Rainy-Day Recess: More than 60 Indoor-Play Places in the Seattle Area
It’s that time of year again. You know, the one season that seems to stretch on forever, that can last from October to (sometimes even) July.
Don’t despair! We’ve gathered more than 60 outings that are perfect for a rainy day. (Psst, we update this every few months,and love tips about new places — email email@example.com.) And check out our calendar and our South Sound rainy-day list for much more indoor fun!
Indoor play areas and cafes
Community center play areas. Over 20 of Seattle's community centers boast "toddler play areas" for kids 5 and under, indoor play rooms equipped with enough toys, slides, cars (and other kids) that it adds up to a dream outing for only $3. Shoreline also offers an affordable indoor playground five days a week. (Note: Most of these are closed in the summer.)
Lil' Diggers, South Seattle. Want a taste of the beach? Head to Sandbox Sports' playtime in a very, very large indoor sand box, with shovels, pails, trucks — even small slides. $7 per child, and the first accompanying adult is free. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, 9:30–11 a.m., 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
Om Kids Play Gym, Seattle, near Lake Union, North Seattle. An inviting alternative to community centers, Om offers OmTots for kids age 1-4 and parents Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m., with facilitators on-hand to engage the children in movement, music, yoga, dance, and play, including a trampoline, swings, rings, lots of cushions and a song circle.
Mosaic Coffeehouse, North Seattle, Wallingford. This unique community coffeehouse, housed in the basement of a church, offers good coffee and snacks, only charges you what you can afford and offers a complete playroom. (It is not open every day; check for latest hours.)
Vios in two Seattle locations: Vios — a pair of Greek cafes in North Seattle/Ravenna and Capitol Hill — has reached star status among Seattle parents, featuring super play areas, excellent coffee, snacks and gourmet Greek food. The Ravenna location is open early for coffee and breakfast and has the extra benefit of being housed in Third Place Books.
Cornerstone Café Open Play, South Seattle. Drop by this new community space in Hillman City for free open play for tots, aff ordable drop-in child care, and more.
Umbrella Tree Cafe, Seattle. Located in the former Twirl Cafe space, the Umbrella Tree is a bright cafe and play space, wiith classes, a toddler play time during midday several times a week, story time and more. 2111 Queen Anne Ave N., Seattle.
Northgate Mall, NorthSeattle. Nothing wrong with combining shopping with some wear 'em out time. Northgate's good toddler play area at the north end of the mall includes a playhouse, a car kids can sit in, and an electric piano on the wall. Open during mall hours, and free.
PlayHappy Cafe, Lynnwood (formerly PlayDate Cafe). The very popular PlaySpace Cafe, a Golden Teddy finalist for 2014, offers not just a play space but a community. It's an 8,500-square-foot play space with free wifi, a cafe/eatery, birthday party rooms, etc. They also operate classes and preschool from the cafe. Tip: Check Playdate's Facebook page to see how busy it is.
Alderwood Mall play areain Lynnwood. Another great play-and-shop destination: This kids’ area includes fun play equipment for the younger set. It’s free and open during mall hours.
The Nest, Woodinville. Need to run some errands? Drop off the kiddos for some arts and crafts, music, movement and age-appropriate open play while you finish up your daily chores. Check the events calendar for featured daily activities and what's in store for your tot's play day.
Let's Play Sammamish. This newish place space, started by a Sammamish mom, is a 3,000-square-foot play space near Beaver Lake with playtime three days a week (check website for updated schedule), classes and more. $7 for the first child; $5 for additional children, per family.
HappyNest,Redmond. HappyNest won our Golden Teddy award for best indoor play area in 2012 and 2013, and it's easy to see why. Parents like its affordable price, the wifi and coffee bar, its hours, and the variety of activities, from foam structures for infants to play cars for toddlers to gym equipment and dramatic play props for older kids.
Wiggleworks, Bellevue (Crossroads Mall) and Puyallup. Winner of our 2014 Golden Teddy Award for rainy-day fun, WiggleWorks is a walk-in, indoor, completely soft-play, children’s playground and party facility for children less than 48 inches. Try mornings for fewer crowds.
Dizzy’s Bus Stop, Bellevue. The Eastside play space (decorated with a bright bus theme) hosts drop-off playtimes for children ages 2.5 months to 6 years. You get to run errands or go shopping, while your cooped-up darlings stretch their legs at the Stop-In Preschool (formerly the Drop & Go program): 2-4 hours of play arts and crafts, snacks, stories and other kid fun. The schedule changes monthly, so look online for up-to-date times and prices.
