The largest city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle, Washington is a fun city full of stunning skyscrapers, great museums, an impressive art scene… and some great coffee.
The Emerald City is nestled in the banks of Puget Sound and is less than 150 miles from Vancouver, Canada. While it may get a bad reputation due to its weather, the amount of rain, and common gray skies, Seattle is surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country which makes it almost a hidden gem for tourists. With big companies like Microsoft, Starbucks, Expedia, and Amazon calling Seattle home, people from all over the world make this city extremely diverse.
Being a major hub for Alaska Airlines, flying into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is easy no matter where you are coming from. While visitors from Vancouver are less than a 3-hour drive away, other West Coast cities like Los Angeles can fly in about the same amount of time.
While Seattle may not be the first city that comes to mind when looking for a family vacation, the city has plenty to do for everyone in the family. From parks and playgrounds to theater and good food, it may be time to bring the kids to Seattle — just be sure to bring a raincoat!
Here is a quick list of some of the best things to do with kids in Seattle. While certainly not exhaustive, there is more than enough for a long weekend with the family. Let’s check it out!
The Best Activities in Seattle With Kids
1. Indulge at Full Tilt Ice Cream
If you asked a group of kids to make a list of things they would love to do, there is a pretty good chance that you could check off a few items from that list at Full Tilt Ice Cream.
This “outrageous” ice cream shop has found the formula for a good time for people of all ages. With creative frozen desserts and ice creams, eclectic sodas, vintage arcade games, and some awesome pinball machines, everyone in the family is bound to have a good time. Add in some great (often live) music and local craft beers, and you may find yourself spending a few hours here.
With 4 locations throughout Seattle, adding Full Tilt Ice Cream to your itinerary is a good idea.
2. Grab Some Food at Pike Place Market
When you Google “Seattle” one of the first things that you will see is Pike Place Market and vendors tossing fish to each other. This public market on the waterfront originally opened in 1907 by some local farmers looking to sell fish, meat, and produce directly to consumers. Since then, it has become one of Seattle’s most popular attractions and is now the oldest continuously operating farmer’s markets in the country.
Today you can visit to get some fresh food, sit down for a meal, have a drink, and even do some shopping. The kids will love the busy atmosphere and plethora of dining and dessert options, while mom and dad will certainly enjoy checking out the location of the world’s first Starbucks.
Generally open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., this is a great spot to swing by during the day, especially for lunch or an early dinner.
3. Zoom Around on the Seattle Center Monorail
Quick, fun, and cheap are 3 words that parents love to hear when looking for activities for their kids, and the Seattle Center Monorail can accomplish all of them.
Located in downtown Seattle, this 0.9-mile long monorail that runs down 5th Avenue between Seattle Center and Westlake Center is a popular tourist attraction as well as a functioning part of the public transportation system. Passengers can hop on for the 2-minute ride at $3 per adult and kids under 5 and under ride free. Everyone else pays just $1.50.
Whether you are trying to get from one end of town to the other, or just want to go for a quick ride to see a smile on your kid’s face, a ride on the Seattle Center Monorail will do the trick.
4. Ride the Seattle Great Wheel
Looking at the Seattle skyline, it is hard to miss the Seattle Great Wheel. Opened in 2012, this giant Ferris wheel is the tallest Ferris wheel on the West Coast, measuring 175 feet, and is uniquely built 40 feet out over Elliott Bay.
At night the Great Wheel gets lit up with over 500,000 LED lights and guests can ride in one of the 42 climate-controlled gondolas for a 12-minute series of loops that provide great views of the city and bay.
Whether you want to go for a ride or just want to check out the light show down by the water, the kids will be sure to love the Seattle Great Wheel.
5. Reach the Top of the Space Needle
Opened in 1962 for the World’s Fair, the Seattle Space Needle is a must-visit for anyone heading to the Emerald City. This iconic tower and observatory helps make Seattle’s skyline instantly recognizable and is one of the most popular attractions in the city and region.
Kids and parents will love (or hate!) the 520-foot glass elevator ride to the top where they will get stunning views of Seattle, Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, and Mount Rainer. Once up top, the panoramic Observation Deck makes for some great photo opportunities.
If you can sneak away from the kids for a bit and want to enjoy a cocktail with a view, head to The Loupe Lounge which is the world’s first and only revolving bar with a glass floor.
Hot Tip: If you are flying to Seattle, here is a full list of airport lounges at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).
6. Take a Tour at Theo Chocolate
Founded in 2006, Theo Chocolate was the first organic, fair trade bean-to-bar chocolate maker in North America. Not only do they make great chocolate, but they also do so with a conscience — so you can feel good about the amount of chocolate you are about to eat!
