The Seattle Center is full of fun and surprises for kids, including this new playground constructed in 2015. The Artists at Play playground is a free, artistic, sound- and motion-filled play area between the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) and the Seattle Center Armory. Designed by Northwest artists and landscape artists, the playground features a 30-foot climbing tower, human-powered carousel, sound swings, child-inspired musical instruments, listening stations and more. The swings and carousel are both ADA Accessible.
With its stunning outdoor scenery, Seattle travelers come hungry to get out on the water. Founded in 1976, the Center for Wooden Boats promotes the Northwest’s small-craft heritage by offering boating lessons, outings and education. The Center for Wooden Boats offers activities for both kids and adults at its South Lake Union and Cama Beach locations. Boat rentals are also available.
The Children’s Museum, Seattle offers a fun, interactive learning environment for families with exhibits such as a Global Village, Mountain Forest, Imagination Studio and Discovery Bay.
From the Wright brothers to outer space, the wonder of flight comes alive at one of the largest air and space museums in the world. With more than 175 historic air and spacecraft on display, tens of thousands of artifacts, and interactive exhibits and activities for the whole family, The Museum of Flight offers an exciting experience for aviation enthusiasts and general visitors alike. Museum exhibits include a retired British Airways Concorde jetliner, Air Force One, NASA Space Shuttle Trainer and the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. In summer 2016, The Museum of Flight opened a $22 million Aviation Pavilion. The open-air structure extends the length of two football fields and exhibits more than 20 commercial and military airplanes, many of which patrons can walk through.
The brainchild of Microsoft co-founder, Paul G. Allen, MoPOP is dedicated to exploring creativity and innovation in American popular music, from rock ‘n’ roll to jazz, soul, gospel, country, blues, hip-hop, punk, and other genres, as well as pop culture. Visitors to the Frank O. Gehry-designed 140,000-square-foot museum can view rare artifacts and memorabilia and experience the creative process by listening to musicians, filmmakers, game developers and authors tell their own stories. MoPOP’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame recognizes luminaries of the genre including Isaac Asimov, Ursula Le Guin, H.G. Wells, George Lucas, Gene Rodenberry, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg.
Pacific Science Center is a hands-on learning center for kids and families offering permanent and traveling exhibits. Permanent exhibits feature Professor Wellbody’s Academy of Health & Wellness, an interactive dinosaur display, Tropical Butterfly House, Insect Village, Puget Sound Model and Saltwater Tide Pool, plus other exhibits showcasing animals, technology and more. Two IMAX theaters showcase the latest in big-screen and 3-D films; the Boeing IMAX Theatre features a screen that is six stories high and 80 feet wide, with the newest IMAX with Laser projection and sound system.
Tour Seattle by land and sea with Ride the Ducks. The tour features vintage DUKW vehicles (“Ducks”), amphibious landing crafts developed by the United States Army during World War II. The Seattle tour encompasses downtown Seattle by land and Lake Union by water. Duck schedules vary throughout the year.
Catch excellent city and water views from within a gondola on Seattle’s 175-foot waterfront Ferris wheel, located at the end of Pier 57. Each ride takes about 15 minutes and includes three full revolutions of the wheel. Gondolas hold up to eight riders. For the VIP experience, buy tickets for Cabin #42, complete with leather bucket seats, a stereo system, and a glass bottom floor, seating up to four adults. Families can also admire the wheel from afar during LED light shows, which take place the evening of any Seattle Seahawks or University of Washington football game, as well as other special occasions.
The Seattle Aquarium features a stunning 40-foot viewing window into a 120,000-gallon aquarium filled with salmon, colorful rockfish, vibrant sea anemones, other native Washington marine life and interactive divers. Other exhibits include two pools filled with sea anemones and sunflower sea star, a pacific coral reef exhibit, marine mammals and an underwater dome, the aquarium’s largest exhibit.
Built as the centerpiece of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, the 605-foot Space Needle is an ever-futuristic icon of Seattle. Located 520 feet above ground, the observation deck features indoor and outdoor 360° views of the Seattle skyline, Puget Sound and the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Just below the observation deck, SkyCity restaurant makes a full rotation every 47 minutes and specializes in Pacific Northwest cuisine. The SpaceBase gift shop is located on the ground level in the Space Needle lobby.
Visit the home of the Seattle Mariners. The tour includes areas of the ballpark that are not normally open to the public, such as the press box, luxury suites, field, dugout and visitor’s clubhouse.
Visit the home of the Seattle Seahawks NFL team and Sounders FC soccer team. On this 90-minute tour, visit the Helmet Wall, Home Interview Room, locker room, 12 flag pole, Verizon Lounge, suite and press boxes, the Wall of Legends and the Super Bowl XLVIII numbers.
Seattle Children’s Theatre provides innovative, artistic programming and professional theatre for young people and families. The Allen Family Technical Pavilion consists of the paint, costume, prop, and scene shops as well as rehearsal and classroom spaces. This state-of-the-art facility was the first self-contained theater complex built for young audiences in the nation and has since been used as a model for other theatres. Plays (many of them world premieres) are written for children of varying ages and their families and are professionally produced on two state-of-the-art stages.
