Fun Things to Do with Kids Near Me / The Northwest Edition

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Fun Things to Do with Kids Near Me

Fun Things to Do with Kids Near Me / The Northwest Edition

There are so many wonderful things for families to explore in the Northwest, and much of it can be done for free or on a budget too. If you are looking for fun things to do with kids near me, and you live in the Puget Sound area, this is the list for you. We cover everything from indoor ideas to outdoor adventures, as well as something for all seasons in the Northwest too.

Things to do in Seattle with Kids

Lets start with kids activities in Seattle and the surrounding areas, and work our way out from here. There are lots of things to do with kids in Seattle and nearby areas, and this list shares some of our favorites.

Get out pass Washington

One of our favorite all time deals for things to do in Seattle with kids – is to grab this Get Out Pass Washington. It is full of tons of activities in the Puget Sound area for families, and all for one low price (you will often pay for it with just one visit to one activity!). Activities will change, but it usually includes spots like the Family Fun Center, Woodland Park Zoo, Arena Sports and many more.

If you want to head downtown, or to any of the major attractions in the Seattle area (like EMP, Space Needle, Woodland Park Zoo and more), check out the Seattle Citipass. This will let you be a tourist here locally, but save you some money while doing it.

Also, be sure to check out our Staycation Seattle article, as it is packed full of ideas on things to do with kids in Seattle, with options in many of the downtown areas.

Free Things to do with Kids in Seattle & The Greater Puget Sound

Here is a list of some of the best free things to do with kids in Seattle and surrounding areas in the northwest for families. And if you plan to take them out to a restaurant while you are out exploring, be sure to check out our big Kids Eat Free roundup, for lots of ideas on that too.

Museum of Flight Seattle

Free Museum Days in Seattle & the Greater Puget Sound Area

One of the most popular free things to do in Seattle and surrounding areas for families, is the free museum program. We are so fortunate in this area of the country as there are many options available to us. There are a number of ways to visit Northwest museums for free, and we share the ones we know about here. It is such a great way to get kids out, as well as being educational too. We list lots of ways to get in free, and so many of these are really fun for kids too.

(Note – be sure to check the museum websites to make sure nothing has changed on their times and free offerings, before your visit)

  • Free First Thursdays of the Month – We are so lucky here in Washington, as we get access to free admission to many local museums on the first Thursday of each month. Some examples of participating museumes include:
    • MOHAI – highlights here for kids include the Kids structure zone, and be sure to stop by and borrow an Exploration or Innovation pack for your visit, to make exploring the museum even more fun for kids.
    • Burke Museum – My kids used to love the dinosaur exhibits here
    • Museum of Flight – this one is so fun for kids. We share a review of visiting the Museum of Flight with kids here, to learn more.
    • Seattle Art Museum (children ages 14 and younger always get in free)
    • Washington State History Museum and many more.
    • Plus many more, so check your favorite museums website to see if they offer free days.
  • 3rd Thursdays of Month – A few museums offer free admission on the third Thursday of each month. Some examples include (check website for admission times, as these are often limited to evening hours):
    • Washington State History Museum
    • Tacoma Art Museum,
    • Tacoma Children’s Museum
  • 1st Friday of Month – Free admission to some museums in the Puget Sound on the first Firday of each month. Check their websites for current details as these are often limited to evening hours too). Examples include:
    • the Hands On Children’s Museum
    • Kids Discovery Museum
  • Henry Art Gallery is free each Sunday
  • Seattle Asian Art Museum
    • It is always free to those 14 and under
    • and offers free on the last Friday of the month

Pick Up Passes from your local library – Check your local library system to check out free passes to many local area museums. We have done this in the past through King County and Pierce County library systems, so check your local libraries to see what is currently being offerer.

Museums for All offer free or reduced admission to many EBT Card Holders and other qualified visitors.

If you have an EBT card or are on Medicaid or Apple insurance, always check for a discount. Some spots offer free admission, and many offer discounted options (like $3 per person).

Always Free Museums

Hands on Childrens Museum

Children’s Museum Discounts: 

More Free in Seattle & Puget Sound Ideas

Here are a couple more ideas in the Puget Sound that are free!

