Northwest families are famous for grabbing their galoshes and venturing out in all kinds of weather. But there are those days when it is so wet that only indoor fun will do. The problem: Kids still need to burn off energy. The solution: a range of wild indoor adventures that will not only wear them out but teach them new skills. Here’s the latest news on the great indoors.
Got a budding arborist or mini mountaineer in your midst? Climbing is a great form of exercise that builds muscles, balance and confidence. And climbing together can even build family connection.
No rope, will travel
The Seattle Bouldering Project (SBP) in south Seattle is the largest gym of its kind in the world, where you can climb without ropes up to 10 feet high above a foam floor. SBP has an impressive collection of “sets” to scramble up. Kids ages 4 and older can take classes; kids ages 9 to 18 can even join a team. Day passes are $12–$16; monthly memberships start at $50. Party packages start at $250 for 10 kids.
On weekend days, usually from noon to 4 p.m., Alderwood Mall’s REI lets kids ages 5 and older climb the giant indoor climbing structure for just $5 for REI members ($20 nonmembers). Some local parks and recreation facilities, including the South Bellevue Community Center and Federal Way Community Center, offer indoor climbing walls and affordable instruction.
Happy climbing campers
Surprise your young mountaineers with the perfect holiday present: a winter-break camp at Vertical World in Redmond, Seattle or Everett.
For mini mountaineers
At Stone Gardens in Bellevue, kids as young as 3 can join Team Micro and learn to climb in a special area designed for them (monthly membership from $57).
Tumble, flip and fly
If your home feels like a circus most days, maybe it’s time to get your Peter Pan on and let the kids learn to really fly.
The preschooler in your pack will adore the always-moving, colorful swings, slings, balls and bars at Redmond Town Center’s new play gym, Giggle Jungle ($9–$10). Find more moving play spaces at award-winning WiggleWorks Kids in Puyallup and Crossroads Bellevue ($10–$12).
If you have kids ages 1 to 5, your lifesaver will be the Indoor Playground at one of three Seattle Gymnastics Academy locations in Seattle. Just don’t lose your 2-year-old in the foam pit ($4–$6). The Jungle Gym in Burien also offers a good indoor gym experience (climbing wall and zipline included) for kids up to age 12 ($5–$8).
Give your birthday kid an unforgettable experience: a chance to “fly” in the vertical wind tunnel at iFLY Seattle Indoor Skydiving near Westfield Southcenter (packages start at $60 for kids 3 and up). Big jumpers can head to the Trick Nation area of Federal Way’s Trampoline Nation, with high-performance trampoline beds and “flight instructors” happy to help ($11 per hour).
All together now
Run away to the circus: The whole family can take a two-hour “Intro to Circus” class together every Saturday or Sunday at SANCA, aka The School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (ages 6 and older, $30 per person).
If you have kids who treats the world as an obstacle course, Parkour Visions offers classes around the Sound in this up-and-coming sport, where kids learn to jump and leap off and over all kinds of obstacles. Try it out at a weekend open gym ($15).
Do you have kids whose eyes light up when they hear the words “weapons,” “swords” or “light sabers”? Here’s how to inspire (or just wear out) your aspiring Jedi knight or Ninjago character.
Light, saber, action
“Jedi Master” Shaye Whitmer (a teacher at Evergreen School in real life) teaches camps that include light saber training at various locations (email Shaye at email@example.com for information on upcoming camps).
Bellevue Kendo Club offers affordable Japanese-style sword-fighting classes through the Bellevue Parks Department ($70 resident, $84 nonresident).
Learn combat from the pros at Seattle Children’s Theatre’s occasional one-day stage combat seminars (for 6th-12th graders, $85; next seminar is Dec. 29).
All together now
You and your aspiring Inigo Montoya can learn the ancient art of fencing in Rain City Fencing Center’s beginner classes for kids ages 8 and older ($140 a month).
