The beautiful thing about the PNW is that you can explore with the kids almost all year long (sure there’s lots of rain, but grey days are great days to get out too!). What are my favorite places to explore with kids in Western Washington?
This is by no means a comprehensive list of places to explore with your kids. There are SO many great spots. You can’t spit in Washington without hitting a mountain, river or lake. However, these are places my family loves to visit regularly.
First and foremost when exploring the great outdoors, be responsible and respectful, and teach your children to do the same.
Ensure you are packing in and packing out everything, not leaving behind garbage or junk. Also, stay on marked trails and out of the vegetation. You don’t want to disturb things, or wear down the area.
You also want to pack ALL. THE. FOOD and water. It never hurts to have too much food. Also know, I’ve never had “too much food” we’ve only had too little food and that made our adventure no fun.
Finally before I begin, remember to be safe. Only tackle what you know you can handle. Just because a trail is popular does not mean it is easy, or a good hike for kids. Do your research. (For example Mailbox Peak is a famous hike. It is also very intense, not for kids, nor for the “I think I will try out hiking today, let’s go do Mailbox Peak.” There are plenty of great sites with trip reports you can check out before you visit. My avid hiking husband recommends the Washington Trails Association.
Okay, now for the good part. My Favorite places to explore with the kids!
Meadowbrook Farm is a gorgeous and accessible place to explore with kids.
There is plenty of flat trails to explore, walk, run, bike throughout all of the Meadowbrook land. You can often see the elk somewhere along the way too. My kids love seeing what’s “just around the bend” as we walk along the winding trails. I appreciate that it’s close to home and that there’s plenty of parking options (whether right off 202, or at the Interpretive Center).
The Snoqualmie River is another great place to explore.
I realize this is a bit vague as the Snoqualmie River is long and covers several cities. However, we love heading to the river at lots of places. The kids love finding spots to throw rocks, play in the sand (in some spots) or even dip their toes. My oldest has brought a Lego boat to play in the water too (in the slower parts of the river where it won’t float away!).
For a pop culture lesson, check out Middle Fork
Middle Fork is a little bit of a drive, but so worth it. We first went as a family when I was very pregnant with my fourth child. My husband surprised me by taking me to the spot with the bridge from Grey’s Anatomy! We never do the full hike, but simply cross the bridge and explore the trails a bit until the kids get tired. There’s also river access for a little rock throwing. It’s a beautiful spot and not typically too crowded.
Gold Creek Pond Trail offers beautiful mountain views when you explore with your kids.
Okay, I’m going to regret telling you about this one. But sometimes a little trip to the mountains is what is needed to refresh the spirit. Although the water at Gold Creek Pond is off limits for swimming, my kids still love this spot. The paved trail is easy to navigate (you could even bring a stroller if you wanted) and makes a nice loop around the pond. There are beautiful views, gorgeous wildflowers during the summer and great spots for a picnic. It can get very crowded though during peak times. Keep that in mind when planning your trip.
It is also one of my favorite spots for family photo sessions. (Wink, wink).
A final place to explore the outdoors with kids is simply a walk around the block
Somedays the thought of packing up the car and going somewhere seems overwhelming. Instead we have the kids grab their bikes and just walk around the block. It is fun to see things through their eyes. Plus these little adventures can help build endurance for those bigger trips.
I hope sharing a few of my favorite places to explore with the kids has inspired you to get out. It’s never perfect. There are always tears. Often kids come home dirty and tired, but it is all totally worth it.
If you’re headed out and want to photograph it, make sure you head over and read a blog post I had written over on Clickin Moms – How to Photograph Your Family’s Outdoor Adventure.
Don’t see a favorite spot you love to frequent? Leave me a comment with a place my family needs to explore next!