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Adventures with Dad: Plan a perfect day out with the kids

Published on: May 24, 2010

Who’s your daddy? They come in all sorts and sizes, but one thing’s for sure: Daddies know how to bring the fun! Whether giving mom a little “me time” or parenting your brood on your own, why not mix things up and try something new?

We’ve laid out nine itineraries for nine perfect daddy-o days. Find your “dad type” — then, get out and play!

Retro Dad: You ain’t Ward Cleaver — but you’d sport his suit in a heartbeat! Retro Dad yearns for the days when cars had fins and nobody called anybody “dude.” R.D.: Share the sweet past with your baby Frankenberries with a trip to the retro-rific Seattle Center. There, under the (super Space Age!) monorail lurk the convoluted curves of the EMP l SFM ( Head straight for the Science Fiction Museum and a blast from your past: robots, jet packs and ray guns — and Capt. Kirk’s command chair! An elevator ride up the Space Needle ( is thrilling midcentury fun; then polish the day off with carside dinner service at Burgermaster (

Other ideas: Embark on a creepy-cool tour of underground Seattle (; munch on a meal at Mae’s Phinney Ridge Café (

Nature Dad: You’re happiest when you’re hauling it up a hiking trail, brushing off bugs and sucking in that sweet Nature dadmountain air. Take your wild things with you for a scamper along the Twin Falls Trail (near North Bend). An easy-peasy quarter-mile lands you riverside at the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River; when the river’s running slow and easy, it’s a great spot for wading and building mud dams. Older kids will love the major waterfall drama about a mile in. Crunchy-granola dad wants to dine outside ’neath a tree, natch; a backpack-friendly bagel feast is best eaten at the falls overlook. Or reward your baby mountain goats with a root-beer float at Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in (, just off I-90 in Issaquah.

Other ideas: Skip the hike and get straight to nature with a trip to the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center ( for a ranger-led workshop; check out the free sails at the Center for Wooden Boats (

Geek dadGeek Dad: You have an unabashed affinity for Storm Chasers, sweet new apps and Scientific American: You are Geek Dad and proud of it! Rock your geek world — and show Generation Text its true roots — with a visit to the Microsoft Visitor Center ( There, you will feast your eyes on the very first personal computer and get a peek at the latest and greatest to come outta Redmond. Next, head way back in time — to before there were computers! — to the crazy-cool fossil displays at the Univer­sity of Washington’s Burke Museum ( You’ll see the remains of several newly discovered whale species — from 28 million years ago! Eat lunch at the pine-paneled café downstairs.

Other ideas: Go Mesozoic at the dino exhibit, geek out on creepy bugs and play tic-tac-toe with a robot at the Pacific Science Center (, then ride the bus downtown to see Seattle’s startling Dutch treat: the central branch of the Seattle Public Library (, considered by many to be an architectural masterpiece.

Culture Dad: Dahling, you rock that ascot! Civilize your critters with a day o’ culture that’s so fun, they’ll barely know it’s good for them. Start with a gawk at Seattle’s Hammering Man sculpture, 48 feet of mechanized steel that celebrates workers (and homework-doers!) everywhere. Wander inside Seattle Art Museum (, ask for a family guide and stroll amongst the masterpieces. Watch skepticism melt as your kids get a load of the nine lit-up cars suspended from the ceiling. Teach the kids the “rock back and ponder” whilst stroking their chins. Wind up in the Knudsen Family Room for a little role playing and drum banging, then head over for dinner at an all-ages show at Jazz Alley, where kids younger than 12 are admitted free at most shows (

Other ideas: Weather too good to be indoors? Pack up (or pick up) a picnic dinner and catch free Shakespeare in the park by first-rate Shakespeare companies Green Stage ( and Wooden O ( Hint: Younger kids will like the comedies best; try Much Ado About Nothing or As You Like It, both being staged in local parks this summer. You’ll find tips for introducing your kids to Shakespeare at

Urban Dad: Pop on that porkie hat and those aviator glasses and tread out where you like it best — in the mix! Urban Dad: You might live in Bellevue, but in your heart, you’re chillin’ streetside, people watching and sipping a cuppa.Urban dad So tote your tots out to Columbia City for a little kid-friendly (early) nightlife on the second Friday of the month. This perfect day starts with dinner at Tutta Bella Pizzeria ( or Geraldine’s Counter ( Next, watch the home tots run around on the lawn next to the Columbia City library. At 7 p.m., join up with the family-friendly Columbia City Beatwalk (second Fridays, May-September) and explore music in one of Seattle’s historic neighborhoods. A $7 hand stamp gets you into multiple venues, each with a different live local artist or band.

