Summer break lasts about 75 days.
That’s 75 days of trying to pry the Xbox controller out of your kids’ hands so they’ll go outside. And, trust us, “Inside is Level 1, outside is Level 2” doesn’t work. We’ve tried.
What does work (although we must admit it’s only temporary) is showing them that Western Washington is one giant playground. There are trails to hike and bike. There are lakes for swimming and fishing and rivers for floating. There are even ways to take to the sky.
To get you prepared for summer break, we’re getting you started with 75 ideas. One for just about every day you’ll hear the kids argue “but there’s nothing to do.”
1Bungee Masters leads bungee jumps from a private 200-foot-high bridge near Amboy. Jumps are $107 or $140 for two jumps and come with a shirt. “Frequent Faller” discounts are available according to the website. Bungee.com
2Take flight from Tiger Mountain and glide through the skies above Issaquah with a paragliding lesson from Seattle Paragliding. Tandem flights are $175 on weekdays and $195 on weekends. seattleparagliding.com
3If jumping out of a plane sounds fun but too scary, maybe indoor skydiving is a good compromise. No experience is necessary to experience the feeling of skydiving in the wind tunnel at Tukwila’s iFly Seattle. Rates start at $60 for two jumps and reservations are suggested. iflyseattle.com
4Fly with the seagulls above Commencement Bay with Pacific Parasail. When weather permits, flights leave daily from the dock near the Ram Restaurant and Brewery on Ruston Way. Flights are $79 or $89 per person depending on whether you want to fly at 600 or 1,000 feet. Discounts are offered. Pacificparasail.net
5The Rainier Gondola at Crystal Mountain, in its second summer of operations, will whisk you up the mountain in about 10 minutes where you can play disc golf, hike, soak in the view or dine at the Summit House. Skiers hit the slopes into July last year. Rates and hours vary. mtrainiergondola.com
6Crescent Lake west of Port Angeles is a great place to camp not just for the trails and the lake, but also for the built-in ghost stories. Legend has it the lake is haunted. Some say fishermen found a woman’s body here 70 years ago but on further examination they realized the corpse had turned to soap. nps.gov/olym
7Set up a base camp for hiking, fishing or other adventure in one of Olympic National Forest’s rental cabins. The cabins are $50-60 per day with a $25 refundable deposit. The cabins have room for four to six people. The Hamma Hamma and Interrorem cabins are near Hoodsport and the Louella Cabin is near Quilcene. recreation.gov
8The “ring of fire” is the ultimate playground for kids. Fort Worden in Port Townsend, nearby Fort Flagler and Whidbey Island’s Fort Ebey are now state parks but their batteries remain making for cool photo ops and memorable games of hide and seek. parks.wa.gov
9Ohanapecosh in the southeast corner of Mount Rainier National Park lives up to its name, which means “standing on the edge of something beautiful.” nps.gov/mora
10Explore the area along state Route 410 east of Mount Rainier National Park. Three Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest campgrounds along the American River make good base camps. Campsites are $14-$18 a night. fs.usda.gov/okawen
11Point Defiance’s Five Mile Drive is the South Sound’s optimum location for riding a longboard. Weekend mornings are especially good days because the road is closed to motorized vehicles before noon. metroparkstacoma.org
12Standup paddleboard – imagine paddling while standing on a surfboard – is easier than you might think. Chris Fry at West Bay Paddleboards can teach you how ($35), rent you a board ($20) or even get you in a floating yoga class (contact for prices). westbaypaddleboards.com
13The South Sound boasts a number of quality skateboard parks in places such as Puyallup, Orting, Heidelberg Davis Park, Sprinker Recreation Center, Rainier Vista Park and Yauger Park.
14Westport isn’t the only place to surf in Washington, but it’s the easiest place to reach from the South Sound. The town has two shops. Steepwater Surf Shop offers lessons while The Surf Shop directs customers to locals who teach lessons. Both rent boards and wetsuits. westportsurfshop.com and steepwatersurfshop.com
15Try skimboarding on a Puget Sound beach. The sport is fun to learn if you don’t mind taking a tumble or two and getting a little sand in your shorts. Watch first at Dash Point State Park or along Chambers Creek Road. Some sporting goods stores sell skimboards for as little as $50, but you’re likely to have better luck finding them online at places such as skimcity.com.
16After a successful introductory weekend last fall, Stevens Pass hopes to have its new bike park open by late June or early July. The park features a range of downhill trails accessed by the area’s chairlifts. facebook.com/stevenspassbikepark and stevenspassbikepark.com
18The ninth version of the Ride Around Puget Sound (Rapsody Ride) is Aug. 25-26 starting and finishing in Tacoma. The ride is challenging (170 miles and 9,000 feet of elevation gain) so make sure you train before you go. Rapsodybikeride.com
19The Capital Bicycle Club is launching a new ride June 24 called the Two County Double Metric. The ride starts in Tumwater and tours Thurston and Lewis counties via scenic back roads. Routes range from 20-126 miles. Capitalbicycleclub.org
20Vancouver, Wash., can be a fun place to explore by bike whether you are stopping at place Fort Vancouver National Historic Site or riding the paved trails on the west side of Vancouver Lake. Bike maps are available at cityofvancouver.us/bike.
