Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

66 days of free summer fun in Seattle

Photo by Joshua Huston

66 days of FREE fun in the summer of 2023!

You don't need to spend much — or any — money to have a great summer day!

“Boredom” was my mother’s favorite summer word. “Boredom,” she liked to say, “leads to creativity.”

We didn’t have a lot of extra money for activities, but we looked forward to being “bored” all summer long. One perfect summer day on the way to 2nd grade, I recall eating blackberry pancakes with my friends before we raced our bikes around our neighborhood. After that we put on a talent show for our siblings and other neighbor kids. I can still see the faces in the audience, enthralled with our terrible lip-syncing.

Summer fun doesn’t have to cost a lot, or anything at all. Below are activity options for every day of summer —of them free (not counting gas or bus fare). Here’s to 66 perfect summer days for your kids, filled with fun that costs nothing but your time and their creativity.

Seattle Summer free activities

Photo courtesy of Folklore Mexicano Tonantzin

July

Saturday, July 1

Take your seat at the Detective Cookie Chess Club. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played before. This is where you learn and where you make friends. Det. Cookie Bouldin launched this popular club nearly 17 years ago and was honored when the Det. Cookie Chess Park, located at 5025 S. Barton Place in Seattle, was unveiled in 2022. The chess club meets Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m. at Rainier Beach Community Center. Ages 7 and older.

One more for today: Head over to Seward Park to celebrate International Reggae Day with a Seattle Peace Concert. It’s music and fun from noon to 6 p.m. More concerts will take place all over the city throughout summer. Details at seapeace.org

Sunday, July 2

What does a beaver house look like? Find out by visiting the Beaver Lodge Sanctuary, located at 37th Ave. E and E McGilvra St. in Madison Park. You’ll find this woodsy water sanctuary at the end of a short, semi-hidden gravel path, shoehorned between a couple of classic homes and a golf course. Look for piles of crisscrossed logs, groomed branches, and other signs of an active beaver dam, as well as other wildlife. The first one who spots the dam gets to choose what’s for dinner!

Monday, July 3

Play on Pier 62 on the Seattle Waterfront. There is often a game of pickup soccer happening on the pier’s high-quality mini-soccer field and kids are welcome to jump in. Don’t forget protective gear and you may want to bring your own soccer ball to play among yourselves if no game is on. When the kids are tuckered out, move on over to the cornhole game and giant chess or checkers boards. Pier 62 will be a center of free this summer. For the full list go to waterfrontparkseattle.org

Tuesday, July 4

Celebrate the nation’s independence. Pull on your red, white, and blues and head out to your city’s local fireworks show tonight. On the Eastside, the largest display will be in Bellevue and feature free live music, entertainment, food trucks, and plenty of children’s activities. In Seattle, Seafair will host this year’s rockets’ red glare with the best viewing at three different locations: Gas Works Park, South Lake Union Park, and Lake Union. Are your children sensitive to fireworks noise or not into crowds? Bring the party home! Make the silly hats, set up a scavenger hunt (See July 24), and end the night with oven-baked smores and a fireworks broadcast. If you watch the east coast celebration, you’ll all be in bed by 10 p.m. Find all the 4th of July celebrations in the area at Seattleschild.com/calendar

Wednesday, July 5

Go for a row! The Center for Wooden Boats offers free boat “rentals,” Wednesday through Sunday on the south end of Lake Union. Paddle out for your free hour to get a close look at maritime Seattle. It’s a popular activity that fills up fast  — register early. Life jackets are provided and required.
cwb.org/rent

One more for today: What’s a Sound Journey Meditation? Find out today at Pier 62 with instructor Mary Ann Stancel. This 30-minute guided meditation uses words, singing bowls and other sound instruments to help adults and kids 7 and older relax, unwind, destress, release negative energy and harness love and peace in the body. Try something new tonight at 7:15 p.m.

Thursday, July 6

Celebrate Mexican culture. Watch Folklore Mexicano Tonantzin this evening at Pier 62. The performances in this set are all about celebrating Mexican traditions and passing them on to new generations. Folklore Mexicano Tonantzin’s goal is to connect kids to the culture through folklore. Performances run 5 to 7 p.m. Go early and settle in for a colorful experience.

One more for today: Visit the Museum of History and Industry. We know, we know, they just got out of a big school building! But this big building is super cool on a hot day, with lots of room to roam and wonderful, interactive history. The first Thursday of the month is free entrance day at several Seattle museums, including MOHAI. Let them create in the Kids-Struction Zone for kids ages 2-7. Other first Thursday with free days include Seattle Art Museum, Burke Museum, National Nordic Museum, and Museum of Flight (5 pm – 9 pm only).

Friday, July 7

Take a Seattle Free Walking Tour. Think you know this city? Think again. The tour leaders at the Seattle Free Walking Tour have collected all sorts of interesting historical tidbits and stories which make their walking tours fun for the whole family. There are several tours to choose from, including the flagship Seattle 101, the Old Cemetery Tour and an insider’s tour of Pike Place Market. Tips welcome! walk-seattle.com 

Saturday, July 8

Picnic at Woodland Park Zoo Rose Garden. This pesticide-free garden is located at the southeast end of the zoo and is a feast for the senses. The smell of blooming roses fills the air from late May through August on this 2.5-acre swath. Can your kids guess how many varieties of roses are planted here? (A: There are 3,000 roses representing more than 200 varieties.) Pull out the picnic basket for a lunch or dinner meal and let their noses roam while you lie back and relax. The garden is open from 7:30 a.m. until dusk every day of the year. 

