Adrenaline-seekers can get up close to wild animals at Woodland Park Zoo, where the Tropical Rain Forest, with its jaguar habitat and free-flying tropical bird pavilion, is a big hit. The new Banyan Wilds exhibit takes visitors on a journey into the world of Malayan tigers, sloth bears, and Asian small-clawed otters, and has kids swinging through a nature play area with ease.
Aquatic antics always draw giggles at the Seattle Aquarium, whose cavorting sea otters and harbor seals bring squeals of delight. For more watery wonder, catch the diving show in the Window on Washington Waters exhibit, where a scuba diver talks to the audience among fish and other slippery critters. During the holidays, tykes may even spot Santa Claus going for a dive—red suit, hat, beard, and all.
If the kids are climbing the walls, let them show off their stuff at Vertical World, where they can boulder to their hearts’ content on a low-elevation, see-through climbing wall. There’s even a pirate ship for the smaller set to clamber over. Ahoy!
Head to iFLY Seattle if staying on two feet just won’t do. No pixie dust is required at this indoor skydiving arena, where experienced instructors help intrepid youngsters (and the young at heart) turn their Peter Pan dreams into reality inside a vertical wind tunnel.
Kids can turn their faces into the actual wind atop a bluff at the city’s largest park, the aptly named Discovery Park, with miles of easy trails through forest and along a saltwater beach. For even more excitement, the park offers tide-pooling by flashlight in December, springtime migrating bird tours, and year-round “tot treks.” Check online (seattle.gov/parks/calendar) for specific event dates.
To stay warm, head to the beach at Sandbox Sports. The massive indoor sandbox regularly hosts play sessions for tots 5 and younger. Better still, little ones can really dig in with Sandbox’s slew of shovels, pails, trucks, and other beachy toys. If the weather outside is warm enough, opt for the real beach at Alki Beach Park, a long, sandy strip mere steps from the city.