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Top 10 Things To Do In Seattle With Kids On A Budget

written by familyadhd

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When I first found out my family would be spending a week in Seattle, WA I was excited because I love exploring new cities. My husband had been traveling there for work often and would always come back to me and say, “I can’t wait to take you out to Seattle, I think you will really love it…”. “It” as in the food, the culture, the beer and the total city vibe. But now here I was preparing for a trip to Seattle with my two young daughters (ages 1 and 5) while my husband worked there during the week. At this point, all I knew of Seattle was rain and coffee. I proceeded with my routine search on “what to do in Seattle with kids” and made a general list of Seattle ‘must-sees’. Based on my list, I decided it was smart to purchase a Seattle CityPASS and only had to buy one for my older daughter and one myself as my younger daughter was still free. We decided not to rent a car for this trip and relied solely on public transportation, which was surprisingly easier than I had expected. Seattle is a somewhat walkable city so we did that mostly, however, I will say that there were some very steep hills included on those walks. I suggest bringing a sturdy, but not too heavy, stroller for little kids if you are going to be walking a lot. This was helpful on the big steep hills, as well as easy to fold to walk up flights of stairs or get on a bus. There were loads of family friendly things to do in the city of Seattle and we’d love to get back again soon to revisit.

1. Seattle Aquarium

Aquariums are always a mandatory attraction in any city when you have little kids in tow and luckily the Seattle Aquarium did not disappoint. This was the first place we visited with our CityPASS. We were able to check our stroller after we picked up our tickets, which was nice so I could easily chase after my younger daughter as she ran from tank to tank. There was an interactive area showcasing the Puget Sound tide pools where the kids could touch sea urchins and star fish. My girls love anything interactive like this and there was an aquarium employee stationed next to the exhibit to answer my daughters’ one hundred questions as well. The aquarium also had an octopus exhibit which was a little tricky for us to see as it had quite the crowd and he was curled up in a ball barely resembling an octopus anyway. After we explored the indoor tanks and exhibits we went outside to find the sea otters and seals. This was the highlight of the aquarium in our opinion, we could have watched them for hours. We probably spent a solid 2 hours at the aquarium, but of course another 30 minutes in the gift shop on the way out.

Seattle Aquarium

2. Argosy Harbor Cruise

We chose to do the Argosy Harbor Cruise (another CityPASS ticket) on the same day as we did the aquarium as they were both located in a similar location on the water. If you had to waste time before the next cruise starts you could always squeeze in the Seattle Great Wheel, which gives you a great view of the skyline and the Puget Sound or grab a bite to eat. The cruise was about an hour long with a narrator giving information on the historic waterfront and Seattle’s skyline, the Puget Sound and surrounding mountain ranges. Most of the information wasn’t interesting to my two young daughters, but they just loved the fact that they were on a boat and there were tons of new things to look at. When they got sick of sitting in a chair on the top level we explored the two bottom levels of the boat. We spent the last 10 minutes before we docked on the bottom level of the boat where we were able to store the stroller during the cruise. This worked out well for us because we also got to be one of the first families off the boat when we were docked.

Agrosy Harbor Cruise

3. Seattle Space Needle

The iconic Seattle Space Needle was yet another “must-see” included in the Seattle CityPASS. There were really no big surprises here for this big tower soaring 520 feet into the air as it was very similar to going to the top of any skyscraper. Before we went up we had to exchange the CityPASS ticket for an actual ticket and then we had to park the stroller since they were not allowed at the top. We got there right when they opened because I read it was the best chance for a clear view, but we still had to wait about 30 minutes before we got in the elevator up. It was somewhat crowded at the top of the tower, but we took our time circling around the observation deck checking out the views. It was a little challenging for my daughters to see because they were too short, but when picked up higher than the railing they could see really well. My older daughter was in awe of the sight of Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountain Range; it soon became her goal to always try to find the mountains in Seattle.