One more for today: Seattle Outdoor Theater Festival takes place today starting at noon and tomorrow (July 9) at Volunteer Park. Two days of free theater in the park are brought to you and your family by numerous local theater companies. Speaking of free outdoor theater, be sure to check the line-up at 3Greenstage.org, which will offer hilarious fan favorite “Comedy of Errors” and the spellbinding fairy tale “Cymbeline” this summer as part of the troupe’s Shakespeare in the Park series.

Sunday, July 9

Watch boats float, learn about salmon and listen to music at the Ballard Locks. Throughout the summer, boats move in and out of Lake Union from Puget Sound. The Ballard Locks are where all that action happens as the locks work to keep fresh water and salt water separated. Explore the new visitor’s center and museum (open Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), take a guided tour of the locks to learn how salmon use them during their migration, and watch the boats rise and fall between gates. Each summer, the Carl S. English Botanical Garden adjacent to the locks holds a series of free concerts. The Centerpiece Jazz Band plays today at 2 p.m. Check out the whole summer line-up at ballardlocks.org/free-
summer-concerts.html

Monday, July 10

Day trip it to Kelsey Creek Farm in Bellevue. You don’t have to go far to have a real farm adventure. Kelsey Creek Community Park and Kelsey Creek Farm sit on 150 acres of forest, meadows, and wetlands in the heart of Bellevue. Visit the farm’s historic barns and popular petting yard, then hike park trails, hit the playground, and picnic on a grassy knoll to get the most out of this fun, free, and very full day.

Tuesday, July 11

Hunt for gnomes! Maple Valley’s half-mile Gnome Trail, located in the Rock Creek Natural Area, is a perfect outing for a summer day. The canopy of trees provides some sun protection and, no matter how many times you go, kids are destined to meet a new gnome along the path. Be on the lookout for a 3-foot-tall gnome named George, the largest on this walk. Check out our article “Gnomes’ sweet home: A Visit to Maple Valley” at Seattleschild.com.

Wednesday, July 12

Make the rounds to themed playgrounds. Have an aspiring astronaut in the family or someone who loves trains? Maybe a kid who likes to play board games? Fuel their passions at a themed playground today. Zip down the line at Wilburton Park in Bellevue, climb the Jupiter structure at space-themed North Kirkland Community Park, and knock one out of the park at Shoreline’s baseball playground at Shoreview Park. Hop square to square at the colorful Chutes and Ladders-inspired West Fenwick Park in Kent. Check out “10 fun, themed playgrounds in the Seattle area to explore”  at Seattleschild.com.

Thursday, July 13

Head to Jamfest 2023 in the International District, All are invited to enjoy a summer evening of fun and connection in the historic Canton and Maynard Alleys. JamFest features live music, games, cabaret performers, and food and craft vendors in the alleys outside Wing Luke Museum, 719 S King St. in Seattle. Donation. 5-8 p.m.

Even more music for today: Head over to Volunteer Park for the first of six free Summer Series at the Amphitheater concerts between  now and August 17. Shows are Thursday evenings 6:00-8:30 p.m. Bring a picnic, your blanket and let the music wash over you all. Tonight’s show features Khu.éex’ with Preston Singletary and Show Brazil! To see the whole summer line-up go to volunteerparktrust.org/summer-series-2023

Friday, July 14

Join the fun as Festival Sundiata presents the Black Arts Fest. For the next three days, the arts fest will take center stage at the Armory Food & Event Hall, Mural Amphitheater, and Fisher Pavilion Rooftop in Seattle Center. Connect to the stories of African American heritage and experience through an entertainment-packed weekend featuring hip hop, dance, gospel, visual arts, soul food, exhibits and a marketplace. For a list of all summer Festal events, search for Seattle Festal.

Saturday, July 15

Visit the Amazon Spheres. According to their designers, those odd glass orbs in downtown Seattle were “created to reconnect people to nature through biophilic design and provide a space to take in the positive effects of exposure to nature, like increasing creativity and reducing mental fatigue.” But for kids, they are just plain interesting. Who wouldn’t want to see what’s inside the mysterious structures? Book your 1-hour free visit for a time slot on the first or third Saturday of the month, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Sunday, July 16

Bicycle Weekend — get out and ride! In case you missed the news, this whole weekend is Bicycle Weekend, a Seattle tradition during which a several-mile portion of Lake Washington Boulevard is closed to motorized vehicles, 10 a.m. Saturday to 6 p.m. Sunday. Seattle Parks and Recreation invites everyone in the community to bike, jog or stroll along the boulevard between the Seward Park entrance and Mount Baker Park’s beach today. The next Bicycle Weekends are scheduled for August 19-20 and 26-27 and September 2-3 and 16-17.  For more info go to parkways.seattle.gov and search for Bicycle Weekends.

