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Indoor Fun Hot Spots

Via readers share their favorite places and pursuits in the West,
from the Exploratorium in San Francisco to the Silliman Family Aquatic
Center in Newmark, Calif.

indoor fun at San Francisco Exploratorium
Photo caption
Take time to reflect on yourself in the Exploratorium's giant kaleidoscope.

Via readers are certainly no couch potatoes when it comes to indoor activities. Here are a few of your favorite places and pursuits.

CENTRAL LIBRARY Seattle. "A glorious site of glass and steel built downtown on an entire city block," writes Marcy Taylor of Lincoln City, Ore. "The nonfiction shelves are organized in a spiral that winds upwards through four levels. Elevators allow access to any part of the spiral, but walking the ramp is the most fun." (206) 386-4636,

DISCOVERY CENTER OF IDAHO Boise. "You can make a full day of it here with your kids," says Tina Dannemiller of Homedale, Idaho. "Our favorite exhibit allows you to create a minitornado in a glass case." (208) 343-9895,

EXPLORATORIUM San Francisco. "I love the Tactile Dome," writes Debbie Kaplan of Foster City, Calif. "It's fun to feel my way through the maze in total darkness, realizing that my eyes are indeed open while the space is so black." (415) 397-5673,

FOLSOM SPORTS COMPLEX Folsom, Calif. "A clean, fun, and safe environment where kids can play indoor soccer, basketball, and volleyball," Christine Delgado writes. (916) 983-6636,

GREAT AMERICAN MELODRAMA AND VAUDEVILLE Oceano, Calif. "This theater used to be a Rexall drugstore," says Laura Carson of San Ramon, Calif. "After its transformation, my husband and I spent our first New Year's Eve as a married couple here. We sat at a table on a straw-covered floor, the food was great, and we enjoyed the show and the boos and hurrahs from the audience." (805) 489-2499,

HATFIELD MARINE SCIENCE CENTER Newport, Ore. "It's hands-on, right next to the aquarium, and a great place for all ages," says Bette Mendola of Brookings, Ore. "I'm a senior and I find it enjoyable." (541) 867-0100,

LASER QUEST Fresno, Fullerton, Modesto, and Mountain View, Calif. "A safe and painless version of paintball tag, great for kids and adults," says Kelly Hammett of Saratoga, Calif. "It's exhilarating not knowing what's going to happen next in the dark, while loud adrenaline rush–inducing music is playing. It feels as though you're in a movie chase scene in a warehouse." (905) 678-7272,

LIVELY PARK SWIM CENTER Springfield, Ore. "We love it here in the winter when the skies are gray and it's raining outside," says Michelle Taube of Eugene, Ore. "The kids get their exercise and we can swim laps and soak in the hot tub." (541) 736-4244,

SILLIMAN FAMILY AQUATIC CENTER Newark, Calif. "This place is wonderful for kids who have winter birthdays," writes Barbara Grappone of Fremont, Calif. "It has an activity pool, lap pool, lazy river, waterslides, and a large spa." (510) 739-2620.

SANTA LUCIA FESTIVAL AND PARADE Oakland, Calif. "Totally thrilling but not too scary," Kirstin Lindquist says. "In a two-hour class you can learn how to swing on a high trapeze, hang from your knees, and be caught by an instructor on another trapeze. I flew into my 40s by having my birthday party here." (510) 419-0700,

SCIENCEWORKS HANDS-ON MUSEUM Ashland, Ore. "What an informative, fun-filled place," writes Ashland resident Paris Geiken. "There is something for all ages: a room where you can stand inside a bubble, a pulley system that lets you test your stength, even an area where you can make and fly parachutes." (541) 482-6767,

Photography courtesy of Exploratorium

This article was first published in January 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.