Looking for a close, kid-friendly day trip? North Bend is just a short drive from Seattle and offers plenty of small-town charm along with breathtaking views of Mt. Si and the Cascade Mountains. From historic landmarks to unique shops to yummy eateries, North Bend has a little something for everyone. And if you look close, you just might catch a glimpse of a deer or elk passing by or an eagle soaring overhead.
Go: Anytime of the year! Some of the historic attractions and festivals only run during tourist season (April through October), but the outlet mall, shops and restaurants, and Northwest Railway Museum are open year-round. Other events like the Santa Train take place during the holiday season (November and December).
Get there: Getting to North Bend is easy – jump on I-90 from wherever you are in Seattle and head east. Take Exit 31, enter the roundabout, and head north on SR 202 (Bendigo Boulevard). The North Bend Premium Outlets will be on your left and downtown North Bend will be one-mile up ahead.
Travel Time: It’s not long – once you’re on the freeway in Seattle, it should only take you about 45-minutes to get to North Bend.
What to bring: A stroller would be a good choice, especially for the little ones. You will also want to bring entertainment and snacks for the car ride. And make sure to bring your camera for lots of photo opps along the way!
What to wear: The weather in North Bend can be quite different from Seattle. Since the city is located in the foothills of the Cascade Range, it’s a good idea to dress the kiddos in layers and bring along a rain coat. If you decide to visit North Bend during the holiday season, dress in warm clothes and boots and bring along your snow gear.
Where to eat: If you’re heading to North Bend, your lunch stop must be at Twede’s Café (137 West North Bend Way). Don’t bother with a map, just look for the gigantic red T on the corner of Bendigo and North Bend Way. This restaurant (made famous by the TV series Twin Peeks for its cherry pie and coffee) serves gigantic burgers, big breakfast dishes, and home-style dinners from scratch. No one will leave hungry and the staff at Twede’s will make sure of it!
For dessert, head next door to George’s Bakery and Café. This little old fashioned bakery serves gigantic doughnuts (some bigger than a dinner plate!), apple bread (which makes fab french toast), cookies, muffins, pastries and some vegan items. Insider Tip: Go early for the best selection; the doughnuts sell out fast!
Things to do: When you get to North Bend, you definitely want to hit the Premium Outlets. This is a great place to stock up on basics for the kiddos (shoes, coats, and school clothes) and find some awesome deals on seasonal items like holiday outfits, Halloween costumes, and accessories. We recommend you hit Gymboree Outlet, Carter’s, The Children’s Place Outlet, OshKosh B’gosh, and Stride Ride Keds Sperry. Insider Tip: Be sure to check out the clearance racks. You can find some amazing deals under ten bucks.
The Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum (320 Bendigo Avenue South) should also be on your to-do list when you’re in North Bend. The kiddos will love taking a step back in time to the pioneer days and seeing lots of Native American artifacts, early logging equipment and a turn of the century kitchen complete with a wood burning stove! Plus, stop by the gift store and check out the unique books, videos, and photos. The Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm during tourist season (April through October).
Continue north on Bendigo Avenue and you will hit the main shopping district of downtown North Bend. Park wherever you can find a spot (street parking is free!) and do some exploring – North Bend has lots of fun and unique shops. Not to mention – some neato antique shops, outdoor specialty stores, and a super-cool historic movie theatre!
Another fun attraction is the North Bend Train Depot. Stop by the Visitors Center inside and pick up free brochures, maps, and information about North Bend and its neighboring communities. If the kiddos need a break, the North Bend Train Depot has restrooms and a small picnic area on the backside of the building and benches next door for train watching.
Travel north on SR 202 for approximately six miles to the Snoqualmie Depot and the Northwest Railway Museum (38625 SE King Street). Purchase a ticket from the original 1890 ticket window and hop on board an antique railroad coach. This 75-minute trip will take you through the Upper Snoqualmie Valley, past the Snoqualmie Falls, back through downtown North Bend (stopping at the North Bend Train Depot) and through the little town of Snoqualmie. Several times a year, the Northwest Railway Museum holds special events – Day out with Thomas, Halloween Train, Santa Train, and Railroad Days. Check the special events calendar and purchase your tickets in advance. These events often sell out fast! Tours are free and open to the public daily from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Trains operate Saturday and Sunday (April 2 through October 30) and November 26 and 27, December 3-4, 10-11, 16 and 17.
Located off I-90, just one exit north of North Bend, is the Cedar River Watershed Education Center. This fun stop offers lots of interactive exhibits and activities to keep little hands busy. If you’re feeling up to it, take a guided tour or enjoy a picnic in the Forest Court. The Cedar River Watershed Education Center is free and open to the public. Check online for days and times.
Cost of the trip: This trip doesn’t have to cost much. Most of the attractions are free so you can spend as little or as much as you please!
Bonus: When you’re done exploring North Bend, follow Highway 203 (for about 25 minutes) to Remlinger Farms. Enjoy U-pick fields, pony rides, a hay maze, steam train rides, and lots of Washington-grown fruits and veggies. Or follow Highway 202 to the Snoqualmie Falls (one of Washington’s top scenic attractions) and enjoy breathtaking views of the falls, hiking trails, a picnic area, and the four-star Salish Lodge and Spa.
Online: Visit the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce for more information about this great town and its neighboring communities.
– Kristina Moy