Fuel Up! 9 Memorial Day Road Trips That Aren’t Too Far

A child enjoys the views of Hood Canal on a Memorial Day road trips Allison Sutcliffe
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While family travel may not be as spontaneous as it used to be (was it ever?), there’s no reason you can’t pack the kids and a cooler full of bevvies in the car and head out on a low-key road trip over the long weekend. If you’re itching to spend time away from home, we’ve got nine Memorial Day road trips that will help you and the kids kick summer into high gear. Mountain resorts, seaside stays and a few lesser-known destinations thrown into the mix for good measure, mean you’ve got options. But what do all these spots have in common? They’re not too far from the city, so you can spend your time recreating instead of playing referee between kids in the car. Here’s where to spend your Memorial Day weekend.

This article is sponsored by Salishan Coastal Lodge and SCP Redmond Hotel, Oregon-based, sustainable, eco-friendly hotels. Situated near natural landmarks and on-site wellness amenities (including the Spa at Salishan and the meditation room and SCP Fit at SCP Redmond Hotel) both hotels offer the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. Plan your visit to Oregon today!

Allison Sutcliffe

A Hood Canal Getaway

If you’re looking for a road trip with options (like ferries vs. bridges and resorts vs. cabins), Hood Canal is the place to go. Located between the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas, this fab family destination will take you less than two hours to get to… if you don’t encounter road and ferry traffic. Here's your first choice for this Memorial Day road trip destination—do you wan to ferry into Kingston, Bremerton or Port Orchard to get here? Either way, you’ll be trading high-rise buildings and busy freeways for sea-creature filled tide flats and beautiful beaches. Your kiddos will think they’re in a whole new world. Everything is an adventure here, including where you eat. It doesn't get any better than oysters from the Hamma Hamma Oyster Saloon or Hook & Fork, part of the charming Union City Market. Beyond beachside eats, plan to spend the weekend hiking, fishing, exploring tidepools and, depending on the weather, enjoying water sports.

Stay at: If relaxing is what you're after, there's no better place to stay than the totally kid-friendly Alderbrook Resort & Spa. The resort recently unveiled their updated spa and has plans to open the just-renovated Restaurant at Alderbrook on May 20 (keep your fingers crossed), in time for Memorial Day. While it's an easy starting point for all your Hood Canal adventures, it's just as easy to stay on-site with the kids and take advantage of the indoor, heated, saltwater pool; abundance of lawn games; hiking trails and waterfront activities like kayaking and SUPing. But since options are they key to this weekend getaway, families can also pitch a tent at one of the nearby state parks or book a cabin so you don't have to rough-it too much. 

A Getaway with Bavarian-Themed Charm

Surrounded by beautiful mountains, Leavenworth is a small Bavarian-styled town that doesn’t skimp on its theming. Most of the architecture here is meant to look as if the buildings were plucked from Bavaria and then placed in Eastern Washington. Known for their many year-round festivals, outdoor dining options and colorful shopkeepers (many are dressed in traditional "Bavarian wear”), strolling the main drag never seems to get old, no matter how many times you've visited. Traditional food can also be found around every corner...not to mention the many ice cream and candy shops that line the streets. If all this isn’t enough to impress, Leavenworth also boasts a handful of parks, hiking trails, swimming pool, miniature golf course, arcade, a fantastic pump track and a year-round reindeer farm that's always a hit with kids. If that isn't enough for your spring getaway, you'll find plenty of fishing, biking, golfing, hiking, horseback riding, birding and zip lining here too. 

Stay atSleeping Lady Mountain Resort with an on-site Aspen Leaf Day Spa, organic farm-to-table restaurant, cozy accommodations and spectacular rock pool. You also can’t beat the Enzian Inn which has fantastic indoor facilities–pool, hot tub, basketball court, ping pong room–that are great for burning off that pre-bedtime energy (please note: the outdoor pool is under construction and unavailable at this time). And at the expansive Icicle Village Resort, at the town’s western entry off Highway 2, you can choose from standard hotel rooms or three-bedroom condos, many of which have stunning views. 

