65 ways to keep kids busy this summer
PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON
There's no excuse for the kids to be bored this summer (although, boredom is sometimes a good thing!). From stargazing and journaling to festivals and carnivals, you'll find something to do every single day of summer break —all 65 of them — in neighborhoods all across Seattle.
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Monday, July 1
Escape to the lake
It’s not summertime in Seattle until you’ve spent a day lounging at a lake. Inflate the alligator raft, grab loose change for the ice cream truck, and head for the water. With so many beautiful beaches nearby, you could make lake-hopping a weekly activity. Try the new Meydenbauer Bay Park, which boasts a big swimming area, water sport rentals, a playground, picnic tables, and awesome views. You could also take a tour of Green Lake on an electric pedal boat. At Seward Park, bring bikes and scooters for a roll along the flat, 2.6-mile loop to a sunny beach or shady playground.
Tuesday, July 2
Spooky folklore, tall tales, or close encounters: What kind of stories does your family share around the campfire? Local artist Ty Juvinel invites you to learn about a legend that stems from Salish culture. Meet at the new Alice Ball Park in Greenwood at 11 am for Salish Stories and Discoveries, where you’ll explore the history of Mount Rainier and learn important lessons about persistence.
Wednesday, July 3
Introduce the kids to different styles of exercise and meditation while staying fit as a family. Many local parks offer free, summer fitness programs — yoga, Zumba and circuit training — for all ages and skill levels. Try a Zumba class at Seattle Center’s Artists at Play Plaza today at 6 pm. Later in the week, do Saturday yoga at Cascade Park in South Lake Union, where older kids can join you in a flow and younger kids climb and swing at the nearby playground.
Thursday, July 4
Daylight family fun
Happy Independence Day! The city will be bursting with fireworks displays tonight, but good luck staying awake that late if you have young kids. For those whose bedtime routines begin before the stars come out, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the Star-Spangled Banner before dinnertime. Block parties, parades, bounce houses, live music: take your pick! Here’s a sampling (more at seattleschild.com):
Naturalization Ceremony: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United State of America.” Witness more than 500 U.S. citizenship candidates, from Angola to Zambia, say those words for the first time as new U.S. citizens. The free event begins at 10:30 am at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion.
Burien Independence Day Parade: This Fourth of July parade has been a local tradition for nearly a century and is one of the best-attended parades in Seattle. See marching bands, floats, the Seafair Pirates and much more. The parade starts at 3 pm in downtown Burien, but get there early to stake out a prime viewpoint.
Bothell Freedom Festival: This year’s theme is “Nicest Place in Washington,” and we agree! Start with a friendly ‘hello’ to neighbors at the Pancake Breakfast, from 8:30 to 10:30 am at the Downtown Fire Station. Then take the kids to the Children’s Parade at 11 am, where they can ride decorated scooters, pedal bikes, wagons, or strollers. The Grand Parade begins at noon and ends with a food truck festival and kids activities at the Northshore Senior Center. Both the Grand Parade and Children’s Parade start at Main Street and 104th Avenue NE.
Four on the Fourth Dog Walk: Booming fireworks can make for a long, anxious night for our fur babies. Show them some love today at a noncompetitive 4K jog that brings dog lovers and their furry friends together for some patriotic fun. The walk begins at 9 am at downtown Bellevue’s Ashwood Park, and an “after paw-ty” includes a doggie costume contest, bounce houses and goodie bags.
Friday, July 5
“School” at the museum
Most Seattle-area museums host Free First Thursdays, but not the rebellious Bellevue Arts Museum. BAM’s Free First Friday program offers complimentary admission and extended hours today from 11 am to 8 pm. Take a guided tour of the exhibitions and see a special lecture or presentation. School, an exhibition by artist Joseph Rossano, casts light on the diminished state of global salmon populations. The installation features a school of several hundred mirrored salmon sculpted from molten glass, and your family can learn about salmon conservation via video accounts from scientists, artists and native peoples.
