When it comes to family fun in the Pacific Northwest, there’s no place like Washington, specifically Seattle.
The city is home to a variety of activities that appeal to kids of all ages: From the Space Needle and Pike Place Market to the Seattle Aquarium and Woodland Park Zoo, there are plenty of things to do while you’re enjoying your stay at The Edgewater Hotel.
So, if you are planning your trip to Washington and don’t want to miss out on anything the nation’s capital has to offer, this guide is for you!
- 6 Top Reasons Why Washington is the Perfect Family Vacation Destination
- When’s the Best Time to Visit Washington with Kids?
- What’s the Weather in Washington Across the Year?
- What’s the Perfect Length of Time to Spend in Washington?
- The Best Things to Do With Kids in Washington Family Vacations
- The Best Family Hotels and Resorts in Washington
- The Best Places to Eat with Kids in Washington
- The Best Day Trips from Washington that the Whole Family Will Love
- How to Get Around Washington During Your Vacation?
- The Best Ways to Get to Washington for Your Vacation
- 5 Top Tips for Staying Safe in Washington When Visiting with Kids
6 Top Reasons Why Washington is the Perfect Family Vacation Destination
Mesmerizing Natural Beauty
Washington is home to Mount Rainier National Park and North Cascades National Park—two of America’s most beautiful national parks.
Both parks offer hiking trails for all levels of experience as well as campsites for those looking for a secluded getaway from civilization.
If you’d rather stay close to civilization but still enjoy nature’s splendor, head over to Olympic National Park—it’s only two and a half hours away from Seattle!
Native American Culture
The state is home to more than 29 tribes, including the Puyallup, Spokane, and Yakama tribes. Each tribe differs from the others in terms of culture and traditions.
The tribes host an annual pow-wow every year in July, where you can learn more about their traditions and watch dancers perform traditional dances.
You can also learn about Native American history in museums like the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture or the Northwest Museum of Tribal Art.
Washington is known for its incredible weather. The mild weather all through the year makes it ideal for a wide range of outdoor pursuits.
In the winter, you can ski on Mt. Spokane or go snowshoeing at Mt. Rainier National Park, and in the summer, you can hike through the old-growth forests of Olympic National Park or camp at one of many state parks.
Watch Orcas Swim through Their Habitat
The waters around Seattle are home to many species of whales and dolphins—including orcas!
Head out on a boat tour with your kids and watch these majestic creatures play in their natural habitat up close (and maybe even spot some seals or sea lions!).
Diversity of the Olympic Peninsula
With a variety of activities and attractions, it’s easy to see why the Olympic Peninsula is such a popular destination for families looking for an unforgettable vacation. There is a wide variety of outdoor activities, from hiking and camping to whale watching and kayaking, available in Washington, which makes it an ideal destination for family vacations.
Great Food Choices in Seattle
From top restaurants like Top Pot Doughnuts and Sitka & Spruce to food trucks like El Cartel, Seattle has something for every taste bud!
No matter what kind of food you’re craving, there’s something delicious waiting for you at one of these amazing eateries to enjoy during Pacific Northwest family vacations. Besides, you can take your kids to the Wharf or Pike Place Market to eat local seafood, and watch people tossing large fish!
When’s the Best Time to Visit Washington with Kids?
Any time of year is wonderful in Washington. Nonetheless, if a trip there with the kids is in the cards, consider these suggestions. Washington is most enjoyable during the months of September and November, as well as between the months of March and May.
These are the best times to visit Washington if you want to avoid crowds and plan ahead of time. During summer, the weather is warm but not too hot.
In early autumn, it’s mild; in March and April, it’s milder still. Besides, in late fall and winter months (November through February), it’s chilly but not bone-chilling cold. However, it can start freezing at the end of December up to February.
During summer and autumn, the crowds are smaller and you can enjoy more personal experiences with fewer people around.
If you’re looking for an area that’s particularly quiet during these months, check out Federal Way or Tacoma. They’re just outside of Seattle’s main downtown area but still close enough that you can easily visit them on your trip.
What’s the Weather in Washington Across the Year?
