What to Do (with kids): Seattle, Washington

space-needle-at-nightWe spent a wonderful week with friends in Seattle, Stanwood, and Camano Island last week. There was so much to do, so much to see.

We packed in a lot of sightseeing during our stay, including these 3 kid-friendly locales:

imagine children's museum exteriorImagine Children's Museum

Everett, WA

General Admission: $7.50; Children 12 mo. and younger: FREE

Geared to kids who are 12 and under, the Imagine Children's Museum offers plenty of opportunities for pretend play and hands-on learning. There's a bank, a cafe, a farm, a theatre, a train, a plane, a treehouse, a dinosaur excavation site, and more. In many ways, the ICM is more a "play center" than a museum. It's more about imagining careers and possibilities than it is about looking at historical or artistic artifacts. I would say that the target age range is about 5 years old, but I saw plenty of wee ones running about. Strollers aren't allowed in the facility, but - if you have a baby - you are able to borrow a front or back Snugli carrier...free of charge.

slides-imagine-childrens-museum-1Our 3-year-old's favorite spot in the whole museum? Up on the roof...on the big playground! What preschooler can resist slides, tunnels, and climbing walls, after all?

My one suggestion for ICM is to add in a small cafeteria, restaurant, or snack shop. As it is, there is a vending machine on the premises, but I think the museum could make a lot of money (plus, provide a great service) if they sold food on-location. Even a simple menu would be nice (pizza by the slice, burritos, frozen yogurt, that kind of thing).

pacific science center logoPacific Science Center

Seattle, WA

Exhibits Only Admission for Adults: $14; for Youth (6-15): $9; for Kids (3-5): $7

Located in the heart of downtown Seattle (right near the Space Needle), the Pacific Science Center consists of 5 interconnected buildings surrounding an outdoor pavilion. Right now, the featured exhibit is sponsored by the cartoon network and is all about animation. Kids can record their voices, do the sound effects, try their hand at drawing, and more with all kinds of interactive displays. There's also a dinosaur area, an insect village, a place to see boa constrictors and naked mole rats, a body works area (where you can test your heart rate, stress level, vision, sense of smell, etc.), and a giant water wheel. Those things are really just the tip of the iceberg.

The cool thing about PSC is that parents will like it just as much as their kids! The exhibits really are fascinating. I could have wandered around there for hours sans kids (trying everything). Our 3-year-old was a bit "young" for most of the displays, but we all were entertained nevertheless.

A minor critique would be that I'd love to see the body works area expanded and updated. It seemed a bit outdated and smallish to me. Anatomy intrigues me (I think I might have wanted to be a doctor in another life...In fact, I actually considered going to med school after getting my masters degree). The Body Works area, though very neat as it is, could be much bigger and more techie.

Here are a few fun pics from our day...

Check out this silly optical illusion (that's a rare shot of me in my glasses, which I wear when I am driving and/or when I need to see things at a distance):


And my daughter near a triceratops (she just takes my breath away):


woodland park zoo logoWoodland Park Zoo

Seattle, WA

Adults (13-64): $11-$16.50, depending on time of year; Child (3-12): $8-$11; Toddler (0-2): FREE

The name for this zoo is fitting because it really is kind of a combination of a park and a zoo. There is so much greenery everywhere (remember, I'm not used to that since I'm an Arizona girl) and you can plan to do plenty of walking in this animal wonderland (don't forget to bring a stroller!). You'll see gorillas, orangutans, lions, elephants, zebras, giraffes, hippos, and more.

jaguar-woodland-park-zooWhen we asked our 3-year-old what animal she wanted to see most on the way there, she surprised us by saying, "rhinoceros"...and then "puppy." Unfortunately, there were no rhinos to be found, but there was a wild dog and a wolf (does that count for a "puppy"?).

The zoo also features a Zoomazium, an indoor playspace for tots and little ones. It's fun and a nice reprieve for parents with toddlers, but I personally would rather spend my time looking at animals. Playgrounds are everywhere. Bald Eagles, Pandas, and Vampire Bats? Those are harder to find.

If you want to eat at the zoo, you can stop in at the Rain Forest Food Pavilion, which offers plenty of food options (pizza, deli sandwiches, burgers, nachos, and more. We didn't stop there, but I appreciate that the pavilion offers healthy food options beyond the standard fast food fare.

YOUR TURN: What are your favorite family-friendly places to visit in or around Seattle, Washington?

