Nature’s Calling: 7 Eco Tours to Take with Your Wild Bunch

With spring starting to bloom and more sun in our skies, now’s the time for Seattle families to enjoy local outdoor tours. More than an opportunity to get kids outside, these guided (and a few self-guided) nature and farm tours let kids learn about everything from native plants and wildlife to what life is like on a farm. Who knows, they may even spot a bald eagle or whale, too. Check our these awesome eco-tours for families, and don’t forget to bring your binoculars.

Take a Farm Field Trip

Calling all future farmers or budding gardeners! This family friendly tour helps visitors understand sustainable farm practices. As you wander the fields you'll learn best practices for healthy soil, air and water. Families will also learn how to produce vegetables, herbs and other food, great skills to bring to your home garden. We love that there are taste tests along the way, and that kids will have the chance to meet some farm animals up close. Plan to spend about an hour on the outing ad dress for it too.

Good to know: The tour can accommodate up to 12 people per group. Parents are not included in the fee. For a group of 12 kids, two to three adults is recommended to attend.

Dates & Time: Wed., Sat. & Sun., 1 p.m., starting Apr. 14
Cost: $100 (for up to 8 people); $13/person, up to 4 additional
Ages: All

Carnation Farms
28901 N.E. Carnation Farm Rd.
Carnation, WA 98014
Online: carnationfarms.org

Find Wildlife with a Park Ranger

Get to know Juanita Bay Park and the amazing wildlife that call this 110-acre oasis home. On the first Sunday of the month, families can join Park Rangers from the Eastside Audubon Society to see how many critters you can you spot in their natural habitat around the park. Psst...binoculars are the most fashionable accessory for this trip. Wondering what you'll see along this tour? Keep your eyes peeled for amphibians, turtles, raptors and beavers as you walk the peaceful trails and listen to the rangers. If the timing doesn't work for you, you can always bring your wild bunch to tour the park on your own. You'll find helpful interpretive signs along the trail so you can learn as you go.

Insider tip: Looking for more? There are Juanita Bay Bird Walks hosted at 8 a.m. every third Tuesday of the month as well.

Dates & Times: First Sundays, 1 p.m.
Cost: Free
Age: 6 & up

Juanita Bay Park
2201 Market St.
Kirkland, WA 98033
Online: kirklandwa.gov

photo: iStock

Bring Binoculars to Go Birding

Bird enthusiasts will want to breakout their binoculars and register early for this seasonal spring bird watching tour at Discovery Park. You'll need to register in advance for these guided walks where families hope to see birds returning to the Pacific Northwest where they make their summer home. Better than spotting them in your backyard, it's a chance for kids to learn about birds that live in our area year-round. If self-guided is more your thing, check out the Salmon Bay Walking Tour that runs from the Environmental Learning Center through the Locks and eventually ends at Golden Gardens. It's another chance to enjoy the rich eco-system of the Salmon Bay area.

Good to know: Discovery Park is also a salmon spying hot spot during the spawning season, from March through October.

Insider tip: A special celebration is scheduled on May 14 for International Migratory Bird Day.

Dates & Times: Sat., 8-10 a.m.
Cost: $3
Ages: All

Discovery Park
3801 Discovery Park Blvd.
Seattle, WA 98199
Online: parkways.seattle.gov

Go on a Self-Guided Tour

For families looking to keep their own pace on a nature hike that includes a history lesson, head to Seward Park. The Seward Park self-guided tour will loop families around the shoreline of the park and through trails to learn about the full history of the area—from family ownership, to city land, with stops that show bed rock, special trees and plants, as well as what remains of an old hatchery from 1935. This means flexibility to go the full loop or end early at a park bench for snack time.

Insider tip: Sign up for a morning guided tour offered by the Seward Park Audubon Society if you're looking for a change of pace.

Cost: Free
Ages: All

Seward Park
5898 Lake Washington Blvd. S.
Seattle, WA 98101
Online: seattleolmsted.org

photo: Rachael Brandon

Explore with a Naturalist

Take a trip south to visit the Tacoma Nature Center and learn about native plants and animals that live along Snake Lake. These tours are led by a naturalist, and usually last just under an hour, the perfect time from for the littlest explorers. Along the waterfront you'll see frogs, turtles, birds and maybe even snakes. Add in learning about the native plants and you'll feel like a true brainiac by the time the tour is over. Bonus: Each group receives a laminated guide to use on future hikes, which will make the kids experts by the year's end. To secure your favorite date, be sure to book two weeks in advance. Don't forget to stop at the nature playground before you head home.

Insider tip: Add in the Turtle Time program, designed for kids ages 3 and up, for a full afternoon of fun!

Dates & Times: Mon.-Fri. & some Sat.; hours vary
Cost: $30/Members; $35/Non-members
Ages: All

Tacoma Nature Center
4702 S. 19th St.
Tacoma, WA 98405
Online: metroparkstacoma.org/tnc-family-nature-experience

Play Wetland Bingo on a Walk

As Seattle’s largest urban farm, Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands' community site gives families an opportunity to learn about farming and the natural wetlands of the area. It is co-operated by Friends of Rainier Beach Park and Tilth Alliance. Families can take a self-guided tour by playing Wetland Bingo and casually visit the site to tour the crops around the farm. You'll find u-pick plots and a family of four bald eagles nesting in a tree nearby, among other animals that frequent the area. The farm's Facebook page is where you'll find more educational opportunities and updated information on community programs.

Cost: Free
Ages: All

Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands
5513 S. Cloverdale St.
Seattle, WA 98118
Online: tilthalliance.org

Search for Whales on the Water

If you’re looking for a full day of adventure with kids, check out Clipper Vacations’ half-day Whale Watching Tour that starts at Pier 69 in downtown Seattle. The boat tour is guided by an onboard Naturalist who will teach families about the ecosystem within the Salish Sea. You’ll find PNW beauty on the tour while also catching glimpses of orca whales, humpback whales and other sea and wild life (fingers crossed!). Pack your food, or order on board. And if you're not lucky enough to spot one of our city's most elusive marine creatures, not to worry, Clipper will provide each family with a complimentary tour.

Dates: Tue.-Thu., May 17-Sep. 1, 2022
Cost: $129/Adult; $79/Child (1-11)
Ages: All

Pier 69
2209 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA
Online: clippervacations.com

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