Sometimes even the best-laid plans go sideways, so check in with each venue before dropping by, and then go forth and have fun!
• Victorian Country Christmas. Shop and enjoy entertainment at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, which are decked out Victorian style.
• Downtown for the Holidays. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, head to downtown Olympia for a tree-lighting ceremony, parade and Santa pictures.
• Yulefest. Scandinavian crafts for the kids, traditional foods and straw ornaments for gift giving. Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle.
• Winterfest. Daily free entertainment is the highlight of the Seattle Center’s annual holiday celebration — there’s also an ice rink, carousel and miniature train layout. Runs from the day after Thanksgiving through January.
• Magic Season. The area’s only outdoor ice arena is in Bellevue from late November through early January — the festival also features a gorgeous light display in the Bellevue Botanical Gardens and holiday shows all over the city. The celebration runs from late November through early January.
• Zoolights. The light display at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma features depictions of landmarks, such as Mount Rainier, and nursery rhyme characters. Runs from late November through New Year’s Day.
• Santa Train. Don’t wait to buy tickets for this popular event. Ride in an antique train car from North Bend to Snoqualmie and meet Santa. Runs three weekends from late November through mid-December.
• Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park. The largest holiday drive-through display in the Northwest features nearly 300 elaborate displays and thousands of sparkling lights along Spanaway Lake. Runs from late November through New Year’s Eve.
• Model Train Festival. Your engineer-in-training will love the train layouts in various scales. Washington State History Museum, Tacoma.
• Christmas Ships. Gather on a dark beach for live music broadcasts to shore from decorated ships, and (if you’re lucky) a bonfire. Viewing is free. Nightly at locations all around Puget Sound, Dec. 1–23.
• Lights of Christmas. More than a million lights decorate Warm Beach Camp near Stanwood. Open weekends (and some weekdays) during December.
• Kids & Critters NatureFest. The annual winter festival at Northwest Trek in Eatonville features special activities with an animal theme. nwtrek.org
• Model Railroad Show. Pacific Science Center hosts the long-running show, where kids can view layouts and ride a child-sized train.
Great ways to stay dry in winter
If you’ve been to the community center’s indoor play time one time too many, check out these facilities, which offer indoor fun especially for little ones. Call or visit each location’s Web site for current admission prices and open hours.
Museums + zoo:
• The Children’s Museum, Seattle. Visit for daily themed educational activities for little ones, and take a time out in the reading room, which features an intricate fantasy mural and quiet spots for story time. Located in Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St., Seattle. 206-441-1768.
• Imagine Children’s Museum. The popular museum includes a kid-sized town, animal clinic and rooftop play space that’s open when the weather’s clear. Check the schedule for frequent special events. 1502 Wall St., Everett. 425-258-1006.
• KidsQuest Children’s Museum. Innovative water play, “backyard” exploration and lots of special activities and events. In Factoria Mall, 4091 Factoria Blvd. S.E., Bellevue, 425-637-8100.
• Kids Discovery Museum. The compact, homegrown museum features drop-in art and special activities almost daily. 305 Madison Ave. N., Bainbridge Island. 206-855-4650.
• Tacoma Children’s Museum. Draws include the changing activities in Curiosity Corner and early learning activities for parents and kids in the Learning Lounge. 936 Broadway, Tacoma. 253-627-6031.
• Hands On Children’s Museum. Features the TotSpot for early learning and a “working waterfront” area. 106 11th Ave. S.W., Olympia. 360-956-0818.
• Zoomazium. The Woodland Park Zoo’s indoor play space includes nature-themed climbing and exploration zones, plus a fenced tot area, for kids as old as age 8. Special activities occur daily. North 50th St. and Fremont Ave. N., Seattle. 206-684-4892.
• Pacific Science Center. IMAX movies and interactive science exhibitions for older kids, and a large, enclosed preschool-and-younger play area for climbing and water fun. 200 Second Ave. N., Seattle. 206-443-2001.
• Playmatters. The indoor play space in Greenwood for kids younger than 5 also offers story times and other events. 7720 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle. 206-784-2700.
