Things to Do With Kids in the State of Washington

From digging for fossils to watching wildlife, Washington offers fun for the whole family.

Those traveling with children will appreciate that there are so many things to do with kids in Washington. From museums and zoos in the cities to bountiful outdoor recreation, the state offers plenty of opportunities to make lasting family memories.

Kid-Friendly Activities in Washington State

Read on to explore some of Washington’s family friendly activities.

Outdoor Adventures

For fun and educational outdoor experiences, head to the eastern side of the state. In Republic, kids can get their hands dirty digging for fossils that are millions of years old at Stonerose Interpretive Center & Eocene Fossil Site. The site is open May-October, and staff are available help identify your finds.

On the Columbia River, take in a lesson in hydroelectricity with a visit to the Grand Coulee Dam. This mammoth concrete structure is the leading hydroelectricity source in the country. On summer nights, it hosts one of the world’s most unusually located laser light shows. Further south along the river, little rockhounds can gawk at petrified wood and petroglyphs at the Ginkgo Petrified Forest.

For fun in the city, explore Spokane’s Riverfront Park, home to a carousel, open-air amphitheater, and the Numerica SkyRide, a gondola that brings passengers above Spokane Falls. If visiting in the winter, families can lace up their skates and take to the ice on the 650-foot-long Numerica Skate Ribbon.

On the western side of the state, the San Juan Islands offer outdoor recreation perfect for families. Rent bikes to cruise the island roads or drive to the top of Mount Constitution on Orcas Island, which is home to a stone observation tower resembling a medieval castle.

Along the coast, kids can learn to fly a kite or watch the professionals during the Washington State International Kite Festival in Long Beach each August. The Salish Sea and Peninsulas regions also have miles of driftwood-strewn beaches complete with tidepools to explore.

Further inland, families can visit one of the state’s volcanoes for easy hikes during the warmer months. At Mount Rainier, kids can drop into one of the park’s Junior Ranger Programs or enjoy snow sports come winter. For the adventurous, consider heading to the forested zipline course at Skamania Lodge in the Gorge Region. Although there is no stated age requirement for the zipline, participants must weigh at least 60 pounds.

Indoor Activities

Looking to escape the heat or wait out the rain? Washington has tons of options for indoor fun, from interactive spaces aimed specifically at kids and families to themed museums offering learning and exploration for all ages.

From the workings of electricity at the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention in Bellingham to getting an up-close look at planes at the Museum of Flight in Seattle or the Boeing Future of Flight in Everett, there is something for every interest.

In Seattle, families can head to the top of the iconic Space Needle for a birds-eye view of the city and mountains or pop into the Museum of Pop Culture, Pacific Science Center, or Seattle Children’s Museum, where fun meets education.

Related: Family Friendly Museums in Washington

Wildlife Experiences

For kids who love animal spotting, head to Eatonville’s Northwest Trek, a 725-acre wildlife reserve featuring everything from bison and moose to bears and beavers—as well as zipline courses.

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
in Tacoma allows an up-close look at creatures large and small, including sharks. And just north of Spokane is Cat Tales Wildlife Center, a big cat sanctuary and wildlife rescue center where visitors can learn about the center’s mission to provide a safe, forever home for rescued, retired or non-releasable exotic animals.

To see animals in their natural habitat, visitors can visit one of the state’s many wildlife refuges, such as the Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Refuge. In the San Juan Islands, families can hop aboard a whale watching cruise for the chance to see whales, seals, porpoises, and other aquatic wildlife.

Seattle Sights on the Waterfront

Get out and about in the largest city in Washington and head down to Seattle’s waterfront. Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on Pier 54 features carnival-like oddities, including a pair of mummies named Sylvia and Sylvester. Wander down the pier for lunch at Ivar’s Acres of Clams, where you can grab an outdoor table and enjoy a basket of classic fish and chips.

Nearby, visit the living sea creatures at the Seattle Aquarium. Kids can stroke a starfish and tickle a sea anemone at the interactive tide pool. Next, proceed to Miner’s Landing on Pier 57, home to an old-fashioned carousel and plenty of arcade games sure to keep the kids entertained. Finally, head to the Great Wheel—a 175-foot-tall Ferris wheel with 42 fully enclosed gondolas—to take in the views.