Kids' Cove, Bellevue Square. Do some shopping and entertain the kids at Belle Square's tot play area, with a maritime theme. Open during mall hours.
Romp, Bellevue. Romp is primarily a membership-based playspace, and best suited for kids 3 and younger. It now offers a limited five passes a day for drop-in visitors. With their extensive free play equipment and excellent classes and workshops, it's easy to see why these passes would be highly coveted. Check out the website for more information on dropping in.
Kid-friendly coffee shops: A place where you can get your caffeine fix and your kids can happily play is ideal for rainy days. Check out our list.
Gyms, bounce houses, trampolines, and other ways to wear 'em out
As kids get older, the wear-em-out factor becomes critical. We love these places because kids get to go wild and crazy, and they deliver exhausted children.
Seattle Gymnastics Academy indoor playground. If you've got kids ages 5 and under, head to the Seattle Gymnastics Academy in Lake City, Ballard or Columbia City for their indoor play time. With tons of props to jump off off, a foam pit, and much more, you are guaranteed a huge nap later that day. Tip: Buy a 10-time punch card for cheaper price per session.
PlayDate SEA, South Lake Union, Seattle. A play space in the super-happening area of South Lake Union, PlayDate SEA boasts a 8,500-square-foot Undersea/Atlantis-themed, multi-level play structure with slides, tubes, tunnels and balancing challenges; and a cafe with a diverse menu. See our full review here! Prices range from $4-$12 for kids, but adults are always free. Tip: One admission is free the last Wednesday of every month with donation of two canned goods. (See bottom righton their home page.)
All Together Skate Park in North Seattle (Fremont/Wallingford), is Seattle's only indoor skatepark, offering epic fun for budding or experienced skateboarders. Deal tip: There is an evening open skate session from 7–9 p.m., every day, for just $5. It also has special 11-and-under hours. Check its Facebook page, too.
Elevated Sportz in Bothell, boasts a ton of trampolines, a giant kids' play structure and cafe with free wi-fi. Deal tip: And they have a "Hoppy Hour" special from 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Pump it Up in Kirkland, Lynnwood, and Tacoma. Pump it Up was founded on great birthday parties, but has plenty of drop-in fun options as well. Pre-K Open Jump playtimes vary by location, but typically take place on several weekday mornings. Check out the details for the location nearest you.
Skymania! Trampolines in Kirkland is open Tuesday through Sunday, with many jump times, a special toddler time three days a week, birthday party packages and much more.
Arena Sports in North Seattle (Magnuson Park), Redmond, and Issaquah. At the Fun Zone Indoor Inflatable Playground kids can drop by and explore large inflatables, make new friends and bounce their hearts out. Tip: Buy an annual membership for cheaper per-session prices.
3-2-1 Bounce in Bellevue. The bounce-house play space offers weekly playgroups and drop-in play sessions with activities including bounce houses, air hockey and physical activity.
Kidz Bounce in Issaquah. A large play area and many weekday drop-in times make this a popular destination for Eastside kids ages 2-10.
The Jungle Gym, Burien. Located just off 152nd Street on Second Avenue in downtown Burien, this gymnastics center offers Open Gym for ages 1 to 12 throughout the week and a Kids' Night Out every other Friday. Kids can fly down the zip line, bounce on the tumble track, and test their skills on the climbing wall.
Xtreme Bounce of Fun, Auburn. Located in The Outlet Collection Seattle (formerly SuperMall) in Auburn, this play area is also optimized for kids 48 inches and shorter; its swinging, bouncing, sliding structures are designed to get kids moving (can you say nap-ready?).
Trampoline Nation, Federal Way. Federal Way’s Trampoline Nation offers a fun, clean jumping environment for kids. Nets separate groups by size to keep everyone safe. The mezzanine area for those watching the fun boasts comfy seating and free Wi-Fi. Open daily.
Story time and crafty fun
Seattle Recreative. This crafty studio and retail space, focused on creative reuse, recently opened in a new location in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood. Find paint and play classes in the morning, a creative playspace in the afternoon and super-fun crafty shopping. You'll also find more classes for kids and adults.
University Village Playdays. Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., U Village hosts free story time and activities. Stop by its covered playspace for some playtime afterwards.
Kaleidoscope Play & Learn. A program of Child Care Resources, Kaleidoscope Play & Learn are FREE organized play sessions around the Sound where young kids (ages 0–5) and their caretakers take part in play activities that support children’s early learning, meet new friends, and hear more about other early learning and family support programs in their neighborhood. Groups, which are offered in a variety of languages, meet weekly all over North, South, and East King County. Check out the groups here.