The award-winning chocolate will be the highlight for the kids, but you can take a tour of the factory, located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, which is as educational as it is tasty.
The Best Museums in Seattle With Kids
7. Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
The oldest museum in Washington, which was uniquely founded by teenagers in a high school naturalist club back in 1879, is the Burke Museum of Natual History and Culture.
Located on the campus of the University of Washington, this Smithsonian Affiliate museum has over 16 million artifacts and boasts the largest collection of spread bird wings in the world.
Some of the incredible exhibits highlight contemporary culture, fossils, and paleontology, local Native American art, as well as landscape and native plants. In addition to all of that, there are special experiences for families, immersive play spaces, and even a Girls in Science mentorship.
For museum fans, this is worth putting on your itinerary.
Fans of contemporary popular culture will not want to miss the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) while in Seattle.
The museum’s mission is “to make creative expression a life-changing force by offering experiences that inspire and connect our communities.” With exhibitions highlighting the LGBTQ rights movement, indie game revolution, legends in music, and even The Art of the Disney Costume, there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy and learn about.
Once you are done with the museum, don’t miss the awesome Artists at Play playground just around the corner. This playground is home to a 30-foot climbing tower, a labyrinth, an ADA-accessible human-powered carousel, and plenty more creative and interactive attractions for kids of all ages.
9. The Museum of Flight
We are big fans of aviation, so it’s no surprise that adding the Museum of Flight to this list was mandatory. Located on the site of the original Boeing factory, this massive museum features over 160 air and spacecraft, flight simulators, family activities, and interactive exhibits.
The kids (and adults, if we are being honest) will love getting up close to fighter jets, the supersonic Concorde, a full-scale NASA Space Shuttle Trainer, and even a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and a 747!
Once you are done with your tour, relax at the café where there is a playground for the little ones and incredible views of Mt. Rainer.
Hot Tip: If you want to get a feel for exhibits before you arrive, check out the Museum of Flight virtual tour.
10. Pacific Science Center
Kids will love exploring and learning at the Pacific Science Center. With a goal to bring science to life and ignite curiosity via hundreds of interactive experiences and exhibits, the Pacific Science Center is the perfect spot to squeeze a little education into your Seattle visit.
With everything from a saltwater tide pool, to a butterfly garden, to a giant IMAX screen and planetarium, exploring this gem will be unforgettable. The award-winning interactive programs, including the Tinker Tank, allow kids to get hands-on and work on their creative problem-solving skills in a fun and constructive environment.
Visiting the center or the nearby 320-acre wetland nature park in Bellevue is a great way to get your kids interested in science.
11. Seattle Aquarium
For parents looking for something fun and educational to do with their kids, heading to the Seattle Aquarium is sure to please everyone in the family. Conveniently located on Seattle’s downtown Elliott Bay waterfront, this impressive aquarium has a lot to see.
The 120,000-gallon Window on Washington Waters is a massive tank designed to replicate the coastal waters of Washington state that are full of Northwest sea life and has divers giving daily demonstrations. For adventurous visitors, you can visit the tide pool exhibit and touch live starfish, sea urchins, and more.
For an even more unique view, head down to the Underwater Dome and experience views of fish and other creatures like never before. If you have any animal lovers in the family, this is a must-visit on your next trip to Seattle.
12. Seattle Children’s Museum
There is nothing really like a good children’s museum to get the creativity and imagination flowing in kids, and that is no different at the Seattle Children’s Museum.
With exhibits focusing on STEM, art, and culture, kids and parents will have fun getting hands-on and exploring the museum. Specially designed for kids from 8 months old to 8 years old, if your little one falls into that age range, consider spending a few hours at this 18,000-square-foot Seattle gem.
Located right near the Space Needle in the Seattle Center, you will probably already be in the area, so it will be easy to get to!
13. Seattle Children’s Theatre
If you have an aspiring little thespian in your family, take them to a show at Seattle’s Children’s Theatre. Located right near the Seattle Children’s Museum and Space Needle, it is convenient and easy to find.
Seattle’s theatre scene is already well-known, so having a theatre dedicated to putting on shows for younger audiences just makes sense. With performances, camps, and classes meant to provide children of all ages with access to professional theatre, this is a special opportunity that you won’t find in many other places.
14. Seattle Pinball Museum
Traveling to Seattle with kids… or without… stopping by the Seattle Pinball Museum is a guaranteed good time.
This shrine to the classic arcade game is packed with history about pinball, but the best part is that you can play with all of the exhibits! With over 50 machines, each with a backstory, you can play them all to your heart’s content as unlimited play is included with admission.
While kids of any age are welcome to visit the museum, only children 7 and older can play the pinball machines.
Located in Chinatown, after you are done working up an appetite, you are in a great location for some excellent food.
