Going to Seattle with the whole family? The USA’s Emerald City has plenty to offer Canadian kids on vacation. Not only will you have a chance to enjoy the Pacific coastline, but you’ll be able to take in one of the West Coast’s most famous landmarks and get in some hands-on playtime at several great museums.
Although travel with kids is usually planned in advance because of school and sports schedules, most of Seattle’s attractions are available without booking ahead, so if you’re a lover of last-minute vacations to great cities, feel free to jump on a plane and get to Seattle with the whole family. Let’s look at some fun activities in Seattle everyone will enjoy.
Pike Place Market
Let’s start in the center of Seattle’s tourist district. Pike Place Market is a natural draw for kids. There’s a lot here to explore for curious children — and adults. From the arts-and-crafts stalls outside to the long upper hall of flowers, fruit and funky jewelry, to the bronze pig named Rachel outside, Pike Place has plenty to enjoy. To see the market properly, start at the big sign at the end of Pike Street to take some obligatory “we were here” photos. Enter the market’s fish section and marvel at the dexterity of the fish-throwers and the size of the creatures from the deep on sale. If you’re staying somewhere with your own cooking facilities, get the kids to help you select dinner, or make a note to come back to one of the market’s seafood restaurants later. Then, wander the market’s halls going left or right. Downstairs, check out a tiny museum: the Giant Shoe Museum, where you can see a shoe worn by a man named Robert Wadlow, who was more than eight feet tall. Next, get everyone to chew some gum because you’re headed for one of the oddest sights in Seattle: the Gum Wall. In Post Alley, hundreds of visitors — if not thousands — have stuck a wad of their favorite flavors in artistic designs on the brick walls. Your kids will either love it or think it’s gross; either way, it’s interesting.
The Space Needle
Next up, you’ll want to see Seattle’s most famous landmark: the Space Needle. Built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, this 184-metre tower boasts a fantastic view of the city on clear days. Visitors can ascend to the 360-degree-view observation deck and match city landmarks on the horizon to the explanatory panels installed inside. Or, if your kids are getting hungry and you didn’t have a snack at Pike Place Market, you can enjoy a meal crafted from Pacific Northwest ingredients at the SkyCity revolving restaurant at the 150-metre mark.
The EMP Museum
Right below the Space Needle, you’ll find the curvy metal building that houses the EMP Museum, as the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum are now collectively known. Worth taking your kids to just for the fun outlines of the Frank O. Gehry-designed structure, the interior features hands-on music exhibits that children will love. Can you sing like Kurt Cobain? How’s your drumming? Have you ever tried to play piano? Adults and teens will enjoy the history of modern rock displayed in the music museum’s exhibits, while the whole family can take a turn making music in the booths in the Sound Lab.
Downstairs, meanwhile, you’ll get a glimpse of storytelling masterminds in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, and enjoy some science-fiction- or popular-culture-related travelling exhibits.
Ready to leave the museum and Space Needle? Don’t get in the car just yet. Take the kids on the short but fun monorail, which will take you a mile into the centre of town on the original elevated track constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair.
The Seattle Children’s Museum
Another kid-friendly attraction perfect for enjoying a rainy Seattle afternoon is the Seattle Children’s Museum on Harrison Street, a hands-on fun and learning centre designed for kids aged 10 and under. The museum features a craft area, role play areas, mechanical toys and a water play area, as well as workshops and special events.
Budget traveller’s tip: if you enter the museum an hour before closing on weekdays, the regular ticket price is replaced with a “pay-as-you-can” request.
Seattle image by Benson Kua
EMP image by Cacophony (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
About the Author: Camila Jones lives in Vancouver and often travels to the Seattle area for research on her upcoming book about activities for children along North America’s Pacific Coast.