King County Libraries. Not only does KCLS host great programs for tots such as music, stories, puppet shows, but they also have an amazing number of programs for older kids and teens, everything from chocolate making and stop motion workshops to knitting clubs and multiplayer minecraft sessions.
Seattle Public Libraries. Seattle Public Libraries host plenty of kids story times and events all over Seattle. Baby, Toddler, and even Pajama story times are sure to entertain young ones, and special events and chess and LEGO clubs are available for the older set. Check the online calendar for all children's events, or narrow it down to the location nearest you.
Central Library in downtown Seattle. The Central Library is worth a special trip. Explore endless stacks, take in the view from the top floor or relax during a story time. There's much to love; even if you are just climbing the stairs to the top.
Space to Create in North Seattle, Ballard neighborhood. This small, light-filled Ballard studio, located in a green-painted brick building in one of those funky Seattle business districts you’d never find if you didn’t know the name, offers open studio times for elementary-age kids.
Mockingbird Books in North Seattle's Green Lake neighborhood. Mockingbird Books has an 11 a.m. story time every day (except Sunday), train table, puzzles, a wonderful selection of books — plus good coffee and adult books.
Glazed & Amazed in Edmonds, Paint the Town at University Village or Paint Away! in Redmond. Skip the rainy-day boredom and try your hand at painting your own pottery with your little one. Check the calendar and monthly promotions for daily discounts and family-friendly activities.
Crossroads Play & Learn in Bellevue. Art, stories, games — lots of good stuff here for kids ages 2–5 and a caregiver during the free drop-in activity time near the Crossroads Bellevue stage. Wednesdays, 10 a.m. Check the online calendar for detailes and more family events at Crossroads.
Adventure Kids Playcare in Bellevue and Issaquah. Finish up your daily errands while your kids enjoy indoor activities such as air hockey, open play, arts & crafts, storytime, computer games, a karaoke stage (!), and more. There's a special area for infants and toddlers; check the calendar for upcoming special events.
Tinkertopia, Tacoma. With literally thousands of supplies at the ready, gathered by the creative reuse specialists who founded Tinkertopia, we defy you to come up with a project you can't bring to execution. They also offer classes and workshops. See our full review here.
Rainier Beach Pool in South Seattle opened in the fall of 2013, with a lazy river, a corkscrew/water slide, lap pool, a hot tub spa/warm water area, a slide and rope swing. Check out our full review for lots of pictures and more details.
Ballard Pool in North Seattle has a spa/warm water area, a slide and rope swing. Check the schedule for family and tot swim times.
Mountlake Terrace pooland Lynnwood Pool. Both pools are warm, and have toddler-friendly lazy rivers, hot tubs and more fun features. And if you just want a short swim (perfect for toddlers) you can take advantage of Mountlake Terrace's $2 "Happy Hour" swims.
Snohomish Aquatic Center. Opened in February 2014 to much buzz, this new aquatics center seems to have it all: lazy river, warm-water pool (102 degrees), spray area, zero-depth area for tots, corkscrew slide and surf-simulation machine.
The Federal Way Community Center (south of Seattle) has both a lap pool and a leisure pool. The leisure pool showcases a two-story water slide with banked turns plus an interactive play structure with water sprays and a smaller slide for the younger set.
Bainbridge Island’s Aquatics Center is worth a ferry ride over, with a water slide, lazy river ride, tot pool and play area ($5-$6 a visit, kids under 2 are free).
Enjoy a first-run movie with people who won’t give you "The Look" if your baby starts to fuss:
"Cry rooms" at two Landmark Theatre cinemas in Seattle. Show up early enough to grab the first-come, first-serve "cry room" seats at the Guild 45th or the Varsity. Here's more info on how to find out which movies are playing.
Baby’s Day at the Movies in Kirkland. Plays every other Friday at 9:45 a.m. (doors at 9:15 a.m.) at Kirkland Park Place. Children ages 4 and under are free (though it's not always a kid's movie that plays).
Lincoln Square Cinemas in Bellevue. Catch a "Mommy & Me" film every Thursday at 10 a.m. with your baby! Bring your stroller and see new films with fellow infant mothers. All shows are presented with lowered sound and the lights a little brighter. Check the website for upcoming featured films (look at the bottom of the "about" section of the theater for "Mommy & Me" features).