Saturday, July 6
Battle of the bots
Robot fight! Western Allied Robotics calls machines and their makers into the pit at Seattle Center Armory for the region’s biggest combat robot tournament, 10 am today and Sunday. The event is free to watch and compete, but bot builders need to preregister. robotcombatevents.com
Sunday, July 7
Baby, let’s cruise
Every Sunday, rain or shine, you can cruise Lake Union — for free! Sign up for a Sunday Public Sailing time slot at the Center for Wooden Boats. Volunteer skippers will take the whole family on an unforgettable voyage aboard a spirit boat, steamboat, electric boat, schooners, yacht — you name it. Also on Lake Union today: Swashbucklers of all ages can join a band of merry pirates aboard Queen Anne’s Revenge for an interactive Family Treasure Cruise. Cast off from Lake Union Park at various times; tickets range from $10 to $25. If your sea legs are a little weak, take a free tour of the docked wood-hull steamer Virginia V, an icon of maritime history.
Monday, July 8
Under the stars
Hear stories, music and folktales from around the world about the constellations, moons and planets at Stories in the Sky. This free library story time comes alive through dance and movement games, and is held at several library locations throughout the summer. Hear today’s performance at the Federal Way and Issaquah libraries. Space is limited; arrive early to secure a spot. For more astronomical fun, blast off to the outer reaches of the universe at the Pacific Science Center Planetarium, which has separate shows tailored for preschoolers and ages 5 and older.
Tuesday, July 9
Pack a picnic lunch and dinner al fresco, and head to Shoreline parks for free, live music. Kindie rock favorite Recess Monkey plays a Lunchtime Concert today at Richmond Beach Saltwater Park. Tonight, sing to the trees at Karaoke in the Park from 5:30 to 8 pm at Cromwell Park. Kirkland Kid Concerts include kindie rock favorites on Tuesday mornings at Juanita Beach Park; Lacey in Tune brings family bands and kid-approved comedy to Huntamer Park on Tuesday evenings; and Free Summer Concerts at the Ballard Locks presents live music every weekend afternoon through Labor Day.
Wednesday, July 10
In these long days of lingering sunlight, it feels extra special to bring the living room outside. Save your couch-potato evenings for the wintertime, and curl up beneath the stars for movie night at the park. Bring the kids (the family dog, too!) to watch childhood classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at Marymoor Park tonight. Food trucks are onsite, seating begins at 6:30 pm, and the movie starts at dusk. Other films in the Marymoor series: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (July 24), Incredibles 2 (Aug. 7) and The Princess Bride (Aug. 28).
Thursday, July 11
All hail the Queen of Westlake Park! The glamorous Kara Sutra is hosting Drag Queen Story Time every Thursday in July, from 10 am to noon, at the downtown courtyard. Gather around to hear stories about love, family and diversity (and to marvel at Kara’s magnificent makeup).
Friday, July 12
Mic check, one-two, one-two. This summer’s family music festival is going to be epic. Today marks the start of the Timber! Outdoor Music Festival, taking place July 11-13 near the city of Carnation. Timber! is popular with families for its part-camping, part-adventure, part-concert vibe. In between music sets (bands include the Oh Sees, Mark Lanegan and Seattle’s Tribute to The Last Waltz) you can pack in mini-excursions: a 5K run, kayaking, paddleboarding, nature painting, a river float regatta, or a cosmic drum circle. Camp Timber! welcomes the smallest music fans for crafting, creativity and performances by family favorites The Not-Its! and Mikey Mike the Rad Scientist. Festival tickets are a bit pricey at $125 for a weekend pass (plus additional fees for camping, parking and food vendors), but children younger than 12 get in free. You can also bring your own food to cook at designated fire rings and grills, and there’s a grocery store within walking distance. With all of the best parts of summer packed into one weekend, Timber! might be worth the splurge.
Saturday, July 13
Eat amazing seafood and groove to live music (including Joy Formidable, The Moondoggies and Pickwick). The Kids Deck offers little skippers plenty of entertainment: giant slides, bounce houses, musical instruments, art projects, fire trucks, skateboarding, all-ages performances, and Full Tilt Ice Cream. Seafood Fest takes over the Ballard neighborhood July 12-15.
Sunday, July 14
All the world’s a stage, but local parks are the backdrop for Seattle Shakespeare Company summertime plays. Tonight, head to Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill to watch a whirlwind of mistaken identities unfold in Twelfth Night. Over at Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island, star-crossed lovers will tumble headlong into passion and tragedy in a production of Romeo and Juliet. Both performances begin at 7 pm and are free to attend; no tickets required. Bring a blanket or a chair and clothing layers for cool evenings.
