Looking for an active day out or things to do with the kids in and around Skagit County? Just twenty minutes out of Mount Vernon is the Breazeale Padilla Bay Interpretive Center, located in the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Reserve. This is a great learning experience to connect you and the children to many fun and interesting activities related to nature in our local estuarine ecosystem.
Park your car at the center, pack some snacks, and lace up your walking shoes to explore some of the trails in the reserve. If you would prefer to spend a bit of time closer to the center and provide the kids with some educational activities, sign up for one of the scheduled classes. Whatever you feel like doing, there is a wide choice of active and educational things on offer.
What’s In Store for You
The Washington Trails Association offers the Breazeale Padilla Bay Interpretive Center as a space for the community in and around Mount Vernon to enjoy. A short drive out Mount Vernon will get you to a spectacular place of nature with estuaries and intertidal mud pools for you to explore if you haven’t already.
This beautiful, bountiful area is loved by more than just the birds that live there. It is also protected as a part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve. As one of the second largest reserves on the North American Pacific Coast, it is essential to conservation efforts.
With up to three nature trails on offer, you will be spoiled for choice when visiting. The best part is that each trail offers you an awe-inspiring walk that can be easily completed and gives you enough time to get back for dinner.
For all the trail runners and nature enthusiasts, this is the perfect spot to enjoy the peaceful quiet offered. Expect to encounter plenty of birdlife as you meander through the paths.
If you’re looking after the kids for the day or baby-sitting, this is one place children are sure to love. Take a casual stroll through the forests and meadows along the Upland Trail, taking in soothing views of Skagit Valley below. Keep right at the barn and you will meander through fields on what was the Breazeale dairy farm.
The great thing about this place is the array of choices to keep one busy. A short distance from the Breazeale Interpretive Center is the reserve, which operates as a mass of land that protects eelgrass meadows.
Home to scuttling crabs and the fast-swimming herring, the reserve also serves as a home to salmon, waterfowl and other marine birdlife.
For the Love of Birds
For those of you that have a long-held interest in birds or are just curious about developing and exploring a potential new hobby, the Center offers the opportunity for just that. Padilla Bay offers its visitors a viewing deck where you may be able to spot winter eagles amongst other birds.
The beach may also be an interesting point of discovery to wander along during low tide when everything is calm and serene.
After your walk, you may be interested in a little more information about the bird and sea life that inhabit the area. The Center offers interactive exhibits and saltwater aquariums filled with sea stars of all sizes and prickly urchins to watch through the glass.
This could be a great day trip for teachers looking to take school groups out to learn about the importance of estuaries. Teachers can even take a step back on imparting knowledge for the day as there are loads of educators milling around willing to share what they know.
Children’s classes are offered monthly and focus on the Salish Sea and the unique estuary. Classes are offered for all ages and group sizes. Simply register your attendance beforehand. Also, keep an eye on the quarterly newsletter where details of the adult classes will be advertised too.
Whether you head over as a class teacher looking to educate your learners on estuaries or are part of a research team out and about to collect data, there are all sorts of people these classes may appeal to.
The reserve is also a great place to learn loads from. They offer a coastal trailing program for professionals looking to get involved in the improvement and management of shorelines.
The Center is open between 10:00 am – 5:00 pm from Wednesday-Sunday and closed on State holidays. However, the trail and parking lot are always open.
Parking comes at no additional cost. Trail walks are also free of charge. Many of the classes on offer are free, with the option to donate should visitors be so inclined.
The Padilla Bay Center is located on scenic Bayview Drive, about 15 minutes north of the highway 20 turnoff. Here is the address: 10441 Bayview Edison Rd, Mt Vernon, WA 98273.