Courtesy Sunshine Music Together
Readers’ Choice: Top-Voted Camps + Classes
Creative Dance Center (North Seattle) — One reader raves: “A truly phenomenal program for all children that focuses on brain development and the whole child.”
Russian School of Mathematics (Bellevue, Redmond, Factoria) — Parents love this after-school math enrichment, tutoring and test prep center for supporting their K–12 students. “RSM’s passionate teachers inspire confidence in students to understand math at a deeper level.”
Sponge School (Seattle, Kirkland, Issaquah, online) — Can’t argue with this review: “Sponge offers a unique, fun and engaging approach to language learning for babies and children … and it’s really fun for parents, too!”
Amazing Arts Camp or Class
Arts Aloft (Madrona neighborhood in Seattle; online) — Kids ages 4–12 learn the techniques of the grand masters in classes, workshops and fun themed camps.
Illumination Learning Studio (Seattle, locations in Greenwood and Ballard) — Readers praise the “well-rounded music curriculum” and “supportive learning environment” of Illumination’s interactive immersion programs for music, performance and fine arts.
Roaring Mouse Creative Arts Studio (Seattle) — Though the Roaring Mouse space remains closed in response to the COVID-19 crisis, this beloved studio/preschool has continued to inspire kids through its Mouse Family Workshops. “Their commitment to social-emotional development … [puts] them in a class of their own.”
Awesome Overnight Camp
Camp Gallagher (Lakebay) — Dream about classic summer camp experiences for teens on the shores of Case Inlet: “Summer stripped down to its purest form — water, trees, sunshine, friendships, freedom, adventure.”
Camp Orkila (YMCA of Greater Seattle; Eastsound) — Traditional overnight and day camps, specialty camps and expeditions, and family camps hosted at Orkila’s gorgeous spot on Orcas Island thrill families: “The Y is completely dialed in on all facets of coordination, education and fun.”
Wilderness Awareness School (Duvall) — These award-winning nature adventure programs for kids and adults result in happy kids who come home from camp “dirty, tired and so happy at the end of each day.”
Engaging Infant or Tot Class
Music Together at Music Center of the Northwest (North Seattle; online) — This nonprofit provides exceptional musical experiences for people of all ages, including “warm, engaging and supportive” parent and tot classes that develop natural music appreciation in young children through singing, instruments, movement and play.
Sponge School (Seattle, Kirkland, Issaquah, online) — Kids soak up languages, well, like a sponge, in classes for babies up to age 4, along with their grown-ups; parents have raved about the “awesome” and “amazing” teachers.
Sunshine Music Together (multiple Seattle-area locations; online) — PM readers never lose when they choose these parent-and-tot music classes: “The vibe is always different, depending on kids’ energy level and silliness. This is such a great mix of singing, instruments, rhythm and dance.”
Extraordinary Camp for Kids With Special Needs
Camp Korey (Mount Vernon) — Children living with serious medical conditions experience life-changing camp experiences all year around, and all for free. Camp weeks provide “an invaluable chance for kids with special needs to just be able to act and be treated like kids at a fun camp without focusing on their disabilities.”
SANCA — School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts (Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood) — SANCA’s range of classes for teaching circus arts such as flying trapeze, trampoline, tumbling, unicycling and more “stretch both the mind and body, letting kids be both creative and physical.”
Seattle Children’s PlayGarden (South Seattle) — These inclusive, nature-based summer camps engage campers of all abilities, ages 1–18. “Absolutely magical garden and amazing, caring staff,” says one reader reviewer.
Fabulous Family Camp
Camp Gallagher (Lakebay) — Family retreats at Camp Gallagher offer a multitude of traditional camp activities that you’d expect, plus “gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, really good food and fellowship.”
Camp Orkila (YMCA of Greater Seattle; Eastsound) — Family retreats to Orkila promise all of the traditional activities and enjoyments of camp, plus some that are a bit more non-traditional. Costs for activities, meals and cabin lodging are inclusive.
North Cascades Environmental Learning Center (North Cascades Institute at North Cascades National Park) — “Magical” is the word one happy camper used to describe the bonding experience of family getaways to the North Cascades Institute on the shores of Lake Diablo.
