If you’re looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city this summer, give Camano Island and its next-door neighbor, Stanwood, a try. This is a perfect day-trip for a family that wants to spend some quality time together without the distraction of flashy restaurants or tourist-trap attractions. The Camano/Stanwood community, renown for its Washington state parks, is welcoming and beautiful – and surely a place to get some downtime and recharge!
Go: Head to Stanwood and Camano during the summer months when it’s warm and sunny outside. During the off-season months, this area can be hit hard by weather, so plan a visit when you’re sure to miss the rain and wind.
Approximate travel time: From Seattle, drive approximately 45-minutes on I-5 Northbound, where you get off the freeway and head west for another 30-minutes or so. Traffic on I-5 can be busy on weekday late-afternoons, so make this either a morning trip or save it for the weekend.
What to do: The big attraction is Camano Island State Park. With over 6,700 feet of beach shoreline to explore, your family could really spend the entire day here. Beyond just exploring the beach, the park offers nice wide groomed trails for hiking, shellfish digging (the kids will love trying to spot clam spouts!) and a boat launch.
Just next door to Camano Island State Park is Cama Beach State Park – in fact, you can take a trail between the two! Cama Beach was a fishing village in the 1930s and visiting is like taking a step back in time – the village is in tact with fun little cabins along the beach, a ton of beachfront to explore and shallow water to splash in, and gorgeous sweeping views for mom and dad to enjoy.
Where to shop: If you’re looking for a shopping day, this trip to Camano probably isn’t for you. However, there are a few little hidden gems on the road between the freeway and the island. Along the way, you’ll drive through the quiet little town of Stanwood – there are a handful of great little antique and furniture restoration shops along the road that are worth peeking in for a visit. If you need to get a shopping fix, you can always hit up the Seattle Premium Outlets on the way back to the city.
Possible lunch spots: A great spot for lunch or dinner after a long day of beach-combing is Islander’s (848 North Sunrise Boulevard) – the food is hearty and they have great choices on their kids’ menu. The pizza is definitely a popular choice for Camano locals.
Before heading home, grab a cup of coffee for the ride home at Camano Island Coffee Roasters, located in the same village at Islander’s. Their beans are all roasted in-house and will rival a cup that you can get in the city! Grab some whole beans to take home with you too.
How to dress: Casual beach attire is the best for this trip – but we’re still in the Northwest, so layering is a must! Don’t forget sweatshirts for when the breeze kicks up and hats to keep little heads shaded from the sun. The beach is rocky, not sandy on Camano Island, so a good pair of water shoes like Keens or Crocs would be helpful for the entire family.
What else to bring: Sunscreen, water and snacks or picnic lunch to eat at the beach. If you have little ones who aren’t walking, consider a front or back pack and a blanket for them to sit on at the beach. Buckets for collecting shells and shovels to do some digging are also a must! We also suggest packing a spare set of clothes for the entire family – it will make the ride back to Seattle much more enjoyable!
Need to know: The state parks have a $5 per car entrance fee, so don’t forget some cash when you visit (checks are also accepted). Also, if you’re planning on doing any clamming, be sure to check for any warnings first – sometimes the shellfish conditions aren’t safe for consuming these tasty beach treats!
Bonus: Make a weekend out of it! Both Camano Island State Park and Cama Beach State Park have cabins you can rent that are right on the beach! The cabins at Cama Beach are a bit more luxurious with electricity, heat and sinks, whereas the cabins at Camano Island State Park do not. Restrooms and showers are close by the cabins and are known to be much cleaner than the average camping area facilities! At just $80 per night at the peek of the season, you won’t break the bank for a weekend stay. Tent camping is also available at each park.
Online: For more information about visiting Camano Island and Stanwood, visit the Chamber of Commerce website. You can also read more about Camano Island State Park and Cama Beach State Park on their sites.
Have you ever visited the Camano Island/Stanwood area? What are your favorite spots to visit, eat or explore while you’re there?
— Katie Kavulla