A new multi-sensory flying ride has been installed at Pier 57 on Seattle’s waterfront. This state-of-the-art “flying theater” transports guests through an aerial adventure high over Washington state. This 20-minute film features views of Elliott Bay, the Olympic National Forest and San Juan Islands, the Cascade Mountains, and Snoqualmie Falls, the Tieton River, and the wonders of the Walla Walla Valley Balloon Stampede. Nearby the theatre, take a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel or enjoy a family meal at The Crab Pot or Fisherman’s Restaurant.
Often ranked among the top zoos in the country, Woodland Park is famed for pioneering immersive, naturalistic exhibits. The Banyan Wilds is a state-of-the-art exhibit for Malayan tigers, sloth bears, Asian small-clawed otters and tropical birds. Award-winning exhibits include Humboldt penguins, Jaguar Cove, Northern Trail, Tropical Rain Forest, Trail of Vines and African Savanna. Premium Animal Tours with experienced animal staff are available for a behind-the-scenes looks at various animal species at the zoo.
Visitors wanting the “full Seattle experience” often choose to purchase a Seattle CityPASS to get the most for their money. The CityPASS includes admission tickets to many of Seattle’s most popular attractions including the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium and Argosy Cruises’ Harbor Tour. The CityPASS also includes two option tickets with the choice of visiting the Pacific Science Center or Chihuly Garden and Glass and the second option of visiting the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) or Woodland Park Zoo. For pricing and more information, visit citypass.com.
Discovery Park is located in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountain ranges. Occupying most of the former U.S. Army’s Fort Lawton, Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest park at 534 square acres. Features include a children’s play area, tennis courts, picnic tables, wooded trails and a visitor center. Stop by the Daybreak Star Cultural Center to view original Native American arts and crafts.
Gas Works Park, once an old gasification plant that powered most of Seattle in the early 1900s before the import of natural gas, sits on the north tip of Lake Union with picturesque views of downtown Seattle. Portions of the original “Gas Works” remain, including the boiler room which was converted to a picnic shelter with tables, fire grills and an open area. The former exhauster-compressor building is now a large play barn with brightly colored machinery.
One of Seattle’s most popular parks, Green Lake Park, features a 2.8 mile paved pathway that surrounds a freshwater lake popular for walking, running, rollerblading and bike riding. Additional park features include a full basketball court, a seasonal guarded beach area, a hand-carry boat launch and boating area, fishing, an indoor pool, outdoor tennis courts, soccer and baseball fields and golf. The park also boasts Seattle’s largest wading pool, perfect for young children to cool off on hot summer days.
Fresh seafood and award-winning chowder have made Ivar’s one of Seattle’s favorite traditions. Ivar’s serves lunch and dinner, offers an expansive kids menu, featuring shrimp cocktail and junior sized servings of fish and chips. Grab and go at the walk up window on sit down for a meal in the restaurant.
Located at Miner’s Landing on Seattle’s waterfront, The Crab Pot serves fresh Northwest seafood specializing in “Seafeasts,” an assortment of seafood, potatoes, corn on the cob and andouille sausage that is served without plates directly on the table. Other menu items include Dungeness crab, Maine lobster, and alder-smoked seafood, with fish and chips, grilled salmon and chicken strips on their kids menu. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner.
Located 500 feet above ground, the Space Needle’s rotating restaurant offers 360-degree views and features a Pacific Northwest-themed menu, kids menu featuring Space Needle pasta, American Kobe beef teriyaki skewers and a complimentary visit to the Observation Deck. SkyCity is open for lunch Monday-Friday, dinner daily and brunch on the weekend.
Sound Transit’s Link light rail line runs through downtown Seattle from the University of Washington to Sea-Tacoma International Airport. Downtown stations are located in Capitol Hill, Westlake Center, the financial district, Pioneer Square and the International District. The train makes stops in several neighborhoods south of Seattle before reaching the Sea-Tac International Airport (Sea-Tac) Station, an approximately 40-minute trip. The Sea-Tac/Airport Station connects to the airport through the airport parking garage via a lit and covered pedestrian walkway. Fares vary depending on age and time of year. For pricing information, visit soundtransit.org/Schedules/Link-light-rail.
Metro Transit offers low cost transportation throughout downtown Seattle daily. The downtown core includes a 1.3-mile stretch from the tunnel at the Convention Place Station on Ninth Ave. and Pine St., through the retail core, financial district, Pioneer Square and the International District. Riders must pay exact change when entering the bus or use a visitor Orca card. For more information, visit metro.kingcounty.gov.
For a quick, inexpensive trip between downtown Seattle and the Seattle Center try the monorail. Terminals are located on the upper level of Westlake Center and at the Seattle Center near the Space Needle. For pricing information, visit seattlemonorail.com.
Seattle’s newest edition to public transportation, the streetcar traverses the South Lake Union neighborhood through the Denny Triangle, ending in the downtown core area. Fares vary depending on age. For more information, visit seattlestreetcar.org/slu.htm.
The First Hill Seattle streetcar connects some of Seattle’s most vibrant neighborhoods. The 10-stop, 2.5 mile route spans from historic Pioneer Square and trendy Capitol Hill with stops in First Hill, Yesler Terrace, Central Area and the Chinatown-International District. The street-level street cars provide reliable, frequent service with headways of approximately 10 minutes during peak periods. Fares vary depending on age. For more information, visit seattlestreetcar.org/firsthill.htm.
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