[Every Friday, I post a “toddler date” idea for something fun, simple, and cheap to do with your toddler. The big picture ideas apply to any locale, but the specific examples will be Bellevue-centric.]
Toddlers are easily mesmerized by watching fish swim by. The Seattle Aquarium is fabulous, but you can also find fish tanks at pet stores, and there are great aquariums all over town in hospital lobbies, doctors’ offices, Chinese restaurants, and more. One mom told me her kids love the fish tanks at the downtown Nordstrom’s, where they play hide and seek around the round tanks. Sometimes as adults, we don’t even notice an fish tank and will walk right by. Instead, take advantage of these as a moment for your child to be entertained while you have just a few minutes of down time.
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, late September to early October is a good time to watch salmon swimming upstream. Two places I’ve had good luck:
The Salmon Hatchery in Issaquah is open daily 8 – 4, and has fish ladders outdoors and indoor viewing windows. Note: don’t try to take a toddler to see fish during Salmon Days. It’s too crowded to get a good look.
Or, another place I’ve had good success is in downtown Redmond. There’s Bear Creek shopping center (where Safeway, Panera and Great Harvest Bread are) – if you walk behind the Safeway building, you’ll find Bear Creek and can often see salmon there in season. It’s quick, free, and you can go get yummy whole-grain bread when you’re done.
Here’s a Parent Map article with more salmon viewing options: http://www.parentmap.com/article/see-salmon-run