ups, though a lot of them are at the Seattle store.

Have you already planned some adventures for this summer? I’d love to hear about them! If you need some inspiration, I have lots of great ideas in the menu bar under Outdoor Adventures and Summer!

U-Pick Strawberry Picking at Puyallup’s Picha Farms!

Guess what? U Pick berry picking has started at Picha Farms in Puyallup! Now, the season for this is always short, so if it’s on your to-do list this summer, don’t wait long! If you haven’t done U-pick before, read on for all the berry delicious details!

A rare appearance by my hubby…The Sounds Fun Dad….being a good sport in the berry fields.

The boys and I have done lots of roadside blackberry picking and some hillside blueberry and huckleberry picking, but this weekend was our very first try at a U-pick strawberry patch. Local strawberries really are so much yummier than those sad, California berries, and I had visions of shiny jars of jam dancing in my head.  I dragged my husband too, even though he was muttering about all the years of night school he’d done to avoid having to work that hard. Whatever…. We went to Picha Farms since it’s the closest for us (Spooner isn’t offering u-pick this year, but you can find their berries at the farmer’s market along with other local berries). At Picha you pick up your boxes from the stand or buy already picked raspberries or strawberries if you change your mind! You’ll be directed across the road to the field where a berry girl will assign you to a row. This was a little too organized for my hubby, but it does make sense. I was pleasantly surprised to find that both boys got right into the task and understood that the berries were supposed to go in the box rather than their tummies. If you’re new to the u-pick strawberry scene too, here are a few quick tips: [Read more...]

Playground Report: The New Playground and Sprayground at the SERA Campus!

Hey, South Tacoma, you’ve got a new playground and sprayground!

Playground by STAR Center S Tacoma

[Read more...]

The Lost Ladybug Project!

Lost Ladybug Project

I feel like I’ve been waiting the whole, long Winter to write this post!

First, before I tell you about the coolest group science project ever, and a super easy way to keep your kids busy for a whole afternoon, I want to tell you that there is another group with a very similar name.

This post is about the Lost Ladybug Project.

If you go to look it up on your own one day, don’t confuse it with the Ladybug Project-a cool sounding group, but something totally different. Got it? Moving on….

What’s the Lost Ladybug Project? Basically, it’s a national effort to figure out what ladybugs are left, and where they are. [Read more...]

Tacoma’s Spraygrounds Are On Today!

Yes, Tacoma, your spraygrounds are on!

The nice folks at Metro Parks have turned eight of them on early again to help you and the kiddos beat the heat. Hours are limited, as this is normally still test and repair season.

Here is the list of open spraygrounds and hours for May 13th-16th. All nine spraygrounds will be open this weekend with regular hours, and then open daily beginning May 27th.

These eight locations ONLY will be open Tuesday-Friday this week from 10 am-4 pm. [Read more...]

Best Beaches For Kids In The South Puget Sound!

This time of year I start getting traffic from folks looking for beaches, hikes, and all kinds of outdoor fun.

I love it!

South Sound Beaches

With that in mind, I thought I’d do a little rundown of our fall time favorite beach outings around the South Sound. If you have a favorite we’ve missed, let us know! [Read more...]