Exploring Seattle with kids opens up a vibrant world of family-friendly activities that caters to a variety of interests, from educational experiences to just plain fun. Our city’s iconic Space Needle offers a bird’s eye view of the region that amazes visitors of all ages, while the Monorail provides an exciting and efficient way to navigate between Seattle Center and downtown.
We find that Seattle’s abundance of museums, such as the Museum of Pop Culture and the Pacific Science Center, offers interactive and engaging exhibits that can spark the curiosity of children and adults alike. For a day spent outdoors, we can take advantage of the Washington State Ferries for scenic views from the water or visit the many parks and playgrounds scattered throughout the city. With such a wide array of attractions, our family vacation in Seattle can be as educational as it is entertaining, ensuring that each family member finds something to treasure in our Emerald City.
Iconic Landmarks and Attractions
In Seattle, we’re fortunate to have a collection of emblematic landmarks that are perfect for family exploration and education. From the heights of the Space Needle to the bustling Pike Place Market, these attractions promise memorable experiences and stunning views.
At the Space Needle, we gain a 360-degree panoramic view of Seattle. Standing at 605 feet tall, this iconic spire features an observation deck and a rotating glass floor, providing us with a unique perspective of the city.
- Height: 605 feet
- Observation Deck: Yes, with rotating glass floor
- Notable: One of the most photographed structures in the world
Seattle Great Wheel
The Seattle Great Wheel offers us a ride 175 feet above the waterfront. Each climate-controlled gondola ensures a comfortable experience as we take in the sweeping vistas of the city skyline and Puget Sound.
- Height: 175 feet
- Location: Seattle Waterfront
- Opened: 2012
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is a historic, bustling hub where we discover fresh produce, seafood, and artisanal goods. This vibrant marketplace is also home to the famous Gum Wall and offers us a genuine taste of Seattle’s local culture.
- Founded: 1907
- Attractions: Fresh local produce, seafood, crafts
- Special Note: Don’t miss the flying fish at Pike Place Fish Market!
At the Seattle Waterfront, we stroll along piers and enjoy breathtaking views of Elliott Bay. The expansive promenade includes a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions like the Seattle Aquarium.
- Activities: Dining, shopping, sightseeing
- Family-friendly: Yes, with attractions suited for all ages
We explore entertainment, arts, and culture at Seattle Center, home to the Space Needle. With the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), International Fountain, and Artists at Play Playground, there’s no shortage of activities for us to enjoy. Plus, we can hop on the Seattle Center Monorail for a quick and scenic transit to the heart of downtown.
- Location: Close to Seattle downtown
- Attractions: Space Needle, MoPOP, International Fountain
- Transport: Seattle Center Monorail connects to the city
Museums and Educational Experiences
We’ve curated a selection of museums and educational experiences in Seattle that promise enriching activities for children. Each venue offers unique interactive exhibits aimed at sparking curiosity and learning.
Museum of Flight
As one of the largest air and space museums in the world, The Museum of Flight offers a rich exploration of aviation history with exhibits such as the original Boeing Aircraft factory. It’s a premier destination for young aerospace enthusiasts to discover the wonders of flight.
Pacific Science Center
Pacific Science Center is an interactive hub that engages kids with science exhibits and activities. From live science demonstrations to the butterfly house, it’s a perfect spot for hands-on learning and fun.
Seattle Children’s Museum
For a place designed specifically with children in mind, Seattle Children’s Museum offers immersive play areas that cover a range of topics from art to global cultures, making learning playful and accessible.
Museum of Pop Culture
At Museum of Pop Culture, visitors of all ages can engage with contemporary pop cultures, such as music, video games, and sci-fi. Its vibrant, interactive exhibits encourage creativity and inspire the imagination.
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture brings natural wonders to life, showcasing everything from dinosaur fossils to cultural artifacts and engaging visitors in the storytelling of our natural world.
Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum features a diverse collection that includes kid-friendly exhibits. It allows young minds to appreciate art from various periods and cultures in a space that encourages education and reflection.
Museum of History and Industry
Lastly, Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) offers a look into Seattle’s past. Its interactive displays educate about the city’s history and industrial achievements, making it an insightful experience for families.
Parks and Outdoor Adventures
We understand the allure of Seattle’s vast array of parks and outdoor activities for families. In this section, we cover some of the city’s top spots where you can enjoy the natural beauty and engage in fun outdoor adventures with your children.
Olympic Sculpture Park
Olympic Sculpture Park offers a unique combination of art, nature, and play. Free to the public, it’s a space where the kids can explore large-scale sculptures set against the dramatic backdrop of Puget Sound. Remember to walk along the Z-path and enjoy the views.
Woodland Park Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo is more than just an animal haven; it’s an opportunity to learn about wildlife conservation. With engaging exhibits and lush gardens, be sure to pay a visit to the tropical rain forest and the northern trail that showcases animals from different climates.
