Burn Some Cookie Calories
It's true, much of the hubbub around the holidays centers around food and gifts, but give yourself a chance to get away from it all while getting some exercise with your family – it's good for the body and the brain.
There are several great ways to engage your family in some active fun this winter, from traditional events such as kids' dashes and nature walks to seasonal events such as ice skating and holiday scavenger hunts. Our list of ideas will help your family on their merry way.
As the weather cools down, bundle up and go ice skating for some festive holiday cheer. Enjoy live music at the Franciscan Polar Plaza in Tacoma, try some "stroller skating" at Bellevue's Ice Arena, or make a trip to the Winterfest Ice Rink and enjoy all of the holiday fun that Seattle Center has to offer. Top it off with some hot chocolate and this outing will be a sure winner with your kids.
Read our story, "Ice Skating: Tips for a Successful First Outing with Kids," for the low-down on where to ice skate around town, along with helpful tips for new skaters.
Holiday Fun Runs
Put some jingle bells on your running shoes and partake in a holiday fun run. There are events each weekend in December; costumes and joyful dispositions are encouraged. Here are a few family-friendly runs with kids' dashes:
- Sunday, Dec. 9: Jingle Bell Run/Walk in Seattle
- Sunday, Dec. 9: Reindeer Run in Olympia (activities provided by the Hands On Children's Museum)
- Saturday, Dec. 15: Magnuson Park's Holiday Fun Run
- Saturday, Dec. 15: Santa Runs Tacoma
- Sunday, Dec. 16: 12K's of Christmas Holiday Run in Kirkland
If your kids are able to run a 5K, they can run for free at the Christmas Rush Fun Run in Kent or the Toys for Tots Airport Run in Arlington (bring a toy donation) on Dec. 8. At the Jingle Bell Run in Tacoma on Dec. 24, the entry fee includes jingle bells and fun flashers. Check out the sights of Seattle in the City Running Tours 5K, which traverses South Lake Union to the Space Needle.
Guided Nature Walks
If you'd prefer something a little more low key than a busy fun run, take a family-friendly walk in one of our region's winter wonderlands. Kubota Garden in the Rainier Beach neighborhood offers twice-monthly exploration events. Seattle Parks and Recreation offers guided wetland and beach walks during the winter, too. There are "Nighttime at the Beach" events at Discovery Park on Dec. 14 and Me-Kwa-Mooks Beach on Dec. 15, and a Wetland Wild Walk at Carkeek Park on Dec. 15. Seward Park Environmental & Audubon Center hosts Tales & Trails walks every other Saturday, geared toward little ones ages 1 to 5.
Bellevue has some great treks as well. The first Saturday of each month, join a ranger in exploring the natural history of Lewis Creek Park. Every Saturday afternoon families can take a guided nature walk through the Lake Hills Greenbelt or Mercer Slough Nature Park. For more information about these hikes, visit the Lewis Creek Park website.
Winter is a grand time to hop the ferry over to Bainbridge Island for some fun at IslandWood. On Dec. 9, learn about and collect invasive species during a naturalist-led walk, then use them to make wreaths and other botanical art. On Dec. 15, an IslandWood staff naturalist will offer a "wet walk in the woods" at the Brightwater Environmental Education Center near Woodinville, topped off with warm beverages and stories by the fire. Also on Bainbridge Island, enjoy the sights and smells of the Bloedel Reserve, with nearly two miles of meadows and marshlands, ponds and bluffs, and Japanese and moss gardens. The reserve also has a miniature holiday village on display throughout December.
In the north end, celebrate the winter solstice with a walk on the Snohomish River Trail, which will be splendidly lit up by luminarias on Dec. 21.
For something unique and loads of fun, try an urban scavenger hunt. The Street Scramble at the Market on Dec. 8 allows your family to explore Pike Place Market while searching for clues in a two-hour foot race. Check out the twinkling lights and downtown decorations as you zoom by.
Techies will enjoy the Seattle Holiday GooseChase, a month-long scavenger hunt in downtown Seattle. Download the free GooseChase mobile app, complete missions around town, then upload photos to "submit evidence" that you've succeeded. Weekly prizes are awarded to participants, not to mention the active fun you'll enjoy on your journey. You can channel your inner Tom Cruise on this one.