Top 13 Ideas for #OptOutside Black Friday with Kids

Have you heard about REI’s campaign for folks to #OptOutside on Black Friday?  REI is actually closing all of its’ 143 stores on Black Friday, November 27, as a means to encourage folks to GET OUTSIDE and enjoy life outdoors. REI’s CEO Jerry Stritzke says, “We’re a different kind of company—and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently. We’re choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us.”

We love this idea, and are sure many of our readers will love it, too. So, we’ve gathered some of our best posts for things you might want to do on Black Friday OTHER than shopping with the masses.

In all likelihood, you’ll have to brave some wind and rain to attempt any of these adventures. But, we are sure you tough Northwest folk can do it!   Bundle up, grab some hand warmers, pack some hot cocoa in a thermos, and head out for some adventure!

1. Visit an awesome Holiday Lights Display

There are so many options, but some of our favorites are  Zoolights at Pt Defiance (opens on Black Friday!), and Fantasy Lights in Spanaway, which opens on Thanksgiving.

2. Cut down your Christmas tree

You could go really, really outdoorsy and cut one down from the forest. If you want to do that, be sure to follow all the tips and instructions for how to make that happen in our post about cutting down your tree from the forest.

cutting down a tree from the forest seattle tacoma

Or, you could hit up a nearby u-cut Christmas tree farm. Here’s our list of Best South Sound U-Cut Tree Farms for Families.

Best U-Cut Christmas trees for families in Tacoma, Kent, Auburn, Orting, Bonney Lake, Olympia

3. Go on a hike or nature walk

Because the week is supposed to be particularly dry, you might find this an awesome way to burn off that extra piece of pumpkin pie you had on Thanksgiving. These posts will help you find a good spot!

#OptOutside with Kids Tacoma

4. Attend a Tree Lighting Ceremony

We’ve created a list of every tree lighting ceremony we could find in the South Sound. We were delightfully surprised to see that so many towns and neighborhoods are participating. Check out our list of South Sound Christmas Tree Lighting Events and find one near you!

tree lighting in tacoma, auburn, puyallup, bonney lake, lakewood, renton

5. Go for a swim

Okay, we don’t expect you to go swimming OUTSIDE. But, you can totally pretend you are outside at any of these South Sound Pools with Water Park Style Features. Be sure to call ahead to see if your local pool has special holiday hours on Black Friday.

Pools in Tacoma, Federal Way, Auburn, Eatonville

6. Try Geocaching

Never been geocaching before? Your kids will LOVE IT! The only thing you need to get started is to download the app on your phone, or check out caches nearby at  You can find all kinds of caches by Geocaching at Point Defiance!

7. Hit up a new park or playground

There are so many cool parks in the South Sound. One of my favorites is Playground by the Sound at Chambers’ Bay. Here’s our list of of Best South Sound Playgrounds.

8. Hop on a ferry

How about getting outside…on a boat! You could take a day trip to Bremerton where free fun abounds when you disembark. Or, for something with more South Sound flavor, take a ferry to Vashon from Pt. Defiance. Explore the island and be sure to check out the lighthouse on Maury Island or find the bike that’s growing out of a tree.

9. Go Ice Skating at Polar Plaza

This annual, temporary outdoor ice skating rink  is becoming a Tacoma tradition! Admission to Polar Plaza is $8/adults, $7/military or seniors, $4/children 5 and under plus the $2 skate rental fee.

10. Visit Donner and Blitzen

Watson’s Nursery in Puyallup is hosting Donner and Blitzen for their holiday vacation until they’re called on for Christmas Eve delivery. Make a stop to wish them well!

11. Get half off admission to NW Trek

Visitors who bring 2 or more food items to NW Trek through November 29 will receive half off admission AND benefit the Emergency Food Network, a Pierce County-based nonprofit that serves more than 70 food banks, hot meal sites and shelters. For more details, see our post on Half Off At NW Trek with a Food Donation.


12. Get into a national park for FREE!

The Washington National Park Fund has offered to cover fees into national parks on Black Friday, meaning entrance into Mt Rainier National Park and Olympic National Parks are FREE as an effort to join in with #OptOutside and #GreenFriday. Be sure to check the sites for weather conditions and closings as it is wet and even snowy out there! Here are some great posts to help you decide what to do at Mt Rainier:

Western Washington Hikes with KidsWestern Washington Hikes with Kids

If some of these ideas are new to you, we highly recommend the book Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington and the Cascades. It would make a great Christmas gift for any active family!

