Seattle brings up images of warm coffee on a rainy day, the '90s grunge movement and the Space Needle. But this seaport city is also home to gorgeous views of Mount Rainier, cool museums and art exhibits, awesome day trips, water activities and yes, even sunshine. The ”Emerald City” gave us Jimi Hendrix, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and even Sir Mix-a-Lot, which is probably why Seattle ranks as one of America’s coolest cities. If you want to rank among the toadally coolest parents, check out the top things to do in Seattle with kids for ways to blow their minds on a unique family vacation!
Top Things to Do in Seattle with Kids
Take Them to the Top of the Space Needle
The Space Needle is by far the most iconic structure in Seattle. It's also one of the top things to do in Seattle with kids. You can soar to the observation deck in just 41 seconds for amazing 360° views from 520 feet up. It’s best to visit on a clear day.
Peruse Pike Place Market
Pike Place is the original farmers market, established in 1907. You can peruse the nine acres of market to find local produce, crafts, collectibles, bakeries, cafes and diners while being entertained by street performers. Kids will love posing for a photo with Rachel, the giant bronze piggybank! Get your camera ready to catch them tossing fish at the fish market.
No trip to Pike Place is complete without a visit to the Gum Wall. The Gum Wall is just outside the main entrance to the market. What’s a gum wall? It is literally a 50-foot alley wall that’s been covered in what we call ABC (already been chewed) gum! Germaphobes may want to skip this attraction. But if your kids love the quirky, then you’ll probably have to buy a pack of gum, get chewing and make your contribution. The same kids who love the Gum Wall will probably get their kicks at the Giant Shoe Museum at Pike Place … or perhaps the Fremont Troll statue under the Aurora Ave Bridge? Pike Place Market offers tons of things to do in Seattle with kids.
After the fire of 1889, the city was rebuilt on top of the old city. That left the storefronts and sidewalks, well, entombed underground. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour takes you through these tunnels back to Seattle at the turn of the century. You’ll hear hilarious stories of the pioneers and end your tour in historic Pioneer Square.
Pop into Museums and Art Exhibits
Seattle offers some unique museums that differ from the typical museums you might find in other large cities. Kids, tweens and teens will be intrigued by the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). At this museum, which is on the Seattle Center campus adjacent to the Space Needle and Monorail, you can find something to tickle your pop culture fancy in music, science fiction, fantasy, horror, sports, video games or fashion.
Seattle used to be known as “Jet City.” There are a couple of museums that nod to this piece of Seattle’s history. Make a stop over at the Museum of Flight to see airplanes from the first 100 years of aviation history. There’s a kids' flight zone and several flight simulators. After getting a look at the history of flight, take off to the north of the city to get a glimpse of the Future of Flight (Boeing Factory Tour).
The Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit at Seattle Center provides a look at the inspiration of glass artist Dale Chihuly. The colorful art, Glasshouse and galleries will definitely inspire your budding young artists.
The entire lower level of the Seattle Art Museum — which is the part most tadpoles will enjoy — is free! We always love the sound of free entertainment. This is definitely one of the top things to do in Seattle with kids!
Kids under 10 will stretch their imagination at the Seattle Children’s Museum. Tadpoles can explore cause and effect at the Cog City exhibit, play eye doctor, play with trains, build a fort and so much more.
Find your inner pinball wizard at the Seattle Pinball Museum. It's home to over 50 vintage and modern games. You can play all of them for free after you pay an entrance fee.
Discover Discovery Park
If you are looking for things to do in Seattle with kids that include some outside nature time, Discovery Park has it all. Hike in the forest, play on sandy beaches and dunes or view abundant wildlife and sweeping views at Seattle’s largest park overlooking Puget Sound. It has a play area that is accessible to children of all abilities. Check the tide schedule. If you hit low tide, you can explore the tide pools while you're there.
Make a Splash
So much water surrounds Seattle that you’ll want to take advantage with some water excursions. You can book a wildlife and whale watching tour or take a scenic cruise. It's fun to act like a frog and explore Seattle by both land and water in an amphibious vehicle when you ride the Ducks of Seattle. There are fishing trips and ferries for visiting other cities and islands.
April though October you can rent kayaks, canoes and rowboats from the Waterfront Activities Center at University of Washington. You can look for wildlife such as Bald eagles and osprey, and explore the shores of Union Bay. Union Bay is the gateway to Lake Washington. There are also several locations that rent paddleboards in the Seattle and Carillon Point Kirkland areas.
Explore New Territory
Almost at the top on our list of our favorite things to do in Seattle with kids is getting in touch with a sense of adventure. Seattle is located on an isthmus between Puget Sound and Lake Washington. You can go Salmon Fishing in Puget Sound, or take a ferry to Victoria, BC. You can also venture towards the east side of Lake Washington. Kirkland has a marina and many great restaurants and coffee shops. You can go hiking at the beautiful, 270-foot Snoqualimie Falls, about 30 miles from Seattle. If you have the time to explore, you’ll have many opportunities to take your journey into the greater Seattle area for day trips or short getaways. What a perfect way to explore the outdoors in Seattle with kids!
Another fun day trip is to pack a picnic and visit Mount Rainier. The peak is about 75 miles from Seattle. There are tours that allow you to relax on the journey there and to remove the stress of knowing what to see and do since the tour will take you though all of the highlights such as massive glaciers, thundering waterfalls, evergreen forests and meadows full of wildflowers.
See a Sports Game
Perhaps the Seattle Seahawks have been on your radar since they won the Super Bowl in 2013. Sports fans may want to catch a Seahawks football game at CenturyLink Field or a Seattle Mariners baseball game at T-Mobile Park while in Seattle, depending on the sports season. Both T-Mobile and CenturyLink offer tours of the facilities. If your tadpoles are really into sports, then this could be one of the coolest things to do in Seattle with kids.
Shop at Sub Pop
Save some souvenir money (and a little extra time) to shop at the airport. You’ll want to stop at the Sub Pop Airport Store at Sea-Tac Airport, near Concourse C. It’s the hipster cool shop for all your unique Pacific Northwest and Seattle-based record label Sub Pop Mega Store items.
Save Money on Your Trip to Seattle with Kids
Covering many of the top things to do in Seattle with kids will keep you pretty busy. If you plan to hit several attractions like the Space Needle, a Harbor Cruise and a trip to a museum then purchase a Go Seattle Card. The card will help you save money by offering unlimited admission to over 35 area attractions. If you are looking for the perfect family hotel in Seattle, be sure to check out Undercover Tourist’s hoppin’ deals on lodging.
You are in for a fun trip to Seattle, where you can balance your journey with some culture, history and outdoor adventure. So pack your raincoats (umbrellas are just for tourists, by the way), practical shoes and Starbucks cards for your trip to the Pacific Northwest.
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