Thrifty Thurston Lists 25 Free Things To Do with Kids in Olympia

visit olympia
A visit to downtown Olympia includes a host of free activities including walking Capitol Lake and playing in the fountain.


By Kate Scriven

VCB logoWhatever your yardstick for marking the start of summer – school calendar, summer solstice, or weather patterns – we can all agree it’s coming (or here) and most of us are pretty happy about that.

With the warm temperatures, more open schedules, and kids home from school, you’ll have time to explore and enjoy the Olympia area’s parks, beaches, events, and experiences. So, put away the rain boots and grab the sunscreen because adventure awaits.

visit olympia
A visit to downtown Olympia includes a host of free activities including walking Capitol Lake and playing in the fountain.

Here is our list of 25 free things to do with your kids this summer. Some are old standbys and some may be new to you. How many can you check off before Labor Day?

  1. Explore the newly renovated Woodard Bay Conservation Area. Take a picnic to enjoy the sandy, rocky shore and newly installed picnic tables.
  2. Stroll through West Bay Park and read the newly installed poetry. Use it to inspire your own kids to write about their day.
  3. Tour area historic homes for local history at the Crosby House, Bigelow House, and Schmidt House.
  4. Find all seven memorials dotting the Capitol Campus. Nine other campus activities found here.
  5. Walk the Percival Landing Boardwalk. If visiting on a Saturday or Sunday, board the Sand Man Tugboat for a free tour.
  6. Play and picnic at Tolmie State Park. Bring your Discover Pass or go on free days this summer found here.
  7. Grab a free apple for your kids at the Olympia Farmers Market Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  8. Tap your toes at an outdoor concert during Music in the Park or Lacey’s In Tune Concert series.
  9. Marvel at massive sandcastles and build one of your own at the Hands On Children’s Museum Sand in the City event held August 22 and 23.
  10. Cool off in the East Bay Public Plaza stream. Stroll next door to the LOTT Wet Science Center to learn where all that water comes from.
  11. Cruise one of our area beaches to find treasures and cool off. Pick a day with local Beach Naturalists and learn a lot, too.
  12. Sign up for Marine Creature Mondays at the Boston Harbor Marina held Mondays from July 20 to August 24 at 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
  13. Take in a free outdoor movie at Huntamer Park. Bring you blanket, snacks and all the kids. Details can be found here.
  14. March in the Pet Parade with your four legged family members on August 15.
  15. Enjoy the sounds of the Olympia Symphony Orchestra at their summer free concert at the state capitol campus on July 26.
  16. Earn your Junior Refuge Manager badge at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge this summer.
  17. Join the fun each Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. for the Lacey Children’s Entertainment Series. Click here for a full list of acts.
  18. tolmie state park
    Visit Tolmie State Park at low tide and find acres of sand, safe shallow water and plenty of room for a picnic.

    Walk around Capitol Lake with your kids, then cool off in the Heritage Park Fountain. Check the hours of operation here before you head out to avoid sad kiddos.

  19. Cheer for your favorite tugboat during the races at Olympia’s Harbor Days festival September 4 through 6. Click here for 2015 details.
  20. Meander through the impressive sculptures at the newly reopened Monarch Sculpture Park. A partnership with Creekside Conservancy has brought this favorite back to life.
  21. Gaze at the rotunda dome and visit the legislative buildings. Tours held on the hour, weekdays from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and weekends 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Governor’s Mansion tours are by reservation on Wednesdays.
  22. Hike the entire Tumwater Falls trail. Guided riverwalk tours are offered Wednesday and Friday at 10:30 a.m. July through September.
  23. Hit the library for a story time, joining the summer reading program, or just find a good read.
  24. Dust off the bikes and hit the trails. Plenty of new biking routes for the family can be found here.
  25. Lay on your back and be awed by a fireworks show. Boston Harbor’s show is July 3, Tumwater and Lacey’s are July 4 and Olympia’s is during Lakefair on July 19.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County. The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.


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