13 Fun Things to do From Seattle to Olympic National Park

Road trips can be a great way to take a family vacation and see many places. Often times, it’s more affordable as well. Here I’ll guide you through tons of family-friendly activities on the drive from Seattle to Olympic National Park so you can have a super fun family vacation in Washington, while keeping you budget in tact.

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If you’re wondering how to take a kid-friendly road trip in Washington without a long drive, you’ve come to the right place!

Seattle to Olympic National Park pin

This is part of a 4-part series Road-Trip Guide for the Family through the Northwest.

Part One (this post) will show you fun things to do in Washington.

Part Two will give you fun ideas for the family in Oregon.

Part Three will take your family on fun and unique experiences in Idaho.

Part Four will turn the loop through Montana, Northern Idaho, and back to Seattle.

One of the things I don’t love about road trips is the LONNNG drives in the car.

With this Ultimate Road Trip from Seattle to Olympic National Park, I’ve created an itinerary that doesn’t require more than 4-1/2 hours between any stop. This is ideal for so many reasons.

  • You can get out and stretch
  • It’s nice to be able to actually get somewhere without having to stop for the bathroom multiple times
  • There’s only so many ways to entertain a young one in the car before getting fussy
  • There’s only so many ways to entertain an adult in the car before getting fussy (or is that just me? 😳)
  • You can cover multiple destinations! Without trekking through multiple airports!

Need extra tips for keeping kids happy in the car? Check out my Fun Car Games post

This road trip itinerary is ideal for families or just adults. There are many, diverse, fun things to do on this trip. It will take you to Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia and Olympic National Park.

Ready for fun stops from Seattle to Olympic National Park? Here it is:

Stops on the Drive from Seattle to Olympic National Park

Stop 1: Seattle

Things to do in Seattle with kids

The Great Wheel

Get a great view of the Seattle area from atop the Great wheel. Go in the evening on the weekend to see a half-million LED lights light up the wheel!

Seattle on the water

Image by Olya Lolé

Space Needle

This iconic structure will also give you a majestic view of Seattle. You can also step onto the glass bottom floor, or view from an outside deck.

Space needle at sunset

Pike Place Market

This iconic Seattle stop features a farmer’s market, crafts specialty food, shopping, and of course seafood. Walk around and pick up some local flavor, or just enjoy being in the middle of famous market!

Public Market sign in SEattle

Photo by Mitch Walker

Chihuluy Garden and Glass

A beautiful and unique stop to see the works of Dale Chihuly, a native to Washington who has glass projects all over the world. His long-running exhibition has been in Seattle since 2012.

yellow and red glass art at Chihuly Glass and garden

Save on Top Attractions in Seattle with the CityPass

Alki Beach State Park

Escape city buildings for a bit to see Alki Beach. Alki beach is where Chief Seattle met the first white settlers and assisted in building shelter for them. With volleyball, a pier, a wide path and a great beach, you could spend a while relaxing or playing at Alki Beach.

Alki Beach makes a beautiful, relaxing spot to stop on this Seattle to Olympic National Park road trip.

Alki Beach at sunset

Alki Beach, Photo by Benjamin Massello

Seattle Aquarium

Discover and learn about animals of the Puget Sound and all of the ocean. The Seattle Aquarium is the 9th most visited aquarium in the United States.

Many great attractions in Seattle can be discounted when you purchase the Seattle City Pass! You get access to the Space Needle, Aquarium, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and MORE!

Stop 2: Tacoma

Maybe Tacoma isn’t on the top of your mind as you drive from Seattle to Olympic National Park. But don’t brush over it! Take the time to get out and experience the fun things to do in Tacoma!

Here are the best things to see:

Chihuly Bridge of Glass

Even if you stopped at the Chihuly Glass and Garden in Seattle, be sure to see this amazing display over Interstate 5 in Tacoma. Free to walk over, the bridge lights up at night, making a beautiful display of color.

  • located next to the courthouse, over I-5
  • Free

glass art in Tacoma

Image by PublicDomainPictures

Point Defiance Park

This is a beautiful natural playground not to be missed. Stop at Owen’s Beach, where you’ll find picnic shelters, restrooms, and plenty of parking (free!). Stay and play at the beach, or walk along the promenade.

Make sure to also visit the gardens at Point Defiance park. From Dahlias and herbs, to a rose garden or Japanese garden, there’s plenty to see here!

This is another great, relaxing, yet fun stop from Seattle to Olympic National Park.

