If you are headed to the Pacific Northwest, there are so many awesome things to do in Seattle with kids! Located in Washington State on the coast, this fun, vibrant city is incredibly kid-friendly.
Seattle is known for its moderate temperatures, rainy weather, Starbucks headquarters, and outdoor adventures. But it is also full of family-friendly adventures.
A unique city full of fascinating innovation, art, cuisine, and culture – not to mention history and of course coffee – Seattle is a great place to visit and live. It is also a fantastic starting or ending point for many Washington state road trips you won't want to miss.
Our family spent six months in this city and absolutely loved it! I can vouch for its family-friendliness. With family still in the area, we return every couple of years because there are so many things to do in Seattle with kids!
This guide will share with you some of our family's favorite things to do on your Seattle family vacation!
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Why is Seattle great for kids?
Seattle is a very family-friendly city. Located right on the ocean, with Mount Ranier in the background, it offers families plenty of outdoor experiences.
But more than that, this city is home to fascinating innovation, history, creativity, music (remember the Grunge bands?), and art. It is a fun, vibrant, and diverse city, with a unique vibe sure to engage kids and teenagers alike.
While it is known for its coffee culture, as the home of the original Starbucks, it is also a foodie's paradise with delicious seafood and cuisine from around the world. Kids will delight in the range of things to do in Seattle that will keep them entertained while showcasing all that this awesome city has to offer.
Seattle is also not far from many of the Pacific Northwest's gems such as the beaches of Washington. In fact, Long Beach makes a great weekend trip in the summer, and is one of the top 10 longest beaches in the world! It is a must-see if you are spending a bit more time in Seattle, and are looking for a gorgeous nature paradise.
Best Things To Do in Seattle with Kids
The longer you visit the Emerald city, the more of these great Seattle family activities you can enjoy. But whether you are planning one day or a three-day itinerary in Seattle or more, these are some of our favorite things to do in Seattle with kids!
1. Pike Place Market
If you do one thing on your visit to Seattle, you have to go to Pike Place Market. There is something for everyone to love here!
A large public market with a range of handicrafts, flowers, groceries, treats, seafood, and flowers, this is worth a walk through. It is also a great place to grab a souvenir.
One of the hallmarks of Pike Place is watching the fishmongers throw the fish when someone orders one! It is well worth watching their entertaining performance while preparing fish for cutomers.
Right across the alley is the original Starbucks store. Not only can you get your flat white or mocha latte, you can also get a special souvenir if you are a Starbucks fan.
This is the one thing I would not miss in Seattle with kids.
2. The Underground Tour
For a unique tour experience, our family loves The Underground Tour to see a world of “old Seattle” that is literally, underground! This tour is as humorous and fascinating as it is educational – in fact, school groups actually visit The Underground Tour.
The tour begins above ground and eventually goes underground to reveal a subterranean world of storefronts, sidewalks, and a complete city that went underground after Seattle rebuilt itself. This occurred after The Great Fire of 1889. The tour guides share fun and hilarious stories kids love!
The Underground Tour is one of the best activities in Seattle for kids!
3. Space Needle
Seattle's iconic Space Needle is definitely one of the best things to do with kids. The Space Needle gives you a 360-degree view of Jet City.
It is a 184-meter tower where you can take a 43-second ride in a glass elevator to the top. The attraction has an all-glass floor on the lower floor and a floor-to-ceiling glass view on the upper view, giving you a high-flying experiential view.
As one of the most iconic American landmarks, the Space Needle is visited by nearly 20,000 daily. I recommend getting there early and starting your day with this.
Also, keep in mind that strollers are not allowed inside of the Space Needle, so I recommend a baby carrier for toddlers and infants if you travel with them to this attraction. Use the Seattle City Pass to save on admission.
4. Woodland Park Zoo
The Woodland Park Zoo has been a favorite of my kids since they were babies. Every time we visit, we include a visit to the Woodland Park Zoo.
