In less than a mile, this kid friendly hike at Mt.Rainier will have you at a magical sub alpine lake where your kids can splash and look for frogs. What you won’t find on this hike are crowds, because this special trail seems to hide in plain sight! [Read more…]
Sun is in the forecast all week. Just in time, our contributor Tabitha has a report on Puget Park in North Tacoma, a unique pocket park with interesting equipment, shady picnic spots, and a trail that leads down to Ruston Way.
Puget Park sits on 1.22 acres and is nestled on 31st & N. Proctor in North Tacoma, with a newly updated playground and a trail connecting Puget Gulch and the Ruston Way waterfront.
The park offers a playground, trails, and shade that makes it a great spot on a hot day. There are tables for a picnic, or you can throw down a blanket and relax on the grass.
The playground equipment is fairly new and has many different features. I’d say the toys are appropriate for a range of ages; 0-2 years old will love the swings and the shaded grass, 2-12 will find something they love. I’d say the big toy is geared more towards ages 2-7, as the older children get bored quickly. Ages 8-12 will enjoy the spinning toys surrounding the big toy. There are plenty of hills if your child loves to roll down the grass hills. [Read more…]
Saturday the 24th you can get fee free entrance into all national parks and our state parks in celebration of National Public Lands Day. Of course, the closest national park to the South Sound is Mt Rainier National Park. If you’re making a visit with your kiddos, a great place to start is by hiking at Grove of the Patriarchs, where you can see 1,000 year old trees!
To access this hike, enter the park at the Stevens Canyon Entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park. Continue west until you see the Parking lot with the helpful sign. There may or may not be a couple of sillies hanging out around there.
Take a potty break in the mostly clean bathrooms before hitting the trailhead. The Grove parking lot is also used by visitors to access Silver Falls, which is another great hike that goes a much farther distance. The Grove of the Patriarchs hike is a 1.1 mile mostly flat trail that includes a suspension bridge to a magical island of giant, old growth trees. The trail is well maintained and easy for little ones to traverse. You could bring your jogging stroller if necessary, but you will need help lifting it over some of the inclines that include steps.
Along the hike, you will see many fallen trees with giant root systems. Your kiddos won’t be able to resist a photo op!
You’ll spy the Ohanapecosh River from the trail, too!
The highlight for the kiddos on this hike is definitely the suspension bridge that allows crossing over the Ohanapecosh River. The sign alerts that only one person should pass at a time, so be prepared to wait your turn if it’s a particularly busy day at the Grove.
Once you’re on the other side, you will come to a boardwalk that winds through the old growth forest. There are benches for resting along the way, or simply sitting and taking in the grandeur of the forest.
Continue walking along the boardwalk, which is a loop and you will see this giant 1,000 year old tree that measures more than 7 kids across, or more precisely 40′ in diameter.
This hike is ideal for all ages, and is a wonderful start for little legs. Older kiddos will also enjoy the adventure of the suspension bridge, and the magnificence of the giant trees.
Looking for even more fun at Mt. Rainier with kids? Here are some other posts you might enjoy:
State parks are also free on Thursday, August 25, where you can visit all Washington state parks fee free! Our favorite south sound Washington State Parks are Saltwater State Park in Des Moines and Dash Point State Park in Federal Way.
Where can you find a playground that’s safe for toddlers? We asked this question over on our Facebook page, and as usual, our readers delivered. If you need a playground that’s fenced near Tacoma, or you just want to find somewhere where you can keep your, “Runners,” in sight, we think you’ll love this handy guide.
Read on for the whole list! [Read more…]
This shady park might be Puyallup’s best kept secret, and it’s perfect for kids whose favorite playground is mother nature!
It’s great if you’re looking for a park where kids can wade or keep cool,and it’s also a nice spot to meet up for a nature walk (you can even bring the stroller!) or a picnic.
The two playground structures are by the little creek (Crick?). They’re nothing special, but the kids will have fun on them. The metal slide can get hot on those very rare days when they’ve been in the sun long enough.
For most kids, the water will be the primary attraction. It’s truly just a trickle, especially in the summer, but it’s plenty for kids to stomp in, and it’s just the right amount for making temporary dams and floating leaf boats. I always made my kids wear sandals or water shoes.