Other ideas: Check out one of the many weekend cultural festivals at the Seattle Center (African-American, Iranian, French, Brazilian, Tibetan, and Korean, to name a few; Sample new cuisines and bop to new music; polish it off with a wet-and-wild scamper around the center’s famous International Fountain.

Active Dad: What are you kids doing inside on such a nice day? If you’re the get-out-and-go type of dad, here’s a great day for you! Pull on those Keens (and fasten ’em down tight); you’ll need the traction for your water-world adventure. Go to Green Lake and rent paddle boats (Green Lake Boat Rental; 206-527-0171); you’ll get your quad burn while the kids get a giggle! Or, put the pressure on your pecs paddling a canoe around the Washington Park Arboretum ( Next, head to REI’s flagship store ( in downtown Seattle, where you’ll confront the 65-foot-high climbing wall known as the Pinnacle. Critters must be 3 feet tall to climb; bring a camera! End your day with a late lunch upstairs at World Wrapps, and a scamper on REI’s cool kids’ climbing structure.

Other ideas: Stop in at Seattle’s Recycled Cycles ( and rent some wheels (Burleys and trail-a-bikes available) and helmets, then take a spin along the nearby Burke-Gilman Trail through Fremont’s Canal Park and Gas Works Park. Bonus points for packing a kite; that big hill at Gas Works is the kite-flying capital of Seattle!

Silly Dad: Those knock-knock jokes just never get old, and noodle dancing with your little goofballs is de rigueur on a Saturday morning. Lucky for you, options abound for free-spirited fathers like you! Start your perfectly silly day with a growly-fun game of peek-a-boo at the Olympic Sculpture Park (’sup, giant eraser wheel? Then quack up your kids with a ride on board an amphibious World War II vehicle that cruises around Seattle streets before plopping into Lake Union ( There will be kazoos! Afterwards, hit the nearby Seattle Center’s Center House Food Court (still known as the “Food Circus” to locals) for nosh of the cheap ’n’ quick variety — much of it served on a stick!

Other ideas: Squeal over plastic vomit, bacon gum and nacho lip balm at Seattle’s goofiest toy store, Archie McPhee (; or take a “good humor” tour of Lake Washington aboard an ice cream cruise (; the boat’s narrator serves up plenty o’ puns with the praline.

Foodie Dad: This dad dies a thousand deaths at the drive-through! Don’t despair, F.D., you still have time to train up those teeny taste buds. Educate your army of eensy Emerils with a day of foodie-licious fun! Start with a visit to the Pike Place Market to load up on fresh, non-icky veggies and cool, hard-to-find fruits (Meyer lemons! Star fruit! Pawpaw!). Visit one of the market’s several kitchen shops and load up on weird kitchen gadgets you never knew you needed. Next, take a “daddy and me” cooking class at Frog Legs Kids Culinary Academy ( Go home and practice your mad cooking skillz on mom.

Other ideas: Splurge and take the wee ones on a Savor Seattle Food Sports dadTour (, offering two- or three-hour walking food tours of the Pike Place Market, local chocolatiers (“17 different chocolate creations” — including a cocktail!) and more.

Sports Dad: If it weren’t for that pesky job, you’d play — or watch! — sports 24/7. But the job makes the flat screen and cable possible, not to mention the nachos, so you’ll settle for one special Sports Dad day of ballpark goodness. Start with a tour of Safeco Field ( and get a peek inside the press box, private suites, dugouts and more. Then head across the street to get the skinny on luxury suites — and stick your toes right on the FieldTurf — on a tour of Qwest Field ( Less than $10 gets you 90 minutes of behind-the-scenes action, including a look into a locker room! Polish off your day with a snack bought from one of the nearby food carts, or hit the nearby Pyramid Alehouse, which has a simple but tot-pleasing kid menu.

Other ideas: Seattle Storm WNBA games deliver high excitement (and a great grrrl-power message for daughters) at the KeyArena (

Kristen Russell Dobson is ParentMap’s managing editor.

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