15. Woodland Park Zoo
Dating back to 1899, the Woodland Park Zoo has been a part of the Northwest animal conservation scene for generations. Winning dozens of awards, the zoo is famous for its naturalistic exhibits as well as for setting international standards for animal care, conservation, and its educational programs.
With an impressive array of both local and exotic animals, kids will be able to get an up-close view of some of the most impressive creatures on earth. From the Tropical Asia jungle to the African Savanna exhibit, the habitats are stunning and are home to some of the world’s most endangered animals.
For smaller kids, there is an indoor play area that encourages education, exploration, exercise, and fun. With so much to do, if your family likes zoos, you should plan to spend a full day at the Woodland Park Zoo.
The Best Sports in Seattle With Kids
16. Lumen Field (Seattle Seahawks, NFL)
Most recently known as Century Link Field (and Qwest Field and Seahawks Stadium before that), Lumen Field is home to the Seattle Seahawks football team and Seattle Sounders soccer team.
This modern 68,000-seat stadium is conveniently located downtown and has great views of the Seattle skyline. There is always something going on at Lumen Field, whether it be a Seahawks or Sounders game, concert, or a show at the attached Washington Music Theater (WAMU Theater), so it’s worth checking out what might be interesting for your family.
For the younger sports fans, a visit during a Seahawks gameday could be fun as fans are known as the “12th Man” and have twice broken the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd roar at an outdoor stadium!
17. T-Mobile Park (Seattle Mariners, MLB)
Spending the day at the ballpark is a great family activity, and that is no different at T-Mobile Park (formerly known as Safeco Field) in Seattle. Located in the SoDo neighborhood, this stadium features a retractable roof, so even if the weather is bad, you can still catch a game.
If your kids think a baseball game is too long and boring to watch, there is plenty for them to do throughout the ballpark. They can head down to The Moose Den in center field and “Meet the Moose” for photographs and autographs with the Mariner Moose mascot.
There is also the Kids Corner which is full of fun baseball-themed activities like timed runs, hitting and pitching challenges, and photo opportunities.
Hot Tip: If you are visiting for the first time, be sure to stop by the Guest Experience Center at Section 128 or 329 for a first game certificate!
The Best Walks in Seattle With Kids
18. Alki Beach Park
While it’s not often you will find beach weather in Seattle, if you are lucky enough to during your visit, be sure to check out Alki Beach Park.
The 136-acre park in West Seattle is a popular spot for walking, rollerblading, biking, beach volleyball, and just running around — which is great for kids! With a nice strip of sand to relax on and enjoy the view of the skyline, adding a beach day to your next Seattle trip is possible.
Surrounded by bars, restaurants (try the fish and chips), and even a replica Statue of Liberty, a visit to Alki Beach Park is always a good idea.
19. Discovery Park
Located just 6 miles north of Seattle on the shores of Puget Sound, you will think you are hours away from the city based on the serenity and beauty of Discovery Park.
With 534 acres of nature to explore, your family will love the variety of walking trails (almost 12 miles), beaches, mountain views, and wildlife, including harbor seals and California sea lions.
This beautiful sanctuary is the city’s largest park and an excellent spot to bring the kids to experience some of legendary Northwest nature. And don’t worry, there’s a playground, too!
20. Olympic Sculpture Park
Outdoor space, a downtown location, stunning art, and a beach, Olympic Sculpture Park pretty much has it all. Located in downtown Seattle along the Puget Sound, this 9-acre park and outdoor museum is a great stop for families with kids.
Admission is free to admire the permanent and temporary works at this award-winning sculpture park, so even if your little ones aren’t the biggest fans of art, it costs nothing to show them some really cool pieces.
21. Volunteer Park
Conveniently located in the downtown Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Volunteer Park is beloved by residents and visitors for many reasons.
The 48-acre park has plenty of green space, water features, and a conservatory, as well as the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Kids will love running through the beautiful landscaping and alongside the lily and koi ponds and parents will love the downtown location that makes it easy to fit into the rest of the itinerary.
Whether you are looking for a place for a picnic, or just want to check it out on your way to another Seattle attraction, Volunteer Park won’t disappoint.
Seattle is a quirky and fun gem of a city in the Pacific Northwest. The Emerald City has something for everyone, including beaches (shocking, right?!), beautiful parks, world-class museums, iconic attractions (like the Space Needle), and more.
With essentially all of the major airlines flying into Seattle, getting into town is easy, and once you’re there you won’t be disappointed. From the food scene to the art scene, kids and adults will have a blast exploring this American city.
Although we covered a lot of attractions in this guide, if you think we left something out, let us know in the comments or come join the conversation in our Facebook Group, Level UP Travel!