From the Aquarium to the Zoo (and everywhere in between), this city is chock-full of great family adventures, just waiting to be had. Here are Seattle’s best places to eat, play, and explore with kids.
Puget Sound waters are great to explore at low tide – you don’t even have to leave the city to find sea anemones, hermit crabs, sea stars, urchins, and more. Constellation Park in West Seattle, Discovery Park in Magnolia, Ballard’s Golden Gardens Park, and Carkeek Park in North Seattle all have great tide pools when the water’s out. Check the tide schedules online or use a free phone app (Tides Near Me is a good one); any time you see the tides dip into the negative range is a good time to go. And keep an eye out for folks in red hats – at very low tides, the Seattle Aquarium sends out a fleet of friendly beach naturalists to educate and answer questions. Here are some great resources to get you started:
Washington Trails Association Guide to Tidepooling with Kids
Online Tidal Chart
Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalist Program
23. Gates Foundation Visitor Center
Just across the street from Seattle Center and MoPOP, the center explores the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, its philosophy, and the best ways to improve health and education around the world. The theme of exhibits often returns to two questions: What does it take to change the world? How can each of us make a difference? The center is a lot more fun than it might sound and there’s a fair bit of hands-on exploration. Plus, it’s free, so easy to drop in for as long or as little as you want.
Gates Foundation Visitor Center Website • Reviews • Directions & Parking
24. Take an Argosy Locks Cruise
Seeing the city by boat is a not-to-be-missed experience, and Argosy corners the market on Seattle maritime tours. Their Locks Tour is especially fun: Seattle’s working harbor and Puget Sound, Ballard’s Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and Fisherman’s Terminal, and the floating homes and sea planes on Lake Union are all included. It’s two hours long, but there’s more than enough to keep kids interested the entire time. All ships have bathrooms, and drinks and snacks are available for purchase. Argosy also offers a one-hour Harbor Cruise, and a “Christmas Ship” tour in December with caroling and Santa Claus. Argosy sails out of Pier 55, right on the downtown waterfront.
Argosy Website • Reviews • Directions & Parking
25. The Center for Wooden Boats
If this gem of a museum on south Lake Union looks small, it’s because all the best bits are out on the water. It’s always free to walk the docks and explore, and there are sailboats, canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and pedal boats for rent. CWB hosts free public sails on Sundays (they’re really popular; you’ll want to get in line before 10am), and has a maritime-themed story hour (aboard a 100-year-old tugboat!) every Thursday from 11-12. Great paired with a visit to the Museum of History and Industry next door. CWB is easily accessible by bus and streetcar, and has a limited number of parking spots available. Boathouse and rental hours are abbreviated in the off season – be sure to check the website before you go.
Center for Wooden Boats Website • Reviews • Directions & Parking
26. Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park
Actually a small museum in Pioneer Square, this national park has artifacts and exhibits highlighting Seattle’s role in the Klondike gold rush of the 1890’s. It’s open year-round, with twice-daily gold panning demonstrations and Pioneer Square walking tours from June through Labor Day. Park rangers are friendly, and give kids a “passport” to stamp along the way. Best part? It’s all free! Definitely worth popping in if it’s summer and you’re in the area. Hours: 10am-5pm daily, Labor day through May. 9am-5pm daily, June through Labor Day.
Klondike Museum Website • Reviews • Directions & Parking
27. See a Play at the Seattle Children’s Theatre
“http://thechildrensmuseum.org/” target=”_blank”>Seattle Children’s Museum, Pacific Science Center, Artists at Play Playground, and the Armory Building Food Court, it’s easy to pair a play with a museum trip or a casual lunch out.
Seattle Children’s Theater Website • Reviews • Directions & Parking
Seattle Children’s Theater 2016/17 Season:
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: October 13 – December 11, 2016
Stellaluna: December 1, 2016 – January 8, 2017
The Snowy Day and Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats: January 19 – February 26, 2017
Into the West: February 23 – March 19, 2017
Seedfolks: March 23 – April 16, 2017
Fire Station 7: April 13 – May 21, 2017
28. Go Camping
Seattle is blessed with dozens (maybe hundreds) of great camping spots within 2 or 3 hours of the city. Read a quick overview of camping options in Washington State.
