Seattle is one of our favorite cities to explore as a family. Urban, vibrant, and chock-full of character, Seattle for kids does not run short on things to do, rain or shine. Stay in an eco-friendly hotel and enjoy all Seattle has to offer. Even in just two days, families can hit the best museums, city sights, and eateries, getting a good feel for the city. Here are things to do in Seattle with kids in 48 hours.
12 pm- 5 pm: Museum of Flight
Arrive in Seattle mid-day, and stop before you reach downtown at the Museum of Flight. This sprawling museum lies on I-5 near the airport, making it an easy stop en route to the city center, and you’ll want to spend the bulk of a day here. Kids can sit in the cockpit of fighter jets in the museum’s main gallery, ride simulators, and learn about the history of flight in the Red Barn and Personal Courage Wing. My kids also loved the flight tower and outdoor airpark, where you can walk aboard a retired Air Force One. If you have space fans, the Lear Gallery teaches about the Apollo 17 mission. For serious aviation enthusiasts, consider taking a Boeing Factory Tour instead, but keep in mind that kids must be at least 4 feet tall to attend.
5 pm- 7 pm: Arrive downtown and check into your hotel
From the Museum of Flight, downtown can be reached within minutes. We enjoy staying at the Hyatt at Olive 8, the first LEED certified hotel in Seattle. It is located just a few blocks from the convention center, Pike Place market, and the Space Needle. The Hyatt at Olive 8 is more affordable than its ‘big sister’ the Grand Hyatt (across the street), greener, and boasts a great indoor pool and hot tub. Get settled in your room or suite (they all have family-friendly amenities like mini-fridges and tubs), take a swim, and get ready for dinner out.
7 pm-8 pm: Dinner at Blue C Sushi
Cross the street to the Grand Hyatt, and walk through its cavernous lobby to Blue C Sushi, a Seattle sushi restaurant chain that’s kid-friendly. Sushi comes by customers on a conveyor belt: pick what you want, eat, and press a button for service to check out. It’s fun and casual and a great way to introduce even picky eaters to sushi. If seafood isn’t your style, there’s also noodle dishes and grilled chicken, tofu, and the like.
9 am – 12 pm: Explore Pike Place Market
The famous Pike Place marketplace is best toured in the morning so kids can see the many farm-fresh produce stands and artisan foods at their best. Walking through the many booths is a visual and sensory adventure, and samples are always out for kids to try. Look for stalls selling homemade toys and games as well. Downstairs, find a fun magic shop and Seattle souvenirs. It is open seven days a week. Make sure you bring some gum for the kiddos when you see the Market Place Gum Wall. It is a must-see attraction, and your kids will think it’s great.
12 pm – 1 pm: Picnic by the market
Select some foods from the stalls to make a picnic, and eat outside by the water, in view of the Seattle Great Wheel. Look for street entertainers, and watch for cruise ships coming into the harbor. Stop in at the original Starbucks across the street from Pike Place.
1 pm- 4 pm: Experience the Downtown Waterfront
Only a matter of blocks from Pike Place, the Downtown Waterfront includes the Great Wheel and the Seattle Aquarium, both worthy of a visit. The Wheel’s compartments are enclosed, so don’t let poor weather deter you, though in pouring rain, the views won’t be quite as spectacular. Every ride includes three full revolutions on the wheel, and can range in time between 10 – 20 minutes per ride, depending on the season and how busy it is. For both the Great Wheel and the Seattle Aquarium, children ages 0 – 3 years are free.
4 pm – 6 pm: Play outside or inside
If the weather is nice, hit Seattle’s largest park, Discovery Park, aptly named with seven miles of walking trails and swimming areas along Lake Washington. If it’s raining, go to Seattle Children’s Museum instead, to spend the afternoon in imaginative play spaces.
6 pm-8 pm: Dinner at Olive 8:
Head back to Hyatt at Olive 8 to rest up, swim, and soak in the hot tub. Eat dinner at the award-winning restaurant on-site, Urbane. It features a farm-to-table menu and a unique ‘For Kids, by Kids’ program which offers fun menu items that are healthy and organic for kids. Urbane is a great place to eat dinner or a filling breakfast.
9 am-noon: Head to the Seattle Center and Space Needle
Worried we wouldn’t get to the Space Needle? The Seattle Center is an easy drive or longish walk from the Hyatt, and features several museums, street entertainers, and events in the summer. While a trip up the Space Needle is expensive and can be crowded, the view is great from the ground as well; we usually just stare up and marvel. Depending on how much time you have, you may want to spend your morning instead at the Pacific Science Center. There are several floors of hands-on science exhibits for kids, including a dinosaur hall, IMAX, and temporary exhibits. If you already have a membership to another science type museum, check the reciprocity listing online to see if you will qualify for a discount to the Pacific Science Center.
12 pm: Head home!
48 hours won’t feel like enough time in Seattle, but it’s a great first visit!
Enjoying Seattle with Kids for a Longer Visit?
If you are able to stay for a longer period of time, seriously consider buying a Seattle CityPass. The passes are good for nine consecutive days, starting with the first day of use. Passes offer big discounts to children and adults. They enable access to the following attractions: Space Needle (two visits); Seattle Aquarium; Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour; EMP Museum or Woodland Park Zoo; and Pacific Science Center or The Museum of Flight.
How do you spend time in Seattle with kids? What would you add to a 48-hour itinerary?