Holiday Dinner didn’t turn out the way you expected? It’s happened to all of us at some point or another, maybe the oven breaks or the dog gets into the turkey. Or perhaps you just don’t want to cook this year. Well you’re in luck I have compiled a list of restaurants open on Christmas.
Tokyo Steak House http://tokyojapanesesteakhouse.org/
- Experience the excitement of Teppanyaki tableside grilling if you have never been you’re in for a real treat.
Tavern on the Square https://www.mcmenamins.com/anderson-school/tavern-on-the-square
- Seasonal offerings, fresh local fares and kid friendly.
Ruth Chris Steakhouse https://www.ruthschris.com/
- Super formal and a great tradition to start, just make sure that you have a reservation.
McCormick & Schmick’s https://www.mccormickandschmicks.com/
- Great for seafood and steaks, this is another upscale place to spend the day, but you’ll probably want a reservation.
Fogo de Chao
- One of my personal favorites, a fun fine dining experience and all you can eat. My kids love going.
- Absolutely perfect for Christmas morning pancakes after the presents have been opened!
- Christmas Day is one of the busiest days of the year for Denny’s.
Buca Di Beppo
- Such a fun family tradition! Be sure to make a reservation and bring the kids for this family-style Italian dinner!
Buffalo Wild Wings
- Select locations will be open, but operating with reduced hours. Check their website before heading out.
Scott’s Bar and Grill in Edmonds https://scottsbarandgrill.com/
- A favorite of the locals Scott’s is the perfect place to gather for a family dinner. Try the pea salad!
- Who doesn’t need coffee? Select locations will be open.
- Not all locations will be open.
Panda Express https://www.pandaexpress.com/
- Asian food is a tradition for many on Christmas Day. It’s cheeky, fun, and nearly all Chinese locations will be open.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries http://www.fiveguys.com/
- Because hey – the New Year’s diet doesn’t start for another week, right?
- Not all locations will be open. But some will!
- You’ll find a couple classic Sonic drive-ins in the area. And good news- they’re slated to be open.
Another situation? You partied too hard on NYE and there is no way you’re cooking on New Year’s Day. If that happens, here’s a look at what’s open in addition to the list above which are open both Christmas and New Year’s Day.
- Burger King
- Olive Garden
- Papa Johns
- Pizza Hut
You’ll find that most retail places are open on New Year’s Day as well.
Part of the joy of the holiday season is exploring holiday lights with the kids. They’re bright and festive, and just inspire imagination and awe. Especially in young children, going hunting for lights is a time-honored holiday tradition. Unfortunately, more and more people are not decorating their homes with lights. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still great light displays out there to be found and enjoyed. Here are a few of my favorite holiday lights hot spots.
23620 ne 183RD St. Woodinville, WA 98072
A family oriented display awaits you in Woodinville! Here you’ll find a full acre display of lights set to music and light animations. The display is free to visit, but cash donations are appreciated. The donations benefit a variety of charities. To get the most out of the experience, tune your radio to 101.9 FM.
16504 112th PL NE Bothell, WA 98011
Another home with a ton of lights can be found in Bothell. Keener Christmas is a drive-through experience with no foot traffic allowed. You’ll find more than half a million lights as well as animations and inflatables. This family favorite home has been featured in many newscasts about the best-decorated homes in Western Washington. From time to time you’ll even find Santa on site handing out candy canes! If you’re so moved, you can also donate food to charity at the site!
Bellevue Botanical Gardens
12001 Main St. Bellevue, WA 98005
Get lost as you wander through the fields of flower-themed lights at Bellevue’s annual Garden d’Lites festival. Now in its 24th year, the tradition of nature-themed light shows is a must for many people during the holiday season. You’ll also find a running river made of lights. The Gardens set up a scavenger hunt among the lights to keep young people excited, and there is always espresso and hot cocoa on site, too. There is a small admission fee, but there are also free nights every season as well. Check the website before heading out so that you can plan! Remember – kids ten and under are free!
