I’m always interested to find out more about how people live around the world. I find it fascinating that you could have a completely different life based on where you choose to live! As a way of finding out more about how other families live around the world I started a series called My City (with kids!) The hope it is that it will also help families planning a holiday to find out all the best things to do in the various cities I feature. Today it’s the turn of Melissa from She Roams About to share all her insider tips about the best things to do with kids in Seattle!
Things to do in Seattle (with kids!)
The hubby and I moved to Seattle in 2007, having chosen it as the place to settle down and start our family. One of the things that drew us to the area are all the fun family-friendly attractions in the city. Our son’s now 10 so we’ve had lots of time to explore.
Here are some of our favorite family-friendly attractions in Seattle.
Things to do in Seattle (with kids!)
The Space Needle
The iconic Space Needle, built for the 1962 world fair just reopened after a multi-million dollar renovation. It now has the Loupe, the world’s first and only rotating glass floor for incredible views down through the glass floor and around Seattle. There are also new Skyrisers, tilting glass walls on the open-air deck, so you can lean out over 24 angled vantage points. This is the not-to-miss Seattle attraction for the family during a visit to Seattle.
Seattle Center Attractions
Seattle Center has a ton of fun stuff for families, including a few of our favorites, the Museum of Popular Culture, the Seattle Children’s Museum and the Pacific Science Center.
The Museum of Popular Culture
The Museum of Popular Culture, known as the MoPop, has exhibits about popular music, film, science fiction and fantasy, Marvel superheroes and video game development. I can’t ever get my kid out of there so I now have to make a strategic extraction plan before setting foot inside MoPop. It’s a huge hit with the kids and super fun for grown-ups too. I personally can’t get enough of the Sound Lab which lets visitors play and record music in special recording rooms. What’s not to love about feeling like a rock star for the day?
Seattle Children’s Museum
During the toddler years we were at the the Seattle Children’s Museum at least once a week. There are so many fun and interactive exhibits. My boy was most obsessed with the Bijou Theater where he could dress up and perform on stage. He would also climb on the Mountain which was a space dedicated to letting the littles use those newly developing gross motor skills. If you’re looking for a place to tire the kids out before nap time, this is it!
Pacific Science Center
Pacific Science Center is a hands-on learning center with exhibits on health and wellness, dinosaurs, insects, saltwater tide animals and technology. Check out their incredible tropical butterfly house! The two IMAX theaters always have excellent shows which always get great reviews. They even have a virtual reality station these days. Our favorite things include playing with the outdoor water canons ands making rockets to shoot off outdoors. We’ve also enjoyed some of the Legos and Terracotta Warriors special exhibits. There are always special exhibits so check their calendar in advance. They have a gated off toddler-only space which we appreciated when my son was smaller.
The Seattle Aquarium features a ginormous 120,000-gallon aquarium tank filled with fish, sea anemones and other native Washington marine life and interactive divers. There are touch tanks, gorgeous colorful fish tanks, and incredible jelly fish displays. They also have marine mammal tanks with question and answer sessions during feedings. My boy’s grandma is a huge fan of otters so we make regular visits when she’s in the area.
The Great Wheel
Seattle’s 175-foot waterfront Ferris wheel, located at the end of Pier 57 Is a fantastic ride with incredible views over Puget Sound. The ride is about 15 minutes long and each gondola can hold up to 8 people. This is within walking distance of the Aquarium so we’ll frequently visit them both in the same day.
Woodland Park Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo is known for excellent immersive exhibits. We’ve been members for years. Some of my son’s favorite creatures lurking at this world class zoo include the penguins, snow leopards, gorillas, bugs, giraffes, and jaguars. We’ve been lucky enough to get to know a baby gorilla, baby snow leopards and a baby giraffe born at the zoo over the years. There’s a gorgeous historic carousel to ride. You can even blend in with the wildlife by getting your face painted! When my boy was a toddler we spent loads of time at Zoomazium, a wonderful indoor space that’s all the rage with the toddler set. There are plenty of areas for picnicking and many food options on site. Strollers are available for rental. If you’re there during the summer check out their Zoo Tunes concert schedule. Families spread out on picnic blankets to take in well-known musical talents such as the Indigo Girls and Aimee Mann.
