Staycation Fun :: South Puget Sound Edition {Washington}


Staycation Fun :: South Puget Sound Edition {Washington}

You don’t have to fly across the country to enjoy a vacation – consider a staycation right here in the Pacific Northwest. For those of us who live in the South Puget Sound area, we are blessed to have the water, the mountains, the city, the country – all within driving distance.

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Activities are sorted by interest:


Love the water? Do you go bonkers over boats? There are a ton of opportunities to appreciate the ocean and our maritime heritage in the Northwest.


Head to the beach
Our northwest beaches are FREE – so pack your lunch, your sand toys, and your shorts and head to any of our many beaches. Now you’re probably not going to be swimming in the frigid waters, but you can play in the sand, look for shells and enjoy the little communities along the water. Or checkout some of the maritime fairs and festivals. Some good beaches to check out are Pacific Beach and Ocean Shores. Get your beach toys at the Dollar Store. More great events and activities near the beach – 25 Free Family Activities to do this Summer in Grays Harbor.

June 6-7 – Festival of Colors Kite Fly (Ocean Shores)
June 26-28Sand and Sawdust Festival (Ocean Shores)
July 10-12 – Windriders Kite Festival (Grayland)

Ferry rides
We have an extensive ferry system here in the Northwest. Although not FREE, fares are minimum and you an enjoy a boat ride (breathtaking views) and maybe check out a new community on the other end! Get ferry fare information.


July 18-19 – Maritime Fest (Tacoma)
Celebrate the working waterfront. FREE Port Harbor Tours, Hydro Planes, Entertainment, Tacoma Rail Train Rides.

September 4-6 – Olympia Harbor Days (Olympia)
Entertainment, food, art, history, and a last farewell to the summer. Vintage, working and retired tugboats are moored at Olympia’s Percival Landing, many open for tours and don’t miss the tugboat races.

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Wanna get outside? If you love all that nature has to offer, there are countless activities here in the Pacific Northwest. Take a hike, pack a picnic, bird watch or just enjoy the scenery.


FREE National Park Days
National park entrance fees are waived on FREE National Park Days – August 25, September 26, November 11.

Mount Rainier National Park
Mt. Rainier entrance fee is $15 for private, noncommercial vehicle. Annual passes are $30. Lots of hiking trails and scenic view points.

Olympic National Forest
Olympic National Park entrance fee is $15 per vehicle or $5 per individual (on foot, bicycle or motorcycle), kids under 15 are FREE. Annual pass $30.

Washington State Parks
There is a huge network of Washington State Parks to enjoy a variety of outdoor experiences – camping, hiking, beachcombing, boating, fishing, swimming and more.  A Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to state parks – a one-day pass is $10 or a one-year pass $30.  There are several State Park Free Days where a Discover Pass is not required – June 6, June 13, August 25, September 26 and November 11

Hiking and Backpacking
The Pacific Northwest is an amazing region for hiking and backpacking!  Washington Trails Association is a great site t0 help you find a hike suitable for your family based on the criteria that is most important to you, including distance, type of scenery, pet and kid friendly, elevation gain and more.

Tacoma Nature Center Discovery Pond (Tacoma)
Tacoma Nature Center is a 71-acre nature preserve encompassing Snake Lake and the surrounding
wetlands and forest. Stroll nature trails to experience native birds, animals and plants. Discovery Pond at Tacoma Nature Center is a natural play area for children is designed to inspire creative play and environmental learning. No admission fee, but donations are gladly accepted.

Chambers Creek Regional Park (Tacoma)
Chambers Creek Regional Park is a 930-acre site includes over two miles of saltwater shoreline, two and a half miles of urban creek and canyon and breathtaking mountain and Puget Sound views. Enjoy a walk on the beach and public trails, play golf or dine at Chambers Bay, relax at Central or North Meadow or see the award-winning Environmental Services Building.


Nisqually Wildlife Refuge (Olympia)
Nisqually Wildlife Refuge daily fee is $3.00 per four adults. An Interagency Annual Pass (old Golden Eagle), Senior Pass (old Golden Age), or Access Pass, Federal Duck Stamp, or an Annual Refuge Pass will admit the pass holder and 3 additional adults (over age 16). Children 16 and under enter free

Priest Point Park (Olympia)
Priest Point Park in addition to traditional park amenities (playgrounds, picnic shelters, etc.), this 314-acre regional nature park is a favorite for walking the many trails including Ellis Cove, a one-mile stretch of saltwater shoreline.


