Experiential gifts in Seattle for someone who is always cold
December 4, 2017 8:01 PM   Subscribe

I want to give the gift of warmth to a loved one who is always cold due to cancer and chemotherapy. Where can I bring this person in the Seattle area that will warm him up, at least for an afternoon?

I have "greenhouse" on my list, but I'm drawing a blank after that. Accessibility is important. This person can walk short distances only, but has access to a walker or wheelchair.
posted by christa to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If you and friend both present as female, you can go to the Olympus Spa and sit in the hot stone room. I’m not sure about accessibility - you might call them first.
posted by matildaben at 8:08 PM on December 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

I can't speak to Seattle specifically, but I would suggest a bath. I like to go to a Japanese-style bath, but I know not everybody is comfortable with the cultural aspects of that… but I'm sure there are other baths/spas that would offer the same deep warmth with more personal privacy. I can't think of anything warmer.
posted by robcorr at 8:11 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Definitely botanical gardens with tropical greenhouses. And along those same lines, a zoo or animal park with an indoor tropical exhibit will always be VERY warm, and many offer "backstage" tours where you can see the exhibit behind the scenes. He might really like going backstage in a monkey house that's 80 degrees and seeing how the monkeys get fed and cared for.

If you're willing to call around, a lot of glassblowers will let you come watch (either a demonstration or just daily work), and it is lovely warm in the room with the roaring glass furnace! It's interesting to watch the glass get made, you can sit still the whole time, and it's warm warm warm.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:14 PM on December 4, 2017 [5 favorites]

Banya 5 is a coed (swimsuits-required) bath house.
posted by batter_my_heart at 8:17 PM on December 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Pro Sports Club in Bellevue has A+ locker room facilities with hot tub/sauna/steam. You can use the facilities for the day with the purchase of a spa service.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:32 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is the person cleared for crowds and public spaces? If so, the suggestions above are excellent. If not (and Mr. Machine was not for periods during chemo), I'd suggest one of the electric blankets together with a king-size Sunbeam heating pad available on Amazon. We also have a memory foam pad, and once they warm up, they tend to help preserve warmth.
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:34 PM on December 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Good question, joyceanmachine, this person is cleared for public spaces. I'm loving all these thoughtful replies!
posted by christa at 8:40 PM on December 4, 2017

Olympus Spa (female only) > Banya 5 unless your pal is young. Banya 5, particularly because it is coed, is sort of a meat market. Olympus on the other hand is a dream. Your friend needs to be okay with public female nudity but I promise it is a very welcoming place.
posted by k8t at 8:51 PM on December 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

Volunteer Park Conservatory has free parking and is wheelchair-accessible.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:52 PM on December 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

FLOAT. I get that your friend is special, but everyone should get to experience sensory deprivation. It's at body temperature, so you're never cold or hot. $49 first-time floats in certain (Level) Seattle spas: might not be life-changing for everybody, but nothing compares. I didn't think it was out-of-this-world like others, but I thought it was an incomparable stress-relieving experience. A float and a good, waliking distance dinner afterward (more than one of those in LQA) would make a lovely, memorable evening.
posted by halogen at 8:54 PM on December 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

I can't speak to Seattle, but because I am also always cold I can recommend going to some sort of historical recreation event where they will let you sit by a fire or one of those old potbellied stoves. No one else will want to sit there because they will be too hot. Bonus points if hot apple cider is served.
posted by Soliloquy at 9:03 PM on December 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Might be worth trying out a heated vest for outdoor excursions. They sell them at Home Depot and other places.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:05 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Rainier Beach Pool has a hot tub and a sauna, as well as a leisure pool, which is a higher temperature than a lap pool. You'll need swimming suits and towels for this.

In the late afternoons and weekends it's completely packed, but during weekdays, it's pretty open - especially for the Adult and Sr. Swim. Here's the schedule. As they are a cancer patient, they may qualify for a Special Populations discountd price, which is $3.75 a visit.

Rainier Beach Pool is also accessible.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:08 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

The butterfly enclosure at the Pacific Science Center is always pleasantly warm! It's accessible but I can't speak to how easy that accessibility is, if that makes sense.
posted by stowaway at 9:22 PM on December 4, 2017 [6 favorites]

The public glassblowing studio in the Tacoma Museum of Glass is WARM by my memory. Don't know if that's further afield than you were planning on traveling.
posted by mosst at 10:19 PM on December 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

Avalon Glassworks over here in West Seattle has glass blowing demonstrations open to the public most afternoons. It's all on the first floor if I recall correctly and should be pretty accessible. When I popped in they were super friendly and relaxing. Combine with a drive during sunset the long way around past Alki point, down Beach Drive and back up via Fauntleroy on a clear day, plus a thermos of hot tea and you've got an afternoon that's not too much but with lots of beauty to fill him back up.
posted by Mizu at 11:06 PM on December 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

