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Kids Summer Activities for 2021

Here are ideas for your kids to thrive and survive this summer.

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Michael C. - Bartell's Employee | June 10, 2021
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As summer approaches and school lets out for the summer, parents need activities to keep their kids engaged until school restarts.

If you have been planning things out for months and now have a well-laid-out calendar detailing daily schedules you can use our list to sprinkle in some fun.

If working from home and managing daily life has made planning for the future much harder than during the ‘before times,’ here are options we’ve used in the past to keep our kiddos occupied, active, and happy. Unless they’re hangry. Then all bets are off.

Family Outings

Going to the zoo, zoo, zoo!

We’re lucky to have two great Zoos in our area, Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma.

Woodland Park Zoo
The Zoo is open and is managing crowds by designating specific times at which more customers can enter. Because of this, purchasing tickets in advance is highly advised. You can purchase tickets on-site, but this could result in a sizeable delay.

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Point defiance is also up and running, and is also limiting crowd size by selling timed tickets.

Please note that although both are open, to further limit crowding, some exhibits have been temporarily closed so check their websites carefully to make sure your favorite stops are still available.

Old-school screen time

If you are looking for some family game time and want a change of pace from what you have at home, there are several fun spots to play together.

Seattle Pinball Museum
Although it sadly remains closed, the Seattle Pinball Museum is planning on re-opening this summer with a current target of July 1st. For kids 7+, this all-you-can-play option could make for an extra fun day. Buy a multi-entry pass and you’ll be able to play, pop out to take advantage of one of the great eateries in the international district, and return for more pinball wizardry.

8-Bit Arcade & Bar – Renton
It’s back to (fun) business at this gem in downtown Renton. Lots of vintage and retro games with newer machines sprinkled in. It’s all-ages & family-friendly from open to 8 PM and then 21+ from 8 PM to close.

Dorky’s Arcade – Tacoma
Family-friendly environment with an adult-friendly beer selection. The pandemic hit them hard, but they didn’t have to liquidate any of their wide array of games. They are now back up and running on a more limited, Friday-Sunday schedule. It’s also a fun stop on a date night with its proximity to restaurants and is walking distance to the Tacoma Comedy Club.

Mega-Ultra Grocery Store!

Uwajimaya & Kinokuniya

While most grocery stores aren’t vacation destinations, this place is the exception.

Uwajimaya in the international district is a wonderful reason to head into the city. From exotic fruit like rambutan and mangosteen to spicy snacks, delicious sauces, tasty ramen, high-quality rice, ceramic bowls with cute cartoon kitties, and a plethora of pan-Asian treats.

Anime and video game fans will find a nice selection of models and blind bags/boxes of new and classic characters.

PLUS in the same building is a food court with crowd-pleasers like cream puffs by Beard Papa’s and mochi donuts from Dochi.

FUN FACT: The Beard Papa’s mascot can be seen as a befuddled security guard in Disney’s Wreck-it Ralph.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL! Also sharing the same building is the Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya. This amazing spot packs so much awesome into a relatively small space. Regular highlights include both imported Japanese books & magazines, Japan-centric books in English, stationary, pens, and specialty art supplies.

Please note that because of the size of the shop, they are limiting the number of shoppers, so be prepared to wait depending on the time of your visit. From personal experience, the earlier the better. Except, of course, on days where a bunch of other like-minded shoppers agree with your ‘earlier-the-better’ approach.

FUN FACT: Kinokuniya Seattle is one of only 15 US outlets, so it’s just one more reason we’re lucky to live around the Puget Sound.

Parks & Recreation

There are a plethora of amazing parks in our region to suit any taste, but when kids are involved these four stellar parks keep us coming back for more!

With various levels of COVID protocols in place, we recommend you consult your local and the WA state parks websites to see if any of the regular amenities are still out of service.

Crossroads Park
16140 NE 8th Street
Bellevue, WA 98008
a. Covered eating areas
b. Large lawns
c. Water spray playground
d. Standard dryland playground (for bigs and littles)
e. Restrooms
f. Park is near the Crossroads Mall

Covington Community Park
17649 SE 240th Street
Covington, WA 98042
a. Covered eating area
b. Large grass area
c. 2 playground-style ziplines (big kid AND little kid options)
d. Climbing rock
e. Standard dryland playground (for bigs & littles)
f. Restrooms
g. Exercise area
h. Outdoor stage

Lake Sammamish State Park
2000 NW Sammamish Road
Issaquah, WA 98027
(Requires Annual or single-day Discover Pass on most days)
a. Covered and uncovered picnic areas
b. Two playgrounds, one for bigger kids and one for all ages
c. Beach
d. Sandbox play area
e. Concessions
f. Restrooms
g. Changing rooms & showers
h. Plenty of lawn

Flaming Geyser State Park
23700 S.E. Flaming Geyser Road
Auburn, WA 98092
(Requires an Annual or single-day Discover Pass on most days)
a. Covered Picnic Areas
b. Ample open space
c. Water activities (Fishing, swimming, kayaking)
d. Hiking trails
e. Restrooms

Sensational Summer Camps

Although many camps are deep into their registration period, there are spots available if you know where to look.

Along with neighborhood-specific options, the Puget Sound Boys & Girls Clubs summer camps are back in action.

B&G Clubs in many of our communities offer a variety of options with various focuses and themes for kids from K-12th grade. Certain clubs offer age-specific options head to their website to learn more about programs, safety protocols, and course availability.

Looking for other options? The Seattle’s Child website has a great summer camp locator that can help you find the right option for your kiddos.

And there you have it! We hope these options help enhance your summer vacation while supporting both local businesses and larger businesses that employ members of your community and that your summer is filled with fun.