We just got back from visiting good friends in beautiful Seattle, Washington. With all three kids in tow, we packed a lot of fun into this quick trip out west.
We were a little apprehensive about the length of the flight from east to west coast, but the kids did great. We made sure to bring enough snacks, a good book, headphones, and a few fully charged tablets. Double check while you’re still at home if your airline offers wi-fi or in-flight media. For example, United has an app that you can download and view all sorts of movies or tv shows while you’re in flight… BUT you need to download the app while you still have wifi. This is MUCH easier to do while you’re still at home 🙂
We would highly recommend renting a car. There are so many beautiful parks that are a short drive away. The convenience of hopping in your rental and scooting off to the mountain summit and be back downtown in time for dinner is unreal.
On our first day, we packed a picnic lunch and drove to Crystal Mountain Resort. The resort is about 1hr 45min to 2hr drive from downtown Seattle. It’s a gorgeous drive through the mountains.
We rode the gondolas to the top of Crystal Mountain and ate our lunch overlooking Mt. Rainier. Make sure you double check hours for the gondola before heading out. Gondola ride tickets are purchased at the base of the mountain before you ride.
The view was absolutely spectacular. You could easily spend an entire day hiking around the mountain. There’s also a restaurant at the summit that’s open for lunch and dinner.
After lunch, we continued our mountain adventure to Mt Rainier National Park. There is a fee per vehicle to enter the park. If you are traveling with a 4th grader make sure that you get your 4th Grade Pass prior to your trip. This pass grants free access to hundreds of parks for a year.
There are a few different areas of the park to visit and so much to see. We visited the reflection lakes in the Paradise area. The kids loved running along the trails, hopping over streams and taking in all of the gorgeous views.
Again, you could easily spend an entire day here hiking and exploring. The kids absolutely loved hopping rocks along the mini falls.
On Day two we headed downtown to the Seattle Center, a large area in downtown Seattle that houses the iconic Space Needle and many different museums, theaters, playgrounds, fountains, shops, restaurants and more. Check out this map of the entire area. I love how there are no drivable thru streets in this area which makes walking with lots of kids in tow a little less stressful 🙂
There’s a huge FREE playground outside of the MoPop building called Artists at Play.
The kids loved running around and climbing all of the rope towers.
Our first stop was MoPop, the Museum of Pop Culture. I would recommend this museum for older kids. My almost 6 year old enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone younger than that. The museum featured different exhibits such as a video game exhibit sponsored by Nintendo and memorabilia from musicians like Jimmy Hendrix, Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
I think the “big kids” that grew up with this music got a much bigger kick out of these exhibits than the little ones, but seeing the costumes, handwritten song lyrics and playlists definitely caught their attention.
There were different exhibits on science fiction, fantasy and horror movies. The Horror exhibit was suggested PG 13. Our 10 year old walked through with extremely wide eyes, but didn’t lose too much sleep over it 🙂
They also had a sound lab that allowed the kids to learn to play different instruments and take their turn in different “studios” to try out what they’d learned.
There are different traveling exhibits that change from time to time. The Marvel superhero exhibit was there at the time we visited and we were surprised that it was just a small upcharge to add that on.
MoPop also allows you to exit and re-enter throughout the day. When it got close to lunch time we took a break and then went back later to finish the exhibits.
In the Seattle Center area is a large food court type building called the Armory. There are bathrooms aplenty and tons of different food options available. It’s a great place to grab lunch or a snack in between your adventures.
After lunch, we walked back toward the Space Needle. You can purchase tickets at kiosks or at the ticket counter outside the base of the Space Needle. They sell a certain number of tickets for different entrance times throughout the day. It was still fairly busy and we were able to purchase tickets and still head straight into line.
The Space Needle just completed a massive renovation a week prior to our visit to include a rotating glass floor called the Loupe.
You can stand on the glass floor and look down 500 feet to the ground below. I’m NOT a fan of heights, but I loved the rotating glass floor. You can sit, stand, lie down (it wasn’t that crowded and the staff was patient 🙂 as you slowly turn around seeing all of the gorgeous Seattle skylines.
We stayed up there for the longest time slowly rotating around and catching glimpses of the scenery below. I would love to see the views at night too. I bet it’s gorgeous!
An easy way to get from Seattle Center to the market area is to ride the Seattle Monorail. For a couple dollars a ride, this puts you within a few blocks of Pikes Place Market. The monorails come every ten minutes and the ride takes about two minutes. Double check the operational days and hours. One-way ticket prices are currently $2.50 for an adult and $1.25 for kids ages 5-12.
A trip to Seattle isn’t complete without a visit to Pike Place Market. Food, flower and craft vendors line the market.
The fish market is a lot of fun. The employees make purchasing seafood into quite the production.
The kids really enjoyed the craft vendors. We came home with a couple of art prints and a bunch of bean bag animals 🙂
The fresh flowers were gorgeous. Booth after booth of so many different varieties.
We stepped outside of the market to catch a view of the Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57. Each little gondola can hold up to 8 people. We are definitely adding this to our list for next trip.
The Original Starbucks is located right off of Pike St. If you’re a coffee lover like me, it’s worth a visit!
We seriously should have added some extra days to our trip. The Seattle Aquarium and the Pacific Science Center both looked amazing. If you’re looking for indoor activities for the kids, these are both options.
If you definitely plan on hitting multiple tourist attractions during your trip, you might want to check into the CityPASS. Since we were in town for such a short time and not able to visit all of the sites, the pass didn’t make sense for us but would be perfect if you’re staying longer and plan on seeing a few more things.
The weather during the summer is gorgeous. We were able to spend our last afternoon in town on Lake Sammamish just miles outside of downtown Seattle.
Kayak and paddleboard rentals are available. It was the perfect way to end the trip to this amazing city. There’s so much more to see and do in Seattle and surrounding areas. I really feel like we just scratched the surface. I definitely see trips to this amazing city are in our future 🙂