Monday, July 17

Take a Sound Bath. Introduce the kids to a new kind of bath — one that resonates inside the body. St. Mark’s Cathedral offers a free sound bath on the third Monday of the month. What is it, you ask? A sound bath is a meditative experience “bathing” the audience in sound waves produced by various instruments — gongs, singing bowls, percussion, chimes, rattles, tuning forks, and the human voice. Bring a blanket and yoga mat and invite these healing sounds to wash over the whole family. Register online before you go. Best for kids able to sit or lie silently for an hour.

Tuesday, July 18

Take a story walk. A walk, a story, time in nature, and a little literary adventure — what’s not to like about a story walk? The non-profit group PopUp StoryWalk integrates children’s stories (some by local authors) into popular trail walks in and around East King County. Check out the Pretzel Tree Trail, a permanent story walk installation in Issaquah. Learn where and when new stories will be displayed at facebook.com/popupstorywalk/popupstorywalk.org

One more for today: Pier 62’s skate park is back this summer. Kids ages 7 and older are invited to roll over to the pier from 3-6 p.m. to free skate, or come early for free skateboarding clinics, courtesy of Skate Like A Girl. Another free skate session will take place August 15, 3-6 p.m.

Wednesday, July 19

Plawk! Plog! Get out and go! Yes, these are real words. Plawking or plogging is the simple act of taking a walk or a jog and picking up trash along the way — all part of the effort to keep neighborhoods beautiful. The pastime, which originated in Sweden, is great exercise and a wonderful way to get to know a neighborhood. Grab your walking sticks, tie trash bags to your waists and plawk the litter from your street or local park. Plogging.org

More ways to plawk: Grab a group of friends and spend a few hours beautifying Alki Beach through the Block Drop program. It’s fun for the family and great for the environment. The program supplies buckets, vests and pick-sticks and collects the garbage you gather; your group provides the environmental preservation spirit. Go online to plan a Block Drop. Once you’re done, the beach is yours to enjoy! 

Thursday, July 20

Take the stairs all around town. Stairs have several benefits: they take you to new places, tucker out antsy kids, and provide a heart-pumping workout for parents. We call that a win-win-win! With more than 650 publicly accessible stairways in Seattle, there’s plenty of adventure to be found in every neighborhood. You may want to save the longest staircase in Seattle — 388-step Howe Street Stair — for very determined older kids. Check out “5 Seattle stair walks that are fun (and worth the work) with kids” at Seattleschild.com.

Friday, July 21

Go on a city or neighborhood art walk. Every month, local artists and small businesses get together to put on city or neighborhood art walks. Art walks are a great, free opportunity to see, learn about, be inspired by, and support artists right where you live. It’s a nationwide craze, but the very first art walk in the U.S. happened in Pioneer Square in 1981. Today, head out to the University District Art Walk. For the full list of Seattle’s 16 neighborhood art walks and when they are, go to seattle.gov/arts/experience/art-walks. But check ahead to make sure each walk is happening as scheduled.

Other monthly walks in the greater Puget Sound area include Edmonds Art Walk (3rd Thursdays), Everett Art Walk (3rd Thursdays), and the Bellevue Art Walk, a self-guided tour that can be taken at any time. Looking for other art walks with kids? Check out “5 short, fun Eastside walks to take with kids” at Seattleschild.com.

Saturday, July 22

Take a free tour of Kubota Gardens. This is your chance to see the “hidden jewel of Rainier Beach.” These lush gardens offer more than beautiful plants in the Japanese tradition. On 20 acres, there are 11 ponds, two red bridges, 140 varieties of maple tree and 30 varieties of hydrangea. It’s the perfect place for a quiet game of hide-and-seek, to marvel at the shapes of bonsai, and to partake in a picnic. Reservations are required for garden tours, which begin at the kiosk adjacent to the parking lot. Every 4th Saturday at 10 a.m.

Sunday, July 23

Jump in at a free swimming beach. There are many options for swimming in the greater Seattle area and several where lifeguards help to keep swimmers safe. In Seattle, Madrona Park Beach, Matthews Beach Park, West Green Lake Beach and Madison Park Beach, are just a few of the 12 swimming beaches overseen by Seattle Parks and Recreation. (NOTE: Magnuson, east Green Lake and Seward Park beaches will remain closed this summer due to lack of lifeguards).

On the Eastside, here are some great bets: Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah, Juanita Beach Park and Houghton Beach Park both in Kirkland, Idylwood Beach Park in Redmond, and Meydenbauer Bay Park in Bellevue. On the south end, Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park is the spot.

Monday, July 24

Go on a DIY scavenger hunt. It takes a little planning, but a scavenger hunt is a wonderful way to spend some hours, particularly in a large city park or on a school playground in the summer months. Step 1) A parent or adult goes to a site and identifies 10 things that children should hunt for (an old log, a green swing, and so on). Tie as many ribbons to each item as represents kids participating. Step 2) Send kids out to find those 10 things. When they find one, they claim a ribbon. Step 3) The first one to find all items wins — then goes out and helps the others. As each child finds the last item on the list, the group of helpers grows. Celebrate afterward with homemade awards or a treat.

Tuesday, July 25

It’s SEA-ttle! Take in the tide pools! Check the tide pool charts and head out to find amazing Puget Sound creatures usually visible only at low tide. There’s a lot to look for: crabs, sea stars, Gunnell fish, anemones, barnacles and more can be found at Marina Beach Park in Edmonds or on the beaches at Discovery Park below Magnolia or Golden Gardens Park in North Seattle. Remember to use a gentle two-finger touch to explore sea creatures. Check out “Your guide to exploring Seattle-area beaches at low tide” at Seattleschild.com.

