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Escape the City: 6 Last Minute Summer Road Trips

Whether you’ve been dreaming about an adventurous jaunt to the mountains, a lazy trip to the coast or a breezy island getaway, summer is the perfect time to load up the family roadster and hit the open road in search of fun. Lucky for us, family road trips are aplenty in Washington State. And with many destinations within a few hours drive or less, the “I’ve gotta go potty,” “he’s touching me” and “are we there yet?” grumbling coming from the backseat will be few and far between. So gas up the car, and read on for our favorite family road trip picks. It’s time to go!


Mount Rainier

If you’ve been itching to get to the mountains, you’ll love the achingly beautiful alpine landscape and wildflower covered meadows of Mount Rainier. The kids will have fun taking a tram ride at Northwest Trek (on the way to or from the mountain), exploring the 1887 homestead at Pioneer Farm, hiking kid-appropriate trails and participating in the Junior Ranger program. Everyone will enjoy family-friendly one-day adventures and camping in the forest.

Stay at: White Pass Village Inn Condominiums or the historic Paradise Inn.

mt rainier

Long Beach

If the sea is calling your name, you’ll love the sound of the waves crashing along the expansive coast, the smell of the salt in the air, and sniffing out fresh oysters in the tiny town of Oysterville. The kids will have fun flying kites, eating saltwater taffy, saying hi to Jake the Alligator Man, and playing safely on the beach. Everyone will enjoy walking the boardwalk, exploring sand dunes, and checking out historic lighthouses.

Stay at: The Breakers, the historic #309 Coast Guard Station or Chautauqua Lodge for the ultimate beach experience.

long beach

Whidbey Island

If a little island adventure is what you need, you’ll love the variety that Whidbey has to offer, from scenic farms to quaint towns to the arts to endless beaches. The kids will have fun exploring fortsbeach combing and hiking. Everyone will enjoy walking the pier at historic Coupeville, exploring Greenbank Farm, or riding the Coupville/Keystone ferry to downtown Port Townsend. 

Stay at: The Coachman Inn in Oak Harbor, the Boatyard Inn in Langley, or Captain Whidbey in Coupeville.

whidbey island

The San Juans

If you’re looking for a little of this and a little of that, you’ll love everything about the San Juan Islands: the ferries, the slower pace, and the downright other-worldliness of these eclectic islands. The kids will have fun kayaking, glamping, and exploring historic parks. Everyone will enjoy boatinglearning about Orca whales, swimming in island lakes, and gourmet dining.

Stay at: Rosario or West Beach Resort on Orcas Island, the Lopez Islander on Lopez, or Roche HarborLakedale Resort or the Earthbox Inn on San Juan Island.

Orcas Island Ferry Dock

Methow Valley

If you’re looking for a scenic destination, you’ll love the Methow Valley and especially the drive there via the majestic scenery of the North Cascades. The dry heat will have you basking in the sun. The kids will have fun hiking and mountain biking on easy trails, followed by a round of mini golf and ice cream in the old west-themed town of Winthrop. Everyone will enjoy horseback riding, a huge range of water sports, and even a hot air balloon ride.

Stay at: The Freestone Inn cabins, Sun Mountain Lodge, or Pearrygin Lake Cabins.

meathow valley

Lake Chelan

If you’re looking for a place where you can get in some serious R&R, you’ll love Lake Chelan and the fact that there’s not much to do here except park your rear and relax. If you must get up, nearby wineries are a fun diversion, as well as shopping in downtown historic Chelan. The kids will have fun swimming, building sand castles for hours, playing putt putt, and splashing around at the water park. Since nearly everything in Chelan is family-friendly, everyone will enjoy a scenic garden tour, a boat cruise or a u-pick hayride tour.

Stay at: Campbell’sWapato Point or Lake Chelan Shores for a quintessential laid-back family resort experience, or grab a few other families and rent a lakefront house.

Lake Chelan Shores

What are your favorite local road trips? Let us know in a comment below. 

–Kristina Moy & Allison Ellis


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Unzipped: Jessica Alba’s Can’t-Live-Without Summer Travel Gear

Photos courtesy of Eric Riddle, Paradise Inn at Mount Rainier Facebook page, Methow Valley Sport Trails Association Facebook page, Julie Rodriquez DeFant and Kenna Konoske

Seattle Events

Concerts at the Mural

Lower Queen Anne ( map )Aug 1 at 5:30 p.m.

Boeing Air Show at Seafair

Columbia City ( map )Aug 1 at 1:30 p.m.

Kenmore Summer Concert Series

Kenmore ( map )Aug 1 at 6 p.m.

Out to Lunch Summer Concerts

Downtown SeattleAug 1 at 12 p.m.


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