Where to eat in Seattle (with kids!)
Ivar’s is a well-known institution, serving fresh yummy fresh seafood and amazingly yummy chowder. They have a great kid’s menu and the ambience can’t be beat. Ivar’s has multiple locations. The location on Seattle’s waterfront is near the Aquarium and Great Wheel.
Getting around in Seattle (with kids!)
Seattle has great public transportation options. In addition to the ubiquitous Uber there are light rail, monorail and metro buses, making it easy to get around.
Link Light Rail
Sound Transit’s Link light rail line runs has several downtown stations located in Capitol Hill, Westlake Center, the financial district, Pioneer Square and the International District. An approximately 40-minute light rail ride brings visitors from and back to the airport (Sea-Tac) Station. Just follow ground transportation signs to the airport station through the airport parking garage via a lit and covered pedestrian walkway.
Metro Transit has an extensive system throughout Seattle. Be sure to have exact change. See their site for complete maps. Google maps is a great resource for trip planning so I recommend downloading the map to your smartphone before traveling.
The Seattle Center Monorail
By far the most fun public transport for kiddos and grown-ups alike is a quick, inexpensive trip on the monorail which runs between downtown Seattle and the Seattle. My kiddo was crazy for the monorail as a toddler and still enjoys the occasional ride even today at age 10. The stations are located on the upper level of Westlake Center and at the Seattle Center near the Space Needle. My boy recommends getting at the front of the train so you can watch out the front window.
My City (with kids!) – Melissa from Seattle
How long have you lived in your home town?
I’ve lived in Seattle since 2007
How old are your kids?
I have a 10 year old son.
Our favourite spot to visit as a family in our home town is…
We love to visit the Pacific Science Center. It’s fun and educational and we never get tired of it. Our membership also gives us free or discounted entrance to other science museums when we travel.
My kids favourite outing in our home town is…
My son says his favorite outing in Seattle is to the Woodland Park Zoo. We’ve been going since he was a wee baby.
The most iconic place/ don’t miss tourist attraction in our home town to visit (that the kids will also love) is…
The Space Needle is definitely the most iconic tourist attraction and it just underwent a major renovation and now has a glass floor which everyone loves!
Our favourite family-friendly good weather outing is…
The Woodland Park Zoo
Our favourite family-friendly BAD weather (indoor) outing is…
The Pacific Science Center or Aquarium
The best free outing in our home town is…
The best free outing in our home town is the fish ladder at the Ballard Locks where you can watch salmon making their way from the Puget Sound to Lake Union.
Our “insider” tip for visiting our home town is…
Check out Archie McPhee for all things silly, including their rubber chicken museum. Kids go crazy for this place! https://archiemcpheeseattle.com
The best family-friendly restaurant is…
Our family’s favorite restaurant is The Hi Life. It’s in an old firehouse. My son loves watching the wood fired pizzas getting made. The menu rotates with seasonal ingredients and great kid menu options. There’s also a make your own cookie option to keep kids busy while waiting for food to come. Kids decorate their cookie dough with sprinkles and chocolate chips and it’s baked and ready for dessert when they’ve finished dinner.
Be sure to try this kid-friendly local dish…
Most kids enjoy the local fish and chips and clam chowder from Ivar’s.
The easiest way to get around with kids is…
On foot or in a rental car and/or Uber. Many of the tourist attractions are concentrated downtown and within walking distance from each other. A rental car is the best options if you have little ones that need car or booster seats and if you’re traveling with a stroller. Uber is also a great option for short trips around Seattle.
The best family-friendly neighbourhood to stay in is…
Ours! Ballard is a fun and hip neighborhood with several attractions including the Ballard Locks and fish ladder, a wonderful Sunday farmer’s market, the Nordic Heritage Museum and Golden Gardens beach and playground. There are also many wonderful parks and a abundance of great restaurants and stores.
Melissa Rice was born with a natural curiosity about life which led her to study molecular biology. She went on to help develop drugs for the biotechnology industry and after a decade in science was eager to explore more of the world outside the lab. She created a life which made room for her passion for travel and founded She Roams About, a travel blog. She shares her stories and lessons learned from her extensive time on the road and her followers find travel tips, news, deals, and inspiration on the She Roams About blog and social media.