Lake Sammamish State Park, located in Issaquah, Washington has so much for families to enjoy. We recently visited the park with a mission to check out their new playground, which opened last fall (October 2016). The playground, designed for kids ages 2-12, mirrors the area’s nature features and historical attributes. The kids and I were impressed to say the least! Along with some of the usual playground offerings, we found a mushroom house, climbable salmon making their way into the lake, and a coal mine to explore.
With winter recently coming to a close, you might not be interested in cold weather gear. However, if you live in a region still experiencing chilly temperatures or want to plan ahead for next fall and winter, you’ll want to consider Stonz Wear.
Stonz Wear is a children’s outerwear brand featuring cold (wet and snowy) weather accessories. They specialize in boots and mittens, and we particularly love the story of their origin. Try as she might, Stonz’ founder Lisa Will, could not keep her young son’s feet warm. She wanted to shoe or boot that would protect those tiny feet from the cold AND stay on, so she got to work designing and creating her own.
We still have another month of so left until spring begins, so instead of retreating indoors waiting for better weather, we are embracing it. We’ve actually had some snow days here in Seattle, which is pretty rare for us, allowing us to pile on our cold weather gear and head outside to play.
In addition to enjoying the cold and snowy weather “in our own backyard”, we also recently headed to Mount Rainier National Park for a snowshoe and sledding adventure. A lot goes into planning and packing for a trip like this, so I thought I’d share our Cold Weather Packing List geared toward families with babies and young children. Georgia, our 2-year old, is particularly sensitive to cold temperatures, so we have to be extremely careful and intentional when dressing her to head outside.
Here in Washington State, whale watching season is starting, with gray whales in March, April, and May, followed by orca whales from April through September. It’s even possible to spot humpback whales in the Puget Sound region!
One of the best areas for whale lovers to spot these traveling marine mammals is around the San Juan Islands. We haven’t gone on a specific whale watching tour yet, but we did spot a few whales as we were waiting for our ferry to arrive on Orcas Island several years ago. Even viewing these creatures off in the distance is thrilling. I can only imagine the delight when we actually get to see one up close (hopefully some day)!
According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation group, “There are around 90 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, known collectively as “cetaceans”. I had no idea! I honestly thought there were just a dozen or so until I read, If I Were a Whale by Shelly Gill. If I Were a Whale takes readers on an imaginative journey through the world’s oceans discovering what it’s like to be one of these fascinating swimmers.
What we Love about If I Were a Whale
- The book opened up our eyes to the incredible amount of whale species in the world! It sparked us to do more whale research spurring on even more learning.
- Fun and easy to understand facts and information about whales are sprinkled throughout.
- Rhyming text makes If I Were a Whale a joy to read!
- Detailed and attractive illustrations seem to capture the essence of each whale featured. I especially love the pages with pops of background color.
Info to Know:
- You can purchase If I Were a Whale (approx. $10) directly from Sasquatch Books or from our Amazon Affiliate link!
- Other great books from author Shelley Gill:
- Other great books from illustrator Erik Brooks
Do you have a favorite type of whale? We’d love to chat about it in the comments!
Disclosure: Thanks to Sasquatch Books for providing me with a copy of If I Were a Whale for purposes of review. All opinions expressed here are my own. Affiliate links to our Amazon store are also used. If you purchase the book through our link, we’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
Come join the conversation! You can keep up to date with each and every post by subscribing to the blog via email. We’d also love to have you join us on all of our adventures by “liking” our facebook page and following us on twitter! If you enjoyed this post, please “like it”, “tweet it” or “pin it”!
Due to it’s close proximity to our home in Seattle, we usually explore Snohomish County, Washington via weekend day trips. Less than an hour, depending on our specific destination, north of us, we can enjoy all the culture, recreation, shopping, and outdoor adventure the region has to offer, and still get home for naps or bedtime.
Last fall though, we got to do something a little different. We actually stayed the night! As I mentioned in my recent staycation post, planning a trip close to home has so many benefits. One of those benefits is that you get more time to enjoy the destination. We were able to pack so much fun and adventure into a short weekend in Snohomish County! Today I’m sharing our family friendly recommendations for things to do (indoors and out), places to eat and drink, and where to stay.
A note before we start: Snohomish County, Washington is quite a large area (over 2,000 square miles), so this is by no means an exhausted list of all the area has too offer! We’re just scratching the surface of this rich region.