Wednesday, July 26

Build driftwood forts in Lincoln Park. Strange structures are popping up along the beaches of beautiful Lincoln Park in West Seattle. Each week a new teepee or art structure rises up from the wood-strewn beach on the west side of the park. Find the park at 8011 Fauntleroy Way SW, then follow the sidewalk at the south end down to the beach. Or make it a forest adventure first, winding your way through the Lincoln Park woodlands and down several long staircase paths to the water.

Thursday, July 27

Go fishing! The statewide 2023 Trout Derby runs every day this summer. Kids age 14 and under fish for free, while adults and youth 15 and older must purchase a fishing permit ($11.35/day). Go to a King County lake participating in the derby (Cottage Lake, Green Lake, Lake Margaret, Langlois Lake, Pine Lake, Steel Lake, Wilderness Lake), drop in your line, and if you catch a trout with a blue tag, keep the tag. To claim your prize, log onto the state wildlife department’s webpage, enter the tag number, the lake you caught it in, the date it was caught, and your contact information.

Friday, July 28

See an outdoor movie. Settle in for an outdoor Movie at the Mural at Seattle Center tonight for a screening of “The Princess Bride.” This beloved classic, blending comedy, adventure, romance and fantasy, celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. It’s a staple complete with all the fencing, chasing, escapes, silly accents and unusually-sized rodents you’d expect. The film starts at 9 p.m., but get there early to stake out a spot with blankets, pillows and snacks. The summer line-up includes “Clueless” on August 4, and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” on August 25 and several other film classics. For a complete line-up of outdoor movies go to “Family-Friendly Outdoor Movies” at Seattleschild.com.

One more for today: Get into the groove at the free All-City Band Jam at Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center tonight. Band Jam is an outdoor marching band jamboree where spectators of all ages can enjoy full performances of the marching bands many typically seen only in passing on parade routes. This non-competitive event, held each year the night before Seattle’s Torchlight Parade begins at 6 p.m. and should wrap up by9 a.m.

Saturday, July 29

Hit the Bellevue Art Museum (BAM) Arts Fair. Expose your kids to the creative minds and energies of hundreds of artists during the largest arts-and-crafts festival in the Northwest. Expect hands-on art projects, games and art gallery activities for kids ages 3-10. Free entrance at BAM. The whole family will enjoy the BAMboozle Stage featuring local music just for kids. Bring your sidewalk chalk to add creations along NE 6th Street (outside Bellevue Arts Museum). Today and tomorrow 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Bellevue Arts Museum. Learn more at bellevuearts.org/artsfair

Sunday, July 30

Squeeze some lemons. There’s that old saying that is handy when things don’t go the way kids want them to: “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Sometimes, however, making lemonade is just a fun way to spend a summer day — and perhaps make a little money for a special treat or a favorite cause. Pull out old boxes, duct tape and markers to help your crew fashion a lemonade stand, then squeeze those lemons, take your spot on a lawn chair and let your little entrepreneurs work the pitch. This free activity has some start-up costs, but with luck they’ll be recouped in vigorous sales!

Monday, July 31

Pet the animals. Visit the petting zoo at Redmond’s Farrell-McWhirter Park. It’s one thing to see animals. It’s quite another (and a lot more fun for most kids) to touch them. Today you’re in for a hands-on experience with chickens, bunnies, pigs, horses and more. The farm at Farrell McWhirter offers kid-friendly classes about animals, their behaviors and their habitats. Check out “Best family farms and petting zoos around Seattle” at Seattleschild.com.

The Gum Wall at Pike Place Market. Photo courtesy Diego Delso

August

Tuesday, August 1

Take a Night Out with neighbors. Learn about public safety during block parties and other activities at tonight’s citywide Night Out event. Neighborhood gatherings and street closures are sponsored by the Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention program. Night Out, an annual nationwide celebration, is designed to heighten crime prevention awareness, get communities involved in anti-crime efforts and unite neighbors in watching out for one another. Learn more at
seattle.gov/police/crime-prevention/night-out

Wednesday, August 2

Go birding at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Located at 3501 N.E. 41st in Seattle, the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture is an excellent spot to get a good look at numerous bird species. The small ponds within the center’s Union Bay Natural Area are popular spots for shorebirds, while passerines are known to hang out among the willows. An osprey family nests on the platform at the water’s edge and sightings of red-winged blackbirds and blue herons are common. A kiosk on the east side of the Natural Area provides a weekly list of birds observed there. Search for “Common Birds of Seattle Field Guide for Youth” from Seattle Audubon, print it out and make note of the birds you find. Or, even easier, download the new Birda app at birda.org

Thursday, August 3 

Visit the Seattle Japanese Garden. This 3.5-acre urban oasis in the Lake Washington Arboretum is one of the gems of the city and a celebration of Japanese artistry and presence in this region. Admission is free on the first Thursday of each month. Hours vary with the season, so check before you go.