My boys and I have also spent many days here exploring the woods and walking on the trails. It’s an 80 acre park with more than 50 forested ares of towering trees.
A few things to know if you go: [Read more…]
One of my favorite ways to spend time with my kiddos in the summer is a trip to the city. All of these excursions are free or almost free. You could theoretically walk to all of these locations from Pike Place Market, but little legs may not want to traverse the city blocks. Bring a stroller or Ergo, and be prepared for hills.
If you love art and beautiful views of the Sound and the Olympics, check out the Olympic Sculpture Park. This outdoor art space features gigantic pieces of art along an impressive walkway at the very north end of the Seattle waterfront. It’s an awesome way for kids to experience art in a space where they can run, jump, and scream and no one will know the difference. There is a parking garage or you can find a spot on the street. Throughout the summer, you can also catch Summer at SAM on Thursdays and Saturdays, with live music, outdoor yoga, free art tours, and a Kids’ Corner.
After you explore the art, take a 1.25 mile bike ride through Myrtle Edwards Park. The incomparable views of Elliott Bay continue along this waterfront bike and pedestrian path. If you’re into geocaching, there are some caches you might enjoy or maybe you can find some Pokemon!
Take a 15 minute water taxi ride from Seattle to Alki Beach ($5.25/one way per person, FREE/under age 5) for a speedy ferry like experience. If you’re looking for a quick bite or a sweet treat, hop in line at Marination Ma Kai. The award winning food truck is now a restaurant on Alki. Their food and shave ice is worth the wait! If you’re looking to cruise through Lake Union, try the Seattle Ferry Ice Cream Cruise.
You don’t have to drive to the ocean to dip your toes in the sand! Enjoy a day at Alki Beach, where kids can play in the water as you watch the ferries and sailboats float by with the backdrop of the city skyline. You can bring bikes and trikes here, too if you want to jaunt along the 2.5 mile walkway. If you want to show your kids some history, checkout the monument at the south end of the beach that marks the arrival of the first white settlers on November 13, 1851.
Heading to the city just for a day at Pike Place Market is worth the trip! Kids love to watch the flying fish, meet Rosy the Pig, and grab some mini doughnuts. Don’t miss the gum wall down below on Post Alley, and all the interesting shops. Mom can buy herself some farm fresh flowers for a bargain price, too!
Taking a ride to the top of the Space Needle is pricy, but there is lots of FREE fun to be had at Seattle Center. Check out the newly opened Artist’s Playground, which is fun for big and little kids and the coolest playground I have ever seen. Kids can safely traverse ropes and slides that are high in the sky. There are areas for big kids and tiny tots. Or, spend a warm day playing in one of the many fountains, the most popular of which is the International Fountain where water sprays in tune with music. There is always something going on at the Armory (Center House), such as cultural festivals, concerts, art installations, magic shows, and more.
World Class Museums
Seattle’s museums are such a fun way to expose your child to culture, art, and innovation. On the 1st Thursday of each month, many museums host special hours and offer free admission. Our favorites include the Museum of Flight (perfect for toddlers, but kids of all ages will love of it), Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), and the Seattle Art Museum.
If you’re in need of a caffeinated pick me up, there are options galore. Try the Starbucks on the 40th floor of the Columbia Tower (open during regular business hours). The highest Starbucks in the world also boasts amazing views of the city, for FREE. My boys particularly love looking out at Century Link and Safeco Field. Or, walk a few blocks east to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. Part coffee house, part regular Starbucks, and part roastery, the atmosphere is always a party. Kids will enjoy watching the roasting process and the packing machines do their thing. Be sure to order off their special menu, where even a regular latte will make you wish you could stop here every day. If you’ve never been, it’s also fun to stop into the very first Starbucks at Pike Place Market where all the magic started.
Want to grab a quick bite while you’re in the city? Try the iconic Dick’s Drive In where the burgers are super yummy and the hand dipped shakes are not to be missed. The easiest location to access is in Queen Anne, just west of Seattle Center. They have free parking!
