Back-to-school season is here which means finding cheap and free entertainment to get you through the last few weeks of summer break is a must. (Because who has money to spend on activities when you’ve got new shoes and clothes to buy along with a school supply list a mile long.) That’s why we rounded up six parks that are worthy of the drive to get to and are guaranteed to keep everyone in your crew busy for hours. Read on and get ready to plan a day (or two!) at the park.

Artists at Play Playground at Seattle Center – Seattle, Wa

OK, so we know this isn't exactly a park. But located between MoPop (formerly EMP) and The Armory at the Seattle Center lies one of the most inventive playgrounds ever built called Artists at Play. And it's definitely worthy of a play date before the school bells ring. The interactive play space was designed by two local artists and goes way beyond your standard swings and slides playground. Try out the musical instrument-inspired stations and the sound swings. Then, climb up a net to the top of the 35-foot tall tower and slide down the long tube slides (which by the way, are some of the longest in the country). If you (or your kids) work up a sweat, cool down at the International Fountain which presents continuous 12-minute long water shows synchronized to a variety of music. The shows are hypnotic and the water beckons for visitors to come down and splash around awhile. Psst... avoid parking fees by taking the bus or hopping on light rail or the monorail. Or better yet, go on Sunday and take advantage of free street parking.

305 Harrison St.
Seattle, Wa 98109

photo: Jessica T. via Yelp

Pack a Lunch
All six of these destinations make for great picnics areas, with or without a table. Don’t worry about being too fancy either. Pack some sandwiches or some lunch meat and cheese sticks and let the Littles roll their own lunch.

Pack a Few Extra Supplies
You can never have too many wet wipes and paper towels on hand for whatever you kids might get into. Also, think about sunscreen, Band-Aids and anything that might spoil your day if you have to leave early.

Pack Extra Clothes
Living in Seattle is unpredictable and with most of these parks, there is a good chance you’ll get wet. Be sure to pack a towel and a hoodie (in case it gets chilly) and a change of clothes is always a good idea.

Does your family have a favorite park to visit during the summer months? Tell us in the comments below.  

— Jeffrey Totey

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