One more for today: Check out dinosaur bones. The Burke Museum is home to the only real dinosaur fossils on display in Washington state (including one of the best-preserved T. rex skulls in the world)! Experience the wonder of Puget Sound through the unique wildlife and living cultures that call the Salish Sea home in the new We Are Puget Sound exhibit. But there’s much more to the Burke, which offers free entrance on the first Thursday of the month.

Friday, August 4

Join the parade at Magnolia Summerfest. Designed specifically with kids and families in mind, Magnolia Summerfest runs in tandem with Seafair Weekend. But rather than Seafair hydroplanes, visitors to this fest get to: view a pet fashion and costume contest, dive into free kids’ crafts and games, boogie to live music, spread out for an outdoor movie, and bop in the bounce houses. The event includes toy boat building and races, food trucks and other points of interest for kids of all ages. And the crown jewel? That’s tomorrow! The annual Kids Parade prefaces the spectacular Magnolia Seafair Parade. Encourage your kids to reinvent themselves entirely or dress up as their favorite characters, animals or entities. Then show up at 9:45 a.m. at the corner of 34th Avenue West and West Raye Street in Magnolia to join the parade. The kids’ march starts Saturday at 10 a.m., followed by the larger Magnolia Seafair Parade at 10:30 a.m.

One more for today: Check out the Incredible Idioms event in Renton’s Liberty Park. A show that will include professional magic, comedy and all sorts of fun begins at 11:30 a.m.

Saturday, August 5

Stargaze with real astronomers. After spending a full and free day at the Magnolia Summerfest (and joining the kids’ parade at 10 a.m. today! See August 4.), pack up the family and join experienced astronomers from the Seattle Astronomical Society (SAS) at Paramount School in Shoreline tonight. SAS members will share their telescopes and binoculars to give kids and parents a stunning view of the night sky. The moon is near its “third quarter” phase tonight which makes the Shoreline skies particularly dark and favorable for stargazing at 9 p.m. For more information, go to seattleastro.org

Speaking of stargazing, the Jacobson Observatory at the University of Washington opens its telescope to the public on the first and third Tuesday evenings, April through September, rain or shine. Doors open between 8 and 9 p.m.

One more for today: Blue Angels fly-by. The prestigious and always exciting Navy precision flying team will be visible in the skies over the Seattle area several times over the weekend. Usually, they practice Thursday and Friday before Seafair weekend, between 3-4 p.m. Today and tomorrow the flight crew will do their main performances over Lake Washington, 3:30-4:30 p.m. each day.

Sunday, August 6

Get their toes wet – and possibly the rest of them, too! Wading pools and spray parks are a summertime must for parents with young children — and older ones, too. Shallow, bordered and usually within toddling distance of a playground, the pools are a perfect solution to a hot afternoon. Spray parks can be a little more rambunctious, as the cool flow flies in all directions. There are dozens of wading pools in and around Seattle and at least 15 Seattle-area spray parks. Seattle Parks and Rec’s Facebook page is your go-to for updated information regarding parks with water play features. On the Eastside, check out these great wet spots: Crossroads Park, Redmond Town Center / Downtown Park, Grass Lawn Park, Bellevue Downtown Park (Inspiration Playground). Also, see  “15 Seattle-area spray parks to cool off in this summer” at Seattleschild.com.

Monday, August 7

Put on a show in the park (or backyard). Lots of grandparents remember doing this back in the OLD days. Gather some friends, make up a play or plan a talent show, cobble some costumes together from around the house, invite parents, grandparents, siblings, and neighbors and stage your show. Need a stage? Lay washable blankets or sheets on the ground to map out your space. Need lighting? Designate one or two people as the lighting crew and hand them flashlights so they can spotlight the actors. Don’t forget the cue cards! Need play ideas? Check out the article “Put on a Show! How to Turn Your Backyard Into a Theater” by our colleagues at PDX Parent in Portland, OR.

Tuesday, August 8

Show a little blackberry love. Today’s the day to get out to your local park and pick! Make a pie or jam or simply rinse them off for a tasty summer treat. Not sure where to go? These parks are often overrun with bushes: Discovery Park in Magnolia, all along Burke Gilman Trail, and in Bridle State Park between Kirkland and Redmond. You’re also likely to find them at the Beacon Hill Food Forest, along most of Magnuson Park’s trails, and in Seward Park and Carkeek Park in Seattle, and in Hamlin Park and along the Interurban bike trail in Shoreline. Check out “Blackberries: All You Need to Know to Pick Your Own” at Seattleschild.com.

Wednesday, August 9

Go out and geocache! A great family activity, geocaching uses a phone app and Global Positioning System technology to lead players on a worldwide hunt for specially placed containers, called “geocaches” or “caches.” Once you find the cache, you log it, leave it and start navigating toward another container. There are literally hundreds of caches all around Puget Sound. It’s hours and hours of free fun and all explained at geocaching.com. Remember geocache treasures are for everyone. Leaving what you find for the next player keeps it fun.

Thursday, August 10

Learn to play bocce ball! Visit Les Gove Park in Auburn where all ages are invited to participate in free bocce instruction at the park’s Bocce Courts. They happen every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:00-6:00 p.m., mid-April through mid-October, weather-permitting. Come learn a fun and challenging game. The adjoining Discovery Playground is a little climbers paradise and includes an ADA swing and the park’s spray feature will cool everyone off.  