First things first. Let’s define staycation for our purposes. To some a staycation is when you stay at home, but enjoy leisure and recreational activities within your city, town, or region. That’s all well, and good, and it’s actually how we live our regular life! But today, I’m going with the staycation definition where you stay at a hotel or other accommodation within your immediate city, town or region. As a general rule, the travel must be within an hour’s drive.
When I first moved to Seattle so many of my colleagues and students that I taught (I’m an elementary school teacher currently on “sabbatical” raising my kids), raved about this mysterious place called Lake Chelan. Growing up on the east coast, I’d never heard of the area hosting Washington State’s largest lake, but I quickly learned that it was the place to go to get away from the gloomy and gray of Western Washington. Visitors could swim in the water (in summer) and play on the sandy shores, participate in water sports, and generally just enjoy the lake life taking in views of the surrounding mountains and being treated to the region’s natural bounty. I put Lake Chelan on my already long and growing list of places to see in the Pacific Northwest.
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!
Are you able to make spontaneous, unplanned travel work for your family? As a family who plans travel far in advance, you’d think that we wouldn’t be able to swing a last minute trip, but I’ve realized as of late that having young children does have it’s benefits! They are more portable and have fewer scheduled activities, which allows us to pack-up and go when an opportunity comes along!
We recently got to travel back to Lake Chelan, located in central Washington State, thanks to a friend who offered us use of his timeshare condo. We only had a few weeks of advance notice, but we were able to figure out the logistics to where Georgia (17 months) and I even had some “girls only” time before the boys arrived a couple of days later.
Our kids are at the ages (17 months and 4.5 years) where children’s museums are a big deal to us. Children’s museums provide us with the opportunity to entertain, occupy and delight both of our children, each in their own unique ways.
Slaed and I are embracing this season of life rather than rolling our eyes and wishing we could be doing something that “the whole family” can enjoy. With both of our children engaged and engrossed (and learning!) in activity, we can actually take a breath, and even have a little fun.
We recently got to visit the Hands-on Children’s Museum in Olympia, Washington as part of a weekend visit to our capitol city, and we were more than impressed! Below, I’ll go into more detail in regards to everything we loved about the place, but just know that if you have young children, and live or will be visiting anywhere close to Olympia, get yourself to the Hands-on Children’s Museum!
Last month we finally got to spend some time in our state’s capital city of Olympia, Washington. For years I’d been hoping explore this small city that’s just a little over an hour away from our home in Seattle. As cities in Washington go, Olympia is on the small side, but it’s full of fun (and educational!) opportunities for families and so much natural beauty that shined through even though the weather (typical early spring in Western Washington) was less than ideal.
Based on our recent weekend experience and in collaboration with the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau, I put together a weekend itinerary + photo tour for families to get oriented with a quick snapshot of our capital city. Stay tuned as I dive deeper into some of our favorites in the coming weeks!
We just returned from a beautiful weekend in Lewis County, Washington, about 2 hours south of Seattle. Ike Kinswa State Park, where we stayed, is a little over 450-acres with most of it’s focus on camping. To the east is the Cowlitz River, to the west is the Tilton River, and at the confluence is Mayfield Lake. Mayfield Lake was created by the Mayfield Dam located in the nearby town of Mossyrock.
Along with camping, visitors also enjoy recreational boating, fresh water fishing, and swimming and water skiing in the warmer summer months. We were just happy to enjoy some solitude and time away from the city with plenty of opportunity to hike and explore nature as a family.
Based on our experience at Ike Kinswa, along with our adventure at Samuel P. Taylor State Park in California, and all the fun that we had camping when Bergen was a baby, I wanted to share a few quick tips! As you’ll see we took some “short-cuts” here, and some might even dare to say that we weren’t actually camping, but for our purposes (vacationing and enjoying the outdoors in a park as a family), I think we did just fine!
5 Helpful Tips for Camping with a Baby
Stay in a Cabin or Yurt
There’s a lot of work involved in setting up camp even for just a few nights, and we appreciate taking the tent assembly out of the equation. Also, when the weather is hard to predict (and planning far in advance is necessary), we appreciate a guaranteed warm and dry shelter! We’ve stayed in numerous state park cabins and yurts over the years, and find them so delightfully cozy, comfortable, and affordable.
We get the best of both worlds. We still get to be immersed in nature, but also get those comforts of home such as heat, electricity, and a bed to sleep on.
