It’s that time of year again. You know, the one season that seems to stretch on forever, which can last from October to (sometimes even) July.
Don’t despair! We’ve gathered more than 60 indoor play outings that are perfect for a rainy day. (Psst, we update this list every few months, and love tips about new rainy-day spots — email email@example.com.) And check out our calendar and our South Sound rainy-day list for more indoor fun!
Indoor play areas and cafes
Note: Also see our big list of kid-friendly coffee shops.
Seattle community centers tot gym, around Seattle.
In every season but summer, more than 20 Seattle community centers offers baby and toddler indoor play sessions designed for kids ages 5 and younger, complete with balls, trikes, scooters, push bikes and more. Admission is free, but Seattle Parks will require that guests still use a QuickCard, which gets swiped when someone “checks in” for a community center activity.
Wunderkind, northeast Seattle.
This cafe in northeast Seattle, near University Village, boasts 1,800 square feet of Lego play areas as well as camps, classes and special events. Also find a full espresso bar, hot and cold sandwiches and snacks, beer and wine. And the wifi is solid. Cost for play is $6 for a day; $15 for a month. Birthday party packages are available; check the Facebook page for upcoming events.
Ballard Playspace, northwest Seattle.
A reader tipped us off to this spacious, bright, FREE play area for kids ages 0–8 located in a church in Ballard. With slides and climbing equipment, big blocks, imaginative play props and more, it could keep your kid busy for hours. Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Tip: It's also available for party rentals.
Lil' Bug Studio, White Center.
This newer space in White Center offers open play sessions, story times and occasional classes. Bring your own snack or choose from the studio’s small selection. Admission is $10 and it's closed on Mondays. Check the Facebook page, too.
Om Culture play gym, North Seattle, Wallingford.
A spacious play gym (which doubles as a yoga and dance studio) for kids ages 1–5 is equipped with swings, a balance beam, gymnastic rings, tumbling mats and more. Play gym is open 9:30 a.m.–noon Monday through Friday. It also has some after-school programs.
Mosaic Coffeehouse, North Seattle, Wallingford.
This unique community coffeehouse, housed in the basement of a church, offers good coffee and snacks, only charges you what you can afford and offers a complete playroom with no admission charge. (Hours are limited, currently Monday–Wednesday, 9 a.m.–1 p.m.; check website for latest hours.)
Lil' Diggers play time at Sandbox Sports, Seattle, Georgetown.
Want a taste of the beach? Head to Sandbox Sports' playtime in a very, very large indoor sand box, with shovels, pails, trucks — even small slides. $7 per child. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, 9:30–11 a.m., 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
Vios Cafe, Seattle, Ravenna and Capitol Hill.
Vios — a pair of Greek cafes in North Seattle/Ravenna and Capitol Hill — has reached star status among Seattle parents, featuring super play areas, excellent coffee, snacks and gourmet Greek food. The Ravenna location has the extra benefit of being housed in Third Place Books, but has a smaller play area than Vios on Capitol Hill.
Northgate Mall, North Seattle.
Nothing wrong with combining shopping with some wear-em-out time. Northgate's toddler play area at the north end of the mall includes a playhouse, play car kids, and an electric piano on the wall. Open during mall hours, and free.
PlayHappy Cafe, Lynnwood.
The popular PlayHappy Cafe offers not just a play space but a community. It's a 8,500-square-foot play space with free wifi, a cafe/eatery, birthday party rooms, etc. $12 for the first child; $9 for siblings. They also operate classes and preschool. Tip: Check PlayHappy's Facebook page for current events.
Alderwood Mall play area, Lynnwood.
Take a break from errands for playtime at this mall play area. Also at Alderwood Mall: Take active kids over to REI on weekends, noon to 4 p.m., where they can climb the giant climbing structure inside the store ($5 REI member, $20 non-members, ages 5 and older). Be aware the climbing wall may be closed at times.
Westfield Southcenter, Tukwila.
Run your errands, then stop by the revamped play space for kids with animal characters and giant puzzles. Other fun destinations include Round 1 Bowling and Amusement center and the Lego Store.
Giggle Jungle, Redmond.
This indoor play area in Redmond Town Center features soft-play equipment (like WiggleWorks Kids) and is for kids 48 inches in height and under. Cost is $12/child and $10/sibling and you can also get discounts through punch cards and group play.
Roo's World of Discovery, Kirkland.
This homey Montessori-inspired play space in downtown Kirkland is welcoming to kids of all abilities, with sensory-friendly hours and a daily schedule that includes everything from parent-child yoga to story times. Drop-in day passes ($20) and membership plans available. Note: It's closed Tuesday. Tip: Roo's World now offers co-working with drop-off child care.
