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Home Road Trip Four family road trips to travel Washington year-round

Four family road trips to travel Washington year-round

by Staff

These year-round Washington destination road trips for families range from balmy waterparks to sunny Eastern Washington slopes perfect for skiing or hiking. Pack your necessary gear, check the road reports (closures in winter for snow, in summer for construction) and hit the road to explore four family-approved Washington destinations.

Long Beach Peninsula

Pack your windbreaker for a 171-mile journey along I-5 and US-101 to the Long Beach Peninsula for vast sandy public beaches, Pacific Ocean-facing landscapes and kid-friendly activities.

On nicer days, pedal the eight-plus-mile Discovery Trail past beach grass, dunes and Sitka spruces.

Or stop by the World Kite Museum to learn more about kites, then pick out a kite at a local shop for the peninsula’s nearby public beach, rumored to be the world’s longest.

Marsh’s Free Museum contains oddities every Washington child must encounter at least once — such as Jake the Alligator Man — along with many opportunities to shop for candy, treats and other beachy necessities. It’s a good chance to practice critical thinking skills regarding whether Jake or Sasquatch are real.

The Funland Family Fun Center provides rainy-day entertainment amid 9,000 square feet of arcade games, skeeball and laser tag. You can also find first-run films at The Neptune movie house.  

Cape Disappointment State Park — the name alone will intrigue kids — features year-round camping for the adventurous family or cabins, yurts and historic lightkeeper’s residences for the less so. The interpretive center’s windows overlook where the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean merge and contain many hands-on exhibits for kids. Ages 6 and younger are free, so it’s a low-stakes introduction to history.

Stop en route: Only 78 miles south of Seattle along I-5 are the rolling, spraying and rip-roaring waters of Great Wolf Lodge. Stay overnight, or get a day pass for the slides, four-story water-fort treehouse and rolling wave pool.

Spokane

Eastern Washington’s town of Spokane offers affordable, kid-friendly activities, dining and stays about 279 miles from Seattle along I-90. Head to the enormous, 100-acre Riverfront Park for a day’s worth of fun. Ride the 1909 Looff Carousel all day (for $7.50), ice skate at the unique 650-foot-long Numerica Skate Ribbon and sit aboard the Numerica SkyRide’s pods to float over Spokane’s waterfalls.

Three park landscapes invite children to play, including a 12-foot-tall Radio Flyer wagon, the inclusive Providence Playscape playground, and a 40,000-square-foot ice age floods-themed playground.

On bad-weather days, visit Spokane’s Mobius Discovery Center, a children’s museum with popular exhibits exploring real-world construction, physics, art, animals and a market.

Other notable Spokane family road-trip destinations include Frank’s Diner, housed in a railcar; Jedi Alliance, with 155 pinball and arcade machines and a museum of toys and movie props; the 12,000-square-foot Wild Walls climbing gym; Lasermaxx’s fog-filled multilevel maze, and Wonderland, with go-karts and 18-hole indoor mini-golf.  

Stops en route: Summit at Snoqualmie for snow play or a quick summer hike, Ellensburg for brunch or play at one of 20 parks and the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park for Gorge-and-river views that will even wow rarely-impressed teens.

Olympia

About 60 miles south of Seattle along I-5, Olympia is a great family road trip destination for toddlers through teens. Downtown Olympia features a walkable downtown with fun, quirky shops selling vintage and one-of-a-kind clothes, toys and gifts. Pop in for retro-style arcade games (for all ages) and brews (for parents) at Legends Arcade. Or shop for toys at Captain Little, and oddball novelties and handmade fragrances at Archibald Sisters, sure to appeal to tweens and teens.

Parents of toddlers through elementary kids should beeline for the Hands On Children’s Museum. One of the state’s largest and most-visited, the museum lays out 150 exhibits amid 10 galleries, including a makerspace, forest, farm-to-table and a twig-encircled eagle’s nest with a two-story slide. The museum’s half-acre outdoor space presents more than two dozen opportunities to play and explore, including in a vintage schooner with a rope climb and plank to walk.

Other hands-on activities include the Puget Sound Estuarium with touch tanks filled with sea stars and anemones, and the WET Science Center‘s interactive exhibits, weekend family activities and environmental presentations.

Stops en route: Halfway along I-5 at about 30 miles south of Seattle, make a pit stop in Tacoma for Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium (for elementary and younger) and Tinkertopia Creativity Center (for middle and high school).

Methow Valley

Make a 210-mile sojourn to the Methow Valley for year-round family fun in the tiny towns of Winthrop, Mazama and Twisp. The new “Try Winter Punch Card” offers sample-size access over three days to three family-friendly local attractions: Methow Trails, Loup Loup Ski Bowl and Winthrop Rink.

Methow Trails is the world’s largest cross-country trail system for skiing in winter and hiking in summer; Loup Loup Ski Bowl is a low-key, all-ages community ski hill run by a nonprofit; and the Winthrop Rink offers public sessions for open ice skating, figure skating and drop-in hockey.

The Methow blooms in late spring and summer with outdoor activities such as hiking and mountain biking, cowboy-style Western offerings including horseback riding and water fun on the region’s lakes. Kids of all ages love strolling Winthrop’s boardwalks for people and cowpoke-watching.

Stops en route: The Methow can be a challenging (and distant) road trip destination in winter without a vehicle that can handle snow and ice. If you’re headed via I-90, splurge on a stay at Suncadia (83 miles from Seattle) to enjoy year-round family-focused activities (and indoor pools). If you’re going via US-2, overnight in Leavenworth’s Bavarian-style retreat featuring plenty of kid-friendly activities and foods like sausages — with upscale, parent-approved toppings, too.

Whether you’re looking to make an environmentally conscious choice with a hybrid or to save cash with our new car lease deals, Western Washington Toyota Dealers can help you find a new car that keeps up with your lifestyle.

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