Things to Do in Seattle, Washington

welcomia/iStock/GettyImages

What to See on Your Family Vacation to the Emerald City

In a region surrounded by majestic mountain ranges, sparkling blue waterways and dense pine forests, Seattle, unsurprisingly, provides a variety of outdoor attractions for the whole family. Rain or shine, enjoy sweeping vistas from atop the iconic Space Needle or explore natural landscapes in one of the area’s lush green parks. For a more urban experience, make your way downtown, where you’ll sample local goods at the famed Pike Place Market while the kids unleash their imaginations at interactive museums.

Panoramic Views

One of the most iconic structures on the West Cost, the Space Needle (400 Broad St., Seattle, WA), an observation tower set 605 feet above the city, was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair. Take the elevator to the observation deck and, on a clear day, enjoy 360-degree views of the region, including the city skyline, Mount Rainier and Elliott Bay. The deck is open in the evening for seeing the city lights sparkle. Dine 500 feet in the air at Skycity Restaurant, an elegant eatery that caters to families by offering a kid’s menu.

Stuff Yourself Silly

Set along the shores of Elliott Bay, Pike Place Market is the beloved 9-acre marketplace dotted with bustling shops and restaurants. Lose yourself in the maze of snaking alleyways and arcades as you pause to sample vendors peddling local products, from meats and cheeses to fruits and vegetables. More than 200 local artisans sell their original creations at the crafts market, while seasoned street performers provide a festive spirit with the power of live music.

Aquatic Adventures

Also nestled along the waters of Elliott Bay, the Seattle Aquarium (1483 Alaskan Way, Pier 59, Seattle, WA) invites kids to explore a whole new world under the sea. Marvel as divers plunge into a 120,000-gallon aquarium teeming with more than 800 fish. Watch as the kids squeal with delight as they touch the prickly spines of sea urchins and the hard shells of hermit crabs. Step into the massive underwater dome as schools of salmon swim overhead. Carve out time to watch the giant Pacific octopus devour its dinner, and learn more about killer whale conservation efforts at the family activity center.

Get Lost in Nature

Based 15 minutes northwest of downtown Seattle, the 534-acre Discovery Park (3801 Discovery Park Blvd., Seattle, WA) is perched atop Magnolia Bluff, offering far-reaching views of Puget Sound and the surrounding Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges. Explore the diverse landscape via the park’s hiking trails, as you travel along tidal beaches, sand dunes, open meadows, majestic sea cliffs and dense forests. Keep your eyes open for such wildlife sightings as salmon, sea lions and great blue herons. In addition to a playground, tennis courts and basketball courts, the park offers free summer programs for kids, including guided walks through tide pools and the forest.

Interactive Fun

Geared toward children between the ages of 10 months and 10 years, the Seattle Children's Museum (305 Harrison St., Seattle, WA) is located in the Seattle Center, at the base of the Space Needle. Encourage children to explore the world of make-believe through exhibits where they shop in pretend markets or become master sushi chefs in Japan. Some exhibits are designed for kids with creativity skills, as they build forts out of blankets and boxes, sculpt figures from clay and form African drum circles. The museum hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, such as storytime sessions, sign language lessons and arts and crafts workshops.