Whenever the sun pops out and the temperatures rise, it’s a cause for celebration in the Skagit Valley. There is no shortage of fun, family-oriented things to do, and many of them won’t cost you a dime. We all know it’s important to get your kids off their phones, tablets and gaming systems for fresh air, exercise and family bonding time. As a busy parent, it can be hard to come up with new and interesting things to do, that will peak kids’ interests. If you are at a loss for ideas, check out this list of free things to do with your kids in Skagit County when the weather is good. It’s sure to get your kids away from that screen.
While state park lands require the use of a Discover Pass, city and county parks are free and require no parking permit. Fortunately, Skagit County has a number of great places to soak up the sunshine and beauty of a nice day without state fees.
Sharpe Park, on the southwestern corner of Fidalgo Island, features a handful of trails to walk and picnic tables to stop at for lunch. The park also has several lookout points that provide scenic views of the Salish Sea and surrounding islands.
In Mount Vernon, Skagit Valley Playfields is an excellent place to get some physical activity. The park area has a playground, picnic shelter and several baseball diamonds with plenty of green space. Play kickball, catch, or Ultimate Frisbee, as there is plenty of space to roam.
Burlington’s Skagit River Park also has a range of fun activity sites. There are horseshoe pits, a playground, and 80 acres of playfields for soccer, baseball, Frisbee and lacrosse. Skagit River Park even has radio control racing tracks, walking trails, and access to the Skagit River.
These are just a few examples, as there are dozens of parks in the area. For a full range of county parks, check out this webpage.
Take a Historic Barn Tour
As a staple of any farm or rural homestead, the barn is a time-honored structure that can be as beautiful as it is useful. In the Skagit Valley, there’s no shortage of them around, and some are more than 100 years old! That’s why the Skagit County Historical Museum created a self-guided heritage barn tour with more than 50 historic barns.
All you need is your cellphone to get started on visiting and learning about these awesome buildings. Entering each barn’s number into your phone gives you an audio recording with information on that barn, including build date, roof style, agricultural use and historic background.
Watch Some Wildlife
From the mountains to Puget Sound, the Skagit Valley offers numerous chances to glimpse the area’s diverse wildlife. Birding is especially plentiful year-round. Along the Skagit River, see eagles nesting and diving for salmon. In low-lying fields, watch flocks of snow geese and swans. Near the ocean, glimpse a majestic blue heron.
A few miles west of Concrete, off State Route 20, Hurn Field is the place to watch elk, grazing and resting. At times of peak activity, usually in winter or spring, dozens of the magnificent mammals can be seen. Be sure to bring your binoculars or a telephoto camera lens for a closer look!
For an especially cute and up-close visit, be sure to take your children to the grassy area behind The Eatery at Glacier Peak Resort, off Route 20 near Marblemount. There, you’ll find bunches of bunnies hopping and grazing.
Take a Hike or Ride a Bike
Skagit County offers countless trails and roads on which to hike and bike. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or roll, or something to physically challenge the whole family, you can find it. Bicycling along the flat roads of Skagit farmland, past daffodils or tulip fields in early spring, is especially lovely and picturesque. As always when riding, wear helmets, be alert for vehicles, and stay hydrated.
From short hikes to all-day affairs, local trails can be found in every county landscape, from seaside to mountaintop. Especially fun is taking your children geocaching or letterboxing, where you use GPS or other clues to find small containers, sign and date the logbooks inside, and then write about your hunt online.
The long coastlines and sandy beaches of Skagit County offer children a chance to have a whole lot of fun. Building a sand castle, finding the smoothest and flattest rocks, exploring a tide pool, taking a dip, or having a picnic are just some of the options.
Beaches in Skagit County include fresh water options along the Skagit River and local lakes, while saltwater beaches are in no short supply, either. Check out Sharpe and Washington Parks for non-state park options on Fidalgo Island.