If you're taking your vacation days close to home this year, beaches, planes, water playgrounds, dinosaurs and more await you in Everett. In talking with several Everett-area residents with children or grandchildren, I was amazed at how much there is to do for families. Here's an up-to-date list of attractions for you lucky Snohomish County residents and a good excuse for a day trip or mini-vacation for those of us living farther afield.
A day on Jetty Island is like an old-fashioned seaside excursion. You ride a free ferry out to the two-mile-long manmade island at the mouth of the Snohomish River. Unlike most of our local beaches, there is soft sand instead of gravel, and warm, shallow water for swimming and paddling (no lifeguards). Children younger than 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Bring your own picnic food, as there are no concessions.
All summer, there are nature walks and programs, crafts, puppet shows, campfires and special events, beginning with the Opening Day Sandblast July 1 with the Pirates of Puget Sound. A sand castle contest will be held July 12.
IF YOU GO
Where: Ferry departs from the 10th Street Boat Launch and Marine Park at 10th Street and W. Marine View Drive in northwest Everett. Pick up boarding passes at the kiosk in the park.
When: Ferries leave every 30 minutes, 10 a.m. to 5:50 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 8:50 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6:50 p.m. Sunday, from July 1 to Sept. 7.
Cost: Free (the city suggests an optional donation of $2 for adults or $1 for children to help defray the ferry's costs).
Contact: 425-257-8300 (for cancellations due to inclement weather call 425-257-8304); www.everettwa.org – click on "Play" on the home page.
Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour
The Boeing tour at the Future of Flight Aviation Center is the only place in the world where you can watch commercial jets being assembled. This year you can see Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner being built, as well as the 747, 767 and 777 in the world's largest building by volume. Children must be at least 4 feet tall to take the tour.
There's plenty for people of all ages and sizes in the 28,000-square-foot Aviation Center. You can digitally design and test your own jet, take a ride in the flight simulator and play with dozens of interactive exhibits. On the Strato Deck, you can watch planes take off from neighboring Paine Field and listen to the air traffic controllers talk to the pilots. New additions include a working Rolls Royce engine and a runway simulation – stand on a floor of glass and look down on the runway, watching it fall away as the plane "takes off." Visitors on the "Shape the Future" tour spend time at the Passenger Experience Research Center, where they give Boeing their opinions on how airline interiors of the future should look and feel.
IF YOU GO
Where: 8415 Paine Field Blvd., Mukilteo
When: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily; Boeing tours on the hour, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; "Shape the Future" tour, 12:15 p.m.
Cost: Adults $15, children 15 and younger $8 for Aviation Center and Boeing tour; for the Aviation Center only, adults $9, children 6 to 15 $4, and children 5 and younger free; $2.50 additional charge for advance Boeing tour tickets reserved by phone or online – advised during busy summer months.
Contact: 1-800-464-1476; www.futureofflight.org.
You can spend a whole day at Everett's oldest and largest park and not run out of things to do.
Little ones are delighted by the "little barnyard in the city" with rabbits, ducks, pigs and goats to pet and ponies to ride. There's a small water play area for toddlers and 16 interactive water features for older kids at the Rotary Centennial Water Playground, opened in 2007. For lap swimming, family swim times and swim lessons, visit the Swim Center. There's also a playground and lots of wooded trails in the 197-acre park.
IF YOU GO
Where: 802 E. Mukilteo Blvd., Everett
When: Park and Swim Center open daily all year; Animal Farm open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, June 6 to Aug. 16; Water Playground open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, May 23 through Sept. 20.
Cost: Free for park, playground and water playground; voluntary $1 to $2 donation for Animal Farm; adults $2.75 and youth 17 and younger $2.25 per session at the Swim Center.
Contact: 425-257-8700; www.everettwa.org.
Thornton A. Sullivan Park at Silver Lake
Wile away a summer day swimming at the lifeguarded lakeside beach or renting a paddle boat or kayak. Find a huge playground with colorful equipment of all shapes and sizes and lots of wooded nature trails. On Friday nights, enjoy free entertainment, followed by family-friendly movies at "Cinema under the Stars" on the open field at Camp Patterson. Coming up this summer are Journey to the Center of the Earth, Iron Giant, Kung Fu Panda, Babe, Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were Rabbit and Bolt.
Attention pet owners: No dogs or any other pets are allowed in this park.