13. Check out the Macy’s Seattle Parade

It is a really crazy day of the year to head to the city, but the energy is amazing. Go early to secure a spot at the Seattle Macy’s Holiday Parade, which starts at 9am. Floats rival that in the BIG Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Spend the rest of the day exploring the city with more free outdoor fun at places like Pike Place market and the Olympic Sculpture Park (you can even go geocaching there!). Or, rent one of many bikes through Pronto Cycle Share (adult sizes only) and take a ride through beautiful, waterside Myrtle Edwards Park.

#optOutside with kids Tacoma and Seattle

Exploring the Olympic Sculpture Park


Looking for more holiday fun? Be sure to check out our menu tab for South Sound Holiday Fun and explore our South Sound Holiday Fun Guide!

South Sound Holiday Fun Guide Holiday fun tacoma auburn puyallup renton federal way bonney lake

This post contains affiliate links. When you use them, you support this site, but it doesn’t cost you any extra!


Turkey Trot around the South Sound with Kids

Are you looking for a way to burn off some calories before the big meal on Turkey Day? Just want the kids to burn off some energy before all the relatives stop by and see them in their natural element? You may want to register for a Turkey Trot!

Tacoma City Turkey Trot

This is a 5K run/walk (9:00am), with the option of a 1K Kids Run (10:15 am) through the Proctor District of Tacoma. Register by November 23 to save money; $35/5K or $10/1K.  Strollers are welcome!

Tacoma City Turkey Trot Kids 1K

Norpoint Turkey Trot

The 21st Annual Norpoint Turkey Trot is a neighborhood race through the streets of Northeast Tacoma, with views of the Sound and mountains. Bonus, if parents want to race without their littles in tow, kids can join Center at Norpoint staff for crafts and games inside. Register by November 22 to save, $20/5K or $10/Kids Dash. Strollers and dogs on leashes are welcome to join the trot, which begins at 9:00am.

Norpoint Turkey Trot

JBLM Turkey Trot 

This 5K/10K race is open to the general public on Saturday, November 21, 10:00am. All participants receive a finishing medal and a chance to win a prize. Strollers welcome. Register by November 12 for reduced fees.

Turkey Trot tacoma, olympia, JBLM


Oly Trot

Trot through Olympia and get a piece of pumpkin pie at the finish line! Kids can participate for free in the Oly Tot Trot (8 years old and under). There is also the 4-Mile Family Fun Run. Register for $35 by November 14, price increase as race day draws nearer. Every finisher gets a medal, custom swag bag, and pie! Oly Tot Trot and Oly Trot Family Fun Run

If you don’t want believe in running for fun, we won’t judge you for staying in and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Just be sure to stay tuned to Sounds Fun Mom for all kinds of holiday fun to come. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or get posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Turkey Trot Tacoma with kids

South Sound Harvest Festivals at the Farm 2015

Looking to check out a real, live farm during harvest time? Here is a list of local farms hosting harvest events for you to check out! Stay tuned for our Halloween and community based Harvest Fest guides, coming soon!

Harvest Festivals in Tacoma

Wild Hare Organic Farm, Tacoma

Saturday, October 10, 10:00am
Join the Second Annual Farm-Fresh Squash & Squeeze Festival for the whole family! Join us in celebration of Squash, Apples & good old fashioned organic fun!  There will be cider making, pumpkins, games, and activities. And, a scarecrow Potluck Supper starts at 2:30pm — with music, dancing, facepainting and performances from the Act 1 Theatre Scarecrows!  Admission is FREE!  Get all the details here.

Tahoma Farms Harvest Fest, Orting

Tahoma Farms Harvest Fest

Saturday, October 3, 12:00pm-5:00pm
$20 for a full carload is a deal for this event! Included is a one u-pick pumpkin, pumpkin painting station, farmer’s market, live music, and a scavenger hunt with prizes!

Mountain Lodge Farm Open House, Eatonville

Open House at Mountain Lodge Farm
Saturday, October 17, 1:00pm-3:00pm
Saturday, November 14, 1:00pm-3:00pm
These events are open to the public and are a great way to learn more about our animals, cheeses, and to ask questions about farm life. Tour the barns, peek inside the creamery, taste cheese and soak up the beautiful scenery.  Be sure to wear appropriate closed-toe footwear with which you can step into a shallow sanitation bath.  Bring layers, friends, kiddos and prepare for a fun day!