Monday, July 15
Encourage the kids to keep a travelogue about their summertime adventures, or spend the day at a park where they can write nature haikus or sketch the flora and fauna. Today at 10 am, families can walk through the wetlands near Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center, where naturalists will lead you in drawing, writing, and making scientific observations.
Tuesday, July 16
Bloom and grow
It may be midsummer, but it’s not too late to plant a garden. Turn last fall’s too-small rain boots into an herb garden, or add some colorful, late-season annuals to a tired flowerbed. Give your kids a spade and watering can (and check any notions of award-winning garden design) and watch your busy little bees happily spend an entire afternoon digging in the dirt. You could also take the family to the Magnuson Children’s Garden, which offers free gardening classes and kids activities every month.
Wednesday, July 17
Fly twice as high
When you’ve run out of arts and crafts, and when your feet can’t stand another day at a festival, pump up the adrenaline with a high-flying adventure. Go parasailing above Elliott Bay or take a ride on the 175-foot-high Seattle Great Wheel on the Seattle waterfront. Thrill seekers 10 years and older can climb, jump, grab, haul, walk, swing and balance — 50 feet above the ground! — at Adventura Adventure Park in Woodinville.
Thursday, July 18
Branch out from your neighborhood go-to and discover a new playground. Check out the new High Point Play Area, which features a big climbing tower and four slides. Spider-Man fans might enjoy crawling on the gigantic webs at the Gas Works Park playground, which opened last fall.
Friday, July 19
Choo-choo! Day Out with Thomas & Friends is approaching the Northwest Railway Museum. Join Thomas the Tank Engine and Sir Topham Hatt for a steam train tour and Thomas & Friends activities. Catch the No. 1 blue engine July 12-14 and 19-21. trainmuseum.org
Saturday, July 20
Classic cars, a parade, and strawberries everywhere. The 110-year-old Vashon Island Strawberry Festival is an old-timey tradition filled with intergenerational fun. Hop a morning ferry to the picturesque island and begin the day by whetting your appetite at a pancake breakfast. Spend the rest of the afternoon gorging on strawberries in all forms (jams, sundaes, lemonade, pie). Burn off the calories with live music, dance parties and strolls by artist booths. The free festival runs July 19-21.
Sunday, July 21
Get in the (kid) zone
The freedom of zero obligations, the bliss of warm grass between bare toes, the zip of a Frisbee through warm air: Summertime may never feel as glorious as it does when you’re a kid. Kid-centric festivals all across Seattle are here to make sure kids experience the joy of summer and make lasting memories. Parkadilly, today at Lake Sammamish Park, features a petting zoo, climbing walls, trampolines, face painting, music and more. Admission is free, but you’ll need a $10 Discover Pass to enter the park. Also this month: Cascade Playground’s Kids Days (July 13, noon to 3 pm) are filled with arts and crafts, lawn games, and bouncy houses; Burien Awesome Kids Day (July 20) lets kids become superheroes by learning to do good community deeds.
Monday, July 22
Write to a pen pal
Brain drain or summer slide: Whatever you call it, children’s literacy slips during the summer. In addition to reading every day, kids can keep their literacy skills sharp by writing. Encourage your kids to write to a pen pal: It could be a cousin, a classmate, a grandparent, an astronaut or an athlete. (No guarantee on reciprocal correspondence from the latter two, but it’ll be fun to try!) Award bonus points to children who write with actual pencil and paper and post letters through the U.S. mail.
Tuesday, July 23
Castles in the sand
Bring your buckets and shovels to the beach and sculpt a masterpiece. Will you build a castle high on a hill, complete with turrets and seawater moat? A giant octopus with eight sucker-lined tentacles? Or maybe a sea turtle with a shell made from found objects? There are so many ways to be creative when the beach is your medium. Enter your family into Edmonds’ amateur Sand Sculpting Contest today at Marina Beach. It’s open to all ages, and Bucket Awards will be given to the top three sculptures in each category: Adult (ages 15 and older), Family Group (all ages) and Children Group (ages 14 and younger). Sign up at 10 am and start digging!