Northwest Trek Wildlife Park (Eatonville)
Ride a comfortable tram through 435 acres of meadows, woods, and lakes filled with native wildlife–bison, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and more–roaming freely across the land.  Also enjoy a stroll along paved paths through a lush forest and see massive predators like grizzly and black bears, wolves, cougars, wolverines, foxes and other Northwest native forest animals in naturalistic exhibits. The trails are wheelchair and stroller friendly.


Snoqualmie Falls
The Snoqualmie park and free viewing area are open from dawn until dusk. Unfortunately the hiking trail is closed until 2013 due to some construction, but the observation platform is open.

Wolf Haven International (Tenino)
Wolf Haven International is a nationally recognized wolf sanctuary that has rescued and provided a lifetime home for over 180 displaced, captive-born animals.  Guided walking tours offer visitors a rare, close-up view of wolves.Visitors can also follow a walking trail through beautiful native Mima Mound prairie and enjoy the native flowers, birds, butterflies that can be found there.


Pick your own berries
There are a TON of U-pick berry fields here in the Northwest. Check out the Pick Your Own website to find a berry picking place near you!

A real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online. Learn more about geocaching and search for geocaches in your area.

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Many local cities offer extensive parks and recreation activities. Public parks, swimming pools, free movie and concert series. Check your local parks department for FREE summer events.

Parks and recreation movie series
A lot of cities offer FREE movies in the park during the summer months. Check your local parks and recreation events.

Point Defiance park (Tacoma)
Point Defiance park is FREE (the zoo is not FREE) and offers all sorts of attractions including hiking/running trails, kayak rentals, Fort Nisqually, a rose garden, a five-mile loop that overlooks the water (you can walk or drive),  You can play in the sand at Owen’s Beach which offers waterfront picnic shelters with grills, tables, a restroom and ample free parking. A large picnic shelter is available for group reservations.


Mossyrock Park – Riffe Lake
Mossyrock Park is a family-friendly getaway with access to Riffe Lake.  Reserve a campground or just come for the day and enjoy boating, swimming, playground, horseshoes and more.  $5 Day use parking fee Memorial Day – Labor Day.

Tacoma-area parks
Metro Parks Tacoma has a ton of summer events and activities. Look for spray parks (parks with water features) to beat the summer heat. The Nature Center has a new play ground and has summer camps.

Percival Landing (Olympia)
Percival Landing is one of Olympia’s three waterfront parks and a popular tourist destination.  Located in the heart of downtown and is a hub for gatherings, social interaction and public celebrations.


Lattin’s Cider Mill (Tumwater)
Lattin’s Cider Mill is a great family-family local farm to visit. Kids can wander around and check out the gardens, see the animals, try FRESH apple cider and donuts, along with seasonal fruit and vegetables. Open year around 9 to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Tumwater Falls Park (Tumwater)
Tumwater Falls Park is a 15-acre park housing a a one-half mile scenic loop trail along the Deschutes River and three cascading waterfalls, with interpretive signs featuring pictures that illustrate the history of the area

Burfoot Park (Olympia)
Burfoot Park covers 50 acres of property with 1,100 feet of saltwater beach frontage on Budd Inlet. Enjoy nature trails and beach access that feature beautiful views of the State Capitol and the Olympic Mountains.


Heritage Park Fountain/Splash Pad (Olympia)
The centerpiece of Heritage Park is the fountain which entices children of all ages to run through the circular array of waterjets. Plenty of grassy areas and benches for picnicking and relaxing as well as a fantastic view of the capitol across the water.

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If you love a good concert, we have some great concert series, musical festivals and art here in the South Puget Sound.

Chihuly Bridge of Glass (Tacoma)
Chihuly Bridge of Glass is a 500-foot-long pedestrian overpass that links the Museum to downtown Tacoma and its cultural corridor. FREE

May 30 – Spring Fairy Festival (Tacoma)
The Spring Fairy Festival is a celebration of art, music, performance and community. Designed  to let people of all ages come together to express and enjoy one another’s creativity.

August 1 – Proctor Arts Fest (Tacoma)
Proctor Arts Fest is a community-based street fair designed to provide a free, accessible and celebratory experience of the arts for the public.

