12 Places Where Kids of All Abilities Can Play

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Get ready to play! We’ve rounded up the best inclusive playgrounds and programs around Seattle so you can take the planning out of your next outing and let your little adventurer do what they do best—be a kid. Our guide includes all abilities playgrounds, low-sensory museum programs and more, all focused on entertainment and fun for kids of all abilities. Touch, laugh, play and create memories at these thoughtfully designed destinations.

Where to Play Outside

John McKenzie, Bainbridge Community Broadcasting

KidsUp! The Next Generation of Play

This newly opened playground on Bainbridge Island is a sailor’s dream! So get ready to set sail. The playground is built around a giant ferry boat play structure that is a whopping 47-feet. The inclusive design and sea-themed elements within the playground are going to ignite your child’s inner sea captain. The imaginative, Pacific Northwest-inspired design is full of elements that will get your kiddos moving, like climbable orcas, a Lookout Pier and a creature of the deep who calls the sandy play area home (shhh…don’t tell your kids, but it’s an octopus). The playground also features a wheelchair-friendly We-Go-Round spinner and other play equipment perfect for children at every development. All playground areas are accessible and include soft surfaces, great if your kiddo takes a tumble. Other fun elements include a Trike Track and Sound Garden.

Battle Point Park
11299 Arrow Point Dr. N.E.
Bainbridge Island, WA
Online: biparksfoundation.org

Kathryn Mueller

Inspiration Playground

Downtown Bellevue Park, also called Inspiration Playground, is a colorful and whimsical play area, accessible to kids of all ages and abilities. It’s a beautiful urban oasis near the city’s downtown. The playground features play structures for big and small kiddos, which are divided into different sprawling sections. The nature-inspired playground equipment will certainly excite imagination and have little feet pitter-pattering with joy as they explore the play areas hidden wonders and interactive features. Children will have fun exploring climbing walls, slides, high back swings, an in-ground trampoline and ample other play structures that meet the needs of both wee-ones and older kiddos. The soft rubberized ground that covers the expansive playground is great for cushioning impact and for navigating from one piece of equipment to another. The park is also home to a water table and water play area to keep kiddos cool in the summer.

The playground is one of the many attractions of the vast 21-acre park. The larger park includes a 240-foot-wide waterfall and reflecting pond, plus ample seating for parents and caregivers. It’s home to many friendly ducks., too, and the 10-acre lawn is great for picnics or to let your kiddos run wild (be sure to wear comfy running shoes!).

Insider tip: Leave your pups at home. Dogs are not allowed in the playground area.

Good to know: There is a parking lot in front of the playground, but the park is very popular, so it’s often full. Street parking is also available. Restrooms are conveniently located next to the playground as well and include a family restroom.

10201 N.E. 4th St.
Bellevue, WA 
Online: parks.bellevuewa.gov

Whitney Stohr

Meadow Crest

Meadow Crest Playground in Renton was designed with inclusion in mind. It serves the Meadow Crest Early Learning Center next door. Although it’s not open to the public during the day Mondays through Thursdays, don’t let that deter you. This colorful, nature inspired playground is full of engaging and interactive activities. You won’t miss the giant caterpillar that is just one of the many critters coaxing visitors to climb on them. The playground is divided into four different areas, each catering to a different age range. Little tikes can bang on oversized instruments and let their imagination run wild playing with other tactile and sensory equipment. Older kiddos can climb, swing, bounce and sway in the zone designed for kids 5 to 12 years old. The park is completely accessible, and the soft rubberized surface is great for kids who use a wheelchair. There is also a nature play area with balancing logs and an adorable bear cub. There are plenty of places to sit as well. Pack a picnic and plan to stay awhile!

Hours: Open to the public Fri.-Sun., dawn to dusk; Mon.-Thurs., after 4:30 p.m.

Meadow Crest Early Learning Center
1800 Index Ave. N.E.
Renton, WA 
Online: rentonwa.gov

Kathryn Mueller

Woodland Park Zoo

Lions, tiger, bears, oh my! Those are just a few of the incredible animals you’ll see at the Woodland Park Zoo. And there’s so much more to do—literally 92 acres of it! The zoo is a great place to go with your kids to learn about wild animals, conservation and foster their imagination. It is a big zoo though, so it’s okay if you don’t have time to see everything in one day. For families with sensory sensitivities, zoo staff members have created a great guide to help families prepare for their visit and all the sights, sounds and smells that go along with it (like fish). Small icons in the guide tell you if an exhibit may be smelly, include loud noises or feature lots of movement. Need to take a break from walking or strolling? There are lots of places to sit and relax as you make your way around the paved trails that loop around the zoo. Speaking of trails! The zoo’s winding trails are great for walking, running, waddling or wheeling around.

