Whether you've gone through puberty or not, there's something universally beloved about field trips. In school, mornings spent visiting the mounted police unit or the bug safari are especially exciting because they're out of context. Watching Fred Rogers go to a construction site or art museum was always the best part of his show for similar reasons.
If you're an adult lucky enough to have disposable income and you're into food, activities that closest parallel field trips come in the form of cooking classes, brewery tours, and wine pairing events. But if you have a kid and you need a cure for cabin fever, spend a few hours visiting Seattle specialty shops. Most of these all-ages mini food field trips will be largely self-guided, but with the help of a salesperson and smart phone you'll be able to make do. Below, find five area producers and retail spaces that can teach you and your kids a thing or two about interesting edibles.
SugarPill sells curated medicinal herbs and spices, as well as deliciousness from micro-producers, including barrel aged maple syrup and seasonal preserves from the San Juans. Take your kids here, and if you can swing it buy some specialty salt and a bar of chocolate from Twenty-Four Blackbirds. Then, take them home and do a taste test next to Morton Salt and Hershey's. Lesson learned.
Shelton-based seafood cultivator Taylor Shellfish grows more Manila clams than any other North American producer at their hatchery in Shelton. Taylor's retail space in Melrose Market features live tanks housing fresh mussels, oysters, and clams. If they're daring, kids can slurp a few freshly shucked oysters. If not, there's always the geoduck chowder.
If you've played tourist with visiting relatives or friends in the past decade, you've probably done an obligatory point and click outside of Beecher's at Pike Place while a cheesemaker stirs a large vat of milk in the background. But taking your kid to Beecher's on a weekday morning when foot traffic is slow is an entirely new experience. Each cheese takes a full day to process before it's aged, and watching milk creep a step closer to becoming a block of Flagship is pretty unbeatable.
Since you're already in the market, walk down the steps to World Spice Merchants on Western. Business cards from some of the spice and tea shop's local vendors rest under the glass by the register, from Full Tilt Ice Cream to Oola Distillery. Smelling spices and tea engages visual and olfactory senses, and kids can watch as whole juniper and green cardamom pods are ground fresh to order. Since there are several breakable containers in the store, antsy toddlers should probably skip this one.
Fremont's Theo is the closest we're going to get to Willy Wonka in these parts. The company gives tours of its fair trade organic factory: They're offered every day for kids age seven and up include a number of samples. Tickets are available over here.