Creepy Collections: Discover summer scares in area attractions

You won’t need air conditioning to get the chills, this summer. It seems almost every city in our area is offering something a little spooky and freaky, from the Pacific Science Center’s “Science of Fear” in Seattle to The Oregon Zoo’s animatronic dinos to surrealist bird-people at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Here’s your guide to the best summer exhibits in our area.

Seattle

Goose Bumps! The Science Of Fear at the Pacific Science Center. June 11 – September 5, 2011

This freaky fun at Pacific Science Center focuses on why and how we feel afraid. See what spooks you – and discover the science behind your scare. Give yourself a workout in the Fear Challenge Course, learn how animals use fear to survive and discover ways to cope with your worries.

Dinosaurs. Real Close at the Woodland Park Zoo and Dinosaurs! at the Oregon Zoo. Both run until September 5.

Both the Woodland Park Zoo and the Oregon Zoo are going dino-riffic for the summer. Jump into the dino train (well, your car) and travel back in time to over a million years ago into a prehistoric forest. There, you’ll meet real-sized animatronic dinos that roar, move, and spit. Kids will also learn about dino habitat, how dinosaurs evolved into modern-day birds and how archaeologists work – but they’ll mostly remember that ferocious T. rex. These outdoor dinosaurs aren’t as terrifying as the marketing materials might make them sound, but sensitive children may be spooked.

AVATAR: The Exhibition at the EMP/SFM. Through September 3, 2012.

Tweens and teens who enjoyed Avatar will enjoy this exhibit’s behind-the-scenes look at the movie’s production. Gawk at the full-size AMP (Armored Mobility Platform) suit, wonder over Na’vi character models and their wardrobes, learn more about the world of Pandora and play with interactive exhibits demonstrating how 3D technologies work.

Beauty and Bounty at the Seattle Art Museum. Until September 11.

OK, this one isn’t scary. Older kids and teens who’ve learned a little about The Oregon Trail will appreciate SAM’s cool summer display featuring over 100 works of westward expansion. Never-before-exhibited landscape paintings and photos demonstrate 19th an 20th century artist’s awestruck responses to mountains, plains and coast. Kids are often impressed (but no, won’t be terrified) by the oversized paintings that captured the scale and grandeur.

Portland

Narnia, The Exhibition at OMSI, in Portland. Until September 25.

Step through the wardrobe and into Narnia, The Exhibition. Explore C.S. Lewis’s creatures alongside props and costumes from the popular film series. But the exhibit doesn’t just focus on movie magic and fantasy – real-world science includes geography, archaeology and engineering quandaries and solutions.

Dinosaurs! at the Oregon Zoo. See listing above.

Vancouver, BC

The Colour of My Dreams:
 The Surrealist Revolution in Art, in Vancouver, BC. Until September 25, 2011

Vancouver offers a summer escape into a bizarre, unsettling world. This exhibit is a grand exploration of over 350 pieces of surreal art from around the world, including works by Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Dorothea Tanning and other leading figures of Surrealism. Themes include desire, androgyny, violence and transmutation, so the exhibit is best for teens or very mature tweens.

Washington, Oregon and British Columbia Travel Giveaways

Updated: May 6 2011

A whole mess of giveaways! The giveaways and sweepstakes listed below aren’t provided by me, but by regional tourism bureaus, travel websites, businesses and other resources. Check ’em out and enter today. I’ll add more when I hear of them, and remove old ones that have expired. Let us know if you win! Four Cascadia Kids readers have already become winners (see below).

Carefully read the contest rules. Some contests are limited to Canadian or US residents. Others are open to all.

Oregon Trip Contests and Giveaways:

The Oregon Adventurecation is back! Pick one of seven incredible Oregon vacations, courtesy of Travel Oregon. Ends June 15, 2011.

Gift certificate are given away every week for the Mt. Hood Territory. The grand prize will be a three-night vacation for two to Mt. Hood Territory and a $500 travel allowance for local lodging and meals.

