Top 5 Kid-Friendly Activities in Seattle

Pike Place Market. Photo by Lisa Frederick
Pike Place Market. Photo by Lisa Frederick

This is a guest post by Debbie Dubrow of

Seattle’s walkable urban areas, beautiful natural setting and laid-back atmosphere make it a great vacation destination for anyone, but you might be surprised to learn how accommodating the city is for kids. Seattle’s major sites (and some of its most popular restaurants) are just as much fun for kids as they are for adults, and many popular activities seem tailor-made for young travelers.

Best Things to Do in Seattle with Kids
Pike Place Market. Photo by Lisa Frederick

Favorite Kid-Friendly Activities in Seattle

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is the classic Seattle tourist site. The colorful market, filled with fresh fruit and flowers, is interesting for everyone, but kids will be drawn in by the life-size piggy bank at the market entrance, the live crab displays and the “flying fish” at the Pike Place fish counter. Stop into one of the many restaurants for lunch, or grab a snack and take it to the park located at the north end of the market. On Wednesday evenings during summer, scheduled kids’ activities make the bustling market even more fun.

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Central Library

Seattle’s Central Library attracted architecture buffs from around the world when it first opened, but it’s also appealing to young children. Designed by Rem Koolhaas, this thoroughly modern building mixes state-of-the-art building practices, eco-friendly materials, public art and library science in a totally new and engaging way. Daily library tours provide insight into redesigning a public space that serves many different needs. Even toddlers will be engaged as you explore the library’s unique spaces and see all the different building materials. Best of all, the enormous children’s area has toys, puppets and, of course, lots of books alongside cozy chairs for parents — the perfect place to take a quick rest while your children play. The teen area has comics and music listening stations.

Seattle Art Museum

Parents might be wary of visiting the Seattle Art Museum with kids, but a lot of care has has gone into making it a kid-friendly environment. Even if you aren’t interested in visiting the entire museum, consider ducking into the (free) art ladder to explore the interactive exhibits, or participating in a children’s arts and crafts workshop. Inside the galleries, there is the cozy Knudson Family Room play area with dress-up clothing, blocks, drums, engaging toys for all ages and art-related books.

Seattle Center

Seattle Center is home to many of the city’s most kid-friendly attractions, including the Children’s Museum, the Pacific Science Center, a small amusement park and the famous Space Needle. Our favorite spot on a sunny summer day is the (free) International Fountain, where kids can get soaked running in, around and through the choreographed spray. You can reach Seattle Center from downtown via the monorail that leaves from Westlake Center.

Ballard Locks

If you have a rental car, a visit to the Ballard Locks is fun and memorable for young children. Kids love the opportunity to watch up close as boats pass through the locks from salt water to fresh water (and vice versa). In season, they will also learn about salmon and watch through a glass viewing area as salmon jump up a ladder. The visitor center has helpful exhibits that explain what you are seeing in more detail. Best of all, kid-friendly Ballard has plenty of options for lunch or dinner and several offbeat, locally owned stores for children and adults.

Need more to do? Other family-friendly destinations in Seattle include the Woodland Park Zoo, the Seattle Aquarium and the Olympic Sculpture Park.

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