Touch pools and daily dive shows await at the Seattle Aquarium. Situated on the waterfront, children can encounter sea life up-close, gaining a deeper appreciation for the marine inhabitants of Puget Sound. The underwater dome provides an immersive 360-degree view into a 400,000-gallon habitat.
Green Lake Park
Green Lake Park is ideal for families looking to enjoy outdoor activities. Its paved path invites you for walks, jogs, or bike rides around the lake. With playgrounds and sports courts, the park also serves as a perfect picnic spot.
At Discovery Park, you’re treated to sweeping views, open meadows, and rugged coastline. Our city’s largest park boasts miles of trails, including a popular loop that leads to a lighthouse. It’s an excellent place for hiking and observing local wildlife in their natural habitat.
Water Attractions and Cruises
When we think of Seattle, we can’t overlook the abundance of water-based activities that are perfect for families. From serene ferry rides to educational cruises, the Emerald City offers an array of ways to explore its aquatic surroundings.
Ferry Rides to Bainbridge Island
Embarking on a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island is a quintessential Seattle experience. As we glide across Puget Sound, the panoramic views of the city skyline blend with the natural beauty of the Olympic Peninsula. The ferry departs from the Seattle waterfront and provides a scenic journey that captivates both kids and adults.
- Duration: Varies but generally around 35 minutes each way
- Highlights: Stunning views of the Seattle skyline, Mt. Rainier, and Puget Sound
Argosy Cruises on Puget Sound
Argosy Cruises offers family-oriented tours that give us a unique perspective on Seattle’s waterways, including Puget Sound, the Ballard Locks—officially the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks—and the city’s historic waterfront. These narrated cruises offer insights into the area’s history and marine life, making it both a fun and educational trip for kids.
- Tour Options: Harbor Cruise, Locks Cruise, and more
- Educational Points: Local history, marine ecosystem, engineering marvels of the Ballard Locks
Riding the Water Taxi to Alki Beach
The Water Taxi is not only a convenient mode of transportation, but also a fun way to see Seattle from the water. Our ride takes us from downtown Seattle to Alki Beach in West Seattle, where we can enjoy sandy shores and beachfront parks. It’s a budget-friendly option that adds an element of adventure to our visit.
- Water Taxi Departure: Pier 50, Seattle waterfront
- Destination Fun: Alki Beach activities include beach volleyball, tide-pooling, and a flat walking path perfect for strollers
By engaging with these water attractions and cruises, our family can enjoy memorable experiences that highlight Seattle’s maritime culture.
Interactive and Hands-on Activities
We understand that interactive and educational experiences are pivotal for kids to learn and have fun. Seattle offers a variety of hands-on activities that engage young minds and encourage family participation. Here, we highlight two standout places where interactive fun is central to the experience.
Seattle Children’s Theatre
At the Seattle Children’s Theatre, families are drawn into the magical world of live performances that captivate children’s imaginations. We recognize the importance of children’s theater in fostering creativity, so we recommend their dynamic shows that often include audience participation, making each experience unique.
- Hands-on Exhibits: Some productions incorporate interactive workshops where kids can explore theatrical elements hands-on.
- Family Experience: The theater creates a welcoming atmosphere for all ages, ensuring a memorable outing for the whole family.
Kids Discovery Museum
The Kids Discovery Museum serves as a gateway to inspire the young explorers of Seattle. It’s our belief that hands-on exhibits are essential for children’s learning.
- Interactive Exhibits: The museum offers a range of exhibits that encourage kids to touch, play, and engage directly.
- Educational Approach: Their educational approach seamlessly blends fun with learning, suitable for a wide age range.
- Indoor Activities: Perfect for those rainy Seattle days, the museum provides an indoor space for children to enjoy climbing, role-playing, and interactive science displays.
Note: While this section specifically discusses the Seattle Children’s Theatre and Kids Discovery Museum, we also acknowledge other venues in Seattle that offer interactive activities suitable for kids, such as the Zoomazium at Woodland Park Zoo and various science museums in the city. Additionally, family-friendly indoor climbing gyms present another option for physically engaging and hands-on activities.
Seasonal Events and Festivals
In Seattle, we revel in a variety of seasonal events and festivals perfect for families to enjoy together. During the summer and winter, specially curated events provide not only entertainment but also opportunities to create lasting memories.
Summer Outdoor Movie Nights
During the summer, we can take advantage of long, warm evenings with Summer Outdoor Movie Nights. Venues like parks throughout Seattle host family-friendly screenings under the stars. These events typically begin at dusk, and we recommend arriving early to secure a good spot on the lawn. Don’t forget to bring some snacks and blankets for our little ones to enjoy the show!
Winterfest at Seattle Center
Come winter, Seattle Center transforms into a wonderland for Winterfest, which runs from late November through December. It’s a free festival featuring an array of family-oriented activities. We can marvel at the model train village, spin around the ice rink, and take in the lively performances. The International Fountain and the Space Needle serve as stunning backdrops to this festive celebration, creating a perfect setting for family holiday photos.