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PCS season is here

Things you must do before you PCS from JBLM

Summer Cove at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is just one of many places to explore in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Sonia Garza

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If you live on or around Joint Base Lewis-McChord then you know that PCS season has begun. With orders in hand, many are preparing to pack up their home for the big move. But don't be too quick to leave. Spring in Washington state promises longer daylight hours, meaning more time outside and more time to explore the great outdoors. We are a rare military family, having been stationed at JBLM for almost six years now, and I can tell you that we are a pretty active and adventurous family ... and even within that time span we have yet to see and do everything there is in the Northwest. It is a base that truly has something for everyone and I encourage you to take the time and explore before you load up your car to begin your trek to your next duty station.

For the Kids:

Raindrops and Rainbows at JBLM North and Escape Zone at McChord Field provide free entry to mini type children's museums. There you will find toys aplenty, craft and activity stations, outdoor play areas and tons of special events.

Northwest Trek houses many animals native to the Pacific Northwest. The tram travels through the park to see animals like wolves and moose up close. There's even an expansive playground for the kids.

Point Defiance Park encompasses a zoo, aquarium, rose garden, beach access, hiking trails and more. The kid area has a playground, slides and petting zoo.

The Hands on Children's Museum in Olympia is a two-story museum with tons of areas to explore. The Children's Museum of Tacoma has free admission.

Freedom Park is located across from the Commissary. There you'll find a huge playground, skate park, entertainment stage, baseball and soccer fields, and a splash pad that operates in the summer.

Fort Steilacoom Park is located in Lakewood and kids just love the fort style park with slides and swings galore.

Are you a lover of science? Head to the Pierce College Science Dome, South Sound's only planetarium. There are interactive shows for kids ages 3-12 for only $6.

Beach Access:

Shoreline Park and Summer Cove at American Lake have playgrounds for the kids that overlook the water with beach access. The town of Steilacoom also offers beach access with a ferry to Anderson Island.

The Great Outdoors:

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge is located on I-5 South exit 114. Here you'll find walking trails, various bird species including bald eagles, and more.

Tolmie State Park is a 105-acre park providing a shoreline to the Puget Sound. Here you'll find shells, clams and crabs.

Tumwater Falls Park is a 15-acre park that goes along the falls of the Deschutes River and ends at Capitol Lake.

At Mount Rainier Park you'll find Mount Rainier, an active volcano at 14,410 feet above sea level and is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.

If you love the great outdoors, make sure you visit Russell Landing Marina, where you can rent any type of boat for relatively inexpensive prices.

Farmers Markets:

Most farmers markets open April through October. Local markets include Puyallup, Olympia and Tacoma, and you'll find artisan homemade goods, food trucks and more.

Arts and Sports:

The Tacoma Rainiers is the local baseball team. The season has begun and runs through August.

For arts, head to Tacoma for the Museum of Glass, Washington State History Museum, Tacoma Art Museum and more.

One last place to explore is the capital. We are lucky to live so close. Just hop on I-5 South and you'll land at the State Capitol where you can walk the lake and see the marinas.

I surely hope you had time to explore everything the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

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