Seattle gardening aficionados and families alike flock to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show every February to escape the gray, gloomy days of winter and embrace the coming of spring and all of its colorful glory. Whether you’re a seasoned showgoer or a newbie to this gardening extravaganza, this year’s show will take on special significance for many as Seattle’s momentous waterfront project is the focus of the Play With Friends family activity area. Read on for the scoop on this new interactive play area and get ready to plan your family’s visit.

northwest flower and garden show

Hands-on fun
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you (and your kiddos) are probably quite familiar with “Bertha,” the colossal machine making its two-mile-long boring journey under the streets of Seattle. But did you know a local non-profit, Friends of Waterfront Seattle, is also playing a lead role in this momentous project? The non-profit is championing the community’s new vision for the 22 acres on Seattle’s central waterfront and is behind the concept of this year’s family area at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.

At Play With Friends, kid faves like Bricks 4 Kidz, Seattle Aquarium and Seattle Children’s Museum have collaborated with Friends of Waterfront Seattle to provide hands-on activities that will allow kids (and parents!) to imagine what the waterfront’s “post-Viaduct” future—all 26 blocks of it—will look like. Using robotocized Legos, kids can create features of the new waterfront including structures, fish, other sea creatures, cranes, and more. If your kiddo is more of an artist than an architect, he or she can create a collage and attach it to a large mural of Seattle’s waterfront. And for those kiddos that like to think outside the box, tech aides will be on hand to help kids create stop motion animation videos from their drawings and figures. (Yay for an uber-cool space that encourages kids to be a part of Seattle’s future!). An additional highlight to this interactive family area will be the Seattle Aquarium’s exhibit on harbor seals which you and the fam can check out on Saturday and Sunday.

This year, you won’t find Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion, and Scarecrow in a garden of poppies, but you will find orchids blooming aplenty in the “50 Shades of Orchids” display garden. Stop by the garden on your way to or from Play With Friends to get an up close look at the rainbow of flowering orchids and oversized glass “orchid blooms” and grab a pic of the kiddos with these tropical beauties.

Hunt for treasure
Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt? Kids especially so! After you hit Play With Friends, join in the fun by tracking down the hidden items in the display gardens. Then, turn in a completed Treasure Hunt form to the Molbak’s booth and win a special prize. Hint: This year’s treasure is a coconut. It may be hidden or disguised or both. Maps will be located at the show’s information booths and at select display gardens.

NW Flower and Garden Show Kid

Northwest Flower & Garden Show
Washington State Convention Center
800 Convention Pl.
Seattle, Wa 98101

February 5-9, 2014

Wednesday through Saturday: 9 a.m.–8 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

Adults, $22 ($17 before February 4); Youth (ages 13–17), $5; Children (12 and under), Free

Buy your tickets online and you can add a $1 (or greater) donation to support the Friends of Waterfront Seattle.

What is your favorite part of the Northwest Flower & Garden Show? Will you be attending the show with your kids this year? Let us know in a comment below.

–Kristina Moy & Pat Tanumihardja

Photo credit: Northwest Flower & Garden Show Facebook page and Kerry Axley