The weather in Washington varies with the seasons. Summer is typically warm and humid, while winter is cool with frequent rain.
The average high temperature in July is the upper 80s to mid-90s Fahrenheit (27° to 34° Celsius), and the average low is 45 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius). In December, these numbers are 40 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit (4 and -6) respectively.
In the summer, you can expect daily humidity levels of 60% or more. It rains most days of the year in Washington, with an average of 4.3 inches a month between June and September. A typical rainy day will bring an inch or two of precipitation.
What’s the Perfect Length of Time to Spend in Washington?
If you’ve ever been to a place that has so much to offer, it can be hard to know how much time is enough. Washington is certainly no exception!
So what’s the perfect length of time to spend in Washington? A week? Two weeks? A month? Or even more?!
Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here but we suggest you spend at least a week or two enjoying the best family vacations in Washington.
Don’t simply consider the length of time you’ll be in Washington, DC, when making plans for your trip there. Determine the kind of your desired vacation.
Do you want an action-packed adventure? Or is sunbathing and lounging on the beach more your speed? Do you want a romantic getaway or an exciting family vacation?
Some people might want to spend a few days exploring Seattle and its surrounding areas, while others might want to stay for a full month or more. And that’s perfectly fine!
The Best Things to Do With Kids in Washington Family Vacations
Mount Olympic National Park
What do you get when you combine a national park with tons of activities? Olympic National Park! This is the perfect place to take your kids, especially if they love the outdoors and want to see some wildlife.
There are lots of ways to experience Olympic National Park with your family. You can camp at one of several sites within the park or stay in one of their vacation rentals. If you go camping, there are options for tent camping or RV camping too!
If you don’t want to camp, there are plenty of other options for accommodations in Port Angeles and other nearby towns. There are also plenty of activities available even if you don’t stay overnight in the park itself.
For example, you could take a tour on a vehicle that takes passengers through the rainforest on land and then into Lake Crescent.
You can also explore other areas surrounding Olympic National Park such as Sequim Bay State Park. It offers hiking trails along beaches overlooking Puget Sound or Fort Worden State Historical Park.
The park has many historic buildings from World War II that have been converted into living history museums (there’s even an old missile silo!).
Mount Rainier National Park
If you’re looking for the best places to spend time with your kids in Washington, look no further than Mount Rainier National Park.
The park is home to more than 25 glaciers and numerous waterfalls, including the highest one in North America. You can also hike, bike, and even fish within the park.
The best part? It’s all free for kids under 15!
If you want to spend an entire day exploring Mount Rainier National Park, pack up a picnic lunch and head over there this summer (or winter!).
There are plenty of hiking trails within the park and several campgrounds where you can stop for lunch or just relax by the lake.
If you need some help finding a good spot, just ask a ranger at one of the visitor centers close by. They will gladly recommend some fantastic places to you.
North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park is a must-see for any family vacation. It can be found about two hours north of Seattle, in the far northwest corner of Washington State.
The park is huge – it’s actually one of the largest in the United States. It’s filled with lakes and rivers, old-growth forests, and tons of wildlife like bears, elk, deer, mountain goats, and more.
There are plenty of activities to do at the park: hiking, fishing (there are over 400 miles of trails), camping (there are over 140 campgrounds), and boating (there are over 1,000 miles of rivers). Besides, there’s horseback riding (over 60 miles of trails) and snowshoeing (you can rent equipment at the park).
And if your kids aren’t into those things? Well, then there’s always the visitor center, where you can learn about historic sites in the area or play games together!
Pacific Science Center Seattle
The Pacific Science Center, located in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, has plenty of exhibits and activities that are sure to keep your children entertained for hours.
There are a wide variety of displays at the center, from a planetarium to an aquarium. The complex also features an IMAX theater and a dome IMAX theater.
There are many hands-on exhibits at the Pacific Science Center, including an aquarium with sharks, sea turtles, and other marine life.
There’s also a space exhibit where kids can learn about space exploration and astronomy by building their own rocket ship or exploring the solar system through different interactive games.