Key Peninsula Farm Tour

Key Peninsula Farm Tour
Saturday, October 3, 10:00am-4:00pm
Free admission at this event where you can explore the wide variety of farming activities, feed the animals, and pick apples. 

Beyond the South Sound

Remlinger Farms, Carnation

Remlinger Farms Harvest Festival

Saturday, September 26, Sunday, September 27; weekends in October, 10:00am-6:00pm 
Remlinger Farms is celebrating 50 years of pumpkins this year! Join them for their annual Fall Harvest Festival beginning September 26 and running every weekend in October.  This year they are offering a FREE PUMPKIN (any size, from the field or park, your choice) with paid admission on the weekends.  The farm features kiddie rides, u-pick pumpkins, and a market with items for sale.  This is a day trip from the South Sound. While pricy, it is a super fun day for the kiddos, with some raving that it’s as awesome as the fair.

Duvall Heritage Festival

Duvall Heritage FestivalSaturday, September 26
Celebrate the “good old days” by bringing the whole family to Duvall for a day of fun, learning, and reminiscing at the Duvall Heritage Festival. Learn how the pioneers lived and worked.  Watch a blacksmith at work or try your hand at making corn dollies.  Look at antique tractors.  Saw some logs using traditional hand saws, churn butter, and wash clothes the old-fashioned way.  Guided tours include the farmhouse, a restored logging bunk house, milk house, and old tool display.  A pioneer cemetery is also located on this site. There is fun for all ages and free admission.  Free parking is available at Holy Innocents Catholic Church just east of the Dougherty Farmstead on Cherry Valley Road. Go here for all the details!


Do note that farms vary from true mom and pop spots to full scale, commercial operations. I’d urge you to double check with any spot before you head out, so you don’t arrive and find that plans have changed. I also recommend wearing clothes that can get muddy, and bring along some spending money. Farming is a tough business, and it’s nice to support the folks working hard to bring you tasty things!

Let’s Go Salmon Spotting: Where to Take the Kids to See Salmon Returning to Spawn

Looking for a frugal, fall themed outing for the kids that is uniquely northwest? How about a trek to one of many area parks or trails where they can spot salmon returning to spawn!

where to see salmon in Seattle and Tacoma


First, let’s be clear that when a salmon is returning to spawn, it’s returning to the place where it was born to deposit eggs. This is the end of its life, and a remarkable natural process. It also means that while you’re catching sight of the salmon heading to spawn, you might end up seeing a dead one. If this would alarm your children, you may want to choose another activity.

If you’re up for salmon spotting, here are your best bets!

South King County/Eastside/Seattle

Cedar River, Renton

where to see salmon in seattle tacoma


Weekends in October through the 25th, trained naturalists will be on hand to help you spot salmon at 4 sites in Renton along the Cedar River.

Each site is differs, so you could check out a different one each weekend!  For lots more information, including directions to each site and a 6 minute video on the Cedar River, check out the Salmon Conservation and Restoration page dedicated to the Cedar River.

Dates to Remember: 11am-4pm, weekends in October through the 25th
Locations: Renton Library, Cedar River Park, Cavanaugh Pond, and Landsburg Park and Dam.

Soos Creek Salmon Hatchery, Auburn 

Take a self-guided tour of the 100-year old hatchery, where chinook salmon usually begin to return in mid-September, with coho beginning to return around mid-October. The hatchery is open every day from 8:00-4:30, though staff may not always be available to answer questions. Young fish are raised in tanks inside the building. Displays inside the door and at an outdoor kiosk explain hatchery operations and there is a viewing pond.

Location: Soos Creek Salmon Hatchery, 13030 Auburn-Black Diamond Road, near Auburn

Covington Creek

Coho salmon can be seen in September and October at the roadway bridge on 168th Ave SE, just off the Auburn-Black Diamond Road.

Puyallup Hatchery and Clark’s Creek

The Puyallup Hatchery will be hosting its’ 2nd Annual Salmon Homecoming! There will be guided tours to see salmon returning to Clark’s Creek, tours of the hatchery, food, live music, and science and art activities for kiddos. Be sure to put this one on the calendar! If you can’t make the homecoming, you can still visit the hatchery and Clark’s Creek where you can see winter run chum, coho, and chinook.