IF YOU GO
Where: 11400 W. Silver Lake Road, Everett
When: Park open daily all year; lifeguarded swimming beach open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, through Labor Day; boat rentals open noon to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday, through Labor Day; Cinema under the Stars begins with entertainment at 7:30 p.m. and movies at dusk, Fridays, July 17 to Aug. 21.
Cost: All attractions free except boat rentals, which are $10 to $15 per half hour and $15 to $20 per hour, depending on kind of craft.
Contact: 425-257-8700; www.everettwa.org.
Imagine Children's Museum
It does rain sometimes during Northwest summers, and this multi-award-winning museum is a veritable indoor fantasy land for children to play make-believe. It features a "downtown street," Italian café, ferry you can walk into, tree house and climbing mountain, farm area with a cow to milk, theater with dress-up clothes and wildlife veterinary clinic with stuffed animal patients. In 2005, the museum opened its Rooftop Exhibit. A giant dinosaur looms over a sandy pit where children can dig for "dinosaur bones" and "fossils." There's also a musical stage and enormous wooden climbing structure with slides – along with gorgeous views.
If you haven't been to the museum in the past year, check out new exhibits that opened in the fall of 2008. Children younger than 5 can play on the fire truck soft sculpture and everyone can get in the driver's seat of a real Everett Transit bus. In the "World Money News" screening room, children can see themselves reporting the latest financial news on TV. In the Glow Zone, kids can enter a black-light lit room full of florescent glow-in-the-dark pegs and shapes to create designs on tables and in peg boards on the walls.
IF YOU GO
Where: 1507 Wall St., Everett
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday.
Cost: $7; children younger than 12 months free; half price 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays; free during Friday Night Live, 5:30 to 9 p.m., the third Friday of each month.
Contact: 425-258-1006; www.ImagineCM.org.
OTHER COOL ATTRACTIONS
Farmers Market on the Waterfront – All farmers markets make great outings, but Everett’s weekly market is special because it’s set on a dock next to a bustling marina. Stay for a picnic from “ready-to-eat” vendors and enjoy free music. West Marine View Drive near 18th Street Marina Village; the entrance is between Lombardi’s Restaurant and the Scuttlebutt Brewery. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, May 31 through Sept. 27, rain or shine; live music 1 to 3 p.m. Free; 425-258-3356; www.everettfarmersmarket.com.
McCollum Park Outdoor Pool – This spacious pool has a water slide and lots of room for family swims and lessons, as well as a shallow wading area. The surrounding McCollum Snohomish County Park near Silver Lake has a BMX track, nature trails, baseball field, playground and stream and wetland ecology learning facility. 600 128th St. S.E., Everett. Pool open daily June 6 through Aug. 1; hours for swim team, lessons, lap swim, open swim and pool rentals vary daily – call or check online schedule. $3.50 per session; children 2 and younger free; “chilly day special” (when air temperature is below 65 degrees) $2. 425-357-6036; www1.co.snohomish.wa.us.
Puget Park Drive-In – This 1971-era drive-in is one of the few places in the Puget Sound area to watch movies from your car or under the stars in the back of a pick-up. 13020 Meridian Ave. S. (exit 186 from Interstate 5). Operates May through Mid-September; box office opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday; first show at dusk. Adults $8.50; children ages 6 to 11 $3.50; children 5 and younger free; cash only. 425-338-5957;www.sterlingrealty.com/drivein.asp.
Everett Skate Deck – This old-school roller-skating rink has been around since 1961. Skate to music under lights and a disco ball (DJ plays requests) or play on giant inflatable bouncy toys. 9700 19th Ave. S.E., Everett. Call or check online for summer hours. $4 to $7.50 per session – lower if you bring your own regular or inline skates. 425-337-0202; www.everettskatedeck.com.
Spray Pad at Willis Tucker Community Park – OK, this is a little out of town, but too fun to miss. On a typical summer day, a whopping 160,000 gallons of water shoot up from the ground or trickle down from overhead umbrellas or spray out of a dragon’s mouth. Press a yellow pad to activate the water. 6705 Puget Park Drive, Snohomish. 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 to 8 p.m. daily through late September (closed for daily maintenance 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.) Free. 425-388-3411; www1.co.snohomish.wa.us.
Wenda Reed is a Bothell writer and frequent contributor to Seattle’s Child, who thanks Everett-area residents Nida Jones, Randy Bertran, Roger Bruce and Chris Stay for sharing their thoughts on some of the best family-friendly spots in the area.