29. Go Cabin Camping
Not up for pitching a tent – or packing all the equpipment? The cabins at Cama Beach (pictured above) and Camp Long, or the yurts at Tolt MacDonald Park are great for families. But book early as these places fill many months in advance.
30. Visit Soundbridge
Seattle Symphony’s Musical Discovery Center is like an instrument petting zoo housed within grand Benaroya Hall. Most days of the week, Soundbridge is reserved by school groups, but it’s open to the public on Fridays, and well worth checking out. All the instruments of the orchestra are available to try, there are musical-themed crafts, and a charming musical storytime. No need to worry about the germ factor – the friendly staff sanitizes mouthpieces after every guest. The Discovery Center also plays host to the Symphony’s First Concerts series, featuring short performances and hands-on Q&A for the juice-box set. Soundbridge is walkable from most points downtown, is easily bus accessible, and adjacent to Benaroya Hall’s underground parking garage. Hours: Fridays 10am-2pm, with musical storytime at 10:30.
Soundbridge Website • Reviews • Directions & Parking
31. Argosy Tillicum Village Excursion
A fascinating introduction to Seattle’s Native People’s History. 4 hours in total, the trip begins with a beautiful 45-minute boat cruise to Blake Island. There you’re treated to a Pacific Northwest-inspired buffet (the alderwood-smoked salmon is amazing) and stories and dance from Coast Salish tribe members – all in a traditional Native longhouse. Afterward, stick around to poke around the museum and gift shop, or explore the trails of beautiful Blake Island State Park. The combination of boat cruise, meal, and entertainment make this a great deal for the price. Excursions run from April through September, though July onward is your best chance for pleasant weather. Book early – these tours sell out, and an early-booking discount is offered more than 28 days in advance. Tours begin and end at Pier 55 on Seattle’s downtown waterfront.
Argosy Website • Reviews • Directions & Parking
32. Stroll Through The Sculpture Park
The Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park displays large pieces of sculptured art along the waterfront, halfway between Seattle Center and downtown with great views of the sound, mountains, and ferries. The museum’s main location is downtown (near Pike Place Market) and makes a good effort at being kid-friendly. TASTE Cafe in the park’s Paccar Pavilion is handy for snacks and beverages.
Olympic Sculpture Park Website • Reviews • Parking & Directions
33. Go For A Hike
There are lots of great hikes in and near Seattle. Here are 10 of the best hikes in the Seattle area for families.
34. Go to Bainbridge Island
Spend a day on Bainbridge Island – It’s a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle, and a perfect day trip for families. Here’s why you want to go:
Bainbridge Island Ferry
Departing from Pier 52 on Seattle’s downtown waterfront, this 35-minute ride offers unparalleled views of the mountains, Puget Sound, and the Seattle skyline. It operates on a first come, first served basis, and the car line can be quite long in the summer, so plan to arrive well ahead of time or, better yet, leave the car behind. (You’ll save money as a walk-on passenger and there’s plenty to do within foot distance from the ferry terminal.) All Bainbridge Island ferries have restrooms and food service on board.
Ferry Schedule and Rate Information • Ferry FAQs
Kids’ Discovery Museum (KiDiMu)
It’s not large, but this sweet indoor play center provides perfect wet-day entertainment for toddlers and preschoolers. Their hands-on exhibits and play spaces are well-designed and fun, with a miniature town, pirate tree house, STEM and art centers, and year-round outdoor climbing wall. Outside food and beverage is allowed, or pop out for nearby pizza or diner food – admission is good for the entire day. KiDiMu is easily walkable from the ferry terminal and has plenty of free parking.
KiDiMu Website • Reviews • Directions & Parking
It’s a short walk from the ferry terminal to Eagle Harbor’s 5-acre Waterfront Park. There’s a paved half-mile path along the shoreline, a playground, public restrooms and boat launch. There’s also an excellent grocery nearby, for easy snacks and picnicking.
Park Website • Town and Country Market
Back of Beyond Outfitters
See Bainbridge from the water – Back of Beyond offers kayak, canoe, and paddle board rental at reasonable rates and within walking distance from the ferry. Tours and classes, too. Their rental location is on the public dock at Waterfront Park.
