Respite from the Holidays: 10 Seattle Mini-Retreats for Kids and Families

arboretumI don’t know about you, but the longer my December to-do list gets, the more I start dreaming about a long walk around the pond in my neighborhood, a quick snowshoeing trip or simply sitting in front of the fire with a mug of tea and a book after the two-year-old goes to bed (early) and the dishes are magically done.

I asked other ParentMappers what they do for a quick escape from holiday craziness, with or without the kids. Here are some of their top picks -- share yours!

1. Seattle's Arboretum: Though the Winter Garden isn't in full swing yet, there are still plenty of blooms, berries, and lovely trees to give you a restorative dose of nature.

2. St. Edward's State Park in Bothell has lake shoreline to walk, a fantastic playground, and -- right next door at Bastyr University -- is a reflexology path designed to restore weary feet.

ice_skating3. A quick bus trip with my toddler down the street to the library is relaxing. Someone else is doing the driving, and every block brings something new to exclaim about.

4. Ice skating outdoors! Try Bellevue's Magic Season rink in Downtown Park or Polar Plaza in Downtown Tacoma, or Seattle Center's Winterfest rink (this one's indoors). Go right at opening time for the fewest crowds.

5. A meditative walk through the Labyrinth at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Seattle.

6. Seward Park in south Seattle: Drive past the awesome playground and park at the lot above to walk the trails, for a more relaxing venture. There are plenty of interesting trees to become temporary forts for kids, lots of dogs to pet, and trail-skipping to be done.

7. Coffee and a pastry then a walk on Alki beach. Especially on the "rocky" side, with the glorious view of the Olympics, and interesting stuff to look at during low tide. It's deserted this time of year.


8. A visit to the lovely St. Ignatius Chapel at Seattle University -- the calm starts with walking in the door.

9. Go to Swanson’s Nursery in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood and get a green tea and roam around soak in the greenery. (Bonus: There’s tons of free entertainment for kids, from reindeer to a fish pond to an elaborate train set-up.) Molbak's in Woodinville, with its famed Poinsettia Festival, is another place to soak up holiday color and smells. (Go on a weekday!)

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