19525 SE 54th St Issaquah, WA 98027
For something just a little different, head out to Issaquah and the Cougar Mountain Zoo! Here you’ll find a full Christmas themed park, culminating with live reindeer! The 31st annual Reindeer festival keeps limited hours, open only until 4:30 pm, but is nothing short of pure wonder for your children. Since the reindeer are on site, of course, you can expect to see Santa! You can also hear a story from an elf during your visit!
For more homes with amazing lights, check out this interactive map!
If you’re up for a drive, there are plenty of lights in Seattle, too. You can visit the Woodland Park Zoo for their annual Wild Lights show, or check out the Candy Cane Lane neighborhood! Whatever you do, be sure to take lots of photos and share them with me! And, if you know of a hot spot that I’ve missed, I really want to hear about it!
If you haven’t gotten your tree already — and you are feeling adventurous — here are some places you can cut your own tree down. Close to home even!
We live in the Christmas tree capital of the United States, it’s easy to see why so many people enjoy cutting their own tree. But, given the traffic situation in the Seattle & Eastside areas, it’s also easy to understand why you might want to cut a tree close to home. While there may not be any Christmas tree farms in Seattle, Kirkland or Bellevue, you can find a couple in Redmond and a few more just outside of the central Eastside. Now go find your perfect tree!
13925 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE Redmond, WA 98052
Open daily from 10 am to 8 pm, McMurtrey’s makes it simple to plan a tree cutting trip with your family. Found in the heart of the Sammamish Valley, you’ll find Noble, Grand, and Fraser Firs on the property. Extra tall trees are on site, and delivery is even an option, in case you don’t have a large enough vehicle to tow the tree back to your home. The farm is dedicated to sustainable harvesting, meaning that once a certain number of trees have been cut they’ll close the season. So get out there early! Once you’ve found the perfect tree, the farm treats you with complimentary hot cider or hot chocolate.
14500 NE 116th St. Redmond, WA 98052
Offering 100% organic trees as well as home delivery service, Buttonwood Farm is another close-by option for creating a family tradition of cutting your own tree. Here you’ll find Douglas, Turkish, Nordman, Noble, Grand, Fraser, and Blue Spruce trees. The site also offers sturdy stands. The farm has limited hours, however. If this is where you want to cut, be sure to visit on the weekends. Buttonwood is open Friday and Sunday from noon until 4 pm, and on Saturdays from 10am-4pm. You should check out their website before heading out to find tips for tree care as well as fun seasonal recipes.
3861 Tolt Ave Carnation, WA 98014
Open from the day after Thanksgiving until trees sell out, the Carnation tree farm has been offering trees for over 30 years. The farm has been in the family since 1901 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That means you’ll be taking a step back in time as you step into the forest to play your part in this time-honored family tradition. Across 16 acres you’ll find Douglas, Fraser, Grand, Noble, and Nordman Firs as well as Norway and Blue Spruce. In addition to cutting your own tree, you can pick up handmade local greens, garland, swags, mistletoe, and holly. Employees will let you borrow a saw and even help you select your perfect tree. With a focus on family fun, expect to spend some time in the shelter area where you can have complimentary cider, shop a fresh bake sale, or even have your photo taken with Santa. The shop is open Sunday- Thursday from 9 am until 4 pm.
Where did you get your tree this year!
The Eastside does family fun with flair! There are so many fun family events around town that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed! The good news is that most of these events are free, or at least low cost, so you can try them all out and see which ones are the best fit for your family. Here’s a rundown of the events that make creating family traditions fun!
15670 NE 85th St. Redmond, WA 98052
Act fast! This is a weekend event special, happening on December 1-2. It’s a free event held in downtown Redmond. The progressive event starts at City Hall with a tree lighting ceremony and fireworks show. From there, stroll down a lighted pathway dotted with carolers and performers. Your trail ends in Redmond Town Center where you’ll find more entertainers, shops, treats, and family fun.
