A family vacation in the Pacific Northwest must include at least a few days in the state of Washington. One section of this state is perfect for outdoor lovers, while the other side focuses on luxury and charm. The major cities are always popular in Washington, but I recommend adding a few visits to the mountains and smaller towns. This will ensure you truly experience the local vibe in this part of the country during your vacation in Washington.
Washington state happens to be the only state in this country named after a president. And yet, it wasn’t the Europeans who first settled in this area. According to scientists, people began arriving in what is now the state of Washington at least 13,000 years ago. But some scientists believe it was even before that. These people crossed over a land bridge that connected Alaska to Siberia.
Before Washington became a state, it was claimed by Spain and England. Of course, Native Americans lived on this land at the time, and they wanted the land for themselves. Over the years, treaties were signed, and wars were fought. More and more people followed the Oregon Trail and found themselves living in what is now Washington state.
After Washington was declared the 42nd state in 1889, it wasn’t long before the Klondike Gold Rush began. Mount Rainier National Park was also established, and the Boeing Company was founded. There have been numerous historical events since that time, but none of them are as memorable as when Mount Saint Helens erupted in 1980.
Springtime in Washington brings warming temperatures and a slight decrease in the rain. However, the coastal areas can still feel very cool thanks to the breeze from the ocean. You will want to see what the weather is like in the area of Washington you are traveling to for your family vacation because each region is different.
It rarely gets out of the 60s during the summer months in Washington. But since the rain is mostly gone at this time of the year, and the sun is shining, it always feels warmer than it is to the locals.
The temperatures fall once again during the months of September, October, and November. Yet, you can still experience warmer days during this time of the year. As the season progresses, you will begin to see more rain forecasted for each day.
Temperatures can drop to below freezing during the winter months in Washington. While it can snow throughout the state, most of the precipitation stays as rain. The main places you will see snow is out in the mountainous areas, which is excellent news if you love to ski!
Since it hardly ever gets really warm in Washington, you may find that you can skip packing shorts in your suitcase. However, they can come in handy on certain days. Basically, I recommend packing pants, t-shirts, sweaters, and a light jacket. A raincoat or umbrella is a must during most of the year, as are waterproof boots.
During the winter, it is best to pack layers to go with a winter coat, hat, and gloves. This is especially true if you are spending your days by the shoreline or up in the mountains.
You could honestly spend hours wandering around markets, art galleries, and museums when you decide to take a family vacation in Washington. However, there is so much more to do in this stunning state. I recommend starting with a scenic drive to discover new places you will want to check out later during your visit.
From there you can hike the trails at a nearby state park, check out a local farm, and learn about the history of kites at the Kite Museum. You can’t miss Mount Saint Helen’s or all the waterfalls this area is known for either.
As you are spending time outside, you may want to go kayaking, windsurfing, or swimming. With more than 3,000 miles of shoreline, there will always be water around when you want it the most.
One of the first places you will want to see in Washington is Olympic National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a wildlife preserve, as well as a biosphere reserve. This is one of the best places to see multiple ecosystems at one time.
If you love visiting national parks, then Mount Rainier National Park must be next on your list. You will have the option to hike or drive around this park. Both options offer extraordinary views. Other driving options in Washington include Mount Baker Highway, the Coulee Corridor, and the North Cascades Scenic Highway.
You can’t leave Washington without checking out one of the active volcanoes in the world. Mount Saint Helens is quite fascinating. It is best to stop at the visitor’s center before driving around because you will learn quite a bit about the history of this volcano.
Shopping is a must when on a family vacation in Washington and Pike Place Market is the place to go! This market is huge and there is no way you can stop at every vendor in a single day. Don’t let that deter you though. Go in, grab a bite to eat and something to drink, and then wander around to see what souvenirs and other items catch your eye.
The last thing you must do during your Washington vacation is riding the ferry across Puget Sound. The ferry is the best way to visit the nearby islands, while also getting spectacular scenic views from a different vantage point.
It isn’t surprising that Seattle is known for its coffee. After all, Starbucks first started in this Pacific Northwest city. However, you may not be aware that tons of foodies live in the state of Washington and that it is a foodie’s paradise! The Bite of Seattle festival was first held back in 1982. Time at this festival will have you perusing more than 200 different food vendors while drinking craft beers and ciders. In the background, you can listen to one of the seventy-plus bands on the schedule. Other events held during this festival include live cooking demos, the Gladiator of the Grill BBQ Competition, and cook-off battles.
The White Salmon Spring Festival is held in White Salmon, Washington every year during the month of May. This weekend-long event is full of games, parades, competitions, entertainment, and food.
Since the state of Washington is right on the water, it shouldn’t surprise you that an entire festival is dedicated to oysters. This festival is held in Shelton, Washington every year during the month of October. This weekend event brings thousands of people to this small town. When you are not eating fresh oysters, you may find yourself dining on other fresh seafood dishes. Your favorite part of this festival will be the West Coast Oyster Shucking Championship.
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