5 Best Weekend Getaways in Washington State for Families

by | May 18, 2024 | Destinations, Family Adventures, USA, Weekend Trips, West Coast

(This article may or may not contain affiliate links. What does that mean?)

 

No matter how many times our family rides a ferry out of the Seattle area – across sparkling Elliott Bay in Puget Sound – we get excited. Even us weary parents feel like kids when the big boat comes to dock at the ferry terminal. As Seattle residents, our family is fortunate to have numerous, close-by weekend destinations in Washington State. Some take us across the water to Bainbridge Island, the San Juan Islands, and the Olympic Peninsula. Others take us inland. Here are our 5 favorite weekend getaways within a short drive for those times when summer break seems too far away, winter break feels like a distant memory, and we just need to get away.  

 

NO TIME TO ENJOY THIS ARTICLE NOW? PIN IT OR BOOKMARK FOR LATER!

 

Alderbrook Resort on Hood Canal

Easily accessible from Seattle (and Portland, Oregon, too), the Hood Canal is a wonderland of hiking trails, quiet beaches, misty islands, old-growth forests, glistening lakes, and alpine peaks. Alderbrook Resort & Spa is the ideal jumping-off point for exploring it all. This popular spot knows its audience, catering to both the littles and their relaxation-seeking caregivers with upscale amenities and family comforts. 

Choose from regular hotel rooms, as well as cute cottages with kitchens. (Several of the resort’s accommodations are pet-friendly, so if you love your dog as much – OK, almost as much – as your kids, bring her along!) Rooms feature luxurious linens, fluffy robes, lather bath amenities, and Keurig single-cup coffee. The two-bedroom cottages (there’s also a single one-bedroom cottage) are much like having your own private beach house on the Hood Canal, with cozy down comforters, a gas fireplace in the living room, a TV and DVD player and more. 

 

What To Do At Alderbrook Resort

We promise you’ll stay busy here. From the indoor pool to the fire pit for roasting marshmallows at night, this is like an expanded version of your backyard or neighborhood park with all the fun things your kids have asked for. Rent a pedal boat, kayak, floating tube, or even a motorboat to take out on the Canal. Stay on land and try the resort’s geocaching program, or hike on 5 miles of trails right on the property. 

 

best weekend getaways in Washington State, kids, beach, boats

Nothing stops sibling rivalry in its tracks like nature. Photo by Paul Hanaoka/Unsplash.

 

Vancouver 

We are smitten with Vancouver. Whether passing through on our way to a ski trip in the British Columbia mountains or just heading up for a weekend of sushi, shopping, and bike riding in Stanley Park, our entire family will drop everything if the opportunity to head north to one of our favorite places comes up. The urban-meets-nature Vancouver vibe is addictive – and it’s less than a three-hour drive from Seattle. 

Stay at the Fairmount Waterfront, right in the heart of the city. The heated outdoor pool offers staggering views across the harbor to the North Shore Mountains. The Waterfront SkyTrain station is just steps away, as are the trendy eateries and shops of Gastown and Robson Street. 

 

Tip: Win cool points with the kids by selecting a Terrace Room at the Fairmount Waterfront. The rooms have doors that open to a garden space guests pass through to access the pool. 

 

What To Do In Vancouver

Our favorite way to spend visits in the summer months is in the world-renowned Stanley Park. Encircled by the glorious seawall bike path, this green oasis brims with natural West Coast rainforest, views of English Bay, beautiful beaches (check them out at low tide), super-fun playgrounds and splash pads, local wildlife, cultural and historical landmarks, and the incredible seawall bike path. In the summer, do not miss Second Beach Pool, within the park. This enormous pool sits bay-side and has a gradual entry, water slides, water toys, and more. Stanley Park is also home to Canada’s largest aquarium and a miniature railway.

 

city skyline, Vancouver, British Columbia, best weekend getaways in washington state

Go international, just over the border, in a city that has it all, from awesome food to epic outdoor adventures. Photo by James Wheeler/Pexels.

 

Suncadia Resort 

Families are spoiled for choice at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, just 80 miles east of Seattle through the Cascade Mountains. Reserve rooms at the inn or lodge, or choose from the popular vacation homes that are ideal for larger families or groups traveling together. That’s what we did when we visited. We rented a condo, a two-bedroom corner unit with bunk beds, a spacious living room with a sleeper sofa, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, a separate dining area, and laundry facilities. 

 

What To Do In Suncadia Resort

Three championship golf courses and an indulgent spa are ideal for grown-up time, but when it’s kid-time, well, take your pick. Should you bike on miles of paved trails through the forest? Play disc golf? Go swimming? Tackle some of the 1,000 Steps project, which connects The Lodge to the Cle Elum River? 

Young mountaineers can go out on guided hikes (extra fee) in Roslyn, Ronald, and the Wenatchee National Forest. From easy walks to challenging climbs, the hikes can be tailored to your family and include a guide, snacks, water, and transportation. Getting away in the winter? This is a great place for cross-country skiing, plus the Summit at Snoqualmie is just about a 30-minute drive back toward Seattle and offers several different lift bases for all ski and snowboard levels. 

 

Suncadia Resort, best weekend getaways for families in washington state

Wide open spaces are the best playground. Photo by Olivia Krueger/Unsplash.

