With plenty of snow already on the ground, the two national parks within an easy drive of the South Sound make for great holiday break destinations.
Here are some of the winter fun options each park offers.
Many options to help get you out of the house this holiday At some point, you will have had too much egg nog, recited all the good lines from the 1983 classic “A Christmas Story” with the television on mute, or tire of listening to Aunt Dora complain about her bunions, her husband or your cooking.
You will, at some point during the upcoming holiday school break, want to get out.
Sure, places like Capitol Lake or Point Defiance Park make for good instant escapes. But if you are looking for something more substantial, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors while the kids are home from school.
TAKE A RUN
There are multiple runs held during the break. They include:
Tour De Olympia: This five-race series is for the more serious runner. Each race begins at 3 p.m. from Monday through Dec. 23. The cross-country race series goes throughout Olympia starting at different locations and for different lengths; free or donations accepted. Go to runoly.com for information and a registration form.
Jingle Bell Run: Take park in this afternoon 3-mile fun run or walk on Dec. 24 at 1:30 p.m.; $10; Wright Park, 316 South G St., Tacoma. Bring nonperishable food for St. Leo’s Food Bank or old running shoes for the Tacoma Rescue Mission. Register at metroparkstacoma.org or South Sound Running, 1736 Pacific Ave, Tacoma. Registration closes at midnight on Thursday.
Last Mile at First Night: Say adieu to 2102 at 6 p.m. Dec. 31. This noncompetitive one-mile run goes through downtown Tacoma starting at Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway Plaza; $5. Pick up a race number before Dec. 28 at Metro Parks main office, 4702 S. 19th St., Tacoma.
First run: Stick to that New Year’s resolution, at least for one day, with this one-mile run at 11 a.m. Jan. 1; free. Run starts near the Point Defiance Marina and goes along the waterfront at Point Defiance Park. No registration necessary.
TAKE A FAMILY WALK
Join the Tahoma Audubon Society for this walk through Adriana Hess Park Dec. 23 from 4-5 p.m.; free. The short walk is a great introduction to this small park and the local Audubon chapter’s headquarters. The park is located at 2917 Morrison Road W., University Place. For details, call Dixie Harris at 253-564-6373.
During Winter Wildland, running Dec. 26-Jan. 1, visitors will get to see animals play with winter-themed enrichments such as wreaths with assorted fruit, decorated evergreen trees with ornamental treats, ice piles and snowmen.
The items are part of the animal husbandry program and are intended to enrich the lives of the animals, encourage natural behavior and keep the animals mentally stimulated.
After touring the animal enclosures, visitors also can ride one of the heated trams through the large-animal area. There will also be seasonally-themed activities at the Cheney Family Discovery Center.
Park admission is $8-$17. For information, contact nwtrek.org or 360-832-6117.
WONDERING ABOUT WILDLIFE
The Cedar River Watershed Education Center in North Bend is host a day of nature-based family activities from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 27. Kids can dissect a barn owl pellet and discover what was for lunch. They can make a pinecone bird feeder and participate in other wildlife arts and crafts. The center is located at Rattlesnake Lake near North Bend. For information, contact seattle.gov/util/crwec or 206-733-9421.
DIG FOR CLAMS
If you want to take part in a true Washington outdoor activity, try digging razor clams on a Pacific Ocean beach. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has tentatively set a dig Dec. 28-31. If tests show the clams are safe to eat, the dig will take place (with low tide times) Dec. 28, 6:42 p.m., -0.3 feet, at Twin Harbors; Dec. 29, 7:15 p.m., -0.3 feet at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; Dec. 30, 7:47 p.m., -0.2 feet at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks; and Dec. 31, 8:20 p.m., 0 feet at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. You can get more details, including license information at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.
This is a chance to celeberate winter, enjoy a walk through the woods, climb a bird viewing tower and explore the new boardwalk on Muck Creek while sipping a warm cup of hot cocoa. The Tahoma Audubon Society is hosting the event Dec. 29 from 1-3 p.m. at Morse Wildlife Preserve in Graham. The event is free but donations will be accepted. To RSVP and for directions, call 253-565-9278 by Dec. 27. For more info, go to tahomaaudubon.org.Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure