For many Seattle families, summer means spending time (a lot of time!) outside. If your crew is hankering for some extended time in the great outdoors, check out these seven totally tent-worthy spots. Each offers varying degrees of rustic-ness, but all will have your little campers singing ‘round the campfire in no time. Say s’mores!

Group of kids around campfire with tent

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 the great outdoors. Tot lot activities abound at this 173-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 p.m.) 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.

Family Camping at Camano Island WA

Good to know: Aug. 25 and Sept. 27 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 S. Lowell Point Rd.
Camano Island, WA 98282
Site fee: $20-$42, 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!

Pine Valley KOA Campground pool

Pine Village KOA
11401 Riverbend Dr.
Leavenworth, Wa 98826

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 hiking shot

Good to know: Aug. 25 & Sept. 27 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
S.E. corner of the park (3 miles north of the park boundary on highway 123)
Site Fee: $12 – $15 (for an individual site)

A Little Bit of Everything
Dosewallips State Park is a campsite with a split personality. With one foot in the saltwater of the Hood Canal and the other along the freshwater shoreline of the river, it makes a great spot for families looking to clam or crab or even fish. Campsites support both RV’s and tents (or anything in between), and families can pitch theirs in a shady spot along the river, which makes great white noise for those sleepy toddlers. Or they can find a spot in the sun with plenty of grass to lounge on. If you’re feeling fancy, book a cabin to change up the routine a bit. They run just under $70 per night and make for great stories in the years to come. Bring buckets and bikes to this campsite, and be sure to check in on the evening ranger program as well. It’s a great way to top off an adventure-filled day!

Little girl in tent morning

Dosewallips State Park
306996 Highway 101
Brinnon, Wa 98320
Site Fee: $20-$42, depending on the site

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.

Baby girl in camp chairs

Fort Worden State Park
200 Batter Way
Port Townsend, Wa 98368
Site fee: $20-$42, 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. Ahh, the peaceful hour-long ride to Bremerton gets things started in the right direction.

camano island beach

Twanoh State Park
12190 E. State Route 106
Union, Wa 98592
Site fee: $20-$42, 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!

Kids peeking from tree

Battleground Lake State Park
18002 N.E. 249th St.
Battle Ground, Wa 98604
Site fee: $20-$42, 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 photos

Pool image thanks to Pine Valley KOA Campground website