Wednesday, July 24
Farm to table
Overheard from a 3-year-old at the Ballard Farmers Market: “Mommy, blueberries grow on trees!” With farmers markets in full swing, now is a great opportunity for kids to discover where food comes from. Today, learn all about zucchini at the Columbia City Farmers Market. Kids can build and decorate a zucchini car and race it against other vegetable roadsters in the Zucchini 500. Other farmers markets with good kid programs: Lake City’s Thursday market has a story time presented by the Lake City Library; The Bellevue Farmers Market (also Thursdays) uses games, tastings and activities to teach kids about healthy food.
Thursday, July 25
Student actors in the Seattle Children’s Theatre Drama School take center stage during the summer; they are at the helm for rehearsals, performances, lighting, costumes and the production of full-length shows. Today through Saturday, see a Disney doubleheader that’s perfect for ages 5 and older: 101 Dalmatian Kids & Aristocats Kids. Also this summer: In the Forest Grim/A Wrinkle In Time (July 18-20, ages 8+), Anon(ymous) (Aug. 1-3, ages 13+), and Heathers the Musical, High School Edition (Aug. 9-11, ages 13+).
Friday, July 26
Make a home movie
Pop the lid off the costume bin and let kids create characters and storylines from their own imagination. Use curtains or bed sheets taped to the wall, and voila!: an impromptu living room stage. Older kids could use butcher paper, cardboard and paint to design their own sets. Aspiring writers might try their hand at a screenplay, and young directors can shoot scenes using cellphones or tablets. There are plenty of free movie-making apps that kids ages preschool to teens can try: LEGO Movie Maker provides a step-by-step guide to stop-motion animation, and GoldieBlox teaches kids to use pictures, drawings and graphics to stitch scenes together.
Saturday, July 27
Sunny day, sweepin’… Sesame Street off the screen and on the road! As part of the PBS show’s 50th anniversary celebration, Sesame Street Muppets are making a three-day stop in Seattle, July 25-27. Today, Sesame Workshop — the nonprofit behind Sesame Street — is hosting a one-day family festival at West Seattle’s Lincoln Park, including a stage show; a giant maze; a treasure dig; plenty of photo opportunities with Big Bird, Elmo and the gang; and a milk-and-cookies station. The festival is free, but you need to preregister at sesamestreet.org/anniversary/road-trip-seattle.
Sunday, July 28
Paint the town
From the Eastside to the Westside, two vibrant arts festivals are painting the town. In Bellevue, bring the kids to the 73rd annual BAM ARTSfair. Meet local artists, browse unique and handcrafted works from more than 300 local artists, watch visual arts performances and more. The main fair site is at Bellevue Square, today from 10 am to 6 pm (9:30 am to 9:30 pm on Friday and Saturday). Bellevue Arts Museum is hosting KIDSfair, where budding Picassos ages 3 to 10 can get creative, be messy and make their very own masterpiece. On the other side of Lake Washington, check out Alki Art Fair in West Seattle, where local art and music will fill the promenade along Alki Beach from 10 am to 6 pm. Kids can hang in the expansive, interactive Kidz Zone, presented by galactic-themed play space Outer Space, where kids can get physical and explore creative activities. Leave the parking struggle behind and take the free shuttle from the West Seattle Park and Ride at Admiral Junction.
Monday, July 29
Family fun centers
When the sun’s rays turn to drizzle — or if it’s still dry and sweltering and you need some A/C — visit a family fun center. They can be less crowded in the summertime, so take advantage of a chance to be first in line for bumper cars, laser tag and bouncing pits. And don’t worry: not all “fun centers” overwhelm with flashing lights and oversized talking mice. Try We Rock the Spectrum (1910 132nd Ave. NE, Suite 7) in Bellevue for its sensory-friendly play space. Little ninjas might like the new Defy Tacoma (1680 S. Mildred St.), which features a zipline, huge foam pits, a ninja course, trapeze, parkour and more.
Tuesday, July 30
Take me out to the ballgame
Ah, the sweet smell of hot dogs and popcorn; the ‘thwack!’ of a batted ball; the blue skies above and the green turf below. There’s nothing more iconic about summertime than a day out at the ballpark. This month, there are three professional baseball teams to cheer on in and around Seattle: The Mariners in the major leagues, the Everett AquaSox and Tacoma Rainiers in the minor leagues. T-Mobile Park has a Kids Zone and lots of opportunities to meet the Mariner Moose. At the Rainiers’ home, Cheney Stadium, get lawn tickets for more space to roam free and play on the adjacent playground. Everett’s Memorial Stadium also has a Fun Zone, with a big slide, bouncy house and pitching cage.