The Nest, Woodinville.
Drop off your kid (ages 2.5–6) at this drop-in, arts-based preschool for up to four hours of daily classes, including arts and crafts, music, movement and age-appropriate open play. Check the events calendar for featured daily activities. Hours are 9 a.m.-2 p.m. daily.
Adventure Kids Playcare, Bellevue and Issaquah.
This drop-in child care center for kids ages 6 weeks to 12 years lets you finish up your daily (or nightly) while your kids indoor activities such as air hockey, open play, arts and crafts, story time, homework help, STEAM, STEM and more. Check the calendar for upcoming special events and weekly theme nights.
WiggleWorks Kids, Bellevue (Crossroads Bellevue) and Puyallup.
WiggleWorks Kids is an indoor, soft-play playground that moves; kids under 48 inches can jump, run, climb, bounce, spin, tumble and slide. It originally opened in Crossroads Bellevue and now it's in Puyallup as well. Check their website for parents night out, special events and party packages.
Dizzy’s TumbleBus and Bus Stop, multiple locations.
Dizzy's Bus Stop offers a drop-in play-based preschool (decorated with a bright bus theme) for children ages 2.5 months to 6 years; while the TumbleBus is a schoolbus that offers after-school classes in, yes, a school bus outfitted with tumbling equipment. The schedule changes monthly, so look online for up-to-date times and prices.
Kids' Cove, Bellevue Square, downtown Bellevue.
Do some shopping and entertain the kids at Belle Square's tot play area, with a maritime theme. Open during mall hours.
Romp is a beautiful, spacious playspace with an extensive list of classes (for toddlers on up to school-age kids) as well as open play time. You can get a membership or buy a day pass.
Gyms, bounce houses, trampolines and other ways to wear 'em out
Note: Also see our Golden Teddy list of best rainy-day refuges.
PlayDate SEA, South Lake Union, Seattle.
Located in super-happening South Lake Union, PlayDate SEA is a 8,500-square-foot Undersea/Atlantis-themed, multi-level play structure with slides, tubes, tunnels and balancing challenges; and a cafe with a diverse menu. Tip: One admission is free the last Wednesday of every month with donation of two canned goods. Also, free admission after 5 p.m. on Mondays.
All Together Skate Park, Fremont, North Seattle.
Seattle's only indoor skatepark offers epic fun for budding or experienced skateboarders. Check the website for its regularly scheduled open skate hours and special 11-and-under hours, as well as beginner skate lessons. Check its Facebook page, too.
Funtastic Playtorium, Factoria in Bellevue, Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood.
Now with two locations (Factoria, Alderwood Mall), this play area designed for kids ages 1–10, has a ball blaster area, interactive soft play and a big indoor playground with obstacles and spiral and wave slides. There is a toddler area, too. A big bonus here is their extensive hours, open seven days a week.
Seattle Gymnastics Academy indoor playground, various locations.
If you've got kids ages 5 and under, head to the Seattle Gymnastics Academy in Lake City, Ballard or Columbia City for indoor play time (check schedules). With tons of props to jump off off, a foam pit, and much more, you are guaranteed a huge nap later that day. Tip: Buy a 10-time punch card for cheaper price per session.
A reader tipped us off to this jumping spot in Marysville, citing its open area, where "you can spot your kid from almost anywhere." Daily activities include toddler time, dodgeball, slam-dunk basketball, open jumping and more.
The Jungle Gym, Burien.
Located just off 152nd Street on Second Avenue in downtown Burien, this gymnastics center offers Open Gym for ages 1–12 throughout the week and some Kids' Night Out events. Kids can fly down the zip line, bounce on the tumble track and test their skills on the climbing wall.
This 3,000-square-foot play space, for kids 55 inches and shorter, boasts a great combo of padded, mechanical climbing structures, fan-propelled balloons, and multi-level jungle gym labyrinths (and ball cannons). Plus there's an upper level with couches where parents can use wifi and keep an eye on their kids.
Elevated Sportz, Bothell.
Trampolines, a giant kids' play structure and cafe with free wi-fi. Deal tip: And they have a "Hoppy Hour" special from 10 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Pump it Up, Kirkland, Lynnwood, and Tacoma.
Pump it Up was founded on great birthday parties, but has drop-in fun options as well. Pre-K Open Jump playtimes vary by location, but typically take place on several weekday mornings.
Arena Sports, North Seattle (Magnuson Park), Redmond, and Issaquah.