Kids are almost always welcome in our region’s pubs.  Win a two-night weekend in “Beervana” (that would be Portland, of course), airfare, plus dinner at the BridgePort Brew Pub and tickets to Brew Fest. Ends June 26, 2011.

Win round-trip airfare plus two nights stay in Seattle (or Portland) and farm-to-table experiences with Tully’s Discovery Getaway.

Giveaway for a one-night stay in Astoria, Oregon from Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites. Ongoing, monthly winner.

Washington Trip Contests and Giveaways:

Share your Washington! Invite friends and family to visit our gorgeous region and you could win a year’s worth of in-state air tix PLUS two free tickets to anywhere Alaska Airline flies. Ends June 15, 2011.

Clipper Vacations is celebrating 25 years in the boat business; the fleet’s ships ferry people throughout the Puget Sound. Win a three-city, three-night tour of the Northwest’s best spots — the winner will enjoy a night in Victoria, Vancouver and Seattle, free transportation and free activities (such as a visit to Butchart Gardens and a guided tour of Seattle’s Pike Place Market). Ends June 30, 2011.

Win a Leavenworth Staycation from Seattle Perks Prize-a-Thon. Ends May 12, 2011.

Win a night at Hotel Murano or the Seattle Sheraton, win tickets to top attractions, plus gift cards from Tourism Revealed: Puget Sound. Ends May 31, 2011.

Win $200 RainierBucks to use on a Mt. Rainier stay via Visit Rainier.

Win a night’s stay in Leavenworth via the Best Western Icicle Inn. Ongoing, monthly winner.

Win round-trip airfare plus two nights stay in Seattle (or Portland) and farm-to-table experiences with Tully’s Discovery Getaway. Ends May 31, 2011.

British Columbia Trip Contests and Giveaways:

Clipper Vacations is celebrating 25 years in the boat business; the fleet’s ships ferry people throughout the Puget Sound. Win a three-city, three-night tour of the Northwest’s best spots — the winner will enjoy a night in Victoria, Vancouver and Seattle, free transportation and free activities (such as a visit to Butchart Gardens and a guided tour of Seattle’s Pike Place Market). Ends June 30, 2011.

The MV Coho is giving away two free round-trip tickets for car and driver to Victoria, British Columbia; once there, the winners will enjoy two nights at the Hotel Grand Pacific and events at the Victoria International Cycling Festival Events. Contest ends May 27, 2011; Tickets must be used June 10th-12th.

Hey mountain bikers. Ride on FOX Racing Shox in Whistler and win five nights accommodations, a ride with Fox Racing Shox rider Andrew Shandro, an adventure activity and a $100 dining voucher. Ends June 30, 2011.

Tourism Vancouver Island collects and posts island-wide contests — there’s always a Vancouver Island resort offering a free night’s stay somewhere. Ongoing.

Party of Five to Pride Sweepstakes. A celebration of Vancouver’s Pride Weekend with two nights shared accommodations for five people (in two connecting Superior Rooms) at the chic OPUS Hotel Vancouver on the edge of Davie Village, and a gift of $500 worth of culinary bliss at Raincity Grill Restaurant.

Win airfare to Los Angeles, then an Amtrak Coast Starlight trip from L.A. to Seattle, then a connecting train from Seattle to BC. (Whew, are you tired yet? You also get $500.) This trip sweepstakes is courtesy of Wild Horse Canyon wines. BC residents only. Closes May 15, 2011.

Did I miss a giveaway? E-mail me at lora AT cascadiakids.com or leave a comment below.

What You Need to Do in March: 7 things to put on your calendar

Want to plan for an awesome spring and summer? Achieve a few (or all) of these items in March:

