10 Great Family Vacations in Washington State If You’re on a Budget

Fishing in Washington State
Fishing in Washington State | © Kevin Krejci / Flickr
Jacklyn Grambush

Vacations are an important part of life whether you are rich, poor, single, or slinging a whole crew. Located in the stunning Pacific Northwest, Washington State has a barrage of vacation options in mountains, on islands, in cities, on volcanoes, near the ocean or a lake, and in a rain forest. Here are some of the Evergreen State’s family-friendly, as well as budget-friendly, vacation destinations.

Northern Washington

Camping in the North Cascades National Park: nightly options at $40, $16, or free

One of the mountain ranges visible from Seattle, the Cascade Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop in which to play and make memories with loved ones. In addition to the mountains, the 789 square miles of park are home to glaciers, lakes, grizzly bears, and grey wolves. Some of the lakes offer water sports, and a few family-friendly, free hikes include Ladder Creek Falls, Cascade Pass, and the Washington Pass Overlook.

Camping in Moran State Park: $12-$45 per night

Located on Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands, Moran State Park is a great place for family camping. Cascade Lake offers paddle boating and swimming, as well as hiking all around. The Funhouse Commons provides free supervised play for children. Orcas W.I.L.D. can help set up tours or kayaking. Other than that, Orcas Island is a great place for whale watching (hence the name). If you somehow get bored of the island, you can ferry over to one of the other San Juan Islands for a little day adventure.

Mt. Constitution Viewpoint in Moran State Park

Eastern Washington

Stay in Spokane for under $60 per night

The second largest city in Washington State, Spokane has a ton of great options for families. Places like the Rodeway Inn and Apple Tree Inn offer affordable rates with complimentary breakfasts and a seasonal pool. For fun, families can explore trails in Dishman Hills or get creative at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. The Wonderland Family Fun Center has endless possibilities with the likes of laser tag and bumper boats. If you’re willing to make the drive across the Idaho border, Spokane is also only an hour away from Silverwood Theme Park.

Southern Washington

Camp near Mount St. Helens: starting at $12 per night

Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mount St. Helens is an engaging and exciting way to sneak in some learning on a vacation. The National Forest is 1,368,300 acres of forests, mountains, waterfalls, and volcanoes. After the 1980 eruption, the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was created. Check out the Johnston Ridge Observatory for a view of Mount St. Helens’ remnants, as well as the Coldwater Science and Learning Center for information on the eruption’s effects.

Loowit Falls Hike at Mt. St. Helens National Monument

Camp in Mt. Rainier National Park: no more than $20 per night

The iconic Washington State mountain is an incredible sight. Some great ways to start or end your trip are with views of the mountain at Reflection Lakes or Inspiration Point. Paradise is one of the most popular hiking areas on the mountain and is nearest the Cougar Rock Campground. Skyline Trail to Myrtle Falls is one of the shorter trails in the area while Bench & Snow Lakes Trail, one of the longer trails, has lakes in which to play (weather allowing).

Budget skiing: cheaper, but still expensive at approximately $200 per day

Skiing vacations can easily rack up thousands of dollars in cost, but there are cheaper options. Since Washington State has such great mountains, here are some options to at least consider. First, check out all the deals a resort offers. For example, Crystal Mountain’s five-pack option combined with their “kids free” rule allows for an average of $69 per day for one adult and two children 10 years old and younger: that’s $23 per person for a whole day of skiing at Washington State’s largest ski resort. Second, stay in a nearby city off the mountain. The hour drive to the resort will save you a ton of money in lodging. For Crystal Mountain, Econo Lodge provides rooms with two queen beds starting at $100 per night.

Crystal Mountain

Western Washington

Long Beach Camping: starting at $25 per night

Long Beach Peninsula is an incredible beach getaway on the Pacific Ocean. Wild Wood Campground offers campsites for $25 per night for two adults, an extra $5 per night per extra adult, and no cost for children 16 and younger. Located on 15 acres of the peninsula, the campground is well located to explore the ocean, the bay, and the town of Long Beach. Families can kayak, fish, and rent board games from the campground.

Camping in Olympic National Park/Forest: starting at $12 per night

With family-friendly quiet hours between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., Lake Quinault Campground is a great location between Lake Quinault and the Olympic National Forest—part of the only temperate rain forest ecosystem in North America. Campers are cautioned about the passing bears and wildlife, with a reminder to use appropriate food storage containers. Otherwise, enjoy the waterfalls and hiking trails of the Olympic National Forest, Olympic National Park, and the Olympic Mountains.

Olympic National Forest

Central Washington

Camping in Leavenworth: starting at $30

Leavenworth is an adorable town curled up in the Cascade Mountains, designed as a Bavarian-style vacation destination. Surrounded by the natural recreation opportunities provided by the mountains and the Wenatchee River, the town has multiple events occurring daily. They have a Nutcracker Museum with over 6,000 different nutcrackers. Options like Alpine View Campground offer camping sites for two people at $30 per night, plus $4 per extra person per night. Non-camping accommodations start at $60 at places like Rodeway Inn.

Explore Lake Chelan: starting at $12

Lake Chelan is a common vacation tradition for Washington State locals. Snaking through the Wenatchee National Forest, the lake is 50.5 miles long and the largest natural lake in the state. In addition to typical outdoor recreation options, Slidewaters is the Lake Chelan Water Park with $23 tickets. Camping options at Lake Chelan State Park start at $12 per night, and non-camping accommodations, like at Deep Water Inn, start at $50 per night.

Lake Chelan

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