21The annual Tour de Pierce offers routes of 12, 30 and 50 miles starting at the Puyallup Fairgrounds’ Gold Parking Lot. This year’s ride, starts at 7:30 a.m. on June 24. co.pierce.wa.us/parks
22Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park in Issaquah is designed to be an appealing place for riders of all skills level to play. Features range from mellow single track to backcountry jumps. evergreenmtb.org
23Grab the bike, stroller, skateboard or horse and explore one of the South Sounds’ paved multiuse trails like the Foothills Trail between Puyallup and South Prairie, the Chehalis Western Trail between Rainier and Lacey, and the Yelm-Tenino Trail. Piercecountytrails.org and co.thurston.wa.us
24High Rock Lookout near Ashford offers one of the best views of Mount Rainier from outside the national park. The 1.6-mile hike is uphill but doable for most young hikers. The payoff is an old fire lookout and a killer view. 360-497-1100
25It would take years to explore Washington’s more than 1,500 waterfalls and this summer is as good a time as any to get started. Some are easy to reach and others require long hikes. Get details at waterfallsnorthwest.com
26The flat boardwalk trails to Cape Alava on the coast make for a good first backpacking trip for young kids. The trip is as short at three miles each way. Pack your food in canisters (available at the ranger station) to keep the raccoons out. nps.gov/olym
27Hike into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, some of the state’s most scenic terrain. It is easily accessed – if you don’t mind hiking uphill – from Alpental Ski Area at Snoqualmie Pass. 425-888-1421
28The Ape Cave on the south side of Mount St. Helens is an eerie place to explore and let the kids’ imaginations run wild. Urban legend says Bigfoot lives in this lava tube, but it’s too dark to know for sure. Bring a headlamp, a second light source, extra batteries and a coat. It’s chilly down there. fs.usda.gov/giffordpinchot
29Take an easy stroll as long as 4.3 miles at Belfair’s Thelar Wetlands. Don’t tell the kids, but they might learn something along away. The area is packed with educational information on wildlife and the local vegetation. thelercenter.org/wetlands
30Hike to Packwood Lake in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. This mostly flat 9-mile hike can be done in an afternoon or it’s a good place for an easy overnight backpack trip. 360-497-1100
31Check out the view from on top of Green Mountain near Bremerton or any of hundreds of other hikes in our Northwest Hiking Guide compiled by The Tacoma Mountaineers. wwwb.thenewstribune.com/hikes
IN THE WATER
32Lowell Johnson Park on Florence Lake is known as the Ol’ Swimming Hole to those who live on Anderson Island and is a popular place to take a dip for swimmers of all ages. andersonislandparks.org
33The Federal Way Community Center is wonderland for kids looking to spend afternoon splashing around in a pool. The center has a two-story slide, a “lazy river” you can float on an inner tube and other activities. Kids 3-12 are $4, 13-17 are $5 and adults are $8. itallhappenshere.org
34Rent a kayak and tour the Puget Sound. Olympia’s Alpine Experience rents kayaks for as little as $35 per day. alpinex.com
35Tour the Aberdeen-based Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain tall ships or sign up to sail on the ships as they make several stops around Puget Sound. The ships plan to visit Westport (June 22-23), Port Angeles (July 13-15), Seattle (Aug. 18-19) and Brownsville (Aug. 21-23).
36Whether riding your bike on the quiet roads, watching whales at Lime Kiln State Park, kayaking the bays or camping Moran State Park, the San Juan Islands are loaded with things to do. visitsanjuans.com
37Rent a motorboat at the Point Defiance Boathouse Marina and try your luck fishing or just cruise the South Sound. $65 for a three-hour rental. 253-591-5325
38Go whitewater rafting on the Wenatchee River with the Lacey Parks and Recreation and Wildwater River Tours on June 17. This is for people 12 and older. Cost is $80 a person. All equipment, neoprene wetsuits, transportation and a deli lunch are included. Register at 360-491-0857, ci.lacey.wa.us.
39Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation is leading a trip on Hood Canal’s Anna Bay on July 14. It’s a chance to see all sorts of wildlife. A beginner-level trip, all equipment is provided. Trip is for people 12 and older. Cost is $59 a person. Register at 360-753-8380 or olympiawa.gov/experienceit
40Even in the summer sometimes you want to bring the outdoors indoors. On days like these, South Sound has several rock-climbing gyms for you to learn the sport or hone your skills. Edgeworksclimbing.org,verticalworld.com and warehouserockgym.org
41When it comes to volcanoes, Mount Rainier might be taller, but Mount Adams has more girth. And unlike the upper slopes of Rainier, which require expert skills, Adams’ south side isn’t technical. This makes it a good adventure for aspiring mountaineers. Ice axe, crampons and outdoor skills still required. fs.usda.gov/giffordpinchot
42The view from the summit rim of Mount St. Helens is breathtaking. It’s a 4.5-mile hike that climbs almost 5,000 feet, but it’s not a technical trip. The most challenging part of the trip is getting one of the 100 permits available each day. Permits are still available in June, but don’t even think about going in July, August or the weekend. mshinstitute.org
43Fish for free today. This is the final day of Free Fishing Weekend, during which the state does not require a license to catch fish or shellfish. All other rules and seasons apply. wdfw.wa.gov
44Cash in on catching a big salmon during an area fishing derby in August. The action starts Aug. 4 with the Point Defiance/Ducks Unlimited Derby at Point Defiance Boathouse (contact Scott Knox at 253-732-9283) and the South King County chapter of Puget Sound Anglers derby (pugetsoundanglers.net/derby.html). On Aug. 11, the Gig Harbor chapter of PSA holds its derby (253-297-2121, email@example.com). The Olympia chapter of PSA holds it first South Sound Salmon Derby on Aug. 18 (360-350-0551 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Vashon Island Salmon Derby (206-408-7188 or email@example.com) is Aug. 25.
45Check out the Federation of Fly Fishers International Fly Fishing fair July 10-14 in Spokane. The event features demonstrations, classes, vendors, film festival, youth and women’s clinics, and more. $25 per individual. Go to fedflyfishers.org to register and schedule of events.
46Try going fishing by horseback. Chinook Pass Outfitter & Guides offers trips from Crystal Mountain. You can do a day trip to a lake or stream, or arrange a multi-day trip. Day trips are $200. crystalmountainoutfitters.com
47Go chinook and coho salmon fishing in the Pacific Ocean. Charter boats at Westport and Ilwaco take anglers out on a daily basis. In Westport (charterwestport.com), weekday trips are about $120 and $135 on weekends. In Ilwaco (360-642-3495), trips are $100-$120.
48Check out a program, and the view, at the new amphitheater at Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Check the schedule at the information desk. $8 per person entrance fee or pass. fs.usda.gov/mountsthelens
49Rangers lead the Terrace Talk three times a day at Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center at Olympic National Park. Talks on various topics are offered at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. $15 per vehicle entrance fee. nps.gov/olym
50Kids can learn about nature, the mountain and Mount Rainier National Park during a Junior Ranger program. They are held throughout the park at campgrounds and visitor centers. Call the Longmire Museum at 360-569-6575 for details. nps.gov/mora
51Park rangers and North Cascades Institute naturalists provide the narration for North Cascade Expedition Tours. The tour combines a shuttle ride, several short hikes and lunch. They run 10 a.m.-3:15 p.m. Fridays-Sundays from June 22-Sept. 2 from the Skagit Information Center in Newhalem. Cost: $250 adults, $12.50 youth 12 and younger, $20 for active seniors 62 and older. 360-854-2589
52Take part in a Hurricane Ridge astronomy program. Master observer John Goar will give a one-hour program at Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, including telescope viewing. Programs will be June 20-23 at 10:45 p.m., July 9-23 at 10:30 p.m., Aug. 9-16 at 10 p.m. and Aug. 17-23 at 9:30 p.m. $15 per vehicle entrance fee. nps.gov/olym
53Watch the Perseids meteor shower, one of the best meteor showers to observe with up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. This year, the shower will peak Aug. 13-14, but you might see meteors from July 23-Aug. 22. Find a spot far from city lights and look to the northeast.
54Take advantage of all the daylight on the summer solstice, June 20. You’ll have 15 hours, 59 minutes and 21 seconds from sunrise to sunset to enjoy the outdoors. Add about another 80 minutes if you include dawn and dusk.