  1. Make your camping reservations for this summer, if you haven’t done so yet. Reserve through Washington State Park Online Reservation Service (Washington) or Reserve America for Oregon. They’re going fast – when I checked, availability was very limited at some popular parks. The scramble for BC campsite and yurt reservations starts on March 15 at 7 a.m. PST at the BC Camping Reservation Service (Discover Camping). Read more on camping with kids in Washington State, camping with kids in British Columbia and camping with kids in Oregon.
  2. Book your room for hot summer properties: Oregon Coast, Whistler and Leavenworth. Particularly if you’re planning for a popular summer weekend.
  3. Decide which weekend you’re going to set aside for your local family tulip festival and make plans, just in case spring arrives early (here’s to hoping!).
  4. Go on a weekend daytrip to break up a rainy month; we have suggestions for Portland and Seattle.
  5. Play with kids in the snow before it melts away. Even if you have to drive up to the Cascades for the afternoon.
  6. Take advantage of off-season Priceline rates in the big cities: Portland, Vancouver, Seattle. Or take advantage of shoulder-season rates at one of the NW’s popular year-round destinations: Oregon Coast, Whistler, Mt. Hood and Victoria (you won’t find excellent Priceline deals in these cities, although Whistler sometimes offers a few).
  7. Enjoy this month’s free (or discounted) museums and attractions in Portland and Seattle.

Free & Cheap Fun with Kids for Winter Holiday Break

What are you doing this week? Check out these lists of great cheap and free fun in our region — and maybe add a few more of your own. These lists were written in summer, so you’ll have to gloss over some suggestions and skip those fountains (brr). But you should find plenty of fantastic activities here. And if you’ve already done everything in your own city, plan a weekend getaway trip to a nearby city and take advantage of their fab freebies:

Best Kids’ Bookstores in Cascadia

35 Free and Cheap Things to Do with Kids in Vancouver, BC

10 Things to Do with Kids in Vancouver (Rainy Day Edition)

35 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Victoria, BC with Kids

Free Museums in Seattle and Tacoma

35 Free and Cheap Things to Do with Kids in Seattle

35 Free and Cheap Things to Do with Kids in Portland, Oregon

Portland Freebies: Free and Cheap Portland Attractions

Daytrip! Four Portland day trips with kids

On certain winter weekends, you’re cooped up inside the house, kids bickering and frustrated while the rain pounds outside.

Sounds like it’s time for a daytrip.

A daytrip is a break from the usual routine. Hop in the car for an hour or so, motoring down the freeway and along country lanes. Enjoy a movie or a museum or a hot chocolate (or all three). Bring a change of clothes in case the kids want to play at a park (despite rain or snow). Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore daytrips based out of the Portland, Vancouver and Seattle metro areas.

Home Base: Portland

Oregon Coast with kids daytrip

Take Hwy 26 out to Seaside and Cannon Beach, where the kids can fly kites, make mud castles and storm-watch from the warm safety of a café. Or make your way out west toward Tillamook, Ore., and tour the Tillamook Visitors Center before visiting the quiet little towns of Rockaway Beach and Manzanita.

Time one-way: About 90 minutes.

Mt. Hood with kids daytrip

Take Hwy 26 east to Portland’s beloved mountain and take a free tour of Timberline Lodge, counting animals you find hidden in ironwork, woodwork and on the mountain. Play in the snow, drink hot chocolate at the lodge, then go to Government Camp and stop for a brief 10-minute self-guided tour of Mt. Hood Cultural Center and Museum (check out those tiny, vintage hiking shoes from an elementary-aged mountain climber).

Time one way: About 90 minutes

N. Bonneville Hot Springs with kids daytrip

Fed up with the rain? A day pass to the Bonneville Hot Springs offers a pool and two jetted hot tubs featuring heated, sulfate-rich water. Weekdays are the deal here, though ($15/3 hour pass for adults), and weekends incur significantly higher rates ($25/3 hours pass for adults). Kids under age 2 are free, and the Family Swim Time runs on Sundays from 1:30-7:30. Post pool, head into Stevenson, Wash. (my hometown!) to visit the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center or a meal at the upscale Skamania Lodge.

Time one way: About an hour

Salem with kids daytrip

Head to the Oregon state capitol to enjoy A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village, an interactive children’s museum, the Riverfront Carousel and an indoor playground featuring four themes (trains, princess, music and market).

Time one way: About an hour

Our winner of the Roche Harbor Resort Stay is…

From over 300 incredibly enthusiastic entries, we drew Jennifer Koel as our winner for the two-night stay at Roche Harbor Resort! Congrats Jennifer.

