Those of us lucky enough to have parents nearby count on them for so much: reliable (and free) babysitting, parenting advice (requested or not) and lots and lots of grandchild spoiling. They are cherished members of our family who unfortunately don’t always get the thanks they deserve during our hazy, yogurt covered, Sponge Bob-filled days. But never fear—we’ve found four fun, kid-and-grandparent-approved activities that will guarantee Nana and Papa know just how much you–and their grandkids–love and appreciate them.
Does Grandpa fancy anything that floats? Is history right up Nana’s alley? Then head to South Lake Union Park on September 8. From the funky and fascinating local flavor at the Museum of History and Industry to the floating beauty at The Center for Wooden Boats to the yummy food options that make the park their home, South Lake Union Park will delight kids aged 1-100, and is our top pick for delighting both grandparents and grandkids on Grandparents Day (and all year round).
Start your morning at The Center for Wooden Boats (CWB), where you can stroll the docks to view the dozens of historic floating crafts in various stages of refurbishment, from skeletal sailboats to carefully re-created canoes. Wishing to get on the water? Every Sunday, regardless of the weather (unless it’s too windy), the CWB hosts a Free Public Sail, an opportunity to tootle around Lake Union in everything from a 113 year old salmon fishing boat to an electric powerboat from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, each with a guide to show you around.
Don’t Get Moored: Spots are first come, first served, so get to the Center by 9:30 am to get in line (earlier if the weather’s nice); sign-ups start promptly at 10:00 am and space is limited. Tours start at 11:00 am and run 45 minutes; the last tours leave at 2:00 pm, so be prepared to wait for your assigned spot for up to four hours.
Don’t quite have your sea legs? Then grab Nana, Papa and the kidlets and head to the Boat Pond in the middle of the park, where for a $5 donation, the Littles and their grandparents can rent and sail a Pond Boat, an exact toy model replica of the sleek 1926 Pirate racing sailboat, refurbished in 2003 and currently moored at the CWB. Pond Boats are available from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and are first come, first served. If Seattle history is more Granny’s speed, check out the bizarre and beautiful artifacts at the new Museum of History and Industry, located in the awesomely refurbished Naval Reserve Armory.
Foodie Facts: There are many restaurants in the area, but for extra fun and local flavor (and a place to eat while you wait for your boat tour) check out the various food trucks (and boat!) parked at SLU Park on Sundays. Celesto Espresso (red truck parked in front of the CWB) is just what you need for a to-go cup of Zoka Espresso, Snowflakes Eatery (blue truck parked near the street in front of MOHAI) will satisfy if the kiddos are hankerin’ for a hamburger, and the Seattle Taco Boat (white boat with brightly colored trim moored at the public beach on the west shore between the park’s pedestrian bridge and the sea planes) serves fresh fish tacos most Sundays starting at 11:00 am.
Parking Point: Because of the Mercer Mess (sorry, but it just is), parking can be a bear down there. However, we found free (Sunday) parking in a small city lot along Fairview Avenue, just east of Daniel’s Broiler, which was an easy two-minute jaunt to the park. If you’re visiting the CWB, there are a small number of spaces available in the parking lot next to the SLU Streetcar stop on Valley Street. Parking passes are available at CWB’s front desk. Before you go, check out this Department of Transportation link for updated street closure information, or just park downtown and take the SLU streetcar!The Center for Wooden Boats 1010 Valley Street
Seattle, Wa 98109 206-382-2628 Online: cwb.org Sunday Hours: 10:00 am – 800 pm; Free Public Sail, 11:00 am-3:00 pm; Boat Pond, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm The Museum of History and Industry 860 Terry Avenue North Seattle, Wa 98109 206-324-1126 Online: mohai.org
Sunday Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Get Out the Rye Bread and the Mustard, Grandma!
What better way to say thanks to the grandmother of your babies for driving you to baseball practice all those years then to bring her to a Mariners game! The 1:10pm game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Sunday, September 8 is Senior Special Day, where folks 60 and over get a great ticket discount ($5 off select View Level seats, $10 off select Main Level seats). The deals are on for the kiddos too—it’s Felix Hernandez Cape Day (who needs Superman?), all kids 14 and under get a voucher for a free hot dog and soda, and after the game, your little Ken Griffey Jr can run the bases! Kids ages two and under are also always free. Now, that’s a home run!
