11 Adventures For Kids In Olympic National Park

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Olympic National Park is a magical place to visit with kids.  The foliage is absolutely stunning, and within the park you will see three very diverse ecosystems: alpine mountains, temperate rainforest, and beaches.  We love visiting Olympic National Park with kids because there is literally SO MUCH to do in such a small area.  We recently visited with our 5 kids ages 4-14, so we got to experience the best of Olympic National Park for kids of all ages.

Weather In Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park receives more rainfall than any other national park in the United States.  The park is hugely diverse, encompassing temperate rainforest, alpine mountains, and coastal areas.  The Hoh Rainforest section of Olympic National Park receives more than 12 feet of rain annually, and it rains more days than it doesn’t, so plan on getting wet on your trip.  Additionally, the weather is often colder to accompany that rain. 

counting tree rings in Olympic National park

During our visit in June, we didn’t see temperatures above 50 degrees and the lows were in the 30’s – this is normal weather for Olympic National Park in early summer. In July and August, the temperatures can get into the 70’s, but it still cools down a lot at night.

12 Fun Things To Do With Kids In Olympic National Park

There is no shortage of kid friendly activities at Olympic National Park and all of them involve connecting your kids with nature. Plan on spending lots of time out in the fresh air, and using lots of energy every day so bring lots of healthy snacks.

Make sure to also read:
The Perfect 2 Day Olympic National Park Itinerary With Kids
Essentials To Pack for Olympic National Park
Best Hikes With Kids in Olympic National Park
Where to Stay in Olympic National Park

hiking in quinault rain forest

1. Go Swimming At A Hot Springs in Olympic National Park

Sol Duc Hot springs with kids

There are some really amazing natural hot springs in Olympic National Park, but the easiest hot spring to get to is Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort.  Here there are 3 small hot springs pools and one large swimming pool full of cold water.  This is one of the best things to do with kids in Olympic National Park on a rainy day, where the warm water feels amazing.  Note: As of June 2021, you can only stay in the pool for 90 minutes and reservations are highly recommended.  

2. Build A Driftwood Fort

Driftwood forts in Washington

One of the major parts of Olympic is the beach and there are some amazing and wild beaches. For a fun way to play and explore, head to Kalaloch Beach where there is lots of driftwood. Driftwood is lighter than regular logs, so it’s great to us for building forts with kids in Olympic National Park.

3. Go For A Hike in Olympic

Sol Duc Falls hike

The absolute best thing to do in Olympic National Park with kids is to go hiking.  We’ve written up a separate article all about the Best Hikes For Kids In Olympic National Park.  Here are our top suggestions:

Hurricane Ridge: Hurricane Hill Hike, 3.2 miles
The Hoh Rainforest: The Spruces Trail, 1.2 miles
Kalaloch: Ruby Beach 0.6 miles

4. Borrow an Olympic National Park Discovery Pack

Kids can learn all about Olympic National Park by borrowing a Discovery Backpack.  Complete with binoculars, field guides, a naturalist journal, magnifying glass and more to help kids really connect with nature here.  With a suggested donation of $5, this a great deal and so much fun for the kids. 
Note: during COVID, these backpacks are not available (the program had not be started again as of June 2021)

5. Explore A Waterfall

Olympic national park waterfalls

Olympic gets more rain than any other National Park in the US, so it’s no surprise that you can find waterfalls all over.  Our favorite waterfalls to explore with kids are Sol Duc Falls and Marymere falls.  Both hikes are absolutely gorgeous, though we did prefer the trail to Sol Duc Falls more since it is full of lots of smaller cascades along the way.  

6. Play In The Snow

hiking hurricane ridge in the snow with kids

Want to get a taste of snow, even in the summer? At the top of Hurricane Ridge, you’ll find snow that usually lasts until July, so it’s a great place to play in the snow.  In the winter, you can come up here and go sledding and tubing, and in the summer, it’s the perfect place to cool down with a snowball fight.  While you’re up there, remember that the weather can change fast, so be prepared with lots of layers.  We started our morning there with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 50’s and by the time we finished our hike at Hurricane Hill, we were in little blizzard. 

7. Kayak Crescent Lake

Crescent Lake is one of the best places for water play and swimming around Olympic National Park.  THe northern shoreline is about 12 miles long and all along the shore you’ll see places to rent kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards.  Crescent Lake is pretty cold so this is the best thing to do in Olympic National Park on a hot day.  

8. Visit A Rainforest

The hoh rainforest with kids

For a completely unique experience, make sure to visit the rainforests of Olympic National Park with kids.  Both The Hoh Rainforest and Quinault Rainforest are spectacular for kids.  If you want to escape the crowds, head to Quinault Rainforest.  While it’s a bit off the beaten path, it’s stunningly beautiful and is rarely very crowded.  

9. Earn A Junior Ranger Badge

If you want your kids to really learn a lot about Olympic National Park, make sure that they participate in the Junior Ranger program.  There’s no cost to participate and the booklets about the park are really informative for kids visiting Olympic National Park.  This is a great way for kids to learn all about the diversity in the park, even if you don’t have a chance to visit every different area.

Junior ranger badge

10. Earn an Ocean Stewards Patch

If you’re planning on visiting any of the beaches at Olympic National Park for kids, you’ll want to have them participate in the Ocean Stewards Junior Ranger Program.  Similar to the Junior Ranger badge program, the Ocean Stewards program shows kids how to be good stewards of the environment and take care of the beaches and oceans in Olympic.  As a reward, kids can earn a patch for everything they earned.  This program is for kids ages 4 and older. 