If you didn’t win, but still want to go, please check the resort’s deals and packages page.

And next month, we’re going to give away yet another fantastic stay package, including dining credit and spa treatment…it’s a place I’ve covered before…and it’s a resort…hmmm…

A Family Resort Giveaway for San Juan Island!

This may be my best giveaway yet!

When a friend or family member says they want to get away and escape the everyday – but not take a flight necessarily, or head abroad – I recommend Roche Harbor Resort. The resort is a gem set amongst the San Juan Islands, about 30 minutes from Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island. Take a ferry (or a floatplane, if you must) and you’re far away from school, work or other worries.

Cascadia Kids is hosting a giveaway for a two-night stay at Roche Harbor Resort. You and your family will enjoy staying at one of the property’s 800 sq. ft. Historic Company Town Cottages – near the pool and playground.

Company Town Cottage

Company Town Cottages at Roche Harbor Resort

These cottages go for between $199-339 a night, and are worth every penny. You get a two-bedroom cottage all to yourself (and the kids), along with a fully equipped kitchen for cooking your farm-fresh purchases. A BBQ and picnic table offers outdoor dining as well.

Kitchen in a Company Town Cottage

While at Roche Harbor, you can enjoy the resort’s family activities, like a scavenger hunt (with an ice-cream prize), a historic walking tour, hiking or whale watching. I can certainly vouch for the Roche Harbor doughnuts served up at Lime Kiln Café as a total kid-pleaser.

Boats parked in Roche Harbor

As I wrote in my book, Northwest Kid Trips: Portland, Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, I love the resort’s grand historic feel (the signature “Hotel De Haro” was constructed back in 1886 as part of a company town) and waterside setting. But there’s also plenty of modernity to be found – just visit the 19-acre sculpture park.

If you win the prize, you can reach Roche Harbor by taking a Washington State Ferry, the Clipper (passenger ferry to Friday Harbor; May-Sept only, includes whale-watching) or by Kenmore Air’s seaplane. Transportation is not included in this giveaway; the ferry is the cheapest option.

To Enter: Leave a comment on this blog, below, describing what you’d like to do on San Juan Island with your kids.

Bonus Entry: Tweet “San Juan Island giveaway to @rocheharbor on @cascadiakids. #Contest” PLEASE RETURN and post a note that you’ve tweeted, in case I somehow miss your Twitter entry.

Extra Bonus Entry: Sign up for the Cascadiakids.com e-mail newsletter. PLEASE RETURN and post a note that you’ve subscribed, in case I miss your new subscription entry.

Want another chance at winning an incredible prize? Check out Passports with Purpose. PWP raises money for a good cause (tax deductible!) while giving away amazing prizes (like a hotel stays in the Caribbean!).

Rules:

This contest begins today, December 8, 2010, and ends at 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time on Tuesday, December 15, 2010. On or about December 16, 2010, the winner will be selected at random from all eligible entries received on this page’s comments, using Random.org. The winner will be notified by e-mail on or around December 16. Please ensure that you have entered the correct e-mail address in your entry. Your e-mail will not be sold or displayed.

If no response is received from the first-drawn winner within one week (7 days), the first winner will forfeit the prize and another entrant will be selected at random using Random.org. The value of the two-night hotel stay is ( $850.00) and the Roche Harbor Resort has provided a gift certificate for the giveaway.

The prize is valid for a two-night stay in a Company Town Cottage at Roche Harbor Resort. The room must be redeemed by December 30, 2011, but is not valid in July, August and certain high-occupancy weekends. Other restrictions may apply. Please reserve your room as soon as possible.

The prize information must be presented when making reservations. There is no cash value. There are no substitutions. The prize is not transferable. Guests are responsible for transportation to San Juan Island. The winner is solely responsible for any national, state, provincial or city taxes incurred. Sweepstakes void where prohibited by law. Entrants must be age 18 and over and residing in the U.S or Canada.

