Seattle With Kids: A 3-day Itinerary
We explored Seattle for 3 days and then hiked Snowqualmie Falls as we left town the next morning to finish our road trip. From drool worthy airplanes to the Underground, Seattle is full of fun, educational family adventures. I thought I’d share our favorite things to see in Seattle with kids.
Seattle was the 7th stop along our Pacific Northwest road trip. If you want to read about the rest of our road trip, check out our >>>Pacific Northwest Road Trip Itinerary<<< which has links to all of our stops along the way!
Day 1 ~ Seattle with Kids
Museum of Flight
We had to hit up the Museum of Flight first thing! The hubs and I are both engineers by training, and we’re both enamored with planes and aircraft of all kinds. Seattle, home to Lockheed Martin AND Boeing, plus several other airplane manufacturers, is a great place to get your airplane fix.
The Museum of Flight spans several different, very large hangars. There is a small section devoted to the Wright brothers, a large section devoted to WWII fighters, and upstairs the airplanes span the first 100 years of flight. There are also two sections devoted to space travel; a small area inside the main hangar devoted to rocketry and lunar landing vehicles, and a huge hangar across the street which houses a model space shuttle.
Outside you can walk through a Concorde, the first 747 ever built, the original Air Force One, fighters, bombers, and, several modern airliners. The museum’s docents are adorable older gentlemen, primarily veterans, who really know their stuff and are thrilled to share their experiences with you!
There’s also a play place for kids several flight simulators. We let all of our kiddos try the simulators. One of our daughters couldn’t figure out how to right hers after she inverted it, and we laughed that they spent the entire 5 minutes or so upside down, but still ‘shot down’ more enemy fighters than the rest of the kids all put together.
We also watched an IMAX movie and let each of our kiddos choose and take a special tour. We learned so much! We got there when it opened and stayed until it closed, with no complaints from any of our children! The Flight Museum is one of our top 10 things to do in Seattle with kids!
If you didn’t get your airplane fix at the Museum of Flight, try the Boeing Factory tour, where you can see planes being manufactured and assembled. Oh, and be sure to check whether your pass to your local children’s museum is reciprocal with the Museum of Flight! Ours was, so we got in free!
Day 2 ~ Seattle with Kids
Pike Place Market
Kick off your second day in Seattle at one of the city’s best-loved institutions — Pike Place Market. You can find everything from flower bouquets to artisan breads. And the seafood is brought in fresh every morning!
I purchased some artwork from a local vendor, and we had a fun lunch. We couldn’t agree on a place for lunch, so we just handed everyone money and let them find their own, and then we met back at Uli’s Sausages to eat. We ended up sharing, and it turned into a super fun lunch!
Pike Place Market is one of the busiest places in Seattle, so go before lunch if you want to be able to walk. We were there in the morning, and were still barely able to move through the crowds. It’s still worth a visit, though!
Stop by the information booth at First and Pike for a map, if you have any questions or if you need a map. The employees who work there are super friendly and helpful. Pike Place Market is a wonderful place to visit when you’re in Seattle with kids!
Pike Place Public Market Must-See Places:
- Gum Wall (pictured to the right)
- Cheese shop (pictured above)
- Original Starbucks
- Street Performers (we watched a fabulous ragtime pianist)
- Buy some art and flowers
- Watch the fish mongers
Spend Some Time on the Seattle Waterfront
The waterfront is located just below Pike Place, along the water. It overlooks the Puget Sound and has incredible views. Take a spin on the Great Wheel, visit the aquarium, do a little souvenir shopping and save a few minutes to take a peek inside Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. It will rock your world!
After all that, grab some fish and chips at Ivar’s and eat outside, where you can watch the seagulls beg for food. It wouldn’t be an authentic Seattle experience if you didn’t toss them your extra french fries!
Seattle Underground Tour
I had no idea Seattle had such a colorful, salty history! You can learn all about it, too, when you take a Seattle Underground Tour. Apparently, the original city was much too low, and toilets would overflow when the tide came in, among other interesting problems.
The original city is still down there, and your guide will take you down there, to the buried maze of streets and storefronts that comprised the original Seattle. My kiddos loved the tour every bit as much as the hubs and I did! It’s a great place to explore when you’re in Seattle with kids!
Klondike Gold Rush Museum
Right around the corner from Pioneer Square, where we took our Seattle Underground tour, you can see artifacts and exhibits highlighting Seattle’s role in the Klondike gold rush of the 1890’s. The amount of supplies those poor miners had to carry is mind boggling, and the displays put it in perspective.
The movie was very interesting, and our kiddos had fun earning junior ranger badges. This was a fun stop in Seattle with kids. We spent about 1.5 hours here.
Take a Ferry Ride
We stayed with my Aunt and Uncle in Port Orchards, over on the Olympic Peninsula, about 45 minutes west of Seattle by way of the Bremerton ferry. The ferry ride into and out of Seattle one day (we drove the other days) was a whole lot of fun. The view of the city from the ferry can’t be beat!
You can choose between the regular ferry and a high-speed ferry, which takes less than 1/2 hour and only costs $1 more. The drawback to the faster ferry is that you’re enclosed and can hardly see outside. Even if we had been staying in downtown Seattle, we would have wanted to take the Bremerton Ferry round trip, for the fun ride and the gorgeous views. It will definitely be a favorite when you’re in Seattle with kids!
