I’ve always been a fan of Seattle since my sister attended the University of Washington many moons ago. Its beautiful harbor, the surrounding islands, and inland forests, always take my breath away. I’m excited to have Marcie in Mommyland sharing her favorite weekend getaways from Seattle for families. It makes me want to plan a trip to the Pacific Northwest tomorrow! Here’s what Marcie had to say:
As a local Seattle mom (born and raised,) I’m all about getting our family out and about as much as possible. The Pacific Northwest is beautiful and there are tons of unique places to explore for a weekend getaway.
5 easy road trips from Seattle with kids
If you ask my kids what their favorite road trip from Seattle is, hands down they will say Winthrop, WA.
Winthrop is a western-themed town done right. You’ll think you’ve stepped back in time to the wild wild west when you drive into town. There are tons of outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, hot air ballooning, rock climbing, etc. My 5 year old got to go horseback riding and it was a huge highlight for him!
We like staying at Hotel Rio Vista because it’s right in town and we can walk to amazing boutiques and restaurants. Plus, families love the little candy shop and ice cream stand!
And there’s also Sun Mountain Lodge, which is a fabulous resort that has a both hotel rooms and cabins right on a lake.
For an unforgettable experience, sign up for the Cowboy Dinner at Sun Mountain Lodge. You’ll get to head to the campsite either on horseback or on a covered wagon ride. Dinner consists of barbecued meats, salad, fruit, veggies, and dessert. Kids will love the pony rides and roasting marshmallows while a cowboy strums his guitar by the fire.
It’s less than a 4 hour drive from Seattle. If you take the North Cascades Scenic Byway (Highway 20), it’s a drop dead gorgeous view of mountains, Methow Valley, and Lake Diablo.
Local tip: Hit up the Mazama store on your way to or from Winthrop. They have fresh sandwiches, a full coffee bar, an extensive selection of house-made freezer meals, and a large assortment of indie toys.
Pacific City, Oregon
During the warmer months, many Seattle families like to head to the Oregon Coast for some beachy fun. While Cannon Beach is the most popular, my family loves Pacific City.
We like to stay at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda because the kids can sleep in a bunk bed that looks like a vintage VW bus! Plus it’s right across the street from the beach, where they can spend hours playing in the sand, flying kites, and splashing in the water.
Pacific City is also a great location to do kid-friendly activities. My kids get a kick out of the Oregon Coast Scenic Railway train ride. We caught the train in Garibaldi and rode past cool rock formations, fishing boats, and stunning scenery.
And the Tillamook Creamery has a new visitor’s center that is full of hands-on activities and exhibits perfect for kids of all ages. Plus, they have free samples of Tillamook cheese. And they have an incredible food court where you can get the freshest ice cream in a multitude of flavors!
Insider tip: Stop by the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, OR. That’s where you can see the Spruce Goose! Plus, they have an incredible water park that’s open during the summer.
Squamish, British Columbia
Less than an hour from Vancouver, Squamish, BC is one of the coolest towns for families. If your kids are as train-obsessed as mine, your first stop should be the West Coast Railway Heritage Park. Here, families can climb aboard old trains, explore the Roundhouse, and play at their outdoor train tables. They even have a miniature train you can ride all over the property!
There’s also the Britannia Mine Museum, which just opened their new immersive live-action exhibit. This museum highlights Squamish’s coal mining days. Kids will love riding their underground train and panning for gold.
Another cool thing to do in Squamish is the Sea to Sky Gondola. The ride is quite smooth and the views are breathtaking year-round. Once you get to the top, you’ll be able to walk across several bridges and take photos from the lookout points. If you are really ambitious, you can explore the many hiking trails at the top. And there’s a cute playground at the base of the mountain if your kids need to get some wiggles out!
Local tip: Check their website to get tickets to Day Out with Thomas or the Polar Express events at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park.
San Juan Islands, Washington
How do you make a Seattle road trip even cooler? Add a ferry ride!
Just drive up to Anacortes, Washington and you’ll drive onto the San Juan Island ferry which takes you through the stunning San Juan Islands. It’s a long enough boat ride that your family can get out and enjoy Ivar’s clam chowder while gazing at the islands (about 75 minutes.) And keep your eyes out for whales!
Once you get to Friday Harbor, there are tons of kid-friendly activities and restaurants. I definitely recommend taking a whale watching cruise through San Juan Excursions. The captain invited my kids to take the wheel and steer the boat, which was a blast! They also had 2 sizes of children’s life jackets, blankets, kid-size binoculars, and whale-themed kid’s books and toys on board. And if you don’t see whales during your boat ride, they will give you another cruise for free!
There’s also a fantastic sculpture garden, roadside artwork, lighthouses, beaches, farms and more.
We like staying at the Earthbox Inn & Spa because it’s an easy walk to the waterfront. Plus, it’s the only San Juan Island hotel with an indoor pool!
The San Juan Islands are about 3 hours from Seattle, depending on the ferry schedule.
Local tip: Make sure to get back to the ferry terminal with enough time to play at the adorable playground before heading back to Seattle!
The most popular road trip from Seattle is definitely Portland, OR. And for good reason! It’s just 3 hours away from Seattle and there are limitless possibilities for every family.
One of our favorite places to go is the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI.) There are interesting exhibits for kids of all ages, plus parents won’t get bored! They have a planetarium, IMAX theatre, a submarine, a kids playground, and more than 200 interactive exhibits.
Because Portland has such a fascinating (and hilarious) history, families will want to do a guided walking tour to get all the insider info on this self-proclaimed “weird” city. Find out how Portland got its name, visit the world’s smallest park, and search for the tiny horses.
The Pacific Northwest is known for incredible parks and Portland in no exception. Spend time at Westmore Park Nature Play Area where families can build forts out of massive logs, cross wooden bridges, climb on real boulders, dig in the dirt, play in the sand, and basically do all the things you dreamed about as a kid!
And you can’t leave Portland without a stop at Powell’s Books. It’s the world’s largest independent book store and it’s a book lover’s dream come true! Not only do they have extensive travel and children’s sections, but they also have shelves of children’s books about exploring the world.
We like staying at the Inn at Northrup Station because they have lots of candy and board games in their lobby. They also give you free passes for the streetcar that zips all over Portland.
Local tip: On your way back to Seattle, stop off at the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia WA. It’s one of the coolest children’s museums in Washington.
These are just a few of the many incredible kid-friendly road trips from Seattle. What’s your favorite place to go with kids on a Pacific Northwest weekend getaway?
About the Author: Marcie runs the Seattle-based family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. She helps parents maximize their vacation days so they can make incredible memories with their kids.