Outing Review: Summer at SAM, Seattle's Most Scenic Family Outing

Published on: December 30, 2013

If you’re looking for a scenic family outing in the city, it’s tough to beat Summer at SAM on Thursday evenings at the Olympic Sculpture Park. With live music, food trucks, and art activities all happening in view of the Puget Sound, every Thursday evening, almost every moment is photo-worthy.


At the opening ceremony this past Thursday, families picnicked on the lawn of the Gates Amphitheater, braved long lines for food trucks, and reveled in the sights of sailboats passing behind art installations and live performances across the park. All the fun wraps up around 8 p.m., which means kids can still get home at a reasonable time. Here's what's in store every week:

Live music

SAM puts the spotlight on local artists, with a different Seattle band each week. All shows take place in the Gates Amphitheater, just behind the PACCAR Pavilion. Seating consists of cement benches, a smattering of red SAM chairs and ample lawn space. Many families opted to bring their own blanket, a picnic, and toys for the kids. Music lovers of all ages found room to dance by the band.


Food trucks

A rotating list of Seattle’s beloved food trucks serves up food. Each Thursday night, three trucks park along the path adjacent to the Amphitheater, offering an eclectic array of snacks and meals. You can sit and eat on lawns, benches, and chairs throughout the park, or find a table with chairs inside or on the patio of the Pavilion. Pro tip: Arrive early to avoid the long lines and wait times for the trucks; they open early at 5:30 p.m.


Art activities

Join SAM Creates inside the PACCAR Pavilion for different art activities each week. Tons of materials and helpful guides make the creation station an inviting, engaging space for all ages. Check the calendar to find out the theme for each week. Bonus: Art Hit presents a guided tour of art in the park with a different Seattle artist each week from 6:30-7p.m. Meet at the entrance of the PACCAR Pavilion for the tour.


And more

There's much more, including zumba and yoga classes, and, for the grown-ups, SAM’s TASTE Café inside PACCAR Pavilion serves Northwest wines, select cocktails, and snacks. Note: Alcoholic beverages must stay inside the Pavilion/Amphitheater space.


If you go

What: Summer at SAM

Where: Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle

When: Thursdays, July 11- Aug. 29, 6-8 p.m. There are also activities on Saturday, with yoga at 10:30 am, Zumba at 2 pm, Drop-in art activities with local artists from 11 a.m.–1 p.m., sketching workshops in July and crafting workshops in August.

Price: Free, except obviously, food and drink offerings

Tips: Parking at PACCAR Pavilion fills up quickly. Look for street parking along Western Ave., take a Metro bus, or ride bikes. Bike parking is available inside the PACCAR Pavilion garage. Enter the park on Western and Broad, as most events take place in the Pavilion, Amphitheater, and paths on the eastern side of the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Photos: Top photo, courtesy of Seattle Art Museum; all other photos by Lauren Valencia.

About the author: Lauren Valencia is a former Seattle pre-K teacher and a freelance writer.

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