One of my favorite ways to spend time with my kiddos in the summer is a trip to the city. All of these excursions are free or almost free. You could theoretically walk to all of these locations from Pike Place Market, but little legs may not want to traverse the city blocks. Bring a stroller or Ergo, and be prepared for hills.
If you love art and beautiful views of the Sound and the Olympics, check out the Olympic Sculpture Park. This outdoor art space features gigantic pieces of art along an impressive walkway at the very north end of the Seattle waterfront. It’s an awesome way for kids to experience art in a space where they can run, jump, and scream and no one will know the difference. There is a parking garage or you can find a spot on the street. Throughout the summer, you can also catch Summer at SAM on Thursdays and Saturdays, with live music, outdoor yoga, free art tours, and a Kids’ Corner.
After you explore the art, take a 1.25 mile bike ride through Myrtle Edwards Park. The incomparable views of Elliott Bay continue along this waterfront bike and pedestrian path. If you’re into geocaching, there are some caches you might enjoy or maybe you can find some Pokemon!
Take a 15 minute water taxi ride from Seattle to Alki Beach ($5.25/one way per person, FREE/under age 5) for a speedy ferry like experience. If you’re looking for a quick bite or a sweet treat, hop in line at Marination Ma Kai. The award winning food truck is now a restaurant on Alki. Their food and shave ice is worth the wait! If you’re looking to cruise through Lake Union, try the Seattle Ferry Ice Cream Cruise.
You don’t have to drive to the ocean to dip your toes in the sand! Enjoy a day at Alki Beach, where kids can play in the water as you watch the ferries and sailboats float by with the backdrop of the city skyline. You can bring bikes and trikes here, too if you want to jaunt along the 2.5 mile walkway. If you want to show your kids some history, checkout the monument at the south end of the beach that marks the arrival of the first white settlers on November 13, 1851.
Heading to the city just for a day at Pike Place Market is worth the trip! Kids love to watch the flying fish, meet Rosy the Pig, and grab some mini doughnuts. Don’t miss the gum wall down below on Post Alley, and all the interesting shops. Mom can buy herself some farm fresh flowers for a bargain price, too!
Taking a ride to the top of the Space Needle is pricy, but there is lots of FREE fun to be had at Seattle Center. Check out the newly opened Artist’s Playground, which is fun for big and little kids and the coolest playground I have ever seen. Kids can safely traverse ropes and slides that are high in the sky. There are areas for big kids and tiny tots. Or, spend a warm day playing in one of the many fountains, the most popular of which is the International Fountain where water sprays in tune with music. There is always something going on at the Armory (Center House), such as cultural festivals, concerts, art installations, magic shows, and more.
World Class Museums
Seattle’s museums are such a fun way to expose your child to culture, art, and innovation. On the 1st Thursday of each month, many museums host special hours and offer free admission. Our favorites include the Museum of Flight (perfect for toddlers, but kids of all ages will love of it), Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), and the Seattle Art Museum.
If you’re in need of a caffeinated pick me up, there are options galore. Try the Starbucks on the 40th floor of the Columbia Tower (open during regular business hours). The highest Starbucks in the world also boasts amazing views of the city, for FREE. My boys particularly love looking out at Century Link and Safeco Field. Or, walk a few blocks east to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. Part coffee house, part regular Starbucks, and part roastery, the atmosphere is always a party. Kids will enjoy watching the roasting process and the packing machines do their thing. Be sure to order off their special menu, where even a regular latte will make you wish you could stop here every day. If you’ve never been, it’s also fun to stop into the very first Starbucks at Pike Place Market where all the magic started.
Want to grab a quick bite while you’re in the city? Try the iconic Dick’s Drive In where the burgers are super yummy and the hand dipped shakes are not to be missed. The easiest location to access is in Queen Anne, just west of Seattle Center. They have free parking!
If you want to go a little farther north by car, you can make a pit stop at the Fremont Troll. Parking is a little tricky to find along neighboring streets, but this a must do with your kiddos at least once in a lifetime. Where else in the world can you meet a troll holding a VW Bug? Warning: little boys will attempt to pick his nose.
Another location worth an all day excursion is the Ballard Locks. Watch the boats pass through the locks of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, or head to the fish ladder where during the summer you can watch all the salmon swim upstream to return to spawn. It is mesmerizing and a thrill for little ones! There is also a botanical garden, and free summertime concerts on Saturdays and Sundays.
Know of another awesome attraction for kids in Seattle? Leave a note in the comments!