Sports fun and other thrills
School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts (SANCA) in Seattle. SANCA offers Single Serving Circus classes for those who "wanna join the circus, but [are] afraid of committment." The Intro to Circus class is offered on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to anyone age 6 to 106 for $30. Make sure to reserve a space: Classes with low enrollment 48 hours prior may be cancelled.
Stone Gardens in Seattle and Bellevue. Grab a day pass for some low-height bouldering (which covers most of the space), or hire a belayer so you and your little cliffhanger can safely climb the heights together. There are also instruction classes for kids age 5 and up divided by age group. While there is no official minimum age for climbing with a supervising adult (read the full rules here), it may be a bit dangerous for toddlers in the bouldering area. Also, rock climbing shoes are required for climbing, and sizes available for rental generally start at kids size 10 and up.
Bellevue Skate King in Bellevue. The interior is a bit worn, and the floor isn’t the shiny maple found elsewhere, but we love this roller rink because it’s so kid-friendly. A DJ spins positive tunes during the 10-and-younger skate on Saturdays and family skates on Sundays (discounted admission). See our full roller skating guide.
Sno-King Ice Arena in Kirkland and Renton. Hit the ice seven days a week! Check out the family skate specials and the calendar for special family-friendly events. (And see our list of other great ice skating rinks.)
SyKart Indoor Racing Center in Tukwila. Got a speed racer on your hands? Children ages 8 and up will love taking a couple spins around the go-kart track with their friends or daring mama. Open Monday-Sunday, SyKart features a basic driving school course each weekend and a junior racing program for the kids who are more comfortable operating (and racing) a go-kart.
More cool outings
Uwajimaya in Seattle, International District. A trip to the flagship Seattle store in the International District can be a cheap date or an all-out rainy day shopping trip. Snack on bubble tea and noodles; browse manga and Hello Kitty! doodads; and wander aisles stocked with a staggering selection of fruits, vegetables and snacks from Japan and other Asian countries.
West Seattle Bowl in Seattle. Retro-cool colors, good interior design and recycled flooring bump these lanes up to luxe. On Sundays you can bowl at a special family price. And in the summer take advantage of the kidsbowlfree.com program for lots of bowling gratis! See also our comprehensive guide to bowling for many more awesome alleys.
Full Tilt Ice Cream & Pinball Arcade, four locations in Seattle. The fun at Full Tilt starts with the unique flavors (Thai Ice Tea, Vegan Mango Chili Sorbet) but it's reall about the vintage arcade and pinball machines and good music.
Blue Highway Games in Seattle, Queen Anne neighborhood. Drop by the quiet game shop on the top of Queen Anne any time during open hours and play a game or two (or three) from its extensive game library for all ages. The store hosts a Pokemon league and board-game nights, too. Other great game outings include Uncle’s Games (Bellevue, Redmond), Games & Gizmos (Redmond) or Card Kingdom (Ballard), with Cafe Mox next door.
Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle. So many reasons to go to the zoo on rainy days, starting with fewer crowds. Also, on select rainy days, the zoo offers a 50 percent "rain discount." Check the Rainy Day Discount page to see if it's on. Also, download the zoo's mobile app to access the rainy-day tour, making it easy to hit all of the zoo’s indoor exhibits if it pours.
Central Market, Shoreline (north of Seattle). Mini-shopping carts for kids to push, fresh tortillas to taste, live crabs and other seafood to see, a traveling tractor to to climb on, and super-nice cashiers with stamps on hand for fretting toddlers. Plus, of course, an amazing selection of relatively well-priced ethnic goodies, as well as all the staples.
Play-Well Northwest Activity Center, Kirkland. Heaven for LEGO lovers aged 3-14, Play-Well TEKnologies is an interactive academy with the goal of teaching engineering principles through fun LEGO projects that encourage tinkering and exploration. Kids can join one time for workshops, take weekly classes or week-long camps. Advance registration is recommended but drop-ins are welcome until classes have filled.
Lewis Creek Park Visitor Center, Bellevue. Don't let the rain stop you from learning all about nature. The visitor center has interactive environmental education displays and games, like park ranger dress up gear, animal pelts and foot molds, nature books, species identification cards and more.
Cedar River Watershed Education Center, North Bend. Take your kids to see how all that rain becomes our drinking water. Interactive exhibits are set up to explain and entertain, plus, family-friendly programs and tours are scheduled frequently. Tip: look for the "center-based" symbol and avoid the "walking & hiking" symbol to ensure you will stay nice and dry inside.
Museums kids love
Museum of Flight, South Seattle. Take a spin in a two-seat flight simulator or tour a real Concorde and other iconic aircraft in the Airpark. Check out the awesome Space Shuttle Trainer exhibit. Free the first Thursday of the month, from 5-9 p.m.
Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), Seattle. Since its move to a fab new location in South Lake Union, MOHAI has become one of the hottest family destinations in Seattle, with hands-on, interactive history exhibits, mini MOHAI fun twice a month and more. Kids 12 and under always free and everyone is free first Thursdays, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle. The museum’s entry hall features real cars, hung from the ceiling, that seem to be catapulting through the space. Don’t miss the Art Ladder, located in the south building, which features kid-friendly art installations. Another draw for families is the refurbished children’s play area, the Knudsen Family Room on the third floor. Free the first Thursday of the month and kids ages 12 and under are free every day.
Seattle Aquarium, Seattle. Seals, tide pools, octopus-feeding, starfish-touching: The Aquarium is incredibly dependable as a source of indoor fun and learning for babies and older kids alike. From September-February, the aquarium hosts Toddler Time, free with admission, where families can play and learn together (see schedule for select dates).
Pacific Science Center, Seattle. When the cloud cover is thick, there’s nothing like getting an eyeful of the starry night sky in the Willard Planetarium. There's also a ever changing interactive exhibits, fun science shows aimed at kids, an IMAX theater and much more.
The Children’s Museum, Seattle Center. It’s worth the admission fee at The Children’s Museum, Seattle, just to hang out for awhile in the very popular Imagination Studio (tip: pick up a time ticket for this exhibit on your way in). You’ll find well-organized, well-stocked art stations here: clay play, recycled-materials sculptures, metal embossing and other projects. The museum is full of other exploratory play exhibits to engage the imagination all day long. Plus, pay-as-you-can for the last hour each day.
Experience Music Project, Seattle. Sound Lab and On Stage on the third floor are great ways for kids to play the musician, and family games and activities are sometimes hosted in the Rec Room on the first floor. Also in the Sound Lab, a new program called Kindermusik! holds a drop-in world music class one Saturday a month.
Frye Art Museum, Seattle: Free all the time, the Frye has excellent exhibits, a Small Frye story time the first Friday of every month, led by Seattle Children's Theatre actors, and other family activities.
The Burke Museum, Seattle. Wander through a hands-on exhibit that traces Washington state’s past natural history and check out the “oh wow” mastodon skeleton. First Thursdays are free and most weekends feature family fun activities.
Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue. Plenty of monthly events including craft activities, demonstrations, free family days, free student days and teen workshops. Look for free days and very affordable Get Crafty workshops.
KidsQuest Children’s Museum, Bellevue. Tucked away in Bellevue's Marketplace at Factoria (formerly Factoria Mall), KidsQuest, a 2014 Golden Teddy finalist for indoor play, boasts a fun pirate treehouse, a water play area, a real Peterbilt truck (watch out, you'll never get the kids back out of the cab), a tools play area, and much more.
Imagine Children’s Museum, Everett. In the museum’s small-scale wildlife clinic, your future vet can care for “wild” stuffed animals, remove them from realistic looking kennels, and other cool doctor-type stuff. Among other things, there is also an art studio and a brand new water exhibit.
KiDiMu, Bainbridge Island. Just a ferry ride and short walk from Seattle, Kids Discovery Museum offers a variety of hands-on learning exhibits, including the pirate tree house, art studio, science hall and totally tot activities. Open daily, KiDiMu also offers summer camps and monthly family-friendly events. And it's just a short walk from the ferry landing. Free for children under 12.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma. Camels and otters and penguins, oh my! Skip the rain and spend the day with your favorite zoo critters. Check out the website for a variety of kid and family weekly programs that include activities such as art, science and learning about the zoo's animals.
Children's Museum of Tacoma. Tacoma's kids' museum has a warm and modern home, creative Playspaces, and an attractive pricing policy -- pay as you can on any day.
Discovery Village, Gig Harbor. Drop in for some hands-on learning fun, a kid-friendly cafe with healthy eats and five main play exhibits for various age groups. Discovery Village also offers weekly events, including story and art times.
Hands on Children's Museum, Olympia. In a completely re-imagined space on Olympia's East Bay waterfront that holds true to its Olympia roots, the new Hands On Children's Museum is the largest children’s museum in the Pacific Northwest, with eight galleries and more than 150 exhibits, plus a new state-of-the art outdoor exhibit. First Friday of the month is FREE from 5 p.m.–9 p.m. Check out our full review here.
Kris Collingridge was ParentMap's Out and About editor. This article has been updated numerous times since she first wrote it.