If a resident of Canada is selected as a winner, they will be required to correctly answer, without assistance of any kind, whether mechanical or otherwise, a timed, mathematical skill-testing question (3*6)+(12/2)-8 to be administered by Lora Shinn by e-mail before the awarding of the prize.

By participating in the “Roche Harbor Resort” giveaway, you release and agree to hold harmless CascadiaKids.com subsidiaries, affiliates, directors, (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any liability whatsoever for any claims, costs, injuries, losses, or damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the getaway or acceptance, possession, or use of any prize (including, without limitation, claims, costs, injuries and losses related to personal injuries, death, damage to or destruction of property, rights of publicity or privacy, whether intentional or unintentional), whether under a theory of contract, tort (including negligence), warranty or other theory.

CascadiaKids.com or the administrator is not liable for technical error, omissions or Internet inaccessibility.

I did not accept money, services or gratuities in exchange for this giveaway. I requested the giveaway prize, because I like the hotel and think it’s a good match for CascadiaKids readers.

Good luck!

My Passports with Purpose Picks

So, you’ve probably heard about the great Passports with Purpose program, which is raising thousands to build a village in India. What should you bid on? Here are my picks for the Pacific Northwest-centric donations and raffles. I mean, of course you can also bid on excellent options like Caribbean vacations, but these all have that unique NW stamp and should appeal to families. A few are for mom and dad only, though!

Click here to enter into the giveaway for one of these prizes:

Clothing

Keen shoes or sandals. Because every Cascadia woman has at least a pair in her closet.

Electronics

Amazon Kindle E-Book Reader. Because you need a great book on the Amtrak between Vancouver and Seattle.

Apple iPad 16 GB Wi-Fi + 3G. And you need an iPad too.

Bakery Nouveau Gift Certificate. Seattle pastries + super-cute West Seattle neighborhood = Great idea.

Hotels

Hotel 1000 Stay and Spa Package.  An overnight Seattle stay, spa treatment and indoor golf for two our for up to 40 PEOPLE. That is a little wacky and cool.

B&B package at Fairmont Olympic, Seattle. This is a giveaway for a drop-dead gorgeous 450-square foot room. And breakfast. And valet parking.

Hotel Monaco One-Night Stay in Seattle. Hey, this one is mine! Stay at one of my favorite Seattle hotels for families.

SageCliffe Resort Weekend Getaway. Sick of the rain? Drive over Washington’s mountains and enjoy a retreat at a deluxe winery.

Lakefront Room at the Woodmark Hotel (Kirkland, Wash.). Just 10-20 minutes from Seattle, if you win the Woodmark, you’ll be blessed with a lovely location and a few surprising extras…

Two night Getaway to Juniper Lane Guest House, San Juan Island. A great pick for Victoria, BC or Northwest Washington residents, this stay is a two-night grownups-only score.

One night at Seattle’s Hotel Andra. How about a night in the hip Hotel Andra? Yeah, that’s awesome.

Other

2 Adult/2 Child 3-Day Go Cards (city of winner’s choice). Use this card on your next Seattle trip – it offers admission to an incredible number of the city’s family-friendly attractions.

Two Walrus and Carpenter Picnic Tickets. Have you ever gone oyster harvesting? At night? One of those do-it-before-you-die PacNW experiences. 

Travel Gear

SteriPEN Adventurer Opti with Solar Charging Case – Water Purifier. A steripen will come in handy for all of your Pacific NW camping excursions.

Vacation Packages

Portland Perks Travel Package. This package – worth $500 – is a total steal. Includes two-night stay, free breakfast, free parking and a Portland coupon book.

Willows Lodge-Barking Frog-Wine tour. A Woodinville retreat (not far from Seattle) and dinner for two, plus a tour. Nom.

Two-night stay at any Kimpton hotel. Ooh, you know I love those Kimptons (the parent hotel of the Monaco I offered above).

One note: If you have any questions about when your stay would be valid, you should ask the hosting bloggers. Last year, I won a two-night stay in Vancouver but didn’t know it had to be used in the next two months (Jan-Feb), which caused some logistical issues. It was a great stay, nonetheless, partially because they bent the rules to allow a March visit. But I might’ve bid differently had I known.