Good to know: There are also opportunities to feed some of the animals, including the penguins. For just $5 kids can feed four fish to a hungry and happy penguin. Feeding time occurs daily between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Insider tip: Weekdays are great if you want a less crowded experience, but be sure to pack lots of snacks. Concessions are limited during the weekdays. Bottle refill stations are sprinkled throughout the zoo, so also remember to bring your water bottle. Open air sensory areas, including the sensory garden (located next to the zoo), are open too.

Covid Info: To help stop the spread of illness, many indoor attractions are closed, so let your Littles know in advance that they may not be able to ride the carousel or go in indoor exhibits.

Hours: Daily, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: $17/adults; $11.50/kid; $9.50/kid (with disability); Free, kids 2 & under.
Parking: $12/maximum daily rate

5500 Phinney Ave. N.
Seattle, WA
Online: zoo.org

Kathryn Mueller

Miner’s Corner

Miner’s Corner playground is an accessible playground nestled in the woods of a vast 13-acre community park in Bothell. Children of all ages will enjoy exploring the outdoors and discovering all the hidden gems this park offers. Meandering trails weave through woods and a large prairie, all created to be accessible and nurture a sense of exploration and wonder. Blackberry brambles line some of the paved trails, and ponds are sprinkled throughout the park. At the playground, kiddos can climb up a massive, fully accessible lookout tower, get a little messy in the water and sand garden, spin around in the high-back roundabout or slide down the many slides. Miner’s Corner is a great place to foster creative, nature-based play. A picnic area, basketball court and large open fields are also available for play opportunities and a place to relax and eat lunch.

Good to know: Parking is available but is limited to three hours.

22903 45th Ave S.E.
Bothell, WA 
Online: snohomishcountywa.gov

Metro Parks Tacoma

STAR Center

This center gets a gold star (Get it?). The STAR Center’s outdoor playground is inclusive and great for year-round play. You’ll find slides, a wheelchair accessible teeter-totter, high back swings, and so many different tactile options for kiddos who want to touch their way around the playground. They even have a braille clock for kiddos who have visual impairments. Inside the STAR Center is another accessible playground great for engaging a child’s senses.

Choose your own adventure when you visit Treetops—the only indoor/outdoor playground in Washington! Expect a unique experience that will unleash your kiddo’s inner Tarzan and Jane! Let kids run free in the treetop play place or stay outside on the expansive outdoor playground that’s sure to nurture your kiddo’s curious spirit. Both the south end outdoor playground and Treetops are wheelchair accessible with rubberized surfaces and lots of unique elements to touch, bang, spin and more!

Insider tip: For the outdoor playground at Treetops, only closed-toe shoes are allowed. The playground is designed for children 44” or taller. Also, play time may be limited to 60 minutes based on capacity. The indoor course requires socks, so be sure to pack accordingly. If you forget, that’s okay. You can purchase socks there.

Good to know: There are also ample ADA restrooms with changing tables and places to relax around the playground when your kiddos have finally worn themselves out (Phew!).

SERA Playground and Sprayground
6002 S. Adams St.
Tacoma, WA 
Online: metroparkstacoma.org

Treetops
3873 S 66th St.
Tacoma, WA 
Online: metroparkstacoma.org

Hours: Mon., Wed &, Fri. 3-6 p.m.; Tue. & Thurs. 9 a.m.-noon.; Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: $5/person for non-members

Kathryn Mueller

Forest Park Playground

As you wind your way up the road that leads you to the Forest Park Playground, you might find yourself imagining you’re in an enchanted forest. The park is, as you might expect, surrounded by beautiful towering trees that will ignite your child’s fantastical imagination. There is plenty of parking, maintained bathrooms and covered picnic areas. Pack your lunch and make this a day trip. The playground is sprawling as are the limitless activities surrounding it. The artificial turf that makes up the foundation of the playground is great for kids who use wheelchairs.

The playground is full of activities that will excite your little musicians—drums, wind chimes and keyboards are all within reach. There are also sensory activities sprinkled around the playground that will delight kids of all ages, including brightly colored bees, butterflies and giant flowers. The playground also includes a We-Go-Round (a grounded merry-go-round) with easy access on and off and high back swings. The elephant (although she’s fake) is sure to be a crowd-pleaser too. She sits in the middle of the playground and serves as a focal point in an open area between two large play structures.

Insider tip: Adjacent to the playground is a splash park. Pack accordingly. It’s not open in the winter, but come the warmer days of summer, you’ll want to flock here. We recommend a change of clothing just in case.

Good to know: The playground is not enclosed, so you may have to track down your explorer if they decide to adventure to other parts of the park, including wooded trails, basketball courts and more.