Wednesday, July 31
The Outdoors for All Foundation, a local nonprofit that provides adaptive recreation opportunities for children and adults with disabilities, will offer free, drop-in adaptive cycle rentals at The Brig at Magnuson Park seven days per week from 10 am to 6 pm this summer through September 30. Outdoors for All will also rent adaptive cycles in Seward Park and White Center Playground on select dates. Call ahead to confirm the bike you need is available.
Thursday, August 1
Sort and classify fossils for the new Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture opening in October. The Burke is calling on citizen scientists to examine sediment for microfossils that scientists will use in their research. Interact with real scientific specimens and tools including cast replicas of dinosaur fossils. Head over to the West Seattle Library (2306 42nd Ave. SW) from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Free.
Friday, August 2
Children’s Day at Umoja Fest is a joyful day of youth-focused performances and activities celebrating the black community and African diaspora culture in the Northwest. Head to Judkins Park for crafts, games, bouncy houses and more. The Umoja Festival runs through Sunday. Catch the Africatown Heritage Parade featuring dance troups and drill teams and taste delicious flavors from Mama Sambusa's Small Kitchen, South African Food Affair, Sweet Momma Brown, Boujee Food & Things and more. umojafestnw.com
Saturday, August 3
If your little extrovert isn’t content to just watch the Magnolia Seafair Parade, show up a little early (9:45 am) to the corner of 34th Avenue West and West Raye Street and join the Kids’ Parade. As the day unfolds, enjoy toy boat races, games with the Girl Scouts, arts and crafts, food and more family fun at Magnolia Summerfest.
Sunday, August 4
Escape the heat (and likely the wildfire smoke) inside the heavily air-conditioned CSz Seattle theater, home of Comedy Sportz in Fremont. On Sunday afternoons, families can catch a hilarious, clean improv comedy show. The shows are based entirely on audience suggestions, so if your child likes to shout out random words in public (“pineapple!”) or wants to command grown adults to perform the Fortnite Dance, this is the perfect opportunity to make that dream a reality. Tickets can be purchased online in advance, or at the door for $10. Grab a cone at Bluebird Ice Cream next door or dig into some fish and chips at Shawn O’Donnell’s down Fremont Avenue before the show begins at 4 pm.
Monday, August 5
Got a case of the Mondays? The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) has you covered. Bring your early learner to explore sensory bins, craft, hear stories and play pretend from 10 am to 1 pm on Mondays. The summer interactive pop-up exhibit is all about Seattle Style. Pack a picnic or swing by the MOHAI café and lunch out on the shore of South Lake Union when the kiddos start to lose steam.
Tuesday, August 6
Is that live music you hear right outside your doorstep? Yes it is. Tonight is National Night Out, a national event promoted locally by Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention designed to “heighten crime prevention awareness, increase neighborhood support in anti-crime efforts, and unite our communities.” It’s kind of like a block party, but with a safety focus. Meet police officers from your local precinct and learn how to come together as a community during a natural disaster. Depending on your neighborhood, there will likely be food, drink, and a street closure where the kids can play. Find a Night Out event near you.
Wednesday, August 7
Drop in for Open Play at Seattle Children’s PlayGarden, a welcoming, safe, fun, and accessible place for kids (and parents) to be themselves, located just south of Colman Park. PlayGarden staff are on hand to help you tend the sunflowers, visit with farm animals, facilitate inclusive play between kids, and work on a construction, art or garden project. No prior registration or fees required.
Thursday, August 8
Homeschool game day
Playing Ticket to Ride or Candy Land on the living room floor might seem simplistic, but in the big list of summer activities (with more than a month of summer still to go!) a low-key game day might be just the breather you need. Games will also help your kids practice their math, language and strategy skill: win-win! Dust off the classic games from your childhood for a dose of nostalgia, or visit Meeples Games in West Seattle, where families who homeschool meet up on Thursday afternoons all year long. Kids play fun, educational games while parents chat over coffee and snacks from the Meeples café.
