December 15, 2016

5 Educational Outdoor Activities for Washington State Families

You want to encourage your children to stay active and enjoy the outdoors. You also want them to learn more about the natural environment that surrounds them.

Outdoor activities in Washington State might not seem as obvious as those in California—you can’t always spend hours on the beach in the sunshine. Nevertheless, Washington still offers a variety of unique outdoor activities for children and parents.

Here are some educational yet fun outdoor activities you might not find anywhere else in the world.

1. Ballard Locks

Let your children experience what happens when the natural environment and human civilization meet. The Ballard Locks in the Lake Washington Ship Canal are a series of locks that shape Seattle and its waterways. The locks allow boats to pass from lakes to sea while preventing the mixing of salt water from the Puget Sound and fresh water from Seattle’s lakes.

At the Ballard Locks, your children will enjoy watching the locks in action. They can also learn more about the fish ladder, which allows salmon to safely migrate around the locks. Over a million people visit the locks every year, so make sure your family takes the chance as well.

2. Whale Watching Tours

Seattle’s proximity to the ocean offers the opportunity to see whales, dolphins, and other sea life. Several different boat tour companies can take you and your family around Seattle and the neighboring San Juan Islands. They can even take you all the way to Victoria and Vancouver in British Columbia.

As you look for sea life, tour guides can explain to your family about Seattle’s native animals and natural features. Make sure your kids bring their binoculars so they can get the first glance at a jumping whale!

3. Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park in Port Angeles offers a wide variety of unique outdoor features for your family to explore. Your children can enjoy hiking in the mountains, watching sea creatures in the tide pools, or walking through the stunning temperate rain forests.

You’ll see many different plants and animals at the Olympic National Park. To make your experience more exciting, have your children participate in a photo scavenger hunt. Make a list of plants and animals for them to find. When they find each item, they can snap a photo with a disposable camera and check the item off their list.

4. Pike Place Market

The Pike Place Market is among the oldest outdoor farmer’s markets in the country, in operation since 1907. While you stroll through the market, you can purchase fresh produce, crafts, artwork,
snacks, and many other items. If you’re lucky, you might get to watch fishmongers throwing fish to customers!

As you visit Pike Place with your children, help them name all the unique foods they see. Encourage them to try something they’ve never tried before.

5. Mt. Rainier

Beautiful Mt. Rainier is one of Washington’s most iconic and beloved mountains. Visiting Mt. Rainier as a family allows for many opportunities to hike. You can learn more about the natural area surrounding Mt. Rainier by participating in a ranger-led walk or talk at the visitor’s center.

One of the most exciting natural wonders of Mt. Rainier are the wildflowers that cover the surrounding meadows. The flowers’ peak season is in July and August.

Rainy weather and overcast skies don’t keep Washington residents from enjoying the outdoors. Help your children learn the importance of an active lifestyle and appreciate the beauty of the world around them. If you need to enroll your children in preschool, make sure to choose a preschool that incorporates outdoor activities as part of the curriculum!