The beauty and natural surroundings of Seattle really are incomparable. It's a stunning, magic city and it makes for a GREAT family day out (or longer!), so we are so very excited to share our favorite things to do with kids in this great Washington State city. There is so much art, culture, and of course nature, that we couldn't wait to share with you our "Top 9 Family Attractions" that you can enjoy on your next family day out in one of our personal favorites cities in the USA!
There are so many fun things to do with kids in Seattle, make sure you keep reading this Seattle City Guide to see what you might like to include when you next visit this city in Northwest USA!
Image Credit: Visit Seattle
In this Seattle City Guide, we'll be sharing with you the best family friendly museums, the most amazing parks to lose yourself in, and the most coolest kid-tastic attractions you can find in Seattle. We love to fill your days without being a stress on the budget, so also in this Seattle City Guide you'll find some budget friendly things to do with kids (Yes, we mean FREE!) To help you with your trip, we share the best ways to get around the city by public transport, as well as some super fun facts you can impress all your friends with!
If you want to take your trip a little further out from Seattle itself (if you're feeling adventurous!), this city guide shares with you our favorite day trip from the city. We also check out some famous faces that were born in this very city. We want to make sure you don’t miss out on anything on your family day out to the breathtaking and uber cool Washington State favorite!
So whether this is your first trip to the city, or perhaps you have lived here for years but just never took the time to really get under the skin of what there is to do, and you think "I wonder what is there is to do near me?", then keep reading, because we have the top things to do in Seattle with kids, just for you!
Image Credit: Visit Seattle
Did you know that what we know as Seattle now, has actually been inhabited for at least 4,000 years!? In the 1850s, there were about 13 villages dotted around the area, where the Duwamish Tribe and Suquamish tribes lived. In fact, Chief Seattle (chief of those tribes) was actually born near where the current King Street Station is!
The first European to visit the area was George Vancouver in 1792, but it wasn't until 1851 when the Denny Party scouts arrived that Seattle was officially "founded". (Although the Collins party, who also settled in 1851 was more advanced with more permanent structures and meat markets). In the early post-founding years, Seattle was very much a timber industry. Sadly, the 2000 year old trees (reaching as high as 400ft) used to cover the entire Seattle area, but sadly trees like that don't exist anywhere anymore.
Seattle was incorporated in 1865, and the Great Northern Railroad arrived to the city in 1884. After the great fire of 1889, Seattle rebuilt itself (something it would go to do around 5 times for various reasons - it's a city of resilience!) and enjoyed a great boom during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1893.
Today, the city is thriving. Businesses like Starbucks and Nordstrums were both started in Seattle, and a small company called Microsoft - who had offices here in the early days - were invaluable to the economy, and now the city makes for a wonderful place to visit with the family!
Image Credit: Visit Seattle
Seattle is so unique in that it has such a wonderful range of things to do with the family. You have of course the stunning natural world, with places like Discovery Park waiting to offer you a mix of meadows, forests and beaches. There are exciting museums such as the Museum of Flight and Museum of Pop Culture that offer such fun and fascinating learning opportunities.
Then, you have attractions that showcase the wonderful diversity and international influence the city has (and that makes it so special!) like the Seattle Japanese Gardens. Let's not forget about places that creative families will love, including the Seattle Art Museum and the Frye Art Museum!
Seattle is one of those cities you have to visit yourself. No amonut of reading in a book (or really well written and informative city guides!) can really convey how special this city really is, so go on out and enjoy it for yourself! You're welcome.
Seattle is REALLY easy to navigate if you don't have a car, or just want to experience the city how the locals do.
The Link Light Rail is one option, taking you through Downtown and even to SEA Airport. There's a great bus servicee that covers Downtown as well as surrounding neighbourhoods, and the Seattle Street Cars covers Downtown with South Lake Union, as well as a service connecting Capitol Hill, Link Light Rail and even Amtrak.
The ORCA transit passes are great as they can be used on streetcars, light rail, buses, and more (but note, not the Washington State Ferries or the Seattle Center Monorail). The ORCA cards cost $5, then you just load an all-day regional transit pass onto an ORCA card for $8. Transit pass value covers $3.50 per ride.
Source and Image Credit: More information here: Visit Seattle
If you've read our "Fun Facts" on Seattle, you'll know that Seattle is actually a city built on top of ANOTHER city, after a huge and destructive fire ravaged the city in 1889. Which also means, there is still a fascinating city lying underneath the modern streets, waiting to be explored!
The aptly named Beneath The Streets is one tour group that will happily take you below the surface to see this hidden piece of history. The one hour walking tours are led by incredibly informative guides who take you through the underground passages of Pioneer Square - Seattle's first neighborhood!
