There’s many more fun things to do in Seattle than visiting the Space Needle. Eat at Pike Place Market, See the spectacular views of the city from Kerry Park. And take your toddlers to the Pacific Science Center.
Disclosure: The writer was hosted for this trip.
What do you do on your first trip to Seattle with kids? Having visited Seattle before, we had already crossed off the list a few of the main tourist attractions like the Space Needle and Lake Union Park.
For this trip with a toddler, we settled on a few activities that would introduce new things to our 2-year-old son, Little D, as well as be entertaining for the whole family. Here are my top four things to do in Seattle with little ones.
1. Visit Kerry Park
This is a great little urban park up with amazing views of the Seattle skyline with the Space Needle and Emerald Bay in the backdrop. Whether you stop by for photos or come by for a picnic, kids will love the panoramic view from above.
The sculpture, “Changing Form” by Doris Chase at the center of the park was a big hit with Little D and he had fun climbing through it and running around it. Since the park borders the street you will have to keep a close eye on the little ones but the space is sufficient to let them stretch their legs.
The park is named after the generous family who donated this space in 1927. It was a result of the family’s wish that this spectacular view should be by enjoyed by all. Kerry Park is one of the best free attractions that will give you a flavor of Seattle.
2. Visit Pike Place Market
Every trip to Seattle must include a visit to Pike Place market, one of the oldest operating food markets in the county located at the downtown waterfront. However many times you visit, you will never have had enough time to sample all the food offerings.
Since we visited on a weekend morning when the crowd tends to be high, we carried Little D through the main hallways. The market was large enough that we found quiet areas for him to walk about and explore even at the busy times.
We stopped by various stalls and helped our son identify items and taste samples. It was a great learning experience for him as he was excited to see some his favorite foods in their raw form as well as try new flavors. I was impressed that he asked for more helpings of a spicy salsa.
Even though we didn’t witness the fish being thrown among employees, a trade mark of the fish market, the seafood display was one of the most memorable for our little one. Where else would he get to see such a collection of giant fish, some with their mouths propped open to enthrall the visitors?
You could also enhance your local food experience by visiting the first Starbucks store and watching cheese being made at the original Beecher’s cheese making facility located in the same area.
3. Visit Pacific Science Center
We wanted to add an indoor activity to our itinerary since we were in Seattle where rain happens without much warning. Pacific Science Center is a part of the Seattle Center, a park and an entertainment hub with the Space Needle as its focal point built for the 1962 World’s Fair.
The general admission will grant you access to the first three floors and there is so much to do that kids can easily spend at least half a day here. Special exhibitions and 3D movie screenings will require an added cost but for kids under 5, the general admission will offer enough entertainment.
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The first floor is a collection of fun exhibits that illustrate simple scientific concepts like levers, reflections and gravity. These can get the kids warmed up before they head upstairs for more exploring.
The toddler play area, Just for Tots, was the highlight of the museum
for us. The water play tables where flowing water could be used to set turbines in motion kept Little D engrossed for quite a while. A range of exhibits such as a musical room, vehicles props and blocks ensured that toddlers with their fleeting attention span were continuously entertained. The play area was enclosed and most of the activities didn’t need adult involvement so it was a great spot for parents to catch a break while keeping their eyes on the toddler.
The tropical butterfly house that enjoys year around sunshine and live butterflies and the dinosaur feature with giant interactive models were two other exhibits that seemed popular with the toddler age group. Spending time in the upstairs courtyard with the view of the building’s famous arches, that are a signature of the city’s skyline is a good way to enjoy the weather on a nice day.
4. Visit the Woodland Park Zoo
One of the defining facts about the Woodland Park Zoo is that it has created natural habitats for its animals from around the globe. Walking through the different exhibits will be like taking a world tour as you head from the landscapes of African Savanna to the tropical rain forest to trails of Alaska. To see the zoo in its entirety you need to budget at least half a day; due to our packed schedule we only sampled it in a couple of hours.
Kids will get many opportunities to see wild animals up close and even get to interact with farm animals at the petting zoo located within. Through out the zoo, there are booths located where kids could interact with a staff member and participate in simple scientific demonstrations.
Little D loved seeing animals go about their routine. Seeing a gorilla taking a nap in a hammock was one of his favorite moments as he was able to draw a parallel to his own afternoon nap. This visit also gave him a chance to learn about animals that are not typically depicted in children’s books. The red panda was one such animal that he insisted on visiting multiple times during our stay.
There was an antique carousel located at one end of the zoo with face painting and ice cream carts, which give a carnival like atmosphere. There is also a great kids’ playground located outside the zoo premises.