Family Friendly Water Activities in Seattle

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For families visiting Seattle in the summer time, finding ways to keep cool can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for water activities in Seattle to help your kids stay cool.

The city of Seattle is surrounded by water. To the west is the Puget Sound. And to the east of Seattle is Lake Washington. There is also Lake Union, which is located in the middle of the city. And Greenlake, in the north, is also an option for staying cool.

This post was updated on November 29, 2019.


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A view of downtown Seattle from above (2018)

Water activities in Seattle to keep you cool this summer

Besides the large bodies of water, there are also pools and fountains throughout the city to keep you cool in the summer. As a Seattle family, we’re always on the look out for family friendly water activities to do with our kids.

We love all the many options there are to play in the water in Seattle. If you live in the city, or just visiting, here are my top ten picks for family friendly water activities in Seattle:

International Fountain at Seattle Center

In the middle of the Seattle Center is the International Fountain. Consisting of a giant metal dome bedecked with an assortment of water-spraying nozzles, the fountain sprays are synchronized to music, and run on a regularly scheduled program. This International Fountain is one of the favorite water activities in Seattle among local families.

Kids looking at the International Fountain at the Seattle Center, one of the water activities in Seattle for families
Hanging out by the International Fountain during Folklife Festival (May 2015)

Madison Park

For freshwater beaches, nothing beats Madison Park Beach. The water can get a bit cool, but my kids love playing in the water. There’s also a playground across the street from the beach, if you’re in the mood for land-based play.

Playing at Madison Park Beach (September 2011)

Volunteer Park Wading Pool

Volunteer Park is one of the oldest parks in Seattle, and their wading pool is nice because it’s mostly shaded by trees, making it a nice oasis on one of those 90 degree summer days. Since it’s a wading pool, this park is especially great for younger kids, but you can sometimes find grown ups wading in the water as well.

Wading at Volunteer Park (September 2011)

Rainier Beach Community Center Pool

We love hitting up the community pools. They’re a great option for water activities in Seattle at any time of the year. Not only is it relatively cheap (under $5 a person), but it’s a great way to get our kids comfortable with being in the water. Our favorite community pool is the Rainier Beach Community Center Pool, which features a baby pool with sprinklers, a whirl pool, and a lazy river.

Waiting to swim at the Rainier Beach Community Pool (January 2015)

Ballard Commons Park

Probably due to its close proximity to our house, we like to go to Ballard Commons Park on hot summer days. I like the urban feel of the park, and the use of stone sculptures rather than the standard plastic splash park structures, gives the park a little edgy appeal.

Kids playing at Ballard Commons Park in Seattle, one of the many water activities in Seattle that families can do
Playing with water at Ballard Commons Park (May 2015)

South Lake Union Park

Another park we like to go to is South Lake Union Park. Located near the Museum of History and Industry, the park has docks where you can dive into the lake for a swim. If swimming in the lake is a bit unnerving for you (especially if you’re a parent of young kids, like me), then you can have the kids play in the splash park. This is a fun way for your little ones to enjoy water activities in Seattle, without having to swim.

A family playing at the South Lake Union water park, one of the water activities in Seattle that families can do
Getting sprayed at South Lake Union Park (August 2015)

Kayaking on Lake Union

Another option for enjoying Lake Union is to go kayaking. Several companies along the lake offer kayaks for rent, usually for $17-$20 an hour. For a much cheaper option, head over to the University of Washington Waterfront Activities Center and rent one of their canoes. Rentals are hourly, and a two hour rental gives you enough time to check out the surrounding area at a leisurely pace.

Remember to practice water safety! Both places have life vests available. But if your kids are little, the centers may not have life vests for their size. You may want to bring your own life vests, like this Classic Life Vest.

A view of South Lake Union in Seattle, one of the places for water activities in Seattle
South Lake Union (May 2015)

Alki Beach

For beaches and water of the saltwater variety, we enjoy visiting Alki Beach. This is a great place to check out views of the downtown Seattle skyline, and the salty sea breeze makes it seem like I’m walking through a beach town. On nice days, people like to walk along the boardwalk. And you can rent quadbikes to ride along the beach.

Statue of Liberty replica overlooking Alki Beach in Seattle, where there are  many water activities in Seattle for families to do
Alki Beach (September 2011)

Golden Gardens Park

Another beach we love visiting is Golden Gardens Park. On sunny days, this beach is packed with locals looking to take advantage of the sun. Golden Gardens offers some great views of the Puget Sound, and even if you’re not planning on taking a dip in the water, you can just sit on the beach and watch the sailboats go by.

Sunbathers on the sand at Golden Gardens in Seattle, where families enjoy water activities in Seattle
Golden Gardens on a sunny day (June 2015)

Backyard sprinkler play

When all else fails, our favorite activity to beat the heat is to simply turn on the sprinklers in our backyard and let our kids run through them. This has the added bonus of watering our yellowing lawn!

Playing with a slip and slide (July 2015)

Seattle is a great place for families. You can take your pick from many activities in Seattle that are geared towards families. Additionally, there are many free things to do in Seattle as well.

And if you and your kids are looking for fun water activities in Seattle, then your options are virtually limitless. What are your favorite ways to beat the heat in Seattle? Let me know in the comments!

Family Friendly Water Activities In Seattle | The Wandering Daughter | Ideas for water activities in Seattle, WA, U.S.A. for families to do when they visit.

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2 Responses

  1. It’s so hard to imagine it being hot in Seattle – even though the sunshine we’ve had the last few weeks has been great! But these are great tips for summer!

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I'm a travel-loving mom of three from Seattle. Join our adventures as we explore the Pacific Northwest and the world!

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