August 8 – Music and Art in Wright Park (Tacoma)
Music and Art in Wright Park Festival is a family friendly, free, music and arts event filled with art, crafts, some food trucks and a ton of music!

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Need some ideas for rainy days? From museums to movies – there is plenty to do indoors.

Museums – Many museums offer FREE admission on certain days

State Capitol (Olympia) – FREE
Washington State History Museum (Tacoma) – FREE from 2pm – 8pm on the third Thursday of every month
Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma) – FREE from 5pm – 8pm on third Thursday of every month during Artwalk
Museum of Glass (Tacoma) – FREE from 5pm – 8pm on third Thursday of every month during Artwalk
LeMay Family Collection at Marymount Event Center (Tacoma) – FREE admission Open House 3pm – 5pm on third Thursday of every month.  No tours, just a walk-through of one building.
LeMay America’s Car Museum (Tacoma) – admission and parking fees apply
Pioneer Farm Museum & Ohop Indian Village (Eatonville) – admission fees apply


Children’s Museums

Tacoma Children’s Museum – FREE First Friday of every month or every Thursday in June, July and August.
Hands On Children’s Museum (Olympia) – FREE every first Friday of the month from  5-9 p.m.
WET Science Center (Olympia) – Always FREE


Summer Reading Programs – Summer library programs encourage your kids to read during the months off from school while providing great family-friendly themed activities – crafts, magic shows, music, movies and more.  Discover what’s happening at your library.


Regal Summer Movies – $1 admission to popular kid’s movies, open weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays starting June 28. Learn more about Regal Summer Movie Series.


Charlie’s Safari (Lacey) – Premier indoor family fun center with full laser tag arena, a huge arcade, indoor play equipment and incredible inflatables.


Great Wolf Lodge (Grand Mound) – Indoor water park has thousands of square feet of splash-and-play action from thrilling, twisting water slides for the adventurous set to splash-filled playgrounds for the little ones and it’s always 84 degrees. Plus a wide variety of unique family fun attractions outside the water park including MagiQuest, live-action adventure game, Scoops Kid Spa and Northern Lights Arcade.


Olympic Flight Museum (Olympia) –  The Olympic Flight Museum is an aviation museum near the Olympia Airport. The museum has more than 20 vintage planes and helicopters on display, most of which are in airworthy condition. Open 11 – 5 p.m. Adults are $7, children 7-12 are $5 and children 6 and under are FREE.

Jozee Rooz Indoor Petting Zoo (Tacoma) – Meet and pet cute critters like yaks, goats, wallabies, rabbits and more.

Parks & Recreation movie series – A lot of cities offer FREE movies in the park during the summer months.

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Take me out to the ball game! Whether it’s the baseball diamond or the soccer stadium, there are lots of local sporting events!


Rainiers baseball
I personally LOVE Rainiers games. They have a small-town feel with reasonable prices, but they still seem to capture that big stadium feel, as if you’re at a major league game.


Thursdays are a good time to go because they have $1 hot dogs, ice cream, and coffee all over the park. After some games they let the kids run the bases for FREE. Check out the Rainiers promotion calendar for special events and discounts.

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June 19-21 – Puyallup Meeker Days Festive (Downtown Puyallup)
FREE admission, open noon to 9 p.m., downtown Puyallup. Four live entertainment stages; two food courts; almost 200 craft, commercial and non-profit vendors; antique tractor displays; classic car shows featuring Buicks and Pontiacs; inflatable rides and more.

June 25-28 – Yelm Prairie Days (Yelm)
Prairie Days is one of Yelm’s oldest celebrations with more than 60 years of history.  It is hosted by the Yelm Lions Club.  The event combines a community parade, carnival rides, games, vendor booths, and local cuisine for an unforgettable experience.

July 4 – Tacoma’s Freedom Fest (Ruston Way waterfront, Tacoma)
FREE admission. Family activities, music and fireworks. Located on Ruston Way, Tacoma


July 15-19 – Capital Lakefair (Downtown Olympia)
FREE admission. Car show, food concessions, kids activities, fireworks, music, parade and more.


July 17, 18, 19 – Sequim Lavender Festival (Sequim) – A community-wide festival it’s the largest lavender event in America! Tour seven local (gorgeous) lavender farms, plus enjoy a jam-packed street fair in downtown Sequim. We have taken the kids and it’s a lot of fun. Park in a supplemental parking lot and take the free shuttle bus into the festival to avoid traffic.

