If you’ve ever thought, What are the top things to do in Seattle with kids?, you’ve just stumbled upon your answer. Yours truly has always considered Seattle her hometown. I didn’t technically move to Seattle until 5th grade, but it’s where I learned to drive, where I first fell in love, and where I spent so many formative years.
Now, as an adult who’s moved away and come back as a tourist, I look at things from a different perspective. And, even more life changing, I’m now a mom, and I’ve had the opportunity to bring my kids to Seattle dozens of times.In this guide I’m going to get real specific. Of course, any tourist will want to hit up Pike Place Market and see the iconic Space Needle. But, beyond those main attractions there are lots of things I look forward to visiting every time I come back to Seattle.
- Things to do in Seattle’s Core
- Visiting Seattle’s Neighborhoods
- Rainy Day Seattle Activities
- Outdoor Seattle Activities
- Best Kid Friendly Restaurants in Seattle
- Take a Day Trip Beyond Seattle
Immerse in the Heartbeat of Seattle
Pike Place Market
One of the first stops on any list of things to do in Seattle with kids should be Pike Place Market. You’ll get to see the famous fish throwing up close an personal while wandering around some of the freshest seafood restaurants in the world. Across the street is the world famous first Starbucks location. I’m gonna be honest, I’ve never been there. I always see the queue and just walk around the corner to the other Starbucks with no line. Also, while you’re in this area you’ll want to get some pictures with the gum wall.
Seattle Art Museum
Art becomes an interactive adventure at the Seattle Art Museum. With exhibits ranging from ancient artifacts to contemporary art, it’s a great place for kids of all ages to dive into different cultures and times. Don’t miss out on the family activities and story time sessions specially curated for young children. Try and get the whole family in a photo with the gigantic hammering man that stands several stories high.
Seattle Great Wheel
Looking for a different perspective? The Seattle Great Wheel offers just that. Sitting on the Seattle waterfront, this Ferris wheel provides breathtaking views of the city, Elliott Bay, and sometimes, if the skies are clear, the magnificent Mount Rainier.
Walk the Piers
While you’re down on the waterfront you should take the chance to walk the piers. In the summer there are concerts and street performers. The Ye Old Curiosity Shop has a real life mummy named Sylvester that’s sure to spark some great conversation with little kids. If you have time, you can even wander into the Aquarium or Pier 57 Arcade for arcade games and a carousel.
West Seattle Water Taxi
For those who want to add a splash of adventure, the West Seattle Water Taxi is one of the best things to do in Seattle with kids. It’s more than just a ride, it’s an experience on the waters of Puget Sound. On a sunny day, the deck offers radiant views of the skyline, and if you’re lucky, you might spot some marine life! Once you reach West Seattle, Alki Beach is a great spot to stretch those legs and build some sandcastles.
Zip through downtown Seattle on the Seattle Center Monorail. Originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair, this short but sweet ride offers a quick, fun, and efficient way to travel between Westlake Center and Seattle Center. Kids will love the retro vibe, and it’s a fantastic way to introduce them to the city’s rich history. Just be careful near Westlake Mall which is the entrance to the monorail, it’s a little dicey these days in terms of safety.
Discover Seattle’s Neighborhoods
I spent a lot of time in Ballard because my best friend and boyfriend both went to high school in this neighborhood. The vibe has changed so much! It used to be a sleepy fishing village, but it’s now buzzing with energy and great hipster restaurants. Stroll along the historic Ballard Locks, where kids can watch boats navigate between freshwater and saltwater and see salmon climb a fish ladder. Dive deeper into history with a visit to the Nordic Museum, or simply enjoy a lazy afternoon at Golden Gardens Beach, watching the sun dip behind the Olympic Mountains.
Dubbed the “Center of the Universe,” Fremont is a delightful blend of whimsy and creativity. Climb on the famous Fremont Troll, a colossal sculpture tucked under a bridge, clutching an actual Volkswagen Beetle. Kids will surely giggle at the sight! Also, don’t forget to join the guided art walks, and make a pitstop at the Fremont Rocket for a cosmic photo op.
Green Lake is where the city meets nature. A favorite among locals and tourists, the paved path encircling the lake is perfect for a family walk, bike ride, or roller skating. Rent paddle boats or canoes to explore the lake’s waters or spread out a picnic blanket on its lush grassy shores. You can spot ducks, enjoy a game of basketball, or just soak in the Seattle area vibes.
Ok, I’m gonna be real honest, I’m not sure I’d be willing to take my kids to Capital Hill at the moment. Volunteer Park is dope and has a conservatory and a playground. There’s a really cute toy shop called Bootyland and of course Molly Moon’s homemade ice cream. But, it is also filled with homeless people and is the scene of regular violence. It’s really hard to see my hometown fall into such a state of disrepair, but I don’t want any parents to arrive at a destination I’ve suggested and feel uncomfortable.
