School’s been out all of 12 minutes and already your offspring are using the b-word. As in, “I’m bored!” For everyone’s sake, why not plan a trip that will launch your family into a world of urban excitement and natural beauty ripe for exploration.
That’s right, Seattle.
- City Sensations: Let’s start with a landmark: the iconic Space Needle. Take a vertical ride 520 feet to the observation deck for 360-degree city and water vistas. The needle is located in Seattle Center, which conveniently hosts several other kid-friendly meccas. Catch a music-loaded laser show at the Pacific Science Center, explore hands-on creativity at the Seattle Children’s Museum, get soaked at the International Fountain (it looks like the world’s biggest sprinkler), scale the 30-foot climbing tower at the Artists-at-Play playground, and let your mini rockstars record their own songs at Experience Music Project Museum. All in one general area, whew!
- Wait, Wait – There’s More: Enjoy a two-minute rest as the Seattle Monorail whisks you downtown. By now Moms and Dads may need a java boost at the original Starbucks, the gateway to Pike Place Market, with its infamous flying fish, Giant Shoe Museum and Gum Wall (pack the hand sanitizer). Keep walking south to the Seattle Aquarium, where little squirts can pet starfish and other oceanic creatures that swim in Washington’s outer coast and Puget Sound’s inland sea. Speaking of creatures, four-legged hens and weird-looking pigs can be seen only at the inimitable Ye Olde Curiosity Shop down at Pier 54. A few blocks east is another quirky pit stop: the Pinball Museum, where kids can compete for the high score on vintage and modern machines. If you haven’t ridden the Seattle Great Wheel, bring the whole family—each gondola holds up to eight people as you ascend sky high for breathtaking views of the Seattle waterfront.
- It’s Only Natural: Thanks to ubiquitous evergreens and plentiful parks, Seattle isn’t called the Emerald City for nothing. Take Woodland Park Zoo, a lush habitat for nearly 300 animal species, including giraffes your children can feed. At Volunteer Park, burn off that endless kid energy by climbing 106 steps to the top of the brick water tower for views of lakes, bridges and skyscrapers. Watch seals, build driftwood forts and look for bunnies at Discovery Park, perched on Magnolia Bluff overlooking Puget Sound.Speaking of the sound, Seattle has more than its fair share of beautiful blue H2O. Take a water taxi over to West Seattle, home of Alki Beach — 2.5 miles of sandy bliss, with bikes, kayaks and paddle boards for rent. Hours of fun await at Constellation Park, where little ones scout for sea anemones, hermit crabs and more. And at Madison Park and Golden Gardens, memories are made nightly with bonfires on the beach.
- Chowing Down with the Children: Seattle serves up oodles of family-friendly dining options. Pizza is always a winner, and Tutta Bella’s multiple locations all feature authentic, wood-fired pies, along with free pizza dough for the kids to play with while you wait. Grab some grass-fed, organically raised beef burgers and organic milkshakes at Great State Burger. If you’re roaming through Pike Place Market, enjoy a sit-down lunch at the stroller-accessible Steelhead Diner. The two local moms who own Serendipity Cafe will win your parental hearts with a toy-packed play area, plus wine, beer and cocktails for grownups. Finally, Ivar’s is a Seattle institution with a great kids’ menu; we especially like the Salmon House location on Lake Union.
- Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: As much family fun as there is in Seattle, you’re not expected to go sleepless. The Kimpton Hotel Monaco is smack-dab in the center of this action-packed city, and does a fine job of mixing luxurious digs with a playful vibe. They’ll even supply your tiny people with plush mini-bathrobes during your stay.