A very well done, well layed-out zoo, this easy to get around attraction will keep your kids busy all day. With a variety of animals, from elephants to gorillas to meerkats and penguins and its petting zoo, it is a delightful experience for kids of all ages!
My kids love feeding the giraffes and interacting with the knowledgeable staff about the collection of nearly 1,100 animals.
From its Butterfly Garden all the way to the indoor Zoomazium to a ride on the carousel, your whole family will have fun here. Use the Seattle City Pass to save on admission.
5. Seattle Aquarium
Another of our favorite things to do with kids in Seattle is a trip to the Seattle Aquarium. Although this aquarium is not huge, it is jam-packed with octopuses, seals, touch tanks, and even an underwater exhibit.
Located right on the waterfront, not far from Pike's Place Market, this museum is a great half-day experience. Kids learn about whales, animals in the Pacific waters of Seattle, and much more.
Not only will your kids love the aquatic atmosphere, an aquarium is also a great place for learning more about marine life and sustainability. Use the Seattle City Pass to save on admission. Fun yet educative, this is one of the best Seattle kids activities.
6. Seattle Children's Museum
If you are looking for things to do with toddlers in Seattle, the Seattle Children’s Museum is a great choice. I spent many days here during our six-month stay in Seattle with our toddler.
This Seattle kids' museum has many different attractions within it, such as Global Village, Cog City, and Mountain Forest, just to name a few.
There are also places to create art, climb, and do lots of imaginary play.
This is a great thing to do with younger kids in Seattle or on one of their rainy days.
7. Ballard Locks
The Ballard Locks, also referred to as the Hiram Chittenden Locks, is a unique Seattle attraction. It allows you and your family to watch the boats on Lake Union, Lake Washington, and Puget Sound pass through the Locks. Any transportation-loving kid will think this is a great thing to do with kids in Seattle!
What makes this attraction fascinating is that boats aren't the only thing to visit Ballard Locks. Fish – mainly salmon – also visit it and use the manmade ladder as part of their journey upstream to Lake Washington!
When you visit this Seattle family attraction, you will enjoy seeing the Ballard Locks, The Fish Ladder, The Visitor Center, and The Garden. To see the fish swimming upstream (between June and September) you can watch them through an underwater window. It is a great way to learn about the fishing industry and the fishing history of the city.
This 100 year old attraction is a fascinating, quintessential Seattle experience. And, it is one of the fun things to do in Seattle with kids!
8. Pacific Science Center
Another fun thing to do with kids in Seattle is the Pacific Science Center. It has five different buildings to explore, each filled with interactive activities.
In addition to the living exhibits, Butterfly House, technology exhibits, and more, the Pacific Science Center is expanding their offerings. Beginning in October 2021, they will launch the history and science of hockey, a great exhibit for any sports fan!
When you get your ticket for this center, make sure to check out the other attractions you can add on like the science playground and waterworks.
If you’re wanting to have some fun as a family, check out the PacSci At Night, where you all can dance in the dark with LED lights around!
9. Museum of Flight
One of my favorite Seattle activities for kids is the Museum of Flight. This fascinating museum of air and space is one of the largest in the world.
Plane-loving kids and toddlers will love the fascinating range of military and personal aircraft. It is a fascinating look into the history of flight and see real-life planes, some suspended in the air.
Kids will love the true-to-size spacecraft, rare aircraft, and even check out a simulated flight over Seattle.
There is also an aviation tour that will take your kids through what it is like as a pilot, how the aircraft are built, and even the history of some WW1 and WW11 planes. It is one of our favorite things to do with kids in Seattle.
10. Ferry To Bainbridge Island
Another great thing to do with kids in Seattle if you have a day to spare is to take the ferry to Bainbridge Island. Located in Puget Sound, Bainbridge Island is a great full or half-day adventure.
