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Top 10 places to take kids in the South Sound

Family-friendly activities abound

A herd of Roosevelt elk wander in the free-roaming area at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville. (Photo by Kristi Berry)

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Whether you want to hit the beach, take a hike or explore a museum, there's much to see and do in the South South. These uniquely Pacific Northwest experiences are sure to entertain kids of all ages -- and parents, too. 

1. Hands On Children's Museum

For hours of creative play, head to Olympia's Hands On Children's Museum. Over 150 interactive exhibits feature fun, Pacific Northwest themes. On the first floor, kids can drive emergency vehicles, work at a farmers market and captain a cargo ship. On the second floor, they can rescue animals, build a house and create works of art. 414 Jefferson St. NE, Olympia, 360.956.0818,

2. Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

See Northwest animals in their natural habitat at this beautiful wildlife park. Ride a tram through a 435-acre, free-roam area where you may spot elk, bison, moose, caribou, bighorn sheep, and deer. Stroll on a forested path to see bears, wolves and cougars. Kids beeline to Kids' Trek, a nature-themed playground with a rope bridge, giant tree trunk and stream. 11610 Trek Drive E., Eatonville, 360.832.6117,

3. Sunnyside Beach Park

This park has it all - a scenic waterfront setting with 1,400 feet of shoreline, a playground, swings and volleyball courts. There's even a few sandy spots for sand castle building. It's also fun to watch trains rumble by on the nearby railroad tracks. 2509 Chambers Creek Rd., Steilacoom, 253.581.1912,

4. Playground at Fort Steilacoom Park

This castle-themed playground is a local favorite. Kids love to climb, swing and explore on the turrets, towers, bridges and slides. Climbing rocks and a tire swing add to the fun, and a smaller fort area is perfect for toddlers. The 340-acre park also has hiking paths and sports fields. 8714 87th Ave. SW, Lakewood, 253.589.2489,

5. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Spend a day with amazing animals. See elephants, tigers, wolves and more. The polar bears, walruses and monkeys are particularly playful and fun to watch. Head to the aquarium to watch sharks and giant sea turtles swim, be mesmerized by jellyfish and touch a starfish. The Kid's Zone playground lets little ones explore how animals move. Fun extras include a carousel, camel rides and bird feeding. 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma, 253.404.3800,

Hikers enjoy spectacular views of Mount Rainier on the Naches Peak Loop Trail at Mount Rainier National Park. (Photo by Kristi Berry)

6. Mount Rainier National Park

While not technically in the South Sound, this breathtaking volcano certainly dominates the skyline. At 14,410 feet, it's Washington's highest peak. Winter is great for snow play, while summer is prime hiking season. Kids like the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail, a 1.5-mile loop that takes you over a suspension bridge to towering, 1,000-year-old trees. For stunning views of Mount Rainier, try Naches Peak Loop Trail. This 3.2-mile hike, half of which is on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, winds through mountain meadows with streams and glacier blue lakes. 55210 238th Ave. E., Ashford, 360.569.2211,

Kids love the obstacles and parents love the view at Playground by the Sound at Chambers Creek Regional Park in University Place. (Photo by Kristi Berry)

7. Playground by the Sound at Chambers Creek Regional Park

This sea-themed playground comes with sweeping views of the Puget Sound. The main play area has many fun obstacles for kids to tackle. The smaller tot area with a lighthouse, boat, and crab shack is perfect for children under 5 years old. If you can get your kids off the playground, explore the rest of the park which includes an 11-acre lawn, miles of trails and beach access. 6320 Grandview Drive W., University Place, 253.798.4141,

8. Schilter Family Farm

This 180-acre, family-owned farm creates magical seasonal experiences. Their annual Fall Harvest Festival features a u-pick pumpkin patch, five-acre corn maze, hay rides, petting zoo and giant bouncing pillow. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, the Christmas tree farm opens. Bundle up and wander through rows of perfectly shaped evergreens to pick the perfect tree for your home. 141 Nisqually Cutoff Rd. SE, Olympia, 360.459.4023,

9. BoomShaka

The list wouldn't be complete without at least one rainy day activity. For indoor fun, head to BoomShaka where you can bounce on over 40 trampolines, test your skills on a Ninja course, play dodge ball and launch yourself into a cushy foam pit. 7960 Center St. SW, Tumwater 360.338.6786,

The Pierce County Steilacoom to Anderson Island Ferry awaits passengers before sailing across the Puget Sound. (Photo by Kristi Berry)

10. Steilacoom to Anderson Island Ferry 

A ferry ride is a classic Washington state experience. The short 30-minute ride from Steilacoom to Anderson Island is perfect for testing little sea legs. It's a thrill to drive onto a boat and head upstairs to explore. On the island, hike the kid-friendly trails at Jacobs Point Park and Andy's Marine Park or take a dip in the "Ol' Swimmin' Hole." 56 Union Ave., Steilacoom, 253.588.1950,

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