• Tot Spot Café. Kids can hang out during supervised open play, while you enjoy a quiet latte. 17802 134th Ave. N.E., Suite 6, Woodinville. 425-488-2795.
• Dizzy’s Bus Stop. The play space hosts drop-off playtimes for children ages 18 months to 6 years. 3205 148th Ave. S.E., Suite E, Bellevue. 425-564-TBUS.
• Odyssey 1 . Lots of amusement here for older kids, as well as the Jungle Gym, a large climbing structure for younger kids. 2310 W. Mildred, #110, Tacoma. 253-566-3233.
• Lil’ Kickers Fun Zone. Play on inflatable bouncer, slide and obstacle course at three Arena Sports locations. 7400 Sandpoint Way N.E. (Magnuson Park), Seattle, 206-985-8990; 4636 E. Marginal Way S., Seattle, 206-762-8606; and 9040 Willows Road, Redmond, 425-885-4881.
• Pump It Up. Kids 5 and younger can drop in during “Pop-In Playtime” and jump on the facility’s large inflatables. 11605 N.E. 116th St., Kirkland, 425-820-2297, or 18027 Highway 99, Lynnwood. 425-820-2297.
• 3-2-1 Bounce. Weekly drop-in playtimes at two locations: 1111 80th St. S.W., Suite 200, Everett, 425-438-0321 or 13434 N.E. 16th St., Suite 110, Bellevue, 425-378-0321.
• Jump Planet. The large indoor facility is filled with bouncies, including a smaller one for “waddlers,” and is open weekly for drop-in play. 22310 20th Ave. S.E., #200, Bothell. 425-481-5867.
• Kidz Bounce. Features a large play area and weekly drop-in times for ages 2–10. 8178 304th Ave. S.E., Issaquah. 425-222-5439.
• Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Adults might think this massive green-thumb-o-rama is just for them, but kids will find plenty to do in Sproutopia. Held at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center.
• Bald Eagle Festival. View wintering bald eagles in the Upper Skagit towns of Concrete and Marblemount, and enjoy story times, science activities and other kid fun.
• Whirligig. Kids run wild on huge inflatables set up in the Center House. Runs mid-March through mid-April at the Seattle Center.
• Kent Kids’ Art Day. Entertainment, food and an enormous assortment of art projects for kids to work on, under the guidance of working artists, in the Kent Commons.
• Tulip Festival. Skagit Valley fields are in bloom during the month of April-visit for cute kid photo ops and special events.
• Procession of the Species. Olympia celebrates Earth Day with a parade of vibrantly imaginative animals.
• Puyallup Spring Fair. Rides, entertainment, activities and animals at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.
• Daffodil Festival. The Grand Floral Street Parade moves through Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Orting in one day (!).
Nothing says “spring” like baby animals, so head to a local petting zoo for some hands-on time with bunnies, lambs and calves. Some of these facilities are open year-round, so you don’t have to wait until the days get longer; others are open only for the summer season. Contact each location for current hours of operation and admission prices (where not marked as “free”) and don’t forget to wash up after your trip to the barn to avoid the transmission of E. coli.
• Rotary Ranch Petting Zoo. Marysville’s petting zoo, located in Jennings Memorial Park, generally runs from the end of May through August. It’s free. 6915 Armar Road, Marysville. 360-363-8400.
• Farrel-McWhirter Park. Farm animals — including babies in the spring — are on view daily, year-round at this popular location. Free. 19545 Redmond Road, Redmond. 425-556-2300.
• Kelsey Creek Park. View animals, such as ponies, chicks or pigs, daily, year-round. The farm also hosts popular pony rides on a few days in early spring, for a nominal fee. Viewing the farm critters is free. 410 130th Place S.E., Bellevue. 425-452-7688.
• Forest Park Animal Farm. Ducks, chickens, calves and other farm animals are on view from June 2 to Aug. 19. Free. 802 Mukilteo Blvd., Everett. 425-257-8300.
• Woodland Park Zoo. The zoo’s Family Farm area allows children to interact (carefully) with bunnies, goats and other farm animals in a fenced yard. Free with admission, open daily during the summer. North 50th Street and Fremont Avenue North, Seattle. 206-684-4892.
