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Summer Southend-Style

Summer Southend-Style
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In Seattle the 4th of July kicks off summer. School has been officially out for a week or two and the weather tends to be a little more predictable. If you have young people at home then you are searching for ways to occupy them. As a lifetime Seattle resident I am aware of many free and low cost activities – as I participate in many in my youth. Yes, some are that old… Here are some activities to keep your children and guests busy this summer:

On Wednesdays the Columbia City Farmer’s Market is open from 3-7 p.m. the Renton Farmer’s Market is open Tuesdays during the same hours. In addition to the latest produce and the absolute best prices on that bouquet of flowers that you are so deserving of, both markets have cooking demonstrations, community booths with local information, entertainment and activities for kids. They are also both located in vibrant walkable communities. You can sign-up for email alerts that will let you know what is in the market for the week and what activities are planned.

As it has done for ages, Seattle Public Libraries hosts its Summer Reading Program. This program is available for children, teens and adults and encourages reading, a life-long habit that we can all embrace. I have a friend who has just started a family reading group. The entire family selects a book and they take turns reading out loud to each other. Plus, every community library hosts a variety of other free activities, from readings, to games, to computer access. If you have not visited a library in a while, stop by one close to you and sign up for some of the amazing and free activities they sponsor. I “heart” the public library system.

Seattle Parks and Recreation offers numerous activities that are free or low cost. Including, the Summer Art in the Park Program, Extended Recreational Program and the FREE summer sack lunch program at Lakeridge Playground, 10145 Rainier Avenue South. This is the park adjacent to Pizzeria Pulcinella (a great place for lunch or dinner). Lunches are free for children 18 and younger, so if you know of a family that can use this resource be sure to let them know. The art and recreation programs at Lakeridge programs are all free and run Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition, Parks offers free swim lessons weekdays, at all of our Summer Beaches. Pritchard, Seward Park, Mt. Baker and Madonna Beaches offer mid-day (12:15-12:45) and evening (6:00-6:45) lessons, for youth ages 6-16. My children have both been guards at our south end beaches and as a child I took advantage of the free swim lessons, so I can attest that rain or shine your children will enjoy the opportunity to learn how to swim in a lake. All beaches are guarded from noon-7 weekdays and 11-7 on weekends. Bring a book and relax or meditate at one of our public lake front beaches while the children in your life enjoy free swim lessons. You deserve the break.

I must not forget FREE outdoor movie nights. Over the years more and more communities have hosted movie nights. You bring your own-preferably low back chairs or blanket and spread out on the lawn with snacks. This is a nice way to spend a summer evening and meet new friends. We have our own movie nights on our back deck. We have several classic VHS movies and a very small TV with a build in player-so we host ourselves. We had a Russian exchange student who electronically “hooked us up” and we had a large screen (painter’s canvas) in the back yard to watch. In addition to free outdoor movie nights, there are also free concerts in several local parks. You can find listings on-line. Some are promoted in time to make summer publications, but not all, so watch for signs and posters.

There are many, many more free and fun activities for you and your family to enjoy. Try gardening and hosting an outdoor dinner party with your produce. It is not too late to start a garden and most garden centers have major discounts on fruits, veggies and plants now. Walk your neighborhood and get to know folks. Our neighborhoods become safe havens when your neighbors know you and your children. There is Bicycle Sunday when Lake Washington Blvd to Mt. Baker Beach is closed to traffic. This is pure family fun. You can bike, skate or walk the boulevard and find the ideal spot on the lake for a picnic lunch or snacks. There are also several trails to walk and hike. There are kid friendly trails at Seward, Lakeridge (Dead Horse Canyon), Mt. Baker and Martha Washington Parks and Pritchard Beach.

This is just a sampling of the many activities that you and your family can take part in without putting a major dent in the family budget. And as I have stated before they are not really free, they are your tax dollars at work, so enjoy! And, have a “safe and sane” summer.

Photos by Gene Bisbee

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