Family Fun in the Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a place of extremes. Trek through untamed landscapes in Alaska or British Columbia, then hunker down to a warm cup of hot chocolate in Seattle or Portland. The land of Lewis and Clark welcomes families with forward-thinking communities and unspoiled nature.
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With 17 national parks and 16 national wildlife refuges, the possibilities are endless in the Last Frontier. Hike, bike or paddle through rugged mountains and enchanting glaciers. See grizzly bears, bald eagles, bison and other popular Alaska residents at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center or Anchorage Zoo. If you’re here from September to April, you’ll even be able to gaze at the mesmerizing Northern Lights.
Grab your paddles and prepare to get soaked, as Idaho offers the most white water in the lower 48 states. Stroll through underground lava tubes in the Craters of the Moon National Monument and get up close and personal with moose, bats and more in Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge. Thrill seekers will want to visit Roaring Springs Water Park or Silverwood, the largest theme park in the Pacific Northwest.
Big Sky Country is big on outdoor adventure. Enjoy a scenic drive through lush forest and glacial lakes along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Experience family-friendly trails and junior ranger programs at Glacier National Park. Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is sure to be a hit with the family, as colossal limestone caverns await you underground. In Bozeman, head to the Museum of the Rockies to see the world’s biggest T-Rex skull. See the “Niagara of the West” at Twin Falls.
Boasting the most ghost towns in the country, Oregon is just waiting for your family to explore its many historic sites and abandoned buildings. You can also get your adrenaline pumping by playing in the treetops at Tree to Tree Adventure Park or rafting through Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge on the continent. If you’re in Portland in June, visit the Rose Festival for parades, fireworks, fairs and more
Washington is a state of wonders. In Seattle, feast on clam chowder at Pike Place Market and enjoy spectacular views of the city from the Space Needle. Take a scenic drive through Olympic National Park or hike through thousand-year-old trees in Mount Rainier National Park. While you’re here, check out the International Kite Festival and World Kite Museum in Long Beach.
Put on your cowboy boots, because Wyoming is where Wild West spirit endures. Get a glimpse into the state’s cowboy past through a range of museums, historic sites and festivals in the charming towns of Cheyenne and Fort Laramie. In Cody, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West preserves a wild past. See gushing geysers like the famous Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, enjoy a relaxing swim at Hot Springs State Park and don’t miss the famous Devils Tower National Monument.
Alberta’s vast and varied landscape provides the perfect backdrop for family fun. Take the kids on a hike through the Rocky Mountains in Jasper National Park or canoe on dazzling turquoise lakes in Banff National Park. Dinosaur enthusiasts will want to visit the badlands to discover the largest collection of dinosaur fossils in the world. Finish your journey at World Waterpark inside West Edmonton Mall or at the annual Calgary Stampede.
Bursting with mountains, rainforests, beaches and vibrant cities, British Columbia is a year-round playground for all ages. Enjoy world-class skiing and race on ziplines high above the forest ground in Whistler. Swim, fish or waterski on the many lakes in the Okanagan or explore the wild coastline of the Pacific Ocean on Vancouver Island. In Vancouver, the kids will love exploring the Vancouver Aquarium, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, and Science World.
The Northwest Territories are an exhilarating wonderland for both kids and adults. In the winter, see the enchanting lights of Aurora Borealis and go dog sledding through snowy trails. When it’s warmer, enjoy an array of water sports or catch trophy-sized trout on some of the world’s largest and most pristine lakes. Home to the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center, Yellowknife is a great place to learn about the province’s heritage and culture.
Teeming with grasslands, forest, and charming farms, the Saskatchewan landscape makes the perfect destination for the active family. Trek through lush valleys in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, make a splash in Prince Albert National Park’s many lakes, or uncover dinosaur fossils in Grasslands National Park. For more dino fun, stop by the T-Rex Discovery Center and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. Other popular attractions include the Wanuskewin Heritage Park and RCMP Heritage Center.
You’ll strike gold in the Yukon thanks to its world-class fishing, iconic hiking trails, and never-ending sunlight in the summer. Kids will have a blast panning for gold in the historic fields of the famous Klondike Gold Rush and exploring wilderness areas chock full of moose, bison and bears. You can also dive into the stories of Yukon’s early explorers and First Peoples at the Dawson City Museum.