Kids Bowl Free is one of the most popular free summer kids programs. Sign your kids up for participating bowling alleys throughout Washington State and each kiddo can bowl 2 free games all summer long!

The Center for Wooden Boats – The Center for Wooden Boats is a resource for all who love sailing or wooden boats, and it has things to do for free. Admission is free and allows you the chance to get up close to the collection of non-motorized boats. Free sails take place every Sunday on Lake Union. Sign up is only in person the day of the sail so get there early.

Water Weekends at the Marine Science & Technology Center (MaST) – Saturdays 10am – 2pm; kids can explore sea life with touch tanks & more.

Cheap Things to do with Kids

Factory Tours can be a fun way to spend the day. The Seattle Chocolate Tour is a nice family friendly option for example.

Catch a sporting event. For example, you can get a $10 value ticket to upcoming Mariners games with their Value Ticket offerings. Another idea would be to catch a minor league game, like the Tacoma Rainiers on BECU Tuesdays where $20 can get one (1) Reserved Seat ticket, a ballpark meal (hot dog, snack, bottled water), and a signature Rainiers hat. Or head to a Everett Aquasocks game for Funko Fridays. Tickets start at $12, and fans will receive a free AquaSox branded Funko item

Check Groupon for current Kids Activities here, There are often some really great deals for local trampoline spots, arcades, bowling and more.

Educational Ideas::

If you have kids who love art, science, cooking and more, check out the Kiwi Crates. These are great because everything you need comes in one box, so it makes it easy to do it with your kids. You can join their subscription program, or shop single boxes in there stores. Our kids have been using Kiwi Crates for years, and you can find our full review of the Kiwi Crates for kids here. Or you can shop their store directly for items you can purchase without a subscription (so many options)! The best part is your kids are learning while doing the fun STEAM activities.

Kangaroo Farm Arlington

Interact with Animals

Check out the Animals! If your kids love animals, we have put together a big list of places they can see and interact with animals in Washington here. Find everything from zoos, to aquariums, farms, Kangaroo farms, reptile museums and more.

Or find places to watch the salmon migrate here (seasonal).

MaST (Marine Science & Technology) Center at Redondo Beach – They offer free discovery days every Saturday from 10am – 2pm, where kids can explore the center & the two large touch tanks

Libraries – there are tons of regular, weekly events at your local libraries including story time, science & craft activities, Lego activities & much more.

Plays – Check out your libraries as well as local schools and performing arts centers to find discounts on plays, musicals, concerts & more. If you have older kids (13 to 19), check out the $5 Teen Tix program as another way to get super prices on plays.

Indoor Things to Do with Kids

If you are looking for indoor things to do with kids in the Seattle as well as the Greater Puget Sound, check out our big list of Rainy Day Activities for Kids in the Northwest to get inspired.

Plus, grab this free indoor scavenger hunt for kids to keep them occupied at your own home.

Waterfall hikes near Seattle

Outdoor Adventures:

One beauty of living in the northwest, is that there is no shortage of outdoor things for families to enjoy. And much of it is free too. Here are some of our favorite outdoor fun ideas for families.

Get out on a Hike. This is the most popular idea in our area for sure. We share some fun family friendly hikes here. Plus, be sure to print out this free Scavenger Hunt for Hikes, to make it even more fun for kids! Visiting the Snoqualmie Falls has always been a highlight for my family as well.

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge

Check out the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge – great place to take babies in stroller & young kids to walk the trails & bird watch (no dogs or bikes though).

Gardens in Seattle and Tacoma

Get out and explore a garden. Here are 8 Urban Gardens in the Seattle Tacoma that we love to visit.

Hansville Washington beach

Beach days and lake days are always fun for kids too. We have many great options in the northwest. Pack a picnic and some blaknets and check out one near you on a beautiful day. Here are some ideas for fun areas with family friendly beach access.

Space Themed KhersonPark in Kent

Space Themed KhersonPark in Kent

Awesome Playgrounds & Parks- 

The Northwest is full of some great parks to enjoy. This is another area where we are very fortunate. You will find everthing from fun zip lines at area playgrounds, to free access to wonderful National Parks. Here are a few resources to help you find those:

Splash Pads & Pools

We share a big list of Washington waterparks as well as some of our favorite spray parks, to plan a day of water fun for the family!

