16 Fun Things to Do in Seattle with Kids: A Parent's Guide

July 26, 2019

While there are countless ways for adults to have fun in Emerald City, there are plenty of things to do in Seattle with kids!

In fact, some of them are even free. Whether you're biking through Seattle's many picturesque neighborhoods, sampling dumplings in the International District, or exploring one of the city's many museums, you and your family will experience great adventures and create lasting memories.

1) Wander through the Neighborhoods

Downtown Seattle showcases destinations such as Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Space Needle. Pioneer Square, the city's first neighborhood, hosts countless shops, restaurants, and hidden Waterfall Garden Park.

To revel in global cuisine and culture, visit the International District, which is divided into Chinatown, Japan Town, and Little Saigon. 

Quirky independent stores and bars line the eclectic neighborhood of Fremont. Stroll hand in hand to view the enormous Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge or the monumental Fremont Rocket structure. Families can also cycle together on the Burke-Gilman Trail. In addition, visitors can delight in the Fremont Sunday Market artwork, antiques, and food truck options. 

Moreover, Ballard neighborhood offers visitors a fun waterfront community filled with scenic views, a farmer's market and unique shops. Explore the Ballard Locks to view the connected canal system, visit a local used bookstore to pick out books, or listen to music at Sonic Boom Records.

View looking up at the sign for Pike Place Market on a sunny day with a blue sky in Seattle, Washington, USA

photo credit: Erin Hervey via Unsplash

2) Free Play Areas

You don't have to shop at the mall for your kids to play for free! Check out the playgrounds at Northgate Mall and the Westfield Southcenter so your kids can burn some energy and make some friends. Moreover, kids can participate in story time, crafts, and other activities for free at the University Village on Tuesdays at 10 am. Also, the Crossroads Mall offers family activities on the second Saturday of every month from 5 pm t 9 pm.

3) Walk the Pier at Elliott Bay 

Strolling along the Eliott Bay Waterfront area should be required when visiting Seattle. Offering beautiful views of the Puget Sound, The Seattle Great Wheel, the city skyline, and more. With walkways and over two marinas, visitors can enjoy countless activities by the water.

4) SUP and Kayak at Alki Beach

Stand up paddleboard (SUP) around the waters of Alki Beach for beautiful views and an excellent workout in the sun. Take local classes or go on your own with the family to spend a day out on the water. As an alternative, kayaking around Duwamish Head on Elliott Bay also gives breathtaking views of the shoreline, city skyline, and mountain ranges.

Close up of sailboat sailing through the Puget Sound with mountains in background near Seattle, Washington, USA

photo credit: Benjamin Massello via Unsplash

5) Bike around the City's Parks 

Seattle’s parks offer countless biking trails. If you want to see multiple neighborhoods, try biking the Burke-Gilman Trail, which wraps through several of Seattle’s notable northern areas such as Fremont and Ballard. Moreover, taking your bike onto the Washington Ferry to road bike around Bainbridge Island remains a local favorite. The 33-mile long trail gives spectacular views of the city skyline, Puget Sound, and beyond.

6) Explore Museums

Chihuly Garden & Glass

Moreover, Chihuly Garden & Glass hosts ethereal works of glass art conceived by artist Dale Chihuly. With eight galleries, a stunning centerpiece glasshouse, and a garden straight out of a fairy tale, there is plenty of artwork to admire.

Seattle Pinball Museum

Even those who aren’t huge museum buffs will get a kick out of Seattle’s more unconventional museums such as the Seattle Pinball Museum. The Seattle Pinball Museum possesses over 50 playable pinball machine games, so you can challenge your kids to see who obtains the highest score.

Close up of several old pin ball machines in a row at the Seattle Pinball Museum in Seattle, Washington, USA

photo credit: Pete Kerzel via Facebook

Museum of Pop Culture

Let your kids geek out or educate them at the Museum of Pop Culture with memorabilia from pop culture icons and media like Indiana Jones, outfits worn by megastar Prince, and unique photographs taken of Nirvana bandmembers.

Museum of Flight

With more than 175 aircraft and spacecraft, thousands of artifacts, numerous exhibits, millions of exclusive photographs, a spectacular library, the Museum of Flight is a must-see in Seattle. It’s considered the most expansive individual, nonprofit air and space museum worldwide. Visitors can see preserved aircraft and spacecraft parts, entire planes, old uniforms, medals, instruments, and more. The library contains an extensive collection of reports, manuals, and journals. Also, guests can pay tribute to Vietnam veterans and fallen soldiers at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park.