Back of Beyond Website • Reviews
Bainbridge Island Historical Museum
Older kids will be fascinated by this excellent little museum, housed in a 1908 schoolhouse in downtown Winslow. Award-winning exhibits cover Native American beginnings, early exploration, logging and shipbuilding, and the Island’s history of Japanese-American internment during World War II. Staff is super friendly and knowledgeable, and the museum is a mere 10-minute walk from the ferry terminal. If you’ve got a car, pairing this museum with a visit to the Bainbridge Island Japanese-American Memorial is particularly poignant.
Museum Website • Reviews • Directions
Bainbridge Aquatics Center
Clean and well-maintained, this community indoor swimming pool has just about everything a family could want – rope swings, diving boards, 180-foot slide, lazy river, toddler pool with water toys, lap lanes, sauna, hot tubs, and snacks for purchase at the front desk. Admission is $6/adults, $5/kids, and free for 2-and-unders. There’s lots of free parking and the Aquatics Center is an easy 5-minute drive from the ferry terminal.
Aquatics Center Website • Reviews • Directions
Island Rock Gym
Indoor climbing and bouldering, a ten-minute drive from the ferry. Drop in, or reserve a class and have a professional show you the ropes. Island Rock Gym is clean, competitively priced, and offers snacks, drinks, and free coffee. Kids under 5 climb free, and admission is good all day.
Island Rock Website • Reviews • Directions
Battle Point Park
The best park on Bainbridge Island – it’s got duck ponds and sports fields, and the playground is incredible. The 1.6-mile path around the park winds through grassy meadows and forests, and is paved and level. Follow the Fairy Dell trail down to the beach. Battle Point Park is a 15 to 20-minute drive from the ferry terminal and has plenty of free parking.
Battle Point Park Website • Reviews • Directions
The Bloedel Reserve
Once a private estate, this immaculately-maintained 150-acre public garden is a wooded wonderland of lush, landscaped trails. There’s a moss garden and Japanese garden, ponds and reflecting pool, estate house and sweeping Puget Sound views. The loop trail takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete, and while the terrain isn’t tough, it might be challenging with a stroller. The Bloedel Reserve is a 15 minute drive from the ferry. No food or pets allowed.
Bloedel Reserve Website • Reviews • Directions
Fay Bainbridge State Park
With sandy, driftwood-strewn beaches, this is a great park for exploring when the tide is out. Great tide pools, amazing views of Puget Sound, the Cascade Mountains and (on clear days) Mount Rainier. It’s on the northeast coast of the island, an easy 15-minute drive from the ferry.
Fay Bainbridge Park Website • Reviews • Reviews
35. Take an Ice Cream Cruise
This fun and inexpensive Lake Union boat tour operates on Sundays year-round, and is a perfect activity for kids. There’s a chance to learn some Seattle history, watch sea planes take off and land, and see some floating homes and Dale Chihuly’s glass studio – but at only 45 minutes, it’s great for short attention spans. There are ice cream treats available for purchase on board (hot chocolate in colder months), and well-behaved dogs are welcome. Tickets are $12/adult, $5/ kids 5-13 years, $3/under 5, and are cannot be purchased in advance. Cash and check only. Departs Sundays from Lake Union Park, between 11am and 3pm, on the hour. Seattle street parking is free on Sundays, and the park is easily accessible by Metro bus and streetcar.
Ice Cream Cruise Website • Reviews • Directions
36. Theo Chocolate Factory Tour
Kids 6 and older love touring this working chocolate factory in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, north of downtown. There’s an interesting 20-minute presentation on the bean-to-bar process, a walk through the manufacturing area, an amazing chocolate shop at the end of the tour, and plenty of free samples along the way. On weekends, Theo offers Chocolate Story Time for the smaller kids, complete with kid-friendly factory tour and samples. Tours are $10/person ($8 for Story Time), and fill up quickly – best to book in advance. Theo Chocolate has on-street parking, and is accessible by Metro Bus. Hours: 10am-6pm Daily.