This event is the priciest on my list. But it does offer a fun experience that the kids will love. You board an Argosy ship at one of many docks around Lake Washington or in Seattle and set sail! Along the way, you’ll be serenaded by choirs and subject to beautiful views. Many local yacht and boat owners follow the parade of boats and have their vessels decorated as well. If you have kids, try to snag a ticket on the lead boat, since Santa is on board and there is a dedicated kid space for coloring and crafts. There are adult beverages available for purchase as well. The event will almost always sell out, so book tickets well in advance! If the ship isn’t for you, plan to take the family to designated beaches to view the parade of boats from land!
Another annual family tradition for many Eastside families, there just aren’t enough words to describe how magical this event is. Marching drummers, dancing snow fairies, and even ice queens. You’ll also experience “snow” falling every night. (It’s really a foam machine, but the kids won’t care. It’s still magical!) The event features a parade, music, dancing, and free candy handed out by the character cast. It’s a popular event, though, so be sure to get there early. The event is free and kicks off nightly at 7 pm.
11730 118TH Ave. NE Kirkland, WA 98034
This annual play features local child actors. It’s a tradition for many families and offers a glimpse into theatre life for children. Recommended for ages 4 and up, the show is only offered on weekends. Tickets are $20 per person for all ages.
3429 240th St. SE Bothell, WA 98021
An outdoor lights display, this one is just north of the Eastside. Put on by Bothell’s Evergreen Church, this is a free event. Take advantage of free cookies and cider while you’re there, too.
Finally, let’s talk outside of the Eastside. One of the benefits to living here is the close proximity to Seattle. If you feel like making the trip across the bridge to the big city, here are my favorite holiday events in the city.
1250 1st Ave. Seattle, WA 98134
New to the city this year, this is a traveling display of lights that features the world’s largest Christmas light maze. You’ll find an ice skating trail, as opposed to a rink, which winds you by live entertainment and right to your visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. You need to pre-book your time in the event. Here’s a Groupon for tickets to help save you some cash!
The Sheraton Seattle
1400 6th Ave. Seattle, WA 98101
Now in its 26th year, this is an impressive display of gingerbread houses. Many have moving parts and most are taller than your child! It’s simply magical. Every year they have a different theme — this year is Dr. Seuss. Always a must see!!
Fisher Pavilion & International Fountain
305 Harrison St. Seattle, WA 98109
There are so many activities here! From the Winter Train Village to an ice skating rink and carousel to live ice sculpting demonstrations and live performances all season long. Be sure to check the website before heading down as the schedule changes daily.
These are all amazing activities in our very own backyard. Many of which I have started as traditions in my family!! What are your favorite traditions during this magical time of year!?
So, let’s be honest. The best parties are almost always going to be across the bridge in Seattle. While your favorite local bar may have an event closer to home, if you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’re looking for something a bit more substantial. The Eastside is great, but sometimes being so close to the big city is a big benefit. Here’s a look at 5 great adults only events for Halloween 2018.
- Get on a Boat! Set sail for an epic haunt this year. There are two themed cruises that I was able to track down, both leaving from downtown. Halloween Havoc, which comes with a $50-$150 per person price point, puts you on a yacht with a few of your closest friends, three DJs, and a two-floor dance floor. Learn more about it, here.
- Competing for your maritime money, Hip Hop Halloween also offers a yacht full of costumed adults looking for a good time. This one has a better price point, starting at just $30 a pop. Three DJs and two floors for dancing, but with a more hip-hop centered sound. Both cruises happen on the 27th. Learn more about this one, here.
- HAUNT. Revered as Seattle’s best Halloween experience for adults, this party will cost $69 to walk in the front door. Once inside, you can expect great music from local bands and DJs and nearly 2,000 costumed adults letting go of their inhibitions for the evening. While there is a costume contest, this year there is no theme- so anything goes! Learn about the categories and get your tickets before they sell out! Here’s the link.