Friday, August 9
Get relief from the dog days of summer in one of Seattle’s many wading pools. Five of them — Green Lake, Lincoln Park, Volunteer Park, Van Asselt Playground and Magnuson Park — will open every day for the busiest part of summer. If the weather forecast calls for rain, a temperature lower than 70 degrees, or poor air quality, the wading pool will close. Call the wading pool hotline at 206-684-7796 to learn more about a wading pool near you.
Saturday, August 10
Kendama is a traditional Japanese wooden skill toy that has regained popularity in recent years. Much like a yo-yo or a ball-and-cup toy, Kendama is great for performing tricks and developing hand-eye coordination. The 2018 Gloken Kendama World Cup winner, Nick Gallagher, and his twin brother, Zack Gallagher (both UW students) will lead a family-friendly Kendama tutorial in the beautiful Seattle Japanese Garden today. Learn the game, then explore the grounds. Free garden admission to all youths 12 and younger from 10 am to 2 pm.
Sunday, August 11
Pack your diaper bags and don your flower crowns — It’s Kidchella! Dance, baby, dance to live performances by Seattle kid-music legends Caspar Babypants and The Not-Its!, and hula-hoop performer Hoopsmiles. Kids under 18 get in free to this outdoor music festival at Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheatre, but all kids must be accompanied by an adult. Adult tickets? $30. Witnessing your toddler rush the stage? Priceless.
Monday, August 12
Enjoy the golden hours
The beach at Golden Gardens Park is an idyllic summer destination for local families. Kids love playing in the sand, exploring tide pools, climbing on the playground, and throwing Frisbees in the grass. The weekends get unbearably busy, so weekdays are your best bet to avoid the crowds (and find parking). For a special treat, try the little Dutch pancakes and slushies at Miri’s Snack Shack at the south end of the Golden Gardens bathhouse.
Tuesday, August 13
Birthday Dreams is a local nonprofit dedicated to bringing joy to homeless children with the gift of a birthday party. Volunteer with your kids to donate presents, bake birthday cakes, and organize activities for kids experiencing homelessness all over the Greater Seattle area. Attend a volunteer orientation today at 6 pm at the Birthday Dreams office (1084 Kirkland Avenue NE, Renton). You want the lower entrance on the north side of the building. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to get involved.
Wednesday, August 14
Sure, the Woodland Park Zoo has lions, tigers, and bears, but did you know it also has an outdoor playground designed with natural elements? On the Habitat Discovery Loop, kids can run through a mini-mountain cave, climb a spider’s web, and slide like an otter under the cover of shady trees. Go for a spin on The Historic Carousel, or if the weather is sweltering and smoky, pop into Zoomazium, an indoor play place with nature-themed activity spaces. Feed your new baby in the corner while your toddler crawls through a log, and your big kid climbs a 20-foot tree. You can even borrow headphones, fidgets, weighted lap items, and other sensory supports. zoo.org
Thursday, August 15
Take a hike
Maybe your family is new to Seattle and you want to take advantage of our proximity to nature, but you don’t know how to find the trail. Hike it Baby is a parent group on a mission to get families outside together, enjoying nature in a safe and supported way. The Seattle branch “enjoys toddler walks, adult paced trail hikes, park and plays, costume parades, and urban stroller meanders.” The group takes one hike per week, so if you can’t get it together to get out the door today, you’ll have other opportunities. Join the Facebook group to learn more.
Friday, August 16
Go for a silly swim
One of Seattle’s most popular swimming holes, Mounger Pool (2535 32nd Ave. W.) in Magnolia hosts wacky family fun nights every Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 pm with goofy themes like Outrageous Animal Adventure, Pirate Pool Party, and Superhero Swim. Commit to a rotisserie chicken or other low-effort dinner option from the Albertson’s across the street on the way home.
Saturday, August 17
Work hard, play hard
Go all out in an intergenerational game of ultimate Frisbee, pickleball, basketball, wheelchair rugby and other fun physical activities at Big Day of Play, a free event hosted at the Rainier Community Center and playfields (4600 38th Ave. S) today between 11 am and 5 pm. Shuttles are available throughout the day to the Mt. Baker Rowing and Sailing Center for kayak, paddleboard and other water activity demonstrations.
