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.
When a fire destroyed the skating rink owned by Evelyn Pattison's father, she and her husband tenaciously forged ahead and opened a new facility, Pattison's North Family Skating Center. This happened more than 60 years ago, and since then the Skating Center has become a reliable destination for families in search of a little fun and a lot of really shiny floors.
The center has acquired a venerable inventory of brand-name skates and inline speed skates, and staffers at the pro shop outfit patrons before teaching roller or inline basics at group and private lessons. Throughout the week, guests can also skate at after-school sessions, private parties, or Sunday retro nights, where they must weave their way through the rink's Civil War reenactments.
Kids literally bounce off the walls at Bounce E House, an indoor playground filled with inflatable slides and castles. The indoor playscape excels at birthday parties, letting the celebrant and up to 24 friends, real or imaginary, have the place to themselves. After two hours of uninterrupted leaping and bounding, party kids snack on chicken nuggets or pizza before taking home little goodie bags. Parents can also take their kids in for two-hour slots of open play or arrange for bounce house rentals for their own parties.
It's pitch black inside Purple Haze, one of two inner-tube slides at Slidewaters Lake Chelan Waterpark. The enclosed tube takes riders through 400 feet of darkness, where they twist and turn before dropping back into sunlight and a heated splash pool—the epitome of an adrenaline rush.
Yet for a few moments at the top of the slide—just before the attendant says "go"—it's easy for riders to forget they're inside a water park. The setting could easily come from a postcard. Slidewaters sits just off the shores of Lake Chelan, with national forests and the rolling hills of the Chelan Butte visible in the distance. Luckily, the park makes it easy to relax and soak in the view. A lazy river takes inner tubes and their passengers on leisurely floats around a 500-foot loop, while the 100-degree waters of a hot tub welcome up to 60 individuals or up to 30 identical twins at a time.
At some point, the call of adventure pulls visitors to one of the more thrilling rides, many of which cater to families. The Tube Blaster sends double tubes and their riders through multiple 360 turns, while the Downhill Racer lets three siblings or friends simultaneously coast on mats towards the finish line. Nearby, the Aqua Zoo welcomes younger kids and their parents, who can help toddlers down two animal-themed slides.
That's just what takes place in the water. Here are a few drier things to do: play a game of volleyball, grab a hot dog at the snack stand, or choose from more than 100 temporary air-brush tattoos.
Apex Karting satisfies your undernourished need for speed by letting you experience the thrill of finally outracing your cheetah half-sister on one of the Pacific Northwest's longest indoor racetracks. And you'll do it all behind the wheel of an 11-horsepower Stratos Kart, a clean-burning conveyance that can reach speeds of 40 miles per hour. Races may be split between family, friends, and medieval scholars, and after you retire from the tracks for the evening, you can unwind in Apex's beer garden; while sipping one of their barley-pop selections (starting at $3), you can reflect on how much more thrilling engine-powered speed is compared with leg-powered penny-farthing rides. Your Groupon may also be redeemed for a $110 credit toward private-track rental (usually $725–$800 per hour).
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 cacao bean to confection. Visitors hone their expertise through seminars on trade equity and cacao 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.