55Attend the Tacoma Astronomical Society’s Astronomy Fair IX in August. A date had not been set at deadline. Events will be held during the day with sky observing at night. tas-online.org
56Check out the South Sound Estuary Association’s beach naturalist programs at Tolmie State Park, Frye Cove State Park, Priest Point Park and Burfoot County Park, all in the Olympia area. sseacenter.wordpress.com
57Metro Parks Tacoma offers Tiptoe Through the Tidepools on July 3 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. during which kids and parents explore Titlow Beach at low tide. Explore the Shore at Owen Beach in Point Defiance Park will be held June 21 at 11:30 a.m., July 2 at 9 a.m., July 31 at 9 a.m. and Aug. 29 9 a.m. metroparkstacoma.org
58Dig for fossils at the Stonerose Interpretive Center in Republic. Search for your own piece of 50-million-year-old history. Find something undiscovered and they might name it after you. $8 for adults and $5 for children 6-18. Hammers and chisels can be rented for $5. stonerosefossil.org
59You can drive to the Hiram Chittenden Locks in Ballard and walk over to the fish ladder and watch as salmon make their way upstream headed for Lake Washington and the Cedar River. The sockeye reach their peak in July. The viewing gallery is open daily from 7 a.m.-8:45 p.m. The fish ladder viewing gallery is open daily from 7 a.m.- 8:45 p.m. wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/counts/sockeye
60Check out Tacoma Power’s newly remodeled Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery. Visitors can play a number of games that depict various aspects in a salmon’s life cycle. The hatchery is near Salkum off U.S. 12. tacomapower.com
61Drive the North Cascades Highway as state Route 20 cuts through the heart of the North Cascades, offering amazing views of azure Diablo Lake, hikes short and long, visitor centers and campgrounds. cascadeloop.com
62Visit Stehekin at the head of Lake Chelan. You’ll have to travel by foot, boat or floatplane to get there. You can visit the Golden West Visitor Center, stay the night at a place like North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin, rent bikes, check out Rainbow Falls, stop at the Stehekin Pastry Co. or just enjoy the solitude. stehekin.com
63Take a Skagit Boat Tour on the deep-blue waters of glacier-fed Diablo Lake. Learn about the natural and cultural history of the area, view glacier-clad peaks and hear stories about the Skagit River hydroelectric project. Runs 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursdays-Mondays from June 21-Sept. 3. Cost: $30 adults/$15 youth 12 and younger/$27 for active seniors 62 and older. 360-854-2589
64Spend a day at Ruby Beach. The Olympic Peninsula coast is dotted by remote beaches. Ruby gives you the same feeling while being just a short walk from the parking lot. Check out the sea stacks and roam the beach. nps.gov/olym
65Ponder how the landscape came to be at Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve south of Olympia. It’s unknown how the mounds were formed. Some say Ice Age glaciers, some say aliens. The hike is a 2.5-mile loop. dnr.wa.gov
66Take the ferry and spend a day or weekend exploring Vashon and Maury Islands. They’re just a short ride away, but you leave the city hustle and bustle quickly behind. Check out Point Robinson Lighthouse, the swimming beach at Dockton Park or try fishing at Fisher Pond. vashonparkdistrict.org, wsdot.wa.gov/ferries
67The 25th annual Summer Lecture Series at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge kicks off July 11 with a program on Aldo Leopold presented by Estella Leopold. The series features talks on environmental topics ranging from bees to wolves. The free lectures are held Wednesday nights during July and August. Free, $3 refuge entrance fee. fws.gov/nisqually
68The Mount St. Helens Institute offers a series of summer recreation programs, including hikes, field seminars and climbs of the volcano. Costs vary by program. Get details at mshinstitute.org.
69Join one of the free Summer Shoreline Walks in downtown Olympia. The hour-long walks are at 6 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m. Saturdays from Aug. 1-Sept. 15. The 1.5-mile loops starts at the Fourth Avenue Bridge, near Bayview Thriftway. Walks are led by trained volunteer docents called Sound Stewards. Show up 10 minutes before the start time.
70Northwest Trek offers a number of special weekend events related to animals in the Northwest. They include Slug Fest June 23-24, family camp programs in July and August and Creature Feature Week in August. nwtrek.org
71Check out the first Three State Rendezvous for the National Wild Turkey Federation in the Northwest. Chapters in Washington, Idaho and Oregon are teaming up to host the gathering at Camp Wooten southwest of Pomeroy on July 20-22. 2012nwtfsummerrendezvous.webs.com
72If you can’t wait for fall, take up archery and you can hunt for deer before Labor Day. The early season for black-tailed, white-tailed and mule deer opens in many game management units on Sept. 1. wdfw.wa.gov/hunting
73Washington Trails Association offers a variety of single-day trail work parties and longer volunteer vacations. The group has work projects planned around the Puget Sound region and beyond. wta.org
74Help at our national parks. There are Volunteers In the Parks programs at Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic national parks. Some volunteers work with visitors, while others work behind the scenes with staffers. Learn more at nps.gov/mora/supportyourpark/ volunteer.htm, nps.gov/mora/support yourpark/volunteer.htm and nps.gov/ noca/supportyourpark/volunteer.htm.
75You can earn a state Discover Pass by volunteering 24 hours of work on projects approved by State Parks and Recreation, state Department of Fish and Wildlife and/or state Department of Natural Resources. firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8497 email@example.com 253-597-8640