- If you insist on staying on the Eastside, Maggianos at Bellevue Square is cooking up something special this year. It’s a murder mystery dinner, and it looks like a great time! The event is for adults 18 and up, and costumes are optional. (But really, wear a costume.) Your $69 ticket includes dinner and a drink (which makes the event almost free) and anyone could be the killer. Even you! Tickets are available at Eventbrite now.
- Finally, here’s a find over in Issaquah. It’s not specific to adults only, but chances are pretty low that parents will be taking their kids to a cemetery tour! This isn’t a party, it’s more of a historical based event. But I love it because not everyone wants to get dressed up and slam Jello-Shots on Halloween, right? Right? At just $20, this is a thrifty find. But buy those tickets quickly, as there are fewer than 30 available.
Looking for family-friendly Halloween fun around the Eastside? I’ve got you covered. Halloween costumes are pricey, and you should absolutely get the most bang for your buck by giving the kids as many opportunities to wear them as possible.
There are plenty of exciting events happening all over the greater Seattle area this year, but here are my picks for closest to the Eastside.
Boo For the Big Kids
This one isn’t for the faint of heart. The haunted experience at Beaver Lake in Sammamish has created a Family Scare event this year. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’d take a two or three-year-old to this event. But older kids? The ones who are too cool for trick-or-treating… but still too young for real haunted houses? This is the perfect event for them. Running weekends only throughout October, the Family Scare event runs from 7-7:45 pm, with the full scare kicking off at 8 pm. Family scare prices are $8 a person cheaper, too.
Also in Sammamish, kick off beggar’s night with a little pre-party at City Hall! Kids are allowed to trek through City Hall from 3 – 4:30 pm on October 31st. The event is free and offers safe trick-or-treating for all ages, but is generally best for small children.
Factor This In
Head to Factoria Marketplace in south Bellevue before beggar’s night for their 9th annual Halloween Bash. Held on October 31, the party is held indoors, which is great for little kids and offers trick-or-treating at merchants as well as other fun activities. The event runs from 4:30pm- 6:30pm.
Kick it Off in Kirkland
Finally, one more event to jump-start your October 31st beggar’s night festivities. The Downtown Kirkland Association always plans experiences that are good family fun and well thought out. I love their Summerfest, and it’s no surprise that their take on Halloween is equally exciting. I love this event so much, that I had to include it, even though the details weren’t out yet when I wrote this post. Check out their webpage for more details as they become available.
For more fun- click here (link) to check out my rundown of best pumpkin patches around the Eastside. These places almost always have something a little special going on for the kiddos around Halloween. And if I’ve missed your favorite family-friendly Halloween event, be sure to share it with me on my social media. I’m always up for a new adventure
It’s a tradition in the PNW unlike any other. Talk to moms from the Midwest about where they pumpkin patch and they’re likely to raise an eyebrow. But out here on the Eastside? Choosing your pumpkin patch for the year is almost as big of a deal as choosing where you’ll vacation in the summer. With different patches offering amazing amenities and activities, competing for your gourd dollars winds up meaning a full day of family fun.
The one major bummer is that, with real estate being as costly as it is on the Eastside, you’re going to have to drive a bit to get to the best pumpkin patches. They’re all great, if I’m being honest, and you’ll enjoy any of them. That said, different patches appeal to different aged kids. Choosing the best one for your family makes the drive more worthwhile.
Here is the lowdown on the pumpkin patch experience!
This one is my pick for big kids. Once you arrive you’ll find acres upon acres of pumpkins as well as a ton of family-friendly attractions. Perhaps the best of all is the massive corn maze on site. The maze is a whopping 10 acres large and always Take a Hikecut into interesting, artistic designs that you can only see from above. I like this maze for the big kids because they specifically offer admission after dark, which is spooky and exciting all by itself! You can also reserve a fire pit to roast marshmallows after you make your epic escape. For the little kids, there are also two smaller corn mazes that are less intimidating. Other free activities include hayrides, a tike track for riding, and a playground area. In addition to your pumpkin, you can also pay to play on big slides, the corn crib (excellent for sensory kids) and fire apples out of the apple cannon. A rope maze, sandpit, and cow-train ride complete your full day experience.