WIN IT! There will be three winners. The first winner will receive four passes to the Imagine Children's Museum. A second winner will receive four tickets to the Pacific Science Center. A third winner will receive a Family Fun Pack to the Woodland Park Zoo. To enter, leave a comment stating which destination you would like to visit most and why on this post prior to Wednesday, October 14th at 11:59 p.m. (Don’t forget to follow the rules…all generic comments like “Enter me!,” “Love it,” and “Cool stuff!” will be disqualified.).

*UPDATE* The winner of the tickets to the Pacific Science Center is #32 arlene a. The winner of the Family Fun Pack to the Woodland Park Zoo is #12 Chris. The winner of the passes to the Imagine Children's Museum is #16 April. Congratulations to all!

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44 comments on “What to Do (with kids): Seattle, Washington”

  1. The woodland park zoo is one of my favorite places in Seattle to take my nephews. They just love all the animals and its a great way to get some energy out of them!

  2. We love the Pacific Science Center. I'm a scientist so I love having a place where my kids can experience science and really enjoy learning.

  3. We really love Pike Street Market in Seattle. When we took our kids there for the first time and showed them the fish tossing they just had a ball!

  4. I would pick the Pacific Science Center as my first choice. It's such a great place with hands on stuff for the kids to do. All of the places you're giving passes to are great though! It's so fortunate to be in Seattle amidst all the great things for kids.

  5. Pike Place Market is definitely a fun place to go. All kinds of sites and sounds! If I won the package I would like to get the tickets to the Woodland Park Zoo since that's something that's a big hit in the family.

  6. I would love to visit all of these but the one I really want to get to is the Pacific Science center. I am a science geek and I love sharing with my girls. My oldest already love science and the Science Center would be so much fun. A few months ago they cam to our library and the girls learned all about volcanos. They still go on about volcanos. We have never been and I know they would love. I almost picked the zoo as my youngest loves hippos. We are closer to the Point Defiance zoo and have been lots of times but they don;t have hippos like the woodland park zoo.

  7. I think they are all interesting but if I had to pick one it would be the Pacific Science Center since I haven't been there before and it looks really interesting. But I would be happy to win any of them! Thanks!

  8. We like the concerts at Woodland Park Zoo. We also go to Pike Street which has all these booths and food. It's tons of food. We also enjoy the IMAX theater by the Space Needle. And there is a carousel there, too. I could go on and on. I love Seattle.

  9. We love spending time around the Hood Canal. It's such a beautiful drive and so fun to stop in the little towns and walk, shop, and eat!

  10. I love taking my son to Pike Place Market. The musicians are great, the atmosphere buzzes with excitement and the food is amazing.

  11. I live in Seattle and have been wanting to visit these places for awhile now. It's been quite some time since I last made it to the zoo! Must say, that's my favorite!

  12. I'd love to win the tickets to the Pacific Science Center. I still haven't been with my children (ages 6 and 8) and it's time! We've been to Woodland Park Zoo and love it, and my kids are getting a little old for the Everett Children's Museum (plus we've been to the one in Olympia that is quite nice as well).

  13. Id have to pick the PAC science Center!

    The boys just love the hands on stuff!!!
    Plus its probably too cold to go to the zoo~~ I will be in Seattle Oct. 30 so itd be perfect!! YAY!

  14. We'd love to visit the Pacific Science Center because both my little one and hubby would have fun ~ and I have to remember my hubby too because he can sometimes get "bored" if he doesn't have fun too! I think they would like that the best because they are quite into science.

  15. I think the Pacific Science Center sounds really cool, but then again so does the Woodland Park Zoo...I'm torn! :) I'm excited that you're talking about Seattle though since my husband and I are going for the first time in less than 2 months!

  16. We LOVE Seattle! It is one of our favorite cities in the US. (I think it partly reminds us of Auckland, NZ. We met and got married in New Zealand, so anything that reminds us of it captures us). We have some dear dear friends that live in Seattle so we used to go up at least once per year, however we haven't been up there with the kids yet! Would love to visit the all of the places you mentioned. IF you go up there again, be sure to visit the Crab Pot in Bellevue...SO YUMMY (if you like seafood/shellfish)!

  17. We just had our first experience at the Pacific Science Center and found it quite fun. The kids really enjoyed it too. That will be a place that we would like to visit again. With the short time that we have been in WA, two places that we have enjoyed visiting as a family is Picnic Point Park where we got to hang out at the beach and Snoqualmie Falls. Being from AZ, that was the first water fall I have ever seen. The kids really enjoyed the hike down to the bottom - going up we not as fun =). There is soo much to do here, it is hard to pick a favorite. We did enjoy the zoo as well..there is soo much to look at there, it makes for a great outing for the day.