802 E Mukilteo Blvd.
Everett, WA 98203
Online: everettwa.gov 

Metro Parks Tacoma

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Take your animal adventurers on a zoo trip they won’t forget! Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium offers opportunities for kids of all ages and abilities to enjoy animals up close. There are so many things to do, from animal encounters to immersive exhibits, we couldn’t choose what we were most excited about! Zookeeper chats engage children and families in the wonder of animals, goat feedings occur daily, and exhibits include the Artic Tundra, Red Wolf Woods, Rocky Shores, Asian Forest Sanctuary and more. Kiddos can also get their bodies moving at the playground. Whether they want to hop, jump, slide or slither like their favorite zoo animal, let them run wild. The zoo playground is also wheelchair friendly and paved surfaces around the zoo help make getting around a breeze.

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium provides free sensory bags for checkout. The bags include special KCVIP badges (KultureCity is a non-profit dedicated to supporting sensory accessibility and acceptance), fidget tools, noise canceling headphones and other resources, like a “feelings” card. Pick up a bag at no cost at the carousel, to the right inside the front gate. Zoo staff are also specially trained to assist people with sensory needs. To help plan your visit, you can also download “social stories” and visual schedules on the zoo’s website. The helpful guides make getting out the door and preparing your kids for a fun day out and about a little less stressful. Don’t worry, we know leaving the house can sometimes feel like preparing for a moon landing (we’re here to help).

Insider tip: Be sure to buy tickets ahead of time online, and you choose your time at checkout. Children 2 and under do not need timed online tickets. Parking is free, and tickets include the zoo and aquariums. Don’t forget your masks! Indoor activities require children ages 5 and up to wear a mask.  

Hours: Mon. & Thurs.-Sun., 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., closed Tues. & Weds., Oct. 1-Dec. 17. Daily, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Dec. 18-Jan. 2
Cost: $17/adults; $11.50/kid; $9.50/kid (with disability); Free, kids 2 & under.

5400 N. Pearl St.
Tacoma, WA 
Online: pdza.org

Where to Play Inside

We Rock the Spectrum via Yelp

We Rock the Spectrum

This gym’s tagline says it all: for all kids. We Rock the Spectrum in Bellevue is the perfect place to let your kid tap into his or her inner high-flying acrobat. Zip lines, carpet swings, crash pits—this place has it all. Children of all abilities can find equipment that calls to them. With so many to choose from, we honestly don’t know which one is our favorite. Did we mention the crash pit and zip line?! While the sensory equipment is designed to aid children with sensory disorders, all kiddos can benefit from the equipment the gym offers. The owners have been mindful to incorporate activities that can especially cater to children with neuro-diverse needs. The gym also features an arts and crafts area (a place caregivers may enjoy if they want to sit back and relax) and a quiet room in case kiddos need a place to calm their bodies. There are also trained staff members and volunteers available if you need an extra set of hands.

Insider tip: Snacks are allowed only in the front area of the gym. Also, shoes aren’t permitted in the play areas, so be sure to bring socks.

Good to know: Check the Open Play Time schedule online and pre-book your appointment. During open play time, a parent or guardian must be on the premises at all times.

Cost: $15/kid; $13/sibling

1910 132nd Ave. N.E., Suite #7
Bellevue, WA
425-223-5585
Online: werockthespectrumbellevue.com

Seattle Gymnastics Academy

Seattle Gymnastics Academy

Coach Kayla is super excited to meet your kiddos and help them unleash their inner gymnast (or just get some much needed energy out). Seattle Gymnastics Academy just launched a new addition to their Indoor Playground called Sensory Playground for kids ages 6-11. It is an open-gym program for kids with diverse sensory, attention and social needs. Kiddos who may find the indoor playground a bit too overwhelming during busy hours of the day will delight in play (and an environment) that has been created just for them. Open-gym means kids are welcome to play and be active as they please (safely and within rules, of course). Coach Kayla is there to provide guidance and assistance for kiddos or caregivers who may need an extra hand!

Good to know: Children must be accompanied by an adult and pre-registration is required for Sensory Playground.

Covid Info: Masks must be worn by everyone 2 & up, regardless of vaccination status, except when directed by SGA staff in accordance with safety guidelines. Starting on Oct. 25, SGA staff will begin asking for proof of vaccination or proof of a negative PCR test (completed within the past 3 days) to be presented as part of their health screening process for anyone entering the facilities 12 & up. This health order does not apply to children aged 11 or younger as they are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.

Hours: Sat., 1-2 p.m.
Cost: $10/session

12535 26th Ave. N.E.
Seattle, WA
Online: seattlegymnastics.com

KidsQuest Children’s Museum

KidsQuest Children’s Museum

KidsQuest Children’s Museum is a great place for your little movers and explores to get hands-on learning opportunities. When we say hands-on, we mean it! The museum features a whopping 25 exhibits for children of all ages and abilities. From water play to sky-high climbers, train tables to an actual big rig, the museum has exhibits kids will love! Honestly, it may be hard to leave the fun behind at the end of the day.

