Summer is the time of year we remember why we all live here, at least until the kids start using the dreaded “B” word — don’t let “bored” happen to your family. Here’s our South Sound Kids’ summer bucket list, with enough great adventures to keep everyone happy all season long.
Pitch a Tent
Summer is the best time of year to camp with the kids. Penrose Point in Lakebay is a favorite destination for South Sound families. It has beach to explore and paved paths that are great for young bike riders.
Take a Hike
Hiking is a great way to burn off summer energy. Hit Mount Rainier to check out The Grove of the Patriarchs, or hike the Naches Peak Loop. Stay closer to home, where miles of trails at Point Defiance Park and Swan Creek are just begging for exploration.
Make a Splash
When the heat is on, hit one of the free splash pads around Tacoma. Metro Parks runs 10, and there is also a fun one at the growing Point Ruston complex in Tacoma. Kandle Park and Stewart Heights Park offer super pools featuring slides, waves, bubbles, and lazy rivers. Also, don’t forget Wild Waves waterpark in Federal Way!
You don’t need an excuse to eat ice cream, but it’s particularly delicious on a hot summer’s day. Try favorite Ice Cream Social in Tacoma or the new small-batch creamery, Bliss, at the Village at Chambers Bay in University Place. Hit Grandpa’s Soda Fountain and Ice Cream Shop in Olympia. Watch ice cream get made with liquid nitrogen at Sub Zero in Federal Way. Or hop online and learn how to make some homemade ice cream — it can be a lot of fun shaking it, and you don’t even need an ice-cream maker!
There are so many fairs and festivals during summer, it can be hard to choose. Kid-friendly favorites to watch for include Meeker Days in Puyallup, Kids Day in Auburn, SummerFest in Lakewood, Capital Lakefair in Olympia, and Family Fun Night at Fort Nisqually.
Watch Movies Under the Stars
Local park departments in most cities host free movies outdoors during the summer. Titles are family-friendly, and there are usually activities and food trucks onsite before the show starts.
Music at the Park
Nearly every local park department also hosts free concerts in the park, some of which are specifically geared toward kids. It’s a great time to catch popular kindie rockers like Recess Monkey.
Bowl a Strike
Don’t forget to sign the kids up for KidsBowlFree.com, a national program that’s just as awesome as it sounds. Almost every area alley participates.
Read the Day Away
Join your library’s summer reading program to earn cool prizes and prevent the dreaded summer brain drain! Look for great, free programs, too. Find everything from magic shows to sword-fighting demonstrations at the library.
Hit the Beach
Grab your buckets and shovels, and head to Dash Point State Park for the South Sound’s premier sand castle-building beach. Young scientists will also want to explore low tides. Look for free events from Metro Parks Tacoma and Harbor WildWatch in Gig Harbor.