Last Hurrahs! Road Trips to Take Before Summer is Over

Whether you are looking for a last-minute weekend excursion to the mountains or an extended day trip to a seaside town, there are many family destinations, within a few hours drive or less of the city, just waiting to be explored. So gas up the family roadster, and read on for our favorite end of summer road trips. It’s time to go!

whidbey island ferry

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 2014

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 or the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad and Museum in Elbe, hiking kid-appropriate trails, exploring the Mt. Rainier National Park’s visitor centers 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.

mount rainier

Cle Elum
Super easy to get to (assuming there isn’t any major construction on Snoqualmie Pass), the city of Cle Elum offers lots of outdoor family fun including hiking, bikinghorseback riding, and water activities on Lake Cle Elum where you can rent boats, jet skis and more. The city of Rosyln (remember the TV show Northern Exposure?) is a great place to explore with kids and to grab a meal at The World Famous Brick Salon, Roslyn Cafe, or Village Pizza.

Stay at: Suncadia for a posh experience yet casual, kid-friendly, and a bit adventurous. Families visiting Suncadia can enjoy golfing, biking, hiking trails and horseback riding as well as fab hotel amenities. Kids will love the ice cream socials in the lobby, s’mores around the campfire and Birds of Prey shows on the weekends. Everyone will love the awesome swim and fitness center with two indoor water slides and an indoor and outdoor pool, fine and casual dining, an outdoor amphitheater, and spa services. Check Suncadia’s website for special end-of-summer packages.

s'mores at suncadia

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

Hood Canal
If you’re looking for a road trip with options (like ferries vs. bridges and hotels vs. campgrounds), Hood Canal is the place to go. Located between the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas, this fab family destination will take you less than two-hours to get to (that is… if you don’t encounter road and ferry traffic). If you’re planning a weekend visit, consider skipping town a day early and returning on Tuesday (cough cough). Since you’ll be trading high-rise buildings and busy freeways for sea-creature filled tide flats and beautiful beaches, your kiddos will think they’re in a whole new world in Hood Canal.

Stay at: Since this road trip does have options, you and your crew can either pitch a tent, book a cabin or reserve a room or cottage at the totally kid-friendly Alderbrook Resort and Spa. Tucked away towards the south end of the Hood Canal, near a tiny little town called Union, Alderbrook is the true Hood Canal showstopper! Kids of all ages will think the hiking trails at Alderbrook are awesome and will love dining on the patio, roasting s’mores by the campfire, beach combing and playing lawn games near the cottages. Everyone will love the indoor pool with restaurant service (Margaritas poolside, anyone?), the complimentary daily activities, cruises aboard the Lady Alderbrook, kayaks and paddle boats at the marina, and the Xbox Game Room.

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.


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, playing putt putt, driving go karts at Rally Alley and splashing around at the awesome water park. Since nearly everything in Chelan is family friendly, everyone will enjoy a scenic garden tour or a boat cruise up the lake.

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.


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

–Kristina Moy & Allison Ellis

Photos courtesy of Rachael Brandon, Methow Valley Sport Trails Association Facebook page, Kenna Konoske, Alderbrook Resort & Spa website and Kristina Moy