While on the island, there are interesting musuems, shops, and restaurants. There is also a lovely walk around Eagle Harbor. The Waterfront walk is a few miles long, but it is a great way to enjoy parks, beaches, nature, and restaurants.
It is about a 35-minute ride to Bainbridge, but the boat ride alone is another way to enjoy Seattle from a different view.
If you have a car with you, you can bring your car on the ferry and enjoy even more of Bainbridge Island. Check out Chief Seattle's grave, the Suquamish Museum, gorgeous hiking trails, and take in the incredible sites of the island.
This is definitely a great thing to do with kids in Seattle.
11. Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum
The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum is one of the fun activities for kids in Seattle. Not only is Chihuly's work captivating for kids with its whimsical style, unique shapes, delicate details, and bright colors. But his incredible designs and his finely detailed glasswork is simply awe-inspiring.
Kids will enjoy these mesmerizing creations. And I highly recommend encouraging kids to bring their sketchbooks and colored pencils from their kids' carry-ons to capture what they see.
Located right next to the Space Needle, this exhibit is well worth a walk around and discover Dale Chihuly's work. Watch a glass blowing demonstration, visit the glasshouse, walk through the garden, take an audio tour, enjoy lunch or a snack in the Art Plaza, and discover the work of one of the most talented artists in the world.
This is one of the most inspiring things to do in Seattle with kids. Use the Seattle City Pass to save on admission.
12. Argosy Cruise Tillicum Excursion
If you would like to learn about Native American culture in Seattle, then a trip to The Tillicum Village is one of the family activities in Seattle. Located on Blake Island in Puget Sound, this four-hour experience is a fun and interesting experiential activity kids will love.
The experience includes a 45 minute ferry to get to Blake Island. Once there, your family will learn about Native American culture, experience a 25 minute performance, explore the village, and enjoy a Chinook Salmon meal. You can also enjoy some time around Blake Island State Park.
This experience is educational and a fun thing to do with kids in Seattle. Use the Seattle City Pass to save on admission on the Argosy Cruise.
** Please note this activity is currently suspended through the end of 2021**
13. Visit Discovery Park
For more of an outdoor kid-friendly Seattle activity, Discovery Park is a lovely place to visit. I loved bringing my son here when he was a toddler, but it is great for kids of all ages.
Discovery Park includes two miles of protected tidal beaches, meadow lands, dramatic sea cliffs, forest, sand dunes, and more. It is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is one of the best beaches in Seattle to visit!
It is a great place for hiking and biking. But, my son also loved investigating the tide pools for starfish, sea anemones, urchins, and even more fun sea creatures! You can also see the park lighthouse.
Discovery Park is definitely one of our favorite things to do with kids in Seattle.
14. Museum of History and Industry
Budding engineers and history buffs will love the Museum of History and Industry to learn more about Seattle history. Located South Lake Union, this is another great thing to do in Seattle with kids.
This fascinating museum showcases a range of interactive exhibits that explore innovation and growth. Its permanent exhibit, True Northwest: The Seattle Journey shows the city went from the 1790's to what it is today. It includes the city's rich history of invention and innovation, including many modern-day Seattle companies and their impact on the world.
There are several other fascinating exhibits, including some temporary ones, that are very educational for kids.
This museum is a wonderful thing to do in Seattle with kids!
15. Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park
Another fascinating kids' activity in Seattle is the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. Not only is it an educational and historical experience. But it is part of the National Park Service.
If you and your family enjoy learning about the Alaskan Gold Rush, this is the best place to get all the information about Seattle’s part in it.
The museum includes two floors of exhibits, including temporary exhibits in the Kerr room. Kids can become junior rangers and learn even more about the gold rush and Seattle's role in it. Visitors can also follow along with three 25 minute films which will talk about Seattle's gold rush history, as well participate in a guided walking tour in Pioneer Square.
This educational experience is definitely one of my favorite things to do with kids in Seattle. It is also a great activity to mention in your kids' road trip activity pack travel journal!
