Updated for 2018
While we’re all about South Sound fun, there is no denying that Seattle is magical at Christmas time! The shops go all out in their window decorations, the tree lined streets sparkle with twinkle lights, and the city sidewalks, busy sidewalks are dressed in holiday style.
Winter break is the perfect time for a day of big city exploration. Best of all, most of the ideas on our round up are free or very inexpensive! Of course, if you do want to keep it local, we have our South Sound holiday fun guide in the sidebar (below posts on your phone). Read on for ten must-dos in Seattle with kids this season!
Skip the parking and traffic nightmare, and hitch a ride on the Light Rail in Tukwila straight into Westlake. Kids love the idea of riding a train, even for a short distance! Simply buy your tickets at the station vending machine and hop on the next train. Trains run frequently until 1:00am. One way tickets are $3/adults, $1.50/youth and FREE for ages 6 and under. If you’re bringing a stroller, simply wheel it right on. This is a great way to skip the hassle and expense of parking in downtown Seattle and get a frugal experience in, too!
Giddy up on the holiday carousel for a suggested donation of $4/person to support DSA’s programming and management of Occidental Square and Pioneer Park. In addition to the carousel, check out the Holiday Market with offerings from local artisans. You can see more about all of them, and other downtown area holiday happenings, here.
3. Power the Macy’s Train
On the corner of 4th and Stewart, Macy’s sets up a Winter Train in their display window. Kiddos place their hands on two golden mittens, which powers the train. Keep your eyes peeled for the Seahawks car. Macy’s also has a Santaland where children can take photos with the Big Guy and mail their letters to the North Pole.
For the past 24 years, local architects team up with the culinary masters of the Sheraton Seattle to make gingerbread houses that are the stuff of Food Network! This year’s theme is “Welcome to Whoville.” The display is open to the public through January 1, but be warned that the lines can get long. While this attraction is free, any donations go towards the fight against Juvenile Diabetes right here in the northwest. The Sheraton Hotel is located at 1400 6th Ave.
If your little one loves to cuddle teddy bears, you’ll want to make a stop at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. One of the hotel’s largest suites is professionally decorated for the holidays, and the guests are teddy bears! This event is free, and any donations benefit Seattle Children’s Hospital. 10-6p.m. daily through Dec 26.
6. Holiday Happenings at Pacific Place
Pacific Place is a great place to park if you choose to drive into the city. Then, you can check out all the holiday fun!
Join in on a 12-minute sing-along to a host of holiday hits with all the words projected on a 40-foot-tall screen in the center’s Atrium. The fun takes place each Monday through Saturday at 6 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. and each Sunday at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. from November 23rd through December 31st.
Play a 12-foot Keyboard
On the second floor, guests can interact with a giant keyboard just like Tom Hanks in the movie “Big.”
Visit Santa (and get a free cupcake or macaroon)
Nov 23-Dec 24th, Santa will be ready to hear your child’s wish list. Professional photographs are available for purchase. Plus every child who visits Santa will get a free cupcake or macaroon from Trophy Cupcakes.
If you are looking for an extra special meet and greet with Santa, ride the elevator to the top of the Space Needle and visit with the Big Guy in his new glass sleigh. A digital photo is included for free with admission the Space Needle. Keep an eye out for a coupon from Bartell Drugs or Starbucks for free admission for two kids with each paid adult.
Visit a very large model train display and winter village in the Armory. You can even conduct the train for a $2 suggested donation. Live musical performances from local students and artists’ showcases will take place on the stage. You can also go ice skating at Seattle Center (admission and fees). Train village hours:Nov 23 – Dec 31, 10am – 6pm Seattle Center Armory FREE (Special Hours: closed at 4pm, Dec. 24; closed, Dec. 25) Control the model train 10:30am – 12 noon,1pm – 2:30pm, and 3:30pm – 5:30pm daily.
$2 suggested donation.
Not too far from U Village in Seattle is a cul-de-sac of 23 houses sweetly decorated for Christmas. If you have wondered what it would be like to live in a Christmas village, visit this street! You can simply drive through, but it’s much more fun to park and take a walk around. Keep in mind these are private homes so times and experiences may vary!
10. Pioneer Square Neighborhood Market
December 14th 1-4pm Come and check out the local vendors and check items off of your list. Enjoy carolers and hot cocoa along with prizes and promotions from local businesses.
Heading to the Eastside
If you’ve heard your friends talk about eastside fun, you’ve likely heard about these can’t miss events.
Nightly at 7:00pm through December 24 enjoy snowfall! But, that’s not all. There are live toy soldiers, music, snow characters and lights! The quality of this show is much like what you would get at a Disneyland parade, but it’s FREE. Be sure to arrive early so you can find parking and get a good viewing spot, as this is a very popular event.
Enjoy a spectacular walk through lights display of over half a million lights. Open through daily through December 31, 4:30pm-9:00pm. Admission is only $5/person and free for children 10 and under. EVENT FREE NIGHTS: November 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 & 29, 2018.
Looking to do something with more South Sound flavor? Check out our 14 Best Ideas for Winter Break Fun in the South Sound.