Click HERE for more info on Point Defiance Park

Chinese Reconciliation Park

Take a stroll through the beautiful gardens, all while learning about the history of the treatment of the Chinese in the area, as well as some viewing some beautiful architecture.

This is one of those learning opportunities to teach kids empathy and compassion all while they learn history.

Chambers Creek Regional Park

On your way out of Tacoma and onto Olympia, make sure to stop at Chambers Creek Regional Park. With 2 miles of shoreline, you and the kids can walk along 5 miles of public trails or enjoy the public beach.

Enjoy views of the Puget Sound while you enjoy all this park has to offer. Nearby is a nice golf course with dining options.

Stop 3: Olympia

A great town and not a far drive from the famous and beautiful Olympic National Park, make sure to make this stop on your Seattle to Olympic National Park drive.

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Located within the south part of the Puget Sound, this is a great place for observing migratory birds. The refuge is thousands or acres of both salt and freshwater marshes and forests. Take the 1 mile boardwalk or some of the other trails (7 miles in total) for a relaxing viewing experience. https://www.stateparks.com/nisqually_national_wildlife_refuge_in_washington.html

boardwalk over wildlife refuge
credit: Shive, Ian, USFWS-TV; FWS.gov
Wildlife refuge
credit: Shive, Ian, USFWS-TV, nws.gov

Farmer’s Market

Open on the weekends, this farmers marker boasts fresh produce, foods, and crafts from locals. Pick up some goods and then take a short walk to the water to enjoy them!

Hands On Children’s Museum

As the largest and most-visited Children’s museum in the Pacific North West, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to stop here while you’re in town! With over 150 exhibits, you can play all day with the kids here. See all there is inside (art, science, and nature) and then head outside to the Outdoor Discovery Center for some climbing, playing, ship-driving of fun!

  • $15 admission 18 months+

Photos courtesy of The Hands On Children’s Museum (pre-covid photos):

Children's museum
kids on tricycles at Children's museum
Outdoor Discovery Center
large boat at Children's museum

Olympic National Park

This is its own stop while visiting Olympia. About an hour out of Olympia, this national park has so much to see. It may be worth staying a night near the entrance of the park. Here are a few highlights:

beaches in Olympic National Park ruby beach

Ruby Beach

3 waterfalls next to each other, brown land with green plants

Sol Duc Falls

  • Ruby Beach– beautiful shoreline with views of large rocks jetting out of the water. Kids can play in the pooled up water on shore or discover crabs, sea stars, and other ocean life near the seastacks.
  • Hurricane Ridge– this 17-mile stretch of road will wind you through both forests and snow-capped mountain peaks. Beautiful views included!
  • Crescent Lake– with a stunning, scenic backdrop, spend some time enjoying the views, taking a chilly swim, or renting some kayaks to explore this gorgeous lake. Crystal clear water is a bonus!
  • Sol Duc Falls– we can’t forget a waterfall! This hike is less than a mile (one-way) and is easy enough for the kids! Enjoy the lush forest on your way!

You could spend a while in Olympic National Park, or just hit some highlights. This is the most beautiful part of this Seattle to Olympic National Park Road Trip.

>>For a more detailed list of recommendations, check out my full guide to Olympic National Park with Kids <<

Also Check out:

Coolest Cabins you can rent in Olympic National Park

Seattle to Olympic National Park

Those are the destinations for this Seattle to Olympic National Park road trip.

That’s it for Part 1! If you’d like to extend your road trip, make sure to check out Part 2 for kid-friendly activities that the whole family will enjoy through Oregon!

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Seattle to Olympic National Park pin

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  1. Great post, thanks! We live here and I think you found lots of good gems in Washington to share with the family. The PNW is a wonderful place for a road trip.

  2. This all sounds incredible, as do the other sections of your adventure! We’re not too far from Seattle (as long as we can afford all the covid-19 tests to allow us across the border!) I would really like to follow this, especially to Olympia! All that nature is worth driving for!

  3. So many great ideas here! I especially love Pike Place Market and Alki Beach is such a gorgeous place. :] I’d love to go to the Seattle Aquarium someday!

  4. I love road trips, so this sounds ideal to me! I would love to visit Olympic National Park and Alki Beach State Park – both look absolutely amazing!

  5. First, stunning photos 🙂 secondly I love how versatile this guide is in terms of both city break and outdoors kind of activities. Will definitely check out some of these places when I visit SF.

  6. Wow, Seattle looks so cool! Starting a road trip at the Space Needle and Great Wheel would definitely start your trip out on a high! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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