KidsQuest Museum is packed full of amazing programs that can be adapted for children of all abilities and sensory needs, including those who may be sensitive to light, noise and movement. Lights can be turned down in classrooms, and staff members can get out different materials to help make experiences tactile. The museum also has sensory bags that can be checked out at the front desk. The bags include, noise canceling headphones, sunglasses, fidget toys and a sensory story that helps kids and adults know what to expect during a visit to the museum.

Insider tip: The quietest times to visit are weekdays after 11:30 a.m. and during Free Low Sensory Afternoons (the third Thursday of every month at 3 p.m.). Register for tickets online and pick the start time that works best for your family. It’s as simple as pick, pack, play all day!

Good to know: Don’t feel like braving traffic? No worries. The museum also offers virtual at-home experiences for children, so whether you’re visiting in person or virtually, there is fun for everyone!

Covid Info: Per the King County mandate, starting Oct. 25, all visitors ages 12 & up must present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours to enter the museum. Masks are required for visitors 3 & up. Exceptions can be made for kids with special needs.

Hours: Wed. & Thur., 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun. 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Mon. & Tues.
Cost: $11/person

1116 108th Ave. N.E.
Bellevue, WA 
Online: kidsquestmuseum.org

Seattle Public Library

Inclusion Festival

The Inclusion Festival is open to anybody, and the programming is aptly named; it’s designed to be inclusive and accessible. It’s entirely virtual, so you can play from the comfort of home. The program run by Seattle Public Libraries (in partnership with The Arc of King County and Northwest Center) happens monthly, and each event centers around a different theme. Your kiddos will delight in learning new skills, making friends, grooving around the living room or going on virtual field trips. Previous events have included Yoga instructors, the Pacific Science Center, music and dance workshops and animal sanctuaries. Upcoming in December is an opportunity to get moving with the Special Olympics of Washington. Registration is required online for this free event that usually lasts about 90 minutes.

Depending on the program, the library mails accessibility kits out to participants prior to the event date. The kits provide materials and resources to support various ways of learning and participation. From visual schedules, shakers, sensory items and crafts, these kits will get your kiddos ready to play. Each event is live captioned, and events will also offer ASL.

Good to know: If you can’t wait for the next Inclusion Festival event (waiting is so hard sometimes), you can also check out dozens of virtual story times available on the Seattle Public Library Kids’ YouTube Channel. Kids can explore amazing places and learn new things through the power of storytelling. Catered for all ages and abilities, simply sit back and immerse your kiddos in virtual play anytime, anywhere!

Online: spl.org

Coming Soon

iStock

Eli’s Park Project

Eli’s Park, breaking ground in spring 2022, will be located just off the Burke-Gilman Trail in the Laurelhurst community. The park, inspired by a remarkable boy named Eli, will renovate the existing Burke-Gilman Playground Park and will be accessible, inclusive and nature-based. This community-led project is being designed with input from the community and is meant to be a space where all are welcome to play and relax. “It doesn’t matter how you choose to access the space; the important thing is, we can all do it differently and together.” They even have a teen advisory board supporting the project.

Two parallel paths will guide visitors through the park and engage park goers in interactive and diverse activities. The concept includes natural play spaces, a sensory garden, sand and water play, a picnic area, swings and more. The paved paths will be perfect for people who use wheelchairs, and the design of the park also includes feature that will help individuals with visual impairments explore the spaces as well.

Good to know: You can help support the park by purchasing A Home for Gnome, dedicated in memory of Eli, and written by his grandmother, June Vanderhoff.

5201 Sand Point Way N.E.
Seattle, WA 
Online: elispark.org

Seattle Office of Waterfront and Civic Projects

Pier 58 Waterfront Park

Seattle’s downtown waterfront is getting a revamp, and one of the many exciting new features will be a playground for kids, also breaking ground in 2022. The playground will be located on the new Pier 58 and will feature a kid-designed, sculptural playground that will entertain kids big and small, and be accessible to different mobility needs. Get ready to meet your kiddos newest playground companion, an 18-foot jellyfish-inspired climber complete with slides and sprawling tentacles. Other features will include swings and more climbing equipment. And let’s not forget about the view. It’s called waterfront for a reason. Get ready to sit back and take in Puget Sound’s beauty as kiddos enjoy the underwater-themed park. We’re sure the fun doesn’t stop there—with all the new renovations happening at the waterfront, it’ll be a day trip destination for locals and visitors alike!

Online: waterfrontseattle.org

—Kathryn Mueller

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