One more for today: Have an artistic evening on SAM.  You don’t have to go inside the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) to enjoy great art. Head to the Olympic Sculpture Park tonight from 6-8 p.m. for Summer at SAM. Today’s line-up:  Seattle-born multidisciplinary and versatile artist Bimbo Hypnosis (Suquamish) and musician there’s more (Pawnee). And the whole family is invited to join artist Marie Baeta in creating a collaborative artwork interpreting the view from PACCAR Pavilion using pavilion windows as a natural grid. All ages welcome. For other Summer at SAM events, go to seattleartmuseum.org/summer#

Friday, August 11

Practice rock climbing. Practice walls can be found all around the greater-Seattle, but remember for safety’s sake an adult should always be present when kids are trying to scramble. A few to check out: Schurman Rock located in West Seattle’s camp long is open to the public when not being used for classes or events. You’ll find a sizable climbing wall at Les Gove Park in Auburn — a 30 foot climber with three lead routes and eight belay stations. Or check out the free outdoor wall at Marymoor Park in Redmond.

Saturday, August 12

Douse yourselves at the Seattle Center International Foundation. It’s the mothership of hot weather spray parks. Bring towels, lots of food and sunscreen, a blanket to get comfy on, and some books and spend the afternoon running in and out of the slapping streams of water. The fountain sits on a cement foundation surrounded by a velodrome; consider knee and elbow pads for younger kids.

One more for today: Celebrate 50 years of Hip Hop at Pier 62 today with 206 Zulu, Coolout Network, Dope Culture, Onath the Block, and KEXP. The party, which runs from noon to 8 p.m., will shine a light on local and global influences through music, dance, graffiti, beatboxing, and fashion. 

Sunday, August 13

Go fly a kite. But first, make the kite. You’ll need supplies for this, but they may be sitting around your home. Again, shout out to WikiHow. To learn how to make a simple kite, search for wikiHow How to Make a Kite. It’s a fun project with even young kids. For the best flying, head to the Great Earth Mound Summit at Gasworks Park or loosen your strings on Kite Hill — Magnuson Park’s 35-foot-tall kite run. Redmond’s Marymoor Park and Mukilteo’s Lighthouse Park also offer prime flying space. Check out “5 solid kite-flying spots” at Seattleschild.com.

One more for today: Take a low-tide beach walk with a naturalist in Edmonds. All ages are welcome for low tide at the Edmonds Marine Sanctuary with a Discovery Programs ranger-naturalist. Learn about the plants and animals that live in the marine sanctuary and how you can safely interact with them while protecting their habitat. Programs run rain or shine so be sure to wear waterproof boots and dress for the weather. Walk starts at the Olympic Beach Visitor Station at the base of the Edmonds Fishing Pier, 9:30-11:30 a.m. 

And one more: Spend some hours cruising more than 300 classic cars and motorcycles at Kirkland Waterfront Car Show on the streets surrounding Kirkland Downtown Association, 400 Urban Plaza in Kirkland.

Monday, August 14

Laze around and read! Each year, King County Library System, Seattle Public Library, and others challenge kids to take the summer reading challenge. The goal? Read for 20 minutes each day between June 1 and August 31. Read anything you want, listen to someone else read or listen to an audiobook — it all counts in the challenge. What if today, your kids took the UBER reading challenge? Read for a whole two hours! Do those 120 minutes all in one sitting or break them into six 20-minute sessions. Siblings? Ask the older to read to the younger. Not sure what to read? Head to your local library where librarians are full of ideas.

Tuesday, August 15

Take ’em to the gum wall. It’s gross, it’s gooey, it’s sticky. All good things to a curious kid. You’ll find The Gum Wall at 1428 Post Alley, below Pike Place Market. Many an artist, tourist and Seattleite have spit on these walls. Bring some gum, chew it up and be a part of this relic. No matter how many times they scrape it off, it just keeps coming back. After making your deposit, stroll through the market. You don’t need to buy anything to have a good time. Take selfies by the brass pig, watch the fish fly, check out collectibles and market oddities, and learn how cheese is made at Beechers Cheese.

Wednesday, August 16

Take a seat at board game night. 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. Equally important, games help your kids practice their math, language and strategy skills. So dust off the classic games from your childhood for a dose of nostalgia or visit Meeples Games in West Seattle for the board game night (Thursdays, 6:30-10 p.m.). Queen Anne’s Blue Highway Games offers an all-age game night on Fridays.

Thursday, August 17

Set up an obstacle course! Pillows, blankets, chairs, tables, old tires, a long flat board, backyard or playground equipment — a lot of things just sitting around the house or lost in the garage could be used for an obstacle course. Invite friends, have each bring one item to add to the course, and then set it all up in the backyard or a nearby park. Kids go through the course one at a time, timed on every try. The goal is to beat your first time by your third time through. 

One more for today: Outdoor Movie at Green Lake Community Center. Bring blankets, picnic baskets, and non-alcoholic beverages. Best for ages 5 and older. The movie starts at 8:30 p.m. and will be shown on the east side of the building by the arch. Family-friendly film TBA.