Many shows take place every day, including The Arctic: Our Last Great Wilderness 3D and Laser Y2K Laser Dome.
These shows are both very popular with kids because they combine science facts with fiction to create an immersive experience for audiences of all ages.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma
The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington, is the perfect place to take your kids on a family vacation. It’s got everything they could want: animals galore, their four-legged family members, and fun activities!
There are nearly five hundred different species of animals at the zoo, including pandas and gorillas. There’s also a marine animal exhibit where you can see penguins, sea lions, dolphins, and more swimming around. There are even train rides through the zoo for kids who are too small to walk all day long!
If you want to spend some time indoors (or if it’s rainy outside), there are plenty of indoor activities as well. Kids can visit the aquarium’s touch tank, where they can get up close with sea life like starfish or rays.
And there’s also an underwater observatory, so you can watch them swim by without getting wet yourself! The aquarium also has daily shows featuring sea lions and dolphins performing tricks like jumping through hoops or playing catch on land with trainers dressed up like fish themselves.
The Best Family Hotels and Resorts in Washington
Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle
Though it’s most famous for its namesake sports venue, the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle is also a great place to stay for families. With an on-site spa, separate kids’ pool and play area, and a program with activities like dancing and crafts, this is one of the best family-friendly hotels in Washington.
The Fairmont Olympic Hotel is also in a prime location: just steps from downtown Seattle, Pike Place Market, and the waterfront. This hotel has everything you need for a family vacation in Seattle.
Alderbrook Resort & Spa, Union
Alderbrook Resort & Spa is a family-friendly resort with a beautiful setting on Hood Canal.
Rooms at the resort are spacious, and some even have balconies that look out over the stunning landscape of Olympic National Park. But if you need more space than a regular hotel room, you can choose from one of the available suites.
Enjoy the large pool and hot tub, or play a game of tennis on one of the two hard courts. This resort offers games galore for kids, including paintball, mini golf, and lawn games. There are also plenty of other activities for adults such as a full gym, spa services, and more!
Paradise Inn, Mount Rainier National Park
The Paradise Inn is one of the best family resorts and hotels in Washington. It is located in Mount Rainier National Park, which is just outside of Seattle. This hotel offers luxurious accommodations, as well as activities to keep everyone entertained.
The rooms are rustic yet cozy, and they include amenities like fireplaces, balconies, and full-sized beds. The restaurant serves up delicious breakfast dishes as well as dinner options like smoked salmon or prime rib. If you’re looking for a great place to stay near Mount Rainier National Park, this may be it!
Sun Mountain Lodge, Winthrop
Located just outside of Wenatchee and Leavenworth, Sun Mountain Lodge is surrounded by the gorgeous Cascade Mountains and offers skiing, snowboarding, and tubing.
The lodge has an outdoor pool with a waterslide, a hot tub, an arcade room with ping pong tables, air hockey, and foosball tables.
There are also two on-site restaurants: Wolf Creek Bar and Grill serves burgers, fries, and other pub fares while The Dining Room at Sun Mountain Lodge offers sandwiches, salads, and more healthy options.
Sun Mountain Lodge also offers lodging options ranging from hotel rooms to cabins designed for families or groups of friends.
The Edgewater Hotel, Seattle
The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle is the perfect place to unwind with the family. In addition to its convenient location near Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, this hotel offers a variety of activities for families including indoor/outdoor heated pools and a fitness center.
The Six Seven Menus restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of the week, and for a special Sunday brunch. Kids will love the play area, which features a water area, toys, and games that include a bouncy castle and climbing walls.
What’s the Average Cost of a Hotel in Washington?
Washington, D.C., is a bustling city with plenty of attractions and things to do. If you plan on visiting the area, you’ll likely want to know the cost of your hotel stays there.
The average price for a hotel in Washington is $178 per night. The median price is $165 per night. That’s less than most other major cities in the U.S. But it’s still a significant amount of money.
The Best Places to Eat with Kids in Washington
2331 Calvert St NW, Washington, DC. 20008
Open City is a great place to go with kids because they have a lot of options, and they’re all delicious. They have vegan and vegetarian options, as well as chicken, steak, fish, and more.