Theo Chocolate Website • Reviews • Directions
37. Go to an Indoor Climbing Gym
Whether you’re looking for a fun first foray into the rock climbing world, or have loads of experience under your harness, here are Seattle’s best indoor places to climb (with ropes) and boulder (no ropes) with kids:
Located in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood, Vertical World offers excellent climbing and bouldering routes under soaring 50-foot ceilings. Their experienced climbers will show you (and handle) the ropes during a one-hour Rock Climbing Experience Class (by reservation), or drop in to boulder at any time. This is a great experience to pair with a trip to Discovery Park or lunch at nearby Chinook’s at Fisherman’s Terminal. Child care is offered, with advance registration. Vertical World has both lot and street parking, with the nearest Metro bus stop a 5 to 10 minutes’ walk away. Hours: Weekdays 6am-11pm, Weekends 8am-8pm.
Vertical World Website • Reviews • Directions
Next door to the Ballard Locks, Stone Gardens is a fun indoor/outdoor climbing gym with two rooms dedicated to bouldering. Call in advance to book a Pro Belay (intro to rock climbing) class, or just stop by to scrabble around. Maximize the fun by combining this with a trip to the Locks and a to-die-for burger at nearby Red Mill Totem House. Stone Gardens has free on-site parking and is Metro bus accessible. Hours: Weekdays 6am-11pm, Weekends 9am-10pm.
Stone Gardens Seattle Website • Reviews • Directions
Seattle Bouldering Project
It’s a bit off the beaten path, but Seattle Bouldering Project in the Beacon Hill neighborhood is a great choice for those not interested in the ropes. They’ve got two full floors of bouldering, with cushy 2-foot thick floor mats, a children’s play area, and tons of natural light. Day pass prices are reasonable, and shoe rental is free on your first visit. Seattle Bouldering Project has ample on-site parking, and is accessible by Metro bus. Hours: Weekdays 6am-11pm, Weekends 9am-10pm.
Seattle Bouldering Project Website • Reviews • Directions
More than a store, REI’s flagship location in downtown Seattle has mini hiking trails, a waterfall, and a massive 65-foot indoor climbing pinnacle. Single climbs are available in 15 and 30 minute intervals, by advance reservation on weekends or on a drop-in basis from 1:30 to 6:30pm Fridays. Group climbs are available by reservation most weekdays. REI Flagship also features a children’s play area, a café for snacking and light meals, an underground parking garage (first hour free), and is easily accessible by Metro bus. Store Hours: Weekdays and Saturdays 9am-9pm, Sundays 10am-7pm.
REI Climbing Pinnacle Information
38. Play Video Games at Gameworks
A huge 2-level arcade filled with old and new video games. Gameworks is located in downtown Seattle and a short walk from Pike Place Market, the Monorail, and Westlake Mall. Bonus: Adults can order beer (though it’s expensive). Food is served in the arcade, and there’s a Cheesecake Factory directly across the street. A multiplex movie theater is on the floors above.
Gameworks Website • Gameworks Reviews Directions
39. Swim at a Beach
Seattle has several great beaches. My favorites are below. All have public restrooms.
Matthews Beach on Lake Washington
Located on the Burke Gilman bike trail. A nice swimming spot with life guards on duty during opening hours. (Like all beaches you can swim anytime at your own discretion.)
Madison Park Beach on Lake Washington
Located in the Madison Park neighborhood with a half-dozen restaurants, a Starbucks, and beautiful playground within 3 blocks of the beach. Life guards on duty and a raft with a diving board is moored 100 feet out into the lake.
Green Lake Beach
The warmest place to swim and a popular favorite. There are 2 different beaches on opposite sides of this small lake. A very popular walk/bike path (2.5 miles around) circles the lake. Life guards on duty and a raft with a diving board is moored 100 feet out into the lake. Lots of restaurants, a wading pool, and a playground are found at the north end of the lake. Rent boats, paddle boats, kayaks, and paddle boards at Green Lake Boat Rentals (on the sunniest weekend days there can be a 30+ minute wait for rentals but most of the time there’s plenty of stock).
Golden Gardens on Puget Sound
The water is cold here so not great for swimming but this is still one of Seattle’s most popular beaches. Barbecues are scattered along the beach and free for using (first come, first served). There’s a creek here that’s fun for kids to divert and dam. Located on the western end of the Burke Gilman bike and pedestrian path (about 1.5 miles from Ballard neighborhood). There aren’t any restaurants right at the beach (though there are 2 within a short bike ride).
