Raising wild ones: it’s an art form, really. Keeping kids’ curiosity satiated, making sure each day brings something new and exciting, and, of course, maintaining your own sanity all the while is a massive undertaking. And there’s no perfect formula. But after the plans are set, the coolers are full, and the phones lose cell phone service, that’s where the good, quality livin’ happens.
When most Seattle families pack up the van and zip out of town for a long weekend in the woods, hightailing it westward to Olympic National Park’s misty beaches is a no-brainer. Just outside the eastern entrance to the national park, you’ll discover a world of hidden gems, quiet nooks, and kid-friendly, no-holds-barred adventure in the fjord of the Puget Sound that is Hood Canal.
Watch two families discover VanLife magic at Lake Cushman:
Day 1: Bremerton Ferry > Bent Bine Brew Co. > Skokomish Park
1:30 PM | Ferry Departure at Pier 52
Sure, I-5 to WA-16 W saves a bit of time (though you’ll have to weather the always-ungodly traffic in Tacoma), but there are not many things that enchant little ones like a ferry ride. Sweeping views of downtown Seattle and the iconic Space Needle slowly fall away as the Olympic Mountains rise in the foreground. Hello, sensory overload.
3 PM | Beers & Games at Bent Bine
“Hop for the better, hope for the bitter!” this freshly minted brewery proclaims as you stride through the door. But if you’re like us, you’ll hope for light and drinkable which is just what their pale ales and their Bavarian-style Weissbier serves up. Taste your way through them all as the kids stay effectively entertained with corn hole.
6 PM | Set up Camp at Skokomish Park
Bring your mountain bikes, swimsuits, and lounge chairs—Skokomish Park offers a bit of just about everything. Each tent site (or in our case, VanLife site) has a fire pit, picnic table, tent space, and parking for two vehicles. Plus, each loop has restrooms and showers. If you forget anything or feel like renting a kayak, extra SUP, or the like, the welcome center at the day use area has you covered.
Day 2: Lake Cushman
We operate on the conviction that the best days are lake days (second only, perhaps, to days spent on Hood Canal). With the sandy shoreline of Lake Cushman, a fly rod, some Slingshot SUPs, and super fresh crab over the fire for dinner, we’ll crack open a beer (Everybody’s Brewing Country Boy IPA is our go-to ‘round the campfire treat) and cheers to a day well spent.
Day 3: Lake Cushman > Twanoh State Park > Home
11 AM | Hightail it to Twanoh State Park
Situated on the eastern shores of Hood Canal, Twanoh State Park is the perfect place for beachcombing and breathing in the ocean air before you board the ferry for home. As an added bonus: it’s one of the warmest saltwater beaches in the state! If you fancy yourself a seafood connoisseur, harvest a handful of oysters and shuck then eat them right on the beach! (State law mandates that you harvest no more than 18 oysters measuring over 2 ½ inches and shuck and eat them on the beach, leaving behind the shells). For complete up-to-date oyster information, click here.