Dr. Seuss must have had Seattle winter on the brain when he wrote the first few lines of The Cat in the Hat…Too wet to go out. Too cold to play ball. Add in a line about a lack of snow for fort building, and you’ve pretty much nailed winter in the Emerald City. Definitely not ideal for outside playtime. So what do you do when an indoor play gym just won’t cut it and your kids need room to roam? Simple. Gear up and head to one of these fantastic parks and playgrounds to get yer ya yas out!

puddle jumping

Give Me Shelter
It’s hard not to think of the covered toddler play area at U Village when you think rainy day play. The cover keeps the play area dry and the handy gate keeps kiddos from escaping. It’s pretty much the best place to be on a blustery day. And have you noticed they’ve added overhead heat lamps above the benches? A quick push of the button and you’ll think you’re on a sunny beach. Brilliant (even if you do feel a little like fast food!). Now parents can enjoy some toasty dry down time while the Littles get their wiggles out. And with eats and shopping surrounding you, it’s easy to make a morning or afternoon out of it. Shop, play, eat, play, repeat. And if they’ve got any energy left, take a rainy day stroll on the Burke-Gilman Trail, which picks up right behind the north end of the mall. It’s the perfect cover, indeed!

U Village playground

University Village
2623 NE University Village St.
Seattle, Wa 98106
Online: uvillage.com

Go on an Alligator Hunt
The Schmitz Preserve Park in West Seattle is home to trails, streams and some unusual wildlife that make for an awesome rainy day afternoon. Rumor has it that a large alligator inhabits the forest, just waiting to be found, rain or shine (hint: he’s close to the north entrance of the park, off an east-shoot trail.) He’s prefect for climbing and makes for some great storytelling around the dinner table. Plus, the old growth forest means you’ll stay pretty dry while exploring in this 53-acre park. The inviting streams mean rain boots (and probably pants) are a must. Because streams in a forest? It’s nature’s candy for kiddos. And if there’s still energy to burn after finding the alligator, be sure to head to whale tail park, just outside the south end of the preserve, where mini sailors can go in search of their own white whale. Animal-rific adventures abound!

Schmitz Park Preserve Aligator shot

Schmitz Park Preserve
5551 S.W. Admiral Way
Seattle, Wa 98116
Online: seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?ID=465

Discover a Playground in the Forest
The playground at Discovery Park in Magnolia is another place to spend a blustery January day in Seattle. Located just south of the east parking lot and Visitor’s Center, its zip line and climbing structures, with slides and bridges, stay pretty dry thanks to the trees towering above. Be sure to bundle up because it’s shady in the trees. If you need to dry off or warm up, head over to the Environmental Learning Center and explore some of the inside exhibits (remember, it’s closed on Mondays). There’s even a naturalist on hand to answer questions from your curious kiddos. Inside or outside, this is one great way to escape the elements!

Rainy day parks Jana Ablin shot

Discovery Park
3801 Discovery Park Blvd.
Seattle, Wa 98199
Online: seattle.gov/parks/environment/discovery.htm

Enter the Dragon
What could be better than an island adventure to cure the rainy day blues? Yes, please! Hawaii’s a bit far, but Mercer Island will do for a short play session on the newly installed “Kenton Dragon” at Deane’s Children Park. The structure can get a bit slippery on rainy days, but not to worry. The kidlets can also monkey around on the play structure or engineer some wet sandcastles in the sandbox. Be sure to bring the beach toys to this one! The trees tend to keep things “dry enough,” and there’s even a covered picnic area, so don’t forget to pack a lunch!

Kids in raincoats on a turtle shell

Deane’s Children Park
5500 Island Crest Way
Mercer Island, Wa 98040
Online: mercergov.org/page.asp?navid=407

Clean Play on a Rainy Day
It’s hard to stay dry, let alone clean, on playgrounds in the winter. But those with rubber flooring sure help. The West Queen Anne Playfield, located across the street from McClure Middle School, is a great spot for the under 10 crew. And although the swings and slides might be a little damp (nothing a little towel off can’t fix), the climbing structure and rope bridge will keep the minis occupied, and give them space to splash around. It’s the perfect little place to stop for some quick, clean fun, especially if your boots are still at home!

West Queen Anne Playfield
150 W. Blaine St.
Seattle, Wa 98119
Online: seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?id=330

Do you have a favorite rainy day playground or park? Let us know in a comment below.

–Allison Sutcliffe

Photos thanks to: Jana Ablin and Scooter Lowrimore via Flickr