My favorite pick for those with little kids, this is a wonderland for the imagination. On top of the you-pick-pumpkins, you’ll also find admission free fun things to do that enchant the smallest of adventurers. There is a large corn maze that is themed and unintimidating for younger guests, as well as a kid’s adventure maze, miniature golf, and a mouseville themed gift shop. Kids can also pet farm animals. On the weekends you’ll find hayrides, apple slingshots, and face painting, too. Older kids may get a little bored at this one, but for little kids, the value cannot be beaten.
If you’re noticing a nod to Snohomish, it’s not intentional! It just so happened that all of my favorite places are located just north of the Eastside. And, among all of them, The Farm at Swan’s Trail just may be my absolute favorite. It’s a literal adventure wonderland that is well suited for families with kids of all ages. A FIFTY-acre pumpkin patch pretty much guarantees selection wide enough to last the entire season, and you’ll also find a pretty nicely sized petting zoo. On top of that, expect to laugh your tail feather off at the duck races and Farmer Ben’s “Four Little Pig” shows. There are also wagon rides, picnic pavilions, a massive corn maze, and you pick apples. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the barn. It’s a tiny hay bale maze up to the hayloft where kiddos can zip down a slide into a pile of hay. It’s the stuff great photos are made of, friends.
Things really get fun when you get into the paid activities, though. A giant hay bale pyramid for climbing, a ball pit, large slides, an inflatable jumping pillow, rubber duck races, gemstone mining, pedal cart racing, and a cow train all await you. Plan to spend all day at this one, and make family memories that evolve into a tradition your kids will take with them for years to come.
Stocker Farms, Snohomish
Fox Hollow Farm, Issaquah
Remlinger Farms, Carnation
This list is just a short sample of all of the pumpkin farms out there. If nothing here tickles your fancy, here’s a longer list compiled by Red-Tri. If you’re not up for the drive to one of my favorite farms, maybe you can find one closer to your home neighborhood here and tell me all about why you loved it in the comments! Happy hunting!
It’s here we can’t deny it — fall has settled in. The beautiful, sunny, and warm days are coming have come to an end. But don’t you go downing fall on me just yet! It’s actually my favorite time of year! That nice little nip in the air in the morning, the lazy evenings, and the smell of fresh textbooks. It’s a wonderful time! Here are three great ways to enjoy September around the Eastside!
High School Football
Living in Seattle, for most of us, means a love of Seahawk football. Attending games is more than a way to pass a day, it’s an experience. And, like most major experiences, it costs a pretty penny. So why not enjoy a some Friday Night Lights and watch a more affordable game of gridiron? So many of our local High School teams are contenders on a statewide level that attending a high school game not only means you’re out enjoying the fall evening weather, it also means you’re seeing some legitimate talent. Plus there are affordable concessions, marching bands, and all kinds of school spirit!
Take a Hike
Head over to Bridle Trails State Park in Kirkland for a nice family hike. The park itself isn’t huge, which makes it perfect for exploring on a weekday evening after school. Walk through the dense trees seeking out unique shadows cast through the branches and onto the dirt pathways. The enchantment of this urban park is turned up to eleven when a horse comes striding by you. Bridle Trails was designed as a horse walking park, which means that the unexpected rider can pass you by. I love this quiet oasis right in the middle of the densely populated Eastside! I also have to give an honorable mention to Juanita Bay Nature Preserve, where you can spot bald eagles fairly regularly.
