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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 (empsfm.org). 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 (spaceneedle.com) is thrilling midcentury fun; then polish the day off with carside dinner service at Burgermaster (burgermaster.biz).

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

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 (triplexrootbeer.com), 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 (pacsci.org/slough) for a ranger-led workshop; check out the free sails at the Center for Wooden Boats (cwb.org).

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 (microsoft.com/about/companyinformation/visitorcenter). 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 (washington.edu/burkemuseum). 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 (pacsci.org), then ride the bus downtown to see Seattle’s startling Dutch treat: the central branch of the Seattle Public Library (spl.org), 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 (seattleartmuseum.org), 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 (jazzalley.com).

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 (greenstage.org) and Wooden O (seattleshakespeare.org). 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 parentmap.com/more.

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 (tuttabellapizza.com) or Geraldine’s Counter (geraldinescounter.com). 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; seattlecenter.com/events/festivals/festal/). 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 (depts.washington.edu/ima/IMA_wac.php). Next, head to REI’s flagship store (rei.com/stores/seattle) 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 (recycledcycles.com) 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? seattleartmuseum.org). 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 (ridetheducksofseattle.com). 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 (archiemcpheeseattle.com); or take a “good humor” tour of Lake Washington aboard an ice cream cruise (seattleferryservice.com); 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 (froglegskca.com). 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 (savorseattletours.com), 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 (seattle.mariners.mlb.com/sea/ballpark) 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 (qwestfield.com/venue/publicTours.aspx). 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 (wnba.com/storm).

Kristen Russell Dobson is ParentMap’s managing editor.

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