We’ll soon be headed on our first tent camping adventure as a family of four! While Georgia has had two cabin camping experiences, she’s yet to see what it’s like to be without the comfort of four solid walls. As we prepare, I’m realizing that camping takes a little more planning ahead than our typical travel. Maybe that’s just because of the freqency. I’m sure we’d turn into a well oiled organized machine if we went more often, but I’m definitely finding that lists provide a lot of guidance and help for us.
A nice walk in the woods has it’s place in the hiking world. Tall towering trees, greenery and foliage surrounding you, maybe even a creek or waterfall to gaze at or take a quick dip. Sometimes we want more though. We want an even greater reward for our effort than just the pretty scenery. We long for that light at the end of the tunnel–a gorgeous sweeping view of the landscape giving us more of a perspective of our place here on earth. Viewpoints also often mean you’ve accomplished something big, and that’s extremely satisfying!
This past winter, I set a goal for Bergen (4.5 years at the time) and I (Georgia came along for the ride on my back as well) to hike to the top of Little Si, a smaller neighbor mountain to the larger Mount Si in North Bend, Washington. In order to prep for the journey, we tackled several other trails with viewpoints and similar, but not quite as difficult, terrain and distances, and since then we’ve added a few more hikes with viewpoints to our tally. Consequently, we now have quite a few hikes that we can recommend to other families where your hard work will be rewarded with an amazing view.
One of the many reasons I love hiking as an outdoor activity is because of it’s simplicity. If you can put one foot in front of the other, relatively speaking, you can hike! Passing along this love to our kids has come naturally, and it seems to work particularly well because there really isn’t a lot of stuff involved. We can figure out where we want to go, toss a few things into a daypack, and we’re set for a fun adventure in nature.
Each season brings it’s own unique characteristics, and thus changes what we might need to brave the elements, though summer is probably the simplest of all. And since there are still plenty of summer days left this year, here’s our round-up of some of the best, and most useful items for kids to explore the outdoors on these hot, sunny days.
When we traveled to Olympia, Washington this past spring, we thought of the trip almost as a staycation. At just over an hour’s drive from our home in Seattle, we could easily visit Olympia as a day trip. Side note: With the exception of stopping at the capitol for just 30 minutes or so on our way home from an Oregon trip, I’d never been to the Olympia! However, with so much to offer families from their amazing children’s museum to the charming downtown with shops and restaurants for everyone to enjoy, we really wanted to spend some quality time in Washington’s capital city.
Luckily we were provided with accommodations that did make us feel at home. The Marriott TownPlace Suites in Olympia is an extended-stay style hotel where all of the rooms have separate living and sleeping areas, and fully equipped kitchens. We only stayed one night at the hotel, but all of the extended-stay amenties makes it such a great option for families, no matter how long you’re there!
I’ve mentioned before how much fun it is for us to adventure along side friends and family. They might add another layer of logistics (and we have to be on our best behavior), but getting to hike with companions makes such a difference in our enjoyment and adds some richness to the experience.
We recently had the pleasure of hiking with my cousin who also lives in the Seattle area, and as I was thinking back and processing the time on the trail with her (and Bergen and Georgia), a hiking tip just popped into my mind: Go with an expert!
Rambling all over Washington State (and beyond), my cousin is an avid hiker, and really knows her stuff. As we trekked along the service road to the overlook we had a goal of making it to, she introduced us to delicious edible berries, matched up conifer cones and fallen leaves to their rightful owner towering above us, and helped us identify wildflowers.
For spring break this year, we added one more lovely cabin to our list of favorite Pacific Northwest Cabins & Yurts. Ike Kinswa State Park is located in Southwest Washington State, and is situated between Mount Rainier (to the north) and Mount St. Helens (to the south).
We chose it for it’s close proximity to our home in Seattle and it’s natural appeal of being set along the confluence of two rivers–so much to outdoor beauty to explore! Plus, we knew that even though we were visiting during spring break, we wouldn’t be dealing with the crowds that can tend to form in the busier summer months. One more benefit came along when we arrived–no cell phone coverage (and of course, no wifi)! It was delightfully refreshing to never have to worry about looking at my email or checking-in on social media. And one more benefit! Staying at state park cabins is very friendly on the budget!