Top 10 Things Seattle Space Needle

4. Pacific Science Center

The Pacific Science Center (CityPASS admission) is located in Seattle Center within a quick walk from the Space Needle. As soon as you pass through the admission gates to the Pacific Science Center there are outdoor, water-based interactive exhibits. The museum inside and out was full of hands-on activities for the kids to experiment and play with. My older daughter loved to try out the water wheels outside, the periscope and the body works stations. There was a tot area for toddlers to play in, which my younger daughter had a great time exploring. They had a giant water table for the little kids to play in and plenty of things to climb all over. We could have spent even more time at the Pacific Science Center, but my two girls were exhausted after spending a couple of hours of non-stop exploring. Last thing we saw at the Pacific Science Center was a show in the Laser Dome. It was super relaxing and both of my girls sat for the entire show, which consisted of lasers beaming around a big dark dome coordinated to music – it was really neat.

Top Things To Do Seattle Science Center

5. Woodland Park Zoo

The Woodland Park Zoo is located in Fremont – north of downtown Seattle – and was yet another visit from our CityPASS. I can’t speak on the parking because we took a bus there and made a VERY long but enjoyable walk back to our hotel. The zoo was much bigger than I was expecting and they had many different exhibits and animals we had never seen before. We spent most of the day there and still didn’t get to see it all. My daughter’s favorite part was seeing the snow leopards and the cheetahs. The zoo was very well laid out and easy to use the map to get around. If we were to go back I would pack a lunch for the family, as the food vendors were very busy around lunch time as expected.

Top Things to do Seattle Woodland Park Zoo

6. Museum of Flight

The Museum of Flight is located south of Seattle and because we did not rent a car we took a public bus there, which was intimidating at first, but luckily a bunch of people on the bus were also going where we were. The museum was very spread out and had all different buildings and outdoor displays. My girls’ favorite part was the Aviation Pavilion, which gave them the opportunity to walk through actual airplanes. They loved to see the different styles of and sizes of each plane and how they compared with the planes we take to travel.

Top 10 Things to do Seattle Flight Museum

7. Fremont Troll (free)

My first thought about this giant troll creature was that trolls are awfully creepy, so what is the hype? He is located under a bridge in a mostly residential area and we walked to him using google maps. People who drove there were either finding a parking spot or pulling over and putting hazards on to jump out for a quick view.  My younger daughter stayed in the stroller because it was easier, but my older daughter ran up and began to climb on the troll. This was a quick sight to see. We probably spent 15 minutes looking and climbing, got someone to take our picture in front of him and then we were on our way. But now these girls can say they saw a giant statue of a troll under a huge overpass bridge – just something unique you don’t see every day.

Top 10 Things to do Seattle Fremont Troll

8. Lake Union (free)

Our favorite part about Lake Union was the sea planes. You could see the sea planes from anywhere near the lake, but to watch them take off and land in the water was amazing. We found a few places to sit in the grass or on a bench to watch them. Also, there were a few great restaurants with outdoor seating on the south end where you could get a great meal and watch the planes too. The water was clean and there was a nice pebble beach where the girls were able to put their feet in and play with the smooth stones in the water. Also, on the southern end there as a small fountain park where my girls quickly turned it into a splash park as other kids were also running in and out of the fountains. It was a perfect way to spend an hour on a hot afternoon.

Top 10 Things to do Seattle Lake Union

9. Pike Place Market (free)

We visited the fish market and waited around for them to throw a whole fish across the open-air shop. Although it was quick to see, my older daughter got a kick out of it! We also made sure to put money in the giant brass pig, which was a donation piggy bank. All throughout this area there were bakeries, restaurants, local shops and even a farmer’s market. We got some amazing peaches at the farmer’s market, found some great croissants in a bakery and got some ice cream in this area. We also made a point to see the first Starbucks on the street outside the market, although we didn’t bother to go inside as it had a huge line and quite the crowd outside. The last thing we saw in Pike Place Market was the famous gum wall. Honestly the gum wall was pretty gross, but my 5-year-old daughter thought it was wild and was really excited to add a piece of chewed up gum to the collection.

