When it comes to a family vacation in Washington, you’ve got lots of options to choose from.

You’ve got mountains, the coast, islands, National Parks, wine country, and plenty of places to entertain the entire family across the state.

When you’re narrowing down your selections, sometimes it can be a challenge. But, one of our favorite ways to decide on a destination is to talk to people who have visited. It’s how we can tell – right away – if the location will be best for us.

And, since we haven’t been everywhere (yet 😉), we reached out to other families who love to travel and asked them for their recommendations for the best family vacations in Washington.

Below we share their favorite destinations (and one of ours) to help you make the best choice for your next trip.

image of sandy path leading through sea grass during golden hour
This was one of our favorite beach camping trips to date!

Looking for family vacation options in California instead? Head to this post.

Olympic National Park

Deb of The Visa Project

What is your favorite family vacation spot in Washington? 

Olympic National Park

What did you love about Olympic National Park?

We loved hiking inside the forest, listening to the sound of the Hoh River, having a picnic near Lake Crescent, visiting the waterfalls – everything that it has to offer.

fence lined path heading in to forest with moss covered trees
Hall of Mosses in Olympic National Park, Washington, USA.

Where did you stay in Olympic National Park? How was your experience?

We stayed in the Rain Forest Hostel in Forks. It’s a spacious country home with so much character. Although we never got to meet the owner because he was out of town, he had left the keys for us and had given us detailed instructions about how things work there. 

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We had an amazing time there. In exchange for the stay, the owner needed us to donate $10 per person and do a chore for 15 minutes, which we readily obliged to.

Do you have any other recommendations for the best places to stay?

We have also camped in the area several times. Here are my favorites:

What are your favorite things to do in Olympic National Park?

Some of our favorite things to do are go walking inside the rain forest and discovering new plants, kayaking in Lake Crescent, and birdwatching on Sandy Spit.

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Where are some of your favorite places to eat in Olympic National Park?

What surprised you about Olympic National Park?

That no matter how many times we go, there is always something new to discover. It has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the USA.

Is there anything special families should know before visiting Olympic National Park?

Some campsites fill up quickly, so you need to make reservations in advance. If you are going in winter, you should expect some road closures. However, you will be rewarded with fewer crowds.

Seattle

Submitted by: Amanda of Patsey Family Travels

What is your favorite family vacation spot in Washington?

Seattle

What did you love about Seattle?

We love that Seattle is a perfect mix of a city and green spaces. Also, the food scene all throughout the city of Seattle is not to be missed.

There is just such a laid back vibe in the city, and despite the weather rumors, you can not beat their summer weather!!

Ferry on the water with the city of Seattle, USA under the beautiful sunset in the background
A ferry on the water with the city of Seattle, USA under the beautiful sunset in the background

Where did you stay in Seattle? How was your experience?

We love staying near the Seattle Center at the Hyatt House. This is a great central location because you can walk everywhere or easily take public transportation from here.

Our family also loved staying here because of its proximity to the Space Needle, which has one of the best playgrounds in Seattle right below it! 

The Hyatt House rooms are also just a great set up for families because they offer suites that also include full kitchens!

For a first trip, staying in downtown Seattle is totally a must.

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Do you have any other recommendations for the best places to stay in Seattle?

If you can visit a second time, I would highly suggest renting an Airbnb in a neighborhood outside of downtown. Many of them may offer amazing views of the city and surrounding mountain ranges, including Mt. Rainier.

Some amazing neighborhoods to check out include Queen Anne, Ballard, Magnolia, or Phinney Ridge!

VRBO

What are your favorite things to do in Seattle?

Pike Place Market

We love to wander around Pike Place Market getting bites to eat and checking out all the amazing markets. You can also venture down by the sound and ride the Seattle Great Wheel, or check out the aquarium.

Seattle City Parks

The parks in Seattle are plentiful and such a fun thing to do to get some adventure in the city.

  • Discovery Park is one of our favorites for some easy hikes and the opportunity to take in some fantastic views of the city and mountains.
  • Golden Gardens in Ballard is a great park also because it has a sandy beach and again awesome views of the Olympics!
  • Gas Works Park is another great park in Seattle. It is located right on Lake Union and has an amazing playground for kids too!

Woodland Park Zoo

In a northern Seattle neighborhood of Phinney Ridge is the Woodland Park Zoo. The zoo is a great way to spend about a half to a full day when visiting Seattle. While you are in that neighborhood, don’t forget to also check out the troll under the bridge in Fremont!

Where are some of your favorite places to eat in Seattle?

The Pink Door in Pike Place is a must for some fantastic Italian food and views of the Puget Sound. This is a total iconic restaurant in Seattle and a must-visit!

Serious Pie and Biscuit is another awesome iconic Seattle restaurant that offers some great food. There are a few locations in the city, but one is located near Pike Place Market.

Another excellent option for food in Seattle is to simply eat your way through Pike Place Market. The market is stocked full of great places to grab bites to eat, and some of our favorites are Beecher’s Cheese, Piroshky Piroshky, and Daily Dozen Doughnut Company.

