with kids

The Local's Guide to Visiting Seattle with Kids

July 22, 2021

Known for its lively waterfront, lush parks, vibrant neighborhoods, and rich museums, Seattle is a sprawling city with lots to offer adults and kids alike. Whether you’re in the mood for some outdoor family activities or would rather soak in some art and culture, you’ll have no shortage of things to do when visiting Seattle with kids.

However, creating an itinerary can be a daunting task with so many things to do and see. To get you started, here are some highlights the best things to do when visiting Seattle with kids.

Visit the Iconic Space Needle

The Space Needle is one of Seattle’s most iconic features. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the futuristic structure stands 605 feet tall and has a 520-foot saucer-shaped observation deck that offers panoramic views of the whole city.

The tower also features The Loupe: the world’s first and only rotating glass floor! Visitors can also enjoy other activities like sky-high selfies and virtual reality bungee jumping.

Please be advised that the Space Needle cannot accommodate strollers for parents with infants due to the limited space on the elevators, though they do provide a designated stroller parking area. As an alternative, you may also carry your children in car seats instead.

Explore the Rest of Seattle Center

The Space Needle makes its home in Seattle Center, but the neighborhood also hosts a slew of other well-known destinations. Its 74 acres are packed with parks, playgrounds, landmarks, and museums. Some attractions to check out with your kids include:

  • “Artists at Play” Playground. Located between the Museum of Pop Culture and the Seattle Center Armory, this unique play area features a 30-foot climbing tower, sound swings, and ADA-accessible carousels.
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass. This exhibit showcasing the works of Dale Chihuly is a must-see for surrealist art aficionados. The garden features eight galleries and a centerpiece glass house displaying 100-foot Chihuly sculpture.
  • International Fountain. Like the Space Needle the fountain dates back to the 1962 World’s Fair. 12-minute-long breathtaking musical water fountain shows occur daily.

Lunch at Queen Anne

Of course when visiting Seattle with kids you’re going to have to grab a bite at some point. When you’re done exploring Seattle Center, make a pit shop at one of any number of restaurants in surrounding vibrant  Queen Anne. The hilly neighborhood is stacked with cafes, bistros, family-style restaurants, and even kid-friendly breweries. Some great options for kids include:

  • Dick’s Drive-In. If you’re looking for a no-fuss all-American feast, Dick’s has you covered. They offer a selection of burgers, fries, and ice cream will keep your kids quite content.
  • Citizen. For families with older kids, or kids with more adventurous palates, check out Citizen. Stacked with crepes and international fusion sandwiches and apps, there’s definitely something for everyone.
  • Eden Hill Provisions. Eden Hill Provisions offers a more laid-back dining experience. Splitting the difference between comfort food and exploration, the bistro offers familiar menu items like burgers and milkshakes but also has options for more adventurous eaters.

Experience Quintessential Seattle Along the Waterfront

The waterfront along Elliot Bay is one of the most famous and scenic spaces in Seattle. With parks, museums, aquariums, marinas, seafood spots galore, and more, there’s something for the whole family.

  • Drop by the Seattle Aquarium. The Seattle Aquarium features a massive collection of sea flora and fauna from the Puget Sound and the Pacific. Check out the Pacific Coral Reef, Marine Mammals, and Window on Washington Waters in particular! Your kids will also love the tide pools, where visitors can touch sea stars and anemones.
  • Walk Along the Olympic Sculptures Park. As the name implies, the Olympic Sculptures Park is a massive sculpture garden connected with the Seattle Art Museum.
  • Explore Puget Sound by Ferry. Puget Sound is littered with islands and breathing views, and what better way to see it than by ferry? The Washington State Ferry is part of the state’s official transit system, so it also offers point-to-point transportation to nearby islands.

See Seattle From Above Aboard The Great Wheel

Built in 2012, the Great Wheel has quickly become one of Seattle’s most popular tourist attractions. With its gondolas hanging 40 feet above water at its farthest points, the famous Ferris wheel offers a stunning view of the city’s waterfront. If you nab one of the special gondolas with glass-bottomed floors, can even see the directly below!

If you’re visiting Seattle with kids who are afraid of heights, the Great Wheel also has spectacular light shows that you can watch from dry, firm land. The light shows run every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from dusk until 10:00 PM. They also have themed light shows during holidays and game days, so plan accordingly.

Shop for Souvenirs in the Pike Place Market

No trip is complete without souvenirs to take home, and Pike Place Market is one of the best places to shop for them.

