Students from Woodland Elementary School admire the “Dr. Seuss Tree,” a Staghorn Sumac bonsai tree at the Pacific Bonsai Museum in October. File photo

Students from Woodland Elementary School admire the “Dr. Seuss Tree,” a Staghorn Sumac bonsai tree at the Pacific Bonsai Museum in October. File photo

Set 2019 in motion with these outdoor destinations

First Day Hike is a nationwide initiative that aims to get people outdoors on New Year’s Day.

While thinking about the new year may not involve notions of leaving the comfort of a cozy fireplace and heading outside, there are several destinations that just may lure you to the great outdoors to help keep you active and healthy as you roll into 2019.

Here are some must see destinations to consider where you may breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the scenes, learn something new and get active:

State Parks offers two free days in January

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is offering two free days in January, when visitors to state parks will not need a Discover Pass for day-use visits. This includes the 398-acre Dash Point State Park in Federal Way, located at 5700 SW Dash Point Road.

The first free day is Tuesday, Jan. 1, which gives visitors the opportunity to take part in a First Day Hike, a nationwide initiative that aims to get people outdoors on New Year’s Day. More than 30 Washington state parks are hosting First Day Hikes events. This includes Saltwater State Park in Des Moines, where participants can swap their boots for a kayak and tour the boundaries of the park’s Marine Protected Area while enjoying a view of Saltwater State Park from the water.

The second free day is Monday, Jan. 21, in honor of the holiday celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

State Parks free days are in keeping with the legislation that created the Discover Pass — a $30 annual or $10 one-day permit required on lands managed by Washington State Parks and the Washington departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The Discover Pass legislation provided that State Parks could designate up to 12 free days each year when the pass would not be required to visit state parks. The Discover Pass is still required to access lands managed by WDFW and DNR on these days.

Washington State Parks will offer 10 more free days in 2019:

• Tuesday, March 19 — State Parks’ 106th Birthday

• Saturday, April 20 — Springtime free day

• Monday, April 22 — Earth Day

• Saturday, June 1 — National Trails Day

• Saturday, June 8 — National Get Outdoors Day

• Sunday, June 9 — Free Fishing Day

• Sunday, Aug. 25 — National Park Service Birthday

• Saturday, Sept. 28 — National Public Lands Day

• Monday, Nov. 11 — Veterans Day

• Friday, Nov. 29 — Autumn free day

Open-air living art musuem

Connect with nature through the living art of bonsai at the Pacific Bonsai Museum, located at 2515 S. 336th St., Federal Way.

“A grand outdoor setting with the elegance of a fine art museum, the Museum boasts over 150 bonsai and the most diverse public collection in North America with trees from Canada, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the United States,” according to the museum’s website.

The museum features 60 trees at any given time and contemporary and traditional exhibitions, as well as group tours, free public tours at 1 p.m. every Saturday and education.

Fifty stunning bonsai from the museum’s permanent collection are currently on view outdoors (in their winter enclosures, protecting them from the cold) and in the museum’s tropical greenhouse.

Stone Images IX is also a current exhibit that is free and open to the public, which features 28 stones that members of the Puget Sound Bonsai Association’s Viewing Stone Study Group collected.

Viewing stones are “naturally formed stones valued for their shape, color, beauty, pattern, and/or for what they can been seen to represent,” according to the museum. “When paired with bonsai, the viewing stone and bonsai tree each enhance the qualities of the other, and together, create a scene that might be found in nature. The practice of collecting and viewing stones originated in China about 2,000 years ago.”

For more information, visit

Gardens galore

The Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden lays claim to the largest collection of Rhododendron species in the world.

The garden displays over 700 of the more than 1,000 species found in the wilds of North America, Europe, and Asia, as well as the tropical regions of southeast Asia and northern Australia.

Garden hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. General admission is $8; $5 seniors 65 and over and students (with a school ID); and free for children under 12 years and military personnel (active and retired).

Come see what’s blooming year round at the garden, which is located at 2525 S. 336th St., Federal Way. Follow the signs to the Rhododendron and Bonsai Gardens.

Open from April 1 through Oct. 31, PowellsWood Garden features distinct garden rooms with more than a thousand varieties of trees, shrubs and perennials.

The garden boasts an urban oasis filled with walking trails to keep you active — and help you find inner peace.

“Gardens speak to the human spirit,” says Monte Powell on PowellsWood Garden’s website. “If you need calm, peace, revival — you can find it in the garden.”

General admission is $7; members and children 12 and under are free. The garden is located at 430 S. Dash Point Road, Federal Way.

For more information, visit

Walkable trails

Accelerate your heart with a stroll or a jog along the miles of trails along the lakefront, meadow, botanical gardens areas, as well as those around the former Weyerhaeuser headquarters in the Woodbridge Corporate Park.

The area includes open access to the trails and wooded areas for bikes and pedestrians, and is a popular destination for dog walkers.

Other popular trails in Federal Way include the 3.64-mile BPA Trail, which is located between South 324th and Madrona Park and the 1.04-mile West Campus Trail, between the BPA Trail and South 320th Street, that includes a natural area and walking trail.

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