Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Rainy day Humboldt Penguins at the Woodland Park Zoo

The Woodland Park Zoo's Humboldt Penguins are fun to watch on rainy days.

Rainy day? Go outside anyway

Get that raincoat out of the closet! 4 things to do outside.

What do you do on a rainy day?

Go outside anyway.

Rain is an inconvenience, but it won’t hurt you. (Unlike, say, smoke.)

To make this work well requires a bit of preparation. You and your kids need to dress for the weather. Layers are a must, as are rain coats. Rubber boots and woolen socks (which retain their warming properties even when the rubber boot meets an overly large puddle) may be a good idea. Bringing provisions is a popular move, particularly a thermos full of your family’s favorite sweet hot drink.

But where should you go?

Here are some suggestions.

The beach

Most activities that kids like to do on a beach can be done in the rain. Make sand castles? Yup. Build driftwood forts? Definitely. Throw rocks in the water? For sure. Look for squishy things at low tide? Probably better on a rainy day. (Without the sun beating down, low tide animals are less in danger of drying out.) Another selling point for the beach on a rainy day: you are not troubled by crowds.  Our low tide guide.

Hiking

This isn’t the day to climb a mountain or go anywhere known for its views. Instead, choose trails that follow river courses, or go to waterfalls, or explore dark, dripping forests. Here are five trails that are fun to do in the wet. You could also visit a state park. Some that look particularly good in the rain:

Olallie State Park boasts one of the area’s best hikes hikes to do with children, the Twin Falls hike. It’s two-and-a half miles round trip, with minimal elevation gain, a spectacular waterfall destination and a lovely forest to explore on the way. See also: Olallie State Park, a hit with the kids in any season

Squak Mountain, in the Issaquah Alps, has both forests and streams to explore.

Wallace Falls is a destination for waterfall-lovers. The hike is a maximum 5.5 miles, and many people don’t go the whole way and still have a lovely time.

Flaming Geyser has an absurd name. The seep of methane from the ground no longer flames, and, and when it did, it was more “naturally occurring pilot light” than Yellowstone spectacular. But the park does take in a glorious stretch of the Green River, and that’s a great place to be on a rainy day.

The zoo

A rainy day is great time to go to the zoo, even though the zoo’s indoor areas are closed. With fewer people about, many animals are more active. Creatures from cool climates, such as snow leopards and grizzly bears, are particularly lively on chilly days.

Your local soccer field

Soccer games and practices happen rain or shine, so why should sheets of rain keep you from casually kicking the ball around? Or you could toss a frisbee or a football. You may not last as long as you might have on a sunny day, but you’ll still have fun. (Pining for youth sports? Here’s some advice from local coaches.)

Find more to do in the Seattle’s Child family event calendar

Originally published in fall 2020. Updated for 2022

About the Author

Fiona Cohen

Fiona Cohen lives in Ballard with her husband, two teenagers, a big vegetable garden and an absurd cat. She is the author of "Curious Kids Nature Guide," and is working on a new nature book for kids, to be published by Little Bigfoot in 2022.