As road trips and nature have become the go-to for travel this year, Washington state offers so much to explore. The Olympic Peninsula is an incredible family escape offering something that everyone can enjoy, including your little ones.
Even if only for a quick lunch and stroll, this town is a must while touring the Olympic Peninsula. With its historical architecture, sea views and cute little shops, Port Townsend is a stunning standout. Take a stroll along downtown’s Water Street where there are plenty of to-go coffee shops, outdoor dining options and windows to peek into — ranging from antique stores and bookshops to sleek and trendy boutiques. Little ones can get ice cream, see a totem pole and watch craftsmen build boats by hand along this charming little street.
Olympic Game Farm
This unique drive-through wildlife exhibit in Sequim began as a home for animal actors and worked exclusively for Walt Disney Studios for 28 years. In 1972, they received approval to open to the public as the Olympic Game Farm and have remained dedicated to the welfare and wellbeing of in-need animals (space and authority approval permitting, of course).
It is an incredible experience for children and adults alike, allowing you to see — and often feed — wild animals including bears, zebra, llamas, yaks and more. The last portion of the tour features deer, elk and bison that will eagerly come up to your window in hopes of receiving a snack. It is truly wild!
Admission is $14 for children ages 6 to 14 years old and seniors over 65 years of age; $17 for ages 15 and over. Children under 5 years old are free. Rates are per person in the vehicle and include all-day passes, so you can do a few loops if you wish. You may only feed the animals the bread they provide, so don’t forget to purchase your loaves at the entrance for $3 a loaf.
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park includes many amazing hikes and sights across the peninsula that can be enjoyed by the entire family, including younger children that aren’t ready for intense hiking. The entrance fee is $30 per private vehicle (15 passenger capacity max) and is valid for seven days. The pass includes entrance to Hurricane Ridge, Marymere Falls and the Hoh Rain Forest, as well as many other destinations throughout the park.
The Hurricane Hill Trail reopened in August 2020 following an extensive project to make it accessible to all. The trail is newly paved, making it an easy walk even with a stroller, and it showcases sweeping mountain and water views. Near the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, there are several trailheads for less challenging trails such as Big Meadow, Cirque Rim and High Ridge. Sunrise Point is a short spur trail off of High Ridge which dead-ends at a steep drop off, which is not ideal for tiny tots, but the view is spectacular.
Lake Crescent & Marymere Falls
While there are plenty of access points for Lake Crescent, parking at the Storm King Ranger Station is the perfect spot for little ones to take a potty break before starting the Marymere Falls Trail. This scenic walk begins with water views along the lake and then ventures into the lush forest. After crossing a couple of rustic wooden bridges you’ll finally reach a lovely 90-foot waterfall. This is an idyllic way to see a little bit of everything without being too challenging or taking too long.
Lake Crescent itself is a beautiful destination for walking along the lakeshore, paddling, or enjoying a picnic.
Hoh Rain Forest
If one could dream up where fairies and gnomes might call home, it would look like the Hoh Rain Forest, making it a magical place for all ages. The star of the show is the Hall of Mosses, which is a 0.8-mile loop through an old-growth forest, including a grove of maples trees ensconced in swathes of green moss. The enchanted forest continues along the 1.2-mile Spruce Nature Trail, where you can see tall, elegant trees grow atop the roots or trunks of massive fallen trees. It’s a beautiful way to learn about nature when one sees how life goes on for a tree even after it falls. The trail also goes along Taft Creek and the Hoh River, which offer some picturesque stops.
On your way home along the west coast of the peninsula, there are plenty of beautiful beaches to stop at for a picnic or simply to stretch, such as Kalaloch and Ruby Beach. The Olympic Peninsula has so much to offer that one could spend much more time here, but this is simply a snapshot of iconic highlights that can be enjoyed by the whole family over the course of a long weekend.
When visiting the Olympic Peninsula, please follow all recommended social distancing and mask guidelines. Be respectful of the community and recreate responsibly so we can all continue to enjoy the area!