Last Updated on February 5, 2024 by Kelly
Seattle is known for frequent rain showers, freshly-brewed coffee, and excellent attractions. Seattle also happens be a great city to visit with kids. There are numerous markets, beaches, parks, museums, and theaters that are all kid-friendly.
I grew up in the Seattle area and I have many fond memories of exploring Seattle with my family. Now that I have my own family, it’s been a lot of fun to explore everything Seattle has to offer young families. In this post, I’m sharing my picks for the top 25 activities for kids in Seattle.
25 Activities for Kids in Seattle
1. Pike Place Market
One of the best places to take kids is Pike Place Market. You could easily spend half a day there and barely scratch the surface. With over 500 vendors, there are tons of unique gifts, souvenirs, and food items. Children will enjoy watching the fishmongers toss the fish back and forth to each other, as well as seeing all of the beautiful bouquets at the flower market.
One of the market attractions that children might especially enjoy is the Gum Wall, which is located beneath the market down Post Alley. The walls of the alley are completely covered in bubble gum. Most adults find this pretty gross, but most children will find it very interesting! If they’re old enough, you can also bring your own bubble gum for them to add to the wall.
Children will also enjoy many of the food stands, restaurants, and vendors at the market. We recommend Shug’s Soda Fountain & Ice Cream, which is a classic ice cream parlor. Another vendor we recommend is the Daily Dozen Doughnut. Trying their warm mini-donuts is practically a rite of passage for visiting Pike Place Market.
2. Space Needle
Children will definitely be interested in the uniquely-shaped building that is the Space Needle when they see it. When you let them know that there is an elevator that takes guests all the way to the top, they are sure to be excited. The elevator takes 43 seconds to reach the top and has glass windows so you can see the city as you rise to the viewing platforms.
The Space Needle was recently renovated in 2018. If you’ve been there before, it’s definitely worth a return visit after the renovation. The walls of the viewing platform are now completely made of glass, so you have unobstructed views of the city. They also added glass benches (“skyrisers”), which can make for some pretty epic photos. They also added the world’s first and only rotating, glass-floor (“the loupe”), so you’ll be able to see the city directly beneath your feet!
If anyone in your party has a fear of heights, you can feel stand on the “regular floor” of the upper viewing platform and look at the views from inside the Space Needle too.
3. Pacific Science Center
One of my favorite things to do in Seattle when I was a kid was visit the Pacific Science Center. Throughout the years, this science museum has sponsored a variety of interactive science exhibits for children.
In addition to a number of really cool exhibits, they also have an IMAX theater and a Laser Dome for laser light shows.
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4. Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
The iridescent, curved exterior is one of the most unique buildings in all of Seattle. There are over three thousand colorful panels arranged in a variety of shapes. The architecture is meant to evoke the rock’n’roll experience, and it certainly accomplishes its mission! Inside, the MoPOP houses a number of permanent exhibits that are a testament to Seattle’s impact on popular culture, as well as visiting exhibits that cover the latest glimpses into music, movies, and more.
Children will enjoy the Sound Lab (where they can experiment with creating music), the Indie Games exhibit (where they can play a variety of video games), and the Fantasy exhibit (where they can see props from the Harry Potter films, Dorothy’s dress from the Wizard of Oz, and more).
5. Green Lake
Looking for a place to go for a nice, long walk? Check out Green Lake! This lake is located in the city and is a popular urban green space for Seattle locals. There’s a paved path that’s approximately 3 miles long that wraps around the lake. On any given day, you’ll see parents pushing strollers, runners, and people out walking their dogs. The park also has a large playground, lawns for running around, and even a wading pool for young children during the summer. If you want to stretch out your legs, definitely visit Green Lake.
6. Seattle Aquarium
The Seattle Aquarium is located downtown on the pier. It’s a fun place to visit because there are lots of interesting shops along the pier, and many that children would enjoy! (Like the magic shop!) The aquarium itself is definitely worth a visit.
There are a variety of exhibits that focus on local marine wildlife. Some of our favorites include the Window on Washington Waters (a giant 120,000 gallon tank near the entrance), Life on the Edge (where you can touch the tide pools), the Underwater Dome, and the Otters Exhibit.