If your mini Edgar Martinez gets antsy during the game, head to the Mariners Hall of Fame and Baseball Museum, tucked behind the Main Concourse on the 3rd base line. You’ll hit a home run with Gramps when he sees the current exhibit honoring Sicks’ Stadium (home to both the Seattle Rainiers and Pilots from 1938-1976), and the grandkids will dream of their future baseball careers when they touch a real Major League bat and glove, or channel their inner Ichiro while taking a photo pretending to catch a home run ball at the wall. Admission is free with a valid game ticket.
Field Notes: To receive the senior discount, game tickets must be purchased in person at the Safeco Field Box Office or at any Mariners Team Store with valid ID. To find food, merch, ATMs, family restrooms and more at Safeco Field, click on this cool, interactive map.
Foodie Facts: The Mariners have spent a lot of time coming up with new and exciting food options for their fans in the past few years. Gluten-free and vegetarian options are now available, and there are four fabulous food options now in The ‘Pen, located in Center Field. Kid favorites include delicious, reasonably priced handcrafted pizza slices from Apizza that your whole family could share, and authentic Parisian style crepes at La Creperie, with fillings from local favorites like Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and Zoe’s Meats. Of course, if the Littles (and their Grandpa) are just hankerin’ for a good old hunk of hot dog, they’re available on all concourses.
Parking Points: There are lots and lots (and lots!) of parking lots in the area, if you don’t mind a walk and possibly paying upwards of $20. However, you can purchase a parking spot in three nearby lots here for $12 to $15, or save a bunch of cash and take Light Rail. Park as far south as Tukwila or find a spot downtown (it’s Sunday, so street parking is free) and hop on the train to avoid the Sodo mess. Disabled persons drop off locations can be obtained by calling 206-346-4001.seattle.mariners.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=sea
Up, Up and Away
We in the Pacific Northwest are downright spoiled by the variety of outdoor activities that are pretty much right at our fingertips. Not many cities have two mountain ranges easily reached in a few hours, with hiking trails perfect for the little mountaineers in your crew. Dust off the hiking boots (or tennis shoes), pack your water bottles and GORP, and charge up the batteries in your camera–September 8 is a great day to check out two spectacular Northwest mountains, and treat Grandpa to a day of natural beauty and yummy food and still have time for him to impress the grandkids with his vast knowledge of native plants.
Think Crystal Mountain is only fun if you’re a skier? Keep those skis packed away for a couple more months, because the Crystal Mountain Resort hosts a bevy of summertime fun, and September 8 is no exception. Did you know Crystal has rides? Okay, so there’s just one, but it’s a pretty awesome and awe-inspiring one! The Mount Rainier Gondola will take Grammy and Gramps (your whole family, actually—each car seats eight (including wheelchairs) and Rover can come too) a dizzying and breathtaking 2,500 feet, to the summit of Crystal Mountain. At the top, plan on spending at least an hour taking in the nearly 360 degree gorgeous views of Mount Rainier and the Cascade Range. Wood and canvas lounge chairs are set up to stretch your legs and gaze on Rainier, or you can walk (or run the wiggles out) along the summit for even better viewpoints. If you’re lucky, Rainier will decide to show her pretty face while you’re gawking. If you’d like to save money, and your crew is of the extra hearty variety, hike up Crystal–one way gondola rides down the mountain are free (and you deserve it!)
Foodie Facts: Whether your crew is fancy or finicky, Crystal Mountain Resort delivers. The kid-friendliest food is from the Que Tu Taco Truck (get it?), where the kidlets and their Pop-Pop can dine on cheese quesadillas and tortas in the ample outdoor seating area adjacent. (And they have sides of rice, beans and avocado for the tots.) If you’d rather have a little mountain picnic, grab to-go sandwiches and some water (or beer, if you’re so inclined) at the Summit Shop, located just below the gondola at the Summit, and park it along the ridge so you can munch while you gaze.
