Those traveling with children will appreciate that there are so many things to do with kids in Washington. From museums and zoos in the cities to bountiful outdoor recreation, the state offers plenty of opportunities to make lasting family memories.
Things to do With Kids in Washington
Read on to explore some of Washington’s family friendly activities.
Washington’s diverse landscapes provide ample ways to get outside with your kids, whether you want to raft a lazy river, spend time at the beach, or enjoy scenic views on a hike.
Enjoy a Hike
On the western side of the state, the San Juan Islands offer outdoor recreation perfect for families. Rent bikes to cruise the island roads or drive to the top of Mount Constitution on Orcas Island, which is home to a stone observation tower resembling a medieval castle.
The state is also home to three national parks – North Cascades National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, and Olympic National Park – that all have an abundance of trials suitable for all ages and skill levels. At Mount Rainier, kids can drop into one of the park’s Junior Ranger Programs or enjoy snow sports come winter. The best part? Thanks to Washington’s diverse terrain and climate, you can find a family friendly hike any time of the year.
See also: Kid-Friendly Winter Hikes
Get out on the Water
From kayaking to river rafting, there are so many things to do with kids out on Washington’s many waterways. Kayak or paddle board on one of Washington’s lakes, take a leisurely river rafting trip on the Spokane River, or join whale watching tour in the San Juan Islands for a chance to spot the iconic orcas whales and other wildlife.
Explore on Four Wheels
Washington is an incredibly bike-friendly state, with plenty of trails to choose from. Explore cities like Seattle via the Burke-Gilman Trail or Spokane via the Centennial trail or wind your way through wooded paths in one of Washington’s many parks. On the Olympic Peninsula, families can rent e-bikes or regular bikes to explore portions of the epic Olympic Discovery Trail, which connects Port Townsend to La Push on the Pacific Coast.
Dig for Fossils
For fun and educational outdoor experiences, head to the eastern side of the state. In Republic, kids can get their hands dirty digging for fossils that are millions of years old at Stonerose Interpretive Center & Eocene Fossil Site. The site is open May-October, and staff are available help identify your finds.
Take the SkyRide over Spokane Falls
For fun in the city, explore Spokane’s Riverfront Park, home to a carousel, open-air amphitheater, and the Numerica SkyRide, a gondola that brings passengers above Spokane Falls. If visiting in the winter, families can lace up their skates and take to the ice on the 650-foot-long Numerica Skate Ribbon.
Hit the Beach
Along the coast, kids can learn to fly a kite or watch the professionals during the Washington State International Kite Festival in Long Beach each August. The Salish Sea and Peninsulas regions also have miles of driftwood-strewn beaches complete with tidepools to explore.
For the adventurous, consider heading to the forested zipline course at Skamania Lodge in the Gorge Region or zip through the treetops and across a valley outside Spokane at Mica Moon Zip Tours and Aerial Park. Be sure to check age and weight or height requirements before heading out.
From the workings of electricity at the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention in Bellingham to exploring more than 150 interactive exhibits at the Hands on Children’s Museum in Olympia, Washington’s museums provide plenty of things to do with kids. Little ones can discover crawly critters at the Bug and Reptile Museum in Bremerton or get an up-close look at planes at the Museum of Flight in Seatte.
Other great kid-friendly museums in Seattle include the Museum of Pop Culture, Pacific Science Center, Seattle Children’s Museum, and Chihuly Garden and Glass, where kids and adults alike can marvel at hundreds of colorful glass creations. On the other side of the state in Spokane, kids can explore hands-on science exhibits and more at the Mobius Discovery Center.
Embrace Indoor Entertainment
Beyond museums and discovery centers, families will find plenty of things to do indoors in Washington. Go thrift shopping and style outfits for the whole family at the quirky Fremont Vintage Mall in Seattle. Play arcade games and laser tag at places like Bullwinkle’s in Tukwila or get the wiggles out at an indoor trampoline park, such as Sky Zone in Spokane or Elevated Sportz in Bothell. Play indoor mini golf at a Flatstick Pub location or enjoy a movie at one of the many theaters throughout the state. With so many options, you’ll never run out of fun.
Meet the Local Wildlife
Most zoos, aquariums, and wildlife centers offer a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces, making them perfect to explore in any weather.
For kids who love animal spotting, head to Eatonville’s Northwest Trek, a 725-acre wildlife reserve featuring everything from bison and moose to bears and beavers—as well as zipline courses.
Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma allows an up-close look at creatures large and small, including sharks. And just north of Spokane is Cat Tales Wildlife Center, a big cat sanctuary and wildlife rescue center where visitors can learn about the center’s mission to provide a safe, forever home for rescued, retired or non-releasable exotic animals.
To see animals in their natural habitat, visitors can visit one of the state’s many wildlife refuges, such as the Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Refuge. In the San Juan Islands, families can hop aboard a whale watching cruise for the chance to see whales, seals, porpoises, and other aquatic wildlife.
Located on Seattle’s waterfront, the Seattle Aquarium provides kids with a hands-on experience. Little ones can stroke a starfish and tickle a sea anemone at the interactive tide pool.