Every year on spring break I take my boys on a road trip. My husband usually stays home to work and I take the opportunity to take them somewhere new for all of us to explore. It is usually centred around kid-friendly activities and for this trip, I chose to explore Seattle with kids.
It’s an easy drive for us and Seattle is one of my favorite cities. But for this trip, we didn’t go to our usual spots and instead, made the trip about exploring places we hadn’t been to but were also kid-friendly.
Seattle Children’s Museum
I had been wanting to take Holter and Heath to the Seattle Children’s Museum for a while as I had heard such positive things about it. We made our way there after breakfast and enjoyed the lovely walk after finding parking for the day. It is located very close to the Space Needle so we had a nice view of it on our walk.
We did get a tiny bit lost trying to find the Children’s Museum but we found a nice lady to point us in the right direction as it is tucked down a side street that we walked right by.
The Seattle Children’s Museum is over 18,000 sq feet of play space designed for kids ages birth to 8 years old to enjoy with their families. There are a number of hands-on exhibits for kiddos to explore, and daily educational programs or activities that are FREE with the cost of admission.
Every area of the Children’s Museum was a place to explore. The boys went from area to area checking it all out and having fun seeing how it all worked. There was an interactive display right in the hallway that Heath spent 20 minutes playing with and the Cog City exhibit captured their attention immediately.
The Dunn Lumber Construction Zone was where they got to wear hard hats and build their projects from scratch. They both love to build things at home and everything from the nuts and bolts to boards were oversized and perfect for their little hands. We were also lucky that there was no one else in the exhibit with us that morning so the boys had it all to themselves.
The Imagination Studio was where we spent the bulk of our time. The boys both fell in love with the glass that they could draw on and use a spray bottle to wipe off. This kept them occupied endlessly. They also painted and worked with clay, but it was the standing piece of glass that they were both drawn to.
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I highly recommend signing up for a time at the Imagination Studio as soon as you arrive at the Children’s Museum. I didn’t expect them to spend so much time there, and luckily we had it to ourselves and were able to stay longer than we would have if there had been a waiting list.
Holter and Heath explored the Eye Clinic, the Market and loved Sound Transit. The opportunities were endless for them to be hands-on and use their imagination in every room. We took a break at lunchtime and it was really easy to head upstairs to the Marketplace to refuel.
There were many different food options and many were healthy options which is always a bonus for us. We spent six hours at the Children’s Museum and the boys were begging to stay longer.
If you decide to visit the Seattle Children’s Museum, pay for parking for longer than you anticipate! I didn’t expect to stay there all day and am happy that I found all-day parking that morning. Go first thing in the morning as it was nearly empty when we went mid-week in March.
The Seattle Children’s Museum hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am until 5 pm. It is important to note that their doors close to the public at 4:30 pm.
The Space Needle is nearby, so you could easily incorporate that into your day as well, but since we had a full day at the museum, we headed back to our hotel, jumped into the indoor pool and hot tub, and had some unstructured playtime before dinner. The boys were exhausted, so we had an early night to get ready for day two of our adventure.
Woodland Park Zoo
The next morning we headed to Woodland Park Zoo and found the parking there to be very easy. We spent roughly four hours exploring every inch of the zoo, and I have to say that I loved it just about as much as the boys did. I found that it was a perfect size, not overwhelming and we could take our time and visit each exhibit at our own pace.
Woodland Park Zoo’s 92 acres are divided into bioclimatic zones, featuring different natural habitats ranging from humid tropical rainforests and coastal deserts to temperate rainforests like those of the Pacific Northwest.
We started off with the Giraffes, which is always a crowd-pleaser. They were just taking them out to the exhibit when we arrived, so we were able to get a sneak peek of them right away.
The Tropical Asia exhibit was the favorite of the day, hands down. The Orangutans stole the show with their endless chatter amongst each other and put on a show for the crowd. They are quite loud, though, so if you have children with sensitive hearing, you may want to keep your visit short.
The jaguars in the Tropical Rainforest exhibit were a favorite, and Holter had fun navigating the way using the map of the zoo.
We ended our time at the zoo at the outdoor playground. No matter where in the world we are exploring, I always find time for the boys to have unstructured playtime. Even though at the Woodland Park Zoo, we roamed freely and the boys loved their time there, they will never give up a chance to climb, run, jump and just be boys.
Admission to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle is $13.95 for kids aged 3-12 and $22.95 for adults.