This extensive Guide to Seattle with Kids is brought to you in collaboration with Expedia.com. All opinions and ideas are my own, and the content was created and written by me. Special thanks for providing the push that I needed to finally create this (hopefully) helpful and long overdue resource for families!
As a resident of Seattle, Washington for over 10 years, a teacher, and a mother of two young children, I’ve come to realize that Seattle really is a great city for kids! Over the past 4 years of blogging, I’ve certainly written about some of our favorite spots, including things to do and places to eat, but I’ve yet to compile it all into one handy guide for those visiting Seattle with kids, or for fellow Seattleites who are looking for more ideas…until now!
In this guide to Seattle with kids, you’ll find our favorite recommendations for activities and restaurants, plus a few of our recommendations for lodging. For planning or organizational purposes, I’ve divided the guide into two sections: The Downtown Core & Beyond Downtown (though still within the city limits). Of particular note and what I absolutely love is that most of our attractions can be enjoyed by everyone, not just children, not just adults, but the whole family!
We traveled down to the Olympia, Washington area earlier this week because someone who shall remain nameless (okay, it was me) forgot to order her daughter (who is now almost 14 months old) a birth certificate! We need a copy of Georgia’s birth certificate in order to cross the border into Canada for our trip to Vancouver Island later on this month. Rather than wait for it to come in the mail & pay a bunch of shipping costs, we opted to drive a little over an hour to the state’s Center for Health Statistics.
If you know us, you can probably guess we wouldn’t be able to just drive down, retrieve a copy of the certificate, and head back home! No, we’d have to make it into an adventure! So we took an hour and a half or so to explore the nearby Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. I hadn’t visited Nisqually since Bergen was just a wee baby, so I was excited to go back, and experience the wetlands a bit more.
We only had time to make the 1-mile Twin Barns loop, a walk that’s all on boardwalk with several viewpoints and cutoffs along the way to take in the scenery and try our hand at bird watching. We ended up seeing eagles, several types of ducks, geese, and lots of sparrows! We documented our journey around the loop in this quick video:
Mondays are turning out to be our day for hiking and adventure. Bergen goes to school 4-days a week (Tuesday-Friday), so Monday is our one full day together. In the new year and partially thanks to our winter bucketlist, I’ve been more motivated to be intentional with our “free day”. Last Monday, we explored St. Edwards State Park in Kenmore, Washington.
This week, I decided we’d tackle a hike, Cougar Mountain’s Wildside-De Leo Wall loop, that didn’t go so well the first time. You can read about that misadventure here, but I’m happy to share that things went a whole lot better the second time around! I didn’t lose my phone, we managed to find the viewpoint, and everyone was in good spirits. Life allows for do-overs, and I’m so grateful for that!
I love the varied terrain of this hike. We were up high with views, down low with rushing creeks, jumping over puddles, crossing bridges, and checking out horse tracks. So much interest, especially for my 4-year old companion. To get an idea of exactly what I’m talking about, we documented the journey with a video:
While visiting Wenatchee, Washington last fall, we were treated to a wine tasting from Chateau Faire Le Pont, a winery in the north end of town close the the confluence of the Columbia and Wenatchee rivers. We arrived in the late afternoon in order to beat the evening crowd, and take advantage of some free time before dinner elsewhere in the city.
Things can go terribly wrong when wine tasting with kids, if you’re not prepared (our tips here), but our experience at Chateau Faire Le Pont was lovely, and I wanted to share a few of the reasons why this particular place felt special to me. I know when we’re back in town, I’ll certainly want to stop back in, and maybe someday, we’ll even have the pleasure of enjoying a meal in their dining room.
Slaed has received our state parks pass (called the Discover Pass) for Christmas from me for the past 4 years! Confession: This is embarrassing, but at one point in time we actually avoided a state park parking lot (we parked elsewhere and walked in) in order to avoid paying the park’s fee! We laugh now at how silly this was–if only I could talk to my old self. Here’s what I’d say: “Just pay the stinkin’ $30 to park (and visit parks throughout the entire state) all you want for an entire year!”
Back to the 4 years of responsible state park patronage: We love our state parks pass, and can’t believe we ever went without it. We visit a state park at least once a month, and when we’re not exploring our home state of Washington, we seek out other state parks in our travels. Always a wonderful experience full of nature, history, and just enjoyment of our great outdoors.