 

Olympic National Park 

Worthy of an entire other article, Olympic National Park is a Washington State treasure with Pacific Ocean access, rainforests, hot springs, rugged mountains and vast lakes. Its remote location and large size mean it’s generally pretty quiet in the summer months compared to other national parks, but we love to head there any time of year, even if that means watching storms roll in from a comfy cabin while sipping hot chocolate and playing board games. 

 

What To Do In Olympic NP

Soak in warm mineral water at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, open late March through October. The hot pools all have different temperatures, so hop around, then jump into the invigorating cold pool before cycling through again. From here, it’s an easy drive to the North Olympic Peninsula, Sequim, Hurricane Ridge, and Lake Crescent.

If you want to fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves and have easy access to tidepools, stay at the rustic and utterly peaceful Kalaloch Lodge. Like many of the Peninsula’s accommodations, you can choose from a main lodge or inn room or a pet-friendly cabin with a kitchenette. (There are no leash laws on the beaches, so your dog can run wild and free.) WiFi is spotty if it exists at all, so this is a fantastic place to truly disconnect. Be sure to check out the picturesque sea stacks at Ruby Beach and the Tree of Life at Kalaloch Beach. 

 

DON’T MISS Best Things to Do in Olympic National Park for Families

 

Tip: On your way out to the western reaches of Olympic National Park, stop in Port Townsend for lunch. This charming village on the sea has two National Historic Landmark Districts and a decidedly Victorian feel. Your lunch options include Mexican, pizza, Thai, seafood, pub grub and more – a whole lot of choice for such a tiny town. 

 

washington coast, best weekend getaways for family in washington state, olympic national park

With a view this beautiful, you won’t even notice the drizzle. Photo by Joris Beugels/Unsplash.

 

Lake Chelan 

Check in to Campbell’s Resort, a northwest family favorite since 1901. Every family-friendly suite and two-bedroom unit comes with a stunning, uplake view of Lake Chelan from a private balcony or deck, ensuring a front-row seat on the region’s natural beauty. Some rooms have a kitchenette, so if that would be useful for your family, speak up when you’re making your reservation. Resort activities and amenities are plentiful, particularly in the summer, and include concerts on the beach, kayak and paddle boat rentals, BBQ facilities, two heated pools, two hot tubs, guest laundry – and the best part, we think, a nearly 2,000-foot-long stretch of private beach. 

 

What To Do At Lake Chelan

A beloved summer playground for Seattleites, the nearly 51-mile-long Lake Chelan sees more than 300 days of sunshine a year, and comes with a friendly, small-town charm. (Bonus: Parents can partake of the incredible wine-tasting opportunities.) Splash around at Slidewaters waterpark, check out a real rodeo, take a cruise up the lake to the remote town of Stehekin aboard the Lady of the Lake, or learn more about the region and its cultural and agricultural history at the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center

 

Lake Chelan, best weekend getaways for families in Washington State

Water for the kids, wine for the parents. Lake Chelan gets it right. Photo by Jesse Collins/Unsplash.

 

 

A Few More Favorites 

Washington State is embarrassingly full of fantastic weekend getaways, so there’s really no choice to stay home (OK, except perhaps for yardwork or those many, many soccer games that seem to take up your Saturdays and Sundays). Carve out the time you can and try these favorites: 

 

Long Beach Peninsula

A three-hour drive from Seattle, this 28-mile stretch of Washington coast offers sand for days (and plenty of treasure-hunting and sandcastle-building opportunities), the 8.2-mile Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail for biking and walking beside sand dunes and over the Cape Disappointment headlands, the Columbia-Pacific Farmers’ Market, the Ilwaco Saturday Market from May through September, and the World Kite Museum.

 

DON’T MISS! 7 Best Places for Family Glamping in Northern California

 

Seattle Proper

With Pike Place Market (when was the last time your kids saw an adult throwing fish through the air or a wall entirely covered in bubble gum?), the Woodland Park Zoo, the Great Wheel, funky neighborhoods like Fremont or Ballard, and more, sometimes we don’t even leave town for a fun weekend. Add in a ferry ride, or road trip to Whidbey Island or Mount Rainier National Park for the day and it’s easy to argue that a staycation can often be the best vacation!

In fact, it’s time to start planning our next family getaway … horseback riding at Sun Mountain Lodge, perhaps, or whale-watching in the San Juans with a stop for ice cream in Friday Harbor? Let’s go!

 

When You Go

 

 

Getting To Seattle From Los Angeles

Delta, Alaska, United, and American offer non-stop service from LAX (Los Angeles) to SEA (Seattle). The flight is roughly three hours.

An excellent discount site for flights (and cars, hotels) is Expedia! This is where we start our research for the best deals!

If you’d like to be in the know for exclusive discounts to fly anywhere in the world, check out Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights). Their website shows current deals, and they send emails when they find crazy cheap discounts. Some can even be booked with points.

To get discounts on tours in the area, we recommend Get Your Guide or Viator (which offers 51% off last-minute tours!).

To save time (and because we travel so much), we got an annual travel insurance policy for the whole family from this site. They have affordable policies for individual trips too and tools to make picking one easy.

 

NO TIME TO ENJOY THIS ARTICLE NOW? PIN IT OR BOOKMARK FOR LATER!

 

From her home in Seattle, Michelle writes for a variety of internationally based travel companies. When not writing, she’s hiking, skiing, reading, or (in actuality) working her other job as “mom taxi.” Check out her other work at Eagle Eyes Editing.