From Pike Place Market To The Museum Of Pop Culture, Seattle Offers A Wealth Of Attractions And Fun Things For Families To See And Do.
Seattle is an exciting destination for family group vacations. Located on the coast of Washington State, it’s a family-friendly city with much to see and do. It’s also a fantastic place to embark on Alaska cruises or begin trips around the state of Washington.
Nicknamed the “Emerald City,” Seattle is filled with lush greenery and exciting things to do. There’s a wide array of family-friendly hotels located throughout the city’s downtown area. Seattle’s public transportation is excellent, including light rail transit from the airport to downtown and an extensive ferry system. If you plan to visit a number of key attractions, check out Seattle CityPASS to score significant savings on access to many of Seattle’s top sites and museums.
Families visiting Seattle often enjoy visiting Mount Rainier National Park, taking the Washington State Ferries to Bainbridge Island, or going to the San Juan Islands by ferry for a few days. Others prefer to keep their explorations closer to Seattle’s downtown area. No matter what you choose to do, you will be glad you spent some time in this beautiful region of the United States.
Here are 11 Seattle-area activities and attractions the whole family will love.
Foodie Fun at Pike Place Market in Seattle
Seattle has a vibrant local culinary scene. While Pike Place Market is very popular with visitors who love food, it is also a cool place for families to take in a show. There is always something new to see, sample or buy here. It’s fun to watch the vendors throwing fish in the fish market, farmers displaying their wares, and the hundreds of craftspeople showcasing their work in the Main and North Arcades.
With its numerous bakeries and restaurants, Pike Place Market can be an excellent place for families to dine. Starbucks got its start at Pike Place Market. Families can savor the coffee at Starbucks’ “original” store across from the market. In addition, don’t miss the famous Gum Wall adjacent to Pike Place Market. It is a popular spot for teens and families to take photos to post on Instagram and other social media outlets.
Seattle’s Pacific Science Center
Launched over 60 years ago, Seattle’s Pacific Science Center is a wonderful place for the entire family to visit. The Pacific Science Center features a planetarium, IMAX theaters, a laser dome, and a wide variety of exhibits. Family favorites include:
- Dinosaurs: A Journey Through Time
- Science On A Sphere
- Tinker Tank Makerspace
- Just For Tots
- Salt Water Tide Pool
Kids love completing themed missions using the Pacific Science Center’s Agents of Discovery educational mobile game app.
Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA
For over 120 years, the Woodland Park Zoo has enabled generations of families to connect with animals and learn about wildlife conservation. Set on 92 acres in North Seattle, the Woodland Park Zoo is home to over 800 animals representing nearly 250 different species. In addition, the zoo’s botanical collection contains over 90,000 plants and trees.
Children can ride on the zoo’s historic carousel, play in the Zoomazium, wander through Molbak’s Butterfly Garden and interact with domestic farm animals. The Woodland Park Zoo also offers paid opportunities for guests to feed giraffes.
The Space Needle in Seattle
The iconic Space Needle is a key part of Seattle’s skyline. Built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, the towering Space Needle has been featured in blockbuster movies and television shows. Visitors can take a quick 43-second glass elevator ride to the Observation Deck and enjoy panoramic views of Mount Rainier and the city skyline from 520 feet above sea level. Families enjoy the spectacular vistas from the upper level’s floor-to-ceiling glass windows and marvel at The Loupe, the first and only rotating glass floor in the world. Tens of thousands visit the Space Needle daily, so it’s wise to arrive early. The Space Needle is open throughout the day and evening, and families can visit for beautiful day and nighttime views of the city.
Another popular spot to take in 360-degree city vistas is the Sky View Observatory in Seattle’s Columbia Center. The Sky View Observatory is the tallest public viewing spot located west of the Mississippi River. On a clear day, observatory guests can see Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, the Olympic Mountains, the Cascade Mountains, Elliott Bay, the entire city of Seattle and much more. The Smith Tower is another great spot for stunning 360-degree views of the Seattle skyline.
