As far as fun family things to do in Seattle, families are in for a treat when visiting this lovely place in the Pacific Northwest. The largest city in the state of Washington boasts rich cultural activities and outdoor adventures set against the Puget Sound. Seattle kid activities offer eclectic experiences from the Seattle Center to discovering legendary music at the Museum of Pop Culture. Animal lovers can also look forward to spending time at the Seattle Aquarium and the Woodland Park Zoo. Find out more about all of the fantastic family things to do in Seattle.
1. See the sites at the Seattle Center
Seattle family vacations are not complete without visiting the Seattle Center. Originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair, this thriving shopping, dining, and entertainment complex is a one-stop fun spot for all ages. The first stop is the Space Needle, a landmark attraction featuring 360-degree views of downtown, Mount Rainier, the Puget Sound, and the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges. The Artists at Play playground has a futuristic feel with cool features such as a 30 ft. climbing wall, carousel, and a labyrinth to explore. Other notable places to visit include the Seattle Children’s Theatre, Armory Food & Event Hall, and the Monorail.
2. Soar high on The Seattle Great Wheel
When it comes to family things to do in Seattle, The Seattle Great Wheel provides bonding while enjoying a bird’s eye view of the scenery. Located at Miner’s Landing at Pier 57, the tallest observation wheel on the West Coast stands at 175 feet with enclosed gondolas that extend 40 feet over Elliott Bay. The attraction is covered in 500,000 LED lights on the weekends and is all aglow during the evening light shows. If time permits, stop by Wings Over Washington for an aerial adventure at the flying theater.
3. Walk around Pike Place Market
As one of the oldest public markets in the United States, Pike Place Market stimulates the senses with over 400 shops including farmer’s stands, fishmongers, a crafts market, and some of the most inviting family restaurants in Seattle, including Lowell’s Restaurant & Bar and Shug’s Soda Fountain & Ice Cream. Since 1907, the downtown neighborhood from Pike Street to Virginia Street and from 1st Avenue West to Western Avenue continues to delight visitors. No visit is complete without taking photos in front of the bronze Rachel the Piggy Bank sculpture, visiting the Giant Shoe Museum, and watching talented buskers do their thing.
4. Marvel at the history of aviation at The Museum of Flight
Kids who love playing with planes will have a field day at The Museum of Flight. Located at the southern end of King County International Airport, aka Boeing Field, in Tukwila just south of Seattle, the largest independent nonprofit air and space museum in the world has quite the collection of aircraft and spacecraft. Along with the Lockheed A-12 MD Blackbird, which was built in 1964 and the sole surviving kind of its type, and the NASA Full Fuselage Trainer, there are exciting exhibits, including the Kid’s Flight Zone, an immersive experience where young ones can test their piloting skills.
5. Discover colorful creations at Chihuly Garden and Glass
Northwest artist Dale Chihuly’s original artistic vision comes to life at Chihuly Garden and Glass. Exploring the exquisite collection of glass formations happens to stand out when it comes to family things to do in Seattle. Set in the Seattle Center, the experience features eight galleries, gardens, and the centerpiece glasshouse, a striking 40-foot tall glass and steel structure in vibrant hues of red, orange, yellow, and amber. At the theater, videos provide a glimpse into his process and extraordinary work that is recognized the world over.
6. Go down memory lane at the Museum of Pop Culture
In the Museum of Pop Culture at the Seattle Center, movies and other gems inspire exploration. Home to one of the biggest collections of contemporary pop culture objects, MoPOP connects audiences with artists and movements of the past through awe-inspiring exhibits and an archive. At Fantasy Worlds of Myth and Magic, there are whimsical artifacts from the Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter™, while Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction features fun stuff from sci-fi flicks such as Star Wars. Music fans are sure to learn a lot at the Guitar Gallery and Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses.
7. Inspire curious minds at the Pacific Science Center
What began as the United States Science Pavilion at the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle has since transformed to the Pacific Science Center. Known as one of the most popular Seattle kids’ activities, the enriching destination encourages young minds to experiment and explore with highly engaging interactive experiences, shows, and innovative programming focusing on science, math, engineering, and technology. Exhibits that are sure to pique young ones’ interest include We Are Data, the Tropical Butterfly House, and VR Experiences. Also onsite are the Boeing IMAX Theater and the Laser Dome featuring stunning imagery and sounds for all.
8. Witness the beauty of marine life at the Seattle Aquarium
Since opening in 1977, the Seattle Aquarium remains a must-visit attraction while on a family vacation in Seattle. Set on Pier 59 on the Elliott Bay waterfront, the aquarium welcomes children and their parents to not only discover the Puget Sound but to learn about marine conservation through its engaging programming. Highlights include the sea otters, harbor seals, and fur seals playing and diving at the Marine Mammals exhibit. There is also a family center that shines the spotlight on local orcas and a magnificent Undersea Dome featuring 360-degree views of local salmon, sturgeon, and other fish.
