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An Escape to the Country

Committing to a rural lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but everyone can borrow one for a few days, try it on, and see how it fits. It’s a breath of fresh air – literally and figuratively – to get some distance from acres of concrete, high rises, or suburbia, and enjoy a slower pace of life for a while. If those few days also happen to take place in the shadow of iconic Mount Rainier, all the better. As you explore The Escape to the Country itinerary, you’ll find yourself walking under awnings that throw shadows over painted storefronts in low-slung, historic Main Street buildings. You and your kids will be playing with Nigerian dwarf goat kids. You’ll walk the rows at local farms, sampling fresh-from-the-earth fruits and vegetables, and dining at restaurants where that local produce has become a farm-to-table culinary masterpiece.

Day 1: Wilkeson - Buckley - Sumner - Puyallup

Coffee and Breakfast at… Nomad PNW The day starts with a drive to the lovely small town of Wilkeson (pop. 516), where there’s a registered National Historic Place for about every 100 people, and all of their restaurants are outstanding at what they do. More on that later, but right now, you’re here for coffee and an Argentinian breakfast pastry from Nomad PNW, one of the top coffee shops in the…well…the PNW.

Coffee and empanadas at Nomad PNW in Wilkeson

A hike to… Melmont Ghost Town Hike This itinerary is about rural areas and small towns, and they don’t get much smaller than Melmont Ghost Town, which is really just the foundations of a couple of historic structures from the early 20th Century. However, the real draw here is the easy, flat (although occasionally muddy), family-friendly hike with peaceful scenery and the sounds of the White River playing its music right beside you for a good part of the way. Just drop down under the Fairfax Bridge, and follow the Foothills Trail south until you see the side-path described on Washington Trails Association’s webpage for the hike. Follow it uphill to the clearing where you can explore the ruins!

Foothills Trail - Melmont Ghost Town hike

Lunch and Ice cream at… Simple Goodness Sisters You know what goes down well after a nice hike? A made-to-order panini on grilled sourdough bread. And you know what goes down well after a grill panini? Local (Full Tilt!) ice cream topped with local, farm-grown flavors. The Simple Goodness Sisters grow everything but the cows on their farmland in nearby Buckley, and extract the flavors into the syrups they use to drizzle over ice cream, and infuse into sodas and cocktails.

Simple Goodness Sisters in Wilkeson Washington

(Plan B, if you arrive back in Wilkeson after 3:00 p.m.) Late Lunch/Early Dinner at… The Carlson Block Coming back from a hike in the early afternoon, you’ll definitely be in the mood for what the Seattle Times has titled The Best Pizza in Washington State: The Carlson Block. Their wood-fired pizza – Margherita for the purists, and we recommend the Fennel & Sausage for those with braver palate – is an unexpected delight in such a small town.

Carlson Block pizza in Wilkeson, Washington

A farm visit at… Maris Farms If you happen to arrive around one of their many events spread throughout the year (Baby Animals and Blooms in the spring, Sunflower Days in the late summer, Fall Harvest and Haunted Woods in the fall, etc.), you’re in for an interactive, photogenic treat full of carnival games, tricycle racetracks, livestock races and more.

Marcie in Mommyland at Maris Farms

Since it’s on the way, another farm visit. This one to… Knutson Farms Specializing in rhubarb and flowers, Knutson Farms in the heart of the Puyallup Valley is an Instagram wonderland. In the summer, you can wander the fields and cut your own sunflowers, dahlias or zinnias, or visit the animal barn to get to know the pigs, piglets, goats and kids.

Knutson Farms in Sumner

Coffee and snack at… Craft 19 Get caffeinated for an afternoon of shopping! Craft 19 is Sumner’s first micro coffee roaster, and has a cozy living-room atmosphere in which to enjoy it. They also serve up the most mouth-watering crepes this side of the Puyallup Valley.

Craft 19 in Sumner, Washington

Shopping and sightseeing in… Downtown Sumner Take some time to enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of Sumner’s low-slung downtown, with its bakeries, cafes, antiques stores, gift shops, and restaurants lining Main Street. Make sure and stop by Sumner mainstays: A Good Book for…a good book, Junker’s Nest for antiques and collectables, A Picket Fence for gifts and espresso, and The Old Cannery for nostalgia, fudge, furniture, model trains, and history. But really, just stroll down Main Street, and if you don’t find something that strikes your fancy, consider adjusting your fancy.

