There's no doubt about it: Seattle is a sensational destination for visitors young and old. An entire day can be spent leisurely exploring Seattle Center and all its family-friendly wonders. Start with a trip to the top of the Space Needle, where viewing decks and glass windows offer spectacular 360-degree views on the city and its surrounding beauty.
The nearby Pacific Science Center offers hands-on activities to keep wee ones entertained, like a two-ton granite ball that spins, giant dinosaur footprints in which to stand, sea creatures that can be touched as well as an Insect Zoo and an IMAX theater that shows captivating films on a gargantuan screen.
You can't miss the funky-shaped, reflective exterior of the Experience Music Project, where unique hands-on exhibits allow visitors to play the drums or guitars, putting musical talents to the test in soundproof booths.
Pacific Science Center — Photo courtesy of Pacific Science Center
Down at the Seattle Waterfront, enjoy wandering the piers, taking a spin on the brand-new Ferris wheel, eating fresh seafood from vendors like Ivar's or befriending the sea otters at the Seattle Aquarium. And Pike Place is a must-see on any Seattle visitor's list. Kids' attention will be captured by Rachel the Pig (sit atop this local darling for the quintessential Seattle photo op!) and the market's famous fish-throwers, who put on a show often throughout the day.
Experience Music Project — Photo courtesy of Experience Music Project
In Fremont, braver childern will enjoy climbing the supersized, friendly neighborhood troll, staring at the iconic rocket ship or feeding ducks down by the canal. Just past Ballard at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, visitors see the canals that link the saltwater Puget Sound with freshwater lakes Union and Washington.
Adults and kids alike delight in watching boats pass from one body of water to the other, and there they can also study the streams of salmon that pass through the fish ladder at certain times of the year (thanks to glass panels in a covered viewing area).
Woodland Park Zoo and nearby Green Lake make lovely outings for families wanting to head slightly north of the city to lush, green spaces that showcase wildlife and the region's indigenous natural beauty. If beaches are your thing, head to Golden Gardens near Ballard, where a beachside park/jungle gym offers awesome views during playtime, and Alki Beach in West Seattle that features a bustling boardwalk area and nearby shops and cafes.
Many Seattle restaurants and bars welcome youngsters inside their establishments too; just call ahead or look online to confirm. Certain breweries (like Fremont's, for example) even keep toys on-hand for underage patrons, and BYO food policies make snack-time easier for parents to plan. Whatever your fancy, Seattle will accommodate you and your fellow travelers (of any age), so prepare to be wowed.