They also have really great desserts that kids love—like ice cream sandwiches! If you’re looking for a place where everyone can find something they’ll enjoy, Open City is a great choice.
Comet Ping Pong
5037 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20008
If you’re looking for a place to eat with kids in Washington, Comet Ping Pong is the answer.
Comet Ping Pong is an arcade, a pizza parlor, and a bar all in one. They’re established in both the nation’s capital and Arlington, Virginia.
Their menu includes a variety of pizzas, salads, and sandwiches, with vegetarian options available as well. They also have gluten-free crusts available upon request!
Founding Farmers DC
1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC 20006
Let’s be honest—you’ve been to a lot of restaurants with your kids. But if you visit Washington and don’t sit down at Founding Farmers DC, you’ll be missing out.
Founding Farmers has an impressive menu that includes everything from burgers and fries to seafood and steak, all made with fresh ingredients.
You’ll find everything from pizza and burgers to authentic American cuisine and gourmet comfort food on this list, plus some of the best ice cream spots in town. These restaurants offer great food at reasonable prices—and they’re perfect for families with kids!
Good Stuff Eatery
303 Pennsylvania Ave. SE Washington, DC 20003
Good Stuff Eatery got that hometown feel, but with a swanky New York City vibe. You’ll feel like you’re hanging out at your friend’s apartment, but really you’re just in a food court. And the food is so good!
It’s one of the best places in Washington to eat with kids because it’s casual and affordable, and it has that diner vibe that everyone loves. Plus, there are tons of choices for kids (and parents).
There are burgers, salads, and sandwiches galore. And if you want to get creative? They’ve got build-your-own burger options!
The Best Day Trips from Washington that the Whole Family Will Love
San Juan Island
The San Juan Islands are a group of islands off the coast of Washington state. They’re known for their beautiful scenery and close proximity to cities like Seattle, making them an ideal spot for a day trip if your family is looking for something fun and easy to get to.
Some of the most popular islands include Lopez Island and Orcas Island, which are both home to beautiful hiking trails and beaches where you can swim or snorkel.
It’s easy to get to the islands by ferry or private boat—and there are plenty of places to stay overnight if you want to make a whole weekend out of it!
Whidbey Island is a little piece of heaven on Earth. With its endless beaches, hiking trails, and charming towns, it’s the perfect place to take your family on a day trip from Washington.
In addition to having some of the best Pacific Northwest beaches, the island is only a short ferry ride away from Anacortes. It’s also possible to see the San Juan Islands while on the ferry ride over.
If you’re looking for something different than the typical beach day, check out Deception Pass State Park. This park has 13 different beach trails: rocky, sandy, and with tide pools that are great for exploring!
There are plenty of other fun activities around Whidbey Island too. For instance, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding through Penn Cove or hiking through Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.
Bellingham is often overlooked as a day trip from Seattle. But it’s one of my favorite places for a day trip with the whole family.
The city’s downtown is full of shops and restaurants, and it’s beautiful in the spring when all the flowers are blooming. There is a public market where you can buy fresh food and flowers directly from the growers.
If you want to get out of town, there are plenty of trails to hike or bike on. Plus, you can always go to Chuckanut Drive and take in the views—it’s one of my favorite things to do there!
If you’re looking for something fun for kids, try checking out the Northwest Railway Museum. It has an indoor train display with several different types of trains from around the world!
They also have a great little train ride where your kids can get their own engineer’s cap and pretend they’re driving a train through tunnels.
Leavenworth, in the Washington Cascades, is a cute little Bavarian-style town. There is something for everyone to do, making this the ideal vacation spot for families.
The best part? You can easily spend a whole day here without breaking your budget. Here are our picks for the best day trips from Leavenworth.
What to do: Take a hike at Icicle River Falls Trailhead—a 3-mile round trip hike that offers stunning views of Icicle River and Twisp River Valley.
Or, visit Wenatchee Confluence State Park, which features waterfalls, hiking trails, and camping spots that are perfect for families looking for something more rugged.
