Seattle is a remarkable city destination for a family vacation. Whether it’s a stand alone city trip, or the starting or end point of your west coast road trip, you can rest assured there are plenty of things to see and do keeping the family entertained.
From outdoor adventures and parks to explore to indoor activities for those inevitable rain days in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll find the Emerald City is packed full of family-friendly adventures.
So what are the best activities in Seattle for kids?
Best Time to Visit Seattle
Summers are a fantastic time to visit Seattle; however, the city is usually flooded with tourists, and the hotel rates shoot above the normal rate. For this particular reason, we highly recommend you book in advance if you are planning your visit from June to September.
July and August are the driest months that will allow you to take advantage of the many outdoor activities the city offers, but do be mindful it can still be cold, wet and windy even in the peak of summer!
This isn’t to say you can’t visit Seattle at other times of the year, just bear in mind Seattle’s inclement weather tendencies.
Where to Stay in Seattle
The place you choose to stay will significantly determine your Seattle family vacation experience. If you’re in Seattle with your kids, we highly recommend Belltown, Downtown Seattle, and Capitol Hill as the most convenient neighborhoods located at the heart of the city.
If you’re on a weekend getaway, it’s best to stay close to the Downtown; however, if you’ve been downtown and want a different experience, head north to Ballard and Fremont neighborhoods (you also find parking in these neighborhoods a little easier if you’re driving).
- Here in Seattle for a ball game? Try Pioneer Square Area – we’ve stayed in and absolute love Embassy Suites by Hilton Seattle Downtown for families – plus who doesn’t love an indoor pool overlooking Lumen Field?
How to Get Around Seattle
There are various ways you can get around Seattle with the kids. You can either walk around town, take a tour bus, or hail a taxi; we’d park the car in you’re arriving in Seattle as part of a road trip.
Take a Walk
One of the ways you can easily explore Seattle is by foot. There are many notable tourist attractions, such as the Space Needle in Seattle Center, or the Pike Place Market om Downtown and the waterfront which are best navigated by foot.
Ride a Bus
The bus is one of the main forms of public transport in Seattle. The King County Metro, to be precise, has a wide range of buses that pass through downtown, reaching as far as Mountlake Terrace and Federal way.
Taking the bus is convenient and affordable. However, it does take more time than driving a car, for example, so factor this in to your movements.
Using public transport a few times on your trip you may want to look at getting an Orca card. You can buy this online, or at participating retailers or vending machines.
Take a Taxi or Uber
Riding a cab is also another way you and your kids can move around town. If you need to get from point A to point B quickly without worrying about parking fees, a taxi is ideal. However, during rush hour, it can be hard to hail one in town.
Alternatively, you can use ride-hailing apps, which are popular in Seattle.
20+ Best Things To Do With Your Kids in Seattle
A note on attraction costs and opening hours in Seattle
One thing we’ll say at the outset before diving in to the best attractions, is to set yourself a budget for Seattle.
Whilst there are plenty of incredible day excursions on offer in the city, they do add up. We wouldn’t suggest you tackle absolutely everything on this list if you are visiting Seattle only for a few days but do pick out a selection of paid and free activities you can enjoy together as a family.
Picking up a Seattle CityPASS is a good way to save if you will be seeing several of the city’s attractions in one visit. (This includes the Space Needle, Aquarium, Museum of Pop Culture, Woodland Park Zoo and Chihuly Garden and Glass – more on each of these below!)
Several places also offer cheaper admission on weekdays. If you can plan your visit mid-week this may be advantageous, though note many attractions don’t open mid-week in the winter.
We have included indicative pricing and open hours below, but always check opening times and pre-book paid activities when you can.
Note, some resources linked here include links to our affiliate partners; if a qualifying booking is made with one of our partners we earn a commission.
Let’s dive into the best of Seattle with kids!
1. Space Needle (Paid)
It’s hard not to start a trip to Seattle without visiting the Space Needle. Cheesy and touristy? Sure, but an absolutely iconic part of a visit to the Pacific Northwest we bet most kids won’t want to miss off their itinerary.
Granted, its no longer one of the tallest buildings in Seattle (this is the Columbia Center) but it does provide visitors with some incredible vistas over the city, especially if you manage to score a clear sunny day.
Your journey to the top takes you through the history of the Needles construction and the 1962 World’s Fair. At the top, a circuit on the Loupe awaits for the brave, the world’s fist and only revolving glass floor at 520 feet above the ground, yikes! If you’re not so great with heights you can stick to the inner walkway.
