Starting on Friday, there are all sorts of events and guided tours starting at Hoquiam High School. I'm not so sure that my children are up for a lecture on birding, but on Saturday and Sunday there will be a "Fun Fair", starting at 9am and lasting until 4pm. They will be offering several art activities for children to get their hand dirty and learn about the local birding environment.
Of course, the whole point of the festival is to see the birds.Thousands of birds take a rest in Bowerman Basin during their migration north. At the edge of Bowerman peninsula is The Sandpiper Trail. It's completely flat trail, and while not long for adults, smaller children may get tired before reaching the end.
During the festival, you can park at Hoquiam High School and catch a shuttle to the trail. Parking during the festival can be limited and kids love the ride the bus! A dollar per person donation is suggested. After the festival, parking at the trail head is not a problem.
At the trail head is the information board and a porta-potty. The hike starts with a long walk down a driveway for several airplane storage sheds. On our previous visits, seeing the small planes brought as much excitement as spotting the different birds. At the end of the driveway is another porta-potty and the start of the boardwalk.
Along the boardwalk are several viewing points out into the basin and water. At one point, there is stationary binocular viewer. However, it's hard for kids to use and will probably have a long line during the festival. I recommend bringing your own. Before heading out, you might want to talk about how not to scare birds; at least I had to have one with my two. There are professional photographers and serious birdwatchers with large telephoto lenses set up along the trail to get those close up shots. Keep an eye your runners; hand holding may be a good thing to insist upon. The entire walkway takes about 2 hours when walking with kids. If you bring snacks or water bottles, be prepared to walk out with them. There are no garbage cans on the trail. I recommend keeping an eye on kids while they eat. It can be windy with gusts that surprise - if anything goes flies away, you won't be able to step off the boardwalk to get it.
The weather can change quite quickly. Bring a rain coat, but be prepared to carry it. Either one is possible, maybe both, during your walk.
The best time to view all the birds is during high tide. (This will also be the most crowded time). During the festival, high tide will be around mid-day, so anytime between 10am to 2pm is your best bet for viewing the most number and variety of birds.
For the more serious bird watching families, there are field trips to other watching areas around the Harbor. You can find more information on the Festival website.
If you decide to drive out to the trail, take Paulson Rd. off of HWY 109 (Emerson St.) to get to Airport Rd. As you drive on Paulson Rd. take a look the power poles along the road - one has a very large nest at the top, holding the type of bird you don't get to see very often outside TV.