40. Go Geocaching
Geocaching is a free, GPS-based treasure hunt taking place all over the world. It’s a great activity for families, and a fun way to explore a new city. (Check out Geocaching 101 to get started.) Here are a few of Seattle’s best caching spots:
- Geocaching Headquarters in Fremont [GCK25B]
The mothership. Schedule a hosted visit, or just pop in during their weekday drop-in hours to log the coveted HQ cache, get exclusive swag, and meet the Lackeys who make it all happen. It’s all free. After your visit, take the GeoTour, a fun 9-stop multi within walking distance of HQ.
Geocaching HQ Website • Reviews • Geocache Info
- Olympic Sculpture Park [GC1A2TN]
Downtown multicache with gorgeous Puget Sound views and incredible artwork from the Seattle Art Museum’s collection.
Olympic Sculpture Park Website • Reviews • Geocache Info
- Kubota Gardens [GCM2C9]
South Seattle multicache in an historic landmark. Absolutely beautiful location, with waterfalls, streams, bridges, and landscaped trails.
Kubota Gardens Website • Reviews • Geocache Info
41. Living Computer Museum
Take a walk through computer history and a hands-on exploration of dozens of restored machines with original software. Just for kids, there’s the LCM Bit Zone, with vintage video games to play, and cool interactive circuitry and binary exhibits. Admission is a steal at $6/adult, $2/youth, and includes a museum tour. LCM is located south of Safeco Field in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood, with free lot parking and easy access via Metro bus and Link light rail (SODO station). Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10am-5pm.
Living Computer Museum Website • Reviews • Directions & Parking
42. Explore the Fremont Neighborhood
Quirky Fremont is one of Seattle’s most fun and unique neighborhoods. It’s smack-dab in the middle of the best stretch of the Burke Gilman path, and is a great place to walk around, grab a restaurant bite, or have a picnic. On Sunday there’s a huge market with lots of great food and flea-market style vendors. The Urban Beer Garden at the Fremont Brewery is family-friendly and a great place to have a couple pints of a local Seattle beer – you’re welcome to bring outside food into the brewery.
Here are my top picks for kid-friendly food in Fremont: Uneeda Burger • Homegrown • Frelard Pizza Company • Cafe Turko • and PCC Natural Market.
43. Fly on a Trapeze
Seattle is home to two amazing circus schools, and both offer one-time introductory classes open to everyone 6 years and older.
Emerald City Trapeze Arts
Located in a beautiful wood-beamed warehouse space just south of downtown. They offer tons of beginning trapeze and arial arts classes and are super easy to get to – only a block away from the Link Light Rail SODO station. Plan ahead: advance registration is required, and it’s best to reserve a few weeks out.
Emerald City Trapeze Arts Website • Reviews • Directions
The School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA) (SANCA)
The largest circus school in the US, SANCA is located south of downtown in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Most of their classes are series-based, but they do offer 2-hour single serve flying trapeze classes most days of the week. Preregistration and payment are required at least 48 hours in advance. SANCA has plenty of available parking, and is a few blocks from the nearest Metro bus stop.
SANCA Website • Reviews • Directions
44. Visit A Swimming or Wading Pool
There are 2 very fun outdoor swimming pools with water slides in the city. Mounger Pool in Magnolia and Colman Pool in West Seattle. They get manageably busy on the hottest days of the summer.
Seattle also opens a number of wading pools that are a fun and relaxing way for the littlest ones to cool off and play when the city gets hot. (And yes, that does happen.) You can find a comprehensive list here, but my favorites are those at: Volunteer Park • Greenlake • Wallingford Park • and East Queen Anne Playground.
45. Last Resort Fire Museum
It’s not for everyone, but kids (and adults) with a fascination of fire trucks will enjoy stopping in at this free Pioneer Square museum. The super knowledgeable museum staff will tell you everything you’d like to know about the beautifully restored antique fire engines on display, and there are printed information sheets about each engine to take home. Pairing this with a stop at the nearby Klondike Gold Rush museum makes for a fun (and free) educational afternoon. Hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays 11am-3pm in summer, Wednesdays 11am-3pm in winter.
