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2004 ParentMap Picks - Entertainment and fun

Favorite way to expose your family to classical music
Parents know classical music benefits young brains, but it's hard to tell your kids to listen to Brahms when you're listening to Nora Jones. The Seattle Symphony's Tiny Tots and Discover Music! (206-215-4747, Seattlesymphony.org)

five-part concert series make learning about and listening to classical music a delight for all ages. The Tiny Tots series, geared for 2- to 5-year-olds, offers interactive and entertaining kid-friendly music you won't mind listening to yourself. Discover Music! is aimed at 5- to 12-year-olds and features the full orchestra playing small pieces of music geared around a kid-friendly, but not dumbed-down, theme.

Favorite fair
Everyone does the Puyallup, even newbies who can't pronounce it yet. But for a smaller, gentler, more authentic country fair experience, you can't beat the Evergreen State Fair (www.evergreenfair.org) held in Monroe. Perfect for kids, especially little ones, the Evergreen Fair has plenty of baby animals and kiddie rides for toddlers, with enough big stuff to appeal to older kids. This year's fair is Aug. 26-Sept. 6.

Favorite summer party place
It's a natural for a birthday, but throwing a party at Pop Mounger Pool (2535 32nd Ave. W., Seattle; 206-684-4708) is great idea anytime during the summer. The two lovely outdoor pools, blissfully warm, can be extremely crowded. So reserve the facility for a party and you'll get first dibs on the space. There's a big slide that drops into the big pool--perfect for good swimmers; and a baby slide in the shallow pool for little kids. Rent it for $166.50/hour for up to 12 kids with their parents.

Favorite tourist attraction
We love anything to do with boat rides; the chance to get out on the water is one of the things that makes Seattle a great place to live. You could take the ferry to Bainbridge, but if you have friends in town or just want to play tourist, you can't beat the Duck Boat (206-441-DUCK, www.ridetheducksofseattle.com).
It seems like the height of goofiness, driving through town in an amphibious vehicle, quacking on a duckbill and listening to "Louie, Louie." But the moment when the Duck drives right into the water and floats away is not to be missed.

Favorite hidden playground
Most kids would be happy going to a Mariners game - even without the phenomenally incredible Safeco Field playground (www.seattlemariners.com) located behind center field. The wild array of tubes, slides and climbing equipment that juts out over the train yard looks so inviting parents will wish they were still kids--especially if the Mariners continue their less-than-stellar ways. Another tip: The concession stand in the play area sells great and cheap kids' meals.

Favorite way to feel like a grown-up with children
When you've had just about all the Rugrats or Britney you can stand, take your kids to the First Thursday art walk in Pioneer Square (various galleries, 6 p.m., first Thursday of every month, www.pioneersquare.org). Though there aren't many kids in the galleries, it's actually wonderful entertainment for children of all ages: It's loud, you can move from one place to another quickly, there are lots of things to look at and plenty of places to stop along the way for snacks.

-- Audrey Van Buskirk

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