The sun is setting earlier, the back-to-school displays have been launched in the front of every store, and those leaves in the trees of my backyard are starting to look like they could drop at any moment. Let’s face it – summer is almost over. But fear not, Thurston County residents. There are still plenty of events and activities to soak-up in the sun before our time in this radiant season runs out.

Every year my family makes a summer bucket list of activities we want to enjoy before the first leaf falls. At the top of our list this year were hiking spots and parks. As a mother of a toddler, short hikes with space to play are a must. Priest Point Park may be an obvious place to start. The beach access and short trails for the kids to explore are a must-see. It also has a boat-shaped park for children of all ages to enjoy.

Tolmie and Burfoot were also at the top of our list for exploration. When asked, my three-year-old declared Tumwater Falls Park her favorite of the bunch. The raging falls, bridges and small streams make this the perfect playground for any aged adventurer.

Priest Point Beach
Explore the beaches of Puget Sound with a visit to one of our many waterfront parks.

Discovering the beauty of the Thurston County Bountiful Byway was a game changer for our family. This scenic option for exploring our stunning county showcases small businesses I had never seen before, ranging from wineries and espresso shops to farms and gardens. There is truly a bounty of offerings that can bring the whole family together.

So you missed Lakefair while on vacation out of town. Do not worry. There are still some amazing events to behold before summer’s end. Soak up the final rays of sunshine at Olympia Harbor Days. Percival Landing becomes the main stage for this event all Labor Day weekend long. Music, food, vendors and historic boats will be in the spotlight. For my family, this annual event is one that cannot be missed.

Have you heard about all of the new breweries popping up around town? It must be in the water. Tumwater newcomers Matchless Brewing and Triceratops Brewing Company have quickly become local favorites near the Olympia airport. You can visit both in one evening as they are neighbors in the same complex. Kids are welcome and they even have a play area with toys.

olympia bike beer tour
The Olympia Bike and Beer Tour offers a perfect way to sip your way through our local craft breweries while celebrating the final days of summer. Photo credit: Rachel Roth

Head downtown to Oly Taproom to savor one of their numerous brews on tap or in bottles and enjoy with a view of the waterfront from their outdoor seating. Or grab a local brew from Olympia’s own Fish Brewing Company and Three Magnets Brewing Co. both conveniently located in the downtown core. If you are looking to burn some calories while you sip at these downtown hotspots, sign up for the Olympia Bike and Beer Tour for a scenic route along the beer trail of Olympia. Minors welcome on the tour with frosty mugs of root beer.

Utilize fresh produce from Thurston County for an end of the season backyard BBQ. Hit one of the many farmers’ markets in our area including the Olympia Farmers’ Market, Tumwater Farmers’ Market, Yelm Farmers’ Market, and Tenino Farmers’ Market. Vendors from all over the county come together to bring appetizing, fresh, home-grown products to the community.

summer bucket list
Enjoy those final sunshine rays of summer by completing items left on your bucket list.

Last, but certainly not least, take a dip in the waters of Thurston County. Just as many people take the polar bear plunge to start the new year, you should end the season by diving into one of the local swimming holes. Long Lake, Kenneydell Park, and the historic Tenino Quarry Pool are great spots to refresh your sun-tanned skin before heading into frigid fall.

The sun is setting on another beautiful summer in our area. Soak up every last ray before fall. And – if you need more ideas for your final days of summer, take a peek back at our list of 25+ family friendly things to do this summer. What did you miss?

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, Lacey, Tumwater and the surrounding area, visit our complete events calendar.

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