7. Seattle Great Wheel
While you’re at the pier, you won’t be able to miss seeing the Seattle Great Wheel. This giant ferris wheel has 42 completely enclosed gondolas. Rain or shine, you can ride the ferris wheel. We recently visited the Seattle Great Wheel with our daughter, and she absolutely loved it! She enjoyed seeing the views, pointing at all the birds on roofs, and of course riding the ferris wheel itself.
8. Wings Over Washington
Also at the pier is the Wings Over Washington experience. This attraction is very much like Disney’s Soarin’ ride. You’ll be strapped into the “flying theater” to experience what it’s like to see the State of Washington from above.
|Be sure to see our full post about our favorite products for traveling with a baby or a toddler.
9. Ride the Seattle Monorail
The Seattle Monorail is a convenient method of public transportation downtown, but it’s also fun in-and-of itself as a Seattle attraction. The monorail cruises through the city and is an excellent way to get a lay of the land. It also drives right through the MoPOP! Young children will especially enjoy riding the monorail. Trains depart every 10 minutes, so it’s easy to hop and off. The monorail has two stations: Westlake Center Station (5th Avenue and Pine Street) and the Seattle Center Station (right next to the Space Needle).
10. Chihuly Garden and Glass
Right next to the Space Needle is Chihuly Garden and Glass. When you enter this museum/gallery, you’ll see some of Dale Chihuly’s greatest works. In addition to the indoor exhibits, there’s also an outdoor glass garden where blown glass pieces are interspersed with live plants and vegetation.
11. Museum of Flight
The greater Seattle area is known for aviation and producing aircraft. (Boeing, after all, has its headquarters in Washington.) At the Museum of Flight, you’ll be able to see a variety of different aircraft. The Museum of Flight is the largest independent, non-profit air and space museum in the entire world. If you have a child that likes airplanes, they are sure to be mesmerized by a visit to the Museum of Flight.
12. Woodland Park Zoo
One of our favorite things to do with our daughter is visit the Woodland Park Zoo. (We like it so much, we purchased an annual membership!) The zoo has over 900 animals from over 250 distinct species. The animals are grouped by regional habitats. Currently the Woodland Park Zoo has 11 exhibits: Africa Savanna, Assam Rhino Reserve, Australia, Molbak’s Butterfly Garden (temporarily closed for refurbishments), Humboldt Penguin Exhibit, Living Northwest Trail, Temperate Forest, Trail of Adaptations, Tropical Asia, Tropical Rainforest, and Ambassador Animals. We especially like seeing the red panda and the baby gorilla. Our daughter also enjoys the carousel!
|See our guide to visiting the Woodland Park Zoo for even more information.
13. Washington Park Arboretum
Located along the shores of Lake Washington, the Washington Park Arboretum contains 230 acres of plant and wildlife. You can start your visit at the Graham Visitors Center, and you can take one of the many trails through the woods or along the shore. We especially love visiting during the fall when all of the colors start to change. There’s also a Japanese Garden (requires an entrance fee) located at the south end of the Arboretum.
14. Playdate SEA Indoor Playground
If you’re looking for an activity for a rainy day, check out Playdate SEA. They have a super large indoor playground. This playground requires an admission fee, but once you are in, there are three levels of fun playground activities for children. Adults can also enjoy their time there too, as there are coffee, wine, and beer selections.
15. Fremont Troll
How often do your kids get to see a full-scale troll under a bridge? When you’re in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, you can swing by to see the Fremont Troll. We often bring family and friends who are visiting us to this quirky Seattle attraction.
16. Artists at Play
Between the Space Needle and the MoPOP is a large urban playground called Artists at Play. The playground has lots of extra-long slides, as well as plenty of climbing equipment!
17. Seattle Children’s Museum
The Seattle Children’s Museum contains 18,000 square feet of indoor play space, along with 11 exhibits. Babies to children 8 years old will have an excellent time playing there. They have a construction zone, a post office, a grocery market, and more.
