Beyond the Wheedle on the Needle: Family Fun in Washington State
Not only is Washington brimming with great outdoor scenery, it's brimming with superlatives. From producing more apples than any other state to having the world's largest building and more glaciers than the other 47 contiguous states, a vacation to Washington will keep the kids entertained. Here are a few places to include in your plans.
A Grand Time at Grand Mound
Stay at Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound ( 20500 Old Hwy 99 SW, Centralia, WA) in outdoors-themed suites that include a log cabin, wolf den and tent camping. Great Wolf Lodge has its own indoor water park with hot springs, wave pool, toddler zone and thrill rides. There are dry activities, too. Challenge the kids at the Howlers Peak ropes course, pan for gemstones at Oliver's Mining Co. or follow your magic wand on an interactive quest.
Howl With the Wolves
Get a deep understanding and appreciation for wolves at Wolf Haven International (3111 Offut Lake Rd. SE, Tenino, WA). The sanctuary opens during spring and summer. Tickets to the sanctuary include a 50-minute guided tour where you might see up to 10 wolves along the way. After the tour, take a walk along the self-guided prairie trail.
Have a Capital Time
Head to Olympia, the state's capital, for vacation days filled with museums and more. Ride the free DASH shuttle to get around downtown and eliminate parking and traffic worries. Hop off at the Capitol Grounds (416 Sid Snyder Ave. SW, Olympia, WA) and check out its sunken garden and the 50-foot Tivoli Fountain that shoots choreographed streams 25 feet in the air. The castle-like Old Capitol building (600 Washington St. SE, Olympia, WA) Check out famous paintings, artwork from around the world and creations by local school children in the capital. For more hands-on learning, head to the Hands On Children's Museum (414 Jefferson St. NE, Olympia, WA) to explore 28,000 square feet containing more than 150 interactive exhibits.
See Ya in Seattle
Seattle brims with kid-friendly places to while away vacation days. The Seattle Children's Museum (305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA) has 22,000 square feet of interactive learning geared towards kids 10 months to 10 years old. Pick up a free time-ticket for the Imagination Studio when you arrive. Your child will get to create a take-home souvenir with clay, paint or other media. At the Seattle Aquarium (1483 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA), look into a 120,000-gallon watery world filled with anemones, salmon rockfish and other local natives. Wrap up your visit at the Woodland Park Zoo (5500 Phinney Ave. N.Seattle WA 98103). Its Zoomazium's indoor nature play spaces are just one aspect that kids will love.
Visit the Border
Head to Vancouver to immerse yourself in the vibrant history of the Pacific Northwest and the Columbia River Valley—but don't get turned around. Vancouver, WA, is actually on the southern border of the state, not at the northern border by Vancouver, Canada. Fort Vancouver nestles along the northern bank of the Columbia River where fur trappers once plied their trade. Learn outdoor survival skills at the free Survive and Thrive: Lifeways of the Fur Trade immersive experience at the park. Watch cultural demonstrations of blacksmithing, carpentry, and home skills from days gone.
- Sasquatch Books: Wheedle on the Needle
- Wolf Haven Sanctuary: Visit
- Great Wolf Lodge
- City of Olympia: Visiting the Capitol
- Thurston Talk: Thrifty Thurston Tours Washinton's Historic Old Capitol Building
- Hands On Children's Museum
- Experience Olympia: Hands On Children's Museum
- The Children's Museum
- Visit Seattle: Top Seattle Family Activities
- National Park Service: Fort Vancouver
- Washington State Department of Enterprise Services: Tivoli Fountain
Indulging her passion for vacation vagary through the written word on a full-time basis since 2010, travel funster Jodi Thornton-O'Connell guides readers to the unexpected, quirky, and awe-inspiring.