More Ideas of Things To Do with Kids in the Seattle & Puget Sound Areas –

Seattle Electric Boat

Rent an Electric Boat or a Donut Boat on Lake Union. We share a full review of the Seattle Electric Boat rides, and although the cost of this seems higher, once you divide it up per person, you realize it can be less than taking your family to the movies.

Seasonal Fun for Kids

Here are some resources you can use to plan seasonal outings for your family, that the kids will love!

Summer Fun for Kids Seattle

Summer Fun for Kids

Winter Fun for Kids Seattle

Winter Fun for Kids

Spring Fun for Kids Seattle

Spring Fun for Kids

Fall Fun for Kids Seattle

Fall Fun for Kids

Free & Affordable Things to Do in the Portland Area

If you are looking beyond the Puget Sound, be sure to check out our Portland Staycation post here, for lots of ideas on what to do there.


  1. Thank u, thank u, thank u for going back to original format- took no time at all to check and plan. I am one of your biggest advertisersn- I tell all the school moms about your site – love it.

  2. Hi, Thrifty NW Mom! Thanks for featuring our Thundereggstravaganza event. I’d like to share a couple of small corrections: our event runs from 10 AM through 5 PM, not 11 to 1. (We are having talks at 11 and 1). Also, please note that children 4 and under are free!

  3. I agree with Lori! I haven’t been to your site in a while because I found the other style to difficult to use. I just came back and am thankful you changed back. So much more user friendly. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for the feedback, Sarah! We’re sorry it was a frustrating experience, please always tell us if you’re having any frustrations and we will work on solutions. We definitely want this as user-friendly as possible!

  4. Tacoma Concert Band: Clarinets and Brass at the Museum of Glass
    2pm Saturday Aug 6th FREE, just outside the Museum of Glass in Tacoma.

    Here’s the info from their e-mail
    Tacoma Concert Band presents…
    Clarinets and Brass
    at the Museum of Glass!
    Free and fun for the whole family!
    TCB band members are performing a free summer concert featuring a clarinet choir (12 clarinets) and a brass quintet, on the terrace of the Museum of Glass.

    Join us on Saturday afternoon, August 6th, at 2:00 p.m.
    for a delightful hour of music, played by members of the Northwest’s premier symphonic band.

    You’ll also have a chance to learn about the TCB’s upcoming season, which will feature, among others, world-class guest soloists on clarinet (Robert Spring) and brass (trumpet virtuoso Allen Vizzutti and saxophone soloist Erik Steighner).

    Bring the whole family. The weather should be great, the setting beautiful, and the music sublime.

    See you there!

  5. Hello! We appreciate the shout-out but did want to mention that our name was changed last October to Living Computers: Museum + Labs.

  6. You can meet Catboy from PJ Masks today from 12-4 at Learning Express Toys in The Landing in Renton. My sons are excited to meet him! :)

  7. The Festival of Trees has ended. We tried to go last weekend and there were no trees. Apparently they had already been auctioned off.

  8. Hi there! There is a free production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
    The show will be provided free and open to all ages!

    Charles Schulz’s classic musical “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” comes to Newcastle this February presented by the Newcastle Players in partnership with Newport Creative Arts. The show, produced by Tony Ventrella Productions and King County’s 4Culture, is the first of the inaugural season for the theater group.

    Starring Adam Minton as Charlie Brown, Jenn Ollivier as Lucy, Jelani Kee as Snoopy, Sarah Fairchild as Sally, Jake Atwood as Linus, and Manny Golez as Schroeder, the charming and uplifting story based on Schulz’s comic strip “Peanuts” with music and lyrics by Clark Gesner will run six shows including two matinees over the course of two weekends in February at the Newport Covenant Church in Bellevue. Choreographed by Tony Pallozzi with Musical Director Benjamin Bentler and Directed by Mary Rudd.

    1. Hi Natalie – The list is updated every Thursday. This list is the one that includes all the events we highlighted through the 28th (many of the weekday events are library events, or community parks ones, so you should be able to find those in your local library or parks departments listings. Thanks!

  9. Dacha Theatre is touging an original, musical fairytale show for all ages, called “The Bee-Man of Orn” through Ballard and Phinney Ridge. There are sliding scale ($20/$10) and Pay-What-You-Can tickets available for every performance!

