Help your kids have a great answer to that ubiquitous back-to-school question — "what did you do this summer?" — with these 14 one-day mini adventures in the North Sound.
1. Edmonds Yost Park: Download the Yost Park Quest brochure, and, starting at the gate, follow the hints and collect the clues to find a hidden treasure — a guest book to sign and a rubber stamp to prove you were there. Along the way, learn the history and ecology of the park — home to mixed stands of Western red cedar, red alder, big-leaf maple and western hemlock trees, numerous species of resident and migratory birds, and mammals including the nocturnal mountain beaver, opossum, raccoon, shrew mole, bats, and the occasional Giant Pacific salamander. It’s an easy walk, but uneven and not suited for strollers. Of course, you can explore the Edmonds Yost Park trails on your own, or try the Watershed Mystery Tour or download the Edmonds Bird Checklist. The park also offers a play area and a public swimming pool.
2. Family Fun Center: The Family Fun Center in Edmonds (they also have a location in Tukwila) is kinda like a county fair but without the smell of manure. Check out the Lazer Runner, Max Flight, bumper cars, go karts, a Euro Bungy, miniature golf, bumper boats, arcade games, batting cages, and just for the wee ones, the Fun Fortress play area and the Frog Hopper. When tummies start to grumble everyone can take a break in Bullwinkle’s Restaurant for pizza, burgers, a variety of fingerfoods, or one of the meal deals on the kid’s menu.
3. Everett Aqua Sox: If your family is disinclined to join the throngs of foam-finger wielding fans for an afternoon spent in a series of long lines you all can still enjoy a wholesome day, or evening, at the ballpark. The Everett Aqua Sox, a Class A short season affiliate of the Mariners, play at the Everett Memorial Stadium. Especially well-suited for younger fans are the BECU Family Nights, when field box tickets go for $5, or the Kids Run the Bases every Thursday through Sunday home game (excluding fireworks nights), sponsored by the Woodland Park Zoo.
Also check out the Webbly’s Future Frogs Kids Club — kids 12 and under get a free ticket to every Sunday home game, a t-shirt and more, all season long.
4. Imagine Children’s Museum: Take the littles out for an adventure at the Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett. Children play and pretend in a kid-sized world: a mock downtown, café, wildlife clinic, theatre, and farm as well as a train, a bus, a plane and lots more. ICM is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays from 3 - 5 p.m.) is half price!
5. Future of Flight: There is no doubt that aviation in general, and Boeing specifically, has shaped the culture and history of our area, so check out the Future of Flight. Try your hand at digitally designing a commercial jet, then modify, test and finalize your design at touch-screen computers before printing off the final schematic of your jet in the Future of Flight Store. There is a strictly enforced height restriction of 4 feet for children. It’s best to pre-purchase, but they sell a limited quantity of same-day, non-reserved tickets.
6. Wallace Falls: Don’t let the occasional drippy Northwest weather keep you inside — 28 miles east of Everett is Wallace Falls State Park with a 5.5 mile hike easy enough for most kids. A series of nine falls, one of which is a spectacular 265 feet, are at their finest when it’s raining. Be sure to check out the kiosk to read about the history of the falls and park before heading out and stop at the overlook above the Middle Falls for a sweeping view of the Skykomish River valley out to the Olympic Mountains.
7. The Reptile Zoo: Indiana Jones would hate it, but kids love the Reptile Zoo. Located one mile east of Monroe on Highway 2, this is the place to go to see a comprehensive collection of reptiles like Black Mambas and large anacondas. Kids get a chance to hold 10 different snakes (rendered safe by surgical de-venomizing) and get a peek at some of the world's largest spiders and centipedes. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., admission is $6 per adult and $5 per child.
