We’ve got your holiday right here! Some hot tickets will cost you a bit of cash and planning — but we’ve also listed a handful of cheap, last-minute outings you can fit into your schedule anytime. Visit our online calendar at parentmap.com/calendar for our complete holiday listings!
Morford Family Carousel. A classic Venetian-style carousel with 19 beautifully painted horses. Through Fridays 4–8 p.m., Saturdays noon–8 p.m., Sundays noon-5 p.m. Dec. 20–24: 1–5 p.m. Dec. 31: 1–5 p.m. $1/ride. Town Square Plaza, Second Avenue and Harrison Street, Kent. 253-856-5110, ci.kent.wa.us
Holiday Carousel. Ride the vintage carousel set up in Westlake Park! Through Jan. 2: Mondays–Thursdays 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fridays 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m.–10 p.m., Sundays 10 a.m.–9 p.m. $2. Visit downtownholidays.com for holiday hours/closures. 401 Pine St., Seattle.
Snoqualmie Valley Railroad. Ride in a vintage rail car from North Bend to the Snoqualmie Depot, where you’ll be served treats and visit with Santa. Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18: Trains depart hourly, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Dec. 17: 11 a.m.–3 p.m. $18, younger than 2 free. Reservations: 425-888-2206, trainmuseum.org
Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad. The Santa Express departs from Elbe in Pierce County. Visit with Santa and enjoy treats and music onboard. Dec. 4, 5: 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m. Dec. 11, 12, 18, 19: 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 6 p.m. $25, ages 2–12 $20, younger than 2 free. Reservations: 888-783-2611, mrsr.com
Chehalis-Centralia Railroad. The Santa train runs during the day, while the Polar Express train (includes a reading of Chris Van Allsburg’s book by the same name, seasonal music, and treats) runs in the evening. Santa Train: Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12: 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. ($8). Polar Express: Through Dec. 19, Fridays 7 p.m.; Saturdays 4 p.m., 7 p.m.; Sundays 4 p.m. ($25, ages 3–16 $15, younger than 3 free). Reservations: steamtrainride.com
Santa Breakfast with Mini Nutcracker. Music, Santa photo op and a performance of The Nutcracker by young Olympic Ballet School dancers. Held at Lynwood Embassy Suites. Dec. 19: 10 a.m. $25, ages 10 and younger $20. Reservations: 800-838-3006, BrownPaperTickets.com
Holiday Tea with Santa. Decorate cookies, visit with Santa (and get your pic taken for free) – and enjoy a scrumptious tea at The Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland. Dec. 4: 2–4 p.m. $40, children $20. Reservations: 425-822-3700, thewoodmark.com
Seattle’s Traditional Santa Breakfast. Includes entertainment and a Santa visit at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel. Dec. 12, 18, 19: 9:30–11:30 a.m. $50, ages 12 and younger $25. Reservations: 206-547-1290, arthritis.org
Argosy Christmas Ship Festival. Nightly through Dec. 23, brightly lit ships sail to locations all over Puget Sound. Board one of the ships for music and activities, or watch for free from a local beach. Ships $35, ages 5–12 $12–$19, ages 4 and younger free. Reservations, schedule: 206-623-1445, argosycruises.com
Winterfest Ice Rink. Seattle Center’s seasonal, indoor ice rink is located in Fisher Pavilion. Through Jan. 2: Sundays–Thursdays 11 a.m.–8 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Closed Dec. 25. $7, ages 6-12 $5, ages 5 and younger $2 (includes skate rental, cash only). seattlecenter.com
Group Health Ice Arena. The outdoor (but covered!) ice arena is located at Bellevue Downtown Park. Open daily (except Dec. 25) through Jan. 9; visit magicseason.com for the schedule. $10, includes skates. 10201 Fourth St. N.E., Bellevue.
Red Ranger Came Calling. Based on Berkeley Breathed’s story about his father as a 9-year-old and his mysterious encounter with Saunder Clos. Ages 7 and older. Through Dec. 23, times vary. $20–$36. Book-It Repertory Theatre, 206-216-0833, book-it.org
Nutcracker. Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of the holiday ballet is a local must-see. Through Dec. 27, times vary. All ages. $28–$123. McCaw Hall, 206-441-2424, pnb.org
A Christmas Carol. ACT’s annual Dickensfest is a well-crafted, straightforward retelling of Scrooge’s redemption at the hands of three ghosts. Through Dec. 26, times vary. Ages 5 and up. $22–$27 and up. ACT Theatre, 206-292-7676, acttheatre.org
A Christmas Story: The Musical! Nine-year-old Ralphie wants an air rifle more than anything for Christmas in this musical based on the 1983 movie. Through Dec. 30, times vary. Rated PG. $23–$103. The 5th Avenue Theatre, 206-625-1900, 5thavenuetheatre.org
'Twas the Night . . . Studio East's annual holiday show is a romp through Clement Clarke Moore's classic poem about a family's close encounter with St. Nick. Through Dec. 19: Fridays 7 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays 11 a.m., 2p.m., 5 p.m. $13. All ages. Studio East, 11730 118th Ave. N.E., Kirkland. studio-east.org
Garden D’Lights. A dazzling garden-themed light display at Bellevue Botanical Garden. Tickets are now required to limit crowd size (available online), even on free nights (Nov. 29 and 30; December 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15). Through Jan. 1: Nightly, 5–9:30 p.m. $5, ages 10 and under free. 12001 Main St., Bellevue. 425-452-6885, gardendlights.org
Fantasy Lights. The largest holiday drive-through display in the Northwest, featuring nearly 300 elaborate displays and thousands of sparkling lights. Through Jan. 2: Nightly, 5:30–9 p.m. $13 per car/van. Spanaway Lake Park, Military Road and 152nd Street, Spanaway. co.pierce.wa.us
Zoo Lights. Take a stroll through the brilliantly lit zoo and enjoy live entertainment, a carousel or camel ride, and more. Through Jan. 2: Nightly, 5–9 p.m. (closed Dec. 24) $7.50 at the gate, $6.50 at Bartell Drug and online, ages 2 and under free. Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma. 253-404-3805, pdza.org