9. Watch kids go wild over all the animals at Woodland Park Zoo
One way to spend a splendid day while on a family vacation in Seattle is to gather the gang and head to Woodland Park Zoo. The wildlife conservation organization and zoological garden is situated in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood and is home to more than 900 animals and 250 species. Walking through the zoo is like traveling the world with the different bioclimatic zones, including Tropical Asia with its orangutans, tigers, and sloth bears, and Africa Savanna where lions, zebras, and giraffes roam. Kids will also get a kick out of the Growing Up Gorilla and Humboldt Penguin exhibits.
10. Enjoy the scenery aboard Washington State Ferries
If looking for family things to do in Seattle that is easy on the wallet, then a ride on one of the Washington State Ferries is in order. The passenger ferry service is not only relaxing, but it offers incredible views of this stunning part of the Pacific Northwest. The ferry provides a convenient way to venture elsewhere in the vicinity, including Bainbridge Island, which takes around 35 minutes to get to from Colman Dock. Once you arrive, there are several points to enjoy such as the 150-acre Bloedel Reserve garden and Fay Bainbridge with a pirate-themed playground and water views.
11.Take them out to a ballgame or a tour at T-Mobile Park
Calling all baseball fans, T-Mobile Park is a fabulous place to add to the Seattle family vacation itinerary. Set in the SoDo neighborhood, the modern baseball park offers action-packed sports with the hometown team, the Seattle Mariners, taking to the field during the spring and summer seasons. Along with watching home runs happen and sunsets over Puget Sound, families can also take a “behind-the-seams” tour with stops to the Press Box, Owners Suite, playing field, and more. The park is also home to the Mariners Hall of Fame and hosts events throughout the year such as the T-Mobile Park Concert Series.
12. Explore eastern cultures at Chinatown International District
During your family vacation in Seattle, be sure to plan to stroll the streets of the Chinatown International District. The vibrant destination actually features three distinct areas: Chinatown, Japantown, and Little Saigon, where there are plenty of family-friendly restaurants, markets, gift shops full of souvenirs, and attractions to discover. Highlights include exhibits at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, photo ops at the Grand Pavilion in Hing Hay Park, and the quirky Seattle Pinball Museum. Be on the lookout for exciting events throughout the year such as Lunar New Year Celebrations and Sakura-Con Anime Costume Contest.
13. Enjoy nature at the stunning Washington Park Arboretum UW Botanic Gardens
Set on the shores of Lake Washington, the Washington Park Arboretum UW Botanic Gardens is a beautiful space to bring the kids. Along with miles of trails for exploration, the nature-inspired attraction offers an impressive showcase of living plants with notable collections including Centennial Garden, Giant Sequoias, Hollies, and more. There is also a serene Japanese Garden, as well as natural areas, and wetlands. Among the other activities for visitors to enjoy are self-guided adventures, birding, boating, and family night hikes. Finally, the Arboretum Tram Tour is a one-hour narrated experience that takes you through the calming outdoor living museum.
14. See another side of Seattle on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour
For off-the-beaten-path family things to do in Seattle, Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour fits the bill. The 75-minute guided experience through a subterranean labyrinth reveals forgotten storefronts, alleys, and a glimpse into history. You’ll learn how the Seattle Underground came to be after the Great Fire of 1889. The tour starts beneath Doc Maynard’s Public House before continuing to Pioneer Square and ending at Rogues Gallery and the Underground Gift Shop. One thing to keep in mind is to dress comfortably and be mindful of the wooden stairways and uneven surfaces, which may not be suitable for very small children.
15. Learn a few fascinating things at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
While Seattle may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about striking gold, the city did play an important part in welcoming visitors passing through on their way to Alaska. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park shines the spotlight on this pivotal time in history. This urban park, which is technically a museum housed in the Cadillac Hotel, in the Pioneer Square Preservation District should be on your list of Seattle kid activities with fun including gold-panning demonstrations with a park ranger and the chance to earn a Junior Ranger badge. Other offerings include two floors of exhibits, a walking tour of Pioneer Square, and a Find Your Park room, to learn more about other National Parks in the greater Seattle area.
16. Watch the boats at the Ballard Locks
One of the top attractions in Seattle, the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, or Ballard Locks, draw crowds waiting to see boats move along the busiest lock in the nation. On the western side of Salmon Bay in the Lake Washington ship canal, the point of interest is on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as the American Society of Civil Engineers Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks. One-hour guided tours provide insight, as do tours with Argosy Cruises and Ballard Kayaks. Nearby, there are other things to see including the Historic Administration Building and the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Gardens.
17. Bask in the glorious great outdoors at Golden Gardens Park
On a family vacation in Seattle, chances are you want to go to a picturesque place to take lots of pictures. Enter Golden Gardens Park, a gorgeous 87-acre outdoor oasis on the Puget Sound framed by the beauty of the Olympic Mountains. There are plenty of options for scenic strolls including the walking trails and the beach. Bird watchers will also delight in catching a glimpse of the eagles, seagulls, and hummingbirds that gravitate to the area. Other convenient amenities include beach volleyball courts, a boat launch, basketball court, playgrounds, fire pits, and picnic shelters which you can reserve.