Tickets to the Space Needle don’t come cheap and are best pre-booked if you want a particular time slot (Note you can book on the day, but if you come mid-summer, do expect stand by tickets to be several hours later or even sold out).
We recommend combining your ticket with Chihuly Garden and Glass immediately underneath the Space Needle entrance (more below).
Alternative, you can grab a space needle only ticket here – or its one of the included attractions of the CityPASS.
NB – buying a voucher in advance you’ll still need to exchange at the venue and they’ll give you the next available entrance – still best to go first thing in the day to beat the queues
So, other than the Space Needle, where else can you visit in Seattle with the kids?
2. Seattle Aquarium (Paid)
A popular waterfront destination packed with kid’s activities is this fantastic aquarium. There’s a vast tank filled with numerous aquatic creatures that kids can enjoy watching. Seattle Aquarium also has marine experts who create awareness about the importance of marine conservation.
You can view the underwater exhibits and marine life, or take your younger kids to the water-themed play area. This is one of the best places in Seattle to line up for a day forecast with inclement weather!
Open Daily 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM. Admission prices vary by date and time, with mid-week tickets offering the best value (from $23.95 to $28.95 for adults). Included on CityPASS. Walk up tickets are possible, but if you find yourself with a rainy day to fill in Seattle, you’ll definitely want to book your tickets in advance.
3. Alki Beach Park (Free)
Alki Beach Park is a fantastic place where kids can have lots of fun in the summer in West Seattle. Getting there entails using a water taxi from downtown (which can be a fun activity in itself), where you’ll arrive at this kids’ paradise full of walking and bike paths as well as a 0.5 mile beach.
There are pebbly sandy beaches and warm tide pools kids can also play in. The park is also close to several playgrounds and a kid-friendly restaurant for a complete family day out (be warned, on a sunny summer’s day, it gets BUSY!).
4. Seattle Pinball Museum (Paid)
This is no ordinary old museum, the Seattle Pinball Museum is an arcade game recreational room and its main attraction is the pinball game. Seattle Pinball Museum is filled with pinball machines where kids can play their hearts out while sipping on old-fashioned sodas.
They can either have an uninterrupted pinball game or play in a fixed time frame. The admission fee for kids aged between 7- 12 years is $17, and $20 for adults (this one isn’t for your little kids).
Note when planning a visit, especially over the winter months, the museum is not open daily.
5. Woodland Park Zoo (Paid)
The Woodland Park Zoo is arguably one of the best zoos in the US. It’s a beautiful wildlife sanctuary that is a great destination for children as there are plenty of animals to view. You can plan a guided tour of the tropical forest and Ambassador Animal’s Quarters for a wonderful experience to share with your kids.
The park zoo has monkeys, komodo dragons, gorillas, and giraffes. There’s an indoor climbing playground that kids can play in, too. The zoo also has various eateries on offer for your conveience – though taking a small picnic is permitted and wioll save you a few pennies.
The current admission fee is $24.60 for adults and $15.00 for children. Booking tickets online for Woodland Par Zoo will save you time, or visit with your CityPASS ticket.
6. Stone Gardens Seattle (Paid)
Got active kids that need entertaining indoors? The Stone Gardens in Seattle is a fun climbing gym that is great for both children and adults. This destination is great for keeping your kids active and entertained.
Kids are usually allowed to climb a 17,500 square feet elevated surface, which entails going on a kid-safe boulder and rope climbing room. The day pass fee at Stone Gardens is $20.
7. Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Free/Paid)
Activities for kids in Seattle go up a notch when you visit Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, a waterway bridge linking Puget Sound, Lake Union, and Lake Washington.
An iconic and historic part of Seattle, you and your kids can tour Seattle’s lakes using a ferry and witness a wide variety of fish en route using the hull’s viewing glasses. The visitor center is well worth a visit to learn more about the locks operations.
In the summer months, outdoor enthuisasts can enjoy a 3-hour kayak tour of the locks with Ballard Kayak Tours.
Our favorite way to take in the locks though with kids is to take a 2-hour cruise with Argosy Cruises through Elliott Bay, Ballard Locks, and Lake Union. NB – does not run mid-week in winter – 7 days a week from late May to September.
8. Museum of History and Industry (Paid)
The Museum of History and Industry in Seattle is a great place to learn about cultural diversity and Puget Sound’s past. You can visit the exhibitions or enroll your kids in the Maritime Seattle program.
This is certainly no boing old museum, there are plenty of fun interactive games your child will enjoy, such as building railroads or construction at the Kids-Struction Zone.
