I tend to romanticize the lazy days of summer each year. I get excited for longer days, warm sunshine, more outdoor time and the promise of life slowing down, even if just a bit. As a stay at home mother of two elementary school aged children, I can’t help but fool myself into thinking how nice it will be to not rush out the door in the morning for school, only to rush off to some after school activity all while trying to squeeze in homework. However, it doesn’t take long before the reality of being my children’s constant source of entertainment, sole arbitrator, peacekeeper and emotional counselor sets in. We take advantage of a few summer camps, but the price tag stacks up quickly. Come August 1st, I’m counting down the days until school opens its doors again.
This year, I vow to keep reality in check and have created my own activity guide to ensure that we stay manageably busy, engaged and sane during our camp free weeks. Whatever your summer plans, work situation or age of your kids, here are some wallet friendly things you can do during your time off or on the weekends to keep you and your family happy.
Seattle Ice Cream Cruise — This entertaining tour of Lake Union has been cruising for years. If you haven’t checked it out yet put it on your list this summer! Captain Larry Kezner will entertain you with fun facts about the lake’s history and well known sites including the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat and Chihuly’s glass studio. Tours depart South Lake Union on Fridays and Saturdays from June to the end of August and on Sundays year round. The tours run 45-60minutes. Check out the website for ticketing information. Ice cream treats and beverages are purchased on board and range from $2-$4. I went with a friend when my kids were 4 and 2 years old. Although they weren’t as intrigued with the historical fun facts as I was, they had a blast just being on the boat, especially the top deck. Nothing beats being on the water in the summer soaking up the sun and taking in the views of Seattle. http://www.seattleferryservice.com
Snoqualmie Falls — If you’re looking to get out of town for the day or even just a half day, head to Snoqualmie Falls. The drive is a manageable 30-40minutes with some pleasant scenery along the way. The falls are one of the area’s most popular tourist destinations and it’s no wonder. Dropping 268 feet they are sure to impress even your squirmy toddler! You can simply admire the falls from top observation deck just across the street from the parking lot, or take a .7 mile hike down to the lower observation deck. If you’re taking a stroller keep in mind that the trail is packed gravel and steep in some spots. While you’re there, enjoy brunch or lunch at the adjacent Salish Lodge. Free parking is available and there is no entry fee to view the falls. http://www.snoqualmiefalls.com
Greenlake Pitch and Putt — I am embarrassed to admit that in the 17 years I’ve lived in Seattle I have never been to the Greenlake Pitch and Putt. I vow to remedy that this summer with my 7 and 9 year old. Although we are not a golfing family, I feel confident we can manage this nine hole par three course, whatever the heck that means! There may be some embarrassing moments ahead of us. The Pitch and Putt is run by Seattle Parks and Recreation and is open from 9am-dusk from March through October 31st, weather dependent. $8/adult without club and ball rentals, $10/adult with rental. $6 for children under 17 and for seniors. For more information call 206-632-2280
Berry Picking — Who doesn’t like fresh berries in the summer? Fortunately, we to live in an area that has a bountiful supply of nearby berry farms, so you can easily get your berry fix throughout the season! Head east, west, north or south of Seattle and spend as much time as you want filling up buckets, bags or cardboard boxes (provided by the farm) of fresh raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. You pay by the pound. I’ve been doing this with my kids since they could walk. We’ve gone to the South 47 Farm in Redmond, Bill Pace’s U-Pick/Farm Stand in Bellevue and of course, Remlinger Farms in Carnation. We usually pack snacks or a lunch to enjoy after picking. There’s not much escape from the sun out in the fields so be sure to cover up with hats and sunscreen. And don’t forget water. For a listing of nearby farms check out http://www.pickyourown.org/WAseattlearea.htm
Jetty Island — The Puget Sound is blessed with several scenic beaches along its coastline. I often take my kids to Carkeek Park and Richmond Beach Park in the summer to picnic and play. This summer, I’m going to venture further north to Everett to finally check out Jetty Island. Given the location this will be an all day excursion, but based on what I’ve heard it should be well worth it. This two-mile man-made island owned by the Port of Everett, boasts stunning views, sandy beaches with warm swimmable shallow water, nature trails, wildlife and a large variety of bird species. It has also become a popular kitesurfing spot. Catch a FREE ferry from Jetty Landing at 10th Street and West Marine View Drive, claim a spot on the beach and enjoy the day. http://www.portofeverett.com/recreation/beaches-kiteboarding/jetty-island-290
Bicycle Sundays — If you and your family enjoy bicycling then you should take advantage of Bicycle Sundays on Lake Washington Boulevard. Each Sunday from May through September Lake Washington Boulevard is closed to motorized traffic from 10am-6pm. You and your family can safely bike or stroll along the Boulevard south of Mount Baker Beach to the Seward Park entrance. Let your toddler peddle away on his or her tricycle or help your child say good-bye to their training wheels! It’s guaranteed fun for all. http://www.seattle.gov/parks/bicyclesunday/
For a listing of other fun summer activities and events, check out the NW Traveler Summer Guide in May 10th 2015 issue of the Seattle Times.
About the Author
Meg Butterworth lives in NW Seattle with her husband and two children. She’s been a part of the PEPS community for almost nine years. WOW! When she has a couple of kid free hours she enjoys writing, exploring Seattle, and enjoying a couple of beverages with her life line of fellow Mom friends.