LONG BEACH PENINSULA, Wash. – April 21, 2017 – As free time becomes more precious, creating the “perfect” family getaway carries more importance. Here are tips from vacation concierges at Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau to help ensure a great family beach vacation.

Discovery Trail photo by Robyn Unruh

Do a little research. Start with the destination website including the event calendar. Look for ideas on places to stay, where to eat and what to do. Blog posts are also helpful as are itinerary builders. For more ideas and visitor feedback, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are potential resources. Search for travel stories on the destination to get third-party perspectives.

Select lodging ahead of time and make a reservation. Do the same for any must-try restaurant choices. While some things can be left unplanned, securing lodging, especially when traveling with young children, is important. Look for lodging that fits personal tastes, needs and budget. Would quiet or more lively be the best fit? Traditional or contemporary? On-site dining or full kitchens? Stand alone vacation home or hotel or perhaps something unique like a lightkeeper’s house, yurt or vintage travel trailer?

Sketch in a simple, flexible itinerary. For each day, select the where or what for three meals and three activities. With older children, involve the entire family in the process letting each choose a food they’d like to eat and favorite thing to do. (A walk along the boardwalk with a double-scoop waffle cone might count for one of each.)

Give children as many experiences as possible while young; they soak in everything and are enchanted by the smallest things or the largest as in joining hands of everyone in the family to try and encircle an ancient Sitka spruce or exploring tiny creatures in tide pools. Scheduling a getaway is also easier with young children before other activities (i.e. practices, game schedules, sleepovers) make finding time more tricky.

Integrate fun, age-appropriate ways to learn, such as forming letters with sticks of driftwood or exploring hands-on museum exhibits like those at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.

While away and especially when spending time in nature, consider keeping device use to a minimum, including social media posts. It’s easier to enforce this with older children by example.

When traveling with young children, make every effort to keep on their regular schedule including naptime. For active children, give them plenty to do to burn off extra energy with walks on the beach, bike rides on dedicated trails, something new like flying a kite, and non-structured playtime.

Create new family traditions or revisit childhood traditions, perhaps something as simple as writing a message in the sand to serve as the foreground for a family photo or using a local landmark like a giant clam pan or lighthouse as the same backdrop year after year. Recall the things that made family vacations special and memorable and share those with the next generation – digging for razor clams, feasting on whole cooked Dungeness crab, playing Frisbee on the beach with the family dog.

Let go of “perfect.” Expectations for what a family getaway should look like can get in the way of serendipity and those most memorable moments that magically happen when least expected. Relax and enjoy every precious second.

About the Long Beach Peninsula

With its mix of family friendly restaurants, ultra-local seafood, ocean view lodging, unique museums, landmark lighthouses, meandering trails, state and national parks, and 28-mile sandy, public beach, the Long Beach Peninsula is one of the Northwest’s most enjoyable and refreshing family destinations. For vacation planning assistance, please call the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau at 360.642.2400 or access www.visitlongbeachwa.com.

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