Running since 1907, Pike Place Market is one of the oldest public farmers’ markets in the United States. Much like a traditional market, Pike Place is packed with fresh produce sellers, flower vendors, butchers, and fishmongers—but also has its fair share of more niche vendors. Check out:

  • Ventures Marketplace, for the travel junkie looking for local crafts and food items
  • The Soap Box if you’re looking for fragrant soaps and bubble baths
  • Lion Heart Book Store for bookworms of all ages
  • MarninSaylor for kids and kids-at-heart who like cute plush toys, keychains, stickers, and more
  • Golden Age Collectables for comics, toys, and other pop culture memorabilia

Foodies also have their pick of vendors offering everything from chocolates and candies to baked goods and cheese. Some popular options include Beecher’s Homemade Cheese, Mee Sum Pastry, and La Panier.

Explore Seattle History in Pioneer Square

First settled in 1852, Pioneer Square is the heart of historic Seattle, and the original downtown. Learn about the neighborhood’s rich history via guided tours, or check out some of the historic landmarks on your own.

  • Beneath the Streets Tour. Covering four blocks of the historic Pioneer Square and three underground passages, this tour focuses on the birth of Seattle. The guides share stories about the first inhabitants, the Klondike Gold Rush, and Skid Row.
  • Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. After the Great Fire of 1889, Pioneer Square was completely rebuilt on top of the old sidewalks and storefronts, burying a network of passages underneath. This 75-minute walking tour takes you through these passageways, a time capsule of nineteenth-century Seattle.
  • Smith Tower Observatory. The city’s first skyscraper, Smith Tower Observatory offers self-guided tours where you can check out street- and observatory-level exhibits showcasing Prohibition Era Seattle.

Relax in The Parks

Seattle is overflowing with natural parks, perfect for an afternoon with a little downtime when visiting Seattle with kids. Take a stroll, swim, or have a picnic at:

  • Volunteer Park. Situated on Capitol Hill, Volunteer Park is covered in lush greenery and sports a conservatory and several playgrounds.
  • Green Lake Park. Surrounding the namesake lake, this park offers various recreational activities such as swimming and sailing.
  • Kubota Garden. Acquired in 1987 by the city of Seattle from the late horticulturist Fujitaro Kubota, this 20-acre Japanese garden showcases a soothing collection of rock gardens and exotic flora.

Meet the Animals in Woodland Park Zoo

The Woodland Park Zoo is one of the oldest wildlife conservation organizations and zoos in the United States. Established in 1899, this 100-acre zoo is home to over 1000 animals from all over the world. The zoo also has a vast collection of over 1000 plant species. When not checking out the animals, your kids will love the indoor play park Zoomazium as well.

Learn About the History of Aviation at the Museum of Flight

Once referred to as “Jet City,” Seattle is the hub of modern commercial aviation in the U.S. Learn more about how Bill Boeing started the Pacific Aero Products Co. and other fun facts about the history of aviation than at the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field.

The Museum of Flight is the largest independent non-profit air and space museum in the world. It features a massive hangar with over 150 original and replica aircraft, including:

  • the first Air Force One aircraft
  • one of only 14 Concorde 214 supersonic jets made
  • a Lockheed 10-E Electra, restored to match Amelia Earhart’s plane
  • a replica of the 1916 Boeing Model 1 seaplane, the very first Boeing product

Visitors can also try out flight simulators and an interactive Air Traffic Control tower overlooking Boeing Field.

Make the Most Out of Visiting Seattle with Kids

Vacations are a time to unwind, have fun, and spend quality time with each other. Seattle is known as a go-to destination for parents looking to get away to a family-friendly metropolis. With the extensive selection of attractions, you’re sure to find something for every member of the family.

However, visiting Seattle with kids—visiting anywhere with kids—can also be challenging and stressful. Consider hiring a babysitter from a reputable service provider like Nanno during your trip and take an adults’ night out while on vacation, for your own peace of mind.

Nanno can help you find the perfect nanny on your vacation. All of our team is rigorously vetted, and Nanno’s matching is purpose-built to provide you with a nanny to fit your exact specifications. Rest assured that your children are in good hands and make sure that you too get to enjoy a fun, stress-free vacation.

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About Wynona March
Seattle, WA
Wynona is a writer and mom, with three children under age 6 and a penchant for crafting. She loves guiding her kids through projects of all kinds, from cooking to crafting to building a better robot.

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