Before my military sister was to be reassigned from the Pacific Northwest across the country to her new home in Atlanta, Georgia, my kids and I made one last journey up to Seattle to say goodbye. But when we have a family visit, we don’t sit idly by. If there are places to be seen, we go see them! In three days time, we made three day trips from the Emerald City to thoroughly enjoy our summer in kid-friendly Seattle.
Day One: Snoqualmie Falls
Travel serendipity was smiling upon us with a bright sunny day when we decided to hike to the base of the Snoqualmie Falls. But the sun brings the crowds and this less-than-an-hour away from Seattle destination was BUSY! In spite of the crowds, we had heard the trail was recently renovated down to the falls and we were ready to explore. The hike down was about 1.2 miles and although a little steep at times, it was doable for our group of kids ranging from five to 11-years-old. Along the way there were signs informing us of the local vegetation and when we arrived near the boardwalk that led to the falls, we read about how the water was being used for energy. Adventure, workout, and science lesson all in one-WIN! Down on the boardwalks (accessible with a stroller) there were plenty of signs that warn tourists to stay on the path. During wintertime, the water comes up to the boardwalk, but on this sunny, summer day, tourists were jumping over the gate, scaling the dirt wall, and lowering themselves over crumbling stairs and boulders down below. I’m not advocating doing this, but if you did, the path brings you to the base of the falls, where the majestic, powerful water, falling from 268 feet high, showers and invigorates you with a job well done.
The hike back up was tiring, so we rewarded the kids with a stop at Scott’s Dairy Freeze in North Bend. Similar to a 50’s diner, this walk-up counter serves delicious shakes, malts, slushies, shaved-ice, and soft-serves (along with lunch items). Try the off-the-menu espresso milkshake-divine!
With bellies full, we made our way to the Cedar River Watershed Education Center off Cedar Falls Road in North Bend. Located next to Rattlesnake Lake, there is a small trail to the water, or for more ambitious families, the Rattlesnake Ledge hike is a four-mile round trip trek to the top of the mountain with a view of the whole valley and two lakes (on a clear day). At the education center, listen to rain make rhythms on outdoor drums or discover the amount of water your body contains.
Day Two: Poulsbo
Nicknamed “Little Norway,” Poulsbo, located on the Kitsap Peninsula, is accessible from Seattle by a 20-minute ferry ride to Bainsbridge Island. The founders of this town thought the sites of the Pugent Sound and Olympic Mountains were reminiscent of their beloved Norway, so we two Scandinavian sisters were ready to explore some of our heritage. We played a game with the children to see how many Vikings we could find, as every storefront to every park bench seemed to be decorated with the Norwegian heroes.
We started with lunch as the ferry ride and fresh air gave us voracious appetites and JJ’s Fish House served us well. With open garage-door-style walls, we ate our halibut fish and chips and mango chutney dipped crab cakes with the sun shining on us. The under $5 kid’s menu had everything for the fish adventurous to the non-fish-eating kid.
The Poulsbo Marine Science Center was a good place to start learning about the area. With free admission (they gladly accept donations), the center includes a touch pool with sea cucumbers, starfish, and urchins found in the local waters. (Just please wash hands before, without soap, and take off jewelry.) Helpful attendants were there to answer questions, and the whale skeleton hanging above our head that had been found on Poulsbo beaches, was the star of the show.
What’s a Norwegian town without desserts representing the country? At Sluys Poulsbo Bakery, we enjoyed the Viking Cup. (A gigantic cinnamon roll with a cream cheese frosting center.) Drool at the dessert-lined windows from outside, but come in for the enticing smells, and try not to leave without an over-sized Viking treat. As if that wasn’t enough, we found the Marine Market, a shop filled with edible imports from Norway and Holland. An actual licorice shrine beckoned me to fill my bag full of every possible black licorice I could eat.
To let the kids unwind after an hour of window-shopping, we brought them to the Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park at the water’s edge. There were a small number of picnic benches and a large boulder for the kids to climb, so my sister and I relaxed in the sun’s ray with espressos, before heading back to the ferry port.
Day 3: Port Townsend
Most locals would probably scoff at the fact that we crossed the waters one day, just to turn around and do it again the next. What can I say? We like ferries. With an hour and 20-minute ride to Bremerton, plus some drive time, I admit, most people would make Port Townsend a weekend getaway, and you should! The small, art town is filled with old hotels that beckon back to its 19th century heyday.
One of the 19th century relics is Fort Worden, the location of the beautifully shot movie “An Officer and a Gentleman.” At the lighthouse begins a stretch of beach where we searched for sea-glass. The bunkers were perfect for our energetic kids to explore, but I would definitely bring a flashlight the next time. The Port Townsend Marine Science Center included a touch tide pool on one side, and whale bones and plenty of science to be learned on the other. With 434-acres in this multi-use park (along with 2-miles of salt water shoreline), there are plenty of adventures to be had.
Open only in the summers, Dogs-a-Foot at the corner of Water Street, was the perfect place to have lunch, with a water view, informal seating, and of course, kid-friendly hot dogs as well as more adventurous ones for the adults. Dessert at the Elevated Ice Cream Company was a must before ending our Port Townsend time at the Chetzemoka Park on Jackson Street. Here, we had access to beaches at low tide, swings overlooking the water, and even saw some wildlife grazing through the gardens.
A Day in Seattle
We, of course, still managed to find time for the must do’s in the city such as the Seattle Center with the International Fountain and the Seattle Space Needle. It also wouldn’t be a complete trip without Pike Market and adding to the gum wall. But our day trips outside the Emerald City showcased the Pacific Northwest for what it is: pure nature’s beauty of mythical mountains, fairy forests, and lovely towns nestled in between.
See more of our day trips from Seattle here…
Find more Seattle fun with our Top 10 Things for Families to do in Seattle!