Ready to get outta town — for a few hours? Explore these nearby urban gems.
Seattle’s Eastside twin has natural and cultural riches to spare
• Play in Downtown Park, a 20-acre green space with sculptures, fountains and a playground.
• Get crafty at Bellevue Arts Museum, which showcases modern craft and design and offers affordable art workshops for kids on select Saturdays.
• Wander the wooded trails of the free Bellevue Botanical Garden, including an exciting suspension bridge (the Ravine Experience) kids love.
• Experience Bellevue’s diverse cultures at Crossroads Bellevue shopping center’s truly international food court, then splash at the orca-themed spray park.
• Rent a canoe or kayak at Enatai Beach Park and glide through the still waters of Mercer Slough.
The City of Destiny features unique museums and a fantastic zoo
• Race pinewood cars in the Family Zone of LeMay America’s Car Museum and admire the more than 300 cars and other vehicles on display
• Check out the enormous model train setup at the Washington State History Museum.
• Visit the Museum of Glass and its Hot Shop; kids 12 and under can try their hand at creating an original design to enter in the museum’s Kids Design Glass program.
• Visit (or dive!) with sharks at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, then have thrills galore at its Deep Forest Challenge course and zip line (course open May–Sept.).
3. Olympia: The state capital is small, pedestrian-friendly and packed with fun outings
• Play (and play and play) at the awesome Hands On Children’s Museum, on Olympia’s East Bay waterfront.
• Splash away at the unique reclaimed-water stream that flows in front of Hands On, drawing crowds of kids.
• Browse Olympia’s farmers market for organic produce, flowers and handmade treats.
• Take a guided tour of the capitol building then have a picnic on the grounds.
• Get a year’s worth of thrills at the indoor water park at nearby Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound.
4. Bainbridge Island: A ferry plus your feet bring you the best of Bainbridge
• Take the 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle, admiring views and seagulls.
• Play pirate in the treehouse at Kids Discovery Museum, just a few blocks away from the ferry landing.
• Next door, visit the roof garden and galleries at the free (donation suggested) Bainbridge Museum of Art, a new contemporary art museum.
• If you did bring a car, retreat to Bloedel Reserve, a stunning, 150-acre internationally recognized landscape of woodlands and gardens.
This hard-working city boasts the world’s largest building and the Sound’s best sandy beach
• Visit Boeing’s Future of Flight Aviation Center and take a Boeing plant tour, where you can marvel at airplanes in mid-assembly (kids must be at least four feet tall; make reservations ahead).
• From July through August, take a free five-minute ferry from the Everett waterfront to Jetty Island, arguably the best sandy beach in Puget Sound, with warm, shallow water perfect for tots.
• Play vet (or fireman, conductor or actor) at the excellent Imagine Children’s Museum (free on third Fridays).
• Pet goats, chickens, sheep and pigs at Forest Park Animal Farm (open late June–Sept.).
• Cheer on the Everett AquaSox at a family-friendly minor league game at Everett Memorial Stadium.
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