How to Get Around Washington During Your Vacation?
When you’re on vacation, you want to make sure that your time is spent doing the things you’ve dreamed about. You don’t want to waste time in traffic jams or waiting for buses or subways.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get around Washington without a car. Here are some of our favorite ways:
Uber and Lyft are great options for getting around Washington. You can use the app on your phone to book a ride with just a few taps, and then track your driver as they approach your location.
The cost of an Uber/Lyft rideshare depends on how far you’re going and how long it takes to get there. But it’s usually cheaper than taking a taxi or paying for parking at a hotel near where you’re staying.
Plus, Uber and Lyft drivers are easygoing people who love talking about their hometowns and showing off their favorite spots in DC!
The Metro Bus system is pretty extensive in Washington, DC—and it’s also pretty cheap (about $2 per trip).
Metro Bus is the easiest and most affordable way to get around Washington, DC. With over 269 bus routes covering the District, Maryland, and Virginia, it’s easy to find a route that works for your itinerary.
All Metro buses are accessible by wheelchair users and strollers and feature low-floor buses with ramps.
If you plan on doing any driving in Washington (or just want your own set of wheels during your vacation), then renting a car is probably best for you.
There are many rental companies located throughout the city, as well as in neighboring communities such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Many offer discounts when booked online or through travel agencies like Expedia or Travelocity.
The Best Ways to Get to Washington for Your Vacation
Washington, D.C. is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the country, so it’s no surprise that it’s a popular tourist destination. But it can be difficult to find information about how to travel there.
So, here are some of our favorite ways to get to Washington for your vacation:
Fly into SeaTac Airport and take the light rail, King County Metro Transit, or Megabus to downtown Seattle. It’s cheap, easy, and fun.
If you’re going to visit Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, take an Amtrak Cascades train from Portland to Vancouver. It’s beautiful!
Drive across the border at Blaine/White Rock in British Columbia (Canada) or Lynden in Washington state (USA). You’ll need an international driver’s license if you’re from outside North America.
5 Top Tips for Staying Safe in Washington When Visiting with Kids
Watch Your Belongings on the Metro
The Metro system is an efficient way to get around DC, but it can also be a target for pickpockets. If you think someone is watching you or following too closely, go through the nearest exit and find an officer immediately.
The Metro police will be able to help keep you safe while still allowing you to enjoy all that Washington has to offer!
Washington is a busy city with lots of people walking around town. Parents must keep their children close by when they’re out and about so they don’t get lost or separated from their parents.
The best thing to do is keep hold of their hand at all times or use a safety harness or a kid’s leash if they’re small enough.
Don’t Over Engage with Strangers
Nothing will ruin an otherwise magical vacation faster than a conversation with someone who seems nice but might not be. Make sure everyone knows not to talk to strangers, especially when they look like they’re asking for help.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
If you’re traveling to Washington with kids, it’s important to remember that they’re going to want to explore. If you want your trip to be safe and fun, make sure they wear comfortable shoes that will help them keep up with the rest of the family.
You don’t want them getting too tired on a hike or having sore feet after a long day of walking around in the city.
Watch Out for Cable Cars and Trolleys
With the historic Capitol Building and its many monuments, museums, and parks, there’s plenty to see and do in the nation’s capital. But while you’re there, don’t forget to be careful and watch out for cable cars and trolleys.
These vehicles can be dangerous and unpredictable. They travel on tracks that may be in the middle of sidewalks or streets.
If you’re walking with your kids when a cable car or trolley comes by, move out of its way immediately. If your kids are old enough to walk on their own, make sure they know not to try crossing the street when one approach.
Washington is full of history and culture—it’s one of America’s oldest cities! You can’t leave without seeing the Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.
And if it’s the natural beauty you’re looking for, take a trip to national parks like Rock Creek Park or visit one of the city’s many historic cemeteries.
If you’re up for some sightseeing but don’t want to travel too far from home, head to Baltimore or Philadelphia instead. Both cities have plenty of iconic landmarks and museums to keep you busy throughout your stay.
Happy Pacific Northwest family vacation in Washington DC!