Last Resort Fire Department Website • Reviews • Directions
46. Go for a Bike Ride
Seattle might not be Portland when it comes to bike friendly infrastructure but it has enough bike paths and bike lanes to give the casual bike visitor plenty of routes to enjoy the city. There are a couple of places to rent bikes and helmets. Downtown is not the best place for a ride, instead head to the Burke Gilman Bike Trail that runs through the popular Seattle neighborhoods of Ballard and Fremont – and continues out through the U-District and northeast Seattle for 20+ miles. It’s all relatively flat so it’s good for kids or parents pulling a trailer. Definitely keep a close eye on the kids and encourage them to keep to the right as some cyclists can ride the path at a pretty good clip. Recycled Cycles, Montlake Bike Shop and Ballard Bike Co. – all on or near the Burke path – are good options. Call ahead to see what’s available and reserve what you need.
47. Traxx Indoor Kart Racing
This is a 30 minute drive north of Seattle, but a hands-down favorite with many kids. The big track and karts (which go pretty fast) are for kids 11 and older. There is a smaller track and cars for 3 to 10 year olds, and they can use the smaller karts on the big track at a couple of select times (check the website as it changes often). Video games, pool, pizza, and beer in the waiting area.
Traxx Racing Website • Reviews • Directions
48. Jump Around At An Indoor Gym
Seattle Gymnastics Academy in Ballard (pictured above), Lake City, and Columbia City offers an open gym time to jump in the foam pit, bounce on the trampoline, run and swing and flop. It’s a lot of fun but only for kids 5 and under.
Seattle Gymnastics Academy Website • Reviews
PlayDate SEA is a perfect pit stop when adults need a break, but the kids have energy to spare. There’s 8,000 square feet of tunnels, slides, and climbing structures, with interactive dance floor and separate toddler play area for the kids. Adults chill in the attached lounge and café, enjoying the flat screen TVs and free WiFi access. Along with coffee, beer, and wine, the café offers snacks, kids’ meals, pizza, salad, and sandwiches. No outside food or beverage is allowed, and socks are required for kids and adults. Street parking is limited, but PlayDate SEA is easily accessed by Metro Bus.
PlayDate SEA Website • Reviews • Directions
49. iFly Indoor Skydiving
Adults and kids (age 3 and up) can don a flight suit and fly in the wind tunnel here. It’s lots of fun, though there is a fair bit of preparation to get in the chamber – safety instructions and videos, getting dressed, waiting in line – so plan your visit for a few hours.
iFly Website • Reviews • Directions
50. Go Zip Lining
Bellevue Zip Tour offers guided zip line and aerial challenge courses for kids and adults 9 years and older. They’ve got 6.5 lines (some up to 500 feet long and 85 feet high) through lush pine forest, super friendly and helpful guides, and great mountain views. They’re located in Bellevue’s Eastgate Park, a 20-minute drive from downtown Seattle, and operate from April through October.
Bellevue Zip Tour Website Reviews • Directions
If you’re open to a zip lining adventure further from the city, here are some other great courses in the area:
5 fun zip and challenge courses located within Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville, about a hour and a half drive from Seattle. Ages 5 and up. Operates in summer only.
Canopy Tours Northwest
6 thrilling zip lines in a beautiful farm and forest setting. Located on Camano Island, about an hour’s drive from Seattle. Operates year round. 65 lbs and over.
San Juan Island Zip Tour
8 line zip tour over forests and wetlands on Beautiful San Juan Island, about 3 1/2 hours from Seattle (including ferry). Operates April through October, 8 years old/80 lbs and up.
51. SkyMania Trampolines
A very fun place for kids and never too busy. You can bounce around and do flips and spins and knee drops in a huge trampoline area or play a game of dodge ball (pictured above) in the smaller area. There are a handful of fun pinball, video, and foosball games to play afterwards. It’s in Kirkland, a 15 minute drive from downtown Seattle. Adults “can” jump too but few do and it’s pretty much all kids and teenagers on the trampolines.
SkyMania Trampolines Website • Reviews • Directions
52. Hit A Trendy Cafe
Seattle is know for its awesome cafes and coffee. Most are kid friendly. Cafe Diablo on Queen Anne (pictured above) is one of our favorites. Caffe Ladro (Fremont, Capitol Hill, downtown, and near Seattle Center) and Macrina Bakery (Belltown, Queen Anne, SoDo) are also great.
