5 reasons to get outdoors

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Summer is the time to travel around the region

Summer is a great time to relax, even if there is a class or work schedule. Take some time to spend outdoors. These are a few recommended places to go during summer in Washington.

Lakewood

Lakewood has many kinds of beautiful parks. Fort Steilacoom Park has a variety of features such as a dog park and a trail that connects to a lake. It is a favorite spot for people to walk with their dogs.

In addition to the parks, Lakewood also has unique hotel that looks like castle. Located on the shore of American Lake, Thornwood Castle is built like an authentic English Tudor Gothic building. This historic site is known as ‘The house that love built’ and is also the setting for the Stephen King movie “Rose Red.” It is a popular tourist spot to stay overnight or for weddings.

Tacoma

Tacoma’s main attractions in the summer are the scenic Ruston Way on the waterfront and Owen Beach.

Ruston Way starts at one end with the Tacoma Reconciliation Park located at the south end and ends at  the north with Point Ruston. With over 3 miles of sidewalk for joggers, a sprayground and restaurants with outdoor tables, it has a little bit of everything.

Also, people can opt to go parasailing. The Tacoma waterfront is the only place in western Washington for parasailing.

Owen Beach is a hidden gem of public beach. It has kayak rentals, picnic, trails and a great place to gather with friends. Picnic sites are available April 1 and Sept. 30 and reservations are recommended, and can be made up to a year in advance. Owen Beach has 2.1 miles of back trail and people use them year round to walk their dogs and/or jog.

The sprayground is open May 12-Sept. 23 on the weekends and because it has free admission, it is a great place to take kids.

Federal Way

Federal Way, just north of Tacoma, also has attractions for summer. Redondo Beach is the place for people who love scuba diving because of its calm waves and lack of high tide. While there, visit the Highline MaST Aquarium, operated by the Marine Science and Technology Center of Highline College. This aquarium displays all species that live in the Puget Sound waters. MaST provides public learning and formal teaching about marine species and has free admission, but donations are accepted. The aquarium is open during the summer (June-August) from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Federal Way also has a beautiful garden, Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden. It is a nonprofit garden that displays 700 species of rhododendron from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. There is an $8 admission fee for general and $5 for students with id.

West Seattle

On a cold and windy day in November 1851, one of the founding fathers of Seattle landed at Alki Point. David Denny looked around and thought he found a perfect shipping port for the timber being cut. He quickly discovered that the ocean is not welcoming in the colder months, so he abandoned the point in favor of calmer seas.

However, the view of the Sound is breathtaking during the spring and summer months, so its location became a favorite spot for tourists and picnickers. The first ferry ran from Seattle to West Seattle in 1888, which only added to the traffic.

In 1907, a visionary built an amusement park at the head of the Duwamish River. It lasted only a few years before it closed. Parts of Luna Park can still be seen at low tide. In the 1950s in the spirit of renewed patriotism, the Boy Scouts built a replica of the Statue of Liberty in the middle of the park.

Today skateboarders, rollerbladers, and parents with strollers wind around each other on the paths. Because the breeze rolls in off the water, it is also a popular place in the summer time.

Olympia

Olympia is the capital city of Washington and it serves natural and historical sites.

One destination spot is the Nisqually Delta. The walking trail with observation tower allows sightseers to view different wildlife species including bird species, salmon, otters. Hikers should bring binoculars so they can enjoy a close-up view of owls, ducks and eagles. The best month to see eagles is in July. There is also a farmers market with food trucks nearby, revolving lineup of musicians, and a lot of craft shops. It is a good place to enjoy a sunny day by trying many kinds of fresh foods while listening to the music.