Even the heartiest of us can be tested by the weather this time of year. If you have children it can be especially challenging to fill a stretch of gray, rainy days. Happily, there are many area options for families looking to keep kids active and dry.
Bounce House Places
Inflatable jump houses are great for kids who can’t sit still, and area bounce-house facilities offer regular drop-in play sessions. Be sure to ask about punch cards if the kids are frequent jumpers, or check daily deal sites like Groupon for special offers on open play sessions. Don’t forget socks, or pay an upcharge. Note that most places close for private parties on weekends, so check hours before you go.
Pump It Up in Tacoma is the local franchise of a national chain. They host parties, special events and regular open play.
Bounce E House in South Tacoma is a family-run facility. It has a cozy feel, and they are able to rotate inflatables periodically, which is fun for frequent visitors.
Trampoline Nation in Federal Way offers high-flying fun best for tweens and teens.
Indoor playgrounds are nice choices for young children to enjoy active play and socializing. Most area park departments offer some version of an open gym where preschoolers can play with toys or ride on tricycles for small fees. My boys learned their first hard lessons about sharing and taking turns at indoor playgrounds.
Frog and Kiwi in University Place offers a small area filled with creative playthings next to its café. Local moms flock to Frog and Kiwi because it’s great for play dates. Parents can enjoy lattes at one of several tables in the play area while they watch their kiddos.
The STAR Center in South Tacoma has a soft play area for toddlers, a larger structure for older children and a covered ropes course tweens love. Day passes are available, though some hours at this Metro Parks Tacoma facility are for members-only.
Discovery Village in Gig Harbor is an expansive children’s museum and play area with lots of opportunities for creative play. Parents rave about the friendly staff and the sparkling clean play areas.
Puyallup-area moms recommend WiggleWorks at the South Hill Mall, a franchise of this chain known for bright colors and moving playground equipment for little people.
Very young children can burn off steam in the play areas of most local malls. Note that these tend to get very crowded. The Outlet Collection in Auburn has the Doxon Toyota Kids Play Area that’s free, plus a lot of small rides and a Merry-Go-Round.
Libraries are wonderful refuges on rainy days. In addition to traditional story times, look for special play-to-learn events. These collaborations with the Children’s Museum of Tacoma offer games, songs and other ways to work out the wiggles.
This is a great time of year to turn your kids into culture vultures. The Children’s Museum of Tacoma continues to be pay-as-you-will thanks to KeyBank and offers lots of hands-on fun and special programming. Don’t overlook more traditional museums. Many have special scavenger hunts and other activities for families.
Yes, most of the Point Defiance Zoo is outdoors, but the aquarium is indoors and offers a wonderful, tropical respite this time of year. While you can’t run and play here, there is plenty to explore.
Dress for Success
Let’s face it: If you wait for perfect weather before heading outside, you may not emerge until June (or July). Children who are in comfortable, waterproof clothing can have fun jumping in puddles and exploring year-round.
Top Photo courtesy “splash” 2011 scooter lowrimore, used under a creative commons attribution license