Seasoned Seattleites know the sure signs of spring. Blossoming cherry trees line the city streets. The Mariner’s season is in full (insert crack of the bat here) swing. Somewhere along the way, you’ve changed your latte order from hot to iced (at least on sunny days). And the nights are getting longer. Oh boy, are they getting longer! That dreaded stretch between the end of dinner and “off to bed” seems to drag on forever these days. And that mad scramble to find the elusive “something for them to do” is a problem even Mensa’s most honored members couldn’t solve. Don’t fight it! Hit one of these family-friendly after dark activities instead. They’re guaranteed to occupy, entertain and tire out even the rowdiest of kiddos. And they’re way more exciting than having them run laps around the kitchen table. So grab the little ones, leave the dinner dishes for later, and head out on a family adventure!

Moonlight Bowling at Acme

Cosmic Bowling for the Littlest Lebowskis
Grab your comfy sweater, some sunglasses and your jellies! Then, make your way over to the Acme lanes for some black light bowling, because it’s time to appease your inner Dude. Your kids will love the glowing effects of this trippy twist to everyday bowling. And you’ll love the bumpers that can be set to individual bowlers, ramps that help the kids take aim and roll, and 6-pound balls that won’t discourage your Little Achiever. For those on the go (toddlers, that means you), there’s plenty of room to roam in the arcade and restaurant. So pack a roll or quarters, put on your best bowling shirt, and roll on!

Moonlight Bowling 4

Good to know: Be sure to arrive 20-30 minutes early on Fridays, and 30-45 minutes early on Saturdays to get a lane. Then head to the restaurant for some dinner while you wait. That’s right, you don’t have to cook, either!

Ages: All
When: Friday and Saturday
Time: 7:00 pm – 1:00 am
Cost: $30 per hour, plus $4 shoe rental

Acme Bowling
100 Andover Park West, #100
Tukwila, Wa 98188

Got Game?
Hark back to those marathon-long Monopoly game days of your youth during Game Night at Blue Highway Games. With close to 500 games in their closet, you’re sure to find a new family favorite in the bunch. Remember to eat dinner before heading over, as only tea and coffee (thank goodness) are allowed to be brought in from outside. Otherwise, light snacks, soft drinks, juices and…wait for it…beer are available for purchase. The store seats 40, with tables made for anywhere from 2 – 8 players. Plan to play all night or just stay for a short game!

Blue Highway Games

Good to know: The Blue Highway Games game closet is open for play almost any time the store is. So head over before 7:00 pm to find a seat and a game you’ve been dying to try. 

Ages: All
When: Saturdays
Time: 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Cost: Free

Blue Highway Games
2203 Queen Anne Avenue North
Seattle, Wa 98109

Cartoon Happy Hour
If popcorn for dinner paired with classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons sounds like the perfect evening, you’ll love the Cartoon Happy Hour at Central Cinema. Be sure to bring your appetite, as this extremely family-friendly theater (read: it’s okay if your little ones talk or run up and down the aisles during the movie) has some truly tasty menu items, for kids and adults. Wanna know the best part? It’s happy hour for the first hour of the show. Food and drinks from $3 – $5 just can’t be beat, especially when Jonny Quest is playing on the big screen.


Good to know: Be sure to get there a bit early to get your food order in, as service slows down a bit once the films start rolling.

Ages: All
When: Thursdays
Time: 5:30 pm -7:00 pm
Cost: Free

Central Cinema
1141 21st Avenue
Seattle, Wa 98122

Dive In!
When bathing suits in the bathtub just won’t cut it for your kids anymore, it’s time to head to Family Swim. More than just another public swim time, family swim through Seattle Parks and Recreation requires parents to be in the water with their little ones. No spectators here, mom and dad. It’s a chance for kids to try out their floaties (at the lifeguard’s discretion), and play with more noodles, strainers, boats, balls and dive toys than they’ll know what to do with. So start practicing your cannonballs and prepare for a splashing good time. When the kiddos are finally tired out and ready to head home, it’s a quick shower at the pool (read: no fuss bath time) and change into jammies (remember to bring them with you), because they’ll be asleep before you’re even in the driveway.

SW Pool family swim

Good to know: The Southwest Pool has a new family changing room that takes the headache out of herding and changing those wiggly wee ones.

Ages: All
When: Fridays
Time: 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Cost: Kids, $3.75; Adults, $5.25

Southwest Pool
2801 SW Thistle Street
Seattle, Wa 98126

When: Fridays
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Kids, $3.75; Adults, $5.25

Helene Madison Pool
13401 Meridian Avenue North
Seattle, Wa 98133

When: Tuesdays and Thursdays
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Kids, $3.75; Adults, $5.25

Meadowbrook Pool
10515 35th Avenue NE
Seattle, Wa 98125

Boogie Nights for the Younger Set
So, you got rid of your 70’s style gym shorts in the 80’s, and you ditched your cool McEnroe sweatbands for a diaper bag and yoga pants. That doesn’t mean you still can’t boogie down under the disco ball at Family Skate Night. Bring your own skates (pom-poms optional) or rent some there. Either way, lace ‘em up and get ready to show your kids how to limbo, hokey pokey and backwards skate like a pro. Ever heard of Crazy Trios? This is your chance to learn. Need a little break? Grab a hot dog and some nachos, or play one of the many retro video games that line the rink. Those mad Asteroid skills never leave you. Don’t forget to end the night with some Full Tilt ice cream (sold at the rink concession stand). Your kids and your tummy will thank you.

Southgate Roller Rink

Good to know: On Friday, April 12th Southgate Roller Rink will celebrate their 2-year anniversary with a $2 family skate night!

Ages: All
When: Friday and Saturday
Time:  Friday, 6:00 – 8:00 pm; Saturday, 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Cost: $6.50 (skate rental included)

Southgate Roller Rink
9646 17th Avenue SW
Seattle, Wa 98106

Go on the Prowl…
Lace up your hiking boots and unearth that headlamp, it’s time for a family night hike! The Seward Park Environmental and Audubon Center’s monthly owl prowl is a chance for the younger set to explore the forest at night, without worry (no werewolves here). Beginning with lessons on owls and owl pellet dissection (who said naturalists don’t know how to have fun?) and ending with a hike in search of our nocturnal neighbors, kids and adults alike will delight in this experience. These sessions fill up fast, and are limited to the first 25 people who register, so be sure to plan ahead by at least a week for this one.

Seward Park owl hike

Good to know: The ability to stand still, quietly for a long time and to stay up past 9:00 pm are requirements for the prowl, so the littlest of littles, and those with ants in their pants (or narcolepsy) should stay home.

Ages: 8 and up (recommended)
When: 4th Saturdays of the month, January through October
Time: 8:00 pm -10:00 pm
Cost: $5

Seward Park Environmental and Audubon Center
5902 Lake Washington Boulevard South
Seattle, Wa 98118

What are your favorite after dark family activities? Share them with us in the comments section below.

–Allison Sutcliffe

Photos thanks to Seward Park Environmental Audubon Center, Seattle Parks and Recreation, Acme Bowling, Amanda Erven at Blue Highway Games and Southgate Roller Rink Facebook Page.