In just a short time, we will be leaving Seattle, right at the height of tourist season, when activities in Seattle are abundant. For about nine months out of the year, Seattle is cursed with an almost perpetual cloud of grey, interspersed with showers and drizzles. Occasionally we will get days during the winter and spring months when the sun makes an appearance, but the bulk of the sunny days are in the months of mid-June to mid-September, when the rains take a break and the sun takes the stage.
As we say our good-byes to the city we’ve called home for the past seven years, I thought I would share our favorite activities in Seattle for families. Although these activities are great to do in the summer, you can pretty much do them any time of the year.
See animals at Woodland Park Zoo
We’ve been lucky to have a zoo right here in our city. Open daily, except on Christmas, the Woodland Park Zoo offers families a chance to learn about animals from all over the world. The zoo has gorillas, rhinos, elephants, lions, bears, and even flamingos! Summer time events at Woodland Park Zoo include live concerts, wine tastings, and private tours. And in the winter, the zoo grounds is decorated with holiday lights to get zoo visitors in the festive spirit. Tickets are $20.95 for adults aged 13-64, and $12.95 for children aged 3-12. Toddlers aged 2 and under are free. If you have a membership to another city’s zoo that participates in the Reciprocal Zoos and Aquariums program, you can get half-price admission to Woodland Park Zoo!
Admire the city skyline from the Seattle Great Wheel
Located on Seattle’s Pier 57, the Seattle Great Wheel captures the eye of almost every passerby driving through Seattle’s waterfront. We love taking a ride in the wheel, which can fit up to eight people in each gondola. The Seattle Great Wheel reaches 175 feet tall, and offers views of Seattle’s downtown skyline as well as the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains, as it cycles through three revolutions. In the evening, the colorful lights on the wheel create dazzling patterns, and usually happen whenever there is a University of Washington football game, or a Seattle Seahawks football game in nearby Century Link Field. Tickets to the Seattle Great Wheel are $14 for adults aged 12 and older, and $9 for kids aged 3-11. Toddlers 2 and under are free. The Seattle Great Wheel is open every day of the week, and is one of the most scenic activities in Seattle.
Explore the city’s many urban hikes
We love going on hikes. We’ve been blessed to live in a city that has so many city parks, many of which have long enough trails to do hikes. Our favorite parks with hikes within the Seattle city limits include Discovery Park, Washington Park Arboretum, Lincoln Park, Camp Long, Schmitz Prezerve, and Carkeek Park. All of these parks are free and open to the public, and are usually open during daylight hours.
Learn about Seattle on the Underground Tour
My husband’s cousin currently works as a tour guide in Seattle’s quirky Underground Tour. We love going on this tour because it gives us a glimpse of Seattle’s history, back when it was just starting out in the 1800’s. Located in the historic area known as Pioneer Square, the Underground Tour takes visitors under Seattle’s streets, where the original downtown Seattle was located. There is even a chance to see one of Seattle’s oldest toilets (I told you it was quirky)! Tickets to the Underground Tour are $22 for adults aged 18-59, $20 for students aged 13-17, and $10 for children aged 7-12. This type of tour is geared towards older kids and adults, as the tour involves walking and standing for approximately 75 minutes, so make sure your kids are able to do that (or you’re willing to carry your kids).
Observe sea life at the Aquarium
Another one of our family’s favorite activities in Seattle is the Seattle Aquarium. We love learning about the marine life in our area, and especially seeing the famous octopus! The Seattle Aquarium is located in Seattle’s waterfront, near the popular Pike Place Market. Entrance into the aquarium is $19.95 for kids aged 4-12, and $29.95 for adults aged 13 and older. Kids 3 and under are free. Aquarium hours are 9:30am to 5pm daily.
Climb aboard an airplane at the Museum of Flight
Before Amazon came along, Seattle was known for its aeronautical industry. We love learning about aeronautical history at the Museum of Flight, located in Tukwila, just south of Seattle. The Museum of Flight houses more than 175 aircrafts, and some of them you can actually go into! The hours are 10am to 5pm daily, with extended (and free) hours on the first Thursday of each month from 5pm – 9pm. Admission is $15 for kids aged 5-17, and $24 for adults aged 18 and older. Kids 4 and under are always free.
Play with computers at the Living Computers Museum + Labs
When it comes to unique activities in Seattle, another one of our favorites is visiting the Living Computers Museum + Labs. We’re a pretty tech-loving family (my husband is a web developer, after all!) so this museum is right up our alley, with a floor full of robots and computers that our kids can interact with and learn. The second level of the museum houses computers dating back to the 60’s and 70’s, many of them still functional! Hours of operation are Wednesday to Sunday from 10am – 5pm, with free admission and extended hours on the first Thursday of each month. Admission for regular hours are $16 for the general public, aged 6 and over. Kids 5 and under are free.
Take in a 360 degree view of downtown from Smith Tower
Most tourists will go to the Space Needle to get views of the city, but for us locals, we know that the better city views can be found at the historic Smith Tower. Built in 1914, Smith Tower used to be the tallest building in Seattle, and even the tallest building west of the Mississipi! These days, the building seems like a dwarf compared to nearby Columbia Tower, but you can still get beautiful 360 degree views of the city from its observatory. Tickets are $19 for adults aged 13 and over, and $15 for kids aged 5 to 12, but locals with a valid Washington state ID can get in for just $12. The observatory is open daily from 10am to 9pm.
As we say good-bye to our favorite city in the United States, we can’t help but think fondly on all the memories we made while doing these fun activities in Seattle. We truly were lucky to be able to live in such a great city with so many things available for families. If you’re planning a visit, we hope you’ll check out these activities in Seattle and see for yourself why we love this city so much.
Do you have some favorite activities in Seattle that I missed? Share them in the comments!
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