18. Discovery Park and Lighthouse
Our favorite park in Seattle is Discovery Park. (It’s where we got engaged!) There are tons of trails to explore with your children, and there’s also a lower beach with a lighthouse. We just recommend that you exercise caution at the top of the bluffs. (Don’t let your children go near the edge.) Other than that, there are plenty of trails to explore!
19. Seattle Public Library
The Seattle Public Library is another unique building downtown. The outside reminds me of a bee’s honeycomb pattern. Children will likely want to see what’s inside this building… books!
20. Seattle Children’s Theatre
The Seattle Children’s Theatre puts on productions aimed especially for children. I’ve been to several shows, and they’re always a lot of fun! It’s a good way to introduce your child to the arts.
21. Enjoy a Kid-Friendly Hike
We like visiting Snoqualmie Falls with our daughter. The lower parking lot has a boardwalk to the falls that is short with a big pay off. (Our toddler walked the entire thing.) It is short, but afterwards you can view Snoqualmie Falls from the upper viewing area.
We also like to visit Twin Falls. We might not make it all the way to the falls, but we really enjoy the first part of the trail along the river.
22. Visit the Beach
Seattle is surrounded by several large bodies of water: the Puget Sound, Lake Union, and Lake Washington. Because of that, there are numerous beaches within the city limits. Children might especially like visiting Golden Gardens, which has a lot sand. (In comparison to some of the beaches that are mostly rocky.) If you visit one of the rocky beaches, be sure to buy some beach shoes to protect your child’s feet from barnacles, rocks, and broken shells.
|See our post on the best 15 beaches near Seattle.
23. Visit the Ballard Locks
The Ballard Locks are a fun place to visit on a sunny day. If your child likes to watch boats, it’s a lot of fun watching the water rise up and down to allow the boats through.
24. Ice Cream Cruise
Take an Ice Cream Cruise with Seattle Water Tours! The cruise is typically open on weekends and departs from Lake Union Park. The cruise is 45-minutes long and contains a narrated tour. Of course, there’s ice cream and treats for sale on board!
25. Seattle Pinball Museum
The Seattle Pinball Museum contains over 50 pinball machines. It’s open for children 7 years old or older. With a single admission fee, you can then enter and play as many games of pinball as you’d like. At the time of this writing, admission is $20 for an adult and $17 for a child.
If you have a group of at least 10 people, you should try out a game of WhirlyBall! WhirlyBall is a team sport in which you drive a bumper car and try to score points by tossing a whiffle ball with scoopers. It’s kind of a like a mix between lacrosse and basketball. It is such a blast to play! We played recently with my family, and we haven’t laughed that hard in a very long time.
What to Pack for a Day in Seattle with Kids
When visiting Seattle with kids, we recommend some of the following essential items:
- Rain boots: Don’t let rain slow you down! We’ve been using these rain boots with our daughter. They are easy to put on and are high enough to allow for puddle-jumping.
- Sun hat: For sunny weather, we really like this sun hat because it has a neck flap and a wide brim. We used it all summer long!
- Jogging stroller: If you’re planning on doing a lot of walking or exploring some of the local paved trails, we highly recommend this jogging stroller. We’ve used it for the last couple of years and it has held up for miles and miles.
- Baby carrier: If you have a toddler, you might want to bring a baby backpack carrier. (Especially if you want to do some of the hiking trails!) This is the one we have used, and it’s worked great so far.
- Stroller Shade: We have used the Snoozeshade to cover our stroller for naps on the go. In addition to making the stroller a dark space, it also offers sun protection. The fabric is breathable and it blocks out light. This was a lifesaver for us when we went on our three-week road trip, and we highly recommend it.
Looking for a kid-friendly hotel in Seattle? Our daughter loved our stay at the Hyatt Regency Seattle! She loved staying in a “skyscraper”. From our window on the 32nd floor, she could watch the ferries cross the Puget Sound and she could see the Great Wheel spinning.
Summary: Best Kids’ Activities in Seattle
Seattle is a super-fun city to visit with children. With tons of indoor and outdoor attractions, you’ll be able to plan a fun day with your kids regardless of the weather. We hope that you enjoyed this post on the best activities for kids in Seattle!
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Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please look up such information directly from each vendor or institution for the most current information.