If you want to go a little farther north by car, you can make a pit stop at the Fremont Troll. Parking is a little tricky to find along neighboring streets, but this a must do with your kiddos at least once in a lifetime. Where else in the world can you meet a troll holding a VW Bug? Warning: little boys will attempt to pick his nose.
Another location worth an all day excursion is the Ballard Locks. Watch the boats pass through the locks of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, or head to the fish ladder where during the summer you can watch all the salmon swim upstream to return to spawn. It is mesmerizing and a thrill for little ones! There is also a botanical garden, and free summertime concerts on Saturdays and Sundays.
Know of another awesome attraction for kids in Seattle? Leave a note in the comments!
We love an easy hike that ends in a beach! Here are ten options that offer a walk easy enough for the whole family with the, “Wow!” factor of a beach at the end. We’ve tried to stick to the South Sound, though I admit we’re pushing it a bit with a couple of these. If you have another favorite you’re willing to share, please leave a comment!
Hidden Beach Trail Tacoma Take a pretty forested path and find a secret slice of Titlow Beach. Note-Thursday would be a good time to come for tide pooling!
Sequalitchew Creek Trail Dupont An easy hike that starts right behind Dupont City Hall and ends at a rocky beach with lots of possibilities for exploration
Dash Point State Park Federal Way You can head straight to the beautiful, sandy beach here, but there are also 11 miles of hiking trails here well worth exploring.
Saltwater State Park Des Moines There are over 1,400 feet of saltwater shoreline at this park, which is also a popular camping spot. You can also hike through the trails and see scuba divers going in and out of the water near the artificial reef.
Des Moines Creek Trail You can begin or end your hike at Des Moines Beach Park for a hike of up to four miles. Find directions and options at the WTA.org site. Young children might get enough of a walk going out on the fishing pier and back. I haven’t done this one personally. If you have, leave a comment for us!
Marine View Park You’ll descend a steep but sturdy wooden staircase at the end of this hike that takes you to a fine gravel beach. This is another I haven’t done personally, but it sounds worth the exploration! Most reviews note steep bluffs, so keep that in mind. This one is in Normandy Park. Note that all the South King County/South Seattle walks mentioned here are subject to some airplane noise.
Kopachuck State Park Gig Harbor It’s a short, 1/8 mile walk down to the beach here. There are also other trails through the forest for longer exploration. During a Very low tide it is sometimes possible to walk out on a normally submerged sand bar between the main part of the park and Cutt’s Island (also park property).
Priest Point Olympia This is a City of Olympia Park. There are numerous trails through out its 314 acres. The Ellis Cove Trail leads you to a mile of saltwater shoreline. This is such a gorgeous park, and it has a fun little playground, too. You could easily spend the day here. Do note that the trails are all quite steep. Try to go at low tide.
Dumas Bay Sanctuary Federal Way This neighborhood park in Federal Way is so worth finding! It might be pushing it to call this a hike, as it’s just half a mile round trip, but that should be perfect for your young ones. It’s a broad gravel path under arching trees, and when you emerge on the hidden beach at the end it feels magical! It’s actually a wildlife sanctuary, so kids shouldn’t dig in the sand or disturb the wildlife, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy exploring the beach and wading. Parking is somewhat limited here-maybe a dozen cars-and you’ll feel like you’re lost because it’s at the end of a dead end street, but I promise it’s worth finding. Note it’s not the Dumas Bay Center The park address is 30844 44th Ave SW, Federal Way, WA 98023. Don’t try finding it on an official web site. It’s almost like they want to keep this one secret!
Chambers Bay There are miles of trails here, and a fabulous playground (as well as that golf course). The Soundview Trail includes a mile and a half of beach walking. Note that you are dealing with some serious hills here! This one is not as easy as that smooth pavement may make you think!
And two walks to consider….
Ruston Way Tacoma While not a hike, if you go end to end, you’ll be walking a good distance. There are several points along the way where you can go down to the beach, or stop at the spray park at Point Ruston
The promenade to Owen Beach Tacoma Park near the Point Defiance Marina and walk as far as you like on the promenade towards Owen Beach. You can also enjoy a long walk on the beach itself. PS It’s Owen Beach, but I mess up and call it Owens Beach all the time, so just ignore anyone who rolls their eyes at you about this. 🙂
PS Did you know? And, finally…… property owners who live on the beach typically have rights from the average high tide and above. That means you can have a beach walk most anywhere once you find a public access point to get to it. You might feel like you’re intruding when you’re walking past people’s homes, but if you’re walking below that average high tide line, you’re not. Just be polite and have fun!
Here’s a post on a perfect Seattle day trip with your kiddos from reader contributor, Becca!
Not long ago, I learned the Seattle Ferry Service offered a tour of Lake Union. And, why was I excited to go? Besides my love of tours, (I’ll agree to go about anywhere), the “cruise” serves ice cream. I think the tour should be called the Sundae Ferry (get it?), but nevertheless I was eager to go.
We arrived at Lake Union and found free street parking across the street. It was easy to find the boat – just look for balloons. We arrived 30 minutes early because tickets can’t be purchased ahead of time; however I think we could’ve gotten there 5 minutes early and been ok. The captain greeted us on the dock and helped carry my double stroller on board. Nice guy!
The boat wasn’t what I pictured. I have been on the Argosy Christmas ferry and expected similar. This was an old, tiny boat. But very charming. The downstairs cabin had lots of cute painted tables and stools. Two tables were game boards. Stained glass windows lined the top. Outside the main level was a small walking area with two chairs. The top of the boat had enough seats for 35.
A few minutes after the boat left the dock, the ice cream counter was open for business. The prices for treats are $2-5. The big seller is the Root Beer Float with chocolate ice cream.
During the 45 minute ride, the captain talked about the history of the boats and homes around the lake. We saw Russian spy ships, fire boats, and old ferries to name a few. I loved the floating houses. We heard funny stories about the Sleepless in Seattle house, got close to Dale Chihuly’s house/studio and learned neat facts about Gasworks Park.
I would recommend this trip for any age. My crew consisted of a 3 year old and 16 month old. We mostly stayed in the cabin but did cruise the outside areas safely.
There are two bathrooms, but the captain did say he didn’t want diapers changed on board.
The tour runs every Sunday on the hour from 11am-5pm. The hours may change in the winter. There are also tours on Friday and Saturday in the summer months that run 60 minutes .
After your trip, take a few minutes to explore the park. We found a man renting toy wooden boats (small donation) that you can sail in a pond.
Note from SFM: You can read more about pond boat sailing here! Be sure to check out the other low cost events and sails offered by the Center for Wooden Boats. You can learn more about the Seattle Ferry Service and their ice cream cruise here! This page has info on rates and the schedule.
Need more great day trip ideas? Keri has a round up of day trips and nearby road trips here! Would you like to write up a great outing for us? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s a little playground that has one thing that will make it worth the trip for many of you.
What is it? Fencing. All Around.
Yep, if you’ve got a kiddo who likes to run off on you, Edgemont Park in little Edgewood is worth your consideration.
It features a three part jungle gym with slides as well as a swing set with swings for big kids and babies.
It’s connected to a grassy area and a ball field. There is also a picnic shelter and bathrooms, which seem to be open sporadically.
The gate to the playground opens on to the parking lot, and it does get left open a lot, so you’ll want to make sure it gets closed or position yourself so you have your back to it. Of course, if your kiddos are like mine were at that age, they’ll probably be off making sand piles on the baseball field.
There was tape around one of the big trees on our visit, which makes me a little nervous. I probably wouldn’t stand under it, and I definitely wouldn’t climb it!
Crowds wise, this is one of those all or nothing spots. Most weekdays you’ll have the place to yourself. On a summer weekend, it’s a popular spot for picnics and community groups, and you may find yourself with the whole town-or at least most of it.
If you’re in the Auburn/Fife/Milton/Puyallup area, I do think it’s worth a stop, especially if you like the security of the fenced in area.
We have a complete round up of toddler friendly playgrounds coming later this week. In the meantime, be sure you’ve made plans to join us at Les Gove in Auburn Tuesday morning for a free princess meet and greet that’s definitely preschooler approved!