Seattle, Washington is a great place for a family trip. There is a lot to do here both in the city and the surrounding areas. The city itself is located on the Puget Sound, so the western end of the city borders the water. One of the best way to get the true Seattle experience is to stay on the other end of the sound and take a ferry into the city for your visit.
There are several RV and state parks located near the ferry terminals at Bainbridge Island or Bremerton which can take you straight to the city. The other advantage to staying in this area is that you will have easy access to Olympic National Park and the many quaint seaside towns on the Olympic Peninsula like Port Townsend and Sequim. Also, taking the ferry into the city is affordable, convenient, easy and gives you an amazing view of the city skyline as you arrive. The ferry terminal is located on the waterfront where several great attractions like the Seattle Aquarium, The Seattle Great Wheel, and several great restaurants and entertainment venues.
Just three blocks inland from the waterfront is First Street. If you walk from the ferry terminal up to First Street and turn left you will find shopping and restaurants leading to Pikes Place Market. Just before arriving at Pikes Place Market you will find the Pike Brewing Company. This is a great place to stop in for lunch. They serve a killer burger, have great beer and the atmosphere is pretty unique.
Just behind the brewing company is Post Alley, home of the “Gum Wall” which is as disgusting as it is beautiful. Make sure you continue on to Pike Place Market. Just inside the main market entrance to the right, there is a flower shop that makes amazing bouquets at equally amazing prices. Across the entrance from the flower shop is the seafood market known for throwing fish. The original Starbucks is just down the alley and is a popular place to stop. Most people only walk the main level, but the market is much bigger. There are several levels in the back with some very interesting art shops and other novelties which are worth a visit.
Places to stay include Manchester State Park in Port Orchard, WA which has 35 campsites. Fay-Bainbridge Park is a city park located on the Northeast shore of Bainbridge Island with 26 campsites. There are three RV parks just off Bainbridge Island including Cedar Glen RV Park, Eagle Tree RV
Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the lesser-visited parks in the park system even though it is one of the most interesting. Located in Northern California in the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains, it allows you to witness first hand the volcanic activity that is present all along the west coast. While the active thermal features here are not as extensive as those in Yellowstone, they are fueled by a different mechanism and give you a first-hand view into the 'Ring of Fire”.
The lower visitation rates for this park are an added bonus. You won't have to fight crowds here as you may in other parks. This will allow for a much more peaceful and personal experience. The majority of the thermal features are concentrated in the southwestern portion of the park near the Bumpass Hell area where you'll find hot lakes, fumaroles and boiling mud puts.
The main camping area is in the Manzanita Lakes region at the northwest entrance. There are 179 sites there with a recommended maximum RV size of 40 feet.
Crater Lake National Park is great place for a day trip. Crater Lake is a lake formed in the cone of an old volcano. At nearly 2,000 feet deep, this is the deepest lake in the United States. It is also one of the clearest lakes in the world, with measured water visibility over 130 feet, because the water comes exclusively from rain and snowmelt.
The depth and clarity of the water give the lake its deep blue appearance for which it is famous. The main attraction is the lake which can be viewed on all sides by traveling the excellent rim road. Be sure to take a couple of hours and drive it, stopping at some of the many viewpoints to take in the views. There is quite a bit of diversity as you travel around.
There are many other things to do in the park. There are several hiking trails throughout the surrounding areas. This area of Oregon is also known for its many beautiful waterfalls. There are several within a short drive from the park.
Staying here is easy too. There is the Mazama campground in the park which can accommodate RVs and tent campers alike. From Rt 97 you'll enter the park on RT 62 from the south. About a mile before entering the park you'll pass the Annie Creek Sno-Park on the right side of the road. Here you'll find a large paved parking lot that is free to camp in during the warmer months. This is a boondocking area so there are no hookups at all but it's free, easy to get to and the skies on a clear night are amazing.
A short drive from Seattle is Mount Rainier National Park. This park encompasses the iconic 14,410 foot active volcanic peak which is a hallmark of the skyline surrounding Seattle.
From the Seattle area, the easiest section of the park to visit is Paradise. The aptly named section of the park sits at 5,400 feet up the southern face of the mountain and features a ranger station, the Paradise Inn and numerous hiking trailheads. This area gets over 600 inches of snow a year which doesn't melt off until July. Be sure to check road conditions before attempting to visit. If the area is closed then try visiting areas located further down the mountain.
The best time to visit is just after the snow melts off in mid to late July. This is when the wildflowers bloom, covering the alpine meadows surrounding the Inn and ranger station with a blanket of color. This is one of the most popular areas in the park and during peak season it can be a tough visit.
There is plenty of parking if you arrive early so plan on arriving in Paradise (it's an hour drive from the southwest gate) by 9am. Once there, visit the ranger station to get the latest trail conditions. If it's open and you're up for it then hike the Skyline Trail. The first mile is steep and strenuous. After that it gets a little easier and the views are absolutely worth it. For a shorter, easier hike try Myrtle Falls. It's about a mile, relatively flat and the falls a gorgeous.
Eastcreek Campground is a great place to stay. This smaller park is nestled among old-growth forest next to a small river just outside the park. It is quiet, easy to get to and provides a true Pacific Northwest camping experience.
Reno, Nevada is known as the “Biggest Little City in the World”. It has similar entertainment and gambling options to those you would find in Las Vegas without the over the top excess. One of the best areas to visit with the family is the Riverwalk District. This area offers a great way to enjoy the beauty of the river and surrounding city. The National Automobile Museum, The Discovery - Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum and other attractions are all located within walking distance of the Riverwalk.
Reno is also located just 22 miles from Lake Tahoe. It may just be one of the shortest drives that allows you to go from a dry desert city to a lush mountain lake or ski resort anywhere in the world. The Lake Tahoe area is known as a vacation destination and is well worth the short trip from Reno.
Shamrock RV Park is an excellent choice for a stay in Reno. It is located just off RT-395 as you come into town from the northwest.