Indoor Fun For The Five-And-Over Set In Rainy Thurston County


olympia kid funLet’s face it: Rainy days are the norm here in Thurston County for at least nine months of the year. There’s no sense in fighting it; some days we must simply pull on the galoshes and raincoats and stamp through the puddles.

But on those days when purposely getting drenched just isn’t practical, look for indoor activities to keep your grade-schoolers happily occupied.


olympia kid funBowling

Bowling options abound in Thurston County. And what better way to get the kids moving while making fun (and memories) for the whole family?

There are four area lanes to choose from: Westside Lanes and Aztec Lanes in Olympia, Tumwater Lanes in Tumwater, and Prairie Lanes in Yelm. All offer reasonably priced by-the-hour bowling and options for birthday parties.

For any parents who’ve not bowled since they themselves were in grade school, technology has come a long way. Computerized scoring keeps things moving at a fast pace, with colorful graphics that will catch any kid’s eye. Perhaps best of all? Automatic bumpers, which can be used for any – or all – bowlers. And no more gutter balls means fewer frustrations – and more fun – for any rookie ball rollers.



Looking for an educational component to your rainy day entertainment? LOTT Clean Water Alliance’s WET Science Center in downtown Olympia offers a hands-on opportunity for kids to learn about the precious resource of water – and how best to conserve it.

Open to the public Monday through Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., WET was created with input from the Hands On Children’s Museum – who will soon be neighbors to LOTT, when the new museum opens later this year – and they know the best ways to create interesting and entertaining new ways of learning.


olympia kid funShankz Black Light Miniature Golf

Shankz Black Light Miniature Golf, located next to IHOP on Olympia’s Westside, is nothing like your childhood experience of miniature golf.

First of all, it takes place indoors. Secondly, its 18 holes wind through a dark, cavernous space that’s lit up with black lights and painted in all the glowing colors of the rainbow.

Add 3-D glasses to up the challenge and watch the colorful décor of fish, jungle animals, and dinosaurs come to trippy life.

Shankz also offers concessions and a handful of arcade games, for additional before- or after-tee entertainment.


olympia kid funWarehouse Rock Gym

Stay indoors and watch the kiddos work up a sweat at Warehouse Rock Gym, which offers rock wall climbing for all ages and where it’s not uncommon to see a 5-year-old climbing aside an AARP member.

First-time climbing kids (and moms and dads) can keep it simple and just try bouldering, which is low climbing and requires no ropes and harness. Padded floors and additional crash pads ensure soft, safe landings.

Top roping, requiring a belayer, is more advanced, but truly simple for kids to get the hang of. Trained employees offer quick walk-in lessons.

Safety is a top priority at Warehouse Rock Gym. Anyone climbing higher than 14 feet must have a partner to belay for them – meaning they wear a harness and are attached to safety ropes.

A rope is set up on the wall and attaches to the harnessed climber. The belayer, fastened to the other end of the rope, takes up slack as the climber makes his or her way upward, and then back down.

You’ll be stunned by how quickly the little ones get the hang of climbing. They’ll be scrambling up and down the Warehouse Rock Gym walls in no time, leaving their much bigger (and therefore much slower) parents in the dust.

A few more indoor-fun options for the five-and-older set include the Olympic Flight Museum, the Hands On Children’s Museum, a tour of the Washington State Capitol, a cup o’ tea at the Nonna Rosa Café Tea Room, or a wet and wild visit to the Great Wolf Lodge.

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