Five “See Washington” Road Trip Stops with Kids

Cover photo courtesy Shallan Knowles

By James P. Johnson

Unless you commute by ferry, it’s a special occasion to ride one. We took the Anacortes to Orcas Island ferry and enjoyed island vibes and the summit of Mt. Constitution, the highest point in the San Juan Islands, where a stone tower with a lookout gives great views of the Salish Sea and its many islands. You can drive there or do a 7-mile round trip hike.

Crawford State Park near Metaline Falls has the longest limestone cave in Washington. On the warm July day we visited, it was refreshing entering Gardner cave, which is a chilly 39° to 42° year-round. Coming out at tour’s end was a refreshing change in reverse. Tours are given Thursdays through Mondays, May 16 to Sept. 15.

Courtesy of Shallan Knowles

If you’re doing a tour of Washington, you’d be negligent skipping Mt. Rainier National Park. We hiked, camped, spent a day stopping at roadside attractions and features, and got lots of good looks at the massive mountain that’s the biggest volcano in the contiguous U.S.

Where to camp was a challenge when we visited Seattle. A hostel on Vashon Island met the need. A short ferry ride from downtown, we got to interact with fellow travelers and sleep in a teepee. The hostel has since been sold and converted into an Old West-themed camping and lodging facility called AYH Ranch. The teepees are still available for camping May 1 to September 30.

We spent a night at Fort Worden State Park near Port Townsend. An army base from 1902 to 1953, my children explored the interiors of the concrete gun batteries. We visited the Port Townsend Marine Science Center and Aquarium, also on state park grounds. To plan a stop at a state park on your Washington road trip, visit and bring a Discover Pass.

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