Head straight behind the hatchery and to the left, you’ll find a trail, and the best viewing is from a little bridge over the creek.  You can catch our full review of the Puyallup Hatchery here.

Dates to RememberSalmon Homecoming, Saturday, October 3
Location: 1416 14th St SW, Puyallup, WA 98371

where to see salmon seattle tacoma

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

If you’re up for a road trip, the hatchery in Issaquah just might be the fanciest in America. They pride themselves on being the most visited hatchery in Washington. They even host birthday parties! There is also a live salmon cam, so you can check out the viewing before you make the trek northeast.

Ballard Locks, Seattle

If your kiddos can’t get enough of salmon, be sure to make the trek north to the Ballard Locks. The mesmerizing fish ladder is free to view, and kiddos get a kick out of seeing salmon swim upstream. Professional naturalists provide daily salmon talks at the fish ladder following free one-hour tours.

Dates to Remember: Open daily from mid-June through October, with the best viewing through September
Location: 3015 NW 54th St, Seattle

Thurston County/Olympia

Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail

The trail, featuring wild chum salmon,  is free for visitors. This is one of the most popular sites in Washington, with over 5,000 people visiting every November.  Be sure to visit the Kenney Creek Salmon Trail page to show your kiddos a great 3 minute video all about salmon spawning! It will really inspire you to put this event on your calendar!

Dates: Staffed with docents on the weekends, Veteran’s Day, and the Friday after Thanksgiving, Oct 31-Nov 29
Location: To get to the Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail, go north on Highway 101. At Milepost 357, turn left onto Old Olympic Highway. Continue on Old Olympic Highway until you see the Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail Signs on your left. Go up forest road 2700 for .75 miles. Turn right into the Trail parking lot.

Tumwater Falls Park

In the 1962, the state funded hatchery operations at the top of Tumwater Falls, making this another great spot to watch salmon. This is also a great place to view fall leaves changing color!  Jen, of ThriftyNWMom, has an an awesome full review of Tumwater Falls Park.

Minter Creek Hatchery, Gig Harbor

There is a fish ladder and plunge pool at the Minter Creek hatchery where the salmon really pile up! Learn more about Minter Creek and see a cool video of the fish ladder here.

Location: 12710 124th Ave Ct KPN, Gig Harbor, WA 98328

Cool Salmon Resources

For a good, kid friendly explanation of the life cycle of salmon go here.

There is a very cool, downloadable book with coloring pictures here. This is a large, pdf file. Consider yourself warned.

This printable brochure includes images of the various salmon types in Washington, including additional Pierce County sites to view salmon.

For an interactive map of where salmon have been spotted from Renton, north, check out the Seattle Aquarium’s Cedar River Salmon Journey page. 

Be sure to wear boots for any of these adventures, because if your kiddos are anything like mine, they will immediately step in the muddiest puddles they can find!


Do you have a great way to have outdoor fun this time of year? I’d love to hear about it!

For more fall fun, check out our other postswhere to see leaves change color near tacoma or seattle


u pick apples and cider making in or near Tacoma or Seattle

Ten Great Hikes For Kids Near Mt.Rainier

“What are good hikes for kids at Mt.Rainier?” is one of the most popular questions we get here at Sounds Fun Mom. There are so many great hikes at Mt.Rainier, including lots that are suitable for children. Choosing just a few is hard, but we gave it a shot! Of course, we’d love to hear your favorites, too.

We’ve tried to give you enough info here to help you choose. The Mountain is big, so you’ll want to pick a hike based on how far you want to go, what you want to see (mountain vistas? waterfalls? big trees?), and, of course, on the skill and endurance of your little hikers. Do be sure to take the 10 essentials on any outing. We’ve also linked to the always helpful through out this post. Be sure to check recent trip reports for up-to-date information, and when, in doubt-check with a ranger and start short! When you’re hiking with kids the journey really is more important than the destination!

