By: Matt Case Photo: Sarah Clarke


    As the crisp breeze of autumn will soon descend upon the Pacific Northwest, families in Pierce and Thurston County, are presented with a wealth of opportunities to bond, create cherished memories, and explore the region's natural beauty.

    This season offers a stunning tapestry of vibrant colors and a plethora of family-friendly activities to engage in. Whether you're a local looking for fresh ideas or a visitor seeking unique experiences, this guide will help you through some of the best family activities in Pierce and Thurston County during the fall.

    1. Fall Festivals and Pumpkin Patches:

    Fall festivals and pumpkin patches provide a quintessential autumn experience for families. Not only can you pick your pumpkins for carving, but you can also indulge in hayrides, corn mazes, petting zoos, and seasonal treats. Some notable venues to explore include:

    • Schilter Family Farm: With over 50 varieties of pumpkins, a corn maze, and tractor rides, Schilter Family Farm in Olympia (https://www.schilterfamilyfarm.com/) promises an enjoyable day for the whole family.

    • Spooner Farms: Located in Puyallup, Spooner Farms (https://www.spoonerberries.com/) offers pumpkin patches, a harvest market, and a fantastic corn maze perfect for fall adventures.

    1. Nature Hikes and Scenic Drives:

    The fall foliage in Pierce and Thurston County is a sight to behold, and there's no better way to experience it than through nature hikes and scenic drives. Recommended spots for family-friendly outings include:

    • Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge: Witness migratory birds, salmon runs, and stunning foliage on easy trails at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (https://www.fws.gov/refuge/nisqually/).

    • Mount Rainier National Park: Explore the iconic national park through family-friendly trails and scenic drives, like the Nisqually to Paradise stretch (https://www.nps.gov/mora/).

    1. Apple Picking at Orchards:

    Autumn is apple season, and Pierce and Thurston County have several apple orchards where families can partake in the joy of apple picking. Enjoy the fresh air and delicious fruits at places like:

    • Lattin's Country Cider Mill & Farm: A family-run farm near Olympia offering apple picking, cider tasting, and a farm animal display (https://lattinsciderolympia.com).

    • Terry's Berries: In Tacoma, Terry's Berries (http://www.terrysberries.com/) offers a delightful apple-picking experience alongside other fall produce and activities.

    1. Fall Train Rides:

    Hop aboard a historic train and take in the autumn scenery on one of the region's charming train rides:

    • Chehalis-Centralia Railroad: This heritage railroad (https://steamtrainride.com/) in Chehalis offers fall-themed excursions suitable for families, like the Pumpkin Train.
    1. Halloween Events:

    As Halloween approaches, the region comes alive with spooky and fun-filled events for all ages:

    • Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium: At the Tacoma zoo, the annual "Zoo Boo" event (https://www.pdza.org/) features costumed characters, crafts, and treat stations for a family-friendly Halloween celebration.

    • Thurston County Halloween Events: Keep an eye on local event listings (https://www.traveltacoma.com/events/halloween/) for various Halloween-themed activities happening throughout Thurston County.

    The South Capitol Neighborhood in Olympia is the quintessential spot for Halloween frights. Photo credit: Shaila Fisher.

    The fall season in Pierce and Thurston County brings a plethora of family activities to enjoy together. From pumpkin patches and apple orchards to scenic drives and Halloween events, there's no shortage of exciting options. Embrace the vibrant colors of autumn and create lasting memories with your loved ones amidst the natural beauty and engaging festivities in the region. So pack your bags, gather your family, and immerse yourself in the joyous wonders of fall in Pierce and Thurston County!