Discover the Beauty of Seattle National Parks: Your Ultimate Guide

Seattle, known for its beautiful cityscape surrounded by water, mountains, and evergreen forests, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. While many people associate Seattle with its iconic Space Needle or bustling Pike Place Market, it’s the city’s proximity to breathtaking national parks that truly sets it apart.

Visiting a national park is even more fun when you bring your family along to help make some amazing memories.

What Makes Seattle, WA a Great Place for Families?

Next to the cool weather (if you and you’re family is into that) this city is filled with lush surroundings and some pretty amazing sights. Here are some reasons why Seattle is a great place for families to go to, outside of just national parks:

  1. Educational Opportunities: Seattle offers several world-class museums and educational institutions that can cater to families. The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), the Pacific Science Center, and the Seattle Children’s Museum provide interactive and educational exhibits that appeal to children and adults alike.
  2. Natural Beauty: The city’s position between the Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains offers stunning vistas. Families can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, boating, and even whale watching.
  3. Parks and Recreation: Seattle has a plethora of parks. The iconic Gas Works Park on Lake Union offers kite flying and picnicking with a unique view of the city. Discovery Park, the city’s largest, provides trails and beach access. Then there’s the world-famous Seattle Center, home to the Space Needle, fountains, playgrounds, and more.
  4. Wildlife: The Woodland Park Zoo and the Seattle Aquarium offer families the chance to get up close and personal with diverse animal species, from local marine life to exotic animals from around the world.
  5. Cultural Experiences: Seattle has a rich cultural scene with theaters like the Seattle Children’s Theatre and annual events and festivals celebrating various cultures, arts, and music.
  6. Public Transportation: The city’s public transportation system, including buses, light rail, and the iconic ferries, is not only efficient but also an adventure in itself, especially for kids.
  7. Diverse Culinary Scene: Seattle’s food scene is pretty awesome, offering everything from the freshest seafood at Pike Place Market to international cuisines in neighborhoods throughout the city.
  8. Historical Significance: Learn about Seattle’s history by visiting Pioneer Square, taking the Underground Tour, or visiting the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.
  9. Proximity to Other Destinations: Seattle can be a base for exploring other family-friendly places in the Pacific Northwest, such as Mount Rainier National Park, the San Juan Islands, and even nearby cities like Tacoma or Olympia.
  10. Friendly Atmosphere: Seattle is known for its laid-back, progressive, and family-friendly vibe. Many local businesses, from restaurants to shops, cater to families with children.

Besides the reasons mentioned above, this city is known for it’s national parks. Here, we dive into each one and provide some handy information to get educated on before you go.

The Top 15 National Parks in Seattle, WA

1. Olympic National Park

Why visit: Sprawling over nearly a million acres, this park boasts diverse ecosystems – from the Pacific coastline and temperate rainforests to the alpine meadows of the Olympic Mountains.

Landmarks nearby: Ruby Beach, Hoh Rain Forest, and Hurricane Ridge.

Family-friendly perks: Campgrounds, scenic drives, and easy-to-moderate hiking trails ensure an engaging experience for all age groups.

2. Mount Rainier National Park

Why visit: Home to the iconic Mount Rainier, this park is a mountaineer’s dream, with lush old-growth forests and wildflower meadows.

Landmarks nearby: Paradise, Narada Falls, and the Grove of the Patriarchs.

Family-friendly perks: Nature walks, ranger-led programs, and wildlife viewing opportunities abound.

3. North Cascades National Park

Why visit: With jagged peaks, deep valleys, cascading waterfalls, and over 300 glaciers, it’s a breathtaking wilderness.

Landmarks nearby: Diablo Lake, Ross Lake, and Cascade Pass.

Family-friendly perks: Camping, boating, and interpretive programs make it a hit among families.

4. Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve

Why visit: It preserves the historical, agricultural, and cultural traditions of both native and Euro-American settlers.

Landmarks nearby: Fort Casey and Admiralty Head Lighthouse.

Family-friendly perks: Picnic spots, historical tours, and beachcombing are favorite family activities.

5. San Juan Island National Historical Park

Why visit: Learn about the “Pig War” standoff while enjoying the serene beauty of the island.

Landmarks nearby: Lime Kiln Point State Park and Friday Harbor.

Family-friendly perks: Wildlife watching, beach areas, and historical reenactments captivate both kids and adults.

6. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Why visit: Dive deep into the history of the gold rush era in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square district.

Landmarks nearby: Smith Tower and The Underground Tour.

Family-friendly perks: Interactive exhibits, walking tours, and gold panning activities engage visitors of all ages.

7. Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area

Why visit: A 130-mile lake providing ample water recreation opportunities against a backdrop of stunning landscapes.

Landmarks nearby: Fort Spokane and St. Paul’s Mission.

Family-friendly perks: Fishing, camping, and boat tours are among the top family attractions.

8. Minidoka National Historic Site

Why visit: A solemn reminder of the forced relocation of Japanese Americans during WWII.

Landmarks nearby: Not many in direct proximity, but the site itself is deeply evocative.

Family-friendly perks: The site offers educational tours, helping kids understand a crucial part of American history.

9. Manhattan Project National Historical Park

Why visit: Learn about the development of the atomic bomb and its global impact.

Landmarks nearby: Hanford B Reactor.

Family-friendly perks: Guided tours and interactive exhibits provide educational value for older children.

10. Whitman Mission National Historic Site

Why visit: A site commemorating the tragic clash of cultures between Native Americans and missionaries.

Landmarks nearby: Walla Walla Valley.

Family-friendly perks: Nature trails, picnicking, and ranger-led programs are available.

11. Lewis and Clark National Historical Park

Why visit: Delve into the historic journey of Lewis and Clark and experience their challenges and triumphs.

Landmarks nearby: Fort Clatsop and the Columbia River.

Family-friendly perks: Canoe tours, ranger programs, and interactive exhibits make it ideal for families.

12. Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

Why visit: A fascinating exploration of Asian Pacific American history, culture, and art.

Landmarks nearby: Seattle’s Chinatown-International District.

Family-friendly perks: Interactive exhibits, guided tours, and engaging storytelling sessions.

13. Nez Perce National Historical Park

Why visit: It honors the culture and history of the Nez Perce Tribe, marking 38 sites across four states.

Landmarks nearby: Joseph Canyon and Bear Paw Battlefield.

Family-friendly perks: Museums, hiking trails, and cultural demonstrations are on offer.

14. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Why visit: A reconstructed 19th-century fur trading post, it offers insights into early Northwest life.

Landmarks nearby: Pearson Field and Vancouver Barracks.

Family-friendly perks: Blacksmith demonstrations, archaeological digs, and garden activities cater to all ages.

15. Oregon National Historic Trail

Why visit: Trace the historic route of pioneers that journeyed west.

Landmarks nearby: Numerous markers and interpretive sites along the trail.

Family-friendly perks: Hiking, horseback riding, and historical storytelling keep families engaged.

What Have We Learned?

We have learned that Seattle is multi faceted in terms of activities and things to do. When it comes to their national parks, it’s hard to find a place better suited for them in the PNW (Pacific Northwest). The PNW is a common term to describe states that fall, well, within the Pacific Northwest!

Be sure to find out more cool things about the great state of Washington and other cool destinations to jump into.