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The Play List: Top Seattle-Area Family Outings for July 2023

Fresh editor’s picks for fun things to do with the fam this month

Nancy Chaney

Published on: June 29, 2023

Seattle Chinatown SeaFair Parade. Photo courtesy of The Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce
Seattle Chinatown SeaFair Parade. Photo courtesy of The Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce

With school going all the way until the end of June for many families — ouch — we are especially ready to dive into the diversions of our glorious Northwest summer! Bring on the fairs, the farms, the festivals! Also, the beach and some memorable parades. With a mix of organized events (which you might want to book ahead of time) and casual, just-show-up summer play opportunities, we’ve got the goods. Here’s to a joyful July.

  • Leave the screens behind and partake in a real-life history lesson, one that your kids will love. Visit Auburn’s charming Mary Olson Farm for a peek at what local family farm life was like in the late 1800s. Bring a picnic and meet the donkeys every Saturday and Sunday, July 1–Aug. 13, noon–4 p.m. Though admission is free, a donation of $5 per person helps maintain the property. 
"Three children petting animals at a farm"
Enjoy some sweet farm time this summer
  • On a hot summer day, take part in a timeless treat for kids and families: a daytime movie in an air-conditioned theater. And it’s a budget wonder as well, thanks to cheap movies from Regal and Cinemark, happening Tuesdays and Wednesdays this summer. Book your $1.50–$2 tickets online at a participating theater’s website.
  • It’s America’s birthday! Celebrate the Fourth of July as colorful and booming pyrotechnics rain down over almost every town around the sound. Lots of festivities take place during the day on July 4, if late-night fireworks shows are less compatible with your family’s bedtime routine. 
  • Venture out into the quiet evening to learn about our most industrious wildlife neighbor: the beaver. Explore a local park with a guide to learn how beaver families impact our urban wetland ecosystems. Meet at Meadowbrook Pond on Wednesday, July 5 or 12, or at Magnuson Park, on Wednesday, July 19 or 26. Walks are free, but preregister to reserve your spot. 
  • Feel the sand between your toes as you wade and splash in the warm shallows at marvelous Jetty Island, opening for the summer season on Wednesday, July 5. Book your ferry ride in advance of your visit — reservations are required. Pay $3 for the short ferry ride (ages 2 and younger free) and play for a day at the beach. 
  • Treat your fam to a special outing to see the captivating Venardos Circus, featuring talented human performers displaying stunning feats of balance and daring. This is the kind of circus we can get behind: There are no animals. Shows take place Friday–Sunday, July 7–23. Tickets: $28 for teens and adults; $17 for kids ages 1–12; babes in arms younger than 1 enter free. 
  • Arrrr! Gather ye mateys on Alki Beach to welcome our roguish friends in from the sea. The beloved Seafair Pirates will be coming ashore to greet young fans and share their pillaged bounty. Turn up on Saturday, July 8, in advance of the pirates’ estimated landing time of 1:30 p.m. 
  • Quick! Book your tix to the Island of Sodor (aka Snoqualmie’s Northwest Railway Museum) to catch a ride on a train car pulled by the “real” Thomas the Tank Engine. Dates are July7–9, 14–16and 22–23. Tickets cost $28–$30; babies younger than 1 ride free.
  • Pack a lunch and your wiggly crew to spend the day at one of Kent’s fantastic newer playgrounds. In addition to the play equipment, enjoy kindie entertainment by The Not-Its! and others at West Fenwick and Chestnut Ridge parks, Wednesdays at noon, July 12, 19 and 26. 
  • It’s hard to beat the old-school fair fun to be had at the King County Fair. It’s true, this fair is the oldest west of the Mississippi! Highlights include barrel racing, a youth livestock expo and monster truck rides. And we didn’t even get to the carnival rides. Find all this fun at the Enumclaw Fairgrounds, Thursday–Sunday, July 13–16. Tickets: $5–$10; ages 4 and younger free (some activities have an additional fee). 
  • It’s Redmond’s moment in the summer festival spotlight! Derby Days activities include parades, carnival rides, entertainment, a pancake breakfast and, at the heart of this fest, bicycle racing at the velodrome, where kids get a chance to try out riding on the track. Events take place Friday–Saturday, July 14–15.
  • The annual Seafair Indian Days Powwow gathers local Indigenous tribes and those from across the continent to celebrate and showcase their various traditions. The public is invited to experience Native American food, music, arts and dancing. Events take place Friday–Sunday, July 21–23 at the Daybreak Star Center in Discovery Park. Free entry Friday; $5 admission Saturday and Sunday.
  • Spend the day along the scenic Snoqualmie River, where McCormick Park hosts Duvall’s SandBlast Festival of the Arts. You’ll find music, art and food — but the real star here is the sand sculpting. Join the free festivities Saturday–Sunday, July 22–23.
  • Line the streets of Seattle’s Chinatown–International District for the annual Seafair Chinatown Parade. It’s an opportunity to celebrate — and protect — this vibrant neighborhood. The parade takes place Sunday, July 23, 7–9 p.m.
"Seafair Torchlight Parade credit Sheri Putzke"
Seafair Torchlight Parade, photo credit Sheri Putzke
  • This one is the grandmommy of all Seafair parades and it celebrates all that is glorious about summer in Seattle. The Seafair Torchlight Parade lights up the night on Saturday, July 29, starting at 3 p.m. Stake out your chunk of the sidewalk in downtown Seattle, along Fourth Avenue or near Westlake Park.

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