    Saturday 12/1 — Ballard Underground — 5:30PM
    Saturday 12/8 — Phinney Neighborhood Association — 5:00PM
    Friday 12/14 — Phinney Neighborhood Association — 6:30PM
    Friday 12/21 — Ballard Underground — 6:30PM

    More info on the ticket website:

    Thank you!

  10. Hello, thrifty moms! Here is a free live music event.

    DATE Saturday, February 23, 2019
    TIME 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm PST
    WHERE Third Place Books – Lake Forest Park
    17171 Bothell Way NE
    AGE RECOMMENDATION Toddler, Preschool, Elementary School, 30 somethings
    Catchy, colorful, kindie pop-rock for the full fun-loving family. Acoustic Show!


    See you there ;)

  11. I love in Tacoma, WA but noticed not one single event listed for my area. Is thus a standard for Thrifty NW MOM? Your answer is appreciated.

    1. Hi Jami – we definitely include events in the Tacoma area when we find them, my kids and I love heading there for family fun (we usually highlight the larger events, so not library days etc), but we are not aware of too many events there this weekend. If we missed something we can definitely add it. You might want to also check out Sounds Fun Mom ( if you do not already follow her She shares about South Sound events and happenings, so should have lots of great info for where you live. Thanks so much! Sia

  12. Hi team: Here’s a fun free event coming up soon.

    Goldfish Swim School of Shoreline Grand Opening Party
    Saturday, Nov. 2 from 2 to 4 p.m.

    Goldfish Swim School of Shoreline
    15901 Westminster Way North
    Shoreline, WA 98133


    Goldfish Swim School, the leading premier learn-to-swim franchise, will host its grand opening event: a fun-filled party the whole family will enjoy. The swim school will open its doors for a free family swim with music, face-painting, balloons, a selfie station and more. Attendees are encouraged to test the waters—literally—and get to know the school’s certified instructors and lifeguards who help teach children a life-saving skill in a fun and positive environment. Goldfish Swim School will provide light snacks and drinks.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Christine! Feel free to email us if you ever have any free or frugal events – thriftynorthwestmom (at) gmail (dot) com

  13. Hello! Here is a great family fun event in Oregon City.
    Clackamas Rep’s
    Wing It, An Interactive Show for Kids
    December 7 and 14 at 10:30am
    Osterman Theatre
    19600 Molalla Ave Oregon City OR 97045
    Tickets are $5 cash or check at the door

    Wing It is an interactive show that teaches kids about theatre with song, dance and lots of audience participation.

  14. Hello There!
    I would like to add my event to your website. It’s FREE, Family Friendly and in Thurston County. We’ve done this event for 15 years and it’s highly organized and quite popular. Parents bring their children to peruse a huge children’s book section. They can have cocoa and brownies and read their books at our cafe where there is live music. People spend hours here. Details are below. Please contact me if you’d like more information of if you need an image. Thanks!

    Books, Brownies & Beans
    Books, Brownies and Beans is a book lovers paradise. It is one of the largest one-day used book sales in the South Sound. Thousands of used books will be for sale — Pulitzer Prize winners to children’s books, DVDs, games. Enjoy all kinds of brownies, live music, coffee and an enormous selection of used books. Bring the whole family. Prices are deeply discounted starting at around $1. This is a FREE event. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own tote bags. To benefit the Olympia area homeless.

    Date: Saturday, February 22, 2020
    Time: 9am to 4pm
    Place: Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation
    2315 Division St. NW, Olympia, WA, 98502 • 360-786-6383

    More Information:

    Questions: Darlene Sarkela
    [email protected]
    360-786-6383 Ext. 100

  15. Hi, your section on “Free Entrance Days for Tacoma Residence to Point Defiance Zoo” it’s “residents” not residence…. just thought I would point that out… And do you guys ever do anything for the Olympia/Thurston county area??

    1. Thanks for letting us know, it is an old article we need to get updated, so we will be sure to get that fixed. We have a handful of articles on visiting Great Wolf Lodge. We have also shared some on Tenino, and Rainier and then various other spots on our social pages too. Are you interested in something specific? Thanks!

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