Explore Seattle

Things to Do in Seattle With Kids

There are plenty of activities for visitors of all ages around town

With Seattle’s unique mix of urban development amid wooded parks, lakes and shoreline, summer is a fantastic time to explore everything there is on offer. Whether visiting with babies, toddlers, small children, teens or just adults, Seattle has plenty of things to do with kids, no matter what kind of adventure you’re looking for.

 

Seattle Aquarium
(Courtesy Seattle Aquarium)

Animal Adventures

You don’t have to go far to wander through a zoo. If it’s animals—bears, tigers, zebras, penguins and more—the family wants, head to the Woodland Park Zoo. (If your littles would enjoy a bus ride, this is a good chance. Downtown, catch the No. 5 bus heading north and exit at N. 55th St. It’s right in front of zoo parking lots!) Divided into areas of the world, the zoo’s African Savanna has giraffes, monkeys, lions and a replica of an African Village; the new Banyan Wilds exhibit includes Malayan tigers, sloth bears, a tropical aviary and a play area for kids; the Australasia area has a must-visit bird feeding area in Willawong Station and the Family Farm has a variety of farm animals. There is also a historic carousel and during the summer, a variety of concerts as part of the ZooTunes concert series. 

Head underwater at the Seattle Aquarium, on Pier 59. Learn about the world’s oceans—both tropical and those right alongside the city of Seattle. At the Life on the Edge exhibit, little fingers can touch creatures that live in Washington state’s tide pools, including sea stars, hermit crabs, sea anemones and sea cucumbers. The Window on Washington Waters exhibit is filled with fish and invertebrates indigenous to the Pacific Northwest’s waters. In addition to spotting salmon, rockfish, wolf eels and more, there are divers in the water three times a day who can answer questions from the audience. The aquarium isn’t all fish, however. The open-air Birds and Shores exhibit gives visitors the opportunity to see some shorebirds, including tufted puffins, black oystercatchers, killdeers and the long-billed curlew. The Marine Mammals exhibit has the cutest sea and river otters—take a seat and watch them swim and play together. There are also harbor and fur seals. Don’t worry, information is available so you can tell all these cuddly creatures apart. 

OK, so these are technically fossils, but at the Burke Museum, you can head back in time to see dinosaur skeletons, including a stegosaurus, an elasmosaur and an allosaurus. The Life and Times of Washington State exhibit shows the evolution of the state’s geology, biology and archaeology. In addition to the dinosaurs, there is also a cast of a mastodon, a saber-toothed cat and a giant ground sloth. The exhibit even as a baleen whale fossil, which at 28 million years old, is the oldest ever found. The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is located on the University of Washington campus. 

Splash pad at Lake Union Park
Lake Union Park's splash pad (©Joe Wolf/Flickr)

Water Adventures

Take some time to cool off—there are a number of great pools and splash pads around town. In West Seattle, the Colman Pool is a heated saltwater pool with an amazing view of Puget Sound. It has a diving board, a giant tube slide and is open seven days a week. Fees are $5.25 for adults, $3.75 for kids 1-17 and free for children under one. Call the pool for schedules and more information. 

For the littlest swimmers, there are popular wading pools at Volunteer Park and Green Lake and a great spray feature at Lake Union Park. All three are part of the city’s parks department—call the hotline at 206.684.7796 to see if the pools are open. Also stop by the International Fountain at Seattle Center, a huge fountain where adults and kids alike enjoy cooling off in the spray.

Local parents agree: The Lynnwood Recreation Center & Pool, about 30 minutes north of downtown, is one of the best in the area. It’s extremely popular, as it has water slides, a lazy river, a water playground and a family hot tub. Visit the website for pool schedules and to buy tickets up to two weeks in advance. If advance tickets are sold out, plan to arrive early, as there are often lines. 

Family activities at Olympic Sculpture Park
Family activities at Olympic Sculpture Park (©Robert Wade)

Artful Adventures

For the burgeoning creatives in the family, the Seattle Art Museum has a variety of all-ages activities all summer at the Olympic Sculpture Park. On Thursday nights, starting July 10, there is live music, food trucks, art making and park tours; on Saturdays there is yoga, art making, park tours and Zumba. The Olympic Sculpture Park also has a family play area that is free. Head to the PACCAR Pavilion where you’ll find beanbag chairs, books, puzzles and plenty of toys for creative play. 

Head to the Seattle Children’s Museum for the Imagination Studio, where kids can draw a masterpiece with paint, form a project out of clay or make a sculpture from recycled materials. It’s a busy exhibit in the 22,000-square-foot museum, so make sure to pick up a time-specific, free ticket for each person in the family after you arrive at the museum. There is plenty to explore while you wait for your time slot: Discovery Bay, created for the littlest visitors, has a water table, a slide and other places to touch, move and explore. Other areas of the museum have a fire truck, a bus stop, a grocery store and more. 

Young musicians will enjoy the EMP Museum, where, at the On Stage exhibit, they can perform one of a number of popular songs—with or without assistance—and leave with a photo poster or DVD of the performance. In the Sound Lab, experience the tools of musicians, from drums and guitars to samplers and mixing consoles. There is also a jam studio available to record an original tune and share it with friends for free. While at the museum, be sure to check out the other exhibits, which kids will love, including Star Wars and the Power of Costume, Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction and Indie Game Revolution. 

New playground at Seattle Center
Artists-at-Play at Seattle Center (©Peter Tammetta/Highwire)

Playground Adventures

Release some extra energy at one of Seattle’s many fantastic playgrounds: Woodland Park Playground, Phinney Ave. N and N. 59th St., includes a climbing dome, tree house-themed equipment and swing set; Artists-at-Play, Seattle Center, is a brand-new playground with a climbing tower, labyrinth, carousel and more; Jefferson Park, 3801 Beacon Ave. S, has cool climbing structures, slides and more, plus great views for the parents; University Village Play Area, 2630 N.E. University Village St., is great for kids 5 and younger when you need a break from shopping; and Golden Gardens Playground, 8498 Seaview Place NW, is pirate-themed. And when kiddos get bored, there is plenty of beach to explore.