Image Credit & Website: Beneath The Streets
If you love art, and being inspired, then the Seattle Art Museum has to be on your list of things to do with kids in Seattle! It's collection is home to nearly 25,000 works of art from all over the globe - from paintings, sculptures, drawings and more.
The museum's collections date back right to pre historic times, and cover through to present day. Kids can appreciate Asian art, Native American art, Ancient Mediterranean art and more. There are also rotating exhibitions to keep you enjoying something new on every visit!
Image Credit: Seattle Art Museum
Seattle is right by the water, so why not explore what lives there when you're next in the city? It's been giving families a great day out since 1977, so they must be doing something right!
Today, you'll find some really beautiful creatures who live across six exhibits - and some might surprise you! Kids can learn about the wildlife local to the Washington area, as well as creatures who call the Pacific Coral Reef home, and also check out some amazing birds, seal, otters and more! Are you ready to make a SPLASH on your next family day out!?
Image Credit: Seattle Aquarium
Winding paths, delicate bonsai's and 3.5 acres of sanctuary await you in the Seattle Japanese Garden, perfect for those nature loving families. This renowned landmark is where Japanese horticulture, design, culture and art come together for a very beautiful family day out.
The garden is great for year round visits as the seasons dramatically change the landscapes. Take your time as you stroll along the winding paths, taking in the stones, bridges, buildings, plants and animals, appreciating the wonderful attention to detail that makes this Japanese Garden so enchanting.
Image Credit: Seattle Japanese Garden
Seattle has many iconic attractions, but this one is THE symbol of the Seattle skyline - the Space Needle! Towering over the city, the Space Needle not only give kids an exciting experience going up to the top, it gives everyone an incredible view! (So don't forget your camera!)
Built in 1962 for the World's Fair, it was actually designed as an inspiraiton that the fair needed a structure to symbolize humanity’s Space Age aspirations. And that view we were talking about? It gives you the city's only 360-degree panoramic views of downtown, the iconic Mount Rainier, beautiful Puget Sound, and the Cascades and Olympic mountain ranges!
Image Credit: The Space Needle
Get ready to take flight at the Museum of Flight! In this fascinating museum, kids can explore the history of flight - and we don't just mean the airplane! This very family friendly museum is filled with an incredible collection of actual aircraft and spacecraft, plus historic artifacts, galleries, exhibits, facts that tell the stories of the past, present and future of flight
Kids can come face to face with REAL aircraft, and even REAL spacecraft that have actually travelled into space! Kids can enjoy the Kids Flight Zone, hear real stories from WWII, learn about the exciting space race to the moon, and more! Are you ready to spread those wings and fly?
Image Credit: Museum of Flight
The Burke Museum is filled with one of a kind exhibits that showcase natural and cultural collections that can educate, inspire, and so much more! At the Burke Museum you really feel how alive the world is, and the many cultures that make it so special.
Kids can uncover fossils, and learn about thee creatures that lived thousands of years ago (some even more!), there's a fascaiting archaeology section and a wonderful exhibit of Northwest Native Art. There's also exhibits where kids can discover the wonders of biology, and contemporary culture, and more!
Image Credit: Burke Museum
Woodland Park Zoo has been giving families a WILD day out since all the way back in 1899! Not only can kids see some of the most amazing animals up close at this Northwest favorite, but they can also see science come alive, and learn about conservation, and be inspired by nature!
Woodland Park Zoo is home to grand creatures from Africa, as well Australasia. There are beautiful penguins, a stunning Butterfly Garden, wonderous Rhinos and even tropical rainforests to explore! C'mon kids, it's time to walk on the wild side! ROAR!
Image Credit: Woodland Park Zoo
An incredibly important museum to the Northwest, the Northwest African American Museum features exhibitions that uplift Black voices and illuminate the histories, arts, and cultures of African Americans in the northwest for the enrichment of all, and it's a wonderful experience for kids.
In addition to the exhibits, the museum also host a number of events across the year, such as Malcolm X Day, Juneteenth Week, the African American Cultural Emsemble and more, so keep checking the website so you can put these key dates in your diary.
Image Credit: NAAMNW
Pop Culture is ALL around us, and it defines each generation - which is why the Museum of Pop Culture is an amazing experience for kids AND parents. Kids can learn all about what has shaped and influenced our culture throughout the decades, and parents can take a trip down memory lane!
One visit you might be exploring the history, legacy and impact of iconic rock bands such as Pearl Jam or Nirvana, and another visit you might be admiring iconic photographs of artists such as David Bowie. You might discover why horror films are so popular, or learn about the history and impact of gaming. There is so much to see and do and this iconic museum!
