These tawny frogmouths have sent you a meeting invitation.
These tawny frogmouths have sent you a meeting invitation. Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Stuck at home with kids who would be at school if the world wasn’t ending? My heart goes out to you. With many youngsters having to do remote learning and parents having to work from home for the foreseeable future, it’s hard to fathom just how bonkers family members will be driving each other this fall.

But hey, wouldn’t it be nice to get out of the house for a day, take the kids on a field trip, see something new instead of staring at Zoom meetings? Lucky for you, you caretaker of small humans, Seattle has a whole bunch of educational destinations that are sure to be more edifying than all-day video calls. Whether you’re a harried parent or a befuddled gay uncle, if you’ve been charged with the wellbeing and education of a child, there’s no reason to stay at home when there’s a big wide fascinating city at your disposal.

The Woodland Park Zoo

Take a nice outdoor stroll through this charming facility and gander at a gander. Or a bear or a penguin or a butterfly. There are nearly a thousand creatures at the Woodland Park Zoo to learn about, and almost the entire place is open (some touch-intensive exhibits are temporarily off-limits). Masks are required for anyone over 5, and you should get tickets in advance because they’re limiting attendance. Please say hello to the tapirs for me.

Tide Pools

That it. Just tide pools. No tickets needed, just go splash around and look at weird slimy gunk where the water laps against the shore. The Washington Trails Association has a helpful resource on tide pooling with young people — stuff to bring, stuff to learn about, stuff to watch out for — and we’ve got a wealth of fascinating wet areas all around the region. Head over to Constellation Park, Golden Gardens, Salt Creek, or Double Bluff Beach on your own time; or coordinate with the Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalist Program.

The Seattle Aquarium

Speaking of the aquarium, they’re open now too, with ticketing and limited attendance. You can spend a whole day there just staring at puffins and jellies and octopodes. Oh and did I mention they have otters? THEY HAVE OTTERS. How are we not all hanging out there right now?


One of my friends just got into geocaching — basically an informal decentralized treasure hunt — and I’m in awe of the adventures it’s led her on so far. The idea is that regular citizens hide a little container with prizes somewhere in the world, then make the GPS coordinates available in a database, and then other regular folks can go find it and exchange prizes of their own with the container. There’s dozens of hidden caches all over the city if you know where to look, and it’s such a relief to see the city through new eyes.

University of Washington Botanic Gardens

Organized walking tours have been called off for now, so the garden has made self-guided adventures available instead. Download the guides ahead of time and then head out into nature to spend some time learning about seeds, gathering materials to build a fairy house, making dyes from natural ingredients, and chasing squirrels. Yes, really, one of the guides is all about chasing squirrels.


The weird metallic swirl in the shadow of the Space Needle is re-opening on September 18 with enhanced safety protocols. Current exhibits will include “Body of Work: Tattoo Culture” and “Minecraft: The Exhibition,” which will either be exciting for kids or else they’ll be like “Minecraft is for old people” and you will crumble into dust. The museum’s continuing its virtual events as well, including the PopCon conference (featuring Alanis Morissette!) and a movie screening series (for which I’ll be co-hosting the showing of Hairspray).