Jump, run and play
They jump off couches, chairs, curbs, sidewalks, rocks. When kids aren’t jumping, they’re bouncing. Rather than discourage that urge, channel it.
Just the Factoria, ma’am
Among the new crop of indoor play spaces blooming around the Eastside, Factoria Square Mall’s Funtastic Playtorium is a good place for young kids to run amok, with an elevated maze and a large ball-blaster space ($7.99–$12.99). You can always pop next door to KidsQuest Children’s Museum for more educational fun and science. In Seattle, try PlayDate SEA’s 8,500-square-foot Atlantis-themed maze and play park ($5–$15; Wi-fi and café for parents on-site).
For toddlers, you can’t beat the seriously low-cost indoor toddler gyms at local community centers, complete with play vehicles and push toys. Stars include Northgate Community Center’s large play gym ($2.40) and Spartan Recreation Center in Shoreline, which offers a budget-friendly indoor gym six days a week ($2–$2.50).
For an epic special occasion, take your older kids (ages 13 and up) to Elevated Sportz Lazer Club Night ($16 per person gets them two and a half hours of jump time with a live DJ, lasers, pizza and soda).
Swish and skate
No snow? No problem. Your kid’s need for speed can be met at indoor skate, ski, snowboard and skateboard centers around Puget Sound.
The Bellevue Skate Park is a recently remodeled indoor facility located off Bel-Red Road with mini ramps, wall rides, banks, ledges, a rail and a launch box (yearly membership $8–$10; kids can also rent boards and pads). Fremont boasts the region’s biggest indoor skate park, All Together Skatepark, where kids ages 5–12 can take a one-hour drop-in class every Sunday offered by Skate Like a Girl ($20).
Relive your nights of circling a scarred wooden floor under the disco ball for only a few bucks at Alki Community Center or Bitter Lake Community Center Annex in Seattle. Skate Tiffany’s in Puyallup participates in the KidSkateFree program.
Mini Mountain in Bellevue offers both indoor ski and snowboard lessons on an indoor ramp designed to simulate skiing or boarding on snow (private lessons start at $45).
Who needs skates to be on the ice? Plan a broomball party for your older kids at Sno-King Ice Arena in Renton: It’s not quite Quidditch, but guests can grab their broomsticks and play a hybrid of ice hockey and soccer (from $195).
The joys of playing in warm water during the winter never get old. And now there are a growing number of public aquatic centers that double as affordable mini water parks complete with slides and lazy rivers.
To date, the coolest new indoor pools on the block around Seattle are Rainier Beach Pool ($3.75–$5.25) in south Seattle and Snohomish Aquatic Center, with an enclosed water slide, a surf-simulation machine and the requisite lazy river. In early 2016, Sammamish residents will be able to play in the new YMCA/Sammamish Community and Aquatic Center, which will boast a lazy river, giant water slide, hot tub and water play area. Save by buying a charter membership now.
Splash into the Lynnwood Recreation Center Pool, another public pool famous for its indoor water-play features, complete with hot tub ($4.25–$5.25). Take your budding Tarzans for a rope swing at the Bainbridge Aquatic Center ($5–$6) or Seattle Park and Rec’s Meadowbrook Pool ($3.75–$5.25).
You likely know about Great Wolf Lodge, our local watery Disneyland where a stay gets you the keys to an indoor water park with a giant wave pool, epic slides and water play areas galore (from $259 a night). But did you know that a stay at Suncadia, a Cle Elum resort, also gets you access to the indoor swim club, which includes two giant slides and a large indoor pool (from $210 nightly)?
All together now
Turn family movie night on its back with a float-in movie night at Samena Swim and Recreation Club in east Bellevue ($8 nonmembers, $24 nonmember family) or a third-Friday movie night at the Queen Anne Pool ($5.25 adult, $3.75 youth).
Many local pools offer party packages, including Snohomish Aquatic Center (from $225 for up to 12 guests). Bargain parties are also offered at the Mary Wayte Pool on Mercer Island on Saturday afternoons (from $150 for 35 people).