End your neighborhood hop at Queen Anne, Seattle’s hilltop treasure. If you’ve ever seen 10 Things I Hate About You, they use the road at the top of Kerry Park in a scene of Katniss driving. You’ll get a picture perfect view of the iconic Space Needle, Elliott Bay, and the distant Mount Rainier, all in one frame. As the city lights begin to twinkle, it’s a place that professional photographers come set up their mega lenses each and every night.
Indoor Activities in Seattle for Kids
The Pacific Science Center
Rain or shine, the Pacific Science Center is a haven for young explorers. Dive into interactive exhibits, from vibrant butterfly houses to dazzling planetarium shows. Kids can get hands-on with science experiments, making learning not just fun but unforgettable. My kids have loved their numerous trips where they’ve ridden on bicycles high above the air and been shocked by roaring dinosaurs. There are even touch tide pools for brave little explorers.
Seattle Children’s Museum
Located at the base of the Space Needle in the Seattle Center Armory, the Seattle Children’s Museum beckons with a world of imagination. Spanning over 18,000 square feet, every nook and cranny invites kids to play, touch, and discover. Whether they’re pretending to shop at the miniature grocery store or exploring global cultures, there’s a delightful blend of education and entertainment. What’s great is that the museum is a one stop rainy day activity because upstairs is a food court and even a Kraken gift shop for souvenirs.
Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
Music lovers, unite! MoPOP is where pop culture and creativity collide. Walk through exhibits that celebrate music legends, sci-fi adventures, and video game milestones. With hands-on instrument stations and sound labs, kids can create their own musical magic. It’s a rhythmic journey through the beats of history. There are rotating exhibits along with the core offerings, my kids have loved Jim Henson and Hello Kitty exhibits.
At the Seattle Aquarium, underwater wonders await. Witness the mesmerizing dance of jellyfish, come face-to-face with playful sea otters, and learn about the Pacific Northwest’s marine life. Interactive touch pools and captivating diver shows make it an oceanic adventure for all ages. There are tubes where fish surround you and multi story walls of tank to let your eyes wander around.
Indoor Play Spaces
Seattle boasts a plethora of indoor play spaces, ideal for those drizzly days. From trampoline parks to climbing walls, imaginative play zones to obstacle courses, there’s a spot for every kid’s energy level. Let them bounce, climb, slide, and laugh their way through the day, while you relax with a cup of Seattle’s finest brew.
Rain in Seattle doesn’t mean the fun stops, it simply moves indoors! These indoor havens promise hours of entertainment, learning, and adventure. So, even if the skies are gray, your family’s day out in Seattle will be anything but dull.
Embracing Seattle’s Nature
I feel so lucky that I lived just 2 blocks from the entrance to Seattle’s largest city park, Discovery Park. You can wander through meadows, forests, and beaches, all within the city’s limits. Breathtaking views of the Puget Sound and Mount Rainier stand as a testament to Seattle’s natural splendor. Pack a charcuterie board, spot local wildlife, and let the kids run free in this urban escape.
Washington Park Arboretum
Discover a living, breathing canvas at the Washington Park Arboretum. Every season brings a burst of color, from cherry blossoms in spring to fiery foliage in fall. Traverse the boardwalks of the wetlands, let the kids marvel at the tree canopies, and immerse yourself in a world of botanical wonders. It’s nature’s art gallery, waiting to be explored.
Green Lake Park
For those who prefer to be on or near the water, Green Lake Park is a must-visit. Rent paddleboards, kayaks, or pedal boats, and let the serene waters become your playground. With a 2.8-mile path surrounding the lake, it’s also perfect for jogging, biking, or leisurely strolls. The shimmering waters paired with Seattle’s skyline? It’s pure magic.
Woodland Park Zoo
Bridging the gap between urban life and the wild, the Woodland Park Zoo is an outdoor experience unlike any other. This zoo is different because the animals are on windy paths and require more exploration and searching than your average zoo. They have majestic lions, playful penguins, and towering giraffes. Engaging animal shows and conservation programs ensure not only entertainment but also education for the older kids. On Tuesday’s you can feed the giraffe, a day that I’ve apparently never been to the zoo.
A short drive from Seattle, Mount Si beckons the more adventurous families. Hike up its trails, and be rewarded with panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains and Seattle’s skyline. Whether you’re beginners or seasoned hikers, the beauty of Mount Si promises a memorable outdoor escapade. Seattle’s outdoor allure is undeniable. From tranquil parks to adventurous hikes, there’s something for every nature enthusiast in the family.
