As a family who loves to travel and explore a variety of new adventures, we often feel blessed to have so many exciting new adventures awaiting us close to home. From Portland, Oregon, the next closest metropolitan city is Seattle, Washington, a city that I admittedly had no love for growing up, but have since come to truly treasure the unique offerings that await singles, couples, families who are looking for a big city adventure but not wanting to venture too far from home. Within the past year, I have had the pleasure of enjoying a romantic and fun getaway to Seattle with my husband, as well as a Seattle girls’ weekend getaway with three blogger pals and our daughters. Recently, I had the chance to explore the Emerald City with my whole family. What a special treat that was!
Since we were combining a family fun trip to Seattle with a quick wine tour in Woodinville, WA, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. You can read my review of the Hyatt Regency Bellevue here. We only had one full day to really explore Seattle with Bliss Girl (age 6) and Bliss Boy (age 9), so we decided to make the most of it and chose attractions that were close in proximity but still delivered big on the fun factor.
Here’s a look at our Seattle-in-one-day family travel itinerary. I highly recommend each of these activities and attractions if you are going to Seattle with children!
Hours: M – F 7:30am – 11:00pm, Saturday & Sunday 8:30am – 11:00pm
Cost for one-way ticket: $2.50 per Adult, $1 per child ages 5-12, kids ages 4 and younger ride for free.
The Seattle Monorail allows you and your kids to travel quickly from the center of town to many fun family-friendly attractions. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Seattle Monorail only has two stops: Westlake Center and the Space Needle. The ride only takes about 2-3 minutes one-way, but is well worth the small price you pay. It gives you a beautiful view of the city as you ride above the street traffic, and saves you a lot of walking time, which is always a nice benefit when you are sightseeing with kids.
[photo above: view overlooking the city from inside the Seattle Monorail]
[photo of The Bite of Seattle happening at Seattle Center open air green space]
The Seattle Monorail drops you off right in the middle of Seattle Center, which is basically the name for a large radius of land that includes many of Seattle’s hot spots. Within the Armory building, you can enjoy a variety of food, from Pacific Northwest seafood to burgers to crepes to the super kid-friendly MOD Pizza. The open-air green space of the middle of Seattle Center makes it a popular spot for outdoor concerts, festivals, and other events. We happened to be visiting during The Bite of Seattle, where dozens of local restaurants, cafes, bars, businesses, and artists set up booths pedaling their goods. There’s almost always something fun and interesting happening at Seattle Center during any weekend. Also located here: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor’s Center, which Mr. Bliss and I were fortunate enough to visit during its grand opening, and which I highly recommend.
Pacific Science Center
Pacific Science Center
Hours: M – Sun 10:00am – 6:00pm
Cost: ticket prices vary from $10-18 for exhibits admission, $6-$15 for IMAX, and $10 – $26.50 for combination admission tickets; please visit their website for full ticket price details
Since 1962, the Pacific Science Center (PSC) has been offering families an enjoyable, interactive education experience. PSC includes an IMAX theater, laser dome, live science stage shows, butterfly house, discovery carts, various play areas, dinosaur exhibit, science exhibits, tidepool exhibit, and specialty traveling exhibits. On our recent trip, our kids had a great time playing the games in the WellBody Academy exhibit, checking out weird, creepy cool live bugs in the Insect Village exhibit, and watching all sorts of beautiful butterflies flutter on and around us in the Tropical Butterfly House. PSC does a fantastic job of developing highly interactive experiences that help kids of all ages learn. We had a great time and did a lot of exploring here in just over an hour. If you have young kids, I think you’ll be able to find at least one — if not five or six or more — exhibits that your child will thoroughly enjoy!
[photos from top to bottom: Bliss Boy watches in wonder as a large, beautiful butterfly lands on my arm and sticks with me as we walk around the Tropical Butterfly House; Bliss Girl pretends to be grossed out by the brain exhibit; Mr. Bliss and the Bliss Kids play a fun, interactive game about germs in the WellBody exhibit.]
Seattle Space Needle
M – Sun 8:00am – 12:00am
Cost: $10 – $34. Visit the Space Needle website for full admission cost details.
The Space Needle is perhaps the most famous of Seattle icons. We visited around 10:30am on a sunny day, however the fog still surrounded the top of the Space Needle so we were unable to see anything but fog from the top. Our kids still really enjoyed the quick elevator ride all the way to the top, especially the part of the ride where there is a window allowing passengers to take in the view about halfway to the top.
Once you are up at the Observation Deck of the Space Needle, there really isn’t much to do except take in the view (if you go on a clear visibility day). Be sure to walk around the perimeter, though; the top platform tilts, and kids and adults alike find the loss of balance amusing. There is a café with a small assortment of snacks and drinks at the top, and you can enjoy a few photo and video installations of the building’s history.
There is also dining available at the SkyCity Restaurant. We did not have the opportunity to experience this yet, but I have to share my favorite line from the SkyCity Restaurant website: “Tank tops or muscle tees for men are not acceptable.” Thank you, Space Needle! Because honestly? Tank tops and muscle tees for men are never appropriate.
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market
Located in downtown Seattle between 1st and Western Avenues, and Pike and Virginia Streets
Check the Pike Place Market website for hours and a calendar of events
If you have time and your little ones are up for walking a little bit, be sure to stop by Pike Place Market. A few blocks away from Westlake Center, you can hop off the Seattle Monorail, then walk down Pike Street to the market. Here, you can witness the famous flying fish routine, explore artisan booths and shops filled with arts & crafts as well as specialty foods, and pick up touristy trinkets. Be sure to stop by Beechers Cheese just across the way from the main market area where you and your kids will both enjoy what I think is one of the best mac & cheese dishes I’ve tasted. You can also visit the original Starbucks Coffee location in the market.
Families can do a lot in one day in Seattle!
If you’re looking for family fun in Seattle, and you have one day to see the sights, these are the top ones I would recommend for those who have never been to Seattle before. Yes, they tend to be part of the big sightseeing tourist spots, but there’s a reason for that: they are all family-friendly, extremely close in proximity (important when traveling with kids!), and have an abundance of fun interactive activities and attractions for kids of all ages. Also, feel free to check out my other travel articles regarding hot spots to visit in Seattle, Washington.
More Urban Bliss Life travel articles about Seattle, Washington:
Thanks so much to our good friends at the Pacific Science Center for arranging comp tickets for our whole family to ride the Monorail, to visit the Space Needle, and to enjoy all of the wonderful exhibits at the Pacific Science Center. As always, all opinions and photos are my own.