Outings + Activities | Family fun

Thanksgiving Break Play List: 35 Outings for Seattle and Eastside Families

Museum-hopping, early holiday happs, salmon walks, Lego-tastic play

Salmon at Piper's Creek. Photo by Elisa Murray

Thanksgiving break is approaching — do you know what your kids are doing? Here are dozens of ways to keep them entertained and active. also see also our crafts/DIY section for tips on easy activities, our events calendar and our giant rainy-day play list.

Early holiday happs

Reindeer festival at Swansons Nursery:  A pair of live reindeer, a camel, holiday greenery galore, and amazing holiday train set-up are just a few of the attractions of this northwest Seattle gem, open daily.

Tacoma Art Museum's Polar Plaza rink: This fun outdoor rink, located right by the Tacoma Art Museum, opens Nov. 21 and is open during the weekend, on Nov. 25, and then Wednesday–Sunday starting after Thanksgiving. 

Festival of Trees and Teddy Bear Suite: These classic holiday events at the Fairmont Olympic in downtown Seattle open this weekend and are open daily through Dec. 2 (trees) and Dec. 29 (teddy bears). 

Star Wars gingerbread Village. Opening Nov. 24 at the Sheraton Seattle, the Force will definitely be with these amazing architectural creations, which will feature scenes from the Star Wars movies this year. Expect crowds; go in off hours.

Artists at Play

Get outdoors

Adventure playgrounds: Are your kids ready for steeper slides and faster lines? Check out this list of high-thrill playgrounds, starting with the Seattle Center's Artists at Play playground. 

Salmon walksIt's not too late to see the amazing salmon journey at local parks such as Carkeek in north Seattle. 

Staircase walks: Puget Sound cities are threaded with exiciting staircase walks, which lead to secret gardens, amazing views and urban adventure.

Winter hikes: Each of these provides an out in bad weather, to a visitors center or other educational spaces where kids can learn more.

Rain-friendly playgrounds and parks: Then there's this list of covered playgrounds, trails with cover and more puddle-jumping fun.

Hello Kitty at EMP

Exhibits, special events and cool museums

Hello Kitty at EMP. She’s 40, but she’s anything but middle-aged. This exhibit about the Japanese superstar showcases rare and unique Hello Kitty pieces alongside mixed-media works inspired by the global icon and her world.

Hip-hop at MOHAI. Graffiti, deejaying, break dancing, emceeing: Curated by two Seattle natives, The Legacy of Northwest exhibit at EMP will immerse visitors in the sights and sounds of our region’s growing hip-hop culture.

Intimate Impressionism at SAMWho can resist the emotion, color and vibrancy of Impressionism? This National Gallery exhibition features 71 intimately scaled paintings by the likes of Manet, Renoir, Monet, Degas, Pissarro, Gauguin and van Gogh, among others.

Western and indigenous art at Tacoma Art Museum. Opening Nov. 21, Tacoma Art Museum's exhibitions of western American art and craftsmanship are on topics such as how artists represent Native American cultures. Also check out the groundbreaking Art Aids America exhibit and consider combining with a skate at Polar Plaza.

Indoor nature spaces: Get some much-needed nature connection at one of these spaces blooming with bromeliads, butterflies and more.

More: Go to museums for free! Check out our list of free museum days.

McMenamins/Kathleen Nyberg

Active indoor play

Ice skating: Lace up your skates, and wobble onto one of our indoor skating rinks.

Roller skating: Time to break out those quads, the music from Xanadu, and roll on. Check out our guide for tips on learning and where to go.

Elevated Sportz: This huge trampoline/play space, has a cheap "Hoppy Hour" special Monday–Friday from 10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

McMenamins Anderson SchoolBuilt on the premises of the old school pool, the Anderson School's community pool is almost Olympic-sized, and its non-chlorinated water is heated to 90 degrees and is open seven days of week to the public from 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Bothell residents can use the pool free of charge.

PlayDate SEA. Let kids get serious wiggles out at the 8,500-square-foot Undersea/Atlantis-themed, multi-level play structure.

Rainier Beach Pool boasts a lazy river, a corkscrew/water slide, lap pool, a hot tub spa/warm water area, a slide and rope swing. 

Snohomish Aquatic Center: This recently opened aquatics center has 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 a 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.

More: Check out many more ideas for epic indoor play, from fencing to broomball, as well as our giant rainy-day play list.

Wunderkind. Photo credit: Elisa Murray

Legos, crafts, art and indoor fun

Wunderkind. Located near University Village, this large new cafe offers two separate Lego play areas, good snacks (Beecher's mac and cheese), awesome coffee, happy-hour deals, and classes (Lego, Minecraft). It does charge a fee to play.

Roo's World of Discovery. This homey new Montessori-inspired play space in downtown Kirkland is welcome to kids of all abilities, with sensory-frendly hours and a special room for kids with special needs. It's also dedicated to connecting parents, with classes, cool couches and more. 

Giggle Jungle. This new indoor play area in Redmond Town Center features soft-play equipment (like WiggleWorks) and is for kids 48 inches and under. Cost is $10/child and $8/sibling and you can also get discounts through punch cards, with a free-play deal from 7 p.m. until close.

Funtastic Playtorium. Conveniently located in Factoria Square Mall (yes, near KidsQuest Children's Museum), the Playtorium offers a ball blaster area, interactive soft play and a big indoor playground with obstacles and spiral and wave slides.

Seattle ReCreative. This crafty studio and retail space, focused on creative reuse, opened in a new location in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood, with crafty classes, a free play space with a train table, and super-fun materials.

Tinkertopia, Tacoma: A "creative reuse center" in downtown Tacoma offers drop-in tinkering at its makerspace and fantastic second-use art materials for your DIY gifts.

Kids Discovery Museum/ Take a walk-on ferry to Bainbridge Island, walk to KidiMu and stop by the free Bainbridge Island Museum of Art as well.

Skiing at Silver Star


Sking in B.C. If you want guaranteed snow over the holidays, head north for super-family-friendly, ski-in/ski-out resorts and outdoor ice skating and sleigh rides.

Only an hour from Portland is the best water park/flight museum in the west, guaranteed to entertain and educate everyone.

Head to Chelan for winter fun, including cheap skiing, wine-tasting and lots o' sun.

Get a front seat on nature-ific drama with a day or two of stormwatching in Oregon.

Bask in a rainshadow, learn about whales, walk the beaches on San Juan Island.

Try snow biking, dog sledding, or plain old awesome powder skiing in Bend, Oregon.

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