We asked all "Hidden Gems" survey participants to share their favorite "off the beaten path" activity with their kids. Our readers had many creative and fun suggestions, from a visit to South Seattle's Kubota gardens to lunch in Seattle's International District to a Bainbridge Island ferry ride.
The winning entry, submitted by Becky Snyder, was a daytrip to Central Washington University in Ellensburg, home to the Chimposium, a one-hour educational workshop involving CWU's world-renowned signing chimpanzees. "It's an amazing program for older children," Snyder says. "They get to attend a lecture and observe the chimps using American Sign Language."
Snyder says that during the 90-minute drive, she and husband Art, daughter Savannah, 9, and son Hunter, 5, will stop for breakfast at the Family Pancake House on Snoqualmie Pass on the way to Ellensburg, or visit Roslyn's Village Pizza on the way home.
The Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute's Chimposiums are held each weekend, March through November, on Saturday mornings at 9:15 and 10:45 a.m. and Sunday afternoons at 12:30 and 2 p.m. Topics include the culture of free-living chimpanzees and chimpanzee sign language conversations, plus a guided observation of Washoe, one of four signing chimpanzees at the Institute, and her family.
Prepaid reservations are recommended, and credit card or payment by check or cash is required in advance. To hold your spot for a Saturday or Sunday Chimposium, call 509-963-2244 weekdays between the hours of 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Chimposium tuition is $10 per adult and $7.50 per student (defined as preschool-aged children, K-12 and college students).
More about our Hidden Gems Contest:
Talk about monkeying around with success.
Each year, we ask our readers to name their favorite family friendly shops, restaurants, parks and getaways. But this time, we changed the rules: Using the theme "Hidden Gems of Puget Sound," we asked parents to focus on locally owned businesses and out-of-the-way places. We even offered a prize for the best personal "Hidden Gem" -- an activity you do with your kids that is off the beaten path.
Admittedly, keeping national chains out of the mix is a tough challenge. From grabbing a morning latte to buying groceries, national names often figure into our daily routine. But our resourceful readers rose to the occasion, offering their favorite local family hangouts, from kids' hair salons and shoe stores to pizza places and ice cream shops.
To round out the list, we asked a group of our writers to come up with their own "Hidden Gems" for each category: shopping, food, entertainment and services. We think their ideas are also jewels that will surprise and delight you.
As for the monkey business, that figures into the last question on our survey: "an activity you do with your kids that is off the beaten path or that others wouldn't know about."
Our winning entry, submitted by Becky Snyder of Sammamish, was a day trip to Central Washington University in Ellensburg, home to the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute and its "Chimposium" workshop. "A true 'Hidden Gem' that very few people know about," Snyder notes.
For her winning suggestion, Snyder will receive a family membership to the KidsQuest Children's Museum in Factoria.
Thanks to all our readers and writers for sharing their gems!