Top 10 Things to do Seattle Pike Place Market

10. Kerry Park & International Fountain (free)

These two free things to do are not exactly next to each other, but I coupled them together because they made the best combination of two free things to do within a day. We walked to Kerry Park, which was not an easy walk as the roads leading to the park were very steep in most sections. The walk was definitely worth it because we could see a breathtaking view of all of Seattle and Mount Rainier from this small park. Right down the hill from the park there was a small playground, which the kids spent some time at. From Kerry Park we walked one mile (all downhill) to the International Fountain, continuing to take in amazing views on the way down. I decided that the walk down was almost harder than up because the stroller kind of pulled us down faster. My advice is for two people to each put a hand on the stroller as backup.

The International Fountain was full of families and kids getting wet in the water. The fountain water was synced to music and was open for people to run through and get soaking wet. You could also sit on the sloped surrounding and just people watch like I did as my husband took the girls closer to get wet. The fountain was a perfect way to end the hike up and down from Kerry Park as we could all relax and cool off.

Top 10 Things to do Seattle Kerry Park International Fountain

Final Thoughts on Family-Friendly Seattle

As you can see there are plenty of affordable and family-friendly things to do in Seattle, and we didn’t even begin to explore our options outside of the city. I look forward to going back when my girls are older and exploring all that we didn’t get to this trip. Until then, we love to look back on the photos and reminisce from our week spent exploring Seattle!

Amanda Patsey Guest Blogger Bio

This is a guest post. All opinions above belong to the original writer.

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42 comments

Mars April 26, 2017 at 5:13 am

I love watching the Lake Union. The water is so calm, clear and clean. Are u guys allowed to swim in the lake?

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familyadhd April 26, 2017 at 1:09 pm

We’re not personally from Seattle (nor is our guest blogger who wrote this fabulous list), but I would reach out to the tourism bureau in Seattle as ask them!

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robin rue April 26, 2017 at 5:27 am

I highly doubt I will ever get there WITH my kids, but I have always wanted to go to Seattle, so hopefully someday I will make it out there.

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familyadhd April 26, 2017 at 1:11 pm

My fingers are crossed you’re able to!

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Alli Smith April 26, 2017 at 5:46 am

I’ve never been to Seattle and I didn’t know how many fun things there was to do with the kids – all for free. I’ve always wanted to see the Space Needle. All of these activities look awesome.

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familyadhd April 26, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Some are free and some are very budget-friendly 🙂 I hope you get to see it!

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Chris Lewis April 26, 2017 at 6:13 am

This is a great list. It has been a few years since I was last in Seattle, but in the times that I was there, I loved it. I did miss a number of these things though so I will be keeping this for my next visit!

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familyadhd April 26, 2017 at 1:12 pm

That’s fabulous! I hope you enjoy your next trip to Seattle 😉

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candy April 26, 2017 at 6:44 am

It has been a long time since we visited Seattle. I have been and seen several of these things in the past. Would recommend going and seeing every single one of the things you have listed.

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familyadhd April 26, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Awesome!

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Tim B. April 26, 2017 at 7:23 am

My brother and sister-in-law moved to Seattle a few years ago and we’ve been wanting to visit but haven’t made it out there yet. Thanks for providing us with a great checklist of things to do with our kids when we make it out there for a family trip.

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familyadhd April 26, 2017 at 1:12 pm

You’re so welcome!

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NYC Single Mom April 26, 2017 at 11:16 am

I havent been to seattle with my daughter but everything on your list is spot on. And Pike Place Market is entertainment for kids of all ages and adults and its free. Nothing better than free entertainment.

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familyadhd April 26, 2017 at 1:13 pm

So true! Budget-friendly stops make the slightly more expensive ones more doable 😉

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cheryl April 26, 2017 at 3:34 pm

I’ve never been to Seattle, but it’s on my list. I’m dying to go to the fish market 🙂 It’s also nice to know that there are so many free family friendly activities.

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familyadhd April 26, 2017 at 6:39 pm

Right? No lack of options!

