Updated June 2008
They're too old for Muppets and too young for mojitos, past playgrounds but not quite ready for parimutuel betting. What, parents often ponder, can they do to spend time with their growing teens? Hanging out, chilling, keeping those precious embers of parent-child connection alive with a teenager: It's often challenging. Sometimes it helps immensely to step out of the grind of "pick up your room/have you finished the dishes/no, you can't meet Megan at the mall again" and just have a parent-teen adventure. Field trips are a great way to "play" with your teen.
Field trips can be plotted-out or spontaneous, simple or elaborate, done one-on-one or with friends in tow. Spending time together with a theme may seem corny, but it works, and we've come up with some suggestions to get you started.
Bank your togetherness. Know what your kid grooves on, amplify it, enable it... and tag along.
Local talent. The Old Firehouse in Redmond hosts an all-ages local band demo from 4-5 p.m. the second Wednesday of every month. You may have trouble getting your child to be seen with you at an event such as this, but maybe you can agree to stay in the background for an exposure to the music your teen enjoys. Approach the music with an open mind, and discussion may follow. Free. 16510 N.E. 79th St., Redmond. 425-556-2341, www.theoldfirehouse.org
Local history. Duck beneath the city streets in Pioneer Square on an Underground Tour, an irreverent but basically historically accurate view of Seattle's original movers and shakers. A bit salty for the younger set, the guide's PG-13 patter will suit teens just fine. (Not wheelchair accessible.) Follow the Underground with a quick elevator ride up to the observation deck of Seattle's winsomely distinctive landmark, the Smith Tower. Underground tours: 608 First Ave. 206-682-4646, www.undergroundtour.com. Smith Tower: 506 Second Ave., Seattle 206-622-4004, www.smithtower.com
Stranger than (science) fiction. Famous robots, Darth Vader's helmet, a Klingon sword -- The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame is packed with fun artifacts and interesting exhibits. In the Experience Music Project building, 325 Fifth Ave. N., Seattle. 206-724-3428, www.sfhomeworld.org. Extend your sci-fi pleasure with a visit to the gargantuan science fiction section at Scarecrow Video, 5030 Roosevelt Way N.E., Seattle. 206-524-8554, www.scarecrow.com
College is just around the corner. Take a walk around the beautiful University of Washington campus: Pop into the grand reading room at Suzzallo Library, eat lunch at the Husky Union Building, explore. The Visitor's Information Center at 4014 University Way N.E., Seattle, will get you started. 206-543-9198, http://depts.washington.edu/visitors/
Super splash. The massive Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center is a pool worth the trip. 650 S.W. Campus Drive, Federal Way. 206-296-4444, www.metrokc.gov/parks/pools/aquatic.htm
Funky West Seattle. Visit Easy Street, an independent music store with great atmosphere, and eat at the funky in-house cafe, 4559 California Ave. S.W., (206-938-3279), then catch a film at the low-cost Admiral Theater, 2343 California Ave. S.W., 206-938-3456.
Go Lush-ously girlie. Go bananas choosing fizzy bath bombs, chunky soaps, honey-jasmine scented shower gel and refrigerated beauty potions from the Bio-Fresh cosmetic bar at Bellevue's Square's LUSH. 425-455-5874, www.lush.com . Recuperate with a pot of Irish Breakfast tea and scones at the girlishly charming Sassy Teahouse and Boutique, 16244 Cleveland St., Redmond. 425-885-3581, www.sassyhouse.com [SASSY TEAHOUSE NOW CLOSED]
Awesome airplanes at Big B. The tour of the Boeing factory has a 4'2"-minimum height requirement that leaves transportation-crazed toddlers out in the cold. Tots-turned-teens: Now's your chance. The building in which the planes are assembled is so massive that clouds have been known to form inside it. In Everett off Highway 526 (exit 189 from I-5). 206-544-1264, www.boeing.com/companyoffices/aboutus/tours
Drop dead cool. For teens seeking extraordinary apparel, Capitol Hill is the place to start. Check out Red Light Clothing Exchange, 312 Broadway E. (206-329-2200), for used, vintage and indie styles. A decadent slab of cake at Dilettante Chocolates will fuel the foraging. 416 Broadway E., Seattle. 206-329-6463, www.dilettante.com. Yes, Capitol Hill can be gritty. Stay together, keep your eyes peeled and head home before sunset.
Do Jimi proud. Young rockers who've had their fill of the EMP's Jimi Hendrix memorabilia display may welcome a chance to visit his grave at the Greenwood Memorial Park. The cemetery office keeps a guest book that those who have come to pay their respects can sign. 350 Monroe Ave N.E., Renton. 425-255-1511.
Paula Becker is a Seattle writer and mother of three.
Teen ticket tips
If your teen wants to explore Seattle Center's performances and attractions at a vastly reduced price, visit http://seattlecenter.com/teentix/ and register for the Teen Tix program.
- Youth ages 13-18 can buy $5 rush tickets, 15 minutes before showtime, to performances at Book-It Repertory Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Seattle Children's Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Opera, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Experience Music Project (concerts and special events only), Pacific Science Center (Adobe Laser Dome and IMAX shows) and the Seattle International Children's Festival, held every May. A 12-ticket book for Fun Forest rides is available Tuesdays through Thursdays. Kids who sign up also receive email announcements about special performances and other opportunities.
- Adults who attend shows along with their teen pay full price, and since certain performances may be sold out, Teen Tix participants are advised to call before showing up. Currently, about 8,000 youth are registered for the program, which may expand to include other venues around town. Questions? Email email@example.com or call 206-233-3959.