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6 Family-Friendly Campsites to Pitch a Tent

If these past few weeks of glorious sunshine are any indication of what’s to come, we are ready, summer. Bring it on! Seattle families are itching to get out of town and explore the magical Northwest. We’re talking hiking, biking, boating and camping. It’s what Pacific Northwesterners do when it’s not raining (and sometimes even when it is). So, air out the family tent, gas up the old camp stove, and get ready to kick your family time into high gear, forest style. We’ve rounded up some kid-friendly tent campsites you won’t want to miss. And we’ve even found a glamping spot for comfy camping lovers. It’s time to hit the road for a tent-pitchin’, s’more-roastin’, fam-tabulous good time with the kiddos. Oh, and don’t forget the rain fly.


Baby steps
If you’re looking for a dry run camping experience that goes beyond the backyard, beta test away at Camano Island State Park. Just a quick 90-minutes north of Seattle on I-5, this scenic spot makes packing it in easy, just in case your petite posse gives the thumbs down to camping. Tot lot activities abound at this 176-acre park where you’ll have plenty to do. The short trails from the campsites down to the beach make beachcombing and kite flying definite don’t-miss activities. And if all else fails, you can pack the kids in the car and hit the playground you passed on the way into town. The campsites here are first-come, first-served so be sure to arrive around check-in time (2:30 pm) to get a good spot for weekend camping. Remember that the sites with water views go quickly. Not to worry if you missed one though, find one lined with blackberry bushes and enjoy an early morning treat in the late summer months.

Camano Island waterfront

Good to know: June 1, June 8 – 9 and August 4 are free park days in Washington State Parks. It’s a good way to save some green on a short family staycation.

Camano Island State Park
2269 South Lowell Point Road
Camano Island, WA 98282

Site fee: $23 – $37, depending on the site

Weekend glamping
The Pine Valley KOA Campground in Leavenworth gets the Woody Allen “I love nature, I just don’t want to get any of it on me” award for balancing comfort with tent camping. And while it’s not quite mimosas and massage table glamping, it’s definitely a family-friendly option for those who enjoy the comforts of home. With an in-ground pool, hot tub, playground and room service of sorts (you can get firewood or ice delivered to your campsite by golf cart!) this is a spot your kiddos will love. They’ve got all the amenities you need to help you forget you’re in the forest: bathrooms, showers and even a snack bar that serves coffee, smoothies and pastries. But if you’re longing for a bit of the natural world, head down to the river and relax on a sunny summer day. Our favorite part? The pet playground for your furry family members. Be sure to pack them, along with your tent, sleeping bags and Thermarest (comfort is key), for this family getaway!

S'mores boy and girl camping

Pine Village KOA
11401 Riverbend Drive
Leavenworth, Wa 98826
Phone: 509-584-7709

Roughin’ It
The Ohanapecosh campground in Mount Rainier National Park is one of three that you can get to by car, and it’s a good choice for families looking to rough it…with flush toilets, running water and an amphitheater. The campground, with 188 individual campsites, is divided by the Ohanapecosh River within an old growth forest, and has a few family friendly hiking trails you can pick up right from your camping spot. The stroller crowd can get their walk on at the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail along the river, or stroll along the Hot Spring Nature Trail that meanders past the site of an old hot springs resort. Hmmm…wonder if those things are still working? Another crowd pleaser is the Silver Falls Trail. Clocking in at 3 miles round trip, be sure to bring the baby backpack, along with some snacks and plenty of water for this one. But the falls are definitely worth the trip—don’t forget the camera! Be sure to book your campsite in advance and check the road conditions before you leave on this awesome adventure!

Mt Rainier from Paradise

Good to know: June 8 and August 25 are free days at Mount Rainier National Park, so plan accordingly to save a few bucks. Also, while pets are allowed at the campground, they might be better left at home, since they have to be leashed or caged at all times in the park.

Mount Rainier National Park
Ohanapecosh Campground
Southeast corner of the park (3 miles north of the park boundary on highway 123)

Site Fee: $12 – $15

Historical adventure
Fort Worden State Park is part museum, part campground, and total family-friendly camping package, whether you’re pitchin’ a tent or hooking up the camper. Don’t think about what you’ll do there, think about what you won’t do. Trust us, the list will be much shorter. In addition to three museums, including the Port Townsend Marine Science Center (all with $5 admission or less!), families can swim or beach comb, play tennis or croquet, hike or bird watch. You can even rent bikes (with a trailer!) to explore the area, or just bring your own. Fill your cooler with yummy fixings for meals or take advantage of the on-site Cable House Canteen for a little glamping glitter. There are two campgrounds to choose from in the 434-acre park. If you’re looking to tent camp, be sure to reserve a primitive campsite (don’t worry, there are still hot showers!) in the Upper Forest Campground. If trailer camping is more your style, find a hook-up spot along the Admiralty Inlet at the Beach Campground. Either way, this awesome park will keep your little ones busy and happy on sunny summer days.

Car Camping

Fort Worden State Park
200 Batter Way
Port Townsend, Wa 98368
Phone: 360-344-4431

Site fee: $23 – $37, depending on the site

Is there a swimmer in the house?
If you’re pretty sure that your kiddo is part fish, you won’t want to miss Twanoh State Park. With the warmest saltwater beaches in the state, families can wade away the summer days at this 182-acre state park in the Hood Canal. When you’re feeling waterlogged, lace up your hiking boots and enjoy a scenic hike along the Twanoh Creek. Or slip on your rain boots and take the tots out to hunt oysters along the shore. Don’t forget your shellfish license because this park is known for its oyster bounty. There are plenty of campsites to choose from here, but if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of nearby RV’s, try tent sites 17 – 24. They’re set apart from the dual use area, but still have easy bathroom access for those toddler “dancing” moments. And don’t forget the ferry on this one. Ah, the peaceful hour-long ride to Bremerton gets things started in the right direction.

boy splashing in ocean

Twanoh State Park
12190 East State Route 106
Union, Wa 98592
Phone: 360-275-2222

Site fee: $23 – $37, depending on the site

Trout and swimming and horses, oh my!
Be sure to pack your fishing poles and gather up some worms for your family camping trip to Battleground Lake State Park in the foothills of the Cascades. Fishing the well-stocked, spring-fed lake pretty much guarantees a catch, and generates big smiles and fish(y) stories perfect for fireside sharing. Don’t forget to get your license if you’re planning on pulling in some trout to fry up later. Families can also enjoy a bit of swimming (remember that the swim area is for kids 4 and older) or horseback riding in this 280-acre forested wonderland. Be sure to book online before you hit the road, as the 25 standard campsites can get busy in the peak season. Get ready to cast away at this family favorite!

Picnic bench kids backs turned

Battleground Lake State Park
18002 NE 249th Street
Battle Ground, Wa 98604
Phone: 360-902-8844

Site fee: $23 – $37, depending on the site

What are your family’s favorite PNW camping spots? Share them with us in a comment below.

–Allison Sutcliffe, words and (some of the) pictures

Photo credit: Erin Cranston


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