On the Eastside, watch your kids rope-swing over water, climb a rock wall, crawl through a giant mud pit, and overcome a variety of other challenging obstacles at Lake Sammamish State Park. The Kids Mud Run is open to kids ages 4-10 and is part of Sammamish P.O.P. (Party on the Plat), a new festival featuring music, food, and family fun. Pre-registration and a $25 fee required for the run.
Sunday, August 18
Sidewalk chalk is taken to the next level as world-renowned 3D chalk artists descend upon Redmond Town Center for the third annual PNW Chalkfest. Enjoy live music, jaw-dropping street art, activities for kids, tasty food, and an epic sidewalk sale. Taking silly selfies atop the finished murals is a must.
Monday, August 19
The newly opened Dune Peninsula Park in Tacoma (5400 N. Pearl St.) features a series of six slides next to the east end of the new Wilson Way bridge. The views are magnificent, and taking the slides makes for a fun way to quickly get down to the marina complex below. Take a walk or ride bikes on the Frank Herbert Trail, named for the Tacoma native and famed author of the science fiction novel Dune. The trail connects to the Ruston Way Waterwalk and Point Defiance Park.
Tuesday, August 20
Fresh-picked Washington blueberries can’t be beat. Since weather or heavy picking traffic may close fields for a day or more, always check if the fields will be open before you go. Morning is the perfect time to pick. The weather’s cooler, and the fields are still bountiful with ripe fruit. Most U-picks are cash or check only, so be prepared. Prices generally range from $1.25 to $2.50 per pound. Find a berry farm near you.
Wednesday, August 21
Bye-bye Bill Nye the Science Guy; hello Jargie the Science Girl. Jargie (Jocelyn Argueta) and her penguin lab assistant Benjamin make chemistry concepts fun for kids ages 4 to 8 in this hour long interactive science performance at the Ballard Boys and Girls Club (1767 NW 64th St.). Jargie comes to us all the way from the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., where she kicked off her national tour. This Hispanic woman hopes to inspire underrepresented populations to get involved in science. Show starts at 4 pm. No registration required. Free.
Thursday, August 22
On Thursday and Saturday mornings at 10:30 am, Seattle’s favorite old-school movie rental shop, Scarecrow Video (5030 Roosevelt Way NE) hosts a free program for pre-K-age kids and their families. The Children’s Hour includes a short film, a story, and a fun activity. The theme for the summer is “Celebrations Around the World” and today they’ll be exploring South America. If it’s smoky and hot today, rent a few old movies, break out the DVD player and pass the day inside, snuggling on the couch and watching kid-friendly classics.
Friday, August 23
Stop California dreamin’ and head out to Slidewaters Waterpark in Chelan, Washington, instead for a one-of-a-kind surfing experience. The largest stationary wave in the world is opening to the public for the first time this summer, right in our home state. Kids ages 10 and up can practice surfing without the threat of shark attacks and riptides. Lakeside Surf provides a board with a leash and a helmet; all you need is an adventurous spirit. Try a free, 15-minute session at the beginning or end of the day after you hit the water park, or pre-book a longer session online in advance.
Saturday, August 24
The thrill of climbing a tree is a childhood rite of passage. A little scary for parents, but when done safely, the experience can help your child build confidence while taking risks. The forested area of Carkeek Park (950 NW Carkeek Park Rd.) and Volunteer Park (1247 15th Ave. E.) have strong branches fit for small, brave climbers. To see how the pros do it, catch the Seattle Regional Tree Climbing Competition, an educational event where climbers of all skill levels can learn the latest in safety and climbing techniques.
Sunday, August 25
Wish you were still cool? Chill out at Nordic Sól, a new summer cultural showcase with a focus on the Arctic, at the National Nordic Museum in Ballard. Catch an Arctic short film, play a traditional Inuit game, dance in the (machine-made) snow, and set the kids loose on some STEAM activities while you peruse the cool work of polar artisans.