Open daily 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, the admission fee for the museum is $22 for adults, under 14s are free.
9. Museum Of Pop Culture (Paid)
The Museum of Pop Culture is a venue for contemporary exhibits that highlight what is current and essential in today’s popular culture. They also provide significant play areas for your children and music halls.
Your kids will see recognizable modern-day themes like Heroes and Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume, The Minecraft Exhibition, and Guitar Gallery. The museum also has sound lab studio-grade equipment, which makes it fun to make music.
Admission tickets cost from $26 for adults and $19 for 5 to 17-year-olds, cost varies by time slot. Closed Wednesdays.
Top Tip: This is where we found one of the best playgrounds in Seattle! Immediately outside the Museum of Pop Culture the playground is complete free and includes extensive climbing structures older kids will love, as well as swings and toddler equipment. Its the perfect spot in Seattle Center to take a break
10. Washington State Ferries (Paid)
Looking for an easy way to pass the time in Seattle with some interesting sights along the way? You can tour Seattle with your young ones using the Washington State Ferries that are fun to ride. While sailing across Puget Sound, the city’s largest water body, you can order delicious meals onboard.
Take your pick where you head to and from, its easy to simply take a round trip to Bainbridge Island, Vashon Island, and Lake Union. Kids will also enjoy the scenery while visiting various ports, as there are dolphins, porpoises, and whales you’ll see while on tour.
11. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (Free)
This National Historical Park is a lovely park that’s open all year round and is ideal for visiting with kids. Explore the Junior Ranger Activity Center for a variety of hands-on exhibits. You can take a walk on one of the numerous beautiful paths in the region or relax in one of the town’s picnic sites or green spaces.
The park also has a small museum in Pioneer Square, which showcases numerous gold rush periods. The best part about this amazing park is that admission is free of charge.
12. Golden Age Collectables (Free)
Golden Age Collectibles is the oldest comic book, games, action figures, and pop-culture souvenirs seller. Any comic fans (big and small!) in your family will be impressed when they visit this iconic Seattle store as there are rows of old comic books, ranging from the original Superman and Batman series, as well as early superhero action figures. Golden Age Collectibles also has rare memorabilia and a variety of toys available for your kids.
Open daily 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM you’ll find this store in the heart of Pike Place. Even just for a browse, this is a great way to break up a walking day in the city.
13. Seattle Art Museum (SAM) (Paid)
A great stop in the city for art-lovers, this museum is divided into three primary sections: the Art Museum, the Asian Art Museum, and the Olympic Structure, all of which are open to the public. The Seattle Art Museum houses ancient ethnic groups such as Africans, Americans, Australian Aboriginals, Muslims, and Native Americans.
There is a Drop-in Studio that lets your child’s imagination run wild, as it comprises numerous colorful arts from local artists. The Art Museum also has priceless works of art from famous artists such as Picasso.
The admission fee for adults is $29.99, $19.99 for teenagers aged 15 to 18 years, and free for children under 14 years. On the door tickets cost $3 more, so pre-book!
14. Hands on Children’s Museum (formerly Seattle Children’s Museum) (Paid)
This museum showcases colorful artwork and has 18,000 square feet of children’s play space. Hands On Children’s Museum also has a studio where kids can test their creativity through sculpting and painting. Alternatively, your child can play on slides, a mini-golf playing space, or the role-playing game section.
There are timed programs and general admission tickets available. This is another great option for a rainy day in Seattle that will keep younger kids entertained.
15. Theo Chocolate Factory Tour (Paid)
What kid doesn’t love chocolate? Theo Chocolate is Seattle’s favorite chocolate factory. Aside from providing delightfully flavored chocolates and truffles, the factory also allows visitors to experience firsthand how their famous chocolates are made from scratch.
Indeed, this chocolate factory should be on your itinerary when visiting Emerald City. The factory visit will take you through the chocolate-making process, and the icing on the cake is that both you and your kids receive free chocolate samples during your trip.
The tour lasts over an hour and costs $14 per person.
16. Seattle Center Monorail (Paid)
The Seattle Center Monorail is a renowned landmark and the nation’s first full-scale commercial monorail system. It connects downtown Seattle to Seattle Center, which houses the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Museum of Pop Culture, The Children’s Museum, and various theatrical and cultural activities.
Instead of trekking from one tourist attraction to the next, sit comfortably in this monorail and avoid all the hassle (especially after all that walking around you’ll want to rest those legs!). It’s a practical vehicle that can whisk you away to downtown Seattle in no time.
