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Ikea Seattle: A surprisingly fun family outing

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When considering fun things to do with the family, a visit to a massive furniture store may not be your first thought. During the rainy season, though, IKEA Seattle, located at 601 SW 41st St., Renton, may be just what you need to get your shopping done as well as feed and occupy the kids for an hour.

IKEA is family friendly in multiple ways. The main family friendly feature is “Smaland”. This isn't your average kiddy play land and ball pit. This is child care, fully staffed with a ball pit for little guys, a separate area for big kids, a place for children to color, a kitchen, train tables and a mini movie theater, as well as their own bathroom. As long as your children are potty trained, you can drop them off for at least an hour while you shop.

Signing in on busy days can be a bit of an ordeal, the line can be long. So it's good to be aware of the busiest times. School holidays and weekends are obviously busier. Come earlier in the morning or mid afternoon, before dinner and you're less likely to encounter a line.

Tuesdays are easily the busiest days since children eat free in the restaurant. Kids meals are regularly $2.99 and they have a choice of macaroni and cheese with veggies, battered chicken strips and french fries, Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes, or the newest offering of organic pasta in a tomato sauce with fruit and yogurt. Each meal comes with a drink.

There are different specials in the restaurant every weekday. If you want to avoid the crowds on Tuesday, Wednesday is a good day to visit as well. On Wednesdays you can feed a family of four for only $9.99. Click here for the other specials.

The restaurant even has a kids area with little tables, a TV usually showing Micky Mouse as well as a few activities. There are always plenty of booster seats and high chairs.

If you can't make it to IKEA on a weekday for the special offers, the restaurant can be a little expensive if you're on a tight budget or have several hungry, bouncy kiddies in tow. Fortunately, IKEA has a solution, their Bistro is budget and kid friendly.

The Bistro is right inside the exit. Fortunately, when coming from the parking lot to the entrance, you pass right by the giant 'Exit' sign and can pop into the Bistro first thing if you need to. Frozen yogurt cones, cinnamon rolls, a cup of Swedish meatballs, or a latte, each cost only $1. They also have a pizza combo or hot dog combo for $1.50. Individual hot dogs are only 50 cents.

Even if you don't have a lot of shopping to do, IKEA can be a good alternative to the park on a rainy day. They often have special family friendly events. The next event will be the Trick or Treat Spooktacular on Thursday, Oct. 31 from 3 p.m. - 7 p.m. or while supplies last.

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