After a year plus of quarantine and a cold winter of being cooped up inside, many families are feeling the need to get outside and do fun activities together, safely! Here are 10 ideas for things to do over Spring Break, and they all follow the state’s current guidelines to keep your family healthy.
Take a Drive on the Wild Side
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is just 45 minutes south of Tacoma and offers unique experiences to allow your family to get up close to animals like American bison, mountain goats, caribou, bighorn sheep, Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer and trumpeter swans. The 50-minute Wild Drive allows families to stay in their own car while driving through the park’s 435-acre Free Roaming Area past serene meadows, shady wetlands and green forests. Or, if you’re feeling even more adventurous, sign up for a Keeper Adventure Tour and go off-road in an open-air Jeep with a keeper to search for any hidden animals. Both experiences include admission to the walking paths of Northwest Trek, where you can follow paths that lead you past eagles, a cougar, bobcats, wolves, bears, river otters and more! Bonus: let your children get their wiggles out at Kids’ Trek, a nature-inspired playground complete with ropes, slides, playhouses and a giant climbing tree!
Explore Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium!
See hammerhead sharks, green sea turtles, tigers, gibbons, a polar bear, sea otters and so much more! Point Defiance Zoo has plenty of premiere animal encounters the entire family will enjoy! Try out any one of their Zoo 4 You programs and you’ll leave with a smile on your face and a new appreciation for animals and how the keepers and aquarists care for them. Meet the Groovy Goats and give them the ultimate spa day: brush them, pat them, scratch their eats and feed them! Or take a Wild Zoo Tour with a knowledgeable guide and have the entire zoo to yourself before it opens. Or, for the extra-adventurous, go eye-to-eye with sharks underwater and learn how you can help sharks in the wild.
Play Chutes and Ladders!
Check out the real-life Chutes and Ladders near Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park for both children and adults alike! There’s a series of six slides to quickly get down the 60-foot slope from the Wilson Way Bridge to the beautiful marina below. Make sure to look up as you slide and take in the sweeping Puget Sound views. If you’d rather just watch your kids slide down, there are stairs next to each slide as well.
Explore a New Path
Take a break and take a walk. In Tacoma there are over 87 miles of trails to choose from. A good strategy to keep your distance from others is to skip the popular locations and check out some of the lesser-used parks throughout town. From the longer trails at McKinley Park, Titlow Park and Swan Creek Park to shorter paths at Manitou Park, Wapato Park, Puget Park and others, there is something for everyone to discover and enjoy. Download trail maps at www.metroparkstacoma.org/trails.
Lend a Hand
Give back to your community and volunteer! Metro Parks Tacoma manages over 2,696 acres of parks and green space, historic landmarks, beautiful gardens and special attractions that give us all a chance to get out and play more. Spend a few hours and invest your time and talent to help keep our parks and green spaces beautiful. Join a work party at China Lake on April 3 or Franklin Park on April 10or at other locations throughout the month. View the schedule and pre-register at metroparkstacoma.org/volunteer.
Climb to New Heights
Pack a picnic and bring the kids to the new outdoor climbing area at the First Creek Community Space on Tacoma’s Eastside. These boulders are part of a movement to make climbing more inclusive and accessible and were designed to help build trust, strengthen community, and inspire the next generation of explorers. The site includes a picnic area and is located next to Eastside Community Center, Swan Creek Park and along the Pipeline Trail. The Trust for Public Land created this space through a national partnership with The North Face and support from Kaiser Permanente along with other partners. In the next three years The Trust for Public Land will also be working to build five Green Schoolyard projects on Tacoma’s eastside with support from Metro Parks Tacoma and Tacoma Public Schools.
Enjoy a Sunset Picnic
There is no shortage of waterfront in Tacoma, and this time of year the sunsets can be downright amazing. Combine the two for a family picnic that will long be remembered. The west-facing beaches are perfect for watching the sun go down, but the sky will show off with pink and orange hues at all of the beaches in Tacoma. So pack up your family, bring your favorite picnic, and settle in to relax and watch the sunset. View a list of Tacoma parks with beaches on Puget Sound.
Travel Back in Time
Visit Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, the first globally connected settlement on the Puget Sound, established in 1833 by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a fur trading outpost. Experience daily life like it was in the 1850s at a regional trade and agriculture center. Volunteers and staff dress like the time period and engage visitors in the work and crafts of the mid-19th century.
Discover a Nature Oasis
Visit the Tacoma Nature Center, a 70-acre nature preserve encompassing Snake Lake and the surrounding wetlands and forest. There are more than two miles of soft-surfaced walking trails
that wander through the wetlands and forest areas. There’s also a half-mile outdoor access route for wheelchairs. Round out your walk at Discovery Pond, a natural play area for children designed to inspire creative play and environmental learning with features like a tree house, slide inside a hollow log and pond with waterfalls and log crossing.
Play Agents of Discovery at Three Local Parks
Perfect for families looking to spend time outdoors, Agents of Discovery is a free, educational mobile app designed to get youth active, engaged and learning about the world around them. Download the app, then visit the Tacoma Nature Center, Wright Park or Titlow Park to play. A play-at-home Mission for Wapato Park is also available. The app sends game prompts which are geo-triggered as participants walk through the parks. The game is free to download and once downloaded does not require any data or WiFi to play.