Seattle parents know how to rock a rainy day. We stomp in the face of puddles. We gear up for drizzly hikes and urban outings. We know every single indoor play space within 30 miles of the Space Needle intimately. And now we can add Rainworks, rain activated art, to our kid-approved grey day play list. We’ve mapped out everything you need to know to go on a Rainworks treasure hunt and how to make one of your own!
What Is It?
Rainworks are uplifting messages and positive pictures meant to brighten even Seattle’s dreariest days. The twist? They only appear when wet. Creator Peregrine Church used Seattle’s climate to his full advantage when he dreamed up this lemons-into-lemonade idea. Using special invisible spray that resists water like your toddler resists eating broccoli, he and his team leave guerilla graffiti style art on sidewalks for unsuspecting passersby to enjoy on a rainy day.
Finding Rainworks is an adventure, no matter what Mother Nature’s plan for the day is. If rain is in the forecast, no problem! Pull on your boots, grab your raincoat and pack the gang in the Prius for a puddle-stomping scavenger hunt to find magical street art. With the tot lot in tow, this is the easiest way to go. You’ll spot the eye-catching installations in no time when the pavement’s wet, bringing instant smiles to their tiny faces.
If the sun is out, it’s a little more challenging. Lace up your walking shoes and bring full water bottles to do some sidewalk sleuthing on your adventure. Once you’re in the area, start drizzling on the water until you find just the right spot for the big reveal. This dry day challenge works well with an older crew of seasoned adventure seekers. Once you’ve picked your weather preference, it’s off to find some seriously cool invisible art!
To help you on your way, we’ve mapped out five places you can spot these urban treasures and thrown in some suggestions so you can make a day of it. Ready, set, go!
1. We’re thinking a Woodland Park Zoo visit, an Interbay Red Mill Burger pit stop (don’t forget the onion rings and a shake!) and a sit down with a bridge troll are an obvious pairing when you set out to find three Fremont area installations. Consider this grouping a toddler trifecta and not just for the proximity to iconic Seattle faves. But because it starts with a snuggly Calvin and Hobbes, rounds second with a magical message and ends with some serious kid love. Start the hunt for Calvin just over the Ballard Bridge. Once you find him, head south on Leary Way N.W. to find the next two.
2. Pick a dry day to find the butterflies at the Maple Leaf Reservoir Park, so you can take advantage of the playground. After the tot lot has exhausted their energy sliding and swinging, scoop the loop to make your find.
3. If you’re rockin’ the latest production at the Seattle Children’s Theater, getting your play on at the Children’s Museum or monkeying around at the Artists at Play playground, take a quick detour up Queen Anne hill to find an inspirational astronaut. Psst! Explore around the Counterbalance Park oasis to find him.
4. Take a public transit outing to spot two bus stop Rainworks with your sidekick. Snap a You are Here selfie at a West Seattle bus stop just south of the SSCC campus. Then, wander through the Seattle Chinese Garden while you’re in the neighborhood. Or check out its “awesome” sister selfie stop, near the UW campus. Pair it with a trip to the Burke Museum and the day’s complete.
5. We think you’ll “love” the Kanji Rainworks just outside the Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. Play on the playground, explore the ponds, climb some trees and wander through the conservatory while you’re there!
Good to Know
Rain clouds mark the spot on this online Rainworks map, so you know exactly where to find our recommended kid-friendly creations. Remember that Rainworks wears off over time, so some of these may have faded.
If finding Rainworks is an adventure, then making your own rain-activated art is an adventure times two! Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, Peregrine and the Rainworks team have been able to produce Rainworks’ Invisible Spray so everyone can get in on the action. That means you and your mini crew can stencil and spray special pictures or uplifting messages on the front stoop or along the sidewalk for all of your neighbors to enjoy.
Have you come across Rainworks in the city? Tell us about your experience in the Comments below!
— Allison Sutcliffe