Here in the Northwest, even our family activities involve multitasking. On a given day you can head to a park where you can watch trains, go beachcombing and take a run down a salmon slide; or go to a farmers market, where you can pick up 10 kinds of berries, listen to folk music and pet a few goats; or visit a bookstore that doubles as an indoor play area and cafe. And half the fun of taking the kids to a new favorite family activity is sharing it with others. So thanks for sharing your top picks for 2012!
Indoor Play Area
Winner: HappyNest Play Centers
HappyNest Play Centers in Redmond won this category as well, perhaps because parents ― who can use the free WiFi to check email and get their caffeine fix as well ― like going there are much as the kids. Parents cite its affordable price and the variety of activities, from foam structures for infants to play cars for toddlers to gym equipment and dramatic play props for older kids. All are designed to spark young imaginations and wear out young bodies (“clean, friendly, fun, creative, imaginative space!”).
Another favorite is Kids Discovery Museum on Bainbridge Island, a great play spot for both islanders and mainlanders, who can walk off the ferry directly to KiDiMu. You love the “awesome, friendly” staff and “great interactive exhibits and programs.”
Parents also rave about the Zoomazium at Woodland Park Zoo, a nature-inspired play spot that’s perfect for rainy-day fun and learning, with climbing areas, a reading corner, a toddler area and lots of special programs (“just fabulous ― climbing, crawling, reading”).
And when you really want to get the wiggles out, you head to the Seattle Gymnastics Academy, in Lake City, Ballard and Columbia City — a “huge play space with plenty of variety” where “kids can really get their energy out bouncing around.” Just don’t lose your 2-year-old in the foam pit!
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Illustrations by Alli Arnold