At the Fun Zone Indoor Inflatable Playground kids can drop by and explore large inflatables, make new friends and bounce their hearts out. Tip: Buy an annual membership for cheaper per-session prices.
Boom Shaka, Olympia.
This 23,000-square-foot trampoline facility boasts 60 trampolines, including angled wall trampolines, launching decks and activities for various ages. On weekdays, check out the Kids' Jump for ages 6 and younger from 9–10 a.m.; there are also family nights, extreme dodgeball, a ninja obstacle course and more.
Aerosports (formerly Trampoline Nation), Federal Way.
This fun, clean jumping environment for kids also boasts a mezzanine area for those watching the fun, with comfy seating and free wifi. Open daily and until late.
STEM, story times and crafty fun
Note: Also check out this great list of destination public libraries.
Kid Science Labs, Green Lake, Seattle.
This science enrichment center just across from PCC Green Lake offers hands-on, inventive science classes with no tech in site, for kids ages 2–12. Classes are 75 minutes long for kids ages 3 and older and 60 minutes for 2-year-olds (for kids ages 3 and older, parents can drop off). Sign up online; you can also sign up for a free trial class. It also offers
Seattle ReCreative, Greenwood, Seattle.
This crafty studio and retail space, focused on creative reuse, is in the heart of Seattle's hopping Greenwood neighborhood. Find paint and play classes in the morning, a Saturday Skill Share and family classes such as woodworking.
University Village Playdays, northeast Seattle.
Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., U Village hosts free story time and activities. Stop by its covered playspace for some playtime afterwards.
Kaleidoscope Play & Learn, many locations.
A program of Child Care Resources, Kaleidoscope Play & Learn programs are FREE organized play sessions around the Sound where young kids (ages 0–5) and their caretakers take part in play activities that support children’s early learning, meet new friends, and hear more about other early learning and family support programs in their neighborhood. Check out the groups here.
King County Libraries, various King County locations.
Not only does KCLS host great programs for tots such as music, stories, puppet shows, but its branches also have an amazing number of programs for older kids and teens; everything from chocolate making and stop motion workshops to knitting clubs and multiplayer Minecraft sessions.
Seattle Public Libraries, various Seattle neighborhoods.
Seattle Public Library branches host plenty of kids story times and events all over Seattle. Baby, Toddler, and even Pajama story times are sure to entertain young ones, and special events and chess and LEGO clubs are available for the older set. Check the online calendar for all children's events, or narrow it down to the location nearest you.
Central Library in downtown Seattle.
The Central Library is worth a special trip. Explore endless stacks, take in the view from the top floor or relax during a story time. There's much to love; even if you are just climbing the stairs to the top.
Glazed & Amazed in Edmonds, Paint the Town at University Village or Paint Away! in Redmond.
Skip the rainy-day boredom and try your hand at painting your own pottery with your little one. Check the calendar and monthly promotions for daily discounts and family-friendly activities.
Crossroads Play & Learn, Bellevue.
Art, stories, games — lots of good stuff here for kids ages 2–5 and a caregiver during the free drop-in activity time near the Crossroads Bellevue stage. Wednesdays, 10 a.m. Check the online calendar for details and more family events at Crossroads.
With literally thousands of supplies at the ready, gathered by the creative reuse specialists who founded Tinkertopia, we defy you to come up with a project you can't bring to execution. They also offer classes and workshops and drop-in "Tinker Time" on weekdays.
Note: See also our list of indoor pools in the Seattle area.
People's Community Pool, Tacoma.
Just opened in September 2016, Tacoma's newest pool boasts a great price tag ($3–$4, kids 4 and under free) and lots of features kids will love, including stair-step access to a shallow swimming area and submerged bench, a toddler-friendly spraypad, floating pads, basketball hoops and family-changing areas.
McMenamins Anderson School, Bothell.
Built on the premises of the old school pool at this school-turned-resort-complex, this community pool is almost Olympic-sized, and its non-chlorinated water is heated to 90 degrees (it uses a saltwater system). As part of McMenamins' partnership with the city, Bothell residents can use the pool free of charge. Look for open swim times every day of the week.
Rainier Beach Pool, south Seattle.
This destination pool in Rainier Beach, next to the new community center, boasts a lazy river, a corkscrew/water slide, lap pool, a hot tub spa/warm water area, a slide and rope swing.
Mountlake Terrace pool and Lynnwood Pool.
Both pools are warm, and have toddler-friendly lazy rivers, hot tubs and more fun features. And if you just want a short swim (perfect for toddlers) you can take advantage of Mountlake Terrace's "Happy Hour" swims.
