My kids are lucky to live in one of the beautiful cities of the country. Living in Seattle with kids, there is a never ending list of things to do! This list covers far more than a visit to the original Starbucks or the gum wall (ew!) but a few must see or do activities when you’re in Seattle or the surrounding areas.
There are lot of the cool things for kids and families to do in Seattle could easily be considered tourist attractions, but these locations and things to do are what make it so amazing to live here. Embracing Seattle is embracing all we have to offer. Being a parent to children with special needs, specifically Autism, we try to have a creative approach in how we view growing up in Seattle.
What to do in Seattle with Kids!
In the heart of Seattle is Seattle Center, originally designed and built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Seattle Center is an arts, educational, tourism and entertainment center. If you’re exploring Seattle with kids, this is a must stop. The Seattle Center is full of activities for families. MoPop (Museum of Pop Culture, formerly known as the Experience Music Project) delights those young and old at heart, with everything from Hello Kitty exhibits, to Jimi Hendrix’ guitar.
Make your way over to the Pacific Science Center and immerse yourself in educational exhibits. As a mom of children with Autism, it’s important to point out that the Pacific Science Center offers early openings so families with children on the Autism Spectrum can enjoy the exhibits without the overstimulation of crowds.
Towering above the activities in the Seattle Center is the Space Needle, an official city landmark, with its observation deck and revolving restaurant. Standing 605 feet tall, it’s built to withstand a 9.1 magnitude earthquake (though lets not test that, okay?)
Seattle Center is also home to the International Fountain, it has a continuous music-and-water show with 137 nozzles that shoot water up to 120 feet into the air. It’s a cool place to be on a hot Seattle summer’s day, or the Artists at Play playground, which opened last year. The playground has ADA-accessible amenities and encourages people of all abilities and ages to play.
Throughout the year, there are a myriad of festivals at Seattle Center including Folklife Festival and Bumpershoot. All of them are family friendly and perfect for Seattle with kids.
Want to go downtown? Hop on the Seattle Monorail for a short ride to Westlake Center. The ride itself is more of a novelty than anything, and operates daily, with 450 passengers per trip.
Pike Place Market
One of our favorite places to go in Seattle is Pike Place Market. (Not Pikes Market, not Pikes Place Market) The iconic Pike Place Market is a favorite in Seattle for locals and tourists alike. You can check out the flying fish, enjoy local berries or get donuts from the old fashioned donut machine (a personal favorite.) The Pike Place Market is a fabulous (nearly) free activity to do in Seattle with kids. After you’ve visited the market make your way down the Hillclimb and have your kid count the steps. You’ll find the Seattle waterfront with the Big Wheel and Seattle Aquarium, as well as lots of great places to eat.
Take a ferry ride with kids!
Did you know that Washington State has the largest ferry system in the United States and the fourth largest in the world? With 22 vessels, 10 routes and 20 terminals, the ferry system is more than a way to get between home and work. It’s a way for families to explore Seattle and the greater Puget Sound. Make a point to go for a ferry ride just for the views, or explore the Olympic Peninsula or the San Juan Islands for the weekend, it’s one of the ultimate things to do for a Seattle with kids, young and old.
The Ballard Locks and Salmon Fish Ladders
The Ballard Locks carries more boat traffic than any other lock in the U.S., and it’s fun to watch the boats come in and out between Lake Washington and the Puget Sound. Plus, depending on the time of year, you can check out the fish ladders. The Ballard Locks are not the only place in the Seattle area to see the salmon ladders (there’s also the Issaquah Fish Hatchery and Carkeek Park, among others) The surrounding areas are so cool to explore for kids of all ages as well..
Of course, The Wright Brothers lay claim to the birth of aviation, but there’s no question that Seattle doesn’t give them some serious competition. Home to Boeing, there are amazing flight museums both north and south of the city that are fun to explore. You can choose to watch planes take off and land, or gaze upon airplanes old and new, The area flight museums have so much to offer. It’s a great opportunity for families with special needs as there is lots of open space a less chance of being overwhelmed by crowds.
One of our favorite things to do on weekend is go for a drive. It allows us to get way from the city for just a bit. Our favorite is Chuckanut Drive. Stretching between just north of Burlington and Fairhaven, it’s a winding road along the Puget Sound with breathtaking views. It’s well worth timing the drive for sunset, and pulling off on one of the overlooks. If you prefer, you can take this same journey by train, as the Amtrak runs along Chuckanut as well.
Other things to do in Seattle with Kids
The Seattle Aquarium
Woodland Park Zoo
The Seattle Children’s Museum At Seattle Center
Last Resort Fire Museum
Tour the Seattle Underground
Gates Foundation Visitor Center
Visit A Swimming or Wading Pool
Explore the Fremont Neighborhood (and a real troll under a bridge!)
Olympic Sculpture Park
The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Rock Climbing at Stone Gardens
Theo Chocolate Factory Tour
The Center for Wooden Boats
Go on a Mariners Stadium Tour
Fremont Sunday Market