Only have time for one weekend in Seattle? If so, read on for tips to make the most out of your short visit.
Seattle is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States. Surrounded by Puget Sound to the west and Lake Washington to the east, it is an idyllic setting. Not only is the city beautiful, but there are also lots of fun things to do in Seattle with kids.
Family-Friendly Weekend In Seattle
Why only a weekend in Seattle? Well, I must admit that we are not city people (living in a small mountain town for years will do that to you). City life, to us, is only enjoyable for a few days. That being said, we know there are awesome things to see and do in every major city. And of course, we don’t want to miss out. So, when visiting a big city we usually fit the must-see attractions into two or three days.
This kind of travel works out great for us. One weekend in Seattle isn’t long, but it should allow your family enough time to explore the highlights of the city.
Here it is – everything you need to know to have the perfect family-friendly weekend in Seattle.
Best Time to Visit Seattle
Hands down the best time to visit Seattle is from mid-May through September. Seattle is known for being rainy, but there is much less rain in the summer months and the temperature is just right. Not too hot and not too cold. The winter months are gray, rainy, and chilly.
Of course, the beautiful weather combined with kids being out of school also makes summertime the busiest tourist season in Seattle. Even though the summer months will be busier, the nice weather is well worth braving the crowds.
Things to do in Seattle With Kids
We’ve visited Seattle before (my sister lives in nearby Olympia), but our latest trip was the first time we were in Seattle with Eli. We only had a few days so I researched what there was to do in Seattle with kids before our trip. We wanted to make the most of our short time there.
Luckily we found that there is no shortage of fun things to do in Seattle with kids.
Visiting the Space Needle is definitely a touristy thing to do. But, touristy or not, it is a unique experience that is well worth your time. The iconic landmark provides amazing 360-degree views of the city and the water.
In 2019 the Space Needle underwent a huge renovation. The result is a beautiful new rotating glass floor on the lower level and floor-to-ceiling glass windows on the second floor. It is surreal to stand on the glass floor and look all the way down to the ground.
Timed tickets are sold to control the number of visitors touring the Space Needle at any given time.
If you are a planner and know exactly when you want to tour the Space Needle, you can buy tickets to a particular time slot online. This works out great if you want to show up right at your tour time and not have to wait. The drawback to this method of booking is that the weather might not be ideal at the time you picked. It would be disappointing to tour the Space Needle on a cloudy day and miss out on the spectacular views.
If you aren’t sure when you want to visit the Space Needle, or if you want to wait for perfect weather, you can show up and buy tickets at the window or Kiosk. Keep in mind that you won’t be the only one buying last-minute tickets on a beautiful day. Depending on the crowds, you might have to wait a few hours for your tour time.
Five dollar discounts are offered for any of the morning tours between 10:00 and noon and evening tours from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.
Kids under five years old are free but strollers aren’t allowed in the elevator.
There are several photo stations at the top and one before you get on the elevator. To get instant access to your digital pictures you need to download the free Space Needle app onto your phone. It’s nice that the pictures are included in the tour price.
Artist at Play Playground
When visiting the Space Needle make sure to check out the adjacent Artist at Play Playground. It is one of the most incredible playgrounds ever. Not only that, it is completely FREE!
The main attraction is the 30-foot climbing structure with hanging bridges and a 50-foot tube slide. I don’t consider myself to be a helicopter parent in the least bit. But, I must admit I was seriously nervous watching Eli climb all the way to the top. It was intense. If you have an adventurous child, he or she will LOVE the Artist at Play Playground.
If you don’t have an adventurous child don’t worry, the Artist at Play Playground has something for every kid. There is a carousel that kids can run around and spin (the kind you never see anymore but that are so much fun), a gigantic maze on the ground, a variety of unique swings, musical instruments, and a toddler play area designed for kids under five years old.
For how busy the park was when we were there, the bathrooms were nice and clean.
If you want to have a picnic lunch at the park, there are food trucks nearby and a McDonald’s across the street.
Tip – Visit the playground after the Space Needle because if you go to the park first it will be hard to get your kids to leave.
Pike’s Place Market
No trip to Seattle would be complete without a visit to Pike’s Place Market. Pike’s Place is a gigantic farmer’s market with over 200 shops selling everything from crafts and collectibles, to produce and flowers.
Stop by the fish market to see the legendary fish throwers, they put on quite a show. You will want to arrive hungry because there is no shortage of delicious food. You can fill up on a variety of specialty foods from different stands.
Remind your kids to bring their spending money, without a doubt they will find something that they can’t live without while wandering the market.
Before you visit, check out the Pike Place Market website for hours and a map.
What is the gum wall? It’s just what it sounds like, a wall covered in chewing gum. Really quirky and gross but hey, what kid doesn’t want to stick their gum on the wall. Something they are told to NEVER do. While you are at Pike Market ask anyone to point you in the direction of the gum wall. It will only take a few minutes to check it out but it might be your child’s favorite part of visiting Pike Market.
Make sure the Mariners are in town when you are planning your weekend in Seattle. A baseball game at T-Mobile park is something that shouldn’t be missed.
T-Mobile park is situated right next to Puget Sound. The views of the city and Puget Sound from the stadium are incredible.
Check out the Kids Corner on the 300 level. There is a netted area where kids can practice pitching or batting from a tee. There is no charge and it wasn’t crowded at all when we were there. It’s worth visiting the 300 level just to take in the views of Puget Sound and the City.
Tickets can be purchased from the Mariners ticket office or through third-party ticket sellers like stub hub.
Where to Stay
If you only have a weekend in Seattle, you will want to stay in the downtown area close to one of the attractions you plan to visit. The things to do in Seatle with kids are a bit spread out throughout downtown. If you book your lodging within walking distance of one main attraction, you can then use Uber, Lyft, or public transit to get to the other downtown attractions.
The Link Light Rail system is a convenient and affordable transportation option. SeaTac airport is about thirteen miles from downtown and you can take the Link right from the airport. It takes about 40 minutes to get from the airport to downtown Seatle on the Link.
If you are traveling light the Link is the perfect option to get downtown from the airport. But, if you have a huge suitcase to lug around, you might want to look into other transportation options.
Although not as affordable, it is convenient to take an Uber or Lyft to your hotel from the airport.
I wouldn’t recommend renting a car if you are only spending a weekend in Seattle. Parking comes at a premium in the downtown area. Chances are you will be spending $50 a day just to park your rental car. We found Seattle to be a very walkable city. Once you get to your hotel you can either walk or take public transit around the city.
The Seattle Center Monorail is a great option for transportation to and from the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. The monorail goes back and forth between two stops – the Seattle Center Station and the Westlake Station. The Seattle Center stop is right in front of the Space Needle and the Westlake Station is a short walk to Pike Place Market.
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