Snohomish Aquatic Center, Snohomish.
This newish aquatics center is another popular destination, with lazy river, warm-water pool (102 degrees), spray area, zero-depth area for tots, corkscrew slide and the only surf-simulation machine in the region.
The Federal Way Community Center, Federal Way.
This pool has both a lap pool and a leisure pool. The leisure pool sports a two-story water slide with banked turns plus an interactive play structure with water sprays and a smaller slide for the younger set.
Bainbridge Island Aquatics Center.
Is a pool worth a ferry ride? Yes! Find a water slide, lazy river ride, tot pool and play area.
Sports fun and other thrills
Note: See our list of ice skating rinks.
School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts (SANCA), Seattle.
SANCA offers Single Serving Circus classes for those who "wanna join the circus, but [are] afraid of commitment." The Intro to Circus class is offered on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to anyone age 6 to 106 for $30. Make sure to reserve a space: Classes with low enrollment 48 hours prior may be cancelled.
Stone Gardens, Seattle and Bellevue.
Grab a day pass to this climbing gym for some low-height bouldering (which covers most of the space), or sign up for a class for kids ages 5 and older. Rock climbing shoes are required for climbing, and sizes available for rental generally start at kids' size 10 and up.
SyKart Indoor Racing Center, Tukwila.
Got a speed racer on your hands? Children ages 8 and up will love taking a couple spins around the go-kart track with their friends or daring mama. SyKart features a basic driving school course each weekend and a junior racing program for the kids who are more comfortable operating (and racing) a go-kart.
West Seattle Bowl, Seattle.
Retro-cool colors, good interior design and recycled flooring bump these lanes up to luxe. On Sundays you can bowl at a special family price. And in the summer take advantage of the kidsbowlfree.com program for lots of bowling gratis!
Family Fun Centers, Tukwila and Edmonds.
These mini amusement parks aren't cheap but they do have everything, from mini golf to laser tag, go-karts, bumper cars, batting cages, video games and more. (Tip: Outdoor attractions are open year-round but may be closed during inclement weather, so call or check the website before you head out.) Some of the video games are for older kids so check it out before they play.
More cool outings
Uwajimaya in Seattle, International District.
A trip to the flagship Seattle store in the International District can be a cheap date or an all-out rainy day shopping trip. Snack on bubble tea and noodles; browse manga and Hello Kitty! doodads; and wander aisles stocked with a staggering selection of fruits, vegetables and snacks from Japan and other Asian countries.
Full Tilt Ice Cream & Pinball Arcade, four locations in Seattle.
The fun at Full Tilt starts with the unique flavors (Thai Ice Tea, Vegan Mango Chili Sorbet) but it's reall about the vintage arcade and pinball machines and good music.
Blue Highway Games in Seattle, Queen Anne neighborhood.
Drop by the quiet game shop on the top of Queen Anne any time during open hours and play a game or two (or three) from its extensive game library for all ages. Other great game outings include Meeples Games (West Seattle), Uncle’s Games (Bellevue, Redmond, Tacoma), Games & Gizmos (Redmond) or Card Kingdom (Ballard), with Cafe Mox next door.
Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle.
So many reasons to go to the zoo on rainy days, starting with fewer crowds. Also, download the zoo's mobile app to access the rainy-day tour, making it easy to hit all of the zoo’s indoor exhibits if it pours. And of course, play in the indoor Zoomazium.
Central Market, Shoreline.
Find mini-shopping carts for kids to push, fresh tortillas to taste, live crabs and other seafood to see, a traveling tractor to to climb on, and super-nice cashiers with stamps on hand for fretting toddlers. Plus, of course, an amazing selection of relatively well-priced ethnic goodies, as well as all the staples.
Play-Well Northwest Activity Center, Kirkland.
Heaven for Lego lovers ages 3–14, Play-Well TEKnologies is an interactive academy with the goal of teaching engineering principles through fun Lego projects that encourage tinkering and exploration. Kids can join one time for workshops, take weekly classes or week-long camps. Advance registration is recommended but drop-ins are welcome until classes have filled.
Lewis Creek Park Visitor Center, Bellevue.
Don't let the rain stop you from learning all about nature. The visitor center has interactive environmental education displays and games, like park ranger dress up gear, animal pelts and foot molds, nature books, species identification cards and more. Note: Days and hours are limited.
Cedar River Watershed Education Center, North Bend.
Take your kids to see how all that rain becomes our drinking water. Interactive exhibits are set up to explain and entertain, plus, family-friendly programs and tours are scheduled frequently. Tip: look for the "center-based" symbol and avoid the "walking and hiking" symbol to ensure you will stay nice and dry inside.