• Remlinger Farms. Kids can view, feed and sometimes touch many farm animals (babies in the spring) in the 4-H Animal Barnyard, located in the Country Fair Family Fun Park. Free with admission, open May-October. 32610 N.E. 32nd St., Carnation. 425-333-4135.
• Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Visit the Contact Junction in the Kids’ Zone to feed or groom resident goats and sheep. Free with admission; open year-round. 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma. 253-591-5337.
• Opening Day. A parade of decorated boats travels through the Montlake Cut in Seattle to mark the official start of the boating season.
• Northwest Folklife. It’s always held on Memorial Day weekend at Seattle Center, and it always includes an incredible lineup of music and dance performances, kids’ activities and good people-watching.
• Poulsbo Viking Fest. Parade, crafts and activities in celebration of Norwegian Constitution Day.
• Maritime Festival. Tugboat races, maritime-themed kids’ activities and harbor tours on Seattle’s waterfront.
• Olympia Wooden Boat Festival. Explore the history and traditions of wooden boats in the south Puget Sound region at the festival, held Mother’s Day weekend at the Percival Landing Boardwalk in downtown Olympia.
• Giant Magnet. The performance festival formerly known as “Seattle International Children’s Festival” offers a rich mix of dance, theater and comedy for all ages, in Seattle and Tacoma.
• Edmonds Waterfront Festival. Visit the Port of Edmonds Marina for kids’ entertainment, classic yachts on display and other waterfront-themed activities.
• Fremont Solstice Parade & Fair. A few hours of free-spirited fun during the parade followed by art cars and kids’ activities at the two-day fair, located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.
• Marysville Strawberry Festival. The long-running celebration includes a parade down State Avenue, fireworks and lots of other activities over a number of days.
• Old Bellevue Strawberry Festival. Heritage displays, entertainment and strawberry shortcake in Bellevue Downtown Park.
• Taste of Tacoma. The “Ultimate Family Picnic” at Point Defiance Park features entertainment and bites from local and regional restaurants.
• Maritime Gig Festival. Kids’ activities and entertainment on a children’s stage, a parade, a regatta, displays of historic boats and much more in downtown Gig Harbor. Most activities are free.
• Edmonds Arts Festival. Held over Father’s Day weekend, the festival includes fine art for the adults to look over, a juried children’s art show, and art activities and entertainment in the Children’s Corner.
• Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival. Toy-boat building, free sails and other maritime-themed fun.
• Seafair. Seattle’s old-timey maritime festival has grown to encompass most Seattle neighborhoods and many towns outside the city. Parades and street fairs, the Milk Carton Derby, the Torchlight Parade and Blue Angels — activities spill from early July into August.
• Bite of Seattle. Three late-July days of crowds at the Seattle Center, food tastes from local restaurants and plenty to do for kids in the Family Fun Zone. Admission is free.
• Bellevue Arts & Crafts Fair. Browse fine crafts stalls and visit Kidsfair, where children can create masterpieces of their own. Held in the Bellevue Square parking lot.
• Capital Lakefair. Music and entertainment, a bed race, sports activities, Kids’ Day and a finale of fireworks at Olympia’s summer festival.
• Enumclaw’s King County Fair. The Enumclaw fair is inexpensive and old-fashioned, with free entertainment, rides and farm animals.
• Sequim Lavender Festival. Enjoy the glorious sight of lavender in peak bloom by taking a lavender farm tour, or visit the street fair.
• Ethnic Fest. The celebration of Pierce County’s cultural diversity includes performing and visual arts, crafts and food from cultures around the world, plus events just for kids. Held in Tacoma’s Wright Park.
• Whaling Days. Silverdale’s summer festival is big, with a street fair, fireworks, parade and canoe races.