Outdoor stores have heaters for cold-handed hunters. How about getting a big supply of cocoa makings? Cocoa is quite warming - if the person can tolerate the sugar and chocolate.
The heating pad mentioned above is a good idea. There are some pads that automatically turn off in order to prevent overheating/burning of the user who may have fallen asleep.
posted by Cranberry at 11:48 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Floating might be a bad idea - I would check with their doctor first (for instance they might be susceptible to fainting, or have surgical wounds, or ??). It's also something I would avoid if injured, because with nothing else to distract you, even a small ache can begin feeling like a huge issue. And you can definitely get cold (some floating places offer to make the water warmer if you ask ahead of time, but I don't know how much variation they can do).
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:05 AM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I used to work at the Pacific Science Center. The Tropical Butterfly House there will be accessible via walker or wheelchair, but it's couple hundred steps from the entrance. There's a ramp from the main entrance (facing north into Seattle Center), or they can enter from the Denny Way (south side of the PSC Campus) and there's an elevator up to where they want to go, but otherwise about the same distance. The page their says it's too narrow for strollers, but it's not so much too narrow for one stroller as for the dozen that would inevitably be in there if they allowed them. Really, plenty of room for a wheelchair, I promise.

As I recall, it's about 80F and 80% humidity in there, so they should be ready to undress from their wintry layers. It's also nicely bright in there, which is great for these days of <4>about $22 for adults. (Individual memberships start at $89.) I also recall that they stop admitting people to the Butterfly House at 15 minutes before close (which is at 5PM weekdays, 6PM weekends).

There's a staff member who checks people over to prevent butterfly escapes-- the USDA which regulates such things requires it. Since the wheelchair has more places to hide, as well as protection from the "airwall" (a heavy air downdraft that dissuades butterflies from getting to the exit doors), this person may get some heavy scrutiny from the staffer. If a butterfly gets out, it's an all-hands-on-deck situation to capture (or kill, if absolutely necessary) the butterfly.

Pro-tip: if you want the butterflies to land on you, wear bright colors that might be found on a flower. If you don't, don't. Butterflies have teeny tiny brains that interpret bright colors as a patch of flowers, and thus potential source of food or a place to lay eggs (don't worry, they're super-picky about the latter activity, as any well-evolved species should be), so some may drop in to check it out. When they land, hold still and enjoy the close view.

Butterfly House is a great place for locals to chase away the SAD and warm up their bones a little bit. It'll work a treat for your friend if he can make the trip.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:27 AM on December 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Take a long, meandering ride on any Metro bus - pretty sure a contract somewhere requires them all to be heated to about 101 degrees.
posted by tristeza at 1:57 AM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sunburnt's idea is inspired - we took the grandkids to the Living Rainforest (UK) earlier this year - the butterfly house was the hottest place I've ever been in and so, so magical. It's a place to sit, be warm and wait for the butterflies to come land. Take bottled water and a camera.
posted by humph at 3:05 AM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

The public glassblowing studio

Following up on this - I meant the hot shop in the museum, where one just sits and watches pro glassblowers work while an announcer explains everything they're doing, not the participatory/class-oriented studios that comes up when one googles glassblowing studios associated with the museum. It runs all day every day aside from a lunch break for the artists. It's really fun, really warm, and should be very accessible for someone with limited energy or mobility. I heartily encourage it!
posted by mosst at 6:09 AM on December 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Agree that the butterfly house is the way to go here -- Volunteer Park Conservatory is equally warm, but much smaller - it would only take 10-20 min to look at the (beautiful) plants, whereas you can spend forever trying to see another butterfly
posted by femmegrrr at 6:35 AM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Woodland Park Zoo has a rainforest exhibit which is kept warm and humid, and there are places you can just sit and watch the birds as long as you like.
posted by The otter lady at 8:08 AM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Gated Sanctuary looks amazing. They have co-ed days and one men only day.
posted by brookeb at 9:15 AM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

With the caveat that I haven't been in years - The Melting Pot (lower QA) is a warm restaurant and nothing says warmth like fondue!
posted by stowaway at 10:23 AM on December 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I just went through this with a relative - it was 90 degrees in the house, and she was freezing. Things that helped (which are not necessarily experiential, but they worked and were appreciated) were: an oil filled plug-in radiator that can be moved to whichever room they're in; a space blanket; flavored hot coffee at regular intervals; a floor length robe with a hood; fleecy lounge pants; homemade soups; a knitted hat made for her by a friend, that she wore constantly.

An electric blanket is a fabulous idea, but just be aware that if the person is using oxygen, they can't use electric blankets or heating pads, because the controller can spark, and could result in a fire.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:10 PM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you want to throw in a longer lasting present as well, you could get reusable heat packs for getting to and from your warm place, and use at home afterwards. (My always cold grandmother loved them, as well as the rainforest house at the zoo that someone else recommended.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 3:12 PM on December 6, 2017

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