7) Gaze in Wonder at Olympic Sculpture Park

Located one mile north of the museum stands Olympic Sculpture Park, which is a renowned nine-acre sculpture park and the largest greenspace in downtown Seattle.

Red eagle sculpture in the Olympic Sculpture Park with the Space Needle in the background in Seattle, Washington, USA8) Mountain Bike at Duthie Hill

Duthie Hill offers 120 acres of hilly trails on the Sammamish Plateau for both novice and expert mountain bikers. Just 30 minutes from the city, the adventure park showcases cross-country trails, a practice area, technical routes with adrenaline-racing features, and more.  

9) Kayak and Walk around Ballard Locks

Considered one of Seattle’s top destinations, Ballard Locks or the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, provides visitors with beautiful views, fun watersports, and spots for biking and walking. Erected in 2017, the locks connect the Puget Sound with Lake Union and Lake Washington. Boats and kayaks can travel through, and walkways and provides visitors the ability to cross the ship canal. Visitors can also check out the fish ladder to gain a glimpse of huge, spawning regional fish species. Also, the locks feature the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden for another Seattle natural oasis within the urban setting.

10) Sail with the Center for Wooden Boats 

The Center for Wooden Boats at South Lake Union offers boat rentals, classes, lectures, workshops, and other learning opportunities to have fun on the water. Even better, they offer free sail lessons on Sundays. Arrive early before 10 am to get a spot!

Because it is only one mile from downtown, the center is a central destination and easily accessible by foot, car, or public transit. Walking around the docks and associated exhibits are free of charge, although boat rentals and educational experiences have fees. 

view of water and sunlight reflecting on buildings at Seattle Waterfront in Seattle, Washington, USA

photo credit: Visit Seattle via Facebook

11) Take Photos with the Fremont Troll

The larger-than-life Fremont Troll sits beneath the Aurora Avenue Bridge and has made the Fremont neighborhood a little kookier since 1990. Mainly used for photo opportunities, the troll is definitely a unique piece of Seattle culture. The Troll’s Knoll nearby hosts a community garden and park.

12) Woodland Park Zoo & Rose Garden

When highlighting the best things to do in Seattle with kids, you can't overlook The Woodland Park Zoo. It hosts over 1,100 animals and 300 species and is committed to wildlife protection, conservation, and sustainable living. The 92-acre park is separated into bioclimatic zones with animals from varied climates all over the world. See lions, penguins, tigers, lemurs, and more, all while learning about animal conservation.

The Woodland Park Rose Garden contains 2.5 acres of over 3000 roses. With over 200 species of roses and a well-maintained landscape, visitors can stroll and admire the architecture of the garden landscape. For a fun fact, flowers are pesticide-free and spent flowers are fed to zoo animals. Admission to tour the garden is free, but if you park at the zoo, you will have to pay zoo parking prices unless the zoo is closed.

13) Pacific Science Center

Both kids and adults are in for a treat the Pacific Science Center. Featuring exhibits like live animals, a tropical butterfly house, VR gaming experiences, and a hands-on tinkering area, the center will not disappoint. As an institution committed to education, there is so much more to do, including daily planetarium shows and dynamic, large-scale animated images.

Educational Things to Do in San Diego14) Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium hosts numerous species of birds, fish, otters, plankton, invertebrates, cephalopods, and more. Watch the river otters play or gaze in awe at the colors of the yellow tang and red lionfish. Kids can learn about wildlife conservation and how to protect the local endangered orca population. As such, it's easily one of the best things to do in Seattle with kids.

15) Visit Animals around Seattle's Parks 

There are multiple opportunities to spot animals with your kids. Visitors can bring their kids to the playground and then check out ducks and turtles at Golden Gardens Park in the pond near the bridge. Moreover, Discovery Park has over 270 species of birds to identify with your kids, and a cool playground as well.

16) Explore and Play at the Seattle Center

Let your kids roam free around the Seattle Center's many playground areas, including the Artists at Play playground. The playground contains a 30-foot tall climbing structure as well as long slides and suspended bridges. There are also smaller structures and musical instruments to keep younger kids occupied.

Further, kids can run around the International Fountain in their swimsuits during hot summer days and create interesting sounds at the Sonic Bloom solar-generated installation near the Pacific Science Center.

Family Fun Awaits

With so many things to do in Seattle with kids, you can't go wrong when planning a family vacation to Emerald City. Where will you bring them first?

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Written By Talena


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