Did I miss anything? Yes? Let me know!

Click here to enter into the giveaway for one of these prizes.

Where to Go for U.S. Thanksgiving Getaways

Not everyone heads across the country (or county) to visit relatives at Thanksgiving. If you’re looking for a four-day getaway, here are a few ideas:

A four-star hotel Thanksgiving stay in Vancouver, BC:

The obvious benefit of traveling to Canada? Canadians don’t celebrate U.S. Thanksgiving any more than they celebrate the Fourth of July. Which means schools are in session and hotel rooms are plentiful. You can breeze in and out of museums (like Science World) and attractions without fighting the hordes of summer or school’s-out masses.  I love Vancouver’s rainy day attractions and almost always get the perfect, upscale Priceline hotel for a great price (typically around $80/nt).

Don’t miss: Robson Street holiday shopping with kids is a fine idea, on the day after Thanksgiving.

A four-day stay in Victoria, BC:

All the bennies of Canada, but with more traditional small-town charm. Many Victoria shops have their Christmas décor up, and you can even do a little shopping without fighting crowds.  Attractions like Butchart Gardens offer discounted fall entrance fees and hotels are about half the price of a summer stay. Take the Clipper if you want a car-free Victoria vacation or bring the car (we typically do) if you want to stay completely dry. Don’t miss the Fairmont Empress’s Festival of Trees, which features dozens of beautiful and wacky decorated trees.

Don’t miss: Discovering 35 free and cheap things to do with kids in Victoria.

A tree that even a toddler can love, at the Festival of Trees

A pre-season Thanksgiving vacation in Whistler:

In December, the crowds descend upon Whistler. But this year, it’s already snowed several times in the village, and there’s plenty of fluffy stuff on top of the mountains. Village hotel prices are still reasonable, the kids’ ski clubs are open and the village is completely sane (vs. INSANE in peak season). The only downer: cross-country skiing is not open. We typically visit Whistler every year at Thanksgiving and find a decent deal through the Suite Secrets program.

Don’t miss: Taking the awesome Peak 2 Peak.

A discount Thanksgiving stay in Portland:

So, most shops will be closed in Portland on Thanksgiving and the shopping madness begins the day after (as typical in the U.S.). However, you should find a great three-night stay through Priceline, and Powell’s Books will be open for business – so you can take the kids and hang out in the cozy children’s area and the coffeeshop. For Thanksgiving dinner, I like the McMenamins’ buffets, which serves up heaps of goodies for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Don’t Miss: Once Thanksgiving Day is over, there are all those wonderful kid-friendly restaurants and kid-friendly, affordable attractions.

The Washington or Oregon Coast:

If you’re inside the just-right hotel or condo, a coastal Thanksgiving offers spectacular natural beauty mixed with cozy indoor stay. A few recommendations for a coastal getaway include Newport, Ore., (incredible views at the Hallmark Hotel and great kid-friendly attractions, including the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Hatfield Marine Science Center); Cannon Beach, Ore. (read more on my activities for Cannon Beach); and the Westport area (if you want a beach to yourself — this is your spot, and there are a few rooms left at Vacation By the Sea).

Don’t miss: Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, seen in the photo at the right.

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving weekend getaway in the Northwest or Canada? Where do you like to go?

30 Things to Do with Kids in Walla Walla

Walla Walla, a cute little Washington State college town, offers wonderful family activities and an escape from big-city stress. This week, we talk with Walla Walla resident Ben to discover more about this Eastern Washington burg.

Why do you like Walla Walla?

Ben: We love Walla Walla because it really is a beautiful town with lush parks and a vibrant downtown.  We enjoy a full four seasons here, from a hot summer to clear, crisp fall days, often snowy winters and our gorgeous spring (when the dogwood trees bloom in April it’s particularly nice!). We have a strongly diversified local economy; while many national retailers have come and gone, our locally-owned small businesses have flourished.