Have you ever tried to go stand-up-paddle boarding on Lake Washington? SUP for short, I actually prefer early fall for this activity to summer. The crowds are gone, the water is still warm, and the sunsets are something else entirely. Perfect Wave is my go-to spot. Located right at Houghton Beach in Kirkland, there is nothing more refreshing than an evening paddle, followed by happy hour at The Beach House, which is well worth a visit. Just remember, hours start to narrow as summer closes, so check ahead before showing up.
What are your favorite fall activities!!??
There is just something about an ice cold beer on a hot summer day. Amirite? Of course, I am. The only thing any better is having the beer totally fresh from the brewery direct. With that in mind, here’s my take of the top breweries in Redmond. And hey, if you want a tasting partner, look no further!
4626 NE 102nd Street Redmond, WA 98053
Part farm, part brewery, and 100% on their game, Bushnell offers an on-site taproom experience. Open most days at 11 am, the Hop House offers fun fare with your pints. Even better? Show up on Tuesdays after 3 pm, order a pint, and get a free T-Shirt. Um, yes, please! The brewery itself offers six flagship beers and a host of seasonal brews as well. Once you’ve found your favorite (I’m partial to the Blackberry Barley this summer), don’t forget to stock up on farm fresh eggs before heading home. They’re just $5 a dozen. The chickens aren’t for sale, though.
14679 Ne 95th St Redmond, WA 98052
These folks have a simple mission. “Brew Beer that people want to drink.” And trust me, you’ll want to drink their beer. They currently produce about 12,000 barrels a year and are only growing. You can head into their tap room to try their famed beers, and most are also available in a keg or growlers to take home with you. Many of their brews are award-winning and range from lager to porter with fruit flavors and everything in between. I’m looking forward to trying the Raspberry Sour myself. Everything is so reasonably priced, you’ll want to try them all!
17825 NE 65th St, Ste B110, Redmond, WA 98052
If you love local beer, Mac and Jacks is no stranger to you. This brewery has gained some big notoriety and is available in a lot of local restaurants and at Safeco field, too. The African Amber is my personal favorite. Established in 1993, the company is still run by the original founders, but they have moved out of their original establishment in Jack’s garage. You can take a brewery tour here on Saturdays and Sundays at 1 and 3 pm. The tours are free and include free tastings, no reservation necessary. Mac and Jack’s offers 5 year-round brews and a host of rotating seasonal beers, too.
17625 NE 65th St, Ste 100, Redmond, WA 98052
With a relaxed atmosphere that is warm and welcoming to all (even dogs and kids) Postdoc started in the garage of a Ph.D. in Biochemistry back in 2013. What started as a weekend pastime between neighbors has gone on to produce some pretty awesome brew. Personally? I’m a fan of the Grapefruit Blonde. Mostly because it’s pink. And I’ve never seen a pink beer before. You can find about 10 brews on tap at any given time, and the company plays host to various events and food truck appearances. Besides the fact that you can stop there after a bike ride….my favorite thing, though? I love their loyalty program, which is structured like a degree-granting institution. As such, there is a tuition scale. But in exchange for buying an adjunct professor or tenured professorship, you get discounts on brew and lots of swag.
Have you been to these breweries? Which was your favorite? Favorite brew overall? Help me find a new favorite!
You’ll hear me talk about the “Big Three” pretty often. To me- those are the three cities that make up the heart of the Eastside. Redmond. Kirkland. Bellevue. Depends on who you ask, the Eastside is growing, and can sometimes include Issaquah, Bothell, Woodinville and Sammamish. But, for me, when we’re talking Eastside, we’re talking the big three.
Since the city is growing so quickly, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a patch of green space where you’re allowed to camp overnight. There are still plenty of parks and natural areas around town, but try to pitch a tent overnight and you’re likely to wind up in some hot water. It’s just not cool. But that doesn’t mean that you need to plan an epic road trip in order to find a nice little camping spot, either. Here are my personal top three favorite places to get some R&R and a bit of nature within three hours from the Eastside.
