The Hands On Children's Museum opens a window to the world for youngsters. Its exhibits are all about interactive learning, whether that means role playing at a farmer's market, operating a play fire engine, or climbing a tree house to build a flying machine. These activities are part of 150 total exhibits in nine themed galleries that focus on healthy living, the arts, building, and outdoor exploration. The Puget Sound gallery features an eight-foot vortex and two-story cargo ship to teach kids about sea life, and a science table brings the miniature world around us to life with an HD digital microscope.
At Leap of Faith Equestrian, Morgan Nicholls teaches the art of horseback-riding to youngsters between the ages of 6 and 18. She coaches pupils on proper riding technique as they command their steeds in the disciplines of English, Western, and Jumping, and then looks on proudly as they put their newfound skills on display during trail rides, a safer route than immediately galloping onto the highway.
When the staff at Charlie's Safari claims to have the largest indoor play structure in the area, many will find it hard to argue with them as they look around the 22,000-square-foot jungle-themed facility. Here, kids scamper in, on, and around five levels of brightly-colored mazes and slides, air-filled bouncers, and a two-story laser tag arena. As kids unleash their imaginations, parents escape to their own lodge, secure in the knowledge that their children are being protected by the facility's Code ADAM safety system. Families can refuel at the on-site restaurant, which boasts housemade pizza sauce and corn dog batter. Charlie's Safari also hosts parties to celebrate children turning one year older and one year closer to being able to do their parents' taxes.
At Grand Prix Raceway, Italian racing karts equipped with 200cc Robin/Subaru engines scream around a quarter-mile racetrack at up to 35 miles per hour. Drivers receive basic vehicle instruction, a kart and helmet, and a head sock before slipping into the seat of their little buggy. Computerized timing and scoring eliminates fights over who finished first, and a monitor blares notifications of when a driver obliterates a racetrack record. Fans can roar and cheer from a climate-controlled viewing room, and a barrier system and referee keep races safe and assuage worried sedans wringing their tires in the parking lot.
Within Brookwood Equestrian Center’s 20,000-square-foot indoor arena, spectators seated in the heated viewing area grow quiet as small riders urge their mounts to trot, canter, and finally leap over jumps. The Center—which has served amateur and experienced horseback riders for more than 19 years—helps young riders take the reins in individual and group riding lessons as well as riding day camps. Brookwood’s 50,000-square-foot all-weather outdoor arena is constructed to Olympic standards, allowing horses to pursue their dreams of winning shot-put gold when they are not lazing about in 45 matted indoor stalls with automatic waterers or playing in a mud-free turnout area.
Combining modern coffee comfort with childish whimsy, Play-A-Latte gives parents a chance to relax with a cup of joe and free WiFi while children enjoy 1,500 square feet of play areas. Parents are responsible for watching over their amateur earthlings, however kids are kept busy by a moon bounce, pirate ship play structure, play house, full-size replica of Herbert Hoover, and infant-and-toddler area. Play areas are padded for safety and helpful staffers sanitize facilities daily. Visitors should be sure to wear socks, as all areas are shoe-free, however, freewheeling feet can purchase adult and child socks for $1 a pair.