Shopping in downtown Sumner

Dinner at… Farm 12 It’s literally right there in the name. Farm 12’s fare is micro-seasonal, hyper-local, and as fresh as farm-fresh gets. Everything is cooked from scratch using ingredients that are almost exclusively from Pierce County.

A burger at Farm 12 in Puyallup

Overnight at… A Puyallup Hotel Puyallup has plenty of hotels, including the right one for you and your family. With amenities like indoor pools, free parking, and an included breakfast, it’s just a matter of finding the perfect fit for your family.

Best Western Premier Plaza Hotel and Conference Center Puyallup

Day 2: Eatonville - Ashford

A farm visit at… Left Foot Farm Start the day by introducing yourself to the Nigerian dwarf goats – or some of the other 100+ goats – at Left Foot Farm, or some of the farm’s chickens or other livestock. The farm offers tours all summer, and is very friendly to guests who drop by (especially if they call in advance) to see the farm and buy some of the fresh milk and eggs.

Farm-To-Table Agritourism

A second farm visit at… Stringtown Farms Encompassing a small vineyard, a lavender farm, a tree farm, and a wine cellar/tasting room, Stringtown is in the shadow of Mount Rainier in Eatonville, and the perfect place to relax for a while and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of farm life. You can bring your own lunch and use their tables in the middle of a meadow for a picnic with an unparalleled view of the mountain.

Stringtown Farm

Lunch at… Cruiser Café Burgers are at the top of the menu (and in the middle, and toward the lower part…you get the idea) at the Cruiser Café in Eatonville, but the sweet potato fries go well with anything on the menu, or by themselves. Recommendations from the best research trip we have ever done: The Coach burger reads like an outstanding breakfast menu, with its 1/3-lb. patty topped with bacon, fried egg and cheese, and the Sourdough Jenny Burger is the same beefy patty, but with Swiss cheese, bacon and tomato on sourdough bread.

Cruiser Cafe in Eatonville

A museum stop at… Pioneer Farm Museum Tucked away in the Ohop Valley on the way to the Nisqually Entrance of Mount Rainier, Pioneer Farm Museum is a historical experience that changes with the season, letting you step back in time to the homesteading days of the Pacific Northwest. They offer guided tours, special events, and group tours with their experienced guides.

Pioneer Farm Museum and Ohop Indian Village

A once-in-a-lifetime trail ride experience at… EZ Times Trail Ride If you’re not coming out of a homesteading experience in the mood for a horseback ride, you should see about getting your money back. Regardless, EZ Times’ trail rides are for everyone from the most experienced riders to those who can’t tell a stirrup from a bridle. Years of guiding and wrangling experience is at your disposal on nature trails, rides along the Nisqually River (not for the kiddies), and relaxing (possibly romantic?) sunset trail rides.

Horseback Riding near Mount Rainier

Dinner at… Paradise Village Yes, this itinerary is called Escape to the Country, not Escape the Country. And yet, here we have an experience that will transport you (culinarily) to Ukraine. The buzzing you hear on the way in is probably not the fluorescent lights, but the hard working hives of bees they keep to provide honey for the meals and for sale.

Paradise Village Lodge in Ashford

Overnight at… A Cabin or Lodge in the Ashford Area You’re already just a couple miles from the Nisqually entrance to Mount Rainier, so it makes sense to stay in that area and get a leg up on any potential traffic or lines to get into the park. And lucky you! There are cozy cabins, soaring treehouses, more cozy cabins, sprawling lodges, luxe spas (mountain-style!), glamping trailers, and rural hotels, all waiting for you to hit that big “BOOK NOW” buttons. Or just browse what lodging is available in the Ashford area.

Wild Bird cabin at Basecamp Cottages

Day 3: Mount Rainier National Park

This is where you can go big, or literally go home. If you called your rural adventure to a close today, nobody would blame you, and you’d have an Instagram account full of raw beauty and relaxation to show for it. However, if you’re like us and find yourself waking up in a cabin within spitting distance of the entrance to an epic national park, you won’t be able to hold yourself back. Nor should you! We’ve created several one-day itineraries of Mount Rainier that you could insert here, and would fully round out your country experience. And if by some fluke of the universe, you can’t find an itinerary you could see yourself and your family undertaking, then Visit Rainier probably has one that you could.

Wildflowers at Paradise at Mount Rainier