In the Seattle area, summer often doesn’t reliably start until well past the solstice. By the time the days start to shorten in August, we can often count on hot days and warm nights, which is perfect weather for our activity suggestions below. Enjoying the region’s best season doesn’t have to involve big outlays of cash or elaborate plans — just run out the door on a whim and grab hold, while you can, of the days that we remember all year long.
Rent a kayak at the Northwest Outdoor Center or Moss Bay Rowing, Kayaking and Sailing Center in Seattle for an easy, shore-hugging paddle around Lake Union. The Waterfront Activities Center on the University of Washington campus rents canoes for a bargain price, allowing you to explore the mysterious waterways around the Arboretum. (On sunny weekends, there’s a wait, so show up early.) On the Eastside, glide through the still waters of Mercer Slough Nature Park in a canoe or kayak from Cascade Canoe & Kayak Centers in Bellevue, looking for the slough’s abundant wildlife and blackberries to snack on. Cascade also has a Renton location, Paddlesports Shop & Boathouse, a jumping-off point for a Coulon Park or Cedar River trip.
Blueberry picking is a classic late-summer activity in the Pacific Northwest; berries are usually available through late August. Stay close to the city with a trip to Bellevue’s Mercer Slough and Larsen Lake blueberry farms, or head north to Bryant Blueberry Farm in Arlington, which offers a playground, farm animals (cashmere goats!) and picnic tables for day-trip fun. Be sure to check with each location before showing up, because berry availability depends on the weather.
3. Ice cream
Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood has everybody talking about its salted caramel and balsamic strawberry flavors — made using local, organic ingredients — but the kiddos will be relieved to know that there’s bubblegum and chocolate on the menu, too. If you’re making a farmers’ market run with the kids, look for the Poco Carretto mobile gelato cart. You might go for a sophisticated flavor such as raw milk with organic extra virgin olive oil, while the kids clamor for a watermelon sorbetto. Find the cart at the Fremont Sunday market, on Thursdays at the Bellevue market, and on Fridays at the Juanita Beach market in Kirkland.
Is that a planet? A star? A satellite? Take advantage of clear night skies at one of the Seattle Astronomical Society’s monthly star parties. Members of the society set up telescopes at two locations, and anyone is welcome to drop by and see what they can see. This month’s parties are at 7 p.m. on Saturday, August 9 at Green Lake Park in Seattle (north shore, grassy area west of the Bathhouse) and Paramount Park in Shoreline (Northeast 155th and Eighth Northeast). If the weather is cloudy or rainy, the parties are canceled.
Bellevue’s brand-spanking-new water-play area (open since June) at Crossroads Park is an intriguing place for kids of all ages to explore — and it’s wheelchair-accessible. The 25,000-square-foot facility doesn’t contain any standing water, and it will be open year-round (although the water is only on during the summer). Multicultural, nature-themed water features include spouting orcas, spitting frogs and squirting clams; Asian rain drums; and “Nessie’s Lagoon.” In Snohomish, the “spray pad” at Willis Tucker Park — also new this year — is stocked with exciting water-play features: aqua domes, water cannons and a huge dragon sprayer.
Bring a blanket and low-backed chairs and pack a basket of snacks for later — outdoor movies abound during the summer season. Which are the best of the best for families? On Wednesdays in August, movies@marymoor (at Marymoor Park in Redmond) screens Singing in the Rain, Hairspray and The Muppet Movie. In West Seattle, a parking lot and building wall are transformed into a movie theater for Sidewalk Cinema’s Movies on the Wall series. On Saturdays in August, head over for Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Finding Nemo, Ghostbusters and Galaxy Quest. Catch a movie on the shores of Lake Washington at Carillon Point in Kirkland (and for a good cause — proceeds benefit Hopelink) on Saturdays. This month, the lineup includes Transformers, Flushed Away, Goonies and Back to the Future. The Friday-evening Cinema Under the Stars series at Thorton A. Sullivan Park in Everett features Hairspray, Shrek the Third and Surf’s Up this month.
Kris Collingridge, ParentMap’s Out & About editor, wishes that August would last for two months instead of one.
Northwest Outdoor Center, 2100 Westlake Ave. N., Suite 1, Seattle. 206-281-9694. Rentals $13–$18/hour.
Moss Bay Rowing, Kayaking and Sailing Center, 1001 Fairview Ave. N., #1900, Seattle. 206-682-2031.
Waterfront Activities Center, located behind Husky Stadium on Union Bay, Seattle. 206-543-9433. Rentals $7.50/hour for the general public.
Cascade Canoe & Kayak Center at Enatai Beach in Bellevue, and Paddlesports Shop & Boathouse, 1060 Nishiwaki Lane, Renton. 425-430-0111. $7–$23/hour.
Mercer Slough Blueberry Farm, 2380 Bellevue Way S.E., Bellevue, 425-467-0501.
Larsen Lake Blueberry Farm, 14812 S.E. Eighth St., Bellevue, 425-260-2266.
Bryant Blueberry Farm, 5628 Grandview Road, Arlington. 360-474-8424.
Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, 16221/2 N. 45th St., Seattle. 206-547-5105.
Fremont Sunday Market, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Bellevue Farmers’ Market, Thursdays, 3–7 p.m., 1717 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue
Crossroads Park, 16000 N.E. 10th St., Bellevue
Willis Tucker Park, 6705 Puget Park Drive, Snohomish