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Free family fun

Rain or shine in the South Sound

The Wet Science Center in Olympia features interactive exhibits, weekend family activities and environmental presentations. Photo courtesy of Facebook

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We've experienced an unseasonably warm, dry winter in the Pacific Northwest, but don't bust out the sun block just yet. There will be plenty of rain in the coming months, (April showers bring May flowers) so we've compiled a list of weather-friendly activities, all on a wallet-friendly budget.

When the forecast calls for rain:

In Pierce County, an indoor favorite is the Children's Museum of Tacoma. Kids can exercise their core learning skills in the museum's themed areas: woods, water, voyager, invention and Becka's studio. Climbing, digging and bubbles are just a few of the activities. Parents can play along, or perhaps simply catch up on their text messages. The center's "pay as you will program" is designed to ensure all families can come and play. Donations of all levels are accepted at the door. 1501 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.6031. playtacoma.org/

In Thurston County, free rainy-day fun can be found at Wet Science Center in downtown Olympia. While folks of all ages will enjoy the facility, it is ideal for older kids who like science-based fun. The organization offers free interactive exhibits, activities and presentations. A few of this year's topics include robotics, amphibians and the Puget Sound. Added rainy day fun: The center just installed "rainworks" on the sidewalks in front of the building - murals created by a Seattle artist, which are invisible until activated by rain. 500 Adams St. NE, Olympia, 360.664.2336, lottcleanwater.org/education.htm

When the forecast calls for sun:

A Pierce County favorite, with 27 sprawling acres covered with more than 600 trees, Wright Park boasts a bike trail, lawn bowling courts, and a scenic pond. And for those hot, sunny days, a sprayground - you got it - a playground full of water sprays. Or try relaxing with free story time at the park's conservatory. Check their website for special events, like the ever-popular Music and Art in Wright Park (MAWP), where every August, the park turns into an all-ages rock show and art fair. 501 S. I St., Tacoma, 253.305.1000, metroparkstacoma.org/wright-park/

Back in Olympia, right next door to the Wet Science Center, Hand's On Children's Museum has an outdoor "stream" for young and old to splash around and cool off in. While use of the stream is free, the museum does have a fee, but has a large outdoor play area. Military discounts available, and the first Friday of the month is free admission. 414 Jefferson St. NE, Olympia, 360.956.0818, hocm.org

And rain or shine, in both counties, enjoy "Fee Free" days at Washington State Parks, when the Discover Pass is not required (savings of up to $10 per visit). Locals love Millersylvania State Park, Dash Point, Mt. Rainier and Sequim Bay. So take note of these dates, grab a map, and get ready to explore. parks.wa.gov/

March 19: State Parks' 102nd birthday
April 4: Saturday Spring Day
April 22: Earth Day
May 10: Sunday Spring Day
June 6: National Trails Day
June 13: National Get Outdoors Day
Aug. 25: National Park Service Birthday
Sept. 26: National Public Lands Day
Nov. 11: Veterans Day

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