Thrifty Thurston – Places To Play Outside In Olympia



It may be back to school for most Thurston County area kids but the weather report still shows sun in the forecast.

Gather up the last few rays and head outdoors to enjoy the many cool beaches, parks, and outdoor adventures in Thurston County.

Boasting typically mild fall temperatures, these areas are great gathering spots even when the temperature turns cool enough for a sweater.

Here are some suggestions on where to Olympia family’s favorite places to play outside.

A bronze leaf is embedded in the cement at Olympia’s Port Plaza.

Port Plaza

You may have toured the marine boardwalk after stopping at the Olympia Farmer’s Market for an apple.  It’s a popular place to burn some energy on the stairs climbing up and down the three-story tower.  Locals love the scenic lunch spot tucked away from the bustle of the Market and downtown Olympia.

But, have you glanced down while walking through the Port Plaza?  Look a closer here to see the creative features embedded in the cement.

Spot a leaf, mussel, or oyster shell.  Travel to the right, up three low stairs, towards the Port of Olympia.  In this little sanctuary, office supplies have been replicated in bronze in the cement.  Representing the maritime history of the area, office utensils such as pencils, manila envelopes, and a compass are memorialized.

Percival Landing – 217 Thurston Ave NW in Olympia

Travel about one-half mile along the boardwalk from Port Plaza.  The pathway is stroller and wheel-friendly so dig the scooters from the back of the van for some extra fast moving.

Percival Landing is located on the east side of Budd Bay and the southern tip of Puget Sound.

The boardwalk along Percival Landing is a popular place to walk in Olympia.

View the beautiful scenery, boats, and floating homes.  When you arrive at Percival Landing, let the kids loose on the renovated playground.  Or, opt to travel further down the boardwalk to the downtown Olympia fountain for splashing on sunny days.

Tumwater Falls Park – 110 Deschutes Way SW in Tumwater

Iconic images of Olympia typically include a snapshot of the Deschutes River flowing over the Tumwater Falls.  The river ends its journey from the Cascade Mountains to reach Puget Sound.  With the brewery in the background, this shot summarizes Olympia-area history.

Walk along the one-half mile of trails and foot bridges.

In early fall, Tumwater Falls is a mecca for watching the salmon migrate.  Fish viewing can be found the Falls or along the nearby 5th Avenue bridge near Bayview Thriftway.  Watch the salmon migrate from Budd Inlet, across Capitol Lake and up the Deschutes River to spawn.

Burfoot Park – 6927 Boston Harbor Road NE in Olympia

Explore this beachfront park that has all the amenities that families can dream of – covered picnic shelters, playground space for active kids, and miles of trails that wind down to the beach.

Located on Boston Harbor Road, the drive to Burfoot Park is just as serene as the space.  Wander down one path to the beach and then select another route to return to the parking lot.

Travel along the trails at Olympia’s Burfoot Park to reach 1100 feet of shoreline with majestic views of the Olympic Mountains and Capitol dome.

The Thurston County park boasts 1,100 feet of saltwater frontage along Budd Inlet.  Enjoy nature trails and beach access that feature beautiful views of the State Capitol and the Olympic Mountains.  Along the water, your children can hunt for sea life such as crabs, clams, and shells.

LBA Park – 3333 Morse-Merryman Road SE in Olympia

Swing by this neighborhood park on Saturdays in the fall and you will be bombarded with five- and six-year-olds kicking the soccer ball around mini fields.

During these soccer matchups, siblings head over to the massive playground.

Visit this park any other day of the week and you will likely have no wait for the very popular 100’ zip line.  A 13’ rope climbing apparatus, called the Exploradome, offers a variety of ways to reach the top.  Small spinners and a play structure for the little tikes rounds out the green space.

Olympia boasts many other outdoor destinations.  Click on these links for more information about these places to play outside.

East Bay Public Plaza

Olympia Parks: Beyond Burfoot, Priest Point, and Pioneer

Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater Picnic Spots

McLane Creek Nature Trail

Chehalis-Western Trail

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