Day Tripping: Holiday Fun Just Outside of Seattle

There's no question that Seattle is brimming with plenty of holiday activities – and then some. But if you want a change of scenery and a pace that is a little more laid back, head south to Thurston County where there is no shortage of Holiday family fun.

Jingle Bell Run
Saturday, December 3
If want a little nature with your 5K run (and to burn off some of those holiday calories), then lace up and make your way south to Lacey, WA and enjoy the beautiful wooded campus of Saint Martin University. You can run your 5K like a pro, or kick back and enjoy the festive sights along the way. It doesn't matter if you come in first place or finish at the back of the pack, you'll find a warm cup of hot chocolate and Christmas cookies waiting for you when you cross the finish line.

Parade of Lighted Ships
Saturday, December 3
There's nothing more relaxing than bundling up in your favorite winter garb and heading down to the shore to catch the ships cruising by all decked out in holiday lights. In Olympia, the fun starts at Percival Landing and continues until the boats reach Boston Harbor. There are a number of waterfront restaurants for you to drop your own anchor and watch the symphony of lights float on by.

Lacey Parade of Lights
Monday, December 5
If you would prefer to get your light show on land rather than sea, Lacey, WA is pulling out all of the stops to celebrate its 50th anniversary. 'You know who' will be making an appearance on the Lacey Fire Department's Santa Mobile and the town's holiday tree will be ceremoniously lit to kick off the season. If the weather cooperates, settle in for an outdoor screening of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Tumwater Christmas Tree Lighting
Saturday, December 10
Santa is keeping busy with the fire departments as he rolls on into Tumwater, WA for its annual Christmas Tree Lighting Festival. This festival will not impinge on any of your evening plans as the fun kicks off at 2 p.m. at the Tumwater City Hall and wraps by 5 p.m. Performances by the area school choirs add additional charm to this community event.

Noon Year's Eve at the Hands on Children's Museum
Saturday, December 31
It can be difficult for the young ones to stay up until the stroke of midnight to usher in the New Year. So the Hands on Children's Museum in Olympia, WA is inviting families to come celebrate New Year's Eve with a ball drop each hour from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be plenty of other activities taking place in between the top of each hour, so gather up the kiddies and make your way south to the capitol city.

Polar Bear Plunge
Sunday, January 1
A great, chilly tradition no matter where you are on New Year's Day – all you need is a large body of water to take the plunge. Lacey, WA may be south of Seattle, but that doesn't mean the water is any warmer. The braves soles of Lacey head to Long Lake and they welcome any newcomers who would like to join them. Steel your nerves to take the plunge at 1 p.m. – campfires and warm cocoa will not be too far behind.

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Jenise Silva is the author/photographer for The Hunt Guides Seattle and Vancouver editions. She's eaten her way through every state and many foreign lands. And you can usually find her pursuing her passions (food, travel, the arts, and philanthropy) in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Her work has also appeared in Eater, CBS Seattle, City Search, Seattle Magazine, Seattlest, Seattle Refined and at Tastemade City.