Located on the Seattle waterfront within easy walking distance of Pike Place Market, the Seattle Aquarium is a fun place for families to visit. The Seattle Aquarium features many hands-on programs and engaging exhibits to help visitors learn about Puget Sound and the world’s oceans. This aquarium focuses on sea creatures and marine mammals from the Pacific Northwest, such as seals and sea otters. Kids will enjoy the underwater exhibit and touch tanks, too.
The Museum of Flight
The Seattle region is the home of Boeing Airplane Company, and aviation has been a major part of Seattle’s business landscape for many years. Given this history, it’s fitting to have a world-class aviation museum in the Seattle area.
The Museum of Flight is located on 12 acres about 10 minutes from downtown Seattle. An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, The Museum of Flight showcases over 85 exhibits, flight simulators, airplanes, spacecraft, and interactive activities. Some favorites include the supersonic Concorde, an Apollo Command Module and the Kid’s Flight Zone area. Transportation from downtown Seattle is available by bus, and families arriving by car will find plenty of free parking here.
Seattle’s Underground Tour
Kids love learning about Seattle’s history on this fascinating guided walking tour of “old Seattle.” After the Great Fire of 1889, the city of Seattle rebuilt itself on top of the previous city structures. The subterranean storefronts and sidewalks still remain accessible today, offering a time-capsule glimpse into Seattle’s past.
The Underground Tour is popular with families and school groups. The educational 75-minute excursion begins with a short above-ground introduction before heading underground to explore the original Pioneer Square and interconnecting pathways of the buried city. Guides enjoy telling stories about Seattle’s history, its pioneers and events that led to the city’s growth and transformation.
Seattle Great Wheel
If your family enjoys amusement park attractions, put the Seattle Great Wheel on your list of things to experience in Seattle. Set on Pier 57 on Seattle’s waterfront, the Seattle Great Wheel is an entertaining way for families to see the city. The giant Ferris wheel features enclosed gondolas, and it’s illuminated with over 500,000 LED lights at night. The most extensive colorful light show displays occur on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Children will also enjoy other family-friendly attractions at Pier 57.
The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) at Seattle Center
Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) is an appealing attraction for multigenerational family groups with kids of all ages. The nonprofit museum features a wide variety of exhibitions, collections and educational programs. Popular exhibits include:
- Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses
- Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction
- Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film
- Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic
- Hendrix: Wild Blue Angel
- Guitar Gallery
- Science Fiction + Fantasy Hall of Fame
MoPOP offers extensive hip-hop, grunge and science fiction collections as well.
Kids love riding the Seattle Center Monorail between the Seattle Center and Westlake Center. Consider that mode of transportation if you’re visiting the Museum of Pop Culture while staying in Seattle.
Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center
Magnificent Chihuly Garden and Glass is one of the most popular attractions in Seattle. Located next to Seattle’s Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass displays the breathtakingly beautiful artwork of Dale Chihuly, a famed fine glass artist. His stunning works of art are displayed in eight galleries, three drawing walls, and the 40-foot-tall Glasshouse.
The garden also features some of Chihuly’s exquisite glass sculptures in a pretty area landscaped with flowers, plants and trees. This art museum is a lovely place to visit, and Chihuly Garden’s Collections Cafe is a convenient spot to enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner during your visit.
Mount Rainier National Park Day Trip in Washington
Mount Rainier National Park is America’s fifth-oldest national park and one of the most scenic in the United States. Located just a few hours’ drive from downtown Seattle, it’s easy for families to spend a day or two there on their Pacific Northwest vacation.
Mount Rainier’s towering volcanic peak rises to over 14,400 feet above sea level, and it’s often seen by airline passengers flying into Seattle. Ninety-seven percent of the national park’s 236,400 acres have been designated as wilderness areas. Popular activities include hiking, fishing, bicycling, wildflower viewing, ranger-led programs, and enjoying the park’s spectacular vistas. Stop in at the Paradise and Sunrise area visitor centers and explore some of the park’s highlights, including Christine Falls, Narada Falls, Tipsoo Lake, Myrtle Falls, and Reflection Lakes.
Washington state and Seattle have many more things to do and experiences to be had, so be sure to get your free subscription to Destination Reunions for additional travel ideas and tips.
By Nancy Schretter, Contributing Editor
Header Photo Courtesy of Pexels