It might be rainy. It might even be snowy. But the cozy days of huddling up together at home for the holidays are gone – those kids need to burn some energy! Here are six funtastic outings for families, some indoor and some outdoor, that will leave your kids all tuckered out.
1. Drop in for Tot Open Gym Time
A new indoor play space just opened on the Eastside, and dreary this place is not. A visit to WiggleWorks at Crossroads Bellevue is more like being transported into a Candy Land game. The soft-play features at this vibrantly-colored gym, for kids 48 inches and shorter, are designed to keep them happily in motion. Slides, bouncy areas and swings will help your child get their wiggles out. Babies can play, too, sectioned off from older children in an age-appropriate space. Pay for the day (reentry included), so there is no need to keep an eye on the clock. WiggleWorks is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Cost: $10 per child, $8 for siblings, free for children younger than 1. 425-641-2186; www.wiggleworkskids.com.
OmKids Play Gym, near Gasworks Park in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood, is a favorite with local families. Gymnastic rings, a balance beam, trampolines, kid-size tunnels, sling swings suspended from beams, a knotted gym rope like most of us scaled in elementary school, and the hugest pile of cushions you've ever seen are there to entice your young child. Oh, and parents get to use the equipment, too. Drop-in sessions occur on weekdays (except Thursdays) from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Cost: $8 per child for drop-in or $70 for a 10-visit pass; adults are free. 206-829-9969; www.omculture.com/omkids.
2. Go for a Swim
You'd be surprised how much energy kids burn when they are splashing around in the water. Dive for rings, play Marco Polo or just swim some laps; an afternoon at the pool will wear them right out. What's more, your children don't have to be adept swimmers to have fun in the pool; many sites offer shallow-water pools, a variety of float toys and lifejackets. Check the public swim schedule at your local parks department for family and open swim times. For a mere $3 to $5, you'll have a blast on a rainy day.
Safe N Sound Swimming, a popular swim school in Seattle, hosts family swim times for the public on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. You must be members ($30 annually) and family swim costs $7. The Bellevue Aquatic Center has two pools, including a divine warm springs pool (91 degrees) used for therapy but also open to the public several times a week. North enders love the Lynnwood Recreation Center pool, with its water slides and aquatic playground, and the Mountlake Terrace Recreation Pavilion pool, which sports a lazy river and shallow play area for little ones draws families from all over the region. The Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way is your family's chance to swim in an Olympic-size pool. It was built for the Seattle Goodwill Games in 1990 and is used extensively for competition. The pool has several afternoon family swims and nighttime public swims.
3. Enjoy a Snowshoe Hike
Exercise together as a family while enjoying the winter beauty of the forest. Guided weekend snowshoe hikes on Snoqualmie and Stevens Passes kick off in January. On Snoqualmie Pass, the Forest Service offers 90-minute interpretive hikes and, during their Saturday "Kids in the Snow" program, young explorers learn about tracking, crawl into a snow cave and check out a magnified snow crystal (no experience necessary). Visit Seattle's Child's website, www.seattleschild.com, for additional details and for information about guided snowshoe hikes at Stevens Pass, Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier. Cost: $15 per adult and $10 per child, suggested donation. 425-434-6111 (Snoqualmie Pass), 360-677-2414 (Stevens Pass); www.fs.usda.gov/mbs.
4. Diggin' in the Dirt
Lil' Diggers Playtime at Sandbox Sports.
Just watch an episode of Survivor, and you'll see how exhausting it is to dig through the sand. During Lil' Diggers Playtime, kids 5 and younger can enjoy Sandbox Sports' huge indoor sandbox, where they can run free and dig around for treasure. The dump trucks, shovels and pails, balls and slides will keep your kiddos pleased as punch. They can even pretend they are on a beach somewhere in Hawaii, rather than on one in rainy South Seattle. Lil' Diggers sessions are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Cost: $6 per child per session. 206-624-2899; www.sandboxsports.net/kids-sandbox.
5. Hit the Trails
We will see more of drizzle than sun in January but, thankfully, local trails are often shrouded by trees from rainfall. A winter walk in the woods is a great way to burn some energy and get some much-needed fresh air. The 71-acre Tacoma Nature Center offers a serene respite from the city with its oasis of trees, trails and forest wildlife. More than two miles of soft-surfaced walking trails wind through the nature preserve. Tacoma Nature Center offers "Family Nature Walks" on select Saturdays, when a naturalist helps kids discover the plants and animals that live in the park and how they adapt to the changing seasons. Cost: free, $3 suggested donation. 253-591-6439; www.metroparkstacoma.org/tacomanaturecenter.
Tales & Trails events at Seattle's Seward Park on Wednesdays and Saturdays tap into the innate interest small children have in being outside and poking around. The hour-long program starts with a short story in the park's Environmental & Audubon Center, to help orient kids to what they might see on their walk on an easy wooded park trail. Tales & Trails is for kids ages 1 to 5. Cost: $2 per person. 206-652-2444; http://sewardpark.audubon.org.
Other outdoor fun includes a ranger-led hike at Lewis Creek Park in Bellevue the first Saturday of each month, or partake in their "Wild Tracks" program on Jan. 12 and look for signs of wildlife along the paths. In Seattle, explore tide pools by flashlight on the beach at Discovery Park on Jan. 11 or learn how to identify woody plants in the wintertime at Carkeek Park on Jan. 12. Or, try the aquatic nighttime adventure Pier Peer in Tacoma on Jan. 12 and 19.
6. Get Elevated
A new facility with what is believed to be the biggest indoor play structure in Washington just opened in Bothell. Halleluiah! Kids are guaranteed to have fun and get their blood pumping here. Elevated Sportz offers a 10,000-square-foot trampoline jump area and foam pit (ages 3 and older) and a 6,500-square-foot multi-level Kidz Adventure play structure for children younger than 12 (think McDonald's Playland on steroids). Older kids will get a kick out of playing dodgeball or basketball slam dunk on the trampolines, or converging with their peers on "Tween Night" or "Teen Night." Parents can choose to jump and play, or relax with coffee and free WiFi. An added bonus: the on-site café supports customers with food sensitivities and allergies. Cost: $5 or $6 for 30 minutes and $11 for 60 minutes of trampoline time; $7 or $8 for 60 minutes and $11 for 90 minutes for Kidz Adventure; combo tickets are $19 or $22 for two hours, depending on whether it is a weekday or weekend. Get discounted rates during "Toddler Time" on weekday mornings. 425-949-4488; www.elevatedsportz.com.
On the Eastside you can also check out Sky High Sports in Bellevue for wall-to-wall trampoline fun.