A Complete Guide For Exploring Seattle With Kids

A few months ago our family booked plane tickets to fly across the country and explore a new-to-us city, Seattle. Admittedly, we were checking a box. It was a large city, in a state that we’d never visited. The opportunity arose and I said “sign me up.”

But honestly, I didn’t plan on falling in love with Seattle. In fact, I didn’t even plan to like it much.

It only took me 1 morning exploring Seattle with kids to decide that I loved it. Fortunately, we had several days to do some great activities and we got to see a lot of the city. However, it’s the kind of place you’ll want to visit over and over again. So prepare yourself!

Here are a few things you’ll want to know before visiting Seattle with kids:

  1. Pay extra for a hotel in a good location.
    Seattle is a very walkable city (if you don’t mind hills!) The price of hotels in downtown is significantly higher than those on the outskirts or close to the airport. But we felt like it was worth it to be able to walk everywhere and not have a car for the majority of our stay in Seattle. We stayed at the Seattle Waterfront Marriott and I highly recommend it!
  2. Plan, but don’t plan.
    I was shocked to find out how much of an outdoor city Seattle really is considering it’s reputation for rain. Have some activities in mind that are indoors and take advantage of rainy moments. But don’t get too stuck on a schedule because if you find yourself with a sunny hour or two, you’ll want to be outside to enjoy.
  3. Pack a few snacks if you’re experiencing a time change.
    Most hotel and restaurant breakfasts don’t start until 6AM or later. However, if you’re coming from a different time zone you might be surprised at how early your kids wake up. Be sure to have some granola bars or a light snack that they can eat if they wake up before the local breakfast time.
  4. Budget for food.
    Seattle is known for some of the best food in the world. Seafood and Asian-inspired cuisine, specifically…but we loved everything we ate! You will definitely pay to eat a good meal in the city, but it’s so worth it. Consider splurging on 1 big meal out every day (check out my post with tips on saving money on food if you’re confused as to how this works!)

Now, the guide for planning your trip…

There are so many things to do with kids in Seattle and the surrounding area, you’ll really need to prioritize based on what’s right for your family and budget.

One way you can save a lot of money is by purchasing the Seattle CityPASS. This will give you access to:

  • Space Needle
  • Seattle Aquarium
  • Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour
  • Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop) or Woodland Park Zoo
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass or Pacific Science Center

These are some of my top recommendations, not to mention the most popular tourist attractions in Seattle. Purchasing a CityPASS will help you save almost 50% on Seattle’s 5 best attractions!

Here are a couple of things that absolutely top my Seattle list and cannot be missed:

  1. Pacific Science Center: It’s a massive multi-building complex with too many highlights to name. My kids particularly loved the Planetarium, Tropical Butterfly House, and the Salt Water Tide Pool. Kids (and adults) of all ages will love everything about this center! And, be sure not to miss the Live Science Shows. We saw the Combustion show and it was, hands down, my children’s favorite thing we did in Seattle! Visit the Pacific Science Center website for admission information and to plan your visit.
  2. Pike Place Market: You can’t visit Seattle and not watch fish fly through the air! Enjoy all of the colorful, fresh produce displays and marvel at all of the weird looking fish. The market is free to walk through. The show (where they throw fish) happens at Pike Place Fish Co. about every 10-15 minutes throughout the day.
  3. Seattle Great Wheel: One of the iconic spots on the Seattle skyline is the Great Wheel. It sits right along the waterfront and there is no better view of downtown Seattle. On a clear day, you will also be able to see the beautiful mountain ranges off in the distance- including Mount Rainier. Check out their website for hours and prices.
  4. Ballard Lock Fish Ladder: The Ballard Locks are a National Historical Site and the busiest locks in the nation. Of course the locks help boats enter and exit the Washington waterway system to the Pacific Ocean. There is a specially designed fish ladder with viewing area just for the salmon! (You will need to have a car or Uber to visit the Ballard Locks from downtown Seattle- worth the trip!)

Other fabulous things to do in Seattle with kids:

  1. Seattle Aquarium
  2. Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop)
  3. Seattle Mariners Game (baseball)
  4. Seattle Seahawks Game (football)
  5. The Museum of Flight
  6. Starbucks Reserve and Tasting Room
  7. Space Needle
  8. The Original Starbucks
  9. Woodland Park Zoo
  10. Burke Museum of Natural History
  11. Monorail (great for transportation, but also fun ride for kids!)
  12. Seattle Pinball Museum
  13. Chihuly Garden and Glass
  14. Seattle Children’s Museum

Free Places in Seattle That You Don’t Want To Miss:

  1. The Gum Wall
  2. Kerry Park (a must for pictures!)
  3. Volunteer Park
  4. Artists At Play Playground (City Center)
  5. Olympic Sculpture Park
  6. Alki Beach Park
  7. Bainbridge Island (you will need to take a ferry)
  8. Seattle Public Library

When traveling to Seattle with kids, do not forget to pack:

You may also enjoy reading these travel posts:

10 Years of Traveling With Kids

The Most Interesting Place I’ve Ever Been

*Our trip to Seattle was sponsored by The Pacific Science Center and The Great Wheel. All of the opinions found in this post are uniquely our own. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. By making a purchase after clicking through a link, Mom With A Map will receive commission.

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