Washington offers breathtaking scenery and lots of fun things to do for vacationing families.
The state of Washington is filled with gorgeous scenery and attractions that will capture the interest of every member of the family. If you haven’t yet made plans for your vacation this year, consider The Evergreen State. It’s full of opportunities for experiencing a great vacation – one that you and your children will remember for many years to come. For those who are unfamiliar with the area, here are some tourist spots and activities that are geared toward the youngsters in the family.
The city of Seattle is home to Seattle Aquarium(www.seattleaquarium.org)– a delightfully interactive facility that has kids in mind. Focusing on the Puget Sound area, the aquarium offers a wide variety of exhibits, such as Life of a Drifter. This beautiful presentation allows visitors to view and learn about jellyfish or – as they’re referred to at the aquarium – Moon Jellies. Included among the numerous exhibits are Life on the Edge, Pacific Coral Reef, Underwater Dome, Sound to Mountains and Myth, Magic, Mystery. In addition, there are demonstrations and daily talks, as well as family adventure programs. If that’s not enough, you can cruise around through the San Juan Islands hunting for Orca whales!
Woodland Park Zoo (www.zoo.org)– also located in Seattle – is an absolutely marvelous spot for youngsters! Among the many members of the zoo family, you’ll meet a Bushmaster, Ball Python, Clouded Leopard, Earwig, Green Crested Basilisk, Jaguar, Ocelot and a Tomato Frog. Included in the exhibits are Tropical Rain Forest, Raptor Center & Temperate Forest, Day and Night Exhibits and African Savannah. Be sure to check out the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit, as well – this is gorgeous! For those foul weather days, the zoo even has a specialized program called Rainy Day Tour, which guides visitors through a wide variety of indoor exhibits. Kids will love Discovery Barn, which offers them crafts, activities and interactive exploration. In addition to all of this, Woodland Park Zoo also offers evening and overnight adventures, in an attempt to teach visitors a bit about the nocturnal animals. Just bring a sleeping bag, and you’re all set for the night!
No vacation is complete without a trip to Marsh’s Free Museum!(www.marshsfreemuseum.com) Located in Long Beach, Washington, this facility houses a large number of unique – and sometimes bizarre – exhibits that will amuse adults and children alike. Among the odder exhibits are Jake the Alligator Man, an eight-legged lamb, a real shrunken head, a complete human skeleton, and a two-headed calf. Other displays include petrified dinosaur dung, a multitude of stuffed animals and some very vintage musical devices. If you’re interested in something more than a bit unusual, step into the strange world of Marsh’s Free Museum. Families with very young children should think twice before visiting this particular tourist attraction, as some of the exhibits may be a bit too odd for them to appreciate and could end up simply frightening them.
The Hands On Children’s Museum, (www.hocm.org) located in Olympia, is a marvelous place for kids to learn, play and explore. With a myriad of exhibits and programs, this is a great place for the family to spend the day together. During your visit, you’ll see over 55 interactive exhibits, including Backyard Wilderness, Young at Art Studio, Body Basics, Build It and Working Waterfront. For the very young, the museum offers TotSpot – an interactive learning gallery. Some of the visitor programs include Kindercraft, Step Inside a Story and Visiting Artists. If you’re going to be in the area for awhile, you can enroll the kids in their Summer Vacation Day Camp – choose between a half-day or all-day camp schedule, focusing in the areas of art and science, which will last for one week. There are also a number of special events that are offered throughout the summer.
While in Olympia, be sure to visit Rutledge Corn Maze (www.rutledgecornmaze.com). Featuring a series of cornfield mazes – some containing bridges! – Rutledge offers a wonderful day’s entertainment for all members of the family. The theme of the mazes change from year to year, and there’s always a Haunted Maze during the month of October. Special activities include hayrides, pumpkin carving, Bounce House, hay jump and miniature golf. During the summer months, other activities are also offered, including Flashlight Night and Gazebo with a Fire Pit, as well as a number of others. If you’re vacationing during the autumn months, the family will enjoy Face Painting, Pumpkin T-Ball, Horseshoes and more. Rutledge Corn Maze is an attraction that you’ll want to revisit!
Spokane, Washington, is the home of Riverfront Park – a family amusement facility that offers beautiful scenery as well as more traditional rides. Spanning 100 acres, the park offers rides such as a Ferris Wheel, Bumper Cars, Carousel and Dragon Coaster. Also available are gondola rides over the Spokane Falls, as well as an IMAX theater and game room. Throughout the season, special events take place, including Pig-Out in the Park, Pow Wow and Hoopfest, to name a few. Be sure to make a stop at the Carousel Gift Shop on your way out. While this is not a high-tech park, there’s plenty here for the family to enjoy, and the kids will have the opportunity to experience an old-fashioned amusement park environment as opposed to the ever-present theme parks, full of thrill rides and high speed contraptions.
Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park – located in Vantage, Washington – covers 7,470 acres of land containing petrified trees which date back 16 million years. This magnificent natural landmark offers a reflective day of walking the trails in the fresh air and spending family time in the great outdoors. The scenery is a real plus, and this will make a nice day trip by offering a break from the more traditional vacation routine of amusement parks and museums. The park also accommodates camping, with two restrooms and 50 utility sites, complete with full hook-ups. Tenting is also permitted, but campers are cautioned to secure them firmly, due to high winds in the park. For those who don’t have cell phones, there’s also a pay phone on the premises, for the use of the general public.
Leavenworth, Washington is the home of Icicle Junction Family Fun Park & Cinema. This family fun center offers a wide range of activities, suitable for both adults and children. At Icicle Junction, you’ll enjoy 18-hole miniature golf that has a Bavarian motif; a bumper boat pond; an excursion train ride; jump shot basketball (which utilizes a trampoline); foosball, air hockey and pool tables; an arcade and game room; and a movie theater. There’s also a rock climbing pillar that will challenge you to reach its 24-foot high peak. The rides in Junction Square, as well as the playground area, will keep the kiddies in smiles while older children and their parents enjoy other park activities. This is a great – and uniquely designed – family facility, with lots to offer the family!
While Washington is known for its breathtaking scenery – and volcanoes – there’s also a lot to offer the vacationing family. For more information on vacation attractions and activities, contact the Department of Tourism or your local travel agent.