Friday, August 18

Find famous statues all around Seattle. A car or a bus pass will help with today’s lofty goal for school-age kids and their adult carers. Your mission: Find Chief Seattle (2701 5th Ave.), George Washington (at 4060 George Washington Lane NE on the UW campus), the Statue of Liberty (on Alki Beach in West Seattle), Vladimir Lenin (in Fremont at 3526 Fremont Place N), Jimmie Hendrix (doing his thing on Capital Hill at 1604 Broadway), a young girl with a string of paper cranes (located at NE 40th St.) and one very large troll (N 36th St. at Troll Ave. N). As you come to each statue, offer your kids a quick history lesson. Who are they? Why are they here? What’s the story?

And yet another option: Lusio Lights, an immersive light festival, is happening at Auburn’s Mary Olson Farm tonight and tomorrow night from 7 to 11 p.m. The event combines nature and creativity, with awe-inspiring light art pieces by local artists nestled in every nook and cranny of the farm and music spun by local DJs.

Saturday, August 19

Check out a very cool aquarium. The MaST Center (that’s Marine Science and Technology Center), an aquarium and a working laboratory for Highline College in Des Moines, is open to the public 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. This 3,000-gallon aquarium is literally on Puget Sound, located on a pier at Redondo Beach. Two large touch tanks, more than 250 native Puget Sound marine species and several surprises await your family. 

One more for today: Check out the CHOMP! festival at Redmond’s Marymoor Park. It’s a free outdoor celebration of local food, live music, and green living, and a chance to play, learn about sustainable living, and meet local farmers. Last year’s event offered all sorts of family fun, from tree climbing to animal visits, a scavenger hunt, zucchini races, and more. For this year’s line-up, visit chomplocal.org

Sunday, August 20

Go on a mural walk. A 2-mile walk around the Wallingford neighborhood will lead you to eight murals that include some cool animals, The Beatles, one big brain and a whole lot of color. The Seattle Times article “String together 8 great murals on this short walk through Wallingford” provides the map and what to look for. Since you’re there, expand your walk to Green Lake, where you can lie on the grass, go fishing or check out the popular Green Lake Community Center. 

One more for mural lovers: The kid-beloved, playful, brightly colored murals created by Ryan Henry Ward (aka the artist Henry) blanket Seattle. How about a citywide Henry hunt? Just Google “Henry mural map” to see the locations of more than 25 murals. Or head to Ballard where several Henrys live using The Seattle Times article “Find 7 Henry murals on this 5-mile walk through Ballard” as your guide. 

Monday, August 21

Visit a lighthouse today. In Seattle, the West Point Lighthouse in Discovery Park is a popular spot. You can drive down and park near this lighthouse, but walking is a lot more fun. Park in the south lot and walk the one mile down to the beach. Alki Point Lighthouse is operated by the US Coast Guard and offers free tours Sunday afternoons between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. Tours run from 1-3:45 p.m. No reservations are needed. Further afield, Browns Point Lighthouse in Tacoma offers free tours on Saturdays, 1-4 p.m. The thing about lighthouses is that there is nearly always a beach nearby. So bring your beach gear, skip rocks, build forts, and make it a day. 

Tuesday, August 22

Host a food drive in your neighborhood. A food drive is something that your whole family can be involved in and a great way for kids to give back. Many organizations even provide resources such as printable flyers and food-collection containers to help your drive succeed. Here are just a few of the organizations that you can partner with for a family food drive: Food Lifeline, Northwest Harvest, Emergency Feeding Program of Seattle and King County and Hopelink. Find a central place to put a large collection box, make and post flyers in your neighborhood, call on friends and neighbors to give, and perhaps even ask your local grocery store if you can set up a donation box there. For more ideas for kids to give back check out the article “Doing good together: Ideas for volunteering as a family” at Seattleschild.com.

Wednesday, August 23

Plant a free garden. If visiting all those gardens has you inspired, you can plant your own: King County seed library lets anyone take the seeds they need for free and requests that you let at least some of what you grow go to seed to help restock supplies. There are locations in Phinney Ridge, Northeast Seattle and Snoqualmie.

Thursday, August 24

Check out one of Seattle’s truly unique stores. Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, located along Downtown Seattle’s waterfront, dates back to 1899. It’s most famous for displaying two human mummies, plus a whole lot of weird and rare items — two-headed taxidermied animals, shrunken human heads, carved grains of rice, historical items and lots more. You don’t need to buy anything to enjoy this Seattle relic, the fun is in the browsing. 

Friday, August 25

Visit the Seattle PlayGarden for kids with disabilities. Do you have someone in your family — adult or child — who has a disability? The truly magical Seattle PlayGarden is a public park located at 1745 24th Ave. S. in Seattle. Designed especially for children with disabilities, it’s also a great place for parents with disabilities who want to spend park time with a child. All are welcome in the park, but park staff requests able-bodied children and adults remain mindful and respectful of the park’s intention to serve disabled kids. Check out “Seattle PlayGarden: A magical place for kids with disabilities” at Seattleschild.com.

Saturday, August 26

Spend the day exploring Edmonds. Leave the big city for small-town fun in Edmonds. Head to the beaches just off the ferry terminal or take a walk south from there to enjoy several beach parks along the way. The free model train room at Edmonds Historical Museum is well worth a visit as is a walk-through of Edmonds Marsh, teeming with wildlife year-round. Saturday is also Edmonds Market day, a great place to grab a snack! Check out “A Walk-on Ferry Ride from Edmonds and Crepes” at Seattleschild.com.