Kid-friendly Eats and Treats
I’m going to let you in on the perfect place to eat in Seattle. I’m talking, if I land in Seattle this is the first place I’m going to eat. My kids are picky eaters, so anything that’s not burgers or pasta is a win for me. Nikos Gyros has pita style sandwiches with cheese and a couple veggies. Plus, the greek fries are seasoned to perfection so you know it’s not fast food. This place is always a winner.
Gosh, I feel like I’m revealing my inner most secrets here. If I am eating a second meal in Seattle it will always be at 13 Coins. Sadly the original location closed down, but the one by Lumen Field serves up The Believer without skipping a beat. You’ll also love the bucket of clams, eggs benedict, lobster mac and cheese, or steak David. Bonus, this place is open 24/7 so even with a weird travel schedule you can always get a delicious meal.
Nestled by the water, Chinook’s serves up a seafood feast that’s both fresh and kid-friendly. Whether it’s crispy fish and chips or creamy clam chowder, the menu ensures happy tummies all around. Plus, the view of ferries gliding by adds a touch of maritime magic to your meal.
My family loves this restaurant so much that they actually went up to celebrate the 25th anniversary even though we had moved away by then. Chips to your table, authentic Mexican vibe, and delicious food. It’s been the same family operating this restaurant for so long and the neighborhood absolutely loves it.
Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
No visit is complete without indulging in Molly Moon’s delectable ice creams. With flavors ranging from classic vanilla to quirky seasonal specials, every scoop promises joy. Let the kids pick their favorites and watch as smiles spread with every lick. It’s nostalgia and novelty, all rolled into one.
Theo Chocolate Factory
Embark on a sensory journey at Theo Chocolate Factory. Not only can you treat your kids to mouth-watering chocolates, but you can also give them a behind-the-scenes look at how their favorite sweets are made. The aroma of cocoa, the sight of molten chocolate, and of course, the taste of fresh confections — it’s a multi-sensory delight.
A Short Road Trip from Seattle with Kids
Just a short drive from Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls awaits, offering a breathtaking spectacle for families. Witness the roaring cascade of water tumbling down 268 feet. Don’t forget the viewing platforms; they’re tailor-made for those Instagram-worthy family photos. Nature’s grandeur is only a hop, skip, and jump away.
Ever dreamt of a European escapade with the kids without leaving the U.S? Leavenworth is your answer. This charming Bavarian-themed town is replete with Alpine-style buildings, quaint shops, and festivals that bring German traditions to life. Dive into a plate of bratwurst, let the kids join in folk dancing, and feel the European vibes right here in Washington.
Mount Rainier National Park
Elevate your road trip, quite literally, at Mount Rainier National Park. With scenic drives, accessible trails, and panoramic views, it’s an alpine paradise for families. Whether building a snowman at Paradise in the winter or spotting wildflowers in the summer, Mount Rainier promises year-round fun.
Board a ferry from Seattle and find yourself on the serene shores of Bainbridge Island. Here, kids can explore the interactive Kids Discovery Museum, wander the Bloedel Reserve, or simply enjoy beach combing. The island vibe, combined with Pacific Northwest beauty, makes it a refreshing pitstop.
Olympic National Park
From misty rainforests to rugged coastlines, Olympic National Park showcases the diverse landscapes of Washington. Families can hike amidst ancient trees in the Hoh Rainforest, dip their toes in the Pacific at Ruby Beach, or watch for wildlife in the alpine meadows of Hurricane Ridge. A trifecta of nature’s best, all in one park.
Your Seattle Adventure with Kids
Seattle in the 90’s was one of the best places to grow up. If you visit during the summer months you’ll have Folk Life, the Bite of Seattle, and Bumbershoot all happening at Seattle Center. There are so many kid-friendly activities and fun things for adults too. My mouth was watering just thinking about the food scene in Seattle. I know you’ll really enjoy all the things to do in Seattle with kids no matter what time of year you decide to visit.
The Ultimate Family Getaway
One of the best ways for families to start planning their vacation is to ask their kids to research the location. Your kids will be the best judge of what will ensure they have a good time. My kids regularly surprise me by finding water features I’ve never seen or festivals that just happen to coincide with our trips. Letting your kids get involved is a great way to find the best activities with minimal effort.
Seattle All Year Round
No matter the season or the weather, Seattle opens its arms wide to families. Satisfy tiny taste buds with local eats, embrace the great outdoors in lush parks, or hit the road to explore neighboring gems. Every corner of Seattle and its surrounds whispers a new story.
One Adventure at a Time
There’s no denying it, Seattle is a treasure trove for family fun. Dive deep into its heart, wander its neighborhoods, or journey just beyond its limits. Every moment spent here is an opportunity to bond, to learn, and to marvel together. Seattle is waiting.