Sheep Lake

Sheep Lake

  • Grove of the Patriarchs  Easy, magical hike that goes over a bridge to an island of some of the state’s oldest trees.  You won’t get mountain views here, but the trees are truly other worldly, and kids love the bridge. Short and easy!
  • Sunrise Nature Trail this little 1.5 mile hike doesn’t get much love in guide books, maybe because it’s called a nature trail. It starts right behind the visitor’s center at Sunrise (also excellent). Go up the steps and then head right. There are labeled plants and trees to explore, and at the corner before you turn to complete the short loop back, there is an excellent viewpoint. It will take you about 45 minutes total-maybe longer if you’re letting little ones walk on their own. We think it’s an excellent introduction to the mountain.
  • Silver Falls  Starting in the Ohanapecosh campground, this easy hike ends at a beautiful waterfall and never gains much elevation. I will tell you it took us 3 times to finish it-it’s an easy hike, but it’s a hike, not a walk! There are some alternate ways to get there if you want a shorter distance. Be sure to check our the visitor’s center/ranger station while you’re here. There is also a short nature hike. You don’t need to stay at the campground to do any of them.
  • Naches Peak Loop  A longer hike that does gain some elevation, but there are lots of postcard worthy views around every corner. This might be my favorite hike in the park. Do make sure to go clockwise! This is the one I’d do with out of state visitors-assuming they’re reasonably fit. This hike starts at Tipsoo Lake. If you just want a picnic and a walkabout, you could just hang out there!

We’ve also recently discovered some easy, dog friendly options. While you can’t take your dog on Any trails that are part of the park, there are National Forest Lands and parts of the Pacific Crest Trail both in and just outside of the park boundaries, where leashed dogs are welcome. Note that these require a National Forest Service Pass. You can get these at the ranger station in Enumclaw, where you can also ask for help if you’re confused about what passes to get and where to go! Our boys and the rescue lab enjoyed all three of these, which are mostly flat and easy.

Skookum Falls-with water!

Skookum Falls-with water!

  • Greenwater and Echo Lakes  This one is just after the little town of Greenwater, well before the Mountain. It’s a great option for an easy, closer hike. There are a lot of skinny, log bridges to cross, which may not be fun with a toddler. It’s shaded and gentle the whole way, with lots of lovely views of the river. There are also lots of good turn-around points-no need to go farther than you want!   This area would also be an excellent, first backpacking destination.

Big Trees

  • Skookum Flats/Skookum Falls  Pretty views, and almost the whole hike is flat and shaded. You do have to scramble straight up a hillside if you want to get right up by the waterfall at the end-not for anyone but the sure footed (or mountain goats). Young children can just enjoy a peek-a-boo view. Do note getting there requires going down one, bumpy road! You may want to save this one for next spring, as I’m guessing the waterfall is dry right now.
  • Sheep Lake A bit of this goes up hill, but it’s generally easy, and very pretty. The very first bit is the steepest, and may not be suitable for young children on their own.  We also had relatively little company on this one, something that can’t be said for most of the hikes on this list.  It ends at a bona fide alpine lake where kids (and your dog) could easily play the day away. You do need to bring bug spray. We got eaten alive doing this one late in August.
  • Summit Lake I haven’t done this one, but my mom, who is a frequent hike leader, says it’s a good one for kids and dogs.
  • Bench and Snow Lakes  Two others I haven’t done (at least as a grown-up), but these are very short and easy, and water play is always a good option. These are particularly popular, so expect company!
Naches Peak

Naches Peak

Any guidebook or ranger can give you more detail about these hikes, or I always recommend Joan Burton’s excellent book, Best Hikes With Kids (my affiliate link).

The Washington Trails Association is also an excellent resource. You can use their site to search for hikes by feature-dog friendly, waterfalls, etc. It’s a lot of fun to explore.

I know many of you are regular hikers and backpackers, so I hope you’ll share your favorites, too! If you’ve never been to Mt.Rainier at all, I also have a post here that will help you with the basics! 


South Sound Apple Picking and Cider Making

Most area kids are back in school and the mornings are getting crisp! Are you excited to pull out your boots, leggings and sweaters and do something decidedly FALL ? How about apple picking and cider making! Here are the local spots for the just the thing!

u pick apples and cider making in or near Tacoma or Seattle


Meeker Mansion, Puyallup

Meeker Mansion hosts their annual Cider Squeeze on Saturday, October 10, 10:00am-4:00pm. Squeeze apples for some fresh cider, pick out a carving pumpkin, visit a favorite vendor, or munch on apple treats from the snack shack.

Steilacoom Apple Squeeze

Sunday, October 4. Make fresh squeezed cider and purchase apple treats.  Last year’s event included apple trees for sale and an apple expert on hand to answer questions, along with children’s activities, pony rides, and more. If you’re new to the area, this is a lovely town, with an old-fashioned charm.

