Collected by Stephanie Perry , AFAR Local Expert
Looking for family-friendly options while visiting Seattle? There's plenty for kids and parents to enjoy. Kayak in the arboretum, get some hands-on science at the Pacific Science Center, or walk through a jellyfish wheel at the Seattle Aquarium. Hit the trails or picnic at the beach. Family dining options include casual seafood restaurants and Molly Moon’s small-batch ice cream with both kid-approved and grownup flavors.
2300 Arboretum Dr E, Seattle, WA 98112, USA
Located on the shores of Lake Washington, the 230-acre Washington Park Arboretum is a lesser-known Seattle gem. It features a large botanical garden, a Japanese garden, a fragrance garden, and a waterfront walking trail. There are bike trails,...
5400 N Pearl St, Tacoma, WA 98407, USA
Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo is deservedly famous, but there's another great zoo just a short drive away: Tacoma's Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Plan to spend a full day here, because there's plenty to see. Zoo highlights include the new...
411 University St, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
Set on what was once the original campus of the University of Washington, this downtown landmark was opened in 1924, and now sits on the National Register of Historic Places. Its stately spaces have played host to generations of weddings, proms,...
1301 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
Built in 2012, the 175-foot-tall Seattle Great Wheel is the newest, and most romantic, addition to Seattle’s waterfront skyline. (As you might imagine, the first midair marriage proposal happened almost immediately.) Rain or shine, you can take a...
3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, WA 98199, USA
Seattle's largest public park sits on a sea bluff that's high enough to pierce the city's infamous fog, revealing gorgeous views of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. Wander its 11 miles (18 km) of paths through forest groves, meadows...
6049 Seaview Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107, USA
Seattle's seafood is justifiably famous, but the restaurants can admittedly be a little stodgy and over-formal. For a more casual and family-friendly ambience, try Ray's Cafe, upstairs from the more formal Ray's Boathouse. You'll get the same...
950 NW Carkeek Park Rd, Seattle, WA 98177, USA
Carkeek Park is a 220-acre space that includes forest, meadows, wetlands, creeks, and beach. From its beach, you can see the southern tip of Whidbey Island, the Kitsap Peninsula, and the Olympic Mountains. There's a large picnic area with...
325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
This sheet-metal fever dream by architect Frank Gehry is like a rock-and-roll Guggenheim, home to interactive exhibits that span music, sci-fi, fantasy, animation, video games, and other scrambled bits of modern life. A hands-on studio lets kids...
2101 N Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98103, USA
Gas Works Park should be one of the places to stop and explore if you go to Seattle. It offers an amazing view of the city, which looks just as good at night as it does during the day so whenever you choose to go will be perfect. Gasworks Park was...
1622.5 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103, USA
Another food-truck-made-good in a permanent location, Molly Moon’s now has five locations around town, but still sends out its iconic baby-blue truck for special events — just follow your nose to the heavenly scent of their freshly made waffle...
5500 Phinney Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103, USA
Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo is fun for visitors of all ages, but particularly exciting for kids. The grounds are large, so wear walking shoes and plan on at least a half-day to see everything. There are cafes and restaurants inside the zoo, but...
1801 Dock St, Tacoma, WA 98402, USA
The Museum of Glass is in Tacoma, about a half-hour away from Seattle, and it's well worth the trip for art glass enthusiasts. The permanent collection includes some Chihuly pieces, work by 20th and 21st-century artists, and a charming collection...
2100 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, USA
A piece of cinematic history, Seattle’s Cinerama is one of only three movie theaters in the world still capable of showing three-strip Cinerama films (as well as 35/70mm films). Recently remodeled, the large theater is full of old-time glamour,...
105 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
If you don’t have a car — or you just want a quick tour of the highlights — the Emerald City Trolley is a convenient way to get around town to popular sightseeing attractions. Destinations include the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Pioneer...
735 Front St, Leavenworth, WA 98826, USA
If you love an off-the-beaten-track, oddball museum full of strange old stuff, then you'll have a cracking good time at the Nutcracker Museum. Located in the ferociously quaint, ersatz-Bavarian-village of Leavenworth (a pretty wacky place in...
719 Front St, Leavenworth, WA 98826, USA
Few can resist the fun of playing dress-up with the Hat Shop’s hundreds of zany novelty hats. If you’ve ever mused, “Where can I get a hat that looks like a chicken wearing lederhosen is sitting on my head?” wonder no more. Oh, sure, they have...
200 2nd Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
Another one of the buildings created for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, the Pacific Science Center has a midcentury-space-age vintage-futuristic look from the outside. But inside, it’s all cutting-edge technology like the IMAX Theatre, laser dome...
2214 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107, USA
Open for over 35 years, this venerable independent bookstore has a good selection of adult fiction and nonfiction, but it really specializes in children’s and young adult books. Good karma alert: they offer free gift wrapping, plus discounts...
5105 Leary Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107, USA
Gamers, rejoice! Card Kingdom has everything a board or card game enthusiast could ask for — including an attached gaming cafe, where you can take a game for a spin before buying. The large, nicely lit store has rooms dedicated to role-playing...
621 N 35th St, Seattle, WA 98103, USA
Portage Bay Goods describes itself as “a gift shop for the thoughtful procrastinator,” but it’s equally handy for souvenir-seeking visitors — or even locals looking for a fun little treat for themselves. They carry tons of highly giftable and...
603 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
If you’re traveling with a little one (or you just like games), you’ll definitely want to make a stop at Magic Mouse Toys in Pioneer Square. It’s sensory overload the moment you walk in, with every shelf and surface in this two-floor store crammed...
1483 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
Here’s one Santa we’re willing to bet you haven’t seen before: Diving Santa, a festively attired scuba diver (beard and all) who jumps into the Seattle Aquarium’s Window on Washington Waters tank on December weekends. Kids can ask Diving Santa...
301 Mercer St, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
The Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker” has been a beloved Northwest holiday tradition for years. For the 2015 holiday season, the ballet has retired the old Maurice Sendak-designed sets in favor of a brand-new set designed by children’s...
1300 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103, USA
Archie McPhee is a legendary Seattle novelty and party-supply store. Formerly in Ballard, it’s now located in Wallingford and is a bit of a trek from downtown Seattle, but well worth the journey for lovers of the absurd, weird, and bacon-flavored....
860 Terry Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
Better known as MOHAI, this collection dives deep into local history, from the region's maritime history to its tradition of technological innovation. Highlights include Boeing's first commercial plane, the 1856 Petticoat Flag sewn by women during...
6th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
Cover more ground in central Seattle with Pronto’s bike-share system. A 24-hour pass costs $8 and allows you unlimited rides of 30 minutes or less (incremental charges apply for longer rides). A 3-day pass is $16. With 500 bikes and 50 stations...
319 2nd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
It may not be the smallest U.S. national park (that honor goes to Pennsylvania’s Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, at 0.02 acres), but the Seattle unit of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is a small hidden gem in Pioneer...
915 E Pine St B, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
If you like solving puzzles, cracking codes, and yelling at strangers, this unique locked-room challenge might be just your cup of tea. You’ll be locked in a room with your group, and you have one hour to solve about a dozen riddles or puzzles in...
3015 NW 54th St, Seattle, WA 98107, USA
The waters of Lake Washington, Lake Union and Salmon Bay are connected to the tidal waters of the Puget Sound via the Washington Ship Canal and the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. Vessels are constantly moving back and forth between the city’s...
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