We have no mall (a sore point for some) so its in our historic downtown, outdoors on the sidewalks, in the parks or at the farmer’s market where people gather and things happen. Also, thanks to our three colleges and growing wine tourism, we have a great arts scene.  Sometimes we wish for a culture that is more ethnically diverse, but for the size of our town and its distance from any major city, Walla Walla really has a lot to offer families.

What do you like to do with your daughter in Walla Walla?

Ben: My daughter’s favorite activity is to go to the farmers market downtown on weekends then walk down Main Street to the toy storecandy storybook store, or get a snack at the Patisserie.

We have a Children’s museum that has a fun range of exhibits and an outdoor play area. My daughter’s favorite thing at the Children’s Museum is probably the model of the Walla Walla Watershed in the “Our Powerful Valley” exhibit.  There’s something about playing with water and sand that I think just about every kid loves.  She also spends a lot of time in the kid-sized supermarket and Italian restaurant.

Fort Walla Walla Museum is excellent for school age children interested in history.  The museum has a lot of interesting history to tell, particularly with the weekly living history performances where a knowledgeable expert will pose as someone significant from our local history.  But those are probably more interesting to people with a longer attention span than a preschooler.  My daughter did enjoy looking in the homes and school house in the pioneer village, but her favorite thing was the new playground styled like a fort.  It is a pretty fun playground.

With all the agriculture in the area, some of the most fun things for kids are seasonal open farm days or harvest times around the valley.  The ones we frequent are Blue Mountain Lavender FarmKlickers for strawberries, pumpkins, and Christmas trees, Lampson blueberries, Wheatland Alpaca FarmWalla Walla Corn Maze, Dixie Hummingbird farm, and the Sweet Onion festival.

Walla Walla lavender farm

Three local colleges and our long-running symphony add a lot to our arts and culture scene. We have great opportunities for kids interested in music, theatre, dance, and art, as well as gymnastics and team sports. For visitors, this means many weekends offer performances or games of some sort that are worth checking out. There may not be many options on any given weekend, but between the schools, the Symphony, the Little Theatre, Fort Walla Walla Amphitheater, the Sports Complex, or our new Walla Walla Sweets Baseball team there’s usually something going on.

One of my favorite times to tell people to visit town is during our Balloon Stampede in May.  The balloons are always fun to watch, especially for younger kids, though you have to get up early in the morning.

Can you recommend any great kid-friendly restaurants?

Ben: My daughter will enthusiastically tell you that her favorite food is the chicken satay at Thai Ploy (311 South 9th Avenue; 509-525-0971), our favorite of three local Thai restaurants.   A close runner up is the pesto pizza at Sweet Basil Pizzeria.  She also loves getting soup at downtown’s perennial business-lunch favorite, Stone Soup.

Her top dessert stop is for gelato at Colville Street Patisserie, where they are constantly offering new and interesting flavors.  She even loved avocado.

More suggestions:

Tiki Teriaki Grill – Fun Hawaiian ambiance

Ice-Burg Drive-In – Great local burger joint, outdoor seating only.

Walla Walla Bread Company – good pastries, soups, and now cupcakes.

Dora’s Deli at the Worm Ranch – Delicious authentic Mexican.

Clarette’s Restaurant – A local favorite for breakfasts. We like the pumpkin pancakes.

His Garden Bakery & Café in College Place – Great vegetarian food and fresh juices.

Do you have any favorite parks in Walla Walla?

(Addresses and more information about Walla Walla parks)

Pioneer Park – great for community events (July 4th, Easter, and others) at the bandstand, good playground, aviary, duck ponds, small sledding hill in winter

Fort Walla Walla Park – fun place to watch or do various activities: wildlife preserve, skateboard park, disc golf course, bicycle motocross track, model car track, model airplane field, and an amphitheater that hosts an annual Summer Musical and Shakespeare play.

Jefferson Park – good place to go with take-out from the Ice Burg.  Modern playground, fishing pond.

Rooks Park / Bennington Lake Recreation Area – nice hiking trails, close to town.

Walla Walla Community College has a great field for flying kites on windy days and the campus of Whitman College is fun for walking & exploring.

Thanks, Ben! Readers, if you have any tips on where to go with kids in Walla Wall, let me know.