Are you staying closer to home this summer? Here is a round up of day trips within 3 hours or so of Tacoma and the greater South Sound, so you can get away while not traveling too far. Several are even do-able as day trips.
We know not everyone is ready to travel at all, and that’s o.k!
As always, I’ve provided links so you can confirm details. Be sure to practice social distancing and make the decisions that are right for YOUR family. Because openings and closures change quickly, I thank you in advance for confirming information before you head out!
Mt St Helens
If your kiddos are as mesmerized by volcanos as mine are, take them to a real, live one! Summer is the ideal time to head to Mt. St. Helens as the roads are more accessible.
Information on what is open or closed straight from the Forest Service:
OPEN sites include most day use & trailhead sites and several campgrounds.
Several sites will remain CLOSED including:
- Johnston Ridge Observatory. (State Route 504 – also known as Spirit Lake Memorial Highway will OPEN at milepost 45.0, near Coldwater Lake on July 4, 2020. The visitor center will remain closed.)
- Several campgrounds. Group sites will remain closed until the respective County moves to WA Safe Start Phase 3.
- Lower Falls Day Use (Campground open by online reservation only at recreation.gov)
- Ape Cave and Ape Cave Interpretive Site. Forest Road 8303 is closed to pedestrian and vehicular traffic just past Trail of Two Forests Interpretive Site.
- Lava Canyon Bridge – Lava Canyon is open – Bridge is closed due to safety/structural concerns.
For a complete list of developed recreation sites both open and closed, please check the Gifford Pinchot National Forest’s website at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/giffordpinchot/recreation
Vashon or Bainbridge by Ferry
Take a definitively northwest excursion by getting on a boat! 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. Or, drive to Seattle and take the ferry to Bainbridge. On the island, Battle Point Park boasts over 90 acres of outdoor playspace with jogging trails, ponds, wide open spaces, and an awesome playground. If your kiddos are into military history, Fort Ward Park offers easy to traverse walking trails that lead to World War II era bunkers and military grounds. Note from SFM: Take your own snack on board the ferry as cafeteria service is closed. I believe you are still asked to stay in your car as of this writing. All Bainbridge Parks are open as of this writing.
Take a drive to Port Townsend, where Victorian buildings and a maritime atmosphere transport you back in time. The kids will love Fort Worden. This 433 acre state park was originally the location of a United States Army installation, and much of the history is preserved.
Whenever I have visitors in town, I take them to Snoqualmie Falls, along with 1.5 million other visitors every year. The observation deck is recently renovated and includes a 0.7 mile trail to the bottom of the Falls. The hike to the bottom is super cool and kid friendly, IF you and the kids are in reasonably o.k. shape. It’s short but the way back is all uphill. I made it just fine, but I was a bit of a sweaty mess by the top. The lower viewpoint is closed as of this writing, but you can still see plenty. I believe there is still parking open at the lower viewpoint, but I don’t know for sure. Parking by the observation deck gets really full on weekends, so consider going on a weekday, or early in the morning. Make sure not to park in Salish Lodge visitor spots.
If Canada doesn’t feel like you’ve really left the country, try the Bavarian village of Leavenworth. They have a very helpful site showing what activities are currently open. It’s a stunningly beautiful area.
While a tropical beach may out of reach for your family this summer, you can still visit the Pacific Ocean! Ocean Shores has lots of small town charm and views of the ocean for days. Many lodging options are available, including homes for rent that make it easier to stay separate from other households.
Catch breathtaking views of the mountain and blooming wildflowers while riding a gondola up Crystal Mountain! This unique experience is perfect for visiting friends who want an up close view of Rainier! Read our full review of the Crystal Mountain Gondola.
The Olympic Peninsula
If you’re looking to explore the area’s natural beauty, you can’t go wrong with Olympic National Park. Every area has kid friendly hikes to explore.
Need to keep it local? You can also find much more to explore around the 253 in our South Sound summer guide!