Good to know: The Baren Haus serves up some of the best burgers in town with homemade hamburger buns and Gustav’s is a family style pub that's been a Leavenworth favorite since 1982. Also, the Wood Shop and Hat Shop is a must-see along with the always popular Nutcracker Museum.

Allison Sutcliffe

An Easy Island Vacation

Because a ferry ride is probably the easiest way to travel with kids (hello, upper deck exploration), Bainbridge Island is always a winning Memorial Day weekend destination. No matter where you stay, you're always close to hustle and bustle of Winslow's many shops and restaurants, KiDiMu, the weekend Farmer's Market, Scrappy Art Lab and Owen's Playground. Downtown isn't the only place worth exploring. Bloedel Reserve offers trails a plenty and you never know what you'll find along the way—a zen garden, an old mansion or a reflecting pool. You'll need timed tickets to visit this special spot. Looking for more spontaneity? You'll find it at Fay Bainbridge or Battle Point Park. Don't forget the Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center so you can play like it's summer—indoors.

Stay at: When it comes to a place to stay, Bainbridge has a few family-friendly options to consider. Because hotel pools are always a hit with kids, the Quality Inn & Suites is a good spot to start. It’s pet-friendly and just down the road from Strawberry Hill Park and Winslow. If having a small kitchen (sans stove) makes your stay easier, try the Marshall Suites. For an upscale feel, check into the Inn at Pleasant Beach. Situated in the heart of Lynwood, next to beaches and dining, each suite has its own personality, and your stay includes access to the pool, complete with a kiddie wading area.

Sharon Mead

A Coast Worth Exploring

We know Washington is home to amazing coastal destinations, but there's something equally appealing about the beaches along the Oregon coast. Cannon Beach with it's telltale haystack rock is a tried and true choice for Seattle families (and Goonies fans from around the country), it's one of many that are worth the trip. All you need to do is head south on the 101 to find a (hopefully) quieter destination that's just a scenic and sandy. No matter where you land, these beaches are all about bike riding, kite flying, whale watching and of course, sandcastle building. So bring your sand toys, rain coats (you can count on typical PNW weather here) and sunscreen because you'll be kicking back over Memorial Day weekend watching the waves from the shore. 

Stay at: Depending on where you land, a cabin with a view is in order, offering easy access to all the shore has to offer. But if a resort is more your speed, Salishan Coastal Lodge, just off the 101 should do the trick. Comfortable rooms, surrounded by nature, and a killer aerial park (don't worry, there's an indoor pool, too) are just some of the amenities you'll find there.

Allison Sutcliffe

A Sister City Getaway

If you want to get away from the city, but you also don't, trade Seattle for Olympia as your Memorial Day road trip destination. There's lots to love about our state's capital, and the drive down is one of the perks. Olympia is just over two hours from the city, making the trek is totally doable, plus you can find lots of excuses to pull of I-5 and explore if the kids get antsy. To get your weekend off on the right foot, take the kids to the Hands On Children's Museum. With its impressive two-story slide and fascinating exhibits, your kids could play all day (hint: if you let them, they just might). And the Olympia waterfront is equally as engaging, especially on a sunny day. The Farmer's Market will be in full swing. Bring your reusable bag, appetite (there are great food stalls there) and enjoy live music as you shop. Then wander over to the waterfront where you'll find a viewing tower, playground and stroller-friendly boardwalk that goes all the way to the capitol. If rain is in the forecast, duck into Defy Olympia, the roller skating rink or catch the Alphabatastics at the Olympia Family Theater.

Stay at: Finding a cute Airbnb is always a great option when you're traveling with kids and need the comforts of home. But if you're looking to stay in the heart of Olympia where you're within walking distance of most of the city's highlights, the DoubleTree by Hilton is a great choice.

courtesy Suncadia Resort

An Oasis in the Mountains

Super easy to get to (assuming Snoqualmie Pass is traffic-free), Suncadia Resort offers a posh experience, yet is casual, kid-friendly and a bit adventurous. Set on the sunny eastern slopes of the Cascades, 80 miles east of Seattle, families visiting Suncadia for the three-day weekend can enjoy golfing, biking, hiking trails and horseback riding, as well as all the fab resort amenities including a swim and fitness center (with two splash-tastic water slides and an indoor and outdoor pool), the pool at Nelson Farm, fine and casual dining, an outdoor amphitheater and spa services. Lots of special spring activities are planned this year, including float trips, roller skate and scooter rentals, outdoor movies at Nelson Farm (hint: Goonies kicks off the season Memorial Day weekend), axe throwing and art classes the whole family will enjoy.