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Bella April 26, 2017 at 6:14 pm

So many great ideas! The aquarium would probably be one of my top choices! So fun!

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familyadhd April 26, 2017 at 6:40 pm

Totally agree! We love a good aquarium 🙂

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Jenn @ EngineerMommy April 26, 2017 at 6:18 pm

We love to travel together as a family. It sounds like Seattle is full of amazing things to see and do with the kids.

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familyadhd April 26, 2017 at 6:40 pm

Traveling as a family is the best!

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Pam April 26, 2017 at 8:10 pm

Seattle has always been on my travel list but I have never made it there. It sounds like there is plenty of stuff for families!

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familyadhd April 26, 2017 at 8:35 pm

Definitely!

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Tiara Wilson April 26, 2017 at 9:24 pm

This is such an incredible read. We’ve been looking to visit different states and never know what to do that is kid friendly! Next time, we’re in Seattle, I’m going to have to try these things with my kiddo. Thank you for sharing!

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familyadhd April 26, 2017 at 10:50 pm

I’m so glad to hear it! I hope you have an amazing time when you go 🙂

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Maurene Cab April 26, 2017 at 9:26 pm

Having fun should not be that costly. I’ve been to Seattle and I know your tips actually work. Great post!

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familyadhd April 26, 2017 at 10:51 pm

Aw thanks! Yes, there are so many budget-friendly and cheap things our lovely guest blogger wrote about and they all look so fun 🙂

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David Elliott April 27, 2017 at 2:49 am

These are such great ideas. Of course the Needle is something to do. But I love the aquarium as well. It looks awesome.

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familyadhd April 27, 2017 at 10:57 am

So many great options!

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My Teen Guide April 27, 2017 at 4:07 am

Oh wow. Seattle does have so much to offer its visitors. I think it was wise to purchase the Seattle City Pass and use public transport to go around. The Seattle Aquarium and the Pacific Science Center would be the first ones I’d visit if I was there.

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familyadhd April 27, 2017 at 10:57 am

Yep, Amanda definitely found a way to keep things very budget-friendly!

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Jaime Nicole April 27, 2017 at 5:59 am

I’ve never been to Seattle but would LOVE to go! I’ve heard it’s amazing and I would LOVE to go to the aquarium!

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familyadhd April 27, 2017 at 10:58 am

Doesn’t it look great?!

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Kiwi April 27, 2017 at 6:12 am

Great recap of your family time in Seattle. I see there are lots of budget friendly things to do with the kids that are interesting.

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familyadhd April 27, 2017 at 10:58 am

Thanks! Amanda did a great job 🙂

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Annemarie LeBlanc April 27, 2017 at 8:31 am

I have always wanted to visit the Seattle Space Needle. It must have given you an awesome view of the surrounding area. I would love to be that high up during sunset. I can only imagine how beautiful the sun would be, sinking over the mountain range.

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familyadhd April 27, 2017 at 10:58 am

Oh my gosh yes, the picture possibilities from that height!!!

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Kita Bryant April 27, 2017 at 4:32 pm

I have an uncle who lives in Seattle. We’ve always wanted to visit. It sounds like the kids would love it!

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familyadhd April 27, 2017 at 8:15 pm

That’s awesome! We had family there up until recently as well 🙂 I hope you get to visit!

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valmg @ Mom Knows It All April 27, 2017 at 9:28 pm

I’ve always wanted to visit Seattle, it’s on my domestic bucket list. These are all great suggestions, I’d particularly enjoy the aquarium, zoo, space needle.

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familyadhd April 28, 2017 at 8:59 am

That’s awesome! I hope you get to go sooner rather than later 😉

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Agness of aTukTuk August 4, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Seattle seems like a great destination! I really hope to visit it soon. What time of the year would you suggest visiting it?

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familyadhd August 9, 2017 at 6:23 pm

Our family that lived in Seattle until recently would say anytime of year, but the best weather is typically in summer so if you prefer be there when it’s nicest out and don’t mind the fact it’s the busiest time of year, that’d be the time!

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