Seattle Daytrip: Snoqualmie Falls and North Bend With Kids

Last week the kids and I had a rare day with no scheduled commitments, and I decided to take both kids out to see their first big waterfall.

While Seattle (our hometown) isn't exactly a concrete jungle, I'm always mindful of the fact that my kids don't often get the opportunity to see native Washington landscape or where their food comes from first hand. We're lucky that Seattle is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery, and working farmland. We don't have to drive too far to connect with nature.

Snoqualmie falls, a beautiful 270 foot waterfall, is located about 30 miles outside of Seattle. As you cross Lake Washington and head east, the scenery becomes more and more natural. D napped in the car while E and I chattered about seeing fewer houses and more trees. When we pulled off the freeway, I found out that the previously undeveloped area around the falls had become home to hundreds of tract homes! That's something else E hasn't seen a lot of either, and since the Virginia Lee Burton's classic story, "The Little House" has been a favorite in our home lately, we pulled into one of the tracts and drove around. We talked about how the trees had been cut down, roads had been built, and the houses had been built out in the country, just like in the story, and then we made a point of noticing some "country houses" as we headed towards the falls.

I'd be painting an unrealistic picture of a typical Seattle daytrip if I didn't share the fact that the weather got wetter and wetter as we headed towards the falls. We were lucky that the rain let up as we arrived, but it was still very misty, and both kids got their rain gear on to view the falls. We took a quick trip up to the observation deck, where the spray from the waterfall made us even wetter. During the summertime, a hike down to the base of the waterfall would have delivered the perfect picnic spot at the edge of the river, but instead the un-June-like weather sent us back to the car in a hurry.

Luckily, Salish Lodge, an upscale resort next to the falls, has a bistro overlooking the falls. We walked in just as they opened, and E chose the table with the best view of the falls just for us. On a normal day, corralling my two small kids in a nice restaurant by myself might have been challenging, and I worried about how we'd all do. My worry was unfounded. The "Attic Bistro" had a kids menu, hot chocolate, and high-chairs. My kids were so delighted by the chance to watch the waterfall from the warmth of the restaurant that they asked me to stay after I had finished my own meal (a smoked bacon and frisee salad with a cup of smoked salmon chowder). E, who has entered the age of "Why" seemingly had hundreds of questions about the river and the waterfall.

After lunch, we drove a few minutes to sleepy North Bend's historic downtown. Made famous by David Lynch's Twin Peaks. The town's highlight for kids is the Northwest Railway Museum with its old luggage room and lots of (not-for-climbing) railway cars lined up along the old railroad tracks. On weekends (schedules change frequently, so call for details) the museum runs one of the historic trains to Snoqualmie and back. The kids enjoyed looking at the old railroad cars even though they were too young to appreciate the detailed plaques that described each one. Midway through a delightful day, E was feeling so affectionate towards his little sister that he helped her walk up and down the wooden stairs outside the museum until even she finally tired of practicing her stair skills (pictured).

After visiting the trains, we took a quick walk down the town's main street. North Bend is touristed just enough to have old fashioned mom & pop shops along its main drag that are interesting, but not upscale. First on my list was the Snoqualmie Falls Candy Factory, a small cafe where you can watch through glass windows as empoyees make caramel corn, fudge, or salt water taffy. We also wandered into the "La Chichinita Mexican Store." I'm always a sucker for Mexican pastry, and we picked up a few of the sweet treats to take home. I hustled the kids back to the car before they noticed the small toystore also located on the main drag.

We wound our way along country roads, back home to Seattle, passing cows and horses on the way. Both kids drifted happily off to sleep, and I ended with some well deserved peace and quiet once we arrived home. I expect we'll visit again this summer, when the weather is better. Perhaps we will even work in a short hike along Rattlesnake Lake or explore the base of Mt Si. If the kids are really in a good mood, we might even score some bargains at the North Bend Premium Outlets

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Seattle With Kids

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  1. Leslie Irish Evans on June 26, 2008 at 12:30 p.m.

    Aww! That picture of E and D is the sweetest thing!

  2. Rebekah on January 25, 2012 at 11:31 p.m.

    We are looking into a family trip to Seattle. I have a list from a friend, and your posts about the city, but I think I'm more interested in taking in the landscape and it's natural beauty. This post helps, thanks.

  3. Debbie on January 26, 2012 at 8:43 p.m.

    You're right, I think a lot of Seattle visitors spend part of their trip checking out the natural scenery that we take for granted ;)