Here at Diono one of our favorite places is the Pacific Northwest, and not just because we’re headquartered here. If you like the great outdoors there’s so many beautiful landscapes to visit, and an hour’s drive can take you to the mountains, the ocean, a rain forest, rivers, lakes, islands, and all of the amazing wildlife in between. If you’re planning to take a summer road trip to the Pacific Northwest we’ve compiled a list of the best places to take your family during the summer months ahead.
1. Mt. Rainier
We know The Space Needle and Pike’s Place Market are among the most popular tourist destinations in Washington, but no one should ever leave the state without having first visited Mt. Rainier. Where else in the lower 48 states can you say that you visited a volcano AND a glacier at the same time? Yup, that’s right, Mt. Rainier is actually a volcano, and stands so tall and is covered in so much snow that a glacier has formed on the top. If you get a chance to visit you can even see the blue color of the thick ice at its peak.
Mt. Rainier has several options for visitors depending on your time and interest level. If you have a few days to spare consider camping at one of the many sites and enjoy some of the best stargazing at night, or splash around in one of the many lakes and rivers. Just be sure to check the elevation of your camp site. The higher up the mountain the colder it will be, especially at night, so don’t forget to bring extra blankets and long layers of clothing for you and the little ones.
Not a happy camper? No problem! There’s plenty of other activities that Mt. Rainier has to offer. July and August are the best times to visit Paradise to see the meadows of blooming wildflowers.
Other family friendly adventures on Mt. Rainier include taking in some aerial views with the Mt. Rainier gondola, or an old-fashioned train ride on the Mt. Rainier Railroad!
2. Olympic National Park & Forest
Did you know that in the depths of Western Washington’s Olympic National Park lies a rainforest that’s so green, mossy and lush we’re pretty sure enchanted forest creatures live there. Make sure your batteries are fully charged because you’ll be in an environment for some spectacular Instagram worthy photos so epic your follows are bound to increase! The Hoh Rain Forest is just one of many attractions at Olympic National Park. This area offers a short nature trail loop that’s stroller friendly, and for those of you baby backpackers, offers some longer trails as well.
The Olympic National Park also offers a variety of other attractions, such as camping, or glamping in a log cabin, soaking in the hot mineral springs at Sol Duc Hot Springs, along with fishing, kayaking or paddle boarding on Lake Quinault or Lake Crescent.
3. North Cascades Institute
Take the trek north of Seattle, right next to the magnificent aqua-blue Diablo Lake, and you’ll find the North Cascades Institute. Geared toward families with young children, the institute offers eco-lodging and nature programming. They will take care of your travel plan for you by offering guided outdoor adventures that suite your family’s needs and interests.
4. Northwest Trek
The Northwest Trek offers families a glimpse into the great outdoors without the hassle of schlepping camping gear through the woods. This wildlife parks focuses on connecting with the forest animals through a comfortable distance. One of the most popular attractions is the Discover Tram Tour, which is a 50-minute ride through 435 acres of meadows and forests. This is where you can see bison, elk, moose, mountain goats and deer in their natural habitat. Other attractions include Kids’ Trek, a nature inspired playground, and for the big kid in all of us, a zipline/challenge course.
5. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
This is the Pacific Northwest’s only combined zoo and aquarium. Here you’ll see polar bears, walruses, tigers, sharks and more! They also offer interactive exhibits such as camel rides, bird feedings, garden walks, and a petting zoo. This June they’ll be opening up a new Environmental Learning Center, which is a collaboration with the Tacoma Public Schools’ Science and Math Institute (SAMI) to serve both SAMI students and zoo visitors and staff.
1. West Coast Game Park & Safari
Located in Bandon, Oregon, the West Coast Game Park and Safari is a great visit for any animal lover. From lions, tigers and bears, oh my! To the friendlier variety of roaming goats, sheep, deer and peacocks, this park has over 75 species and over 450 animals to see. They also offer opportunities to meet some of their special ambassador animals, learn about their exotic animals during daily presentations, and even get your picture taken with one.
2. Oregon Coast
There’s plenty to see down the 363 mile stretch of highway 101 on the Oregon Coast. From cool crisp beaches, to tiny seaside towns there’s quite a bit of adventure to be had down this way. Cascadiakids.com put together a list of 14 stops on the Oregon Coast to take with your kids. Stop #8 at the Sea Lion Caves is among the coolest stops on that list.
There are so many beautiful places to camp in Oregon it can be difficult to choose a spot. Some of the best camping spots for kids are at the Oregon Coast, Central Oregon, and the Willamette Valley. Save yourself some time and energy by camping in a small cabin or yurt at the Champoeg State Heritage Area. The site hosts comfortable amenities like hot showers, RV hook ups, and what could be the oldest store in Oregon founded in 1863.
For more kid friendly camp sites check out this campground list that Red Tricycle put together.
4. Oregon Coast Aquarium
One of the most popular sites at the Oregon Coast Aquarium is the “Passage of The Deep,” where you can walk among the sharks, halibut and sting rays in a 360 degree tunnel surrounded by half a million gallons of water. The aquarium also offers a sleepover program, and probably the safest opportunity you’ll ever have to sleep with the fishes.
5. Port Orford’s Prehistoric Gardens
If your child is a dinosaur enthusiast take a tour at the Prehistoric Gardens and take a self-guided tour to view their life-size t-rex, stegosaurus, and other Jurassic creatures.