11. Explore Tide Pools

Sea star at washington beach

One of the absolute best ways to teach kids about the ocean is through tide pools.  At tide pools kids can get an up close view at sea life and really observe it to learn about it.  Kalaloch Beach has some of the best tide pools in Olympic National park and is a great place to teach kids about sea life.  Remember, do not touch or disturb the sea life, just observe it.  This is a great place to do all the work to earn an Ocean Stewards Patch.  

12. Play At The Beach

Best Beaches For Kids in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is full of amazing and beautiful beaches to explore.  With a wild Washington coastline, not all of these beaches are easily accessible, or kid friendly.  Here are our favorite kid friendly beaches in Olympic National park:

Second Beach

This beach has about a 0.5 mile walk to get to it, but it’s absolutely worth it.  When you get there, you’ll be rewarded with soft sand to play in and large sea stacks to admire from shore.  The best part about visiting second beach is that it’s one of the least crowded beaches in Olympic National Park.  Note: The trail to and from the beach is a bit steep in places, so be mindful of that and don’t try and carry too much down to the beach.  

First Beach

This family friendly Olympic National Park beach is located on reservation land, so while it’s near Olympic, it’s technically not in the park.  It has some soft sand to play in and the water is protected in a cove, so you won’t have as many big waves to deal with.  

Kalaloch Beach

This beach was heaven for our kids.  Not only do you get to enjoy a beautiful beach, but there are loads of driftwood on this kid friendly Olympic National Park beach.  Our kids loved building little forts and play areas here and could have easily stayed all day if we had let them.

Ruby Beach

This is one of the most beautiful beaches in Olympic National Park for families.  There is a short walk (about 0.3 miles) to get to the beach and once you get there, most of the beach is covered in round stones.  This beach is great to spend a short chunk at, especially since there isn’t as much sand as other beaches in Olympic.  Note: at high tide, access to the sea stacks can quickly be cut off by the rising water.

ruby beach with kids

Rialto Beach

This is one of the most popular beaches in Olympic National Park because of its close proximity to the town of Forks.  If you want to show your kids what a rugged and wild Washington beach is, Rialto is the beach to take them to.  This is the best Olympic beach for finding rocks, and when the sea is calm you can often spot seals or whales from shore.

Best Beaches For Toddlers in Olympic National Park

If you want a good beach to visit with toddlers in Olympic National Park, head to First Beach.  This beach is has more soft sand than other beaches in the area, and the ocean is also a little bit protected by a cove.  This beach is on reservation land, so while not technically part of the national park, it’s right next to it, and is so incredible.

Best Things To Do In Olympic National Park With Toddlers

Toddlers will absolutely love exploring this National Park.  The best places to visit in Olympic National Park with toddlers are Hoh Rainforest and the beaches listed above since there are so many things for them to explore.  In Hoh Rainforest, both the Hall of Mosses and Spruces trails are shorter toddler friendly hikes, both right around a mile.  At this distance, you don’t need to feel like you’re always needing to carry your toddler so you can actually finish the hike, but you can let them explore.  On both of these hikes, toddlers will love looking at all the giant ferns (bigger than they are), and overturning rocks and sticks to look for bugs.  Honestly, if you have a little one who loves to be outside, they’ll be in heaven on these toddler friendly Olympic National Park hikes.  

Hiking olympic national park with kids

What To Pack For Olympic National Park With Kids

After visiting nearly 20 National Parks in the United States, I felt like we were prepared for whatever we would encounter on our west coast road trip.  Even though we followed all the advice that we regulary share with others about how to pack and dress for family adventures, we still found ourselves unprepared.  A few emergency pieces of gear were purchased, and we quickly learned that what to pack for Olympic National Park is very different than what to pack for most national parks.  

For more detailed information check out our Olympic National Park packing guide.

What to pack for Olympic National Park with Kids

Waterproof Hiking Shoes

These are an absolute necessity.  Even if it’s not raining while you’re hiking in Olympic, there will still be mud and water in many places along the trail.  Check out our review of the top kids hiking shoes to find hiking shoe options that work well for your kids.

hiking with kids in olympic

Waterproof Rain Jackets

Make sure to pack waterproof rain jackets for everyone in the family.  In fact, if you’re hiking with kids in Olympic, consider getting the younger kids these full body rain suits, and the older kids rain jackets and rain pants.  These are our favorite rain suits for kids, kids rain jackets, and kids rain pants for hiking.

Merino Wool Socks

Even with waterproof hiking shoes, your feet will still get a little wet.  Merino wool works amazingly well when wet since it wicks moisture away from your skin and insulates even when wet.  These are an absolute must for packing for a visit to Olympic National Park. Check out the best kids wool hiking socks.

Fun Books About Olympic National Park For Kids

Olympic National Park Junior Notebook For Kids

This book is a great little notebook and is really affordable.  I highly recommend grabbing this if you have kids who are old enough to write so they can record their adventures here.  

Who Pooped In The Park: Scat Tracks For Kids

I’ll admit, my kids were really attracted to this book because it talks about poop, but it’s actually really cute and educational too. The book follows two kids as they explore Olympic National Park and teaches about the animals in the park and how to identify them by their scat. One of the best kids books about Olympic National Park.

Who’s BUTT?

Another book inspired by potty humor, this book is geared towards younger kids and is actually really cute. It’s a good book to teach kids about animals, and also really engaging since it keeps kids guessing what butt they’re looking at.

National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide

We’ve had this book for years (an older edition) and it’s one of our family favorites. If you want your kids to learn about National Parks all across the country, this is a must buy book. A great Olympic National Park book for kids to introduce them to the park.

The National Parks Coloring Book

This coloring book features Olympic National Park as well as all the other parks in the US, and is a great one to bring along on your travels. If you’re wanting to visit a lot of US National Parks with kids, this is a great book to have and let your kids color each parks page after you visit.

About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

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