  18. Hello Stephanie,
    Thank you for sharing your personal experience about Seattle. I really enjoyed all the details about the places you describe, it really gives a good idea of what we can find there. At Fox Rent A Car Blog we wrote a similar blog on the Things to do in Seattle. We try to inform travelers on what to do in different cities, the off the beaten path attractions, and the best attractions to visit with kids.
    Thanks again for your post.

  19. About once a year we try to do a trip down to the Pacific Science Center and spend the day there and then we hop on the monorail and ride it to the mall that is it's other stop and eat dinner in the food court and then ride the monorail back to the science center. My kids love doing it.

  20. The Pacific Science Center is the one I would pick. It looks fabulous and something my two girls will absolutely have a blast at!

  21. I love to bring the kids to Woodland Park Zoo. Its always changing. And, the kids & I get lots of fresh air so everyone is tired when we get home. Can't beat that!

  22. have never been to the woodland park zoo and it would make for a great mini-vacation this fall to take the train up from portland, oregon.

  23. Woodland Park Zoo is my favorite, because right now you can see the snow leopard cubs.

    Honestly, I think the best thing to do before picking any one spot is to go to the Seattle.gov calendar - http://www.seattle.gov/calendar/default.htm The calendar has local events posted, which is always nice to see if there's something special that weekend. The Stranger and Seattle Weekly also have things posted.

    If you have slightly older kids that like art/museums and you're local, the King County Library System has a deal going on with the Bellevue Art Museum, the KidsQuest Children's Museum and the Washington State History Museum - as in, free passes! Go to http://www.kcls.org//programs/index.cfm#BAM and check it out, as the number of passes varies. I know you can get two free passes to the Bellevue Art Museum every month.

    Lastly, there's the Chinook Book, a local Seattle metro coupon book. It's $15-$20 depending on when you buy it, but it usually has coupons to at least the Zoo and bus passes, and local restaurants.

    Yes, this is all slightly off-topic, but being able to save on outings makes it more fun, because you can relax a bit more.

  24. The Imagine Childrens Museum sounds like so much fun... I've been wanting to take Princess there for a while! We're actually moving up to that area next month (Right now we're about a 2 1/2-3 hour drive, and we're moving up to where it will only be a 15-30 minute drive), and that would be a fun little "field trip" for us one day!

  25. We have lived in Seattle for three years and have never been to the Pacific Science center! Shameful I know. We have been to the Imagine museum and loved it. We have a annual pass to the zoo because we live just down the road and go all the time!

  26. What's better than playing in the sand with an amazing view of the city from Alki beach? Plus, it's free and there are yummy restaurants near by! We have not ventured to the zoo yet, and that would have to be our list of things to do very soon, because our twin girls have just started saying "roar" when asked what sound a bear makes.

  27. As a Seattle native, and Aunt to an eight year old niece, I can vouch for how excellent and child friendly all the places you mentioned are for families.

    Another excellent Zoo in the area is the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Admission rates are comparable to those at Woodland, and they offer daily presentations ranging from Marine Mammal Talk to Community feeds. Did I mention that there is a breath taking view of the Puget Sound from nearly every vantage point at the zoo?

    If you are interested in a more hands on day trip, you might want to give Experience Music Project (locally known as EMP) a visit. They feature a different genre of music or artist every month and offer an array of activities that the entire family can enjoy. From performing your favorite song on stage for your adoring fans in a simulated arena, to taking a ride on their virtual roller coaster, or playing any instrument your soul desires in one of their sound proof booths. You can spend an entire day at EMP and still not do everything they have to offer.

    If you are a family who likes to see the sighs, I would recommend taking a ride on the Duck of Seattle. You get an incredible tour of the city with a coast-guard certified maritime captain, taking in the sights on an amphibious World War II vehicle and then to make it even more enjoyable, you get to ride the car/boat right into Lake Union to take in the city's skyline! Tickets for the Duck are free for babies, $15 for Children and $25 for adults.

  28. I would love to win the Family Fun Pack to the Woodland Park zoo! I just bought a new camera a few months ago and have been dying to try it out at the zoo. Thanks ~ :)

  29. I don't see any trips to Seattle in my immediate future so let someone else win if you happen to draw my name. But - I wanted to say that I love visiting the local zoo anytime we travel - I've been disappointed a couple of times, but usually it is a stop well worth making!

  30. I'm originally from the Seattle area (now live in Arizona) and so these posts are making me so happy! I grew up loving the Pacific Science Center. It was a good 45 minute drive from my house but my mom took us kids up there a lot and we loved it.

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