Easy to buy tickets as you board, the rate for an adult one-way is $3.50 and $1.75 for 6 to 18-year-olds (under 5’s ride free). You can also use an Orca card to tap in.
17. Olympic Sculpture Park (Free)
This new waterfront park in Seattle allows locals and visitors to enjoy the spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, and various sculptures in an outdoor setting.
This free outdoor art museum has a verdant lawn, paved paths, and accessible nature trails. You can walk along the promenade, which connects to Belltown or the area’s lakes. Alternatively, you can sit at the Pacific Car and Foundry Company as you appreciate the artwork and interior décor while your kids play nearby.
18. Chihuly Garden And Glass (Paid)
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum contain some of the most beautiful and mesmerizing glass artworks we’ve ever seen! The museum features various displays, each with its unique theme and style for displaying its brilliant glass masterpieces.
Walk through the museum, marveling at the delicate yet dazzling sculptures on show, sit beneath a dome of multicolored glassworks, stroll through the open garden, or have a closer look at the gallery’s centerpiece.
A regular admission ticket for 13 to 64-year-olds is $33.60 and $19.95 for kids aged 5 to 13 (under 5’s free).
You’ll find this attraction on the Seattle CityPASS, or as we mentioned above save by combining it with a trip to the Space Needle.
19. Pacific Science Center (Paid)
Pacific Scientific Center is a Seattle-based autonomous, non-profit science center with a mission to pique people’s interest in science and exploration. Allow your children to learn about the land, air, and marine species.
Kids can participate in educational activities such as the science in the City and Curiosity Expo. Alternatively, you can visit facilities like the Planetarium and the IMAX Theater.
General Admission includes access to the Tropical Butterfly House, Tinker Tank makerspace, Dinosaurs, Live Science Stage, Planetarium, and daytime laser shows.
Open 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily – 20% cheaper to pre-book online. Full-price Pacific Science Center tickets are $22.95 for adults, $17.95 for 3 to 17-year-olds.
Top Tip: The Laser Show and Planetarium required booking a timed slot in addition to purchasing your general admission ticket; they sell fast so book well in advance to get full benefit of everything on offer at the Pacific Science Center..
20. The Seattle Great Wheel (Paid)
The Seattle Great Wheel is a massive 175-foot Ferris wheel located on Elliott Bay at Pier 57 in Seattle. Riders get to see the magnificent views of the city from above.
If you prefer a more family-friendly ride, you can reserve its Glass Bottom VIP Cabin in addition to sitting inside one of its carts. The Ferris wheel typically rotates thrice and takes 15 to 20 minutes.
Part of “Miners Landing”, a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel, will cost you $17 for those aged 12 and above, or $12 for those aged 3 to 11 years old.
You’ll also find here a younger children’s carousel ($6 per ride), “Wings of Washington” Interactive theatre and boat cruises on offer.
21. Discovery Park
Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest city park covering 534 acres. The park is located on Magnolia Bluff facing Puget Sound and has great scenic views of Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges.
The park is a family-friendly environment with plenty of trees, paved walkways, and a body of water with a lighthouse at the park’s edge. There’s a popular Loop Trail ideal for hikers who want a safe terrain that’s easy to cover. Alternatively, you and your young ones can swim or stroll down the beach.
Best of all, it’s free! If you’ve got a spare day in your Seattle itinerary to simply enjoy some downtime, this is where we’d head.
More On Visiting Seattle And The Pacific Northwest With Kids
If you are looking to complete a road trip of the Pacific Northwest corner of the United States, we also recommend you pop along and check out these guides next:
- Visit the Olympic Peninsula; An easy side trip to make from Seattle, check out this 5 Day Olympic National Park Itinerary for families to follow, taking you through one of the most diverse and interesting national parks in the US.
- We have a complete list of inspiring day trip ideas from Seattle you could add on to a city stopover here – including Mount Rainier and island hopping ideas.
- Extending your journey around Washington, these are some of the most incredible scenic drives you’ll find in the state.
- Take your journey from Seattle west with this epic road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park
- Or, continue your journey further south, don’t miss our favorite scenic drives to undertake in Oregon.
- Seattle can make a fabulous starting point for a west coast national parks road trip – here’s what you can expect visiting 12 of the best in the west.
Before hitting the road on your next family road trip, make sure you check out our ultimate road trip packing checklist – never forget an important item again!
NB prices and open hours are quoted in this post as of January 2023; please check with the mentioned venues before planning your visit.
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