Museums kids love
Note: Also see our list of museums with play spaces.
Skagit Children's Museum, Mount Vernon.
An hour or so north of Seattle, this museum located in the Cascade Mall just got a makeover, with 5,000 square feet added that includes a climbing structure, model train and more interactive stations.
Museum of Flight, Seattle.
Tour historic aircraft at the new Aviation Pavilion and play airport in small kids' play area in the pavilion. Don't miss the awesome Space Shuttle Trainer exhibit and many other cool exhibits; and be sure to hit up the amazing volunteer docents with any questions (and a VR tour). Free the first Thursday of the month, from 5–9 p.m.
Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), Seattle.
Since its move to a fab new location in South Lake Union, MOHAI has become one of the hottest family destinations in Seattle, with hands-on, interactive history exhibits, and more. Kids 14 and under always free and everyone is free first Thursdays, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle.
You don't have to buy admission to make art at the Chase Open Studio, located along the grand staircase between the First Avenue and University Street entrance and 2nd Avenue. In the museum itself, the Knudsen Family Room on the third floor offers art-making and play. SAM is rree the first Thursday of the month and kids ages 12 and under are free every day.
Seattle Aquarium, Seattle.
Seals, tide pools, octopus-feeding, starfish-touching: The Aquarium is incredibly dependable as a source of indoor fun and learning for babies and older kids alike. From September-February, the aquarium hosts Toddler Times, free with admission, where families can play and learn together (see schedule for select dates).
Pacific Science Center, Seattle Center.
When the cloud cover is thick, there’s nothing like getting an eyeful of the starry night sky in the Willard Planetarium. There's also a roster of ever-changing interactive exhibits, fun science shows aimed at kids, an IMAX theater and much more.
The Children’s Museum, Seattle Center.
So much to do! Create art at the Imagination Studio, climb a mountain and look out for flora and fauna, play firefighter or school-bus driver. build something, get your eyes checked and explore many other engaging play exhibits. Tip: Admission is pay-as-you-can for the last hour each day.
MoPop, Seattle Center (formerly EMP Museum).
There is a ton to see at MoPop, such as exhibits on science fiction and Star Trek, but Sound Lab is an especially fun way for for kids to play musician. Hip exhibits on science fiction, pop art and music will engage older kids.
Frye Art Museum, First Hill, Seattle.
Free all the time, the Frye has excellent exhibits, a Small Frye story time the first Friday of every month, led by Seattle Children's Theatre actors, and other family activities.
KidsQuest Children’s Museum, Bellevue.
Now in its new home in downtown Bellevue, KidsQuest remains an Eastside favorite, with terrific hands-on play opportunites and a water play area, a tool area and much more.
Imagine Children’s Museum, Everett.
In the museum’s small-scale wildlife clinic, your future vet can care for “wild” stuffed animals, remove them from realistic looking kennels, and other cool doctor-type stuff. Among other things, there is also an art studio and a terrific water exhibit. There is free admission the third Friday evening of every month.
KiDiMu, Bainbridge Island.
Just a ferry ride and short walk from Seattle, Kids Discovery Museum offers a variety of hands-on learning exhibits, including the pirate tree house, art studio and science hall. Open daily, KiDiMu also offers summer camps and monthly family-friendly events. And it's just a short walk from the ferry landing. Right next door, find the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, with kid-friendly exhibits and free admission.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma.
Tigers and otters and penguins, oh my! Skip the rain and spend the day with your favorite zoo critters. Check out the website for a variety of kid and family weekly programs, including Critter Club, designed for tots ages 3–4; and Zoo Crew programs, for kids ages 5–7.
Children's Museum of Tacoma.
Tacoma's kids' museum has a warm and modern home, creative playspaces and an attractive pricing policy -- pay as you can on any day. It also has an intriguing new partnership with Tacoma Art Museum, where visitors to the Children's Museum can get free family passes to visit TAM.
Discovery Village, Gig Harbor.
Drop in for some hands-on learning fun, a kid-friendly cafe with healthy eats and five main play exhibits for various age groups. Discovery Village also offers weekly events, including story and art times.
Hands on Children's Museum, Olympia.
Located in a huge space on Olympia's East Bay waterfront that holds true to its Olympia roots, Hands On Children's Museum is the largest children’s museum in the Pacific Northwest, with eight galleries and more than 150 exhibits, plus a state-of-the art outdoor exhibit. First Friday of the month is free admission from 5–9 p.m.
More outings and ideas for rainy days
Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2011 and has been updated every year since, most recently in October 2017.