Image Credit: Museum of Pop Culture
Jimi Hendrix is considered one of the most influential guitarists of all time. His hits include Purple Haze, All Along The Watchtower and an unforgettable performance of the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock in 1969!
Image Copyright: Public Domain
Bill Gates is an American businessman whose computing geneius co-founded Microsoft. Between 1995 and 2017 (minus 2010 and 2013), Forbes magazine declared him "the richest person in the world" - pretty impressive! Today a large focus of his work is philanthropic.
Image Copyright: Public Domain
Pike Place Market is the soul of Seattle. From restuarants, to retail shops, craft shops, artisan foods and plenty of Seattleites pouring their hearts and love for the city and what it stands for, into one place. It's an amazing experience that you really could just get lost in! It's free to enter and look around, but be warned, you'll be stretched to resist picking something up!
Open 363 days a year, the market was founded back in 1907 and is one of the oldest continually operating markets in the entire USA! It's a market that started off with humble beginnings, and (thanks to the locals) avoided destruction. If that history isn't enough to tempt you to visit, we don't know what is.
Image Credit: Pike Place Market
The Frye Art Museum is ALWAYS free admission, but this is the kind of museum that even if there was an admission, is well worth a visit. It's a beautifully put together museum filled with wonderful exhibits and collections from some of the most talented artists around, whose art reflects on Seattle's evolving identity.
With changing exhibitions, there is always a reason to re-visit. Whether it's an exhibition on contemporary art, or wildlife and naturee focused; whether abstract, sculptures or paintings, the Frye Art Museum is great for creative families and art appreciative kids of all ages!
Image Credit: Frye Museum / Jueqian Fang
There is nothing quite like a day in nature, and Seattle's Discovery Park is a fantastic choice for your budget friendly day out in the sun! The park is a huge 534 acres and is located on Magnolia Bluff, right overlooking Puget Sound as well as BOTH the Cascade and Olympic Mountain Ranges.
You can spend the day navigating trails through lush forest, or dip your toes in the water near the rocky beach, or even head on an adventure to West Point Lighthouse. Don't miss stopping by the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center (also free!) as they have a wonderful permanent collection of Native American art.
Image Credit: Seattle.gov
We LOVE this idea, and feel more US cities should start them! Founded back in 2012, Seattle Free Walking Tour was inspired when the founders travelled to Europe and discovered that free tours were quite the rage across the oceans.
The tours cover "Seattle 101" (offering a wonderful overarching look at Seattle as a city) and "Marketplace" (a 70 minute deep dive into Pike Peak Market), and really offer a fascinating insight into the citys diverse history and culture. Both tours cover completely different sights and experiences, so feel free to enjoy both in one day!
Image Credit: Seattle Free Walking Tour
FREE lighthouse tours and no prior reservation needed? Where do we sign up!? Alki Point Lighthouse is still to this day a fully functioning lighthouse and is actually one of eight lighthouses on or near Puget Sound that are open for visitors! The views are gorgeous, and if you're lucky, Mt Rainier can be seen on clear days.
The tours only operate over summer, and because of the nature of the location it's best to check online prior to attending to see if they are still running the day you want to visit. On the days they are open, tours start at 1pm, and last tour is at 3:45pm. Kids under 6 are very welcome on the landing but they won't be allowed to the top due to the winding staircase (the lighthouse was built in 1913!) In fact, it's on the National Register of Historic Places!
Image Credit: Alki Point Lighthouse
We LOVE a day trip that makes us feel like we're worlds away on another amazing adventure, and that's exactly how Leavenworth makes you feel when you arrive!
Leavenworth was actually modelled on a Bavarian village -an idea they had back in the 1960s to draw tourists - and it worked! Ever since, this adorable charming year round town is hugely popular with families. Whether you arrive to hit the slopes in winter, or just take in it's charm in summer, there are plenty of things to do with the family in this easy drive from Seattle.
Leavenworth began life as an incorporated town back in 1906, as a small timber community, before becoming a regional office for the Great Northern Railway not long later.
In 1929 the first ski jump was opened in a bid to bring more tourists to the area. It worked, but it was really in the 1960s that two Seattle business men - Ted Price and Bob Rodgers - took a trip to Danish-themed Solvang, CA and decided that Leavenworth should also embrace the European flavors to draw more to the area.
Leavenworth is about 2.5 hours drive from Seattle, and with four distinct seasons, it really doesn't matter what time of year you visit - this charming Alpine style town will win you over so much, you might find yourself staying more than a day!
Image Credit: Leavenworth.org
Here’s our top 4 Leavenworth attractions to visit:
We hope you found this content useful! Please share with your friends, and if you have any comments, or want to let us know what we can do to further help you find fun days out with the family, then just email our team at [email protected]!
Let's get the family adventure started!