4 Reasons Why We Love our State Parks Pass
1. Easy Payment.
2. Access to the Outdoors!
3. We’re supporting the park system.
4. It’s Motivating!
Wondering exactly what I’m talking about with some of these reasons? I’ve put together a video for you explaining why we love our state parks pass. And if you don’t want to listen to me ramble on about how much we love the state parks pass, just fast forward to about the 5 minutes and 30 seconds mark, and you can see some of our adventure at Scenic Beach State Park near Silverdale, Washington. We visited the park on New Year’s day as part of a day trip to the Kitsap Peninsula.
So many of our hotel stays within the last year have been for one night only, because we were limited on time or just passing through on our way to another location with a rental home, so it was nice to set-up roots so to speak for two whole nights for a visit to Wenatchee, Washington.
We traveled to Wenatchee last fall in collaboration with the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce to show off all that this area in North Central Washington has to offer. We were lucky to get to lodge at one of the small city’s newer hotels: Springhill Suites Wenatchee by Marriott.
Every year we make it a tradition to celebrate Christmas in downtown Seattle. It’s always in the evening and, more or less, we visit the same places to take full advantage of this magical time in the city. A couple of years ago, I highlighted 3 of those happenings (all free), but this year I thought it would be fun to show you our trail of Christmas cheer with a little video/slideshow:
We traveled to Wenatchee, Washington (located about 2.5 hours east of Seattle) this fall to escape the hustle and bustle of our busy city before the holidays, and get the chance to take in the beautiful autumn colors of North Central Washington. However, Wenatchee, and the entire North Central Washington region is a destination that’s fitting anytime of year! The area boasts almost 300 days of sunshine annually, yet 4 distinct seasons, making it great for families looking to enjoy the outdoors.
For this particular visit, we had 2 nights to enjoy the small city of about 33,000, also known as the Apple Capital of the World. Based on our experience, I put together our recommendations for things to do, places to eat, and where to stay when visiting Wenatchee, Washington with kids!
Things to do when Visiting Wenatchee, Washington with Kids
Last weekend we got to enjoy the small city of Wenatchee, Washington. Wenatchee is located in North Central Washington about 2.5 hours from Seattle and 3 hours from Spokane, Washington at the confluence of the Wenatchee and Columbia Rivers.
After Slaed attended a conference there over the summer and brought back various tourism information showcasing their new public market and natural beauty of the region, I knew I just had to get out to Wenatchee! I had to see it all for myself, or at least more than just a passing through for breakfast or lunch like I’d done once or twice on our way elsewhere.
Wenatchee’s claim to fame is Apples, and the city identifies as the Apple Capital of the world. Washington State produces the most apples in the U.S. (about 100 million boxes), and a huge chunk of the deliciously tasty fruit comes from the Wenatchee Valley. Fun fact: Every single one of those apples are picked by hand!
Since the area boasts 300 days of sunshine a year (plus rich lava-ash soil), it’s ideal for growing apples, but it’s also ideal for a family who may be a little tired of the rainy Western Washington late fall & winter. We didn’t get sunshine for this visit, but we did get a break from the precipitation, especially on this particular day where there was flooding, high winds, and power outages all throughout the state.
Be on the look out for a full city guide of things to do with kids, places to eat, and where to stay, but in the meantime please enjoy this quick snapshot of our trip!
Our family has a special love for fall in Seattle. For Slaed, it’s the cooler temperatures, for Bergen (4 years) it’s all the collecting he suddenly gets to do–leaves, acorns, nuts, and fruit all falling from our regions’s trees, for me it’s the fall foliage–I just can’t get enough of the glowing display of yellows, oranges and reds, and Georgia (9 months) isn’t so sure what she loves most, but maybe it’s just seeing everyone so happy to be out and about.
Over the years, we’ve enjoyed fall in the Seattle Area (and beyond) in so many different ways, so I’ve compiled all of our favorite experiences together here to keep track of all the fun and in hopes to inspire and equip some of you to make your own autumnal memories!
We love exploring our city and especially love seeing the sights we’ve known and gone to for years through the eyes of our children. Seattle has so much to offer for the entire family. At least from our perspective, there are landmarks, attractions, museums, and parks that we can enjoy just as much as our kids.
For Bergen (now 4 years old), the more we involve him in our everyday adventures around town and in our travels around the country, the richer the experience becomes. When I saw how engaged he was recently as we completed a scavenger hunt together at his school, it got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be fun to hunt for various items that identify our city and make it unique? Why not create our own Seattle Scavenger Hunt?