Summertime Fun

Family activities that won't break the bank

If you’re a parent, the phrase “summer break” likely fills you with a combination of anticipation and dread. While I look forward to having more time with our boys, I also know there are a lot of days to fill before back-to-school time. Happily, the South Sound is full of outings and activities to keep your kids’ bodies and brains active this summer. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Spraygrounds and Pools
Metro Parks Tacoma and other parks throughout the South Sound have an amazing system of spraygrounds, all free. Spraygrounds are basically playgrounds that squirt and dump buckets of water. They are open during the summer months. It’s good to wear water shoes for traction and for little ones who like to get wet, but then like to go swing or slide on the regular toys. There are also outdoor pools at Tacoma’s Stewart Heights and Kandle Park — watch the web for rainy-day specials! Pictured: The sprayground at the Center at Norpoint in Northeast Tacoma.

Beaches and Parks
The South Sound is home to many beautiful and wild places, and while our beaches may be known more for rocks and seaweed than surf and sand, there are a few bucket-worthy destinations if you know where to look. The beach at Narrows Park in Gig Harbor is gravel, but we love the interesting views of the Narrows Bridges. Browns Point Lighthouse Park has a lovely lawn that slopes to a rocky but uncrowded stretch of beach. Be sure to tour the lighthouse keeper’s cottage on a summer weekend. Dash Point State Park offers long stretches of castle-worthy sand, and Priest Point in Olympia and Saltwater State Park near Federal Way offer miles of trails perfect for nature walks. Metro Parks Tacoma and Harbor WildWatch in Gig Harbor also offer low-tide exploration events during the summer months. Pictured above: Narrows Park in Gig Harbor.
Next page, top: Blue’s son exploring the keeper’s cottage at Browns Point.

Library Summer Reading Programs
Fight vacation “brain drain” by signing your kids up for your library’s summer reading program. Kids earn prizes for reading, and free programs are offered around a theme. Don’t limit yourself to your home library — you can attend a program anywhere!

Fairs and Festivals
Summer is festival season, and there are lots of family- friendly ones to choose from. We love Family Fun Night at Fort Nisqually. Bring a picnic and enjoy old-fashioned games and the candy cannon.

Concerts and Shows

Many South Sound area communities offer free kids’ concerts and shows during the summer months. The best last year were put on by the cities of Auburn, Bonney Lake and Lacey. Check their web sites for lineups. Pierce County Parks and Recreation and Metro Parks Tacoma also offer outdoor movies.

Indoor Fun

Though it almost seems criminal to waste a summer’s day, many indoor venues offer special deals during the summer that can be a fun change of pace. Visit to sign the kids up for two free games of bowling all summer. Michael’s craft stores offer $2 craft classes weekly, and Regal movie theaters offer showings of older titles for just $1.

Finally, don’t forget to leave some days free for spontaneous adventures or just hanging out in your jammies and waiting for the ice cream truck. Whatever you do, I hope this summer is your best one yet!

For more information about family- fun events in the South Sound visit Sounds Fun Mom and sign up for the author’s free e-newsletter.

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