• Festival at Mt. Si. The North Bend festival features a parade, entertainment, helicopter rides, fireworks and food events. festivalatmtsi.org
• Pierce County Fair. Entertainment and a kids’ zone, carnival and 4-H displays, located in Frontier Park in Graham. piercecountyfair.com • Evergreen State Fair. In late August and early September, the fair in Monroe revs into action with animals on display, midway rides and the rodeo. evergreenfair.org
• Maritime Fest. Maritime adventures include train rides, boat rides and harbor tours, as well as toy-boat building for the kids, at and around the Thea Foss Waterway in Tacoma. Most activities are free. maritimefest.org
• Pet Parade. Kids and decked-out pets strut their stuff through downtown Olympia at this long-running parade, sponsored by The Olympian newspaper. ci.olympia.wa.us
• Sand in the City. Watch as 450 tons of sand are coaxed into fantastical sculptures at Port Plaza in downtown Olympia. Sponsored by the Hands On Children’s Museum. hocm.org
For a few glorious weeks during the summer, area outdoor pools and water parks are open and buzzing with activity. Grab a suit and store up some memories for the winter months. Contact each facility for updated hours and admission prices, where applicable. Most outdoor facilities open in mid-June and run through Labor Day.
• Mounger Pool. Features a large pool with corkscrew slide and a warm, shallow “little pool” that’s perfect for younger kids. 2535 32nd Ave. W., Seattle. 206-684-4708, seattle.gov/parks
• Colman Pool. The heated saltwater pool’s bonus: a breathtaking view of Puget Sound. 8603 Fauntleroy Way S.W., Seattle. 206-684-7494, seattle.gov/parks
• Peter Kirk Pool. The outdoor pool, located between the library and Kirkland Performance Center, is also close to the play area at Peter Kirk Park and the Kirkland Park Place shopping center. Kirkland Avenue at Third Street, Kirkland. 425-587-3330, ci.kirkland.wa.us
• Yost Pool. The pool is located in Yost Park, which features nice hiking trails through heavily wooded terrain. 9535 Bowdoin Way, Edmonds. 425-775-2645, ci.edmonds.wa.us
• Cottage Lake Pool. Features family activities during the summer. 18831 N.E. Woodinville-Duvall Road, Woodinville. 206-296-2999, metrokc.gov/parks/pools/cottage.htm
• Stewart Heights Pool. Features a lazy river, bubble pool and water-play structure, plus an on-site Subway concession. 402 E. 56th St., Tacoma. 253-573-2532, metroparkstacoma.org
• Titlow Pool. The Olympic-size pool has a minimum depth of 3 feet. 8355 Sixth Ave., Tacoma. 253-564-4044, metroparkstacoma.org
• Tanglewilde Pool. This public pool, located in Olympia’s Tanglewilde community, is open late May to Labor Day. 360-491-3907, tanglewilde.org Water parks
• Wild Waves and Enchanted Village. Hurtle down the five-story Zooma Falls raft slide. 6201 South Enchanted Parkway, Federal Way. 253-661-8000, sixflags.com
• Henry Moses Aquatic Center. Long slide, lazy river, toddler play area and many other water-play features. 1719 Maple Valley Highway, Renton. 425-430-6780, ci.renton.wa.us
• Bumbershoot. The massive Labor Day music festival also includes dance, comedy, theater, literary arts and lots of cool fun for the kids at Youngershoot. Held at Seattle Center. bumbershoot.org
• Puyallup Fair. It’s big, and it runs for most of September. Doing the Puyallup includes riding carnival rides, visiting the animals and the rodeo, free entertainment for kids and a stint in ToonzVille, where kids can meet costumed characters. thefair.com
• Olympia Harbor Days. View tugboats and tugboat races at Olympia’s annual celebration of maritime heritage, held Labor Day weekend at Percival Landing Boardwalk. harbordays.com
• Bremerton Blackberry Festival. Dig into blackberry scones, pie and sundaes at the annual Labor Day festival, held on the Bremerton boardwalk. blackberryfestival.org
• King County Harvest Celebration Farm Tours. Tour farms all over the county, meet the farmers and their animals, and enjoy a variety of family-friendly activities at different locations. metrokc.gov/wsu-ce/FarmTour/Index.htm
• Issaquah Salmon Days Festival. Take a look at salmon swimming upstream to spawn, and stick around for a parade and tons of kids’ activities in the “Field of Fun.” salmondays.org
• Pumpkin Prowl. Spooky fun at the Woodland Park Zoo includes illuminated pumpkins and trick-or-treating. zoo.org
• ZooBoo/Call of the Wild. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma rolls its annual wolf-appreciation activities into its Halloween celebration. pdza.org
• Oktoberfest Northwest. The newish festival includes food, the Scandinavian Heritage Festival, traditional music and dance, and kids’ activities, such as carnival rides and a root beer garden. Held at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. oktoberfestnw.com
Farms all over the region lure families out to the country with an assortment of harvest-time activities, from corn mazes and amusement parks to petting farms and pumpkin launchers. Some farms are open for fall events during the entire month of October; others are open only on weekends. Contact each location for current dates, times and prices, where applicable. Snohomish County hosts a Web site for all its farms.