The Best Places To Eat with Kids in Seattle
If you want to eat at some boring chain restaurant like Olive Garden or Red Robin, there’s no shortage of these around. However Seattle has a ton of unique and locally-owned restaurants that serve great food, and are worth trying out. With a few accommodations and some adventurous parents the whole family will have a great time.
Here are some of my favorite places to eat in Seattle with kids:
Tutta Bella – They don’t serve a whole lot else beside their thin crust pizza – not even any pasta – but what they do offer is delicious. Great desserts: tiramisu and gelato, and good espresso. Four locations: Westlake (between Downtown and Seattle Center), Stone Way (between Fremont and Wallingford), Columbia City, and Issaquah.
Red Mill – A couple different locations at Interbay (between Queen Anne and Magnolia), the original on Phinney Ridge (just north of the Woodland Park Zoo), and the Totem House location next to the Ballard Locks. If you’re in Capitol Hill or Ballard, Li’l Woody’s is great, too.
SushiLand in Queen Anne is a delicious and cheap conveyor-belt sushi place. Seattle has some top notch (and very expensive) Japanese restaurants but for great sushi in a relaxed setting nothing beats this SushiLand. The seared salmon is incredible. It’s walking distance from Seattle Center and the Monorail.
Coolest Place You’re Still Allowed to Take Your Kids To
Alibi Room – OK, this is pushing the definition of Kid’s Restaurant to the absolute breaking point. The Alibi Room might also fall under the category of Singles Bar or Pick Up Joint, but it’s got great food and beer, and the happy hour specials are incredible. It’s loud enough to absorb any noise and it’s very dark, so other guests might just think you’re dining with some very short adult friends. Generally, it’s more an evening spot so if you visit at lunch or early afternoon you could be the only ones in the place.
It’s a little tricky to find but that keeps all the tourists away. To get there find the famous pig in Pike Place Market, descend the stairs just a few feet away to Pike Alley and walk down the lane about 100 feet. The Alibi Room will be on your right, directly opposite Gum Wall – a collection of gum that people have plastered on one of the alley’s walls. Kids love it. Parents of good taste and upbringing find it repulsive.
Top Pot Doughnuts – Locations all over the city (Upper Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Downtown Seattle, Wedgwood, Bellevue, Mill Creek and Qwest Field). Yummy! If you’re in Pike Place Market eat some of the freshly made donuts at Daily Dozen Doughnuts.
Trophy Cupcakes – If anyone tries to recommend Cupcake Royal to you, thank them politely and then remove them from your Christmas card list — Trophy is the indisputable cupcake champ. Locations in Wallingford, University Village, and Bellevue.
Best Ice Cream
I have a few favorites. For the hands-down best ice cream visit Molly Moon’s (eight locations around Seattle). The best ice cream parlor that also has adult treats like champagne sorbet floats is Shug’s in Pike Place Market. For the best ice cream truck, track down the roaming white truck of Parfait.
The best cookies (chocolate oat peanut butter chip is my fave), breads, cakes and scones can be found at Macrina Bakery in Upper Queen Anne, Belltown and Sodo.
Caffe Ladro serves the best espresso drinks in the city. (Locations in Upper and Lower Queen Anne, West Seattle, Fremont, Capitol Hill, Downtown and some suburban locations like Edmonds, Bellevue and Kirkland.) Caffe Fiore (Upper Queen Anne, Sunset Hill and Ballard) has the coolest vibe. And Irwins (Wallingford) has that laid back neighborhood vibe that Seattle has come to define.
Best Cafes with Playrooms
The best playroom/cafe combo in the city is at Mosaic Coffee House in Wallingford (just behind the Dick’s Drive-in). Their huge playroom is great for ages 6 months to 6 years. Don’t go out of your way to visit Firehouse Coffee in Ballard but if you’re in the area and need a latte, it does have a decent playroom for the kids. Wunderkind Cafe in Ravenna has cool Lego and Duplo rooms and serves food, coffee, and beer.
Vios Cafe (in Capitol Hill and Ravenna) and Serendipity Cafe (in magnolia) are 2 good restaurants with nice sized play areas for children.