- Dash Point State Park
Address: 5700 SW Dash Point Rd, Federal Way, WA 98023
Drive Time: Less than an hour.
Why I Love It
Dash Point State Park is right off of I-5 in Federal Way. It’s so close to the city that sometimes you even get city noise while you’re in the park. While that may sound like a turn off, hear me out! This park has so much going for it! Positioned right near Commencement Bay, the park has access to a swimmable beach that plays host to some incredible beachcombing at low tide. Expect to find thousands of sand dollars, shells, clams, jellyfish, and the last time I was there, I even saw a fully intact “ghost” sailboat washed ashore. How cool! To top it off there are great hiking trails, a summer “Jr. Ranger” program for the kids, and a large grassy field in the middle of the campground loop for the kids to makes friends and play in. Remember that city I talked about? It’s pretty cool because, if you don’t like campfire cooking, you can easily pop right into town and have dinner out, returning to your site for s’mores and tent sleeping. Plus, if everything goes bust, you’re so close to home that it’s simple to call it a loss, pack up, and head home. That makes it perfect for first time campers!
- Pine Village KOA
Address: 11401 River Bend Dr, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Drive Time: 2 Hours
Why I Love It
The only non-state park camp on my list, this place is super fun for a long weekend. It’s only a 2 hour drive time (admittedly, that’s before we account for traffic) and most of that drive is spent going through either scenic Stevens or Snoqualmie Pass. The campsite itself offers SO many amenities. There is space for trailers, RVs, tents, and even a few cabins that you can rent. Onsite you’ll find a playground and even a pool. In the summer there is a free breakfast in the mornings, outside movies in the evenings, and even a free shuttle into downtown Leavenworth, where you’ll find a whole host of things to do. In the winter you can enjoy a massive open field directly behind the campground, perfect for sledding, snowshoeing, or a winter trek into town. Leavenworth is a city of festivals, with something going on almost every weekend. This glimpse into a Bavarian village makes the kids happy, and the high concentration of wineries and breweries makes mom and dad happy, too.
- Deception Pass State Park
Address: 41020 SR 20 Oak Harbor, WA 98277
Drive Time: 90 minutes
Why I Love It
As far as I’m concerned, this is the gold standard for an immersive camping experience. This park has.it.all. On top of a TON of spots for RVs, trailers, and tents, you’ll find not one, not two, but THREE beaches. There is a salt water beach opening to the Salish Sea, a freshwater beach on Cranberry Lake, and another saltwater lagoon beach that has some of the best tide-pools in the PNW (at low tide). The Salish Sea beach has a ton of driftwood, perfect for hut making, the lake beach plays host to canoe and kayak rental as well as a seasonal snack stand, and the tide-pooling beach has rangers on site to guide you (during the summer) and help you find creatures! On top of ALL of that, you’ll also find iconic bridges that you can walk (or drive) across with sweeping vista views of the sea. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the other half of this massive park has great fishing access, too. Freshwater and saltwater fishing are both available, along with a whole host of hiking opportunities of varying difficulty. Not that you will ever need to leave this park to stay busy, but my family really enjoys a quick trip into Oak Harbor where we enjoy an evening at one of the only drive-in theatres left in the state. (Blue Fox Drive-In Theatre). Frankly, if you’re only going camping once, make it this park. It’s pretty popular and fills up fast, so make sure to make reservations well in advance.
Moran State Park
Address: 3572 Olga Rd, Olga, WA 98279
Why I Love It
Missing my list due to time constraints only, this park is cool because it’s on an Island. Orcas Island, to be exact. That means that you’ll need to take a state ferry to get there, making it kind of pricey for trailer or RV campers. The sites are small, but the views are BIG. You can even drive (or hike) clear to the top of Mt. Constitution for a bird’s eye view of all of the San Juan Islands.
Did I miss your favorite campsite? If you want to keep it a well-guarded secret, I get it. But, if you’re willing to share, please let me know what I’m missing out on in the comments below.