Lattin’s Country Cider Mill, Olympia

Lattin’s hosts a month long apple festival, beginning the last weekend of September and running through the last weekend of October. Plenty of apples on hand for sampling, and a special weekend price of 89 cents/lb on apples! The kids will enjoy visiting the farm, checking out the Goat Walk, animal train, face paint, games, pony rides, petting farm, and of course, bobbing for apples! Plenty of treats to try including bbq, apple crisp, caramel apples, apple pie, hot and cold cider, berry cider, cider donuts, apple cake and our famous Apple Fritters.

New Market Homestead Cider Sunday, Tumwater

Come out to the The Falls Park in Tumwater, Sunday, October 4, from 10:00am-4:00pm.  Bring your apples and containers and watch as the Homesteaders press your apples into fresh cider.

Beyond the South Sound

If you want to have the kiddos pick apples right off the tree, you’re going to have to find a generous neighbor, or take a road trip. The closest options are found north, in Skagit County. To really multiply your options, you can head east over the mountains. Lauren of NWTripFinder has some fun spots. Btw, if you’re here via NWTripFinder, welcome! Our specialty is South Sound adventures, and we’d love to have you come back again!

For more Fall fun check out this post:

where to see leaves change color near tacoma or seattle


Camp Review: Salt Creek Recreation Area

My family just returned from a magical camping trip to Salt Creek Recreation Area. Magical may sound like a silly word to describe a camping trip, but few things are more magical than spotting a grey whale feeding, holding a starfish, building sandcastles, hiking along the beach, and enjoying s’mores by campfire come nightfall.
camp review salt creek recreational area salt creek campground
Salt Creek Recreation Area is a little more than 2 hours drive from Tacoma, and about 15 miles from Port Angeles. You can reserve campsites up to 7 days prior to the desired camping date. Reservations can be made for the current calendar year, January 1 through December 31.  There are 92 campsites, half of which are reservable and half are first-come, first-served. Approximately 73 of the 92 campsites have a view of the water! This was the view from our campsite. Incredible, right?
camp review salt creek recreational area salt creek campground

Because we were late to the game, we were only able to reserve 1 night at Salt Creek. So, we hoped for the best and were able to find a site for 3 nights. If you want to nab a first-come, first served site, I would highly recommend getting there as early as possible. Checkout is at noon, but there is no designated check in time. So, you could essentially grab any unreserved or first-come, first-served site as soon as the previous night’s campers depart.

The campground itself has plenty of amentinies for the whole family. Upon entering the campsite, you’ll see a softball field, full basketball court, playground, horseshoes fields, and a sand volleyball court. The campsite also provides balls and equipment for use at the fields.
review salt creek recreation area salt creek campground

Continuing on into the campsite, you have a full view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. You are so close to Canada that in the evenings, you can see the city lights of Vancouver Island. It made me want to hop on a ferry! At various times of the day we also saw cruise ships passing through the Strait.

Another highlight of the campground is Camp Hayden, which includes 2 World War II era bunkers which housed 16″ cannons. Since I’ve got all boys, you can bet they were pretty excited about the fact that ACTUAL cannons were once stored at the campsite. The map also shows a number of other World War II era locations around Puget Sound that my boys were begging to check out immediately. We’ll have to put those on the summer bucket list!
review of salt creek recreation area salt creek campground
A trail near the campsite’s entrance will lead you to Camp Hayden and continue on to the exterior of the campsite with full views of Crescent Bay and the Strait. This is an easy nature walk that any child can do, and a fun way to spend an afternoon. On our departure we discovered there is another trail on the easternmost part of the campsite that we missed. Just one more reason to go back!
review salt creek campground salt creak recreation area
The best part of Salt Creek? THE BEACH!
review salt creek campground salt creek recreation area
From the campsite, there are 4 outlooks. Outlook 4 will take you down to the tide pools  and onto the sandy beach. We spent most of our time at this part of the beach known as Crescent Bay and the Tongue Point Marine Sanctuary. Because this is a marine sanctuary, you can’t remove anything such as sand, rocks or driftwood, or sea life. But, you can spend hours exploring all there is to see. Head out at low tide for the best views, but come at any time of day to see how the views change and what other creatures make an appearance.
review salt creek campground salt creek recreation area

We checked out some books on tidepools at the library before heading out on our trip. My kiddos were able to confidently identify various forms of sea life. I loved hearing them shout out, “Chitton!” “Anemome!” One morning, we even spotted a grey whale feeding! This part of the Strait is considered the Whale Trail, where orcas can also be seen.