Day 3 ~ Seattle with Kids
Bainbridge Island is just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle, and a perfect day trip from Seattle with kids. It offers incredible views of the Puget Sound, the mountains, and the city skyline.
Bainbridge Island itself is a mecca of fun family activities. There is a historical museum, a waterfront park (pack a picnic!), another park with a large playground, and an aquatics center. Or you can explore the Bainbridge Island State Park tidepools or rent kayaks and paddleboards to explore the coastline. The Kids’ Discovery Museum, which is within walking distance from the ferry terminal on Bainbridge Island, has fun, hands-on exhibits for kids of all ages.
You could happily spend the entire day here.
Snoqualmie Falls is a 270-foot waterfall located about an hour east of Seattle on the Snoqualmie River. It’s one of Washington’s most popular scenic attractions, for good reason!
There are two parking lots, an upper lot and a lower lot. The lower lot is right next to the falls viewing platform. The upper lot is right across the street.
You can see the entire falls from above at the viewing platform, or you can walk down the short, easy trail and also see it from the bottom. We did both and it only took us about an hour. The walk to the bottom of the falls is shady and cool, and incredibly beautiful! There is also a small park and a gift shop at the falls.
More Fun Things to do in Seattle with Kids
- Seattle Aquarium. Located on Seattle’s waterfront this aquarium is fun way to spend a couple of hours. They have scuba divers that swim in a large tank and teach the kids about different sea life. It’s not huge, but it is interesting.
- Seattle Children’s Museum. Over 22,000 sq feet of play space, with hands-on exhibits for your kiddos to explore, plus daily educational programs and activities that are free with the cost of admission.
- Woodland Park Zoo. This huge, well-planned zoo will be so appealing to your kiddos, you’d better plan on several hours here. If you have a pass to your local zoo, check for reciprocity.
- Pacific Science Center. A museum full of hands-on science fun for all ages.
- Ballard Locks and Fish Ladder. The Ballard Locks help boats get from sea level up to the level of Lake Union. The Fish Ladder allows salmon to return to the lakes and rivers around Seattle, instead of being blocked by the locks. You can view the fish using underwater viewing windows.
- Tidepools at Ballard Locks. All of the coastal areas around the Puget Sount are great to explore at low tide – you don’t even have to leave the city to find sea stars, sea urchins and anemones.
- Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). Who doesn’t love a great history museum?
- Space Needle. We didn’t visit the space needle because I didn’t want to shell out that kind of cash. But it was fun to see from the outside.
- Gasworks Park. Finish up your Seattle site-seeing with a visit to the enormous Gasworks Park along the north shore of Lake Union.
Budget Traveler Tips for Visiting Seattle with Kids
We are the ultimate budget travelers, because we have to pay every admission TIMES TEN. And that gets pricey! We also always have to pay for a family suite or at least two adjoining rooms.
Seattle isn’t exactly a cheap place to visit. But there are still ways to avoid spending your life savings!
- Visit during the off-season (October-March) for good deals on lodging.
- Stay a little way out of the city (but make sure your hotel has easy access to public transportation) for lower price.
- If you drive, make sure your hotel has free parking.
- Check vrbo.com and airbnb for inexpensive lodging. We save a lot this way, because we generally have to book a family suite or 3 hotel rooms when we travel. Having a kitchen helps us save money, too.
- Sightsee for free as much as possible. Seattle has several fun attractions, like Pike Place Public Market, the waterfront, Ballard Locks and tidepools, and the Klondike Gold Rush Museum that are completely free. Be sure to check the other museums and zoos to see if they have reciprocal agreements with any that you hold a pass to. We were able to get into the Flight Museum and the Children’s Museum for free because we hold a family pass to our local children’s museum.
- Check for free days at the attractions you want to see.
- Spend more time in fewer places. Instead of hurrying through 5 museums in an afternoon, explore 1 or 2 of them in greater depth. You’ll spend less on admissions, and you’ll probably have a more enjoyable time, since you’ll feel less rushed.
- Purchase a multi-attraction pass to save money on admissions. The Seattle CityPASS includes admission to the Space Needle, the aquarium, Argosy Cruises harbor tour, MoPOP, the Woodland Zoo, Pacific Science Center and Chihuly Garden and Glass. If you are planning to visit these places, you can save 50% or more on Seattle’s 5 best attractions with CityPASS. If you’re only visiting 1 or 2 of them, you probably won’t save any money. It’s worth spending a few minutes to tally up the cost and see.
- Time your travel strategically as much as possible. Rates are lower during the off season and on weekdays.
- We usually save a lot on transportation costs by staying downtown and walking. Or we’ll stay a little ways out of the city to get a cheaper hotel, but make sure our hotel is near the metro and buy metro passes.
- When you have ten people in your family, eating out can really cut into your budget. So I’m careful to always book hotels with kitchenettes, or at least a fridge and microwave, and a free breakfast. That way, we can typically just eat one meal a day at a restaurant — usually lunch because it’s cheaper. We eat breakfast at the hotel, and we pack snacks, water bottles and even sandwiches into a backpack. With a hearty lunch, a sandwich for dinner, and plenty of snacks, everyone is usually satisfied.
- Shop at a local farmers market or grocery store for snacks and incidentals.
It’s completely possible to stay on budget when travelling in Seattle with kids!
If you’ve been to Seattle with kids and have suggestions, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
Pin these great tips for exploring Seattle with kids!