I hate to say this after two back to back gloriously sunny spring days, but here in the Pacific Northwest, the weather isn’t always on our side. Sure, we don’t often have to endure the cold-hard bone chilling days like our neighbors to the north, but it rains here. A LOT. And it’s grey and dark.
Even when it’s not raining heavily, it’s misty and damp. Moisture is everywhere and we get wet. I’ll be the first to say none of that matters if we have the proper gear and clothing layers. At times though, we just need a break.
Places like the Padilla Bay’s Breazeale Interpretive Center, located in the tiny town of Bayview, Washington, are perfect for when we want to explore in nature, but need a little respite from the elements.
5 Tips for a Great Visit to Padilla Bay’s Breazeale Interpretive Center:
1. Explore and Take a Hike.
The trails were the first thing we discovered and explored upon arriving at the Interpretive Center. Since our dog, Norman was along for the ride, we wanted to give him a chance to sniff around and get some exercise before had to leave him to go inside the center. Unlike the indoors portion, the trails (as well as the parking lot) are always open to the public.
- 0.8 mile loop
- Grab a children’s activities, botanical or general trail guide online or from the center before heading out. Posts are numbered and coordinate with the guides.
- Half the route is paved, half gravel/unpaved.
- Dogs on a leash are welcome
Beach Access Trail:
- A few hundred feet to an observation deck
- Spiral staircase takes you down to the beach
- Check tide schedule before going out! We arrived at high tide and couldn’t walk on the beach because the water was too far up.
- Dogs on a leash are welcome.
Bonus Trail: Padilla Bay Shore Trail
- Located about 1 mile south of the center
- 2.25 miles dike-top trail
- Gravel trail with views of the water, San Juan Islands, and Mt. Baker & the Cascades in the distance.
- Dogs on leash are welcome.
2. Check the Calendar for Workshops, Classes and Presentations.
Bergen was too young at the time of our visit (2 years old), but there are a lot of class options for older kids. While we were at the center, an apple pressing class was occurring. Perfect for fall and something we would have loved to learn more about!
Classes are organized by age group: Mini Explorers (3-5 years), Junior Ecologists (6-9 years), and adults. There are also family programs including the Aquarium Tour that includes fish feeding!
3. Save Time for the Hands-On Room.
The Hands-on room very well could have been Bergen’s favorite part of the interpretive center. He loved being able to actually touch various natural materials in addition to different learning tools. Shells, driftwood, and plenty of stuffed animals (showing the wildlife of the area) were all available to learn from and interact with. Games, puzzles, and books are also located here.
4. Check Out the Main Exhibit Hall and Aquarium.
While small, the center’s main exhibit hall and aquarium packs a punch and provides a lot for little eyes to take in. We learned all about estuaries and how they effect the region, specifics about Padilla Bay, and how to be good stewards of the environment. Bergen loved that many of the displays were interactive with buttons to push (that then lit up portions of the exhibit) and placards to move in order to learn more.
The eel grass tank (800 gallons) officially invites you into the aquarium area of the center and it’s archway gave us the feeling that we were walking under eel grass beds! There is one large tank (1500 gallons) displaying animals you would find in the rocky shore. Here we got to see their prized octopus, “Ruby”, as well as starfish, crabs, and other types of local fish. In addition to the larger tank, there are a couple of smaller cylindrical tanks (120 gallons each) where smaller creatures that would inhabit the eel grass live.
5. Dive into a few Books and Resources in the Library.
We can’t get enough of books and other reading material, and the center provides a perfectly cozy spot to settle in and learn more about the region. With older kids, I love the idea of coming up with questions while exploring the hands-on room, exhibits, and aquarium, and then heading to the library to investigate! This library is public, so I suspect local visitors can checkout resources and take them home (or to school) to research even more.
Info to Know:
- Padilla Bay’s Breazeale Interpretive Center is located in Washington’s Skagit Valley region:
- 10441 Bayview-Edison Road
Mount Vernon, WA 98273-9668
- (360) 428-1558
- 10441 Bayview-Edison Road
- The Interpretive Center is open Wednesday-Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (closed state holidays)
- Trails and parking lot are always open.
- Admission is FREE (donations accepted and welcome!)
There are so few places anymore where children can go and just be free and learn about things. -Edna Breazeale, 1974
Do you have a go-to respite (place to explore when you’ve had it with the rain) in your area? Please share!
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