Chocolate lovers unite at the Northwest Chocolate Festival, an annual event dedicated not just to eating chocolate in its many forms, but to tracking its journey from cocoa bean to confection. Visitors hone their expertise through seminars on trade equity and cocoa farming, chocolate-making workshops led by confectioners, and tastings where palates learn to distinguish between milk chocolate and a chocolate bar clumsily forced inside a milk jug. A portion of the proceeds from the event benefits local nonprofits aligned with the festival?s mission. Recipients are announced yearly.
The staff at Rotary First Harvest have a single mission: to help end hunger within the Washington community by making fresh fruits and vegetables available to those in need. Its methods for carrying out this vision, however, are quite numerous and innovative. In addition to connecting a network of farmers, truckers, and volunteers, the workers organize corporate volunteering days and seasonal events such as gardening workshops in the summer and a Harvest Hoedown in the autumn.
Working from the founder's family recipe, Seattle Fudge's confectioners begin each batch by boiling ingredients—including chocolate, dairy cream, and nuts—in a copper kettle. After cooling the fudge on a marble table—a process that often sends the confection flying through the air—they form 25-pound loaves by hand. The whole process is on display at Seattle Fudge's red-and-white open kitchen, where onlookers can track every ingredient's journey from the kettle to trays of free samples. The store's 11 flavors include almond toffee crunch, chocolate amaretto, and minty, Oreo-specked vanilla fudge called Grasshopper, named in honor of the insect with an Oreo-only diet.
Along with the signature treat, Seattle Fudge's candy makers whip up saltwater taffy, showcasing old-fashioned taffy pullers and cutters. Available in blue raspberry and pink vanilla, cotton candy is also spun fresh onsite. Tubs of regular and caramel popcorn offer salty alternatives to sweet snacks. In addition to Seattle Center, where the fudge shop has been a fixture since 1981, Seattle Fudge's sweets are sold at local fairs and festivals throughout the year.
It's been more than three decades since Andrew Drake rode his first wave, but his passion for surfing stays strong. Washington Surf Academy is the embodiment of his passion and has grown to include instruction not just for surfing but for paddleboards as well. Unlike a gingerbread man's enemies, Mr. Drake's classes don't take a cookie-cutter approach. "Every person is a unique case," he says. The diversity of his clientele is one of the things Mr. Drake finds most rewarding. "Some people will have huge fears, and it is nice to see them get over them. This one time, this lady was freaking out, but I talked her into it, and she loved it so much that she bought a board from us on the first day."
By helping them to float out of their comfort zones, Mr. Drake and his team open people up to the hidden world off Seattle's coast. With snow-capped peaks in the distance, surfers can conquer waves and paddleboarders can float beneath bald eagles flying to their next college history lecture.
Blanketed in wall-to-wall trampolines, Sky High Sports delights barefoot fun-seekers with springy terrain and an exclusive court for jumpers 8 and younger. Guests can hone front flips, back flips, and belly flops during intense free-bounce sessions. Each trampoline comes equipped with a specially designed spring-loaded frame and thick, 2-inch safety pads that grant patrons a landing cushier than a corner office at a marshmallow factory. Stuffed with blocks of spongy, body-molding material, a foam pit dares treasure-seekers to fling themselves in or scour its depths for the lost contents of bygone pockets. Pintsize aerialist posses can safely practice their synchronized Salchows on 360 degrees of trampoline walls while court supervisors watch from the sidelines and award hard-earned praise with oversize scorecards.
Sky High also offers AIRobics fitness classes and monthly dodge-ball tournaments to help jumpers explore the outermost stratospheres of trampoline possibilities.
From three locations, Family Fun Centers & Bullwinkle's Restaurant foster lifelong memories for kids and their caretakers as they bond over bouts of miniature golf, laser-tag shootouts, and bumper-car derbies. Visitors taller than 58 inches challenge each other to go-kart races, while smaller thrill seekers practice Napoleonic siege techniques at the indoor fun fortress. Outside, human slingshots hurl visitors safely through the air in harnessed flights, and indoor rollercoaster simulators re-create the twists and turns of amusement-park rides or malfunctioning monorails. After perfecting swings at 18 holes of mini golf or 25-pitch batting cages, visitors chow down at the Bullwinkle-themed restaurant, feasting on crowd-pleasing park fare such as pizza, burgers, salads, wraps, and corn dogs. Attractions vary by location. Valid only at the Tukwila and Edmonds locations.