Groovy Dance Camp or Class
Creative Dance Center (North Seattle) — ParentMap readers rave about the inclusive, all-ages dance instruction available at the CDC: “A joyful, energetic, creative environment for all kids (and adults!) who need to move to music!”
Cornish Preparatory Dance (Seattle) — This program was sadly put on hiatus in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but over the years it has offered creative dance classes as well as various preparatory dance company levels that featured “age-appropriate learning, awesome instructors and small classes.”
Emerald Ballet Academy (Emerald Ballet Theatre; Bellevue) — While classical ballet instruction for dancers in grades 8–12 is the school’s focus, it has over the years also offered thematic summer camps that include both dance and art activities.
Pitch-Perfect Music Camp or Class
Music Together at Music Center of the Northwest (North Seattle; online) — Instructors deliver an internationally recognized music curriculum for children in a welcoming, down-to-earth program that helps caregivers and young children develop musicality together. “It’s lovely to see how the kids engage during our sessions and the impact thereafter.”
Northwest Girlchoir (Seattle area) — Readers love the weeklong day camps that provide a great introduction to the organization, which is dedicated to transforming lives through music education, choral performance and community.
Sunshine Music Together (multiple Seattle-area locations; online) — One parent enthused: “Excellent music program taught by wonderful and engaging teachers that manages to mix a strong educational approach with a fun and welcoming environment.”
Sensational Sports Camp or Program
Lil’ Kickers Soccer for Kids (five Greater Seattle locations) — Having a ball starts with having a ball at Lil’ Kickers. Over the years, readers have told us that their kids love these high-energy classes taught by “kind and fun instructors.”
PRO Club (Bellevue, Redmond and Seattle locations) — Family-favorite PRO Club is a premier Eastside destination for youth fitness and sports classes, leagues and programs.
SANCA — School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts (Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood) — Disagree with this if you must: “Circus stretches both the mind and body, letting kids be both creative and physical, supported by great coaches in small classes.”
Stellar Swim Camp or Class
PRO Club (Bellevue, Redmond and Seattle locations) — Readers rave about the aquatics program at PRO Club, citing the fabulous swim lessons, swim camps (hello, Mermaid Camp!), dedicated pool time for family fun and more.
SwimGuru (two Seattle locations; one in Mukilteo) — Emphasizing highly effective teaching methods by career instructors, SwimGuru provides swim instruction for toddlers to adults. “Within three lessons, both of my swim-resistant kids were happily jumping in, going underwater and loving the pool!”
Waterbabies Aquatic Program (multiple Greater Seattle–area locations) — Waterbabies’ mission focuses on safety and developing confidence in the water; instructors follow a gentle, child-centered teaching method.
Super STEM Camp or Class
Pacific Science Center (Seattle and various Puget Sound locations) — Over the years, PacSci has reaped reader votes for its awesome array of STEM-based Camps for Curious Minds offerings and “awesome, intriguing science curriculum.” The center’s Curiosity at Home program and resources have kept the learning opportunities coming during the pandemic.
Russian School of Mathematics (Bellevue, Redmond, Factoria) — Golden Teddy voters concur that RSM’s learning methods build kids’ confidence in math and improve their logical thinking skills, too.
STEP Computer Academy (Bellevue) — STEP’s Junior Computer Academy provides learning options for kids, including after-school programs, weekend classes and summer camps that teach them how to develop websites, design and build robots, create games and more.
Wild Nature Camp
Pinnacle Explorations Outdoor School (various Seattle-area locations) — Pinnacle’s school-break and summer camps are steeped in the organization’s mission to provide a meaningful educational experience that inspires participants to develop lifelong connections with the natural world.
Wilderness Awareness School (Duvall) — From building awareness of basic outdoor skills to teaching serious survival skills, these day and overnight camps and programs “sweep kids off their feet summer after summer and [remind] them of what matters in life.”
Wolf Camp (Puyallup and Lake Sammamish locations) — Since 1997, a howling-good time has been had by all during Wolf Camp’s authentic wilderness camps. “Wolf Camp taught me how to build lasting relationships with my peers to get through the tough conditions of the outdoors,” shared one participant.