Bonus: While at Suncadia, be sure to check out the cute City of Rosyln (remember the TV show Northern Exposure?), the City of Cle Elum and Lake Cle Elum where you can rent boats, jet skis and more!

Allison Sutcliffe

A Popular Locale East of the Cascades

If you’re looking for drier weather and warmer temps, you’ll want to head east to Lake Chelan. Located 3.5 hours from Seattle, this family-friendly destination is surrounded by fabulous wineries, beautiful orchards and rolling hills, not to mention the crystal blue waters of Lake Chelan. Many local businesses take the winter off. So Memorial Day weekend is a great time to visit. Local favorites like Slidewaters (one of the Northwest’s largest and most popular water parks) and its sister park Lakeside Surf open that weekend, as does Ralley Alley Go-Karts and the Putting Course at Don Morse Park. And the Lady of the Lake starts making more than express trips up the 55-mile fjord to Stehekin over Memorial Day weekend as well. It's a great way to spend the day and see some of the state's most remote areas.

Stay at: Because it's always easier to stay at a place that has the comforts of home when you're traveling with kids, The Lookout at Chelan is an easy option. Individual vacation homes with hot tubs and BBQs are just the beginning of the comforts you crave. Private beach access, two pools, pocket parks and playgrounds are the other perks that are hard to beat. Beyond this vacation community, families can find tons of tent-cation or condo-cation accommodations to choose from at Lake Chelan.

Allison Sutcliffe

An Island Adventure with Options

With numerous places to stay, camp or glamp, and several islands to hop, a three-day weekend getaway to the San Juan Islands is the perfect option for families itching to get out of town. Since island life is slower-paced, you’ll need to remember to pack your patience (and you can practice that in the ferry line when you reach Anacortes). No matter which island you choose, there’s something fun for everyone. The kids will have a blast kayaking and exploring historic parks. Everyone can enjoy boating, learning about Orca whales and looking for treasures on the beach. But these islands aren't just about beaches and bonfires. Mountain climbs and secret waterfalls are in the mix too. It's an outdoor lovers paradise.

Stay at: With so many choices to stay and so many possibilities for fun, Memorial Day Weekend 2022 might just be your family’s best one yet. But if you want a resort that has a little bit of something for everyone, you can't got wrong with Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes. It's got a family summer camp vibe that's hard to beat, and it's on San Juan Island. Also on San Juan Island: Roche Harbor or the Earthbox Inn & Spa. Our other island favorites include Pebble Cove Farm, Rosario Resort & Spa and West Beach Resort on Orcas and the Lopez Islander Resort on Lopez.

Good to know: Anacortes ferry reservations are a must! Reserve online before you go.

Yakima Valley Tourism

A Vacation in the Valley

Consider vacationing in the Yakima Valley for your extended Memorial Day weekend. A fantastic road trip destination, it's just over two hours from the city, and there's a good chance you'll have sunshine while you're there (the area boasts over 300 days of it annually). The Valley is all about farms, bikes and wonderful wineries—outside is the way to recreate here. Rent ebikes from Boost Bikes so you can go that extra mile (or more), and be sure to stop by one of the area's farms or fruit stands for seasonal veggies (don't miss the asparagus!). If you time it right, you might even be able to pick fresh strawberries at Bill's Berry Farm; they plan to open the fields May 21. And the Yakima Valley Museum's new mountaineering exhibit tells the story of four climbers who summited Mt. Rainier. Beyond these family adventures, you'll find lots of weekend-specific activities too. Prosser Aquatic Center is offering free family swim from May 28-30, and the summer concert series at VanArnam Vineyards start Memorial Day weekend. You can't go wrong with an outdoor concert, especially when kids under 16 don't need a ticket and dogs are welcome. 

—Allison Sutcliffe & Kristina Moy

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