Family Fun Center in Tukwila
After leaving the zoo we stopped for lunch and then made our way to the Family Fun Center in Tukwila just south of Seattle. I kept this adventure for last since it was a treat for the boys and a fun way to end our trip. The options at the Family Fun Center are endless. We were there in mid-March so their outdoor options were limited but we had no shortage of fun inside.
The Family Fun Center has an endless list of attractions, and we only scratched the surface of the indoor options. They also have a Virtual Reality room, Lazer Extreme, XD Theatre is a motion simulated ride and a Drop & Twist tower.
For their outdoor activities, they feature The Screamin’ Swing adrenaline ride, Go-Karts, Bumper Cars, Mini Golf, Batting Cages, Bumper Boats, Sling Shot and Traffic School in mini kid cars! You could spend all day there and still not have time to explore everything they offer.
The boys headed straight for Kidopolis Playland which is a massive four-level indoor soft playground.
Two hours were spent on the slides, climbing up to the top of the structure and playing hide and seek with each other. We have a similar indoor soft playground in our city but it was a tenth of the size of this one. Even when there was quite a lot of children playing they all had their own space to move about freely.
We moved on to the glow in the dark bowling alley which had a full food menu served right to your table and alcoholic drinks for adults which was a lovely feature after being the solo parent on this trip!
After a few games Holter wanted to go on the Frog Hopper ride he spotted just outside the Kidopolis Playground. Heath was a little too scared of going without me so we watched from below as Holter giggled away the entire ride and enjoyed his two minutes of “freedom” riding it on his own.
Four hours later and a stop for a quick pizza dinner in their food court, I let the boys loose in the arcade. We have a strict policy of no video games in our home so it becomes quite a treat for them when we go to places like this.
Pike Place Market
A trip to Seattle with kids isn’t complete without exploring the legendary Pike Place Market. The Pike Place Market is not just a public market, but rather it’s also the heart of downtown Seattle. More than anything else about this city – its farmers and craftspeople who live here as well!
The neighborhood consists of hundreds upon bustling businesses with many different kinds in every corner you turn to: from delicious food stalls selling fresh produce to clothing shops spilling out onto sidewalks wide enough for car parking lots all around them; there truly isn’t one type within range when searching through “Pike Place.”
The Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight is an extraordinary place that inspires the imagination with its incredible collection and artefacts. From historic aircraft to space shuttle wings, this museum has it all! Travel through time and space with the Museum of Flight! Explore an incredible collection that embodies our past, present future.
Don’t miss The Blackbird family of aircraft that has been around since the 1950s. They cruise at speeds over Mach 3 and can fly more than 85,000 feet in altitude! Designed as a reconnaissance or spy plane. There are endless opportunities for kids to explore this incredible museum and there is a play area complete with toy planes for kids to pretend they are pilots.
General admission is $25 for adults and $17 for kids aged 5-17. Kids under five are free.
Day Trip to Great Wolf Lodge
If you are looking for a really fun adventure that is only a 1.5-hour drive from Seattle, considering spending a night at Great Wolf Lodge! If you have never been to Great Wolf Lodge, it is pure kid heaven, and pretty fun for the adults too.
The indoor waterpark comes complete with a playground structure, wave pool and massive waterslides. Your kids will likely spend all day doing laps on the waterslides as mine did.
There are many different dining options offering child-friendly foods and the resort offers endless options throughout the day to keep the kids busy if they don’t want to spend it at the waterpark. There is an outdoor climbing structure for both young kids and bigger kids.
One of the biggest draws at Great Wolf Lodge was the MagiQuest. The kids can purchase a magic wand and go on a scavenger hunt around the hotel, looking for answers to clues. The magic wands open secret chests and reveal monograms, it is such a fun adventure for kids.
The drive down the Washington coast is truly spectacular, and there are many attractions along the way to stop and enjoy.
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Final Thoughts on Seattle with Kids
All in all, it was a really fun two days, and it was easy to find fun things to do in Seattle with kids. It was an easy itinerary for me to handle without Andrew traveling with us, and sometimes it is fun to sneak the boys away on my own, and I’m sure Andrew enjoys the peace and quiet while we are gone!
Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer and the co-owner of Savoteur. A Toronto native with Danish roots currently residing in British Columbia, her travel writing has been seen on The Associated Press wire, MSN, CBS, NBC, Entrepreneur, 24/7 Wall St, Times Daily, and many more.
You can follow her travel adventures on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.