When September arrives, there’s one thing at the top of the agenda: school. We transition back to school and attempt to reestablish calming, productive habits. But we also typically (please, weather angels!) enjoy bright blue skies and near-perfect weather. So, what are families to do? Play, that’s what! While getting into those school-year routines, you can also get your frolic on at the beach, among the sunflowers, and while oohing and aahing over wee pink piglets at the state fair. These sweet distractions and more make our Play List this month.
- Quick! Squeeze in some leisurely beach time before school rolls around to mess up all our fun. Hop aboard the ferry for a quick ride to one-of-a-kind Jetty Island, where your kids can play in the sand and splish-splash in the warm(ish) water, through Sunday, Sept. 4. Reserve your ferry time online.
- Romping among giant, gorgeous sunflower blooms is a September family tradition you don’t want to miss. Pick a farm, pick some flowers and snap picture-perfect photos of your fam.
- Who doesn’t appreciate ultracool tugboats? No one who matters. (Just kidding.) Turn up at the Olympia Harbor Days Festival to build your own Lego tugboat, cheer on your favorite vessel in the tug races and watch dancing pirates (what?). This free event takes place Friday–Sunday, Sept. 2–4.
- Improve those summer pedaling skills on a family bike ride during the last two sessions of Bicycle Sundays, when a section of Lake Washington Boulevard is closed to most vehicle traffic from Friday evening to Monday morning. Sept. 2–6 and 16–19; free.
- The beloved Washington State Fair is back in full form for 2022! Book a visit to enjoy your favorite carnival rides, fair treats and animal exhibits, plus awesome special events, such as “Expedition: Dinosaur” and the rodeo. Do the Puyallup Sept. 2–25 (closed Tuesdays as well as Wednesday, Sept. 7). Gate admission $12–$18 (discount for online purchase); ages 5 and younger free; shows and rides cost extra.
- Visit Seattle’s famous Ballard Locks to spy salmon swimming through the fish ladder. These finned friends are just beginning their journey from Puget Sound to their Cedar River spawning grounds. Stop by any day, or learn from a ranger on Saturdays, Sept. 3, 10 and 17, 10:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Free.
- Motor on over to a truck lover’s paradise at Sprinker Recreation Center in Tacoma. At this free Touch-A-Truck event, kids get to climb on, “drive” and honk the horns of many of the awesome big rigs they see out on the roads. Saturday, Sept. 10, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. (horn-free hour, noon–1 p.m.).
- Reserve your free spot (ASAP) to get out and stretch your legs on the enchanting trails of IslandWood on Bainbridge Island. Your crew will love the sky-high canopy tower, tree houses and other delights. Sunday, Sept. 11, 1–5 p.m.; preregister. Donations are welcome.
- The annual fun-filled Wallingford Wurst Festival features inflatables for kids, a beer garden for grown-ups, live music and lots of the wurst things to eat … get it? Free entry; pay for food and some activities, Friday–Saturday, Sept. 16–17.
- Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands welcomes the community for a close-up look at local food, city farming and healthy living. Farm Fest features crafts, storytelling, food trucks and more fun for families. Free entry; food for purchase. Saturday, Sept. 17, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
- Celebrate the varied cultural traditions and cuisines of Latin America that are represented in our local community. Sea Mar Fiestas Patrias welcomes all for food demos, kids’ activities, folkloric performances and more. Join the party at Seattle Center, Saturday–Sunday, Sept. 17–18.
- Is your screen-addicted child struggling with sensory and behavioral issues? Join ParentMap and Victoria Dunckley, M.D., for a talk titled “Wired and Tired,” which will explore the impact of screen time on children’s brains and behavior. Join us online on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 1–2 p.m. Sliding-scale fee $0–$15; preregister.
- Stretch your summertime fun in nature into fall by visiting one of our state’s beautiful wild places on Saturday, Sept. 24, a fee-free day at our state and national parks. Entrance fees to national parks are waived, and you can park in a state park without a Discover Pass.
- Bring your appetite and gather with other enthusiasts to partake in the culture, arts and (especially!) food of Italy. Additional features of The Italian Festival include a car show, dog show and the popular grape stomp. Saturday–Sunday, Sept. 24–25. Free.
- (Re)stock up for cozy fall evenings at home by gathering up puzzles your family has already enjoyed and taking them to Blue Highway Games’ monthly puzzle exchange. Bring a puzzle, take a puzzle. Yay! Sunday, Sept. 25, noon–3 p.m.; free to participate.
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