• Stocker Farms. Corn maze and pumpkin U-pick; weekend-only pumpkin festival with snacks and activities. 10622 Airport Way, Snohomish. 360-568-7391, stockerfarms.com
• Craven Farm. Farm animals, nursery rhyme scenes and U-pick pumpkins; special weekend-only activities. 13817 Short School Road, Snohomish. 360-568-2601, cravenfarm.com
• The Farm. Washington State Corn Maze, wagon rides, petting zoo and pumpkins to pick. 7301 Rivershore Drive, Snohomish. 425-334-4124, thefarm1.com
• Biringer Farm. Corn maze, rides in “Pumpkin Country” and U-pick pumpkins. 4625 40th Place N.E., Everett. 425-259-0255, biringerfarm.com
• Carleton Farm. Smaller corn maze, pumpkin cannon, farm animals and tractor rides to the fields for pumpkin-picking. 830 Sunnyside Blvd., Everett. 425-334-2297, carletonfarm.com
• Fairbanks “Hands On” Pumpkin and Animal Farm. Baby animals, TinyTots corn maze, tot-sized pumpkins to pick off the lawn. 15308 52nd Ave. W., Edmonds. 425-743-3694.
• Foster’s Produce and Corn Maze. Pumpkin slingshot, farm animals, pumpkin-picking, story times, corn maze and small-child-friendly activities in the KidzCorral. 5818 State Route 530 N.E., Arlington. 360-435-5095, fosterscornmaze.com
• Remlinger Farms. U-pick pumpkins; fall farms tours; and rides, farm animals and other activities in the Country Fair Fun Park. 32610 N.E. 32nd St., Carnation. 425-333-4135, remlingerfarms.com
• Jubilee Farm. Free harvest activities include hayrides, petting farm and hay maze. Pick pumpkins grown using organic methods. 229 W. Snoqualmie River Road N.E., Carnation. 425-222-4558, jubileefarm.org
• South 47 Farm. Corn maze, farm animals and U-pick pumpkins in a location close by. 15410 N.E. 124th St., Redmond. 425-869-9777, south47farm.com
• Spooner Farms. Corn maze, U-pick pumpkins, pumpkin slingshot, animals and more. 9710 State Route 162 E., Puyallup. 253-840-2059.
• Serena Farms. Wagon rides to the pumpkin patch, and a corn maze. 4400 S. 212th St., Kent. 253-261-8789.
• Terry’s Berries. Harvest Fest includes hay rides, farm tours, chicken feeding, hay maze and corn maze, plus apple picking and cider pressing. 4520 River Road, Tacoma. 253-922-1604, terrysberries.com
• Maris Farms. Pumpkin patch, corn maze, haunted woods and kids’ play area, petting farm, pony rides and corn cannons, all within view of Mount Rainier. 24713 Sumner-Buckley Highway, Buckley. 253-862-2848, marisfarms.com
• Lattin Country Cider Mill. Haunted house, corn maze, an assortment of animals (including peacocks, chickens, ducks and bunnies) to feed, and Saturday horse-drawn wagon rides. 9402 Rich Road S.E., Olympia. 360-491-7328, lattinscider.comGoogle+