What surprised you about Seattle?

The weather in Seattle is not as terrible as it is made out to be. Especially if you visit from July-September. The days are long and clear, and there is zero humidity.

Is there anything special families should know before visiting Seattle?

Seattle is a popular summer destination, so securing lodging in advance is a good idea. Also, be sure to know that you can get away with no car in the city for a few days, but there are so many amazing things to see just a short drive out of the city that renting a car, or using a car-sharing service would be a great idea to expand your travels!

Port Townsend

Submitted by Tara from Back Road Ramblers

What is your favorite family vacation spot in Washington? 

Port Townsend

What did you love about Port Townsend?

Port Townsend is surrounded by water with lots of outdoor adventures, and the town is picture-perfect, with great shopping and food.

boats in the harbor at Port Townsend Marina at sunset

Where did you stay in Port Townsend? How was your experience?

We camped at Fort Worden State Park, where we could watch the sunset over Puget Sound from our tent.

Do you have any other recommendations for the best places to stay in Port Townsend?

We visit Port Townsend every year to visit our son who lives there, so we’ve stayed in lots of different spots. Here are a few more recommendations:

  • Tall Trees Eco Art House: This is a large house outside of town, and it’s perfect for large groups or families. Note: At the time of publish, this listing appears to have been removed from Airbnb. However, as it may be due to the current pandemic, we chose to leave it in the post for now in hopes that it will be available again in the future.
  • The Blue Gull Inn is located in a residential neighborhood in the Uptown District. It’s still easy to walk downtown from here, but the area is very tranquil.

What are your favorite things to do in Port Townsend?

Hiking in Fort Warden is amazing for kids because there are all these abandoned bunkers to explore, which are both creepy and historically interesting. 

There is a whale-watching boat that leaves from Port Townsend Marina every morning to look for orcas and other sea creatures. It’s a full day on the water with a stop in the San Juan Islands for lunch.

Fort Worden State Park is also home to the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, which gives the family a deeper look into the ecology of Puget Sound.

Where are some of your favorite places to eat in Port Townsend?

Hillbottom Pie has the most amazing soups, pizzas, and pies. It’s always busy, but well worth the wait.

Elevated Ice Cream serves homemade ice cream with indoor and outdoor seating.

Waterfront Pizza has super unique pizza toppings. You can order at the counter, and the eat at an outdoor picnic table overlooking the water.

What surprised you about Port Townsend?

The beautiful Victorian-era homes and the wild deer that wander the streets.

Is there anything special families should know before visiting Port Townsend?

Port Townsend can be busy in the summer and during the last week of September when the town hosts the annual Wooden Boat Festival.

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Long Beach, WA

What is one of your favorite family vacation spots in Washington? 

We had an absolute blast last year at Long Beach, WA.

What did you love about Long Beach?

We loved that we were able to find long stretches of beach entirely to ourselves, explore nature, and find some quirky stops as well.

Related: Long Beach Washington: How to Have a Killer Camping Weekend

sunset on path leading to beach in long beach washington
Beach sunsets are the best.

Where did you stay in Long Beach? How was your experience?

We made it a camping trip at The Lamp Camp in Long Beach. It was awesome. The owners were incredibly accommodating and have such a fun vibe set up at the camp with things like a community kitchen and firepit. Not to mention the camp showers that were actually HOT!

Do you have any other recommendations for the best places to stay in Long Beach?

If you’re looking for camping options, you may want to check out Cape Disappointment State Park, Loomis Lake State Park, or one of the other campgrounds in the area.

If you prefer a hotel or Airbnb, there are some great options as well. Here are a few options to check out:

What are your favorite things to do in the area?

I think the highlight of our trip was biking on The Discovery Trail. It was a little bit of a challenge in spots for the kids, but the majority of it winds along the coast providing epic views and a relatively easy ride for families.

We also suggest checking out the trails and coastline at Ledbetter Point State Park, visiting Marsh’s Free Museum full of curiosities and oddities, and, of course, spending plenty of time on the beach.

Where are some of your favorite places to eat?

To be entirely honest, we ended up eating all of our meals at the campground! Having the community kitchen was so nice, and you couldn’t beat being steps from the beach. 

However, here are some suggestions that are highly recommended to get you started: 

What surprised you?

I have to be honest. We hadn’t expected a ton from Long Beach.

I expected some beach time and time in a tent.

But, I was blown away by how peaceful it was, the long stretches of sand we had to ourselves, and the fun we had on The Discovery Trail.

It was a beautiful beach destination, less crowded than most, and had some of the most incredible sunsets. Plus, our kids have been asking to go back soon, so I’ll take that as a win!

Is there anything special families should know before visiting this destination?

The area can definitely be more crowded in the summer, so make sure to plan accordingly and make reservations if you’re heading there during the busy season. We visited in August, and it was the perfect time to visit, with warm days and nights perfectly cool for sleeping.

If you find the state parks and larger campgrounds full, consider some of the smaller, privately-owned campgrounds such as The Lamp Camp.

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