If you’d really like to treat Gramma, make a lunch date (reservations strongly recommended) at the Summit House. Located at the top of Crystal Mountain, it’s the highest elevation restaurant in the state, and the unbelievable views at 6,872 feet will be rivaled only by the food. If comfort food is what soothes your crew, on your way home, head west from Crystal on 410 to Greenwater and cozy up to the Natches Bar & Grill, where the whole family can enjoy thick burgers, piles of nachos and a kids’ menu (til 9:00 pm) on the back patio. Be sure to stop by Wapiti Woolies (located just across 410) afterwards for a huckleberry ice cream before your ride back to the big city.
Parking Point: Parking is free at the base of Crystal. The drive from Seattle to the Resort is about two hours via Enumclaw.
Crystal Mountain, Wa 98022 360-663-2265 Online: crystalmountainresort.com/ Sunday Gondola Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Summit House Restaurant At the summit of Crystal Mountain 360-663-3085 Online: crystalmountainresort.com/Summer-Activities/Summit-House Sunday Lunch Hours: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Side Note: Although the Sunrise Visitors Center is usually closed after Labor Day (call 360-863-2425 to confirm), if the weather is still crazy good, you can still drive there (it’s about an hour east from Crystal) to check out the spectacular views of Rainier and the Emmons Glacier and go on hikes of various skill levels, from wandering toddler to serious mountaineer. The Park entrance fee is $15 per vehicle.
You Spin Me Round
Imagine Children’s Museum knows that grandparents make the world go round. For the past five years, the award-winning museum has hosted a Grandparents Day event, and this September 8 is no exception. First on the list of cool events, grandparents get in FREE all day (11:00 am – 5:00 pm) with a paying grandkid. This is one of the coolest kids’ museums in the area, so that’s totally awesome, right? But that’s not all! Between 1:00 and 4:00 pm, “Grandparents are Tops”, and there will be a variety of top-related activities to entertain the kids and the kids at heart. Wood turners will be on site with lathes and wood pieces to create fun tops of all sizes for everyone in your crew to bedazzle and spin to their heart’s content. You’ll have a chance to meet Allan Rumpf, a collector who owns the largest collection of tops in the world. He’ll teach the young and young at heart how to spin a top, and you’ll get to spin, gyrate and throw some of his rare and interesting tops too. In their Art Studio, the handy in your crew can make their own top out of recycled materials (yes, there is something you can do with a Slurpee lid after you’ve slurped!)
Stroller Aside: Strollers are not allowed in the museum (there is parking at the front desk), so we suggest bringing the Ergo for the crawlers in your crew.
Bonus Fun: The museum is closed for their yearly polish and shine September 1-7, and all new exhibits (like the new “Underwater” toddler area) will be brand new and waiting for you on the 8th.
Foodie Facts: You are welcome to bring a lunch or snacks with you to the Museum. There is a large Snack Area in the basement of the museum, next to the Art Studio and Construction Studio. Bathrooms and vending machines with healthy drinks and snacks are located there as well.
Parking Points: Street parking around the museum is free on Sundays (don’t let the 90-minute limit signs fool you), or there is reasonable ($3 for up to three hours) parking in the lot behind the museum. It is about a 30-minute drive from Seattle.Imagine Children’s Museum 1502 Wall Street Everett, Wa 98201 425-258-1006 Online: imaginecm.org/index.html Hours: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm; “Grandparents are Tops” hours 1:00 – 4:00 pm More Grandparents Day Fun (that’s free!) Northwest Railway Museum (free train rides with paying grandkid) 38625 SE King Street Snoqualmie, Wa 98065 425-888-3030 Online: trainmuseum.org/ Sunday Hours: 10:00 – 5:00 pm; train tours 12:00 pm – 3:30 pm Hands On Children’s Museum (free admission with paying grandkid) 414 Jefferson Street NE Olympia, WA 98501 360-956-0818 Online: www.hocm.org/ Sunday Hours: 11:00 am -5:00 pm How do you plan to celebrate Grandma and Grandpa this year? Let us know in a comment below! -Erin Cranston Photo credits: Erin Cranston, Seattle Taco Boat website, Andrei O on Yelp, JG on Yelp, Joon C on Yelp, Imagine Children’s Museum, Melinda Goodleaf