A Few More Ideas of What To Do With Kids in Seattle
In addition to the activities mentioned above, here are a few additional ideas of things to do with kids in Seattle that we like to include when we can on our trips.
- Boeing Factory Tour
- Alki Beach in West Seattle
- Whale Watching Boat Tour To See Orcas
- Get a cupcake from Cupcake Royale (chocolate salted caramel is my favorite!)
- Theo Chocolate Factory Tour
- Seaplane Ride (for older kids/teens)
- Olympic Sculpture Park
- Museum of Pop Culture at Seattle Center; this is great for kids who are into science fiction.
- Seattle Harbour Cruise
- Seattle Art Museum
- Giant Shoe Museum in Downtown Seattle
- Olympic Sculpture Park
- Seattle Pinball Museum
- Seattle Bouldering Project
- Seattle Children's Theatre
- The Seattle Great Wheel; kids will enjoy riding the Ferris wheel.
- Day trip to Bainbridge Island
- Seattle Center Monorail
- The Bloedel Reserve to enjoy the beauty of the Japanese garden and the moss garden.
- Seattle waterfront
Getting To and Around Seattle
If you are flying into Seattle, the closest of the Washington State Airports is Seattle Tacoma International Airport. You can either rent a car or take the Link Light Rail from the airport to Westlake Station in downtown Settle.
Getting around Seattle you can drive, walk, bike, use rideshare or take public transportation with the streetcar and bus service. Note that if you drive, parking can be expensive and tricky to find in some areas.
Our family likes to walk as much as possible in Seattle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Can I Take My Kids in Seattle for Dinner?
Seattle is a foodie's paradise, and it is very kid-friendly. So there are plenty of wonderful, kid-friendly restaurants in Seattle. Some of ours include:
- 5 Spot on Queen Anne (this restaurant is reopening in summer 2021)
- Uneeda Burger
- Little Water Cantina
- Vios Cafe and Marketplace (a great thing to do with toddlers in Seattle)
- Anthony's Beach Cafe (with a sandbox outside)
- Ivar's Salmon House or Ivar's Acres of Clams
Visiting Seattle on a Road Trip? You might like my post: The Best Road Trip Food: 101+ Easy Meal & Snack Ideas You’ll Love!
Is Seattle Good For Families?
Seattle is a great place to visit, as a family, because there are so many kid-friendly activities. And, it makes the perfect spot for a family road trip! In addition to the kid-friendly activities in this post, there are many restaurants with kid play areas, plenty of community playgrounds, lakes to walk around (like Green Lake), and more.
Many families live in the neighborhoods in Seattle, so no only is it good for families. Seattle is GREAT for families!
Check out Viator's Family Tours of Seattle!
What Should You Not Miss in Seattle?
Although I recommend checking out absolutely everything that you can in your time in Seattle, I highly recommend these three attractions if you are short on time:
- Pike's Place Market
- The Underground Tour
- The Space Needle
What Is The Best Time of Year To Visit Seattle?
While the temperature is going to be most ideal in the summer months (or really between April and October), this will also be Seattle's busiest season. If you have flexibility, September and October is the best time of year to visit Seattle.
The winter is rainy, although it is not as cold as in the Northeastern parts of the United States. So, you could come in the winter and participate in the best indoor things to do in Seattle from my list!
Where To Stay With Kids In Seattle?
There are many great hotels to stay with kids in Seattle. I have a few favorites, listed below:
- Hotel Monaco
- Courtyard by Marriott/Lake Union
- Staypineapple, The Maxwell Hotel
- The Alexis Royal Sonesta
- Hyatt Regency Lake Washington
- McMenamins Anderson School Hotel *See Box Below*
Final Thoughts On The Best Things To Do In Seattle with Kids
Seattle is a great place to visit with kids. Not only is this fun, unique city great for families, but there are plenty of historical, fun, and unique Seattle activities to do with kids they will love. It is well worth a visit for kids of all ages!