8. Chuckanut Drive: For a great road adventure head north on I-5 and take Exit #231, just past Burlington to Chuckanut Drive. You’ll wind through farmland and along the rock shoulder of the Chuckanut Mountains while enjoying views of the San Juan Islands. Stop for a picnic at one of the overlooks or enjoy a lunchtime stroll through the streets of Fairhaven, the terminus of the drive. Pick up a trinket or book to keep the kids entertained on the way home at Village Books or Fairhaven Toy Garden. You can always cool off before heading home at Fairhaven Park’s spray park, open mid-June through Labor Day, and if you’re in a hurry, take I-5 home.
9. Larrabee State Park: While you're on Chuckanut, visit gorgeous Larabee State Park on Samish Bay, which offers campsites, picnic tables, shelters, fireplaces, kitchens, a playground, amphitheater, boat launch, eight miles of hiking trails, two mountain lakes and a stretch of beach to soak up the gorgeous sunsets. Spend the day wandering the variety of non-motorized, multiple-use trails in the 2,683-acre park and along the 8,100 feet of saltwater shoreline. The use of the park requires a Discover Pass.
10. Bay View State Park and Breazeale Interpretive Center: Bay View State Park overlooks Padilla Bay, a part of the Salish Sea, which includes the Straits of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, Hood Canal, Georgia Straits, and the waters around the Gulf and San Juan Islands and offers picnic tables, a playground and camping. Go for a beach walk or drive north to the Breazeale Interpretive Center. This 11,000-acre research and education facility houses exhibits of natural history, aquaria, estuaries, coasts and watersheds. It’s open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is free. Pedestrians, bicycles, and dogs on leash can take the Padilla Bay Shore Trail, a 2.2 mile trail from Bay View south along the dike at Little Indian Slough.
11. Bellingham: And just north of Chuckanut and Larrabee is Bellingham, a funky vibe in a small-town package. Explore the streets of Fairhaven and downtown, hit the Saturday and Wednesday Farmer’s Market or enjoy one of the free Concerts in the Park. A few noteworthy destinations are the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention (formerly the American Museum of Radio and Electricity), the Bellingham Railway Museum and the Whatcom Museum at the Lightcatcher, featuring a spectacular, translucent wall 37 feet high and 180 feet long. The Lightcatcher hosts art exhibitions and a Family Interactive Gallery and, more importantly, the café has wicked-good mac’n’cheese.
12.The MV Plover: The MV Plover is the oldest foot passenger ferry in the state and originally transported workers from Blaine to the Alaskan Packers Salmon Cannery, once the largest in the world, and now the location of the tranquil and gorgeous Semiahmoo Resort. The 17-passenger vessel runs Friday through Sunday between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. Once on the other side, visit the Drayton Harbor Maritime Museum, eat lunch waterside at one of the resort restaurants, and explore the beaches, keeping an eye out for bald eagles and great piles of sunning sea lions.
13. Western Heritage Center: Your kid can probably recognize a tractor, but how about a seed drill, a manure spreader, or a silage chopper? Take the whole family to the Western Heritage Center, in Monroe at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds and test your hand-grinder and potato-digger recognition skills. Next time your kid complains about throwing his socks in the hamper threaten to get him a Maytag Wringer Washer powered by a tractor PTO (Power Take Off) and let him do his own laundry.
14. Forest Park Animal Farm and Petting Zoo: The Forest Park Animal Farm and Petting Zoo is nestled in Everett's oldest and largest park, Forest Park. The park has a Swim Center, playground, picnic shelter, wooded trails and an Animal Farm and Petting Zoo with goats, sheep, ducks and hens, rabbits, calves, and pigs. If the pig squeals just aren’t loud enough for you, take the toddlers to the Rotary Centennial Water Playground, designed just for them with 16 interactive water features. The spray park also has a large grass area, picnic benches and a playground..
This article was written in 2012 and updated in the summer of 2013.
Emily Metcalfe Smith lives and writes in Edmonds, Wash., and is always up for an adventure with her two boys, especially if she can get home in time for cocktail hour on the deck.