Sunday, August 27

Teach your little one to ride a bike. It’s a right of passage and sure to make for a lot of free summer fun in the future. Not sure how to get them rolling on their own or where best to practice riding in the greater Seattle area? Check out “Teach a child to ride a bike using these 4 steps” at Seattleschild.com.

More biking for today: It’s another Seattle Bicycle Weekend (See July 16)! Give them more practice along Lake Washington Boulevard, which will be closed to traffic to make room for cyclists and walkers all day. For more information, visit parkways.seattle.gov

Monday, August 28

Make art and do a gallery show. Pull out the art supplies — pens, paper, glue, paint, whatever you can find. Then send the kids outside to collect bits of nature that they might add to their artwork. Challenge each child to make three different pieces of art and let them while away the hours. Make it an event by inviting friends and asking them to bring their supplies to the table. When all the pieces are complete, put them up around the house or lay them out along the sidewalk for people to see as they walk by. Be sure to include the child’s name and age in this gallery show. Need ideas? For a more structured, easy art-making event where each child does the same project, check out the WeAreTeachers.com article “31 of Our Favorite Easy Art Projects for Kids.

Tuesday, August 29

Bite into the last Hotdog Tuesday. It’s the last free Hotdog Tuesday of the summer at Ballard Community Center. Spend the evening enjoying hot dogs, fruits and beverages and playing games like corn hole, Nerf axe throwing, horse shoes, and croquet. There will be crafts for kids and other fun surprises. 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Wednesday, August 30

Watch the workings of the Port of Seattle with your transportation-loving kids. Is there a child in your house who lives for big rigs, ships, construction machinery and pretty much all things wheels and transportation? Spend today visiting Jack Perry Memorial Park on the Seattle Waterfront before heading over to Jack Block Park in West Seattle for great views of a port in action. The two parks are the anchors of The Port of Seattle’s self-guided tour, which takes visitors through parts (Terminals 5, 18, 30 and 4) of the sixth-largest port in the country. Print or upload the guide and take it along; it offers a wealth of information on port activity, capacity and more. Binoculars or a long-lens camera will help focus on details. Note: Jack Block is on Harbor Avenue SW. If you drive north on this road, you’ll see many more trucks, cranes and construction vehicles. For a treat, head to the historic Luna Park Cafe to enjoy a “perfect” milkshake. Download or print the PDF before you go!

Photo courtesy of Terumi Pong

September

Friday, September 1

Take a cool rock hike at Hansen Creek. Attention rockhounds! Gather your shovel, sifter, flashlight, and a jar for gems and head to Hansen Creek, a 1.4-mile out-and-back trail near North Bend. You won’t have to go very far along the trail to see why families enjoy hunting for crystals and other stones at this spot. There are gems everywhere. Look closely for quartz crystals hidden around fallen logs and the roots of trees. Dig down to see what’s below the surface. Focus on one spot, then hike farther up the hill and look for your next claim. Learn more at alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/hansen-creek-trail

Saturday, September 2

Paint rocks and pass on a little joy. For the last few years, painted rocks have been popping up all over Puget Sound as a sign of beauty and community connection. Join the pack! Step 1) Go out and find flat palm-sized or smaller rocks. Step 2) Paint a design or write an encouraging word or quotation on each rock using acrylic paint or permanent markers. Step 3) Roam around your neighborhood and deposit them in gardens and public spots so that others can see them and be uplifted.

Sunday, September 3

Climb a tree — or several trees. We know, we know. There’s danger in climbing trees. On the other hand, we’re getting to the end of summer and it’s a child’s summer right of passage. You yourself likely climbed at least one tree as a child. So find a big, branchy one, stay near your climbers to help prevent a fall and let them enjoy this summer classic. Have a perfect climbing tree in your yard or nearby? Throw down an old sheet, drag out a mattress or futon, and place it below as an added precaution. Search for Wiki How: How to Climb a Tree for great preparation advice (with illustrations) and safety tips.

Monday, September 4

Head into the forest for a REAL hike. Give them a real hike today – perhaps one that is more than a mile but less than 5. For young kids the 2.8 Discovery Park Loop in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood is a good challenge, wandering through beautiful forests and meadows by a beach. Lighthouse included! Stop half way for a leisurely lunch. Check out our article “7 hikes that are easy and kid-friendly” at Seattleschild.com.

Tuesday, September 5

Almost back-to-school “do nothing” day. You’ve hiked, you’ve biked, you’ve played, you’ve danced. You’ve visited tide pools and petting zoos and museums. Instead of cramming in one more end-of-summer event or activity, how about just hanging out as a family today and perhaps engaging in or starting a new back-to-school tradition? Spaghetti dinner anyone? Followed by a first day fashion show, then early into jammies — parents, too. Finally, settle onto the couch for a low-stress family flick before hitting the hay early. Tomorrow’s a big day.  

More at Seattle’s Child:

Take them out to the ball park — in West Seattle!

Dad Next Door: Ready in the bullpen

How to cook your brother — a summer story and sort of recipe

 

About the Author

Cheryl Murfin

Cheryl Murfin is managing editor at Seattle's Child. She is also a certified doula, lactation educator for NestingInstinctsSeattle.com and a certified AWA writing workshop facilitator at Compasswriters.com.