Monday, August 26
The ferryboat ride to Bainbridge Island is a thrilling adventure all on its own. Here’s how to spend the day like a local once you arrive ashore. After the 35-minute journey across Puget Sound, the kids will have some energy to expend. Drive over to Owen’s Playground (969 Weaver Rd.), a truly unique park with play structures, water features, and a garden where children with physical and intellectual disabilities are able to play side by side with their peers. Then head over to The Marketplace (4738 Lynwood Center Rd. NE) for lunch. The kids can splash around in spray fountains out front while waiting for sandwiches. Once those bellies are full, walk over to Schel Chelb Park (7595 Heron Hall Lane NE) for a playground with natural elements and a swimming beach. The park connects to the Gazzam Trail network. Take an easy hike through an old growth forest. Make a pit stop at the Kids Discovery Museum (301 Ravine Lane NE) or just head back to the ferry and enjoy the peace as the kids sleep in the car on the way home.
Tuesday, August 27
Going back to school is expensive. If you’re in a position to shop for school supplies with your kids, consider buying an extra calculator, set of crayons, pair of shoes, or box of snacks to donate to a family experiencing financial hardship. Check in with donation organizers, including Stuff the Bus, Hopelink, and local PTSAs, to find a supply drive near you where you can drop off or pick up supplies over the summer. Office Depot and Fred Meyer locations often have bins for donating supplies, which they give to neighborhood schools.
Wednesday, August 28
Make ice cream
Celebrate the end of summer with ice cream and story time! Librarians at the Capitol Hill branch (425 Harvard Ave. E.) of the Seattle Public Library will show kids how to make ice cream, then eat it. Bring a small towel, gloves or an oven mitt to use when shaking your bag of ice. The fun starts at 11:30 am, but you’ll want to arrive early to make sure your family gets a seat (and a treat).
Thursday, August 29
The Seattle Astronomical Society (SAS) organizes monthly star parties at Green Lake and Paramount Park all year long. But tonight, the party is going down at Brooks Memorial State Park, located 12 miles north of Goldendale, Washington, in a very dark sky region. Camp out with knowledgeable astronomers all weekend long, viewing solar system objects, deep space objects, and constellations through special telescopes. $10 for non-members.
Friday, August 30
The jam-packed outdoor music festival is a teen music-lover’s paradise, but kids under 8 will get a kick out of the action, too (for free!). Heat up with family-friendly acts like the School of Rock Seattle House Band, a group of local young musicians who perform and provide mentorship to their peers. Then cool down in the International Fountain, the “mother of all Seattle splash parks” at Seattle Center. The festival will release a more detailed lineup of kids’ activities and entertainment as the festival approaches.
Saturday, August 31
Support your local kid entrepreneurs! The Acton Children’s Business Fair gives kids an opportunity to create a product and market it to the public during a one-day event. In years past, kids have sold sushi-shaped candy, bird treat cookies, skin care products, and other treasures. Participants submitted their business ideas back in June, but there is still much wisdom to gain as Children’s Business Fair attendees. The youth businesses give a portion (if not all) of their profits to charity. Find the fair in the east parking lot of Crossroads Mall in Bellevue from noon to 5 pm. Free.
Sunday, September 1
On scheduled Sundays from May to September 15, a portion of Lake Washington Boulevard between Seward Park and Mount Baker Beach will be closed to cars from 10 am to 6 pm for Bicycle Sundays. Easily three times as wide as the Burke-Gilman Trail, Lake Washington Boulevard affords you plenty of space to ride, run or rollerblade. There are several places to stop along the way for a snack or romp on a playground. If you haven’t made it out for a Sunday yet this summer, today is your chance!
Monday, September 2
Boasting the World’s Biggest Bounce House, a brand-new Lost World of Dragons exhibit, and the rare opportunity to gather eggs from an animatronic chicken at Sillyville Farm, the Washington State Fair (formerly “The Puyallup”) now offers way more for kids than the classic roller coasters and Fisher scones of our youth. Buy tickets online in advance, get on the road early, and mentally prepare for large crowds. The chaos is substantial, but the memories made and little taste of country life are worth the drive.
Tuesday, September 3
What to do when back-to-school is right around the corner? Spend the day in the park, help lay out the requisite first-day outfit and put backpacks by the door. Then grab the whole family and go jump in the lake for one last night swim. Nothing calms frazzled nerves or nervous Nellies more than the magical feeling of cool water on a warm evening. Follow with delivery pizza and fall into bed with damp hair — it’ll be a while before the chance arises again.