August 22-23 – Sand in the City (Olympia)
At this beloved event, families can watch expert sand sculptors craft works of art, enjoy dozens of FREE art and STEM learning activities and visit the award-winning Hands On Children’s Museum for a discounted rate.

September 4-6 – Olympia Harbor Days (Olympia)
Harbor Days is an annual festival where tugboats return to the southernmost tip of Puget Sound for three days of entertainment, food, art, history, and a last farewell to the summer.

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Here are some final tips for saving the most on your staycation.

  • Pack your own food – Eating out, can eat up your budget fast. Whenever it’s allowed, consider packing your own meals and snacks.
  • Search for coupons or discounts – Before I visit any new place or attraction, I’ll do a quick Google search to see what kinds of discounts I can find.
  • Watch Groupon and Living Social for discount tickets and events.
  • Check out Jetsetter! Jetsetter gives you a $25 credit just for creating an account. A lot of times local hotels will be available for about $100. After your credit you can get them for about $75 (or less) – pack up the kids and play all night in the hotel swimming pool!

This post could go for pages and pages – there are TONS of opportunities here in the Pacific Northwest. I’d love your ideas for other staycation activities, so please leave a comment if you have one! The more frugal, the better.


Here are some final tips for saving the most on your staycation.

Do you live somewhere else in the country!? Don’t despair, I’ve partnered with these other amazing bloggers to share Staycation ideas from all over the country. . . .

A – D

Phoenix, Arizona — Saving For Someday
Fresno, California — Living A Frugal Life
Orange County, California — More With Less Today
San Diego, California — Southern Cali Saver
Denver, Colorado — Bargain Blessings
Washington, District of Columbia — Kidventurous

F – I

Disney World, Florida — The Happy Housewife
Jacksonville, Florida — Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida — Coupon Mamacita
St Augustine, Florida — Simply St. Augustine
Tallahasse, Florida — SwagGrabber
Tampa Bay, Florida —
Atlanta, Georgia — Pretty Frugal Diva
Dahlonega, Georgia — Kathys Cluttered Mind
Savannah, Georgia — This Mommy Saves Money
Aurora/Chicago, Illinois — A Savings WOW!
Chicago, Illinois — Entertaining Chicago
Indianapolis, Indiana — Chaos Is Bliss

K – P

Lexington, Kentucky — Homeschool Village
Louisville, Kentucky — The Kennedy Adventures
Northern Kentucky, Kentucky — Simply Sherryl
Carroll County, Maryland — Looking at life CreativLEI
Boston, Massachusetts — Maven of Savin
Battle Creek, Michigan — Pichea Place
Grand Rapids, Michigan — Give Me Neither
Metro Detroit, Michigan — Saving Dollars and Sense
Kansas City Area, Missouri/Kansas — Redefined Mom
Omaha, Nebraska — Family Fun in Omaha
Central, New Jersey — Our Good Life
Cincinnati, Ohio — Adventure Mom
Cleveland, Ohio — Kosher on a Budget
Columbus, Ohio — Cleverly Simple
Dayton, Ohio — Savings Lifestyle
Mansfield & Richland County, Ohio — The Traveling Praters
Miami County, Ohio — Something 2 Offer
Northeast, Ohio — Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring
Portland, Oregon — Frugal Living NW
Harrisburg/Central, PA — Family Balance Sheet
Erie, Pennsylvania — Growing Kids Ministry
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Moms Need To Know
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — The Coupon High

R – W

Arlington, Texas — Grocery Shop For FREE
Fort Worth, Texas — Coupons and Freebies Mom
Houston, Texas — Melissa’s Bargains
Katy, Texas — Moms Confession
San Antonio, Texas — How to Homeschool My Child
Tyler, Texas — iLoveMy5Kids
Charlottesville, Virgina — How to Have it All
Norfolk, Virgina — The Talking Suitcase
Richmond, Virgina — Vacation Maybe
Seattle, Washington — Thrifty NW Mom
Tacoma/South Puget Sound, Washington — Queen Bee Coupons
Oshkosh, Wisconsin — A Little Bit of This and That

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  1. Hi-this is a great Staycation don’t happen to have this in a printable format do you? I love all your posts..I just have to tell you, thank you so much for your AWESOMENESS!!