Our sunny summer days are precious—and so are the moments we spend cooling off from the heat. Sure, you can hit a lake or a pool, but why not mix it up? Consider these five “spraygrounds” for an afternoon of free fun.
North Lynnwood Neighborhood Park
Lynnwood, 18510 44th Ave. W
Liquid assets: A submarine, a whale and a big dragon whose nostrils squirt water
Make a day of it: Have a picnic on the large, grassy play area.
Seattle Center’s International Fountain
Lower Queen Anne, 305 Harrison St.
Liquid assets: Colossal (120-foot!) water sprays synchronized to music
Make a day of it: Hit the Children’s Museum, just a few steps away in the Center House.
Bellevue, 16000 NE 10th St.;
Liquid assets: Spouting orcas, spitting frogs and squirting clams—on a special spongy-soft surface
Make a day of it: Grab lunch at the international food court at nearby Crossroads Mall.
Ballard Commons Park
Ballard, 5701 22nd Ave. NW
Liquid assets: Holey seashells (that squirt water)!
Make a day of it: Take in story time at nearby Ballard Library, or picnic on the lawn and watch the skateboarders do their thing.
Redmond Town Center
Redmond, 16495 NE 74th St.
Liquid assets: Water spouts and bronze bears
Make a day of it: Bring your bikes and ride on nearby Sammamish Trail.
Every child loves a birthday piñata, and Ravenna mom Wendy Sykes is teaching kids and parents that creating papier-mâché masterpieces is just as fun as cracking them open. Sykes, whose company, Four and 20 Blackbirds (fourand20blackbirds.com), offers pie- and cookie-decorating classes, added piñatas to her lineup after making one for her daughter’s birthday last year (a lovely ladybug). The $35-per-person, two-hour course covers everything from designing the piñata to mixing papier-mâché glue, layering newspaper strips, painting and decorating. It’s open to kids 8 and older (11 and older can come without a parent), and since there’s lots of drying time involved, you don’t leave with an actual creation. What you do take home: piñata prowess that’s bound to serve you for many birthdays to come.
Long summer days with the little ones require plenty of crafting, painting and baking distractions. Add a Luke & Loolu (lukeandloolu.com) smock or apron for safe and superstylin’ coverage. The collection—which includes art mats, tablecloths and messenger bags—is made in South Seattle from European-imported vinyl-coated fabric that is BPA-, phthalate- and lead-free. Aprons ($23.95) come in charming floral, polka dot and striped prints, and feature a three-sectioned pocketfor paintbrushes, measuring spoons and the like. Adult sizes are available, too, making this a natural for good, clean family fun.