We met a family who had been making an annual camping trip to Salt Creek for 45 years! We could understand why because this is the kind of place you want to come back to year after year. We made so many wonderful memories at Salt Creek that we are considering going back one more time before Fall sets in.
review salt creek campground salt creek recreation area
Tips to remember:
  • Bring water shoes or Keen sandals. The tidepools are no fun to explore without proper footwear.
  • In case you need something, there is a general store in the town of Joyce, which is only 4 miles away.
  • Bring quarters for the warm and clean showers (25 cents/2 minutes)
  • You will need to pay by cash or check (credit cards are not accepted) for the first-come/first-served sites
  • You can get firewood at the campsite for $5
  • Arrive early to set up camp
  • Check the tide tables; low tide will provide plenty of areas to explore with kiddos
  • Bring plenty of bug repellant and citronella candles. We got some pretty big welts from mosquito bites!
  • There is spotty (at best) cell service at Salt Creek (I consider that a good thing!)

Location: 3506 Camp Hayden Road, Port Angeles, WA 98363
Site Fees: $20-$28/per campsite


If you’re looking for other kid friendly camping sites check our post for more ideas


Outdoor Movies Near Tacoma

Nothing says summer like outdoor movies! Gone are the days of the old fashioned drive in theater, but you can still have lots of fun watching some of your favorite kids’ movies outdoors. Best part? Almost all of these events are FREE! Grab your camp chairs, coziest blanket, and head out to the park for some summer time fun.

outdoor movies near tacoma



July 31, Toy Story

August 7, Paddington

August 14, The Boxtrolls


August 7, Big Hero 6

August 14, Little Rascals

August 21, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day 


July 31, Big Hero 6

July 31, Toy Story-Drive in Movie!

August 7, Frozen Sing a Long

August 14, Planes Fire and Rescue

August 21, Up-Drive in Movie!


July 31, Big Hero 6

August 22nd Planes

Bonney Lake

August 4, Big Hero 6

August 8, Pitch Perfect

August 22, Strange Magic


August 22, Cinderella


July 31, Dolphin Tale 2

August 8, Cars 2-Drive in Movie! 

August 14, Big Hero 6

August 15, How to Train Your Dragon 2

August 21, Penguins of Madagascar

August 21, Paddington

August 29, Grease, Drive in Movie! 

Gig Harbor

August 8, Happy Feet


August 1, Muppets Most Wanted

August 8, Back to the Future I, II, III


Prefer to stay indoors for the movies? Check out the Kid’s Summer Movie programs at Regal and Cinemark! Or, you can check out our list of where to see movies on the cheap anytime in the South Sound!


Feeling a little more cultured? Check out a concert or show!

free summer concerts and shows for kids tacoma


Let’s Hike: Federation Forest And What Happened To The Hobbit Village

Federation Forest is a great destination if you’re wondering whether your hikers are ready to graduate from nature walks to longer adventures. Just don’t go looking for the Hobbit Village. Those gnomes and elves have disappeared as of this writing, but there is still plenty here to see.

It’s a state park, and while it’s just off 410, it tends to be overlooked as drivers zoom by on their way to other popular destinations. Even on a July weekend, our family was totally alone here.  It’s well worth a stop, especially if you’re looking to walk or hike with young children.


There are towering, moss covered trees to look at, and the forested trails give you that, “Out in the wild,” feel, even though you’re never too far from the highway (and civilization). These are real trails, so there will be some roots and mud to navigate, but they’re all flat and should be easy enough for most children. There are miles of trails here-close to 7 in total-, so you can decide how long of an adventure to have. It would be a great way to assess the kids’ readiness for something more challenging, and it’s a unique opportunity to walk level paths through old growth forest.


Federation Forest also used to be home to a Hobbit Village-a collection of whimsical figures that was a fun destination for kids. Unfortunately, it had become the target of vandals and litterbugs, and given the state parks system’s limited budget, keeping it cleaned up was impossible. So, the village was all hauled away……or was it…. On our recent visit, we found several figures-evidence that some explorers are determined to bring this tradition back. Will they stay or get hauled away by vandals or official clean up crews? That’s anybody’s guess. My boys were thrilled to find them, but since they could easily be gone at any time, I don’t think you want to set out to look for them and then have disappointed kiddos.This trail also has LOTS of blow downs on it. We had to scramble over several fallen trees and through quite a few mud bogs.

Christmas 2013 066

For these reasons, I can’t recommend the Hobbit Trail (or what used to be the Hobbit Trail), to any but the most intrepid explorers, but there are several other great trails here, and I still heartily recommend the rest of Federation Forest as a family friendly hiking destination. Since it’s a state park, you can even bring your dog, if he’s on a leash.  The East Trail has signs to help kids learn about plants and trees. The West Trail will give you glimpses of the rushing White River. These last two pics look a bit gloomy as they were from an adventure much earlier in the year. It’s a very pleasant hike on a hot summer’s day because the trees provide lots of great shade. On our off season hike it had a mysterious vibe-we could definitely see why someone had decide it was Hobbit territory! 

Christmas 2013 061

Here’s what to know before you go:

  • Federation Forest is a state park, so you will need a Discover WA pass. It’s off 410 past Enumclaw.
  • The interpretive center is closed, but you will see signage for the trails. If for some reason, the park’s main gate is closed, you can park along the road. Do be careful as cars whiz by FAST on 410. I mean-FAST.
  • Be prepared for mud. Even in the middle of our July heat wave we found some spots with fairly epic mud.
  • Take the East Trail to see a giant Sitka spruce and signs explaining native plants.
  • Take the West Trail to eventually see the White River below.
  • For trip reports on the rest of the park, check the site.
  • If for some reason, this one is a bust, you can back track to Mud Mountain Dam. There are interesting, family friendly walks there, including one down to a viewpoint where you can look at the dam, but your kids will probably be most interested in the playground and the wading pool.
  • If you can’t get enough of mystical creatures, you may want to find the gnome doors in nearby Bonney Lake. Last I heard, they were still around, though, these also, have had some issues with vandals.
  • Wally’s in Buckley is a nice stop for milkshakes and burgers on your way home. The wait is always long, so you may want to have some of the grown ups go to the playground with the kids. Try the blackberry shake.

Your children might also enjoy a geocaching adventure-a great way to add an element of adventure and discovery to a walk.




Five Fun Swimming Pools For South Sound Kids

Stewart Heights Pool Tacoma

Stewart Heights Pool

What to love: Slides and a lazy river! Several readers think this one is less crowded now that Kandle has opened. Let us know if you agree! My older son went to an end of school party here (lucky duck) and loved it.

What to know: Evening session is weather dependent. Check here after 4 pm or call the pool’s phone message line: (253) 573-2532.

Children under the age of seven and those who cannot meet the height requirement must have an adult in the water within an arm’s length at all times while the child is in the water.

Open daily. Head here for admission fees and hours.

Kandle Pool Tacoma 

Kandle Pool

What to love: Wave pool! There is also a great playground, plus a separate tot pool and sprayground.

What to know: Evening session depends on weather and attendance- Check here after 4 pm or call the pool’s phone message line: (253) 404-3920. This is a popular spot-consider bringing some buddies to help wrangle everyone. There are lifeguards. We have a playground review (prior to the pool opening) here

 Open daily. Head here for admission fees and hours.

Henry Moses Aquatic Center, Renton

Henry Moses

What to love: Huge water slides, a lazy river, two pools, and more; bargain prices compared to the water park! This is the one you see from 167 as you’re coming into Renton.

What to know: It can close to non residents if it reaches capacity. Purchase tickets for one of two sessions up to three hours in advance. Yes, really. Here’s all the details on that. 

Fircrest Pool  


What to love: One of the only area wading pools left. A great option for those of you with toddlers. Zero depth entry, and a nice, large size for a wading pool.

What to know: Both the Fircrest pool and wading pool have hours open to the public but at other times they’re open to residents only. We have a post on the pool here, but your best bet is to call to check hours before you go. It’s much easier than trying to navigate their web site.

TangleWilde Pool Lacey


What to love: Bring your own food, in and out privileges, and a friendly atmosphere for a reasonable price!

What to know: Just a nice pool-no fancy frills here. It can close to non members if it reaches capacity. The swimming area at Long Lake can be your back up plan!

Please do attend to your children and pool policies even at pools with lifeguards. Here at SFM we strongly encourage swim lessons. It’s a life skill that’s particularly important out here.

Have fun